Tag Archives: wilderness

silence.

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”  – Rachel Naomi Remen

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green river area

green river area

https://www.hcn.org/blogs/range/green-river-nuclear-reactors-utah?src=mc

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story.

“Take someone who doesn’t keep score, who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing, who has not the slightest interest even in his own personality: He’s free.” – Rumi

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Canyonlands

Canyonlands

http://delcotopten.blogspot.com/2011/06/top-10-national-parks-are-free-today.html

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“Remember only this one thing,” said Badger. “The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them.  If stories come to you, care for them.  And learn to give them away where they are needed.  Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.” -Barry Lopez

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farewell.

The New York Times
December 25, 2013

Farewell
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG

The first Rural Life appeared on the editorial page nearly 16 years ago.  This is the last.  This seems a good season to leave, with a long winter ahead, the wood stove burning, and plenty of hopes and plans for the coming year.  When The Rural Life began, I didn’t imagine that it would last so long or chart so many changes in my life.  Nor did I imagine that it would find so many good readers.  But it has, and I’m grateful for that.

As for the farm, it will go on much as it has.  The horses will stand broadside in the sun or paw the snow looking for last year’s grass.  The roosters — two of them now — will breast the bright morning air as always while the hens go about their business.  The dogs — two of them now, again — will chase each other through the snow.  I’ll be fixing fence and hauling wood and feeding out hay and chopping ice in the horse tank when the power goes out.  And I’ll be doing what I’ve always done: watching the way one thought becomes another as I go about the chores.

But what about your farm, the one you’ve pictured while reading The Rural Life all these years?  I know, from talking to readers, that it’s far bigger and more orderly than mine.  It has fewer rocks and richer soil and fences that somehow magically stay taut.  It reflects who you are as surely as my place reflects who I am.  And it seems to be just about anywhere, wherever there’s open land and some woods and enough time to walk the fence line.  I’ve always wished that I could visit the farm that readers imagine I live on.  It sounds like a very nice place.

I am more human for all the animals I’ve lived with since I moved to this farm.  Here, I’ve learned almost everything I know about the kinship of all life.  The only crops on this farm have been thoughts and feelings and perceptions, which I know you’re raising on your farm, too.  Some are annual, some perennial and some are invasive — no question about it.

But perhaps the most important thing I learned here, on these rocky, tree-bound acres, was to look up from my work in the sure knowledge that there was always something worth noticing and that there were nearly always words to suit it.

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edge.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/opinion/life-on-the-edge.html

December 26, 2013

Life on the Edge

By AKIKO BUSCH

IN environmental parlance, the ecotone is the zone where two habitats merge, that threshold where water meets the shore, where the forest comes to meadow, or where woodland ends at a cultivated lawn. It is the edge habitat where everything — soil content, vegetation, moisture, humidity, light, pollination — changes. It’s also where species from both sides converge, rendering it a place of complex interaction and diversity.

All of which makes it a good place to work. My small office here in the Hudson Valley of New York is situated at the edge of our yard, where the woods of oak, maples and hickories meet the brambles, the rye grass and timothy. Things are always happening here: White-tailed deer wander out from the woods foraging for something to eat, and wild turkeys often parade through the long grass. Once, at dusk, I saw a coyote slipping through the trees, and for a few brief moments two winters ago, a small gray bobcat. And one morning last summer I was astonished to see a black bear amble out from the trees.

The view from my window is of a place of constant change and unexpected appearances. Such a landscape can be helpful when you’re trying to distill a nebulous idea into a handful of words. It could be nothing more than a ring-necked pheasant pecking at the dry leaves, its iridescent green feathers picking up the glint of afternoon light, but a glance outdoors is enough to remind me of the intensity and complexity in these places of transition, where one thing manages to become another.

Aldo Leopold, forester, writer and dean of American wildlife conservation, articulated the idea of the edge effect in his 1933 classic, “Game Management.” Observing how different species search out different peripheries, he wrote that the grouse hunter looks to the edges of the woods “with its grape tangles, haw-bushes, and little grassy bays,” while the quail hunter “follows the common edge between the brushy draw and the weedy corn,” and the deer hunter “the edge between the oaks of the south slope and the pine thicket of the north slope.”

“We do not understand the reason for all of these edge-effects,” he wrote, “but in those cases where we can guess the reason, it usually harks back either to the desirability of simultaneous access to more than one environmental type, or the greater richness of border vegetation, or both.”

