Life’s a Beach

So fellow travelers, yesterday’s adventure started with a this view

Which, after packing up camp, I traded for this view

Favorite picnic spot on Lake Ontario

The pandemic of 2020, as I’ve mentioned, has created several changes at our state park campgrounds. Check in times are later and check out times are earlier. So the birds obliged my requested wake up call at dawn, giving me time to catch that fiery sunrise before breaking camp.

It’s been a quiet few days, but the Fourth of July-ers started showing up yesterday. Lots of loud music at newly occupied sites and several rounds of small fireworks, which thankfully stopped not too long after the posted quiet time. Although one extremely loud rocket did send a young raccoon scurrying across my campsite. Later that night it appeared at the screen door of my tent and peered in at me, almost as if to ask if it was safe now.

Although a bit startled by it’s return visit, I did not want to frighten such an obviously young one so I whispered gently, “We’re gonna be alright.” I swear it gave a slight nod before rambling off.

But I laid there, wide awake for a long time wondering.

Are we? Are we really going to be alright ?

Eventually, the night time chorus of frogs singing by the marsh lulled me into a deep sleep.

A gentle round of Qiqong stretches while watching that fiery sunrise helped me find balance. There is something innately reassuring about the consistent rising and setting of the sun. And now, sitting with my feet in warm sand, waves rising and falling in steady calming rhythm, Wisdom speaks again

Eyes on the horizon
let the lessons of all yesterdays

remind us we can not move forward
if we only look back
and here, in between, what was
and what is yet to come,
to be present in this now moment
is to begin anew.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may Love Light our way.

Our Fathers

So  fellow travelers, campgrounds in our beautiful NY State Parks fully reopened yesterday.

A favorite campsite, last summer

However, as with all things in our lives, the 2020 pandemic has imposed many changes and the process of actually being able to camp this summer is less spontaneous. Back in the BCV* era, one could just show up at the campground, acquire an available site and enjoy a campfire that same evening. Currently, reservations are required and because the on-line system does not allow “same-day” reservations, you cannot “walk in” and take a campsite no matter how many sites are open! So, two weeks ago, when the reservation system re-opened, sites booked up faster than anyone could say “let’s go camping.” I considered myself lucky to find one of my favorite sites open and, even though it was only for one night, I  gratefully clicked “reserve.”

Humidity arrived right on schedule with the Summer Solstice this past weekend and I was looking forward to Lake Ontario’s signature breeze. Even though the Rav is set up as a mini-camper, it’s not recognized as official “equipment” and I am required to pitch a tent, so I decided to get set up on site first, before going for a cool swim.

The site I pulled into was much changed from when I was there last year. It appears that the heavy rains we had in Spring washed a section of the embankment down onto the only flat section where I could pitch a tent. It was covered in rocks and gravel. Unfortunately I was not able to relocate to another site, so the attendant in the park office posted a credit to my account, which I have already applied to my next reservation. Although I was disappointed, this state park is one of several which are less than an hour drive from my home. The advantage of having my time to myself these days means a change plans is no big deal.

Zen moment spotted on the lake trail

There were many hours of daylight left to enjoy a quiet dinner under my favorite shady tree followed by a hike along the lake. The air was heavy and oppressively still, so we kept our walk shorter than usual. Delilah stopped frequently to raise her head and sniff towards the lake. I considered staying to catch the beautiful sunset view this beach is known for, but a thick haze along the horizon was beginning to obscure the setting sun. Then, a distant sound explained why Delilah kept looking back towards the other horizon. Thunder along Lake Ontario’s shore is always a clear sign it’s time to head back to shelter.

We heard a few more rumbles as I packed up the cooler and picnic blanket. Glancing back towards the lake, I caught a glimpse of the sun radiating brilliant beams as it slipped behind a dark line of clouds moving rapidly inland. The words of a haiku I had not been able to work through the day before quietly shifted into place as a prayer from childhood came to mind. It’s a day past but still the tribute I wished to create in honor of Father’s Day

Our fathers who art
Beacons of Light shining strong
Like our Father’s Heart

Sunset taken two years ago almost to the day from the same spot.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Hope light the Way.

Editor’s note: *BCV is my term for BeforeCoVid19

Can You Breathe?

My first thought when I got up today was, “It is a perfect morning for a long walk,” and indeed it is. Sunny, low humidity, with just enough of a breeze to ward off the bugs. Judging from the cheerful chorus which greeted me as Delilah and I headed outside, my backyard residents agree. Delilah scurried forward nose to the ground, tracking the “critter news of the day.” 

