Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

A Warm 52nd Week: 2015 January 5, 2016

Filed under: Family,Holidays,Living,Nature,Uncategorized — jeanraffa @ 12:01 am
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Little Hogback Mountain near sunset.

The Western slope of Little Hogback Mountain just before sunset.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.  The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”  ~Carl Jung

We returned home from the cabin last night after a week of unseasonably warm and rainy weather and equally warm family gatherings.  Unfortunately, this morning the cold that’s been threatening me for a couple of days finally showed up in a sore throat, laryngitis, and the other usual symptoms.

So instead of writing a longer, more time-consuming epistle, I’ll summarize my final week of the year with a quick post sprinkled with pictures. After which, as the Victorian ladies say, I’ll “take to my bed” for a long winter’s rest. With popcorn. And movies. Hey, I’ve been good!  And I really need this today.

Where'd all this water come from?

Where’d all this water come from?

 

Izzie and I took several hikes. The first day we discovered that after a week of solid rain, the little brooks that are usually only trickles had become serious contenders with our big and bold Buck Creek!

We had the good luck to run into Hermenio, who lovingly tends and beautifies our property. He took us on a guided tour of the new trail he’s building.

 

Hiking the new trail.

Hiking the new trail.

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The winter woods are full of treasures. Like this delicate ground-cover plant with tiny green leaves and bright red berries that loves the damp ground and mossy sides of rocks and boulders. Does anyone know its name?

One of my favorite things to do on hikes is look for Mother Nature’s art. Here are a few samples.

I call this "Stepping Stone with Leaf and Boot Print."

I call this one “Stepping Stone with Tulip Poplar Leaf and Boot Prints.”

Has any human ever made lace as delicate as this?

Have human hands ever made lace as delicate as this?

I'm likin' this lichen bracelet.

I’m really likin’ this gorgeous lichen bracelet.

 

Cooking is a favorite pastime and we have lots of food rituals.

 

I always make a big pot of chili to welcome the family on their first night.

I always make a big pot of chili and homemade biscuits to welcome everyone after a long travel day.

And we have to have monkey bread for breakfast at least once!

We have to have monkey bread for breakfast at least once. Robyn, the boys’ mother, made this one…with a little help from her youngest.

Homemade pizzas are always favorites.

Of course, nobody doesn’t like homemade pizzas.

 

 

 

 

 

The most fun of all is a 'hat dinner!' For this one, our godson, Wade, treated us to BarBQ brisket made in a big green egg.

Our ‘hat dinners’ (we collect old hats) are the most fun of all! For this one, Wade, our honorary godson, treated us all to BarBQ brisket cooked in a Big Green Egg. Seriously yummy!

 

Here we are with our son and his family just before sitting down to our New Year's Eve hat dinner.

Here we are with Matt and his family just before sitting down to our New Year’s Eve hat dinner.

 

Wade and his family before dinner.

Wade and his family.

 

On our last hike the boys finally found some frost and played a game of tic tac toe made from weather-impervious marble. Their table is the stump of a hemlock.

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Wishing you warm memories of 2015 and a happy, healthy, prosperous, and wildly love-filled New Year!!

Happy New Year!

 

Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.

 

Artemis and Demeter’s Legacy August 18, 2015

A perfect moment in the hammock...

A perfect moment in the hammock…

Our children and grandchildren have left now and I’m alone except for Izzy, my son’s golden retriever. She keeps me company when Fred has to be away for a few days. At the moment she’s sleeping contentedly on the bed while I’m writing at my desk.  It gives me enormous pleasure to have her and my family here.

The source of my pleasure goes way back and deep within. I spent my early years as a horse- and woods-loving Artemis, the Greek virgin goddess of the wilderness and the hunt…who was usually accompanied by a dog.  But Artemis stepped aside during my young adulthood to make room for Athena, daughter of patriarchy and Goddess of wisdom, who helped me with my education, teaching, and soul-searching; and for Demeter, goddess of motherhood and fertility, who showed up when I gave birth to my children.

Like all gods and goddesses of myth, these favorites of mine are humanity’s projections of archetypal energies in every psyche. Nobody activates them all, however. We each have our own preferences that may emerge at different times in our lives…or not at all.

