Nature verses the local grocery...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trails...of Writing

Nature is everywhere, particularly evidenced in our human interactions. Last night for instance.

Our writers group met for an impromptu class on blogging. We're all doing it to one degree or another, we all want to improve our content and regularity of posting, not to mention making more of those little, green, flat, rectangular paper things we so rarely find in our wallets, of late.

So for 3.5 hours (was it REALLY that long?), we all did what we do best; gazed at Charger (that's Jan Verhoeff, our fearless, sometimes frustrated-with-us leader) with glassy eyes, trying desperately to look intelligent - as if our brains could really understand (never mind interpret-into-our-own-blogging routines!)her technocratic verbiage - closely resembling my college Astrophysics professor excitedly explaining relativity! But we persevered. After all, I think I read somewhere that information oozes into the grey matter even by association? Maybe not!

By the end of the evening, Oris George was sharing new ideas for additions to his blog, Along the Backroads of Yesterday. Esther Mulaney was feeling more enthused about a potential blog on her favorite subject, genealogy. I felt 4 pounds heavier than when I arrived - but - revved up to incorporate some monetizing ideas into my John Martin Dam blog.

Most importantly, we all interacted in our increasingly more familial manner, getting to know - not only blogging jargon and expertise, but each other, as well. I cannot imagine not having Acewriters in my life. After all...Nature is at work... everywhere.

Friday, February 27, 2009


According to The World Wildlife Fund, "Of all migrations by small creatures, few are as astonishing as the one performed by the Monarch butterfly. The embodiment of fragility, these insects travel between 1,200 and 2,800 miles or more between their starting and ending points -- a feat without parallel. ...dangers including bad weather, predation by birds during hibernation, and big losses in the population due to winter storms,” are endured and overcome by this delicate creature. It seems that Monarchs are a marriage of 'delicate' strength, with the ability to fly away...and return.

Following my mother’s death, I sat on my porch where she and I had sat for many evenings, several months before. Through my tears I looked up; several Monarch butterflies were hanging around the area near me. I had seen some before, on our farm, but not this many. They stayed for several minutes...until my tears were dry.

My mother was a strong, yet compassionate woman. She raised her five children alone, refusing any outside help. We well knew her toolbox was off limits to any childish endeavors, just as many kitchens are the charge and territory of other mothers. She built houses, fixed wiring, sweated pipes, as well as accomplishing all the household duties that kept us healthy and cared for. I recall her soft, beautiful voice as a young child when she would sing my favorite song – in French. She made a pea, pickle and celery salad to die for! We struggled financially though not for her lack of long hours and extra jobs to keep us afloat. My sister recalls the time we could only afford one chocolate candy bar – a rare treat! She carefully cut it into five equal pieces, making sure the division was a fair one. I recall a conversation we shared when I was a young teenager: “Go out each day and find three people to which you can give an honest compliment.” Her Love for us was strong and instinctual, yet delicate, when needed.

A few years after her death, my husband and I built a barn. We noticed a lone Monarch wandering through every afternoon for several months, spending her few moments of rest amongst the tools and building paraphernalia lying about. For whatever reasons, my mother came to mind and I recalled her love and expertise with building things. I smiled as I imagined her inspecting our project, making sure it was strong enough, that she approved.

The following year our 22 year old Arabian, Gabby, whose old and injured legs finally gave out, was lying in her corral for the last time as we waited the vet’s arrival. Sitting on the ground with her, I watched as a Monarch slowly came to rest on her neck. It stayed a few seconds, then continued on her way. My mother had been an avid horsewoman, with a particular affinity for Arabians. “It’s okay, I’m waiting for Gabby, I’ll take good care of her,” was the thought that ran through my mind. It assuaged my grief just a little, helped me cope. My Love and understanding of "butterflies", was deepening.

Last year as I walked toward the car to take our old, dying German Shorthair for her last ride to the vet, a large Monarch butterfly flew quickly towards me from around the corner of our house. It flew in place about 5 feet in front of me for several seconds, then slowly went on its way. Understanding that my mother supplemented her income when we were young by raising Shelties - that she Loved her dogs, I again rested in the understanding that my mother had a special place waiting for our tired puppy, whose time here was over. I thanked her in my heart and I went on to finish my nightmarish task.