Watching a distant heron float across the brilliant blue sky, waves of pure joy ran through me, grateful for the simple joy of breathing fresh air. Breathing deeply now comes with a sharp awareness that this gift of breath has been taken from too many – taken by a killer virus in a pandemic that still frames our current reality.

Then, as we turned the corner, the sharp smell of smoke wafted from the remnant of a bonfire. My neighbors who live at that end of the street tell me the new owners are clearing the lot to eventually build a house. Right now the lot looks more like a war zone than a peaceful homestead and my heart ached again remembering that humanity is engaged in a battle with more than one killer virus- both of which unjustly deny our fellow humans of their right to the simple gift of life. These words were born of that grief.

Broken windows ask
Open the doors to your soul
Hear the cries of pain

More to come~

Walk gently on the path my friends and Light the way for others to follow.

Photo note: the black and white photo is NOT from the lot currently being cleared. It is a house which suffered a major fire back in February- there is no sign of that lot being cleared anytime soon.

Actions Speak Louder

 So fellow travelers, in light of recent events, I held off publishing the last post I wrote, choosing instead to immerse myself in coming to a better understanding of what the voices speaking out need me to do.
The process left me with what fellow writer, mentor and friend Tom Atkins refers to as an emotional hangover from the anger which rose within me. I am tired, but surely not as tired as the families of too many black men, women and youths lost to senseless racist fueled violence. After a day of rest and much needed time on a newly reopened walking trail, I realized to move forward I need to start where this new path begins:

June 1, 2020
This morning,  I woke up to a new life experience.  

My first thought  was:
“What day of the week is it?”
I am sure many of you whose routines have been upended by the pandemic can relate to the experience. When you don’t get up and go anywhere for days on end it is a challenge to keep track of the days, because everyday is the same.
And if you, like some of my friends, are one of the many working on the front lines, you too lose track of time, in a far more desperate way while battling to save lives or keep essential services running. “Thank you,” seems barely enough acknowledgement for that.
So, I clicked through my “what did I do yesterday” prompts all the way back to “Ah, we had our Sunday call with  Mom and Dad, so today is Monday.” My next thought was “ Hey even though it is Monday, I do not have to “go” to work today- because I am R E T I R E D!”
“How does it feel to be retired?” people have been asking me.
Well, to use a common point of reference, it feels like the first day of vacation, filled with joyful anticipation with one key exception-
—there is no pre-set end date 
———— there is no pressure to “fit in” all the things I want or need to do now
It feels like the freedom I yearned and worked for through so many decades is finally mine.

——————————————————————————————————-

At this point, my original post included a haiku about that glorious sense of freedom and the instant I signed in online to access my blog page, the entire post felt completely and utterly void of significance. The recognition that a revolution, fueled by the senseless murder of George Floyd was gaining global momentum superseded any relevance my personal sense of freedom might hold.
I hit “pause” on this post, along with any adventure plans, and got down to figuring out how I can make a difference and turn intention into true change. Because as I affirmed in my Memorial Day post, my own freedom means nothing if it is not equally available to all my friends.

After a week immersed in the dialogue of outrage and calls for reform, I at least know this:
I do not profess to have the answers or even to have the right words to offer yet. I understand this is a time for me to listen to my friends and the black community; it is not a time to speak over those voices which need to be heard right now. I also believe silence implies complicity, whether intentional or not. So, if silence is not an option, clearly it is time my actions spoke louder than my words.  
My Words:

Unless we speak love
Hatred will destroy us then
Freedom means nothing

My Action:

Walk mindfully on the path my friends, may Love find you ready.

Guest Post from Tom Atkins Poem: Murder is Slow — Quarry House

Murder is Slow A black man dies on a city street, the policeman’s knee on his neck, breath, life taken from him. There are riots. Of course there are. A people ignored too long will erupt sooner or later. A people not heard too long with erupt sooner or later. This is a truth we […]

Poem: Murder is Slow — Quarry House

Mother’s Day 2020

So fellow travelers, pandemics, physical distancing and unseasonal weather are only one aspect of our current reality.  To honor all that Mother’s Day means to me – this Haiku

 Snow falls cold winds blow
Yet spring flowers bravely bloom
Hope and Love stand strong

Blessings of peace and joy to all mothers here and in heaven.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Living in a Snow Globe

So fellow travelers, the Big News in our corner of the Upstate neighborhood is that our city is BEHIND in the annual Golden Snowball Race.

