11.07.2014,2:10 PM
Two Days Back in Time
On the way from Oregon to New Mexico, I spent two days back in time. A long time ago.

Traveling on the road can sometimes be as exhausting as it is often exhilarating. I needed a break. I've always wondered what was hiding in the northeast corner of Arizona. And one point of interest which may travelers often pass by without stopping is the Petrified Forest National Park, which also contains the Painted Desert. The latter is like eye candy for many, but there is so much more revealed there.

I spent almost two full days exploring both. And it wasn't enough. Like many places like this national park, a one-day, even two-day visit is more a superficial introduction. But it barely is enough time to immerse one's self into all the land and cultural features. Especially the hikes.

So I will return some time to spend more time. And it won't be many years down the road!

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posted by Macrobe
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10.21.2014,9:27 PM
The Human Wolf, and a memory
My annual viewing of a movie that belays superficiality: Brotherhood of the Wolf. A French production of much depth. We fear the wolf because it reveals our deep inner selves. So we ascribe our demons onto this animal and hunt it to exorcise ourselves.

"I set upon you a beast that will consume our livestock and reduce our lands to deserts." Now, what book did that come from?

In addition, I once knew a young French-Canadian man very much like Grégoire, the Royal naturalist in the movie. He was also part Cree, and so, also like Mani, like the Mohawk that Grégoire called, "Brother."

That was a long, very long time ago. Some people you never forget. Even after 38 years.

posted by Macrobe
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10.18.2014,10:28 PM
I didn't retire from Life!
I just realized my second retirement anniversary whizzed by without remembering. I guess I was too busy to remember.

The first year and 1/2 after my official retirement date from full-time incarceration in the Cage of Academia sucked. Point blank: it really sucked. It was like decades of sour demons escaped from where ever they were hiding and crapped on me. I lost my Home, my father, some friends (who perhaps were not real friends after all), my heart, and my future went down the bottomless hole. 

The last half (almost 1/2) of the second year was the best months in years. I have no home, no money, no insurance, and I live each day one at a time. What I do have is this: my freedom, independence and integrity. I have a Home on wheels that I take with me like a turtle. I have my family. I have new friends and have reconnected with old friends. I have a new purpose in life that includes humans and all species of animals. And I give myself to them all.

The coyotes sing with me, birds take me for flights, plants call me names, water carries me, the wind pushes me along with it, the lightning shoots me to the sky while the stars twinkle me in their eyes. Mountains grow inside me and the ocean sings me lullabies. The moon tells me stories while I whisper to it in Italian, and the sun and I play hide-and-seek.

I am more alive than I have been in years. And the demons have been put to bed. So far, I'm on the right Path; a Path with Heart.

posted by Macrobe
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10.12.2014,8:02 PM
How animals grow in the presence of nature
"Research suggests the cultural shift required to develop affinity for nature is closely linked to the level of independence children have when visiting natural areas. Children who design and direct their own play experiences in nature seem to have a greater understanding and confidence in natural environments than. Holden who visit under close supervision."
(And, I might add, whose visits are strictly structured)

I dare say the same applies to adults. 

Go walk on the grass barefoot, pick a flower and put it in your hair. Yip with the coyotes and howl with the wolves, move like a deer, and sing like a bird. Run on the beach and climb over the rocks, beam like a full moon and shine like the stars. Hug a tree and lay on the sand with a turtle.

Immerse yourself. Touch that child inside you and live again.


posted by Macrobe
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10.06.2014,11:23 PM
Leaving Serenity
My last night in eastern Oregon was spent boondocking at Chickahominy Reservoir, managed by the BLM. It was a quiet evening and peaceful night. A nightcap to my summer in southeast Oregon.

The next morning I drove north to Santiam Pass and into the Willamette Valley. Along the way clouds and fog slithered over the the Three Ladies of the Cascades (Three Sisters), like a lover's fingers embracing the peaks of these mountains. I could almost feel their fingers along my own skin. These geological ladies have always made me smile, especially during hikes along the bottoms of their skirts. I have slept at their feet along the shores of Scott Lake, the eerie and enchanting sound of loon calls lulling me to sleep.

I love this country. It is wild and free, diversified with desert basins, giant trees and subliminal coasts; deep expansive canyons, blue glistening lakes and rough run but life-giving rivers. One can stand in wide open skies or stoop small like a hobbit dwarfed by giant trees, and spread your arms like a hawk standing on the edge of a mountain rim with the scent of bighorn sheep filling your nostrils.

This is the land of freedom if you want it.You can get lost in it and never feel alone.

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posted by Macrobe
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9.28.2014,9:49 PM
If I were an owl.......
Listened to a conversation between the male and female pair of Great Horned owls that nest here at the Refuge.I offered a few comments. The male answered, the female ignored me. 

Sigh. It's tough being a human owl.

posted by Macrobe
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,8:47 AM
A Traveler's Revelation
I have realized this summer while traveling that what I love the most is the loss of being drawn in and captured by the myriad of daily demands and trivialities that shrink our world to only the microcosm around us. It allows me the time and mental awareness to expand beyond myself, almost losing myself, while gaining a larger consciousness and spirituality. I know it sounds religious, but it is not at all. It is more an existential and holistic existence. And a freedom I don't want to trade for anything.

Walking out the door of a small cluttered room and into the wide open world filled with wonder.

posted by Macrobe
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,12:07 AM
A grebe comes home
Got close and personal with a Western grebe today. It was 'rescued' from the middle of the road near the Refuge HQ. Carried wrapped in a woman's sweater into the HQ, we explained to its rescuer how grebes can't walk well, nor take flight from the ground. Their legs are very short and placed near their rear end. On the other hand, they are excellent swimmers and divers. This one probably was blown down by the strong winds today.

We took the bird down to the pond and let it loose in the water. It was happy to be on water; flapped its wings, dove under and up through the water like a dolphin, and paddled away. I understand their courtship rituals are really incredible as pairs literally dance together on top of the water. 

I look forward to seeing this in the spring.

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posted by Macrobe
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9.16.2014,8:06 PM
Inward Bound
Every once in awhile, unplugging from the rest of the world entices the mind to turn inward. While at the same time connecting with the non-human element. This is the world that daily becomes more invisible to all of us. This summer I have had the fortune of becoming immersed in the Invisible. But it is not invisible to me.

Spending most of the summer at a National Wildlife Refuge in sothheast Oregon, I have enjoyed my reunion with wildlife. Surrounded by birds -waterfowl, shore birds, songbirds, raptors, and owls- my days are full of new discoveries and remembering old lessons. In the sagebrush steppes of the northern Great Basin, my plant skills have been honed. And I have enjoyed observing mammals that I haven't seen in decades.

But not all delights have been living organisms. In this land of recent volcanism and shifting continental drama, these basalt rims, towering uplifted fault blocks, and volcanic cinder cones dotted with pumice of all colors also give me delight. The child inside smiles and sometimes even squeaks, as I did when watching five otters in a pond one morning.

Part of my duties was to greet and inform visitors to the Refuge. More than just providing directions, I like to relay tidbits of natural history, sometimes personal anecdotes, encourage their questioning, and serve as a guide through the eyes of the creatures that inhabit this region. Rather than just directing them to a place where they can check off names on the bird list. I enjoy helping to tease their curiosity and searching for answers.

This is my calling.

And I enjoy spending the occasional self-indulgence of escaping to the wild.

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posted by Macrobe
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