Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

by 


Although ecology may be treated as a science, its greater and overriding wisdom is universal. That wisdom can be approached mathematically, chemically, or it can be danced or told as a myth.

~ Paul Shepard

Friday, December 28, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: solstice, anxiety, hikes, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Kindly post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Human Nature: Toward the light

Earlier this month came the shooting in my community's mall, the horrific event in Connecticut, and more recently and more closely for me, a disturbing encounter with a mentally ill man who, by the time the police showed up, was angry about roommates who repeatedly kill him ("You wouldn't like to die every day, would you?! Neither do I!").

I was unsettled, I was anxious. 


I know of few cures for this, but nature is one of them. At first opportunity, I grabbed the boots I'd bought at the mall, and headed for the woods.

It's the connection to the wider world, the large beauty, and the beauty in the details; it's the literal, physical grounding of walking a few miles that calms and soothes. It works whether you walk alone



or with a companion.

It also helps to know that we're turning back toward the light. Five days now since the solstice, 24 seconds more light today than yesterday.








In anxious days, keep your feet on the ground, put your arms around those you love, and keep on toward the light.




Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: singing, mall, reclaiming, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Kindly post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Human Nature: Reclaiming...

It's the mall where I bought my hiking boots. It's the mall where my daughter, when she was little, sat on Santa's lap. And it's the mall where, a week ago Tuesday, a man opened fire and killed two people--miraculously not more--before killing himself.

Yesterday at Clackamas Town Center, a group of us gathered in the food court, by the tables people had huddled under when the shooting began. We were there because of an email sent out by my friend Lisa, asking folks to join in a caroling event to "demonstrate our empathy and compassion for those affected by the shooting. The message we wish to deliver is that we will not allow the darkness within a few disturbed individuals to extinguish the light within us all."

I'm not sure how many of us were there because of the email and how many shoppers spontaneously joined in, but over 150 people came together and sang. And sang, and sang. Lisa's plan had been to keep it short and simple--just the first verses of 6 carols--but folks didn't want to stop, and so we sang on. 

http://www.kgw.com/video/featured-videos/Flash-mob-carols-at-Clackamas-Town-Center-184277741.html

It felt like a reclaiming of that space, a sanctifying of it after tragedy. It was the first time I'd been to the mall since the shooting, and it was a good way to return: singing. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Nature Quote

photo by Terry Foote on Flickr

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
~ Wendell Berry

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: shrews or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Please, oh please post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below. 







Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marsh & Water Shrews

This is not really our water shrew, but looks similar.
Photo by James T M Towill
To see photos of a PNW water shrew, visit
 http://www.sccp.ca/species-habitat/pacific-water-shrew
You're sitting on the bank of a small stream when an animal about the size of a mouse swims by underwater like a miniature submarine. The air trapped in its fur makes it appear coated with silver, and little bubbles string out in its wake. You've just seen a marsh shrew.

The Pacific Northwest has two shrews that are as comfortable in the water as they are on land. The marsh shrew (also called the Pacific water shrew) inhabits lower-elevation waterways, particularly marshes and streams, while the water shrew takes the upper elevations.

Both species have "swimming fringes" on the sides of their feet. These stiff, short hairs not only aid the animal in swimming, they also trap air so that, for a few seconds, the shrew can literally run across the water's surface (!).

I've never chanced to see one of these, either running or submerged. How about you?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

 NASAESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to ... stars that exploded their chemically-rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, and to the rest of the universe atomically.... That makes me smile... It's not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us. 
~Neil deGrasse Tyson

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: forests, love, and loss or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nostos felicis: a homecoming

When the massive red cedar fell alongside the forest trail, it must have been a thunderous landing. The old tree had spilt lengthwise for about ten feet, and the path beside the tree dipped downhill below that split in such a way that, if you wanted to, you could duck your head and step right inside the embrace of the old giant. Morning rain had turned the revealed wood within the tree a red so bright and fresh that it nearly glowed. 

The family had already passed the fallen tree as they'd walked down the trail; now, on their return, they could see the legs of people who had accepted the tree's invitation, and stepped inside. And as the family came closer, they saw that there were more than a dozen people standing within the tree, clustered together. 

What were they doing?

When we ducked out of the tree, wiping our eyes, we found a family regarding us with some curiosity. We greeted them but didn't explain ourselves ...  we'd been saying goodbye to a baby we love. He had been born too early, and terribly sick, and we had been looking for a good place in this forest to consign his spirit. His mothers had chosen this old tree for a ceremony of remembrance; it was a place that would nourish the forest and would grow new baby trees.

And so we stepped inside the tree for a brief and sweet and mostly impromptu ceremony, giving baby Felix over to this tree (and the black bear and the salmon, and the maidenhair fern, and the flying squirrel, and...). Ralph sang a song for him, and for us, that ended with the words May your spirit be ancient and enduring.

A giant tree that had lived for centuries and a baby who was too tiny to live more than fifteen days. There are some griefs and sadnessesand some miraclesthat only a forest can hold. 
by ChibiJosh

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

photo by  
I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the message of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day--the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.

~ Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place