Showing posts from 2017

Christmas Bird Count

Yesterday I experienced my first Christmas Bird Count right here in Schenectady. I have always wanted to do this because the data that is collected is so important in protecting birds and their habitat. An expert birder who has been doing this for many years initiated me in the Count. We walked one site after another listening and looking for signs of birds. It was cloudy and cold, so we were challenged to stay with it for over 5 hours.  It was very exciting to go on the "hunt" for birds. We really wanted to find a great horned owl, but no luck. We did see 5 species of woodpeckers: Downey, Hairy, Piliated, Yellow- Bellied Sapsucker and Red Breasted. That was a real treat. At one site we estimated a mob of 250 crows - American and Fish. They were making quite a din! That always means something is disturbing them; they are the sentinels of the forest. In this case, they had spotted a coyote! We counted many other species. I loved the mallards and common mergansers by the Mohaw
Sorry, it has been a month since posting. I have been having computer troubles! Yesterday, December 2 I went to 5 Rivers Environmental Center in Delmar. I was "celebrating" five years of my mom's going home to God. I always go to the woods for healing, solace, celebration, reflection. There I find peace, comfort, joy... Yesterday was cloudy but pleasant. The December woods are stark but still alive with tales of life and promise. The brown fields, the crunching leaf litter, and the soft, piney duff speak of things that have passed. Woodpeckers and crows were still busy. Deer in their dark winter coats came out to feed. Nature has no problem letting go and falling asleep after a job well done. Spring will come, green will return; songbirds will sing again. All that spoke to me of my mom and how I know I will experience the fullness of her presence once more and have the pleasure of her company, face to face!
Yesterday I hiked in the Northwest Bay area. It was a gentle four mile hike with some longtime hiking buddies. The day was crisp and needed layering. The woods were in the in-between of November - in between all the leaves down, all the plants brown with frost. The fern was luciously green. The moss, swollen with water, soft. I sunk my fingers into the sphagnum and club moss and touched a deep inviting world.  Humans belong in the woods. A magic comes over us. We seem alive, curious, ready to play and share. We are subjects among subjects - kin to the trees and fern and moss. We don't need to own and hoard. There is enough of the coolness of moss, the music of flowing stream, the green of fern and foam flower, the tangy smell of duff and dead leaves, the rich ooze of mud. There is more than enough. And we rejoice! 
Over the weekend I went to Hampton Bays on the Long Island Sound for a workshop. Saturday morning I watched the sun ease into the sky and throw a walkway of orange light across the Sound. It seemed that I could step out on the water and take a stroll. Swans, gulls and cormorants were more practical as they tended to breakfast. I walked the beach looking for the remains of stories. Moon snails, quahogs, slipper shells, razor clams, bay scallops, hermit crabs were all eager to share tales of arrival on the beach. Some were harrowing tales of predator's meals; some were stories of being cast upon the rocks. Now the shells would delight beachcombers like me or return to the beach as sand. I inched down the tideline, a place rapidly changing and so full of wonders and mysteries. A cormorant waddling along the beach caught my eye. Walking, not diving or flying - strange. Then I saw why - a large fishing sinker swung from its neck. A noose which condemned the bird to land, not to fly or
Last weekend I joined a couple of friends to do the Walkway Over the Hudson in New Paltz. The walkway, bikeway, skateway, strollerway is an ingenious bridge created on the bed of an aging and abandoned train bridge that once linked  Highland to Poughkeepsie. Our day was blue-skied and warm for October. The leaves were still teasing us with only pockets of color - single candle trees of orange and red. Lots of yellow shimmered in the October sun. The Hudson danced below. Spread out in shining waters to the bends of the River that Flows Both Ways, as the Mahicans called her. There along the banks were stories - nature and human told. Cliffs rising above the river. Trains on each side - west for cargo and east for passengers. Promises of mergansers and sturgeon and cod were whispered by the waters. Everywhere there was delight. The humans on the bridge, many with their dogs, mirrored the delight of the day. People of every color, shape, fit, ethnicity ambled, ran, talked and walked acro
Fall is seed time. There is an amazing array of seeds that are ready to fall and sleep and be prepared to spring to life when the earth warms. Nature packages her seeds in such creative ways! Some, like milkweed, burst their pods in silky white billows, carrying seeds like little parachutes over meadows and fields. Oaks just drop their acorns unceremoniously sometimes pummeling those below. Lindens swirl their seeds like the blades of a helicopter, or is that where humans got the idea for helicopter blades? Mullin holds her stalks of  seeds aloft for small birds to feast on and spread the rest. Maples twirl down delightfully pirouetting into the ground. Cattails, brown and bursting soft, gauzy fill hide their seeds. Nuts trees are very protective and wrap seeds in hard casings. The abundance and magnanimity of plants preparing for the next generation is astounding! Nature's inheritance is passed on wrapped in so many lessons for us who are students of learning to let go so more can
Today is Indigenous Peoples Day. That upsets people who celebrate Christopher Columbus today. I used to enjoy upsetting people about these points of American history. I don't enjoy it anymore but I see the importance of the discomfort. It is important to face our history on this and other hard issues.   "While we cannot change the past, we can realise and remember the pain that millions suffered throughout our nation's history. We can also recall the tremendous achievements of the original inhabitants of our continent." - Hilda Solis ( authored the LA County motion for a resolution to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, slated to take effect in 2019) On Saturday, I went to Ware, MA to the Agape Community for a gathering "Listening to Native Voices: Standing Rock is Everywhere". I went as a pilgrim to learn more about what our Indigenous People are still suffering, to listen so my heart could understand more deeply. Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of
Autumn has so much to share, so much to teach us. As with many of Earth's teachings, we need to be attentive, to be open. Most of the time, Mother Earth does not compel us to be her students.  Two week ago on a hike at Grafton,  I was given a teaching by the falling leaves... Tell me about dying... Is it tumbling out of a maple- free falling, twirling red and orange -  flaming? Is it nestling in the rich muck of earth letting go, settling into become the greening? Is it needles of the pines spinning browness against the blue of sky, yielding soft duff for weary feet? So much dying that goes unnoticed wait, no - celebrated, sung over, embraced not as death  but promise. 9/25/17
This blog is really and simply about Encountering Earth! Everyday we have encounters with the Earth community. Sunshine coming in our windows, our yards, the wind on our faces, creatures who co-habitate with us (pets, but also spiders, ladybugs, fruit flies...). But nature is often just a backdrop to our busy lives - she is there to hold us up, to feed us, to cloth us, to give us the raw materials we need for our stuff. Is she there as a "subject", as someone with which we have a relationship? Are we present to her in real attention and in gratitude? So I hope that this blog will serve as a point of awareness in our busy lives to share moments of encountering Earth in simple and awesome ways! Visit Encountering Earth web page