Showing posts from 2019
Snow...  I love the snow! This love was rekindled on Tuesday evening when I took a walk in the park. It was dusk, the snow was falling gently and gathering on the pine trees. The lake had a thin coat of ice and snowflakes made it white. Snow is so amazing. It is hard to imagine that each flake is unique!  I looked up snowflake on wiki and found: A  snowflake  is a single  ice crystal  that has achieved a sufficient size and may have amalgamated with others, then falls through the  Earth's atmosphere  as  snow .  Each flake nucleates around a dust particle in  supersaturated  air masses by attracting  supercooled  cloud water droplets, which  freeze  and accrete in crystal form. Complex shapes  emerge  as the flake moves through differing temperature and humidity zones in the atmosphere, such that individual snowflakes differ in detail from one another... It always fascinates me to look up the science behind the reality of what I see. Drama lies in the details - the drama of ho
I was fortunate to spend time at Thanksgiving with my family in south Jersey. My sister and I took a lovely walk in the woods behind the cemetery where my dad and most of his family are buried. This is the Wharton tract, a preserve of 122,880 acres in the heart of the Jersey Pine Barrens, the largest in the state. When I go online to read about Batsto Village and Wharton State Forest, it leaves me kind of cold. Facts and figures don't give the feel of home and history. The Pine Barrens are my bioregional home. I am a fourth-generation "Piney" - someone born and raised in the pines. The sandy soil, the pitch pines, cat briers, teaberry, jack oak these are my kin. The waters of the Mullica and Batsto Rivers are lifeblood. I still delight in the sweet smell of the cedar water; I relish the irony taste of the artisan well at Batsto. To walk along these rivers with their slow, serpentine meanderings is like walking with a friend. The feel of pine duff and sand beneath my feet
Last week I took a walk on the bike path along the Mohawk River. I tried to pay attention to the changes in the river since the weather turned cooler. First of all, the invasive water chestnuts that had chocked the shore were gone and the water ran freely. The reeds and the cattails were turning brown and struggling to stay upright in the Autumn wind. The geese were gathering close to shore; mallards too. An ice coating formed on the water. It was thin and subtle, but it foretold the coming of the winter. The water of the Mohawk would be stilled by the ice, resting from its labors. I love to watch the freeze-up process -  some years huge chunks of ice cover the river.  Paying attention was the gift of the day. The river was speaking of this transition to winter; it told many tales. I love this river that braids through Schenectady. It has its story and mine is included with it.  Tenonanatche is its native Mohawk name - "a river flowing through a mountain". Native names alway
Leaves... I love this quote, "Lord, let your love fall down on us like Autumn leaves". The leaves are such blessings to the whole community of life. They thrill us with color. They tantalize us with textures. They gentle our path and make music as we walk through them. Squirrels use them for nests. Little critters like bugs hide in them. The forest floor rejoices in receiving the abundance of prospective new soil and insulation from icy winter storms. Often times they are seen as a nuisance - work in raking or leaf blowing, collecting, bagging, etc. Truth be told our landlady has someone do these tasks so I can wax poetically about the leaves. But I have been trying to pay more attention to each leaf - each has a journey, each is unique. I focus on each singularity, never to be repeated leaf - well of course not everyone, but a few individuals! A leaf caught in a fence, a leaf spinning from an oak tree, a leaf floating on the water of a pond. The veins in the leaf help me
Fall is one of my favorite seasons! The colors are rich and luscious. The textures of trees and branches being un-dressed and plants showing their inners are so fascinating. The crunching of the leaves, the calling of the geese, the last songs of the crickets create a symphony of sounds. Last week I walked the towpath at the Vischer's Ferry Preserve. The marsh was resplendent in its dying. Cattails were turning from green to yellow; their tails were bursting open with soft, plushy fiber that holds their seeds. Reeds were yet refusing to bend to frost, so they set a green background. The vines were brilliant crimson. Oaks put on a deep copper color. Maples flamed in reds and oranges. Poplars seemed unimaginative and turned yellow and brown. I kept saying to myself- pay attention! When did you ever see such an amazing palate? Drink in the beauty and the wonder of how nature dies in style! What do you love about Fall? Please share it!
