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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

When I read the book “Return to Wake Robin” by Marnie O. Mamminga, I knew it would be a glimpse into my past summers in Hayward, my hometown, although I never actually spent any time in a cabin on a lake until last summer.  There was one passage that was very familiar to me, when they went into the town and explored the various stores on main street.

I understood the expression of what her grandfather said about being Up North from my own interpretation of true wilderness.

Over the years, on one of the many endless all-day car trips Up North, when fatigue begins to set in and there are still several hours of driving left, I often ask out loud why Erle and Clara didn’t stop earlier, especially when their ride took two days of travel over dusty, bumpy roads.  Why travel 450 miles when 300 might have worked as well?

“Erle must have been asked the same question, for he was often know to remark, ‘You have to come this far north to get this kind of beauty.’

“And he was right.  Like ‘The brightest star in the Milky Way’, his love of the Northwoods shines on.

“From a grandfather we never knew, that is quite a gift.”

It’s a shame many of the resorts were converted to private property, but times had changed and people started traveling farther by air to places like Disneyland for their vacations.

I thought about writing about this a lot, but I didn’t.  I realized I had only spent two childhood summers in Hayward.  Then it came to me:  it’s not just about being in the wilderness, it’s about childhood and having the freedom from responsibilites.  That’s what really touched me.  So now I have to see how I can start feeling free from the burdens of adulthood responsibility.

Tomorrow is the first of October, and I don’t think I’ve done anything on my “Fun Things to Do in Summer” list.  It’s still hot here in Arizona, so I can still do some of them.

Today the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota broke ground on the Hope Learning Center and Northwoods Ecology Exhibit addition to their center.  September 16 was the anniversary of Hope’s death.  Someone read the following quote:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals.  Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.  We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves.  And therein we err, and greatly err.  For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”~~Henry Beston, “The Outermost House”

I had included part of this quote in my “Sacred Life Sunday” journal when I learned of her death in 2011.   I hope the Hope Learning Center will educate millions of people on black bears and how we can co-exist.

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“If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred.  Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self.  There is no place to hide and so we are found.” –Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

I wrote this on June 4th:  “It’s such a cool morning, it’s hard to believe it will be so beastly hot this afternoon.  It’s the kind of morning that’s the start of an excellent road trip, full of possibilities and discoveries.  What a shame to be stuck in an office where the most exciting thing that can happen is likely some misfortune, like someone falling down the stairs again.”

Those cool mornings didn’t last.

This is the time of year I think about the British rulers of India, who always sent their women to the mountains in the summer.  June is my least favorite month. Like India, we have monsoon rains, and the deadly heat is necessary to set up the monsoon season.  But the intense heat seems like a heavy price to pay for the rain and the mild winter.  Of course, I complain about the cold in the winter, too.  We don’t have short-sleeved winter days anymore like in the seventies when my parents moved here.

I have never done well in heat, even when I was young.  I get nauseous when I’m hot, my face gets all red, and it drains me of energy.  You can always put more clothes on when it’s cold, but there’s only so much you can take off, in public anyway.  It’s like the Wisconsin winter.  I just want to hibernate/stay in my house.

It was always my intention to move to California.  The almost-perfect weather is surely the main reason so many people live there.   But I realized I could never afford it without roommates, and I did not want to live like that.

But Arizona has not felt like home since my father died, perhaps even before that when my mother did.

I bought a book of essays and poems by southwestern women writers, thinking that it might re-kindle my appreciation of the desert.  It did the opposite.  It made me realize anew how deadly it can be.

There are devil winds that spin the sand into dirt walls that cause pileups on the highway. There is scorching dry heat that can suck the life out of you if you’re not prepared or you get lost.  A couple of weeks ago two young women died while hiking in the Tucson mountains in separate incidents.

The monsoon can be dangerous, too, with sudden, blinding walls of water that can wash away trees and boulders.  But when you’re home on a Saturday afternoon and don’t have to go anywhere and the first rain you’ve seen in months comes pouring down and the thunder and lightning isn’t too close, it can be glorious.  And the sunset can be, too.

Monsoon Sunset

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Nostalgia comes from the root word “Nostros” which means “homecoming.”

For some time I’ve been wondering why I kept thinking about my hometown in Wisconsin ever since my trip back there last summer.  I know I don’t want to live back there, but I just kept thinking about it, searching for web sites, and thinking it would be nice to have a summer cabin there.

I also had sent someone some photographs of her grandmother, who did a lot of traveling with my grandmother until they had a falling out (no one knows what it was about).  She thanked me but I never heard another word from her after I sent them.  We also never heard from the relatives that held the reunion, and I had sent them some photographs, too.

I thought part of it was because nature and the outdoors is so much in peoples’ lives, and I envy that.  There’s a more pronounced four seasons than in Arizona.   But I don’t have any close relatives up there any more, and there are other reasons I choose not to live there which I would rather not reveal here.