Humans, too, have some primal appreciation for this piece of environmental real estate. We seem to know that the edge is where the action is, or the place you push things to for the best results. When you understand the periphery’s purpose and significance in ecology, it gives you another way to understand different edges in human society and how their energy is created, whether you are talking about the borders between diverse populations in urban communities or more abstract reflections on how ideas intersect and are cross-pollinated.

In an essay about ethnic identity, the historian and essayist Tony Judt wrote about his preference for the edge as “the place where countries, communities, allegiances, affinities and roots bump uncomfortably up against one another.” Margins and edges, he suggested, offer us “a decidedly advantageous perch.”

And it occurs to me now, as we edge into a new year, that time has an ecotone of its own, some thin cusp where before meets up with after. Because surely the edge effect can be a circumstance of chronology as well as one of place. And surely the way the months, seasons, years brush up against one another can produce a similar influence of change, diversity, vitality.

Perhaps it is possible to imagine year’s end as having some temporal edge effect, to see it as the place where desire and expectation intersect with actuality. And to look at this time of year as an interval during which one is suddenly more attentive to that friction between the finished and the unfinished, the energy that lies between the done and the undone.

If adjacencies of terrain nurture biodiversity, maybe this juncture of years can generate similar sudden sightings of unexpected possibilities. How many minutes, hours, days are equal to a few feet of wild grass and bramble? And who knows what could show up during that time? It could be anything. The bears are asleep now, but it could be a turkey flapping in the brush, a gray squirrel practicing its aerials, or a coyote slipping by so elusively that all I’ll ever notice are its prints in the snow.

Akiko Busch is the author of “The Incidental Steward: Reflections on Citizen Science.”

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appreciate.

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure — the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach

http://daringtolivefully.com/gratitude-quotes

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cliffs north of Colorado City AZ

 

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edge.

“Living systems never really settle down.” – John Holland

“Plants and animals that do settle down do not survive for very long.  It is as if life is forever trying  to keep itself exquisitely balanced on the edge between chaos and order…..Living systems that survive in the wild, from a flying starling to a rain forest orchid, must learn to adapt with the shifting ecosystems around them, retaining their precarious ecological balance at the vital edge of survival between two competing but necessary worlds. Order and chaos.” – David Whyte

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Comb Wash

Comb Wash

 

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Enough

Enough. These few words are enough.

If not these words, this breath.

If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life

we have refused

again and again

until now.

Until now. – David Whyte

 

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Comb Ridge, Utah

Comb Ridge, Utah

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“A bedrock faith in my own perceptions. How would that dangerous path on the ridge between chaos and order look if I were to say that everything in my life is enough, at least to take the next step, to begin?” – David Whyte

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sensitive souls.

“In a college psychology class, I was required to read a book subtitled, “The Mental Institution as a Last Resort”. The book’s thesis was that many people in mental institutions are not crazy, but just more sensitive than most people in society.  The authors suggested that many mental patients are simply too fine tuned to fit into the mainstream, and an institution is a safe place – similar to an ashram or monastery – where they can be who they are without having to adapt to a society that is in many ways more insane than they are.

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kings canyon

kings canyon

http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/United_States_of_America/California/Kings_Canyon_National_Park-753470/General_Tips-Kings_Canyon_National_Park-TG-C-1.html

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“Hilda Charlton noted that souls who are particularly fine-tuned emotionally, artistically or spiritually are often unable to cope with the heaviness of the world, and so they turn to various addictions to escape.  Alcoholics, drug addicts and many mental patients are highly evolved souls who cannot find comfort, acceptance or a forum for expression in their worldly circles, so they sedate their sense of homelessness with chemicals or insanity. Indeeed, many great artists, musicians, thinkers, inventors and visionaries have sought to take refuge in addiction or illusion.

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Deadman Canyon, Kings Canyon National Park

Deadman Canyon, Kings Canyon National Park

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/77200510

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“…..we do not need to escape from the world we see, for it is not a place of truth…..In the Hindu culture, holy men and women are revered and cared for by the society. Saints and mystics are not tested, prodded, poked, cross-examined, rationalized, written-off and shunned as they are in the West. In that culture, genuine visionaries are supported to do their spiritual work… Let’s honor our sensitivity and create a supportive space for talented souls to express their true selves..” – Alan Cohen

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desert.

