ancient sanctuary

4.21.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut
4.21.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
~ William Wordsworth
(Poems in Two Volumes)

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my tree ~ 4.21.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

If you look closely you can see Tim’s arms reaching out from behind the tree’s trunk. Wise guy! I didn’t notice this when I was taking the picture! It looks like some buds are just beginning to come out. Here is a better picture of the trunk surrounding the stone corner post I spotted last week:

4.21.13.5148
4.21.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

I wonder what kind of plant (below) is coming up at the base of the tree!

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4.21.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

On this day I found some new twigs with little buds on them (below). They will probably be be pruned away, considering what befell the dead twig below the new ones.

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4.21.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
~ Herman Hesse
(Trees: Reflections & Poems)

The monument below tells a brief story about something that happened locally during the War of 1812 (1812-1815), which was fought between the United States and the British Empire.

4.21.13.5163

~~~

Here rest the remains
of Mr. Thomas
Barratt Powers,
aged 18 years,
late Midshipman of
H.B. Majesty’s Ship
Superb, who was killed
in action in a boat
on the 31st July 1814,
a Native of Market
Bosworth, in the County
of Leicestershire
England.

~~~

On the side of this monument these words are inscribed: “This Monument was erected by the Hon. Capt. Paget, and his Brother Officers as a tribute of respect and esteem.”

No doubt “Hon. Capt. Paget” is British Vice Admiral Sir Charles Paget (1778-1839) who was appointed to the HMS Superb for part of his naval career. According to Wikipedia: “In 1814 he was employed on the coast of North America … entrusted with the command of a squadron stationed off New London and took part in an attack upon Wareham, Massachusetts during the War of 1812.” Wareham is about 100 miles northeast from New London. I wonder how this young sailor came to be buried in this particular cemetery. I wonder if Thomas’ parents were devastated to have their son buried so far away in foreign soil…

CharlesPaget
Sir Charles Paget

Under the cross placed at the bottom of the monument are the words: “British & Colonial G.W.V.A.” The only organization I could find online with an GWVA acronym is Canadian, the Great War Veterans Association, which was formed in 1917, way after the War of 1812. But perhaps they decided to honor the veterans of past wars with plaques, too.

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
~ Agatha Christie
(An Autobiography)

Bonsai Treehouse

Bonsai Treehouse created by Craig & Michelle Nelson, Nelson Designs, LLC
Bonsai Treehouse created by Craig & Michelle Nelson, Nelson Designs, LLC ~ 10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Wabi Sabi is a tree faerie dedicated to sharing his love and respect for trees. He inspires the artists to see the greatness of the variety of trees on the property. His house is in a Japanese maple nestled in this leafy bush. It is the ideal setting for him to watch over the magnificent trees surrounding Miss Florence’s boardinghouse. From his home he can easily fly to inspect a spruce, elm, pine, or walnut tree. If he ventures farther afield, he can console the weeping willow, take a walk along the beech branch, or even pine away at the top of the evergreens.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

The power of imagination makes us infinite.
~ John Muir
(John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir)

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Remember back in July, when Tim & I started to discuss adopting a couple of cats? (Two Cats in the Yard?)

Remember back in October when I started posting pictures of all the little fairy dwellings in the Wee Faerie Village at the Florence Griswold Museum? I found a couple more that I never got around to posting… (Windwood Faeriegrounds)

Remember back in November when my sister-in-law Fran’s feral cat, Zoë, decided to make friends with me? (Second Day of Christmas)

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Zoë ~ 12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

Well, back in November, it would seem that Zoë was sensing a shift in energy, somehow knowing that changes were afoot. As it turns out her family is moving from Virginia to Germany this month, and Zoë and her sister needed a new home. So they arrived here to live with us last weekend and they are slowly settling in. They don’t feel at home here yet – who could blame them after a long car ride and leaving the only home they’ve ever known – but when they do feel a little more comfortable I will take some pictures. Zoë is very affectionate and talkative, purring when petted, but her sister, Scarby, is still hiding under the stairs in the basement, only coming out to eat and use the litter pan. It looks like it will take her longer to warm up to the idea of living here.

taking the trouble

“The Haymaker” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
“The Haymaker” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Acknowledging our roots changes us. It makes us feel truer. Many people are interested in their family history, an interest that comes from the fear of not having roots, of standing on emptiness. But even more important than investigating our ancestry is rediscovering the connections with those who have crossed our path.

