Nature’s Healing Gift-Spring!

In the northern hemisphere today we celebrate the earliest spring equinox since 1896. When I read that yesterday it felt like a little gift. To receive the healing benefits of spring early is much needed this year.

Spring won’t eradicate the current dreaded corona virus that has changed the lives of nearly everyone (if not yours, you are blessed to live under your rock, or maybe you’re in a cave) nor will it remove corrupt governments, cure cancer, or bring economic stability. But Spring does bring unavoidable signs of life moving forward. 

Nature shows us there are cycles to everything as she begins the season of bird songs, vivid new green growth on trees and bushes, buds opening to colorful blooms that will become nourishing seeds and fruits to share with birds and animals. We can partake of her vitality, an effective mood lifter and immune booster. She shows us there is life on the other side of dark times as another cycle of life begins. She too has been altered, beaten up, changed, she has had her losses, yet she returns to her cycles, creates new life year after year, even while acknowledging the losses. 

Here in the woods fresh green leaves on blackberry vines will cover hundreds of dead, brown, sword ferns, killed by an opportunistic pathogen that took advantage of unprecedented drought over the past years. Woodpeckers will hollow out nesting cavities in dead and dying trees that are full of easy to gather nutritious bugs to feed their young. There will be cleaning out of old nests and underground dens of old debris. The ground is scattered with chunks of moss, lichen covered branches, and twigs blown down by winter storms, materials for new nests. 

We were told by a health care provider a few weeks ago to “self-isolate”, now it’s called “shelter-in-place” and it’s been mandated. A few critical medical appointments related to cancer follow-up will be our only ventures out in the near future, whatever “near future” means these days. It’s a evolving new world.

We are grateful to be in the woods, the noisy road is a bit quieter, nettles are perfect for eating, the longer days give more opportunity for walks in the woods. My prayer and wish for each of you is that where ever you may be you can find a way to be nourished by Nature through these difficult times of unknown.

 

this is called Dead Nettle, also called Archangel as it blooms around the time of an ancient celebration honoring Archangel Michael. Not a nettle, it is in the mint family. A very early spring green, the leaves can be added to salads or stir fries. It is most edible early in season, as plants mature the steams can get stringy.

Maybe you are fortunate and have a yard or nearby park to be outdoors, even a flower pot with emerging bulbs or bush with new leaves unfolding can bring into your life the soul healing benefits of Nature. Everywhere there are birds, with their spring songs staking out territory, wooing mates, or proclaiming “life is good, we made it through another winter, another time of darkness”. 

(here in the Pacific Time zone spring arrives officially at 9:49 pm)

 

 

Nature as Guide

Friday the 13th, National Emergency declaration, corona virus spreading……seems like a good time to remember Nature is a good teacher.

Being outside, if you are able, is “social distancing” at its best.

It is cold here, dry, no rain in what use to be a rainy month, a few snow flurries today, temperatures in 20s and 30s at night. It’s been hard on the bumble bees, hiding, immobile in Rhododendron florets, the Rhodies themselves froze when it dove to 26 degrees Wed. morn. Yet, Nature will endure. Nature is tuned into her own cycles, impacted by the light, she responses to the cycles of the universe, the energy of something greater than herself. She is a survivor, no matter how we abuse her, no matter “climate change”, she will adapt. There will be losses, transitions, sadness, but she WILL survive.

We have much to learn from her. Now is a good time.

💚

“Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself……” Paramahansa Yogananda .

Rhododendron, lungwort, primrose blooms. Nettle, spearmint, lemon balm leaves.

Two sides of an ocean visit

We went to the ocean for a few days. It is always awesome and breath taking, the power of the waves, the vastness of the ocean view. But our short visit ended on a sour note as we took a walk before heading home.

This is looking into a pile of plastic we picked up off the beach during a short walk, maybe 30 minutes. The entire tide line had small bits and pieces of plastic, including tiny transparent plastic pellets, the size of fish eggs. The fish who got those in their body didn’t likely set any eggs.

It was appalling, though not surprising. Until there is conscious raising on a large scale, political action and corporate transformation, this is how the ocean will continue to look, and life in it continue to die.

