PeerSpirit Blog

Teachers Do NOT Carry Guns

I have been a teacher all of my life. My partner and three sisters are teachers. Many, many of my friends are teachers. Teachers do NOT Carry Guns. It is the antithesis of what we are called to do with our lives. We find joy in connecting with our students to help them learn things. We find challenge in articulating subjects so that students of many different learning styles can find the AHA moment that ...
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Acts of Artful “Dumbling”

The new movie Paddington2, is about a bear from “darkest Peru” who eats orange marmalade and has stowed himself away to London where a nice family takes him in and tries to help him adapt to life among humans. The movies are based on the sixty-year writing career of Michael Bond, starting in 1958 with the final volume being published in his honor and memory this coming summer. I remember reading several of the early ...
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Medicine Walk

A Medicine Walk is different from an ordinary walk. It is done alone, in silence, and in solitary connection with the natural world. The intention of the walk is to see, hear, smell, observe, and sense as much as possible. It is a traditional part of the preparation for a wilderness fast and it has become a lifetime spiritual practice for me. In this year when threats to our precious earth loom large I have ...
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And then…we change the story!

Story is a map; and the story that gets one person through helps to get the next person through. (C. Baldwin in Storycatcher.) Scattered across my laptop screen are files that contain opening paragraphs of my autumn’s attempts to write a blog entry. The happy reason for blog silence is my commitment to writing a novel in the creative hours I carve out of a week. An unhappier reason is how easily my attention has ...
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Traditional Knowledge

I am an Anglo-American, descendant of immigrants: 50% Swedish and 50% northern European (Irish, Scotch, German, French). Blue eyes and blond hair, now silver; I was educated in public schools and state universities where western scientific knowledge provided the framework for my thinking. I appreciate this knowledge and I believe these times require me to continue to question and expand the worldview I was handed. Books as Bridges to Traditional Knowledge The Hidden Life of ...
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Rituals of Readiness

I spin the globe that sits by my desk. All of my life I have lived in the north. I was born and raised in southern Minnesota at 43.6666 degrees N. latitude and over the years have migrated up to my current location of 48.0095 degrees N. latitude. (The 49th parallel is the boundary between the U.S. and Canada.) Living in the north requires big attention during the shift from autumn to winter. Before the ...
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The Perspective of Time

The ridge top wind is ripping at my rain gear, frequently knocking me off balance. Rain is blowing sideways. Ahead is a small opening into the heart of an ancient rock tomb. I bend over and make my way inside. First one step, then the next. Quiet. Neither wind nor rain can penetrate here. My eyes slowly adjust to the dim light. Ten steps ahead the passage ends in a chamber. I stand upright and ...
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Under the Weather

I am under the weather. (For non-native English readers, this phrase is an idiom, meaning “a vague sense of ill health.” I am using it here as a double entendre—two meanings. ) And so are you. This is a lesson learned in Houston and along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Harvey set a record breaking 50 inches (127 cm) of rain from one storm. This lesson was followed by Hurricane Irma destroying a string of ...
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A Scholarship for Paramedics

The world is full of news about natural disasters as we in the northern hemisphere make the turn from summer to fall—Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas, Hurricane Irma hitting the Caribbean Islands and Florida, wildfires all over the western United States, and then a huge earthquake in Mexico. These disasters are profoundly served by emergency medical professionals—in my eyes the true modern day heroes. This weekend also marks another cycle of the Brian Schimpf memorial scholarship ...
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Climbing the Big Tree

“Do you want to go higher?” came the question from the dusky shadows below. Our 12-year-old grandson, Jaden, and I looked down the deeply furrowed bark of the immense Douglas fir tree towards our guide and the source of the question. We two were about 85 feet up in the air, resting in our climbing harnesses tethered about half way up a 250-year old Douglas fir tree. Jaden looked from the guide back at me ...
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Cookies and Kindness

My dear partner left for Minnesota for five days and the first night alone in the house I went on a media binge. Up late cooking, with cool evening air coming through open windows, I set my laptop next to the mixing bowl and turned on the news feeds. While making summer soup and muffins for my writing group, and a batch of healthy cookies, I “caught up” with the craziness of the US political ...
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Community Sit Spots

My last blog was about the benefit of establishing a Sit Spot in nature. If there is personal benefit from having your own Sit Spot, what could be accomplished by Community Sit Spots? Whidbey Island Audubon Society with support from the Island County Marine Resources Committee has sent 40-60 volunteers out to island beaches for one hour of Sit Spot activity every week from mid June to mid August for the past thirteen summers. Nesting ...
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What is a Sabbath?

Memorial Day is an American holiday started in 1865 by freed slaves to honor the military dead of the Civil War. It features parades and military connections, and can be a meaningful moment for touching grief and remembering the costs of our history. And like many secular holidays, the weekend has morphed in meaning. It is now largely considered the “official beginning of summer”—not by the Solstice calendar, but by planting tomatoes, attending weddings and ...
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Sit Spot

The idea is simple, really. Plunk yourself down someplace outdoors and sit still for 15 minutes—no electronic devices, no books, just your eyes, ears, and sense of smell wide open. What do you observe? On Mother’s Day I was making a call to my dear 90-year-old mother while sitting indoors near our front picture window. It was early morning, chilly and overcast. While talking with Mom, I noticed the little junco leave its nest on ...
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Youth—Let’s Talk!

It has been my great privilege and joy to spend much of my time these last weeks immersing myself in youthful spontaneity, curiosity, and creativity. First, there was our marvelous, annual time with our dear grandchildren. Jaden (12) and Sasha (6) are city kids with a willingness to follow their grandmothers most anywhere.    This year we decided to take them to Orcas Island for 5 days of exploration based in a cabin with no ...
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Choose what you most love. Then protect it with your life.

We have just completed our sixth annual “Nature Grannies Camp—“ our version of spring break. Since our grandson, Jaden, now twelve, was six years old we have brought him up to Whidbey for two weeks of island life—a big contrast to his usual city routines living in an apartment in Culver City, CA, part of the megalopolis of Los Angeles. What a brave boy he was that first time, getting on a plane with two ...
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Tiny, Ubiquitous Treasures

Big fast-moving things grab our attention: eagles, wolves, and cougars. But we miss much by overlooking tiny, stationary creatures around us. The creatures I write about are everywhere—all habitats on all seven continents. And they have been with us since life first emerged from the oceans onto land. They can lie dormant for over 40 years waiting for one drop of water and they are capable of that most miraculous of life processes: photosynthesis. They ...
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Where is my mother?

There are several children’s books by this title. Various cartoon animal-children, in search of their animal-mommies, inquire of other cartoon animals, “Have you seen my mommy?” I saw a book like this at the library and it raised the question for me about my own mother, now several months after her death. My mother’s ashes were divided into four equal parts and given to each of her children. Together we threw some ceremoniously off the ...
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Remember Beauty

In this time of fast-moving changes, dire predictions for the earth and ocean’s future, and political infighting that is, at best, unsettling, let us look to nature and poetry for reassurance. William Wordsworth lived from 1770-1850, in far different times from ours. Yet, the first lines of one of his most famous poems is perfect for these times: The World is Too Much With Us The world is too much with us; late and soon, ...
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Take the Long View

Now what do we do? On January 24, 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order to commence construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. On December 4, 2016 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer ordered a halt to construction until an Environmental Impact Statement could be completed. What will happen now? What do those of us who care about protecting treaty lands of the Standing Rock Sioux nation and water quality for people along the ...
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