… In that moment, I understood the importance of preserving the past. What a gaping lack of respect it is to carry on with our lives, ignoring what people who lived before us said and did, how they suffered, what they created, and even how they ate. And those who take the trouble to preserve the most creative and beautiful heritage that our predecessors left us are performing an act of kindness.

~ Piero Ferrucci
(The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life)

grave importance

illustration by Anne Anderson
illustration by Anne Anderson

If you can see the magic in a fairy tale, you can face the future.
~ Danielle Steel
(Silver Linings: Meditations on Finding Joy & Beauty in Unexpected Places)

In an utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that Fairy tales should be respected.
~ Charles Dickens
(Household Words, October 1, 1853)

complicity

"Shepherd with Cows on the Lakeshore" by Christian Friedrich Mali
“Shepherd with Cows on the Lakeshore” by Christian Friedrich Mali

The process of becoming a vegetarian acts like a spark to consciousness, and as you journey down this path, you become mindful of the connection between the living, breathing creature and the package of meat or fish neatly wrapped in the supermarket.
~ Jennifer Horsman & Jaime Flowers
(Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to be a Vegetarian)

In the past, the idea of being a vegetarian has always appealed to me, but marriage is about compromises and I married a devout meat-and-potatoes guy. Our children had to put up with a few episodes of me trying to convert everyone to my way of thinking, but my lack of cooking talent and the lack of helpful information made for many unappealing meals. They all remember, without fondness, the TVP debacle – the cookbook didn’t mention that the textured vegetable protein needed to be soaked until soft before adding it to spaghetti sauce! No one appreciated the crunchy spaghetti and TVP sauce…

A little background of my journey from omnivore to herbivore…

My mom loved all things Native American. I remember her telling me that Indians worshiped nature and believed they should only take from her, with gratitude, what they needed to survive. With her words, she painted a picture for me that I still see to this day, of a hunter respectfully kneeling over the animal he had killed with his arrow, thanking its spirit for the sacrifice of its life for the benefit of his family or tribe.

One day I asked my father about hunting. He told me his story about a gun his father gave him as a gift so he could go hunting in the woods. Not wanting to disappoint his father, he set off to find some game. He found a squirrel and shot it on his first try. When he went over to retrieve it he found himself devastated and sick to his stomach that he had taken its life. He never hunted again.

But, Mom’s knowledge and Dad’s experience did not stop them from eating the all-American died of meat and dairy products! And while my paternal grandfather lived us, until he died when I was 8 years old, he regularly used his ax on a stump in the back yard to chop the heads off of chickens for dinner. It was very disturbing to me to see the decapitated chickens running around for what seemed like an eternity.

You have just dined, and, however scrupulously the slaughter-house is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(A Political Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Over the years I got an inkling that animals were suffering terribly on factory farms and in slaughterhouses, so Tim & I agreed that we would only eat meat that was naturally raised, cage-free, and slaughtered humanely. A friend, knowing my sensitivity to violence, warned me not to watch the documentary, EARTHLINGS, but I did watch it, in August, while Tropical Storm Irene was raging outside. It did deeply disturb me, and removed all doubt from my mind about how bad things were in these torture chambers.

In one scene there was a pig who had spent its whole life squished in a cramped pen and had never seen a ray of sunshine or a blade of grass. Now it was time for it to be slaughtered. The worker opened the gate and started poking the terrified pig with a sharp prong. It fell down repeatedly and was pierced over and over to make it get up and move on. All the while the merciless worker kept shouting at it, over and over, “Come on, mother-f—-r, move.”