“Everything that ever happened to me that was important happened in the desert.”  – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

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Land Vernon AZ

Land Vernon AZ

http://www.landsofarizona.com/arizona/land-for-sale/50-acres-in-Apache-County-Arizona/id/1073650

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“He’d always had a quickening of the heart when he crossed into Arizona and beheld the cactus country. This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaro standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite.”  – Dorothy B. Hughes

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near Pinetop AZ

near Pinetop AZ

http://www.city-data.com/picfilesv/picv27054.php

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“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”  – Edward Abbey

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National Parks: Shutting Down America’s Best Idea

Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon North Rim

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grand_Canyon_-_North_Rim_Panorama_-_Sept_2004.jpg

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http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/10/131002-national-parks-shutting-down-americas-best-idea/

National Parks: Shutting Down America’s Best Idea

The parks are essential to the country’s well-being.

A U.S. Park Police officer watches at left as a National Park Service
employee posts a sign on a barricade closing access to the Lincoln
Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

Kenneth Brower

National Geographic

Published October 2, 2013

Yesterday, as the U.S. government shut down, all 401 of our national
parks closed their gates. The campers and visitors inside were given
two days to leave. It was no great surprise.

We had gone to sleep the night before knowing that time had run out;
there would be no last-minute return to sanity in Congress, no daring
White House maneuver that might avert the shutdown. The sequester of
last March, with its closing of selected parks, national monuments,
and historical sites, had given us a preview and some degree of
preparation for bigger hits this time. Yet one word in my morning
paper stopped me in mid-paragraph and made me bristle: “nonessential.”

Of all federal endeavors deemed nonessential by the government, I
learned, the national parks are at the top of the list. Really? I
found myself questioning priorities. Many of the choices made in the
present crisis do make some sense: The military will not be
furloughed, nor will Social Security workers or air traffic
controllers. Some of the shutdowns are even to be celebrated, if you
happen to share my values: No new oil or gas leases will be contracted
on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, and IRS
offices are closing here and there around the country.

Mark Weekley, superintendent at the National Park Service’s Lewis and
Clark National Historical Trail, affixes the edges of a sign
proclaiming the facility closed due to the federal government
shutdown, in Omaha, Neb., on Tuesday.

There are gray areas in between, of course. Just now, in writing this,
I heard the postal van and walked down, as usual, to meet my mail
carrier on the driveway. I was glad to see her unfurloughed and losing
no pay. And yet. It was one of those junk-mail days, with not one
piece of actual correspondence, not a single letter addressed to me. I
walked the envelope of coupons from Valpak.com and the sales fliers
from Lucky, Safeway, Subway, and ADT Home Security straight to the
recycling bin. Was this sheaf of cheap print really more essential
than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Acadia, and Glacier Bay?

“The best idea we’ve ever had,” Wallace Stegner wrote of the park
system. Ken Burns, in making his documentary on the national parks,
recast the phrase as”America’s Best Idea.” Stegner, in his famous
“Wilderness Letter,” went on to make the best case for the wild
terrain that is the quintessential core of many of our national parks
and forests. “We simply need that wild country available to us,” he
concluded, “even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look
in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as
creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

The national parks hold the landscapes that formed us as Americans.
The long vistas, the possibilities over the horizon, the purple
mountains’ majesty, distinguished our experience from that of the
Africans, Europeans, Asians, and islanders that we were before we
came. The national parks are where we go to renew contact with that
experience. Can there be a connection between the partisan hostility
of the moment, the governmental paralysis, and our loss of contact
with those roots? Is it possible we were not meant to live like canned
sardines?

It was in wilderness that we became Homo sapiens. Our evolution was
not in the Information Age, or the Space Age, or the Atomic, or the
Industrial. It came long before the invention of agriculture or fire.
We evolved as hunter-gatherers in the wild landscape of Mother Africa.
It is in wilderness that we meet ourselves face to face.

It is easy to take for granted what a remarkable creation the national
parks are, and what a great slice of Creation they contain. The
National Park System spans 82° of latitude, from Gates of the Arctic
National Park at 70° N, to American Samoa National Park at 12° S. It
spans 90° of longitude, from Katmai National Park on the Gulf of
Alaska (and American Samoa National Park 7,500 miles south on the same
meridian) to Virgin Islands National Park in the Caribbean. The
highest point in North America is the summit of Mount McKinley, at
20,320 feet in Denali National Park. The lowest is Badwater Basin, at
282 feet below sea level in Death Valley National Park. The coldest is
Mount McKinley, where in 2003 the wind chill reached minus 118.1
degrees Fahrenheit (47.8 degrees Celsius), a North American record.
The hottest is Death Valley, where at Furnace Creek, on July 10, 1913,
the temperature reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.6 degrees Celsius).
Death Valley, no surprise, also scores as the driest, with just 1.8
inches (45.7 millimeters) of annual rainfall.