Last weekend I was in the Adirondacks and took a hike to a waterfall. The day was a luscious sky blue. The kind of sky that wants to pull you into eternity, until you realize that eternity is always right where you stand! The falls were running - a steady flow that bounded and lept over the rocks. The flow was just enough to cause the water to shine in the sunlight coming through the hemlocks. But it wasn't a cascade that covered the rocks. There was a gentle play of water and rock, water and sunlight. A gentle music filled the air and lulled me to sleep in the arms of the roots of a hemlock. Fast asleep! I awoke, feeling like Rip van Winkle and thinking I'd better get up and get going, or who would find me there? But I fell back into a sweet slumber. I felt grounded, held, peaceful. Mother Earth wants to sing to us, to be with us, to soothe and heal us. When do you allow her to do that?
I am usually consistent about doing things - especially things I enjoy. So, I ask myself, why don't you consistently do your blog? I haven't done a post since March! Sometimes, I think I just want to give up all environmental work. The news is bad and getting worse. I find all the destruction really depressing. But that is a poor attitude since one of the purposes of this blog was to share encounters with Earth and invite others to do so too! So this is my attempt to get back on track. The last Sunday in September I took a delightful hike to the Strawberry Fields Preserve outside of Amsterdam. The preserve is managed by the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy It was a blue sky day with mare's tail clouds high in the sky. The trail was well mowed and effortless. The trees were an amazing diversity of oaks, hickories, cherry, maple, and hophornbeam. Purple astors and lavender fleabane dotted the field. But the reason for my pilgrimage there was the fringed
I have a connection with hawks and birds of prey. It really goes back to 2006 after my brother Tom died. Tom spent his life in a wheelchair because of a birth defect. He never let that stop him. I remember well his drive to get a job, to go to college, to engage in sports, to have a social life. A few weeks after Tom died I went hiking and climbed Allender Mt. I was bereft and feeling so down. As I sat on the top of the mountain a falcon whizzed by me and hovered out about 30 feet in front of me. I was startled to say the least! Then I laughed. I felt that Tom was visiting me telling me that he was free and enjoying his new freedom! Ever since then, I have had some very interesting experiences with eagles, hawks, and falcons. Each time I feel my brother's presence, his humor, and his care. A couple of weeks ago I was taking a walk and talking to a friend. I looked up to see a red-tail hawk perched on the top of a pine tree. He was large and the top could barely support him. All at
Waiting for the right moment... I was out skiing the other day. The weather was pleasant. The golf course was mine. A hawk flew from a stand of trees, calling as he went. His wonderful hawk call resounded over the course. Then I heard another hawk in the same stand of trees. Persistent, like she was unwilling to let go of her friend. But on close examination of the voice in the trees, I realized that it came from a blue jay imposter! I had read that jays will imitate hawks, but I never experienced it myself. So there was the jay, as bold as anyone calling hawk-like and hiding in the low branches of the pines. The more she called the stranger the imitation, but she was unvexed. I had a good chuckle! It was worth the wait! A hawk bursts       from an Aspen: climbs,            dips,                         dives,                                  glides. free on the thermals free… How I dream, yearn for that liberty- to be free from the tyrant: self, free from
Friday I went cross country skiing for about an hour on a local golf course. The snow tells many stories. A fox had trotted across the field, straight and sure, not meandering along like a dog. I imagined her route and the destination. Maybe she was looking for dinner. In another spot, I saw the last moment of a rabbit frozen in the snow. There was a small depression where the snow had melted from his body heat. Fur lay embedded in the snow- soft and brown. A hawk must have made off with the dear creature because there were no tracks nearby. A moment caught in the open - one creature's life sails away to become another. So much of nature plays out just beyond our view. We need to look and look again. We need to listen to the stories hidden in the snow. Then we can begin to understand so much. Take a moment to take a look. Share it here in the comments.                                                          Silent stories in the snow                                           
