PeerSpirit Blog

Snow in May?

At first glance, it looks like we got a light dusting of snow here on Whidbey Island in May. Unlike my disgruntled friends and family members in Minnesota who DID get snow on May 2, this white substance by the side of the road is white flowers from our beautiful madrone trees. The madrone tree, Arbutus menziesii, is found all along the west coast of North America. In spring it creates these white flowers and ...
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Farewell Orion

The most spectacular constellation in the northern winter sky is Orion, the Hunter (named after a god from Greek mythology). By mid-April this constellation is only visible in the western sky for a couple of hours after sunset. No longer the spectacular overhead cluster of stars with its belt and sword, it is making its exodus from prominence in the sky just as winter fades. In Canada and higher elevations and latitudes in the ...
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Blogging on a Friday night

It’s a glorious sunset after a cloudy day. I lower the window blinds and try to settle into my thoughts. One week in April: I paid my taxes, had a birthday, walked the dog, got my hair cut, went to the athletic club, trucked through a hundred business details and uncounted emails … and tracked two young men through the suburbs of Boston in a multi-million dollar manhunt. Middle-class life in America: one life undisturbed, ...
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Nature is Everywhere

Nature is everywhere. My 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter, Sasha Ann, watched her mother carefully remove a bee from the window of their LA apartment using a jar and a piece of paper. Lesson: Bees are good. Don't hurt them. They belong outdoors. An hour later Sasha, I, and Grandma Nina (the photographer) were playing in a park when she wandered out of the playground onto a nearby sports field. Suddenly she stooped to point out ...
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Talking with strangers

I was raised by two gregarious parents who felt entirely comfortable engaging total strangers in conversation, thereby changing them from strangers into acquaintances, and sometimes, into friends. I have no particular memory of this as a child, no moments of great embarrassment, no squirming in agony wishing they would just “come on…” I assume this social pattern was deeply engrained in my childhood into a sense of normalcy, because I am often in the company ...
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Tasmania—southern temperate rain forest

“Where is Tasmania?” asked my Minnesota parents when I Skype called their land line. “It sounds like a fairy land.” It is a fairy land of gorgeous coasts, wild rivers, and high mountains that is an island state of Australia—the last significant land mass before Antarctica. I am spending a few days vacationing in Cradle Mountain National Park here in Tasmania between Australian work assignments. Hiking from 900 meters up through the southern ...
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A tango of methodologies

We have a handout we often use when introducing Circle to new folks: it shows a tree whose roots are marked “Circle” and whose branches illustrate the modern adaptations of this ancient social form. We are more and more making sure in our training and consulting work that we introduce people to several of these circle-based methodologies, and we speak with excitement and hope about the uprising of “a global culture of conversation.” In our ...
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Northern Winters

In the northern latitudes of North America winter has many faces—from snow and ice to early blooming plants. I have made journeys from one coast to the next and into the middle these last two months. What intrigues me is how many ordinary people are wondering about the changing face of winter in their area. Folks in the northeastern U.S. who have recently been hard hit by snowstorms and Hurricane Sandy are seriously talking about ...
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Rest Stop

Grey winter’s day, driving down the Interstate between Seattle and Portland, on our way to a consulting job. Temperature hanging in the low-40’s F, (about 6-7 Centigrade), yet a high sky, so we were catching glimpses of big mountains running along the eastern horizon. After a few hours driving and a latte, we needed a stop near Vancouver, WA at the Columbia River Rest Stop. Pulled off the road into the parking area. A young ...
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The Outing

My little corgi dog, Gracie, and I often take a late afternoon walk to the beach. Last week on a cold, rainy winter day we trotted to the top of the community stairs. I was busy unlocking the gate, as we have done hundreds of times.  All of a sudden Gracie started barking. I looked up thinking another neighbor might be coming up the stairs, but I could not see anyone. Her barking got more ...
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The Elder

This elder is generations old, twisted and gnarled by its journey of adaptation. Steadfast in its determination to live and hold place on this precious earth, it reminds me of my own father. I am just back from my trip to Minnesota to be of support as he fights to recover from a stroke. The hearts of both the old bristlecone and my 86-year-old Dad pulse on. Other bristlecones in the high mountain grove ...
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A little love goes a long way

My friend Harriet is 86 the end of this month. She’s a member of a group of women friends who support one another’s spiritual journeys, stay in various levels of connection during busy schedules, and meet once a year for a week of council, informal conversation, great eating, hiking, and late night videos. We are women at camp in a large shared house, reflecting on where we’ve been and setting intention for the coming months ...
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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 ...
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Wintergreen: New Year’s Day on Whidbey Island

I have a friend who tells me, “What you do on your birthday sets the tone for the year.” It’s not my personal birthday, but it is the first day of a New Year… so happy birthday 2013… and here’s the tone of what I did today. I woke and wrote in my journal—thinking deeply about the many events and adventures planned for the next 6 months, sort of a Solstice-to-Solstice awareness. I prayed for ...
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Changing Seasons

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 ...
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Krumholz—blasted by the wind

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? ...
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First Post

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 ...
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Angel in the woods

The day was gloomy and these woods in particular, standing on the north side of the hill, do not get sun in winter and were muted into half-light. The trees grow tall or snake through one another, reaching for light. Winds blow off Puget Sound and all those that stand are strong trunked. We—my beloved and I and our perky paced corgi—are making our way through this loveliness—polished green shine of salal bushes, the last ...
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Rebirth of the Village

Upon our arrival in New York on November 1, our friend Nancy Fritsche Eagan, a circle and Art of Hosting colleague, took us over to visit Occupy Wall Street. It was a stunning experience, particularly from a group process perspective. Zucotti Park, now dubbed Liberty Park, was doing its best to operate as a self-organizing “village.” It was a tent city, one block long, 100 feet wide, with council-based governance, a multi-faith chapel (Sikhs were ...
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The wisdom we need is in the room!

I wake at 4:30 AM from a dream in which a film crew is taking down the Europe “set”— dismantling canvas facades of the streets of Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam, carefully putting the architecture into storage. Ann and I have just come home from three weeks teaching circle practice within the European Commission, the Art of Hosting and community leadership groups, and German consultant network. The dream seems to be my mind’s way of ...
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