The tallest tree on Earth, the coastal redwood Sequoia sempervirens,
grows in Redwood National Park in California. The biggest, the
redwood’s inland cousin, the giant sequoia Sequoiadendron
giganteum—the most massive organism ever to live—grows in Kings
Canyon, Sequoia, and Yosemite National Parks. The longest cave system
on Earth lies in, or under, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
The deepest lake in the United States, at 1,943 feet (592 meters),
fills the caldera of Crater Lake National Park. The tallest dunes in
North America, 750 feet (228.6 meters) from base to crest, march
across Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

The National Park System, expansive in space, also spans great gulfs
of time. A mile deep in Grand Canyon National Park, in the inner gorge
of the Colorado, the river has cut into a basement layer of rock 1.75
billion years old. A river-runner floats by walls of metavolcanic
Brahma Schist laid down when the highest form of life on Earth was
blue-green algae.

In Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, the rock is brand-new. Kilauea
Volcano, in the middle of the park, has been in continuous eruption
for the past 30 years. Shield your face against the heat of one of
Kilauea’s molten streams, dip the point of your geological hammer in,
and you will come away with a glowing gob of lava at the tip. In
seconds the glow fades. The gob blackens. In a minute it is cool
enough to touch. Newborn basalt.

The last of the tallgrass prairie, which once covered 140 million
acres of North America, is preserved at Tallgrass Prairie National
Preserve in Kansas. The largest stands of saguaro cactus are protected
at Organ Pipe National Monument and Saguaro National Park. The last
wild bison herds roam Yellowstone, Theodore Roosevelt, and Badlands
National Parks. Florida panthers, the last cougars in the eastern
United States, take refuge in Everglades National Park and two nearby
reserves. Big Bend National Park in Texas, Grand Canyon in Arizona,
and Noatak Natural Preserve in Alaska preserve the beauty and
integrity of the nation’s finest stream courses.

Manassas National Battlefield Park, Gettysburg National Park, Little
Bighorn National Monument, and dozens of National Historical Sites
(Jamestown, Andrew Johnson, Fort Bowie, Harpers Ferry, John Muir,
Truman, Martin Luther King Jr., Brown vs. Board of Education) preserve
American history.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (from the Archaic period of Pueblo
civilization), Chaco Culture Natural Historical Park (from the Pueblo
II period), Mesa Verde National Park (Pueblo III), and Pecos Natural
History Park (Pueblo IV), preserve American prehistory, as do
Petroglyph, Aztec Ruins, Montezumas Castle, Bandelier, Wupatki, Walnut
Camp, Navajo, Hovenweep, and assorted other national monuments.

Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, with its fossils of
Allosaurus,Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Stegosaurus, along with
Badlands National Park in South Dakota, with its fossils of rhinos,
horses, and saber-toothed cats, and Petrified Forest National Park in
Arizona, with its fossil cycads, extinct conifers, phytosaurs, and
crocodylomorphs, all preserve American pre-prehistory, the
paleontological record of our land.

The National Park System is, in so many ways, the measure of our place
and of ourselves. If anything good comes of the shutdown, it may be
that it gives us the opportunity to see how we like it without our
parks, and to see what they mean to us.

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sailing.

Lake George

Lake George

http://www.city-data.com/forum/city-vs-city/649779-texas-vs-ny-state-21.html#b

 

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“What she really loved was to hang over the edge and watch the bow of the ship slice through the waves. She loved it especially when the waves were high and the ship rose and fell, or when it was snowing and the flakes stung her face.”  – Kristin Cashore

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Chris Cross “Sailing”, 1980

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“We clear the harbor and the wind catches her sails and my beautiful ship leans over ever so gracefully, and her elegant bow cuts cleanly into the increasing chop of the waves. I take a deep breath and my chest expands and my heart starts thumping so strongly I fear the others might see it beat through the cloth of my jacket. I face the wind and my lips peel back from my teeth in a grin of pure joy.”  – L.A. Meyer

 

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upstate ny

upstate ny

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/things-people-from-upstate-new-york-love

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“That’s what sailing is, a dance, and your partner is the sea. And with the sea you never take liberties. You ask her, you don’t tell her. You have to remember always that she’s the leader, not you. You and your boat are dancing to her tune.”  – Michael Morpugo

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