The other day I had an “Aha moment” as Oprah says.  Some of the people have lived there their entire lives.  I knew I was mainly glad I had lived the life of an Army brat, and we never lived in one place more than three years (until Arizona).  But there was also a small part of me that wondered what it would be like to walk down Main Street and see a childhood friend.  So I think it is that part of me that keeps thinking about it and tried to make friends with the granddaughter and our relatives.  I still consider it my home town, and in fact that is where I will be buried, next to my parents.  The cold won’t bother me then.

But lately I’ve had thoughts about having some of my ashes scattered at sea, too….I liked the life of a sojourner.

“The Sea is our mother rocking, rocking.  See how she fills her blue arms with gifts ~ with slippery bits, weed, white shells, fish as bright as wisps of moon.  Hear how her voice lifts, falls, lifts while she sings our life.” – Tony Johnston

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I have always loved that line from “One of These Nights” by the Eagles.  I think that’s where I’ve been these past few months.  I once Googled it (or maybe it was “Shadows and Light”) and got some porn site, but even that isn’t as yucky as getting another one when I Googled “Disney Girls” as in the Beach Boys song.

The Winter Solstice and Season of Light of the various holidays draw us once more to the Light.  As you probably know, 2012 is supposed to be a tumultuous year.  My most trusted sources say the end of the Mayan calendar in December will not be the end of the Earth as others are saying.  Personally, I do feel it will be a powerful and life-changing year, but that is only based on my instincts.

My word for the year is Clarity, and I also have a vision of  “Embracing the Seasons” instead of reacting to them or ignoring them.  I have found two resources for this journey:  “The Sacred Journey Daily Journal for Your Soul 2012” and the “We’Moon 2012 Gaia Rhythms for Women” weekly calendars.  I’m not posting links because I’m not in any way affiliated with them, and I haven’t really used them yet.  You can Google them if your’re interested.  The first doesn’t have any photographs but has a lot of room for journaling and reflection.  The second does not have a lot of room for writing but is full of beautiful art and poetry.  Both relate to the earth and seasons.

With all of the bizarre weather of the last year, I feel that connecting to and healing the Earth is one of my top priorities.

Blessings for a peaceful, happy, and Earth-friendly New Year.

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When I learned Wednesday a former neighbor had died, I sent an e-mail to my sisters.  One of them asked if we wanted to send flowers for the service.  My older sister questioned why when we had lost touch with them.

Why?  I used to babysit their children (and they were the best kids I ever watched), but that’s not the reason.  Yes, they were our neighborhood children (we used to call Lynette “Lynetti Spaghetti”–hope that didn’t cause any problems for her later).

It’s because I know where the family is–in that cold, dark place where the grief comes in waves so strong you feel you are going to drown.  But first you have to get through the numbing shock that makes you think you must be dreaming; this can’t be real.

Yes, we had lost touch.  But they came to both our parents’ funerals.  And they had stopped by our parents’ house here a few times when they made trips to Scottsdale to buy Southwestern turquoise jewelry.

We were just up in Wisconsin over a week ago.  We drove by our old house but didn’t stop in to see them.  And now I was feeling the pain again of losing your father through those kids.  The oldest is five or more years younger than me.  Living 75 years might seem a lot to some, but losing your father at any age is devastating unless you had a horrible relationship.  Even then, the closure would probably never come.

That is part of the reason we made the journey north.  We had not been there in 5 years, for my father’s funeral.  I wanted to see my hometown again and attend to their graves, hoping it had been long enough to get some kind of closure.

I had forgotten how truly beautiful the northwoods are.  We stayed in a cabin, and except for the noisy neighbors it was so peaceful and and restorative.  I made a vow to get out in nature more now that the cooler weather is finally coming.

We also attended a family reunion with some relatives we had never met.  Our grandmother and her brother had a falling out over an issue no one knew anything about.  My grandmother was a proud person, and when she had a falling out with someone she never talked about the person again.  They were truly nice people, and we agreed it was a shame we had not been a part of each others’ lives for all those years.

We visited my dad’s second cousin and his wife on the lake and were joined by some other old friends of my parents.  The next day we had lunch with one of my mother’s dearest friends and her husband.  There was a lot of talk about the past and how things used to be.

We drove around to all the lakes and places we used to go to.  A lot had changed, of course, and my overall impression was the one most commonly noticed when visiting the past, that everything used to look a lot bigger.

We did clean the graves and put silk flowers on them.  We had not seen the headstone from the Veterans Administration, since it was placed after we left.  We also visited our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ graves.  A rosebush my grandmother had planted on her parents’ graves was blooming but needed a lot of trimming.  My uncle, whose family we are estranged from, had been buried the week before.  But we did not have to look for his grave, as he was buried right next to his parents.

I’m glad I made the journey back.  It’s nice to remember it as our childhood playground for a while, and not the place where we buried our parents.  I probably wouldn’t have sent the plant if we hadn’t just been back there, but I hope seeing it at the service this morning made his wife and children understand there were old friends who appreciated their father and felt their loss, knowing that their lives are forever changed.

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