And a sharp contrast appeared in my mind between these two images: one, the cruel words coming out of the mouth of that heartless factory farm worker; and the other, much different picture: the sincere words of thanks coming out of the mouth of the respectful Native American hunter.

EARTHLINGS

Connecticut Renaissance Faire

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

Last Saturday we braved the unseasonal heat and humidity and visited the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in Hebron, Connecticut.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

We saw a silk aerialist on one stage:

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

Then we were approached by this self-proclaimed fool who invited us to see his duel on another stage. I said we would come if he’d allow me to take his picture. He posed willingly.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

We watched another show on the stage shown below, from a distance, while eating our lunch in the shade. Not sure what it was all about – there was a lot of splashing and towel snapping – no doubt they were poking fun at the man they coaxed up there from the audience.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

There were costumes to be seen everywhere…

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

But our favorite part of the day was the falconry demonstration. I’m not sure how I feel about this sport, but the falconer explained that their birds were rescue birds and that they would have perished in the wild. In theory these birds of prey could fly away if they were unhappy with their lot in life.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

I was thrilled to be so close to these beautiful creatures, but my camera was getting a workout trying to zoom in and out to get pictures of them up close and far away. This falconer was very accommodating and kept pausing in front of me so I could get a shot.

9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut
9.24.11 ~ Hebron, Connecticut

I got the sense that these falconers love and respect their birds of prey. They seemed genuinely interested in educating the public about their natural behavior. No unnatural or coerced circus tricks here.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

The one in Concord, Massachusetts. Not the “original” one in Sleepy Hollow, New York. In August 2006 my daughter Larisa and I visited the one in Concord, which, as far as I know, does not have its own website.

Julie left a beautiful poem – written by Louisa May Alcott about doves – in the comments on yesterday’s blog. The poetry made me recall the visit with my daughter to Orchard House, also in Concord, where the author and poet lived. We weren’t allowed to take pictures at Orchard House, but we got quite a few when we went to locate Louisa’s grave along the Author’s Ridge path in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Emerson lie buried there as well.

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Author’s Ridge ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

The unpretentious gravestones reflect the ideas of these Concord neighbors, writers who were prominent transcendentalists, naturalists, pacifists, philosophers, abolitionists and teachers. Louisa’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, founded of the Concord School of Philosophy, and a building was constructed behind Orchard House to serve as a place for the public to attend the summer lectures offered about transcendentalism. Louisa’s parents rest on Author’s Ridge as well.

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Larisa and I were so touched by the little stones people left in tribute. People from all over the world come here to pay their respects to the dearly loved writer. We were curious what people might have said in the notes they left, but chose to respect their privacy.

My father taught in the wise way which unfolds what lies in the child’s nature, as a flower blooms, rather than crammed it, like a Strasbourg goose, with more than it could digest.
~ Louisa May Alcott

Alcott family marker ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

All the beauty and advantages of Conversation is in its bold contrasts, and swift surprises… Prose and logic are out of place, where all is flowing, magical, and free.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)

Wherever I turn I see the yoke on woman in some form or other. On some it sits easy, for they are but beasts of burden. On others, pride hushes them to silence; no complaint is made, for they scorn pity or sympathy. On some it galls and chafes; they feel assured by every instinct of their nature that they were designed for a higher, nobler calling than to drag life’s lengthening chain along.
~ Abigail May Alcott (1800-1877)

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Direct your eye right inward, and you’ll find
A thousand regions in your mind
Yet undiscovered.
Travel them and be
Expert in home-cosmography.
~ Henry David Thoreau

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

It is to the credit of human nature that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Another grave I’d like to visit one day is that of Emily Dickinson, which I think is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. A day trip sometime… Maybe with Larisa??

In this quiet valley, as in the palm of Nature’s hand, we shall sleep well, when we have finished our day.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Barbara ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts