PeerSpirit Blog

The Great Divorce

My great divorce is nearly impossible, but I am proceeding as steadfastly as possible to separate myself, my finances, my lifestyle and my future from PLASTIC. Though I don’t know how I’ll get from here to there, I am aiming toward zero-waste. Plastic is one of the prime pollutants on the planet. It is breaking down into microfibers and nano-dots that float in our bloodstream, infiltrate the cells of our bodies, and cause documented health ...
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Working Towards a Dream

Skill building is an important part of making a dream happen. We olders know this and have worked this cycle a number of times: youngers are in the process of learning what it takes. They are learning how to commit to something, and then prepare to achieve it.  I talk about this with my own grandchildren and recently had the privilege of working with 100+ eighth graders who are preparing for an end-of-the-school year camping ...
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Legacy Unfolding

It’s October 2019, and while I move through these days full of what is happening NOW, I am also moving through the echo of October 2018 and what was happening THEN. It’s the anniversary of my father’s final weeks of illness, what I call his discomfort and departure. Of course, when we were living it we didn’t know what was happening from day to day: was he recovering? Going home? Staying in care? Dying? Anyone ...
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A Time for Resetting

This past week, a time of seasonal transition from summer to autumn, I cleared off my calendar and each morning spontaneously decided where my nature excursion would be. I had planned to camp at Mt. Rainier, but cold, wet fall weather came into the high country. Home seemed like a wiser base camp, and with Christina away visiting family, I had a unique opportunity for a solo immersion at home. One Day I visited a ...
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Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is in a category of nature superlatives all by itself.  It is one of only five places on earth with spectacular geysers, hot pools, and paint pots. AND it has a powerful presence of megafauna—grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. This combination rightfully earns the park the title “one of the seven natural wonders of the world.” My Nature Grannie self naturally wanted to share the park with our two grandchildren. How ...
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Bones to the Ground

July 15-23, 2019: Ann and I took a 2200-mile road trip around western Montana that held so many layers of significance it is taking weeks let the heart and soul of our experiences weave into meaning-making. There are moments in this trip I am not ready to share; moments I will probably never have words for, moments that will be transformed into later stories that can only emerge from the perspective of long time. Here ...
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Celebrations!

This June I turned 70. It was a momentous turning of the calendar for me and I approached it with a lot of intentionality. First, I took some solo time in nature to get clear.My longtime friend and co-guide Anne Stine and I attended the Wilderness Guides Council gathering on Salt Spring Island, BC in May. Anne and I stayed afterwards for our own solo time. In my solo time I followed the traditional model ...
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Goodbye to an Old Friend

I am smiling in this photo, an automatic response when facing a camera, but I’m actually  sad. In my arms I am holding several volumes of the 15th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, leather bound, gold trim, embossed spine. I bought this set in 1980, using royalty money from the publication of my first book, as proof to myself that I was a real writer who would need this fines set of reference books to ...
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No Child Left Inside

It may be the era of cellphones, video games, and indoor activities, but youth have always thrived being outdoors actively engaged with one another in exploring nature and making up nature-based games of daring and imagination. This year, I am devoting a lot of my time, energy, and passion to supporting that truth. At a most personal, joyful level we just finished a week of Granny Nature Camp with our two dear Los Angeles grandchildren ...
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The Courage of our Elders

In six weeks, my mother moved three times, received physical therapy four times/day, and returned to using a walker just two weeks after fracturing her pelvis. This is heroic stuff for anyone. Mom is 92 years old. It is heroic because in your tenth decade, it is not just one thing not working like you expect. There is arthritis, misbehaving bowels, wavering balance, misfiring memory or mental synapses, and a general slowness to movement, to ...
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Lights out!

On December 20, 2018, I was home alone with the dog (Ann was in Minnesota) when Whidbey Island was engulfed in a storm of sustained winds 50+ MPH. Trees fell, but not on our house, power went out for 3-5 days depending on the neighborhood. So while waiting for electricity to resume, I had a chance to renew my survival and emergency skills. Wherever we live, the modern conveniences of our lives are at risk! ...
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Winter Storm in the Forest

When big storms blow in off the Pacific Ocean and hit our island sitting at the inland mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, huge damage can occur.     Recently we had a storm with over 60 mph winds that left many parts of the island without power for up to 5 days. Thousands of islanders were discovering how essential electricity is to comfort, and how prepared or unprepared their household was to ...
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Writing on

My father died. Leo Baldwin was good at living, amazing at aging, determined to continue contributing up to his last days. He remained cheerful and present even while suffering the pain, indignities, and procedures of his final trip through the medical system. He was 98 years old and had never had an illness that he didn’t fully recover from with a little Tylenol and determination. It took him (and me, and us, and his community) ...
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Family Reunions in Natural Settings

Where to hold a family reunion? Warm weather or cold? City or country? Beach or mountains? Travel time, cost, different preferences, backdrops for family photos—there are many choices that influence where we gather. Once we are there, Nature serves as a host that lures us outdoors. In mid-October my mother, three sisters and I held an important reunion. The last time just the five of us—the Brown women— were together was 30 years ago for ...
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How Apology Works

I’m on the beach with my corgi dog. She’s playing in the sand near my feet when she lets out a sudden sharp squeal—“ouch,” in dog talk. She looks at my foot in big boots, and with what I consider an accusing gaze, backs up and sits on her haunches staring at me. “What?!” I say, “I didn’t move an inch. I’m sure I didn’t step on you.” Without breaking her steadfast gaze, she raises ...
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Celebrating the Seasons

Fall with its cooler temperatures and spectacular leaf colors has arrived in the northern hemisphere. Spring with sprouting plants and warming temperatures has arrived in the southern hemisphere. Noticing these changes and taking the time to celebrate them is as natural to human rhythms as the various daily rituals we each have for rising with the light or retiring with the darkness. Why not celebrate the change of seasons? At our home we mark seasonal ...
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In Search of Bioluminescence

In early August our dear grandchildren came to camp with us on the shore of Puget Sound. We had a wonderful time hiking, kayaking, and exploring. One of the magical things we experienced was bioluminescence. By definition, bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. Some folks get to see fireflies in the summer.  Those of us around marine environments have to look in the water for our “fireflies”. “Look, the ...
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Rocks of Ages

I’m walking in a narrow riverbed, wearing special river boots and feeling my way carefully over rocks hidden under murky water. I am carrying a hiking stick, probing for balance. Above me, cliffs soar 1500 feet revealing a slit of morning sky. I place my hand along the sandstone walls of the slot canyon, touching what was seabed 61 million years ago. Touching what water can do to rock. Touching a strip of smoothed rock-face ...
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Oddballs

No, this is not a derogatory term. It is actually a scientific category in Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar and Mackinnon. And last week while hiking in a local forest a particular species of oddball was popping up everywhere.   “Oddballs” according to this popular botanical guide are plants that cannot turn sunshine into food. They are not green and contain no chlorophyll. Instead of being capable of photosynthesis, they get their nutrition ...
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My Namesake

This week on a summer solstice, forest walk in our local state park I was greeted with an enormous surprise. The flower I was named after was in bloom everywhere—from small patches to entire ridges. Never in 40 years of living in its range have I timed a walk to be in the woods at the peak moment of bloom for Linnaea borealis (the twinflower). I have seen one or two or a small colony ...
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