But every small action helps, every person who makes a decision about their use of plastic, every day, adds up. It isn’t always easy, I abhor plastic, don’t chose it when and wherever possible, but due to health and medical needs, it still makes it into our household. I’m grateful for companies like Wild Carrot Herbals, who switched from plastic lids on their glass jars to made in USA recycled metal lids. An organic cotton sweater I ordered from United By Blue for Mike for Christmas came in a cardboard box, no plastic bag or tape, and they donate to organizations that clean up waterways and the ocean. (Go to their web site and read the section “we quit” to educate yourself about plastic packaging). Every company that makes the effort to eliminate plastic deserves support and business. One way to learn about such companies is here: https://bcorporation.net

Switching from plastic to metal, paper, bamboo, etc. is one way to keep plastics out of the environment, using and purchasing less overall is equally important to reduce other types of pollutants in the environment. But that’s another soapbox for another time!

The famous “tree of life” at Kalaloch campground beach is slipping and sinking. Still amazing considering a spring runs out under it!

A New Year plan, Hope and Positivity

Maybe the best way to approach the New Year and new decade is with hope, in spite of all and any evidence to the contrary. To not get caught in the swirl of negativity that seems so predominate.

It has not been an easy year for me, nor for many people I know, and seemingly for the world at large.

Supposedly all of life‘s experiences are opportunities for us to grow, learn “lessons” that make us wiser. If you are like me, you might feel like a slow learner as one life “challenge” piles on another. And looking at the suffering of others one wonders if they feel like they are getting wiser.

I think maybe I need to work harder on shifting perspective.

I use to be a person who accepted that the glass could be both half full AND half empty, and that was okay. A life of social work, assisting and advocating for people with psychiatric disabilities, victims of domestic violence, often young people whose life struggles seemed unfair for their age…..in general seeing the struggles and suffering of others, added to my own increasing health challenges, a decade of watching my mother decline into dementia, and I became a person who not only saw the glass as half empty, but it was draining. Then there’s the “too much info about others lives and the world” via the Internet.

I’m married to a person who sees the glass half full regardless of any evidence to the contrary. Though sometimes irritating, it can also be refreshing!

A frequent suggestion is to make a gratitude list to see the good in life. This may help, it is hard sometimes to recognize the gifts and blessings and doing so consciously is a good strategy, but perhaps we should include  gratitude in the mundane, that which we hardly think to feel grateful for and may even complain about. This too can help shift perspective – such as being grateful for cleaning the toilet, because it means we have indoor plumbing, or washing the dishes because it means we had food to make into a meal, even grateful for bills to pay – the power bill, the doctor, the mechanic, etc. because it means we have these services available to us.  But this list is based on seeing what we have compared to those who do not have.  A helpful tool, but there’s more to shifting perspective.

I share with you this article from the Wall Street Journal about research into how powerful negativity is compared to positivity. The evidence for this makes one realize, to overcome negativity we must be a warriors, have a strategy, and be vigilant. Though I don’t agree with a few points in the article, I found it good food for thought as we begin a new year, and it offers a few suggestions for being that warrior. Here’s the link: For The New Year, Just Say No To Negativity

More food for thought the is the concept of miracles. Learning to see miracles in every day life, to recognize those moments, events, or people who seem to appear or happen out of no where, yet change our lives in a positive way…..paying attention to THAT could really shift perspective! I’m reading a book about miracles, and thinking maybe we all need to understand better how to see them and identify them.

I do not know an easy fix nor have a clear plan for shifting perspective, for empowering positivity, I suspect it’s like most things in life….just begin and the way will become clearer.

So with my favorite warrior, Tree Fairy (she reappeared yesterday after a year. A gentle soul, but a fierce warrior concerning her trees and all of Nature), I wish for you a heart filled with love, peace of mind, and much hope in this year ahead.

A day for giving thanks

Any study of American history uncovers the myths many of us were taught as the reason for celebrating Thanksgiving. There was no peaceful feast between “Pilgrims” and local tribes. History reports near the date of the so called “first Thanksgiving” there was actually a massacre of native people. Thus, to many Native Americans it is a day of mourning.