For example, after serving Demeter and Athena faithfully during my young adulthood and middle years, I invited Artemis back. Her desire to expose our children (and, we hoped, grandchildren) to nature motivated our decision in the early 80’s to buy this land in the Smoky Mountains from Fred’s parents and build a cabin on it. Years later she inspired me to buy a horse and add a small pasture and stable where Shadow could live in the summers.

A main feature of the original cabin was an open loft with a bedroom on either side of a bathroom for our teen-aged daughter and son.  To our great joy, grandchildren eventually came along.  Now our son’s bedroom contains 3 twin beds plus a bunk for the five grandchildren, while our daughter’s old room is an enclosed guest room which her teen-aged daughter recently claimed.

The cabin and land continually evolve with new projects almost every year, always with the family in mind. For a while we entertained the idea of building a tree house for the kids in a stand of giant hemlocks at the top of the mountain.  That idea was squashed when the hemlocks were infested with the wooly adelgid parasite. As the dead trees fell we found other uses for them.  Most of the wood was chopped into firewood to warm our and our neighbors’ cabins in winter.

Our hemlock table with bird lights above

Our hemlock table with bird lights above

Then a few years ago Algie, our friend, neighbor and a gifted builder, used the most promising fallen wood to make a table that would seat the eleven of us. He’d never built furniture from hemlock before. No one around here does because the wood tends to be too soft and twisty and it cracks and warps easily.

But after some experimentation he crafted a beauty.  As you can see, despite year-round exposure to the changeable weather, it’s holding up well on the screened porch beside the creek. So are the lights we bought in Mexico to hang over it:  eleven rusted metal birds, each with its own Edison bulb…for the light in each of us.

When my family’s here, Demeter’s a proud mother hen keeping an eye on her chicks (and grandchicks) as they enjoy the property and local attractions. The best time is when we return to the nest each evening for a family dinner that everyone contributes to and shares around our special, hand-made table.

Last winter’s project was a new foot trail that branches off the main one into the remote parts of the property. A few places are piled high with dead hemlocks. The rest is dense with poplars, oaks, maples, and tangled masses of wild rhododendron. Until our yard man got hold of it, it was largely unexplored. Now, after a winter of clearing, digging, fortifying and general magic-making, it’s done, and hiking it with Izzy and the grandchildren has become a major pleasure.

On this summer’s visit our nine-year old granddaughter and seven-year old grandson decided to build a playhouse on a levelish space above the waterfall. Initially, it was their secret. Our granddaughter made a detailed design complete with elevations and measurements, (she may have inherited her father’s architect genes…or maybe it’s her mother’s interior designer genes), and they cleared a trail and leveled the space. It wasn’t long before the older three demanded to know what was going on and started helping.  Soon, the fathers and Grandpa/Boppy were involved too.

By the end of the week they had constructed an 8 X 10 wood plank floor supported by four 4 X 4 posts.  Our son and his sons stayed up late Saturday night to finish the floor, and Fred drove in the last nails Sunday morning after they left. It was the archetypal childhood “build a tree-house with Dad” experience with the added twist of being a waterfall house that is satisfyingly hidden by tree branches all around. They plan to finish it on subsequent visits.

Our cabin in the early days

Our cabin in the early days

At bedtime the night before they left, our seven-year old grandson wistfully told his mother, “I wish my arms were long enough to wrap all the way around the cabin.” My Artemis and Demeter are still doing a happy dance! Seeds have been sown, and I can rest easy knowing my love for family, nature, and wilderness is a legacy my grandchildren will carry on.

For more on the goddess archetypes, check out Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen’s wonderful books, especially Goddesses in Everywoman.  I just finished and enjoyed her latest:  Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman.

Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

That’s Amore: A Father’s Day Tribute October 7, 2014

My friends:  Last week my husband’s father died at the age of 103.  He was a beautiful man who was loved by all.  To honor his memory I’m sharing this post from June of 2011 which I wrote on the occasion of his hundredth birthday.  May you rest in peace, Dad. Thank you for bringing so much love and beauty into the lives of your family.

In 1904 a young man named Antonio Raffa stepped off the boat onto Ellis Island with a small bag of belongings, $9.00 in his pocket, and hope for a better life. His first act was to kneel and kiss the ground. As he told us years later, there was nothing for him in his small hill town near Messina, Sicily where his only choices were to be poor or join the Mafia. Neither option sounded good to him. With help from his older brother Phillip who was living in New York, Antonio established a barber shop in Brooklyn and settled in.