February 12 marked the 14th anniversary of the death of Sr. Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN, a woman who was martyred standing up for the indigenous people of the Amazon.  Sr. Dorothy Stang, a martyr for the Amazon, can inspire us to pay more attention to the beauty of creation, to stand in solidarity with other communities, and to never forget to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Sr. Dorothy had a great love for creation. She once wrote, “ I’m trying daily to fill my lungs with the beauty of our cosmos - her energy - so all that is to be woman can be felt in me.” (This was taken from the Global Catholic Climate Movement's Laudato Si Circle Reflection for February. Visit ) Sister Dorothy lived in the rainforest for 30 years. She relished the beauty of the place and the people. She stood up for their rights. We are needed to protect our Earth where we are in wha
Yesterday I hiked with the Adirondack Mountain Club at Moreau State Park. The week had been so warm and so much of the lovely snow had succumbed to rain and 50-degree temperatures. But Friday temps put us back into the ice age, so there was ice everywhere! Thank God for microspikes! This seems to be the new normal - swings in temperature.  For me, it is so hard not to have winter - yes, winter - for a few blessed months. The quiet, the snow sculpting landscapes, the ice creating filagree along streams, the deep peace. Yes, winter is my season. My heart feels at home in the white beauty and solitude. Winter is a mystic devoted to entering deeply the mysteries hidden in snow and ice. So my winter heart must make peace with a climate that will not sustain cold and snow. I try to think about people who are suffering from climate change now - drought, crop failure, food and water shortages. I still can get what I need in terms of physical necessities. But how will my winter soul find sol
We are in the iron grasp of Winter with frigid temperatures, ice, and snow! This time has meant terrible hardships for so many especially folks in the mid-West. In our area, the cold has made life difficult especially for those in poor neighborhoods who have to walk many places. Sidewalks aren't cleared properly, or at all! They have to push carts and baby carriages through the mess. Homeless folks are forced into shelters, which are a blessing and curse at the same time. Bad weather falls on the poorest with a greater burden. I feel the effects of my privilege: a warm house, warm clothes, substantial food, a car to take me where I need to go. I am grateful for all these things. But I struggle with the knowledge that so many suffer in adverse weather. Weather is not climate change, I realize that. But these extreme weather events have been connected to global warming. The polar vortex is the cause of the cold, but how is that related to climate change? Check out the article at h
Yesterday I volunteered for a Raptor Survey at 5 Rivers in Delmar. I love raptors - they are so elegant. They are such amazing hunters. I feel an energy, a connection from them. We began the survey at 4:10 pm - an hour before sunset. So there we were - three humans combing the cloudy sky and brown landscape for raptors. A harrier came into view. A male with white underside and black wing tips. He dipped and climbed and rolled in the ferocious wind. A game- like surfing the wind. He flew off. The hour crawled by. The wind was cutting. It was cold. I asked myself, "Why did I do this?" Four deer ambled nearby. They browsed and walked about, seemingly untroubled by the wind and cold. I laughed. There they were - no fleece or wool or  Thinsulate or heavy boots. They enjoy a clever coat that traps air, warmed by their bodies and keeps them toasty. Why do we go out to count raptors on days like this? Surveys report numbers and numbers help conservationists to allocate resources t
I haven't posted in a long while. I guess I was feeling that no one looked at the posts so why bother. But I realized that our Earth doesn't behave that way. Every day she pours forth beauty, resources, life and is very often taken for granted. So in the beginning of this new year, I would like to begin again to share my encounters with Earth. I hope if you are reading this, you will share an encounter of your own! beads of sunlight frozen along the branches of a small tree. water droplets lighting sparkling shimmering like winter fireflies. (5 Rivers 12/1/18)