almond self-enclosed

“Almond Blossoms” by Antonio Mancini

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed and growing sweet —
all this universe, to the furthest stars
and beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rose and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke)

lady slippers

5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
Liz (Janet’s mom) ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

On Friday, Janet, Liz and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon at a Lady Slippers Walk & Picnic at the Peace Sanctuary in Mystic, Connecticut. Our guide was Maggie Jones, executive director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. Before we began our walk in the woods, Maggie gave us a little history of the 45-acre sanctuary property.

5.17.13.5453
5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The Universal Peace Union had been founded in Providence in 1866 by a group of reformers whose belief in nonviolence after years of bloody warfare led them to a broad critique of American imperialism, U.S. immigration and Native American policies. The local branch had formed among Rogerene Quakers around Ledyard, and the first national meetings took place in private homes there. As the number of members grew, including large numbers of women, the annual meeting moved to a larger venue in Mystic. By the 1880s and 1890s, the gathering attracted as many as ten thousand attendees. In 1890, the organization purchased land from Silas Burrows and the Fish family on a hill overlooking the river on the northwestern side of town. Meetings then took place at this open and undeveloped spot, attracting such speakers as reformer Lucretia Mott and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” Julia Ward Howe.
~ Leigh Fought
(A History of Mystic, Connecticut: From Pequot Village to Tourist Town)

5.17.13.5458
happily growing in a decaying tree trunk ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

When peace became less popular around the start of World War II, the land was purchased by explorer, naturalist, cartographer and writer, Mary Jobe Akeley (1886-1966), who turned it into a summer nature camp for girls. Camp Mystic was very popular and attended by girls from across the nation. Renowned explorers often visited the camp and shared stories of their experiences with the girls. Sadly, during the Great Depression the camp was closed.

5.17.13.5461
almost ready to bloom ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

After her death in 1966, the Mary L. Jobe Akeley Trust & Peace Sanctuary was established and the property is now looked after by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. In the month of May nearly 400 native pink lady slippers, also called pink moccasin flowers, can be found blooming in the woods on the property.

5.17.13.5462
5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Lady slippers are part of the orchid family and are native to Connecticut. They love the acid soil found in the woods, and need a certain fungus found there in order to survive. They grow 6 to 15 inches tall and the flowers are about 3 inches long. They can often be found growing in decaying logs. I used to see them occasionally when I played in the woods near the swamp where I grew up, so it was a treat to see so many of them in one day!

5.17.13.5464
5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The pink lady slipper has been the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island since 1947, and the state wildflower of New Hampshire since 1991.

5.17.13.5465
different stages of blossoming ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Our walk was mostly uphill and when we reached the top we were treated to an outdoor picnic buffet in a lovely woodland garden. I had stinging nettle soup for the first time, and another soup made with wild leeks.

5.17.13.5469
narcissus ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
5.17.13.5472
garden shed ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
5.17.13.5474
daphne ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
5.17.13.5480
a frog bidding us good-bye as we made our way back down the hill ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

a gentle tree

4.7.13.5078
4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

On March 31st I met a lovely tree in a local cemetery and could not stop thinking about her all week. (See the Lady Patience post.) So I plan to visit her as often as possible and get to know her through the seasons. As is often the case with me, I sensed an energy coming from her but did not notice any of her particular physical characteristics.

During the week following our meeting a life-threatening health crisis arose for one of Tim’s brothers, Toby. Brother Josh flew from his home in England to California to collect Toby and fly with him here so he could stay with us and seek treatment. So it’s been a very busy week getting Toby settled in for the indefinite and uncertain future.

4.7.13.5080
Larisa ~ 4.7.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees. … Their shades, which, in the early ages, were the temples of religion and philosophy, are still the favorite resort of the studious, the scene of healthful sport for the active and adventurous, and the very sanctuary of peaceful seclusion for the contemplative and sorrowful.
~ Wilson Flagg
(The Atlantic Monthly, June 1868)

I don’t even know what kind of tree “my” tree is! When she puts out some leaves I will be able to identify her, but I wish I could identify her by her bark.

Larisa came for the weekend to visit her uncles, and when I mentioned my new tree she was happy to pop over with me to see her and to pose for a couple of pictures with her, too. On this trip I noticed the tree’s burls – one very large one near the base of the trunk, and perhaps ten much smaller ones above it and below the first branches. And Larisa noticed the shape of the branches – like check marks they arch up and then down before reaching up again.

The kitties are handling all the extra people in the house pretty well. Zoë is blossoming with friendliness and curiosity. Scarby is still pretty shy and anxious, but she stays where she feels safe under Tim’s bed and I suspect she comes out to eat and use the litter pan once everyone is asleep. We’re giving her all the time and space she seems to need. After all, it’s only been a month since her whole world was turned upside down!

International Day of Peace

image credit: Dominican Center at Marywood
image credit: Dominican Center at Marywood

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals, and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.
~ Black Elk
(Revelations of the Great Spirit)

beautiful forests

We have just returned from a great vacation visiting family in Georgia!!! Included was an afternoon with Nate (our son) who taught me more about the technical workings of my blog. One of the things I learned was how to post a video. So I am posting the one below, which I have wanted to share for a while, and am leaving you with a promise to return to the blogosphere soon… as soon as I catch up with pressing obligations here at home… or maybe sooner, if my resolve to prioritize doesn’t hold…

I have so much to share!

The great forest, absolutely silent, save for the music of the brook, the smell of the woods, the charm of the campfire, the fragrance of the bed of boughs, all work a peace in the mind which has been accustomed for so many months to the noise and rush of the great city, the jolting of the railway train, and the smoke and dust of the locomotive.
~ Walter H. James
(Our Mountain Trips – Part I)