However, a day for giving thanks, to show gratitude for the harvest, is a tradition celebrated by the tribes of North America (long before the arrival of the Puritans, who did not dress in black clothes with big buckles). Many cultures around the world have such a day at the end of the harvest season.

I have long considered Thanksgiving a day of gratitude, to go deeper into an appreciation and acknowledgement for the blessings and gifts in our lives.

My favorite aspect of Thanksgiving is the peacefulness, often felt as people slow down a bit. I love being out in Nature (a persistent cold and predicted below freezing temperatures might keep my Nature appreciation through the windows this year).

Several years ago we had our last Thanksgiving with local family members before their lives began in another state. It included a quiet walk by a river and a shared meal. A memory I cherish. Another special Thanksgiving memory occurred after several years of an illness that kept me from eating solid foods. Around Thanksgiving I began to “recover” and made a veggie soup, filled thermoses, and walked into an empty park with Mike to a bench over looking the salt water. One of best Thanksgiving meals and memories ever!

If Thanksgiving is a busy time for you, perhaps take a few moments to stop and think what you are most grateful for. Perhaps create new traditions, ones that might honor those for whom this day in history is not one to be celebrated. For example, a good friend of mine will be visiting a local tribal museum.

My gratitudes? I am grateful for the unconditional love and support of my husband, grateful for the land where I’m fortunate enough to live, for the spiritual guidance in my life, for long time and new friends, and at this very challenging time for me, for the constant companionship of a furry buddy who sticks by me even in my darkest hours. Blessings come in all shapes, sizes and species!

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love and blessings, and perhaps 2-legged or 4-legged friends.

 

related past posts:

Thanksgiving Yummies

Thanksgiving

Gratitude & Grace

Thanksgiving II

Recipe For Winter

Diwali

While many in the US and elsewhere prepare for the European/Celtic origin base celebrations of All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween), the Day of the Dead, or Samhain (pagan celebration for the end of the harvest), in India and elsewhere Hindu cultures (and in some places Buddhists join in) will be celebrating Diwali, or Dipawali, whose name comes from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) lit outside homes during the festival to symbolize the Divine light and inner light that protects us from demons, or spiritual darkness. In Nepal Diwali is called Tihar.

This year Diwali begins on October 25, the primary day of celebration is October 27.  It is a holiday of great celebration, of cleaning houses, throwing out old and broken items, visiting friends and relatives with food and gifts, lighting lamps, fireworks….truly a life affirming celebration!

For this first day of Diwali, my little altar is a candle for each day of Diwali, a small oil lamp, flowers and the evergreen herb, rosemary.

Often called the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a five day celebration, each day having specific events and celebrations according to stories of good triumphing over evil, stories found in the ancient Sanskrit writings. In Nepal, each of the five days honors a different animal. Many of the stories celebrated during Diwali come from the epic tales of Rama or Krishna, Divine beings whose life trials of overcoming evil forces and demons through their moral courage and spiritual attunement, as well as their kindness to others, have been guidelines for living a moral and spiritual life for eons. Which tales are celebrated on which days varies from region to region in India. Diwali is a complex holiday! Below are a few links to read more about it.

National Geographic article on Diwali

Diwali in Nepal

Diwali on Wikipedia

I’ve always been drawn to this celebration of light, of overcoming demons, of good winning over evil, which is combined with gratefulness for the harvest. It is a uplifting national holiday in India and Nepal and among Hindus everywhere. As the days become shorter and darker, and as my life at this time is full of unknowns, I struggle with my own dark thoughts and demons and want to embrace the joyousness of this celebration of the Divine Light in life and in each of us!

Happy Diwali!  Let there be Light, inner and outer!

Here are some links to past posts celebrating this time of year:

Festivals & Fruit Crumble

The Driver – A true Halloween story!

A Pumpkin by any other name

What Scares You?

 

Hello

we took a one day vacation early in Sept. It was wonderful. It wasn’t enough.

Hello.

Back in July, with a diagnosis of a cancer reoccurrence, I wrote in my last blog post I wasn’t sure if I would be writing on my blog any more – if, when, or about what.