For those who don’t reside in the snowbelt of Upstate NY ( which I think the majority of my readers can gratefully say they do not) the Golden Snowball is an award given to the Upstate NY city with the highest snow total by the end of the season. The contenders are Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Binghamton. Buffalo always starts out strong (the epic storm in 2014 for example) but Syracuse holds the record for most wins thanks to the “slow but steady” accumulation which runs right through March. Lake Erie packs a punch, but Lake Ontario’s back breaking consistency (everyone in the Greater Syracuse area knows not to put those snow shovels away until after Mother’s Day) plows us towards a win year after year. Hence the reason my neighbors and I are always grateful when another city runs ahead of us or wins. Congrats to Buffalo on that 118.8″ total for 2018-19 which beat the Syracuse total by a full 3.8 inches! and hey Go Rochester currently leading the race at 61.4″ so far !

What? there is other Big News I “should” be attending to? Not today, thank you. Sundays are my sacred space days when the choices I make are intended to lower my blood pressure by raising the joy quotient in my life. Call me an escapist but this is how I keep my sanity.

So I honestly felt a warm burst of gratitude as I stood in my back yard this morning, listening to the quiet bubbling of the pond “percolators” delivering life sustaining oxygen to the fish below the frozen surface. “Breathe… breathe… breathe…” they murmured, as tiny flakes of snow began to drift down from the sky.






White icy kisses
Softly tumble from the sky
Swirling all around

Life inside a snowglobe… and hey the season has a long way to go. Every sparkling flake counts.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

Christmastide

So fellow travelers, Christmas morning dawns today with radiant Light

Although our kids will not be with us this year, I am profoundly happy they are celebrating together in PDX and we will open presents with them via Skype later today.
And I am deeply grateful to be at my parents’ home for Christmas this year.

It has been over thirty years since I opened presents with my parents on Christmas morning. Back in 1986 they joined me and my husband for our first Christmas in our new house in Upstate New York- the house we still call home, where we raised our daughters creating so many special Christmas memories over the years.

This afternoon our kids will join the family gathering at my brother’s home to share Christmas greetings via video on our phones. I am grateful for the technology which will make it possible to be connected when I might otherwise feel so far away from them. It is a distance which I plan to bridge in the coming year.

As I watched the sun rise through the window where my parents little tree glowed surrounded by many presents, words of gratitude began to speak from deep in my heart.

Of all the gifts beneath the tree
I know the best is yet to be
For later on our family
will gather with much revelry
Joy and laughter will resound with
presents passing all around and
warm thank you hugs we will exchange
and pause to reach for who remains
as memories within our hearts
be near or far, no distance parts
for Love transcends and outlasts time
the greatest gift to yours and mine.

Walk gently on the path my fellow travelers and may this season of Light bless you and yours with peace and love and joy.

First Light

So fellow travelers, I woke early on the morning of the Winter Solstice to watch the sunrise and witnessed a beautiful cascade of changing colors. The waning crescent moon seemed to smile as darkness gently gave way to light. This first day of winter, marking the return of Light.

Moon smiles morning blush
First Light brings solstice blessings
Winter pause begins

It took a few days to translate the moment into words- the first two lines came immediately, however expressing the essence of winter in five simple syllables required a bit more pondering. For me Winter has always been a time to synthesize the lessons of the previous year, to gain perspective, set goals and gather resources for the intentions set for the New Year. It is an essential pause in my ongoing journey to wherever it is this adventure of life is leading me.

2009-2019

Reflecting on this year, which also marks the end of a decade, I find myself ready to let the lessons of the past become the momentum for my new intentions. We don’t move forward if we always look back and I am looking forward to a new chapter in my life. Adventure calls and I intend to be ready.

Blessings of this season be with you all. May Light grace your holiday celebrations and carry you into a bright new decade of hope and joy.

Home Away from Home

So fellow travelers, this weekend brought a much needed road trip through beautiful snow kissed valleys and mountains


and, more essentially, some greatly appreciated time with several good friends . Which is why my favorites views on this trip were actually from two different windows

Sunrise at the Quarry

Morning at the foot of Mt Monadnock

To visit the homes of dear friends who have always made me feel “at home” was a respite my work weary spirit was grateful for. I may write more about this trip but for now this haiku will express my gratitude

A new place and yet
instantly you feel at home
friendship’s sacred gift

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.