My sister and I reunited this year following a long separation that began when our mother died. During the initial phone call to my sister, as I recounted my series of butterfly events, she told me one of her own. A few days before our call, her daughter had called her from Germany to say a Monarch butterfly had sat for several seconds on her young son’s hand while he stood in the back yard. My mother dearly Loved children; they were an important purpose in her life.

We visited this past weekend. Within the first hour together, as she came into her living room where I was standing, Elton John was singing Someone Saved My Life Tonight. Butterflies are free is the chorus. My sister and I looked at each other; at that moment we instinctively recognized that sometimes, other forces are at work in our lives, that life is a bit more complex than what might initially meet the eye. We warmly realized that we just might have a special butterfly in our lives that occasionally wears a protective pair of angel wings.

This weekend was warm and Loving and filled with ‘Mommy’ stories, laced with butterflies. We shared gifts with each other. One of these gifts will continue to remind us of the family gift we share. It will help us in our healing, it will remind us that some things in life may transcend our physical reality. My sister now wears a delicate, gold and silver butterfly necklace; I wear the matching earrings. The silver is strong; the gold is delicate.

Butterflies really are free – free to fly away...and free to return.

Nature prevails.

Are there "butterflies" or another special part of Nature in your Life?

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I see, touch, feel, hear and know Nature everywhere in my world. There are times I withdraw from her, but she is never far from me. Light guides my eyes when I am awake, birds fill my ears with music. The wind plays tunes that catch my thoughts and soul and fill me with moments of reverie.

I know beauty in a spring rain that patters upon the roof and dribbles down the window panes. The power and strength in a thunderstorm leaves me humble and small. Her art and creativity thread through the carefully patterned colors in the sunsets and sunrises of my days.

Sometimes, I glimpse her activity in a squirrel scurrying up a tree in pursuit of fun or food. She energized the four deer that once floated across the road in my snow-filled headlights. Her quiet strength flows along the rivulets, streams and waterfalls that flow down hillsides. Her majesty and might are all over the Alps, Himalayas, Tetons, Sierras, Catskills and Rocky Mountains.

She glows in the face of a young child as he giggles and laughs with abandon. Nature comes through the Love of my husband caressing my cheek in the soft light of the evening. I see and hear and know the power of Nature’s Love as she speaks through a past president passionately explaining his support and efforts of his international AIDS research and prevention program. I remember the mothering, Loving strength of Nature in the recollections of my mother guiding me through the years of my youth and beyond. These are some of the positive attributes I experience from Nature.

But Nature also has a dark side, relevant to me only as an egotistical human - striving to stay alive. If viewed in a global sense, removing my singleness from the broader picture, this darker side is just...part of the “Natural” scheme of things. Dare I judge it as bad or good from my minuscule view? But as that mere human, I listened in awe, frustration and deep sadness as the television droned for hours describing the horrific tsunami that methodically wiped out thousands of people and other living things around the Indian Ocean in 2004. Humans just watched, and ran and cried…and died.

Nature had her way when the eruption of Mount Vesuvius rolled over Pompeii, stopping every living movement. We were mere pawns as her earthquake left San Francisco in flames and ruin in 1906. She is at the helm of her hurricanes that leave death and destruction along their paths. Her roaring wildfires clear thousands of acres of every form of life.

But above all of these things - and more, Nature prevails. She grows back the life her fires so quickly erase. She recreates movement and growth after her hurricanes, tsunamis and tornadoes as her winds take tiny seeds to ravished ground. Trees and animals and yes, even we humans return to start over. She never ends; she never forgets; she is always in charge in her own knowing and powerful way. That unstoppable, universal, creative Love is evidenced even in humanity’s indomitable will to survive, no matter what the devastation, fear and awesome changes in her wake.

As I move through my days and years, the opportunity for solace and enjoyment and peace are always present and available. Nature is everywhere, everytime, everyplace. A peek outside, the touch of a hand, the sound of the wind; Nature fills my every moment and takes me beautifully through this life I live.

What does Nature mean to you? All comments welcome and responded to.