I still wonder.

But I did write a page, which you can chose to read or not, which is why it is not a post. I do not want this blog to become yet another  “cancer blog”. The page is me mulling over my observations of how others respond when they learn I have cancer. Maybe you will find it helpful, not for me necessarily, but for anyone you may know who has cancer or any other serious health challenge, or is going through another type of life trauma.

It is a long piece and includes my “cancer story”. Hopefully it has a bit of wry humor.

Here is the link to the page: Mulling Over Life With Cancer

It begins with me staring out the window at a flicker. I hope if I do write again I get back to my ‘roots’ here on my blog and write about Nature. In the meantime, as I wrote below, you are invited to explore the menu on the right to read past posts – 8 years of – wanderings, stories, thoughts, my “mullings” over life, and my love of Nature.  Some are informative, some entertaining,  I hope you find a few of interest to you.  There are also pages to be checked out, see the menu at the top.

Love to you.

Penney

And now a word from the author….

This blog was born in 2006 during a time I was ill with some unknown digestive condition that caused me to be nauseous 24/7, eventually and tentatively diagnosed as gastroparesis. Unable to eat solid foods, I lost weight, was no longer able to work, and basically dropped out of the world at large. For six months I traveled to doctors in Seattle for multiple tests and procedures. After being told I might need to be on a feeding tube, I went home. For two years I was home in the woods  except when going to see a variety of non-allopathic health care people and healers. My husband attained sainthood during this time and life changed dramatically for me, having always worked full time in professions that involved helping others. Now I needed to help myself.

Having written articles occasionally throughout my adult life, several months before getting sick I had begun to write more often and had several articles published. I’d hoped to continue writing more. While so ill, I looked for a format to continue writing and share photos of the natural world around me.  Almost by accident I clicked a button on my Apple computer one day and found myself creating a web site.  Mostly for friends and mom (who was understandably worried about me), I wanted people to know I was some how surviving.  Writing, photography, and Mother Nature were all part of my healing, as were the colorful “color doodles” I began to draw. (A turning point in my recovery was also reading the book “The Divide Mind” by Dr John Sarno).

In sharing this story over the years, I’ve met several very successful (in that they actually make money at it!) artists who told me they began their creative life as part of healing from a health crisis.  I believe creativity is a critical aspect of healing for everyone. Everyone has a creative muse in them, perhaps for some of us other aspects of life have to slip away before we see our muse.

After Apple discontinued their server service, I lost my original web site, switched to Google’s Blog Spot, then, in 2011, settled here on Word Press.  Though my initial intention was to share, through photos, essays and stories, the beauty and fascination of Nature, over the years, especially through the years of caring for my Mom as she declined with Alzheimer’s, the writing expanded into posts about people and life.  No specific direction, just whatever moved me to write words and share ideas.

Again I found creative writing to be a balm for the emotional roller coaster and physically exhausting demands of watching my mom slip further into dementia. Too often I felt I was in quick sand, anticipating, but never knowing, when the next crisis would occur, while at the same time staying present with mom and her care needs. It was a time when I lost touch with many aspects of my life, but by occasionally writing I found my grounding. (a poignant piece from this period of time is The Girl In The Turquoise Swimsuit)

I now face a reoccurrence of cancer, my fourth go around with the big “C”, and I find myself once again withdrawing from the surrounding world. This time that world includes the Internet, especially social media (Facebook and Instagram). Facebook has been a way to stay in touch with those far away, some of whom do not have access to email but occasionally can get on facebook, so I may go back, and Instagram has been a fun way to share with other nature lovers and creative types photos and creative projects (such as the Flora Mandalas I began to make after mom died and I had the last cancer episode)

Not certain of the role this blog  now plays in my life, or in the life of readers, I wonder if I have anything more to share of value to others.  Readership has grown, many people who read the posts I do not know personally (but deeply appreciate they’re taking the time to read!) For this reason I will not be writing about what is in store for me in the immediate future. If some where down the time line of my life some great inspiration, funny story, or useful tidbit occurs to me that might help, inspire or amuse others I’ll give it a go. I suspect I won’t be able to stop myself! 🙂

Think of me gently in your prayers, thoughts or visualizations and enjoy my previous posts, there are 174 of them, plus 30  pages (see menu above for pages) to explore! And thank you for wandering with me throughout these years on Huckleberry Wanderings!

Here are just a few of the topics you can search for a blog topic – see the menu list to the right to click and explore a topic. And don’t forget teacups and pin cushions because it is good to remember the every day pleasures of life!

Be the change you want ~ it’s a good day to start

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. Mark Twain

This is for those not feeling patriotic today due to the behavior and hypocrisy of our government toward….well pretty much everyone – those living on this beautiful land before the rest of us immigrated here, people of color, women, etc. A government bend on continuing to exploit Mother Nature. It certainly dampens a celebratory mood to read the news. If this United States experiment is a work in progress, it’s difficult to see the progress.

Look for it. There are good Americans doing good and great things, for other people, for the environment, both here and abroad. We can all be that kind of American in our lives…therein lies the change.

Patriotism is not nationalism. It is a concern for one’s country, for it’s well being. That implies responsibility, not passivity.

Spend the day defining, living, what you want to create in this land. Write it down. Create action steps…helping a neighbor? Calling a friend in need? Donating food, time, money? Becoming a political advocate? Creation and change comes when we define and live what we want, not focus on what we don’t want. Be it small or big, look at how you might be “feeding” the divisiveness, the bigotry, the hatred. Do you embrace someone of a different religion, or skin color, yet speak negatively of someone of a different political party? How is that different?

“Be the change you want” not just a bumper sticker, it’s a profound truth that requires self reflection, that requires looking at our own words, actions, most of all, our thoughts.

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Therein lies the way for our country to represent the values and ideals I believe most of us uphold.

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.” Barack Obama

(It is not my habit to do 2 posts back to back, but I wrote this after reading on social media many people’s disillusionment with celebrating July 4th. I understand that, and feel it myself, but the negativity expressed, i.e. a parade float exhibiting a coffin symbolizing the death of our constitution, is disturbing. Our individual lives are powerful, how do we choose to use that power?)

Independence as defined by a founding mother!

“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation.” Abigail Adams

These words (and many more!) were written by Abigail Adams to her husband John Adams when the Second Continental Congress was formed and its (all male) members debated and deliberated over the writing of the Declaration of Independence. She argued in many letters to her husband that the creation of a new form of government was a chance to make the legal status of women equal to that of men.

The quote above is prefaced by “remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could…..”

Abigail’s influence and advise to her husband during the Continental Congress, as well being both a wife to one President and mother to another, resulted in some historians referring to her as the “Founding Mother” of the United States. But her ideas of freedom and independence were more inclusive than those of the founding fathers.  Not only did she advocate for women’s rights, she also opposed slavery, stating in a letter that most Virginians, as slave owners, did not have such a passion for Liberty “as they claimed they did, since they deprive their fellow Creatures” of freedom.

When a freed young black man came to her home in Philadelphia asking for her help in learning to read and write she helped him enroll in a school.  Her response to a complaining neighbor was:

[he is] “a Freeman as much as any of the young Men and merely because his Face is Black, is he to be denied instruction? How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood? … I have not thought it any disgrace to my self to take him into my parlor and teach him both to read and write.”

She also wanted women to be given equal opportunities for education:

“If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.

“you need not be told how much female education is neglected, nor how fashionable it has been to ridicule female learning.”

painting by Gilbert Stuart

She continued to be John Adam’s closest advisor and confidant through his presidency and in her later years continued her political interests by following the career of her son, John Quincy Adams,  though she did not live to see him become president.

Oh Abigail, you were ahead of your times, but your spirit lived on in the early suffragettes, and lives on in the wave of women who have risen to the occasion to run for political offices locally and nationally in the past few years. Called “Mrs President” (meant to be derogatory) by a journalist at the time for her “meddling” in her husband’s presidency, perhaps in the near future that title will be carried by someone with pride as women gain more representation, a dream of her’s over 200 years ago!

Happy Independence Day for all…….regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality!

A little floral color for your 4th