Small Creatures

On the last day of 2012 I headed out with my backpack to spend a quiet night with the earth to give gratitude for the year past and to set intention for the year coming. Temperatures were slightly above freezing. There was a light drizzle. Darkness fell at 5 p.m. and daylight rose about 7 a.m. The last creature I heard before total darkness and the first one at daybreak was the tiny golden-crowned kinglet. “Teez, teez, teez,” is their high-pitched call note.

How do they get through 14 hour nights at freezing temperatures? I had a warm sleeping bag, a good ground pad, and a superlative tent. This little, secretive creature is barely larger than a hummingbird. Scientists still have not figured out exactly how these birds survive—Do they go into torpor and lower body temperatures overnight? Do they huddle with others of their kind? Do they feed later and earlier in the day than other birds? You can read more about what a lone researcher in Vermont has spent decades trying to figure out: http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2012/12/winter-and-the-golden-crowned-kinglet.html

My island home is only about 15 miles from my little solo spot. Every day sitings of golden-crowned kinglets and extensive vistas of mountains and sea are found in both places. I am reminded again that the secret to a calmer, more centered life at home is to attend to both the small and large wonders that hold my life in place. There is no substitute for time spent outdoors.

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Changing Seasons

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This Ginkgo tree is in its full fall glory. Imported to the U.S. and other countries from China, it is a species remarkably similar to fossil trees dating back 270 million years. Its kind has survived a very long time through enormous planetary changes. As we witness global climate changes like increasingly severe storms and melting ice caps, we can be encouraged by the adaptability of one humble species of tree.

Krumholz—blasted by the wind

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On one of my favorite island walks today I saw many examples of wind sculpted trees.

Roaring down the Straits of Juan de Fuca and across Puget Sound, the wind gains momentum and power and the trees grow with their branches away from the wind for protection. All living things respond to the forces of nature.

What is an example of how you responded to nature today?

First Post

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When we look at Mt. St. Helens, we see the mountain and remember the 1980 explosion.

But do we think about how incredibly remarkable it is that the forests have returned?

Nature is ever and always resilient.