The next year Phillip returned to Italy and chose the lovely Giovannina Iannelli to be Antonio’s wife. Escorted by her parents, “Jenny” came to America and met Antonio over dinner on Friday night. They were married the next day. After a while she contracted a lung infection and their growing family left Brooklyn for the mountain air in the Catskills town of Liberty, NY. This is where Anthony Raffa, Jr., or “Tony,” the third of four sons, spent his youth. (He’s the third son from the left in the picture.)

Growing up as children of Italian immigrants wasn’t always easy in those days and Antonio wanted his sons to have every advantage. His first rule was to speak English. The second was to work hard and do well in school. The third was never to leave their house without being well-dressed and immaculately groomed. Tony Jr. was an especially intelligent, well-meaning, and attractive young man, (he could have been Ronald Coleman’s double with his wavy black hair and thin moustache), who thrived in the land of opportunity and made his parents proud.

After working his way through the College of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri where he joined the Acacia club, played the violin in a small combo, and paid his bills by ironing his friends’ shirts for four cents apiece, Tony returned to Liberty and started a medical practice on the downstairs floor of a Victorian house on Main Street. When he married Julia Vera Segar, a nurse of Scotch-Irish descent, they set up housekeeping above the office. My husband is their firstborn son, Fred. His favorite memory from those days is of coming home from school and meeting Rocky Marciano whom his dad was secretly treating in preparation for his upcoming match with Roland La Starza! Wouldn’t the paparazzi have had a field day if they had known?

Sadly, Vera died after the birth of their second son. Five years later Tony married Helen Scobell, a home-economics extension agent.  After the birth of their first child, a daughter, they moved to Tampa where they had two more sons, a thriving medical practice, a sophisticated home filled with art, music and laughter, and a country club membership. Active in the Masonic Lodge, he was awarded the 33rd Degree and became a Noble in the Mystic Order of the Shrine. Tony retired from his medical practice at age 74 and lost his second love, Helen, to cancer at 82.  At 85 he married Winn Wiley who still fills his life with love.

Unlike his feisty, cigar-smoking bantam rooster father, my fun-loving and even-tempered father-in-law is the most humble, gentle and tolerant man I’ve ever known. I’ve never heard him criticize anyone or speak an unkind word, never seen him angry. As one whose favorite saying is, “Family is the most important thing,” he brought his parents to Tampa and looked after them until they died. Last weekend I was reminded of the wisdom of these words when his family and friends gathered to celebrate his 100th birthday!  I can’t imagine my life without him, his son Fred, or our children and grandchildren.

Family. As Dean Martin, a fellow Italian-American, once sang, “That’s amore!”  Happy Father’s Day to Tony and fathers everywhere. May your lives overflow with amore!

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Something Different About Last Weekend November 7, 2013

Nearing the End of a 20-Year Wait

Nearing the End of a 20-Year Wait

I want to tell you about last weekend.

But first, some background.  Around 35 years ago, my husband’s youngest brother, Tony, called us late one night from college to tell us he was gay.  My first reaction was surprise.  This was in the late seventies, when homosexuality was still so closeted that the average straight person rarely thought about it, let alone openly encountered it.

My next reaction was a flash of understanding. Suddenly Tony’s unhappiness and occasional troubling behavior as a teenager made sense.  How alone he must have felt. How he must have despaired of ever finding acceptance.

That’s why my third reaction was admiration for Tony’s courage. Where had that come from? What pain had brought him to this place?  How much more would he experience now that he had chosen to reveal his truths to a judgmental and unforgiving world? I had never met anyone with that kind of bravery before, and I was in awe of it. Could I be that brave?  I didn’t think so. I was still too afraid of failure and censure to leave the conventional path I was on.

Years passed.  Tony became an interior designer and thrived in a profession he loved. Eventually he started his own successful design firm in Houston. Meanwhile, I grew increasingly unhappy with myself. Unlike Tony, I didn’t love my work as a college professor, but I was too afraid to quit and start over.

Then, when I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me and had given up hope of ever finding fulfillment, I discovered Jungian psychology. Afraid of what I might learn about myself, but even more afraid of wasting my truths on an unlived life, I turned within and stepped into a bold new adventure of self-discovery and authentic living.

By the time Tony and Scott met I had quit teaching and written my first book. Two years later they invited Fred and me to Houston where I conducted their commitment ceremony. Never have I felt such warmth and kindness, such sincere interest and approval, as I received from their friends that weekend. The natural, unforced acceptance of these total strangers was a revelation.

Since then I’ve encountered this attitude many times. Always from Tony and Scott and their friends. Most recently I felt it last weekend at the city clerk’s office in New York where Fred and I went to witness their marriage. While waiting for their number to be called I sat next to a producer of Broadway musicals. In just moments, he and his partner would be legally married after being together for 35 years. They, too, exuded a rare, unguarded friendliness.

It's Official!

It’s Official!

What makes people like this so different from the norm? I found my answer at the play we attended that night. Kinky Boots is a delightful musical about a young man who saves his father’s shoe factory by making boots for drag queens. Its theme is acceptance: how it is withheld by some and freely given by others.

Most of us have been hurt by some form of prejudice, whether because of our nationality, race, religion, social or economic class, age, appearance, gender or sexuality. The people who automatically judge and reject us do so because they fear and reject their own differentness. Those who freely accept us have broken through their fear and found the courage to accept themselves.

Reflecting on last weekend, I realize why it was so very special for me. Since that late night phone call so many years ago Tony has been a beloved teacher who paved the way for me to stop fearing my life and start living it. He did that by showing me what courage, self-acceptance, and open-heartedness look like. These are among my most treasured lessons and I will always be grateful.

Congratulations, Tony and Scott!!  May your marriage be long and happy.  And thank you for being in my life.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at Amazon and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

A Grand Adventure July 10, 2013

Globe fire pit:  The fire's in South America

Globe fire pit: The fire’s in South America

It’s been over five weeks since I decided to step back from my twice-weekly blog posting to just let life happen without an agenda. I’ve been surprised to find that with only one exception (my post about Grandmother Spider) I haven’t missed writing.  Until today. Why now? Lots of things I guess:  a note from a friend who’s missing my regular updates and musings;  a lull in the activity going on around here (my three grandsons have left to visit their other grandparents for a week and my daughter’s family is off zip-lining today).  And also, perhaps, because I think best by writing and I have much to think about.

Apparently my new freedom from stressing over self-imposed writing deadlines has snuck into other areas of my personality. The other day my husband and one of our grandsons spent a lot of time setting out cushions and hauling wood and laying a fire in our new globe fire pit in the terrace garden by the creek.  Out-of-town friends were dropping by for a glass of wine and we were going to sit out there.

Just before they arrived the skies darkened and thunder rolled and a few fat droplets splashed on the deck.  I casually said to my daughter, “Let it rain. The wood will dry, the cushions won’t be ruined, and they’ll see it another time.”  With a deadpan look she said, “Well that was very un-compulsive of you!”  I’m still chuckling.  I loved it that my stress switch didn’t automatically flip on and highjack my equanimity as it has done so often in the past! I don’t know if it’s increasing age or increasing consciousness, but either way, it’s real progress!

Last week my five grandchildren were here for some much anticipated fun at Camp MaBoppa with, you guessed it, Ma and Boppa. After several days of spending most of our time indoors because of non-stop rain, one night around midnight I was in their bunk room trying for the zillionth time to settle them down and get them to go to sleep. The first few nights of this it hadn’t been an issue. The excitement of being with each other was catching and I figured it wouldn’t do any harm to let them enjoy the novelty for the few days they’d all be together.

But by this night my HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) personality trait had been pushed to the max by not enough sleep, too little solitude, and too much intense stimulation. Tired, frustrated, and cranky, I was preparing to leave when one child started laughing and another started crying and I felt a crack in my normally patient, composed persona, and then it exploded into a million pieces. I felt it coming like you do when someone lights the fuse of a giant mamajama Roman Candle on the 4th of July, and then I let it fly with a few angry, totally appropriate, well-chosen words!

Absolute silence! In bed a moment later, a twinge of guilt and a bit of fear that they’d stop loving me were soon swept away by a wave of joy and “You go, girl!” pride.  I did it! I was proud of myself! It was the right thing to do and I knew it! For someone who hates conflict so much that sometimes she doesn’t set clear boundaries, this was an important achievement.

That night I dreamed I was looking at a map of the Western Hemisphere and tracing a route that started in North America, passed through Central America, and ended at a special village in the center of South America. Part of the route was a watery passage dotted with islands. I imagined I’d need a canoe for that. I’d been asked by a regal-looking woman wearing a long, neutral colored dress to accompany her and her photographer on this trip. I was to help him articulate the essence and meanings of the images he’d be making of our grand adventure. The dream ended with someone giving me a packet of folded up paper. When I opened it, precious gems tumbled out and I searched for the diamond I knew was in there for me.

The next day we were having lunch when one of my grandsons said, “Do you remember what you said last night?”

“Yup,” I said.  “I sure do.  And there’s more where that came from if I need it.”

“I’ve never seen you that way,” he said with a touch of awe. “Me neither,” said the little one, equally solemn and wide-eyed.  Then we all smiled at each other and ate our sandwiches.

This summer is turning out to be a grand adventure.

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon site and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Freeing Buried Emotions August 28, 2012

Recently Deepak Chopra posted an article on Huffington Post about the relationship between physical health and consciousness. He wrote that the mind and body are connected in a feedback loop which works all the time, whether you’re awake, asleep or in a coma. But here’s what I found most interesting: when you participate in the feedback loop with self-awareness, you make your mind and body allies in a positive partnership that leads toward increased health and longevity.

After reading Dr. Chopra’s and Dr. Rudy Tanzi’s eleven “prescriptions” to a self-aware approach to life, I copied two into my blog file thinking I might want to write a post about them. Behind my conscious reason, however, was another of which I was barely aware: I needed these prescriptions for myself! One was: “Free yourself emotionally — to be emotionally resilient is the best defense against growing rigid.” In other words, there’s a cause and effect relationship between mental and physical inflexibility and vulnerability.

This advice has been simmering in my mind since then, and now I know why I found it so compelling. I haven’t exercised regularly this summer and am getting increasingly stiff. Today I did a lot of bending and stooping and weed-pulling in the garden around the root cellar, and soon afterwards felt the need for two Aleves!  I know this isn’t unusual for my age, but I also know it’s not inevitable. So what’s the mental correlate that might be contributing to it?

My mother was a wonderful woman, but she was not emotionally open or resilient. In fact, she was so emotionally vulnerable—fragile, really—that to her death she strongly resisted feeling and manifesting any strong emotions at all. Since she never dealt consciously with this aspect of her shadow, I naturally inherited it. So here’s the connection. She died four years ago this month, five days short of her 94th birthday. My brother and I knew she wanted to be cremated, but she never told us what to do with her ashes. So I’ve kept them in a closet. As you can imagine, this has been weighing heavily on my shoulders. My rather stiff shoulders. Does this suggest anything to you? It sure does to me!

I’ve been trying to uncover some long-buried emotions for several years and it’s paying off.  I’m less sensitive and emotionally reactive, and I’m losing my unconscious tendency to deny physical and emotional pain. A few months ago when I read a post on Elaine Mansfield’s blog about the stone cairn she and her sons built over her husband’s ashes, I had an epiphany. Our North Carolina property is practically a quarry! Burying her here under a cairn was the perfect answer!  The fact I was ready to let her go tells me I was also ready to let go of some guilt, anger and denial related to her.

Last Saturday evening my brother, husband, and I buried Mom’s ashes in a garden we created for her this summer. At one point Jim paused for a moment. The sound of the gurgling creek flowing past the garden had brought back a memory from our youth. We rarely went on vacations, but once Mom saved enough money to rent a beach cottage. That week she spent most of her time on the porch reading and doing crossword puzzles. One day she said to Jim, “I just love listening to the water.”  In dreams, water often symbolizes emotions. She may not have heard her pain in life, but now she has no pain, and she can listen to something she loves for eternity. Rest in peace, Mom. We’re both freer now.

You can order my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, from www.Amazon.com or www.LarsonPublications.com

 

Gaia’s Children October 18, 2011

My third-grade grandsons were given an assignment to write about the most beautiful place in nature they can imagine. Connor’s story, published in my last post, is about how he spent a summer day at the beach. His twin brother Jake has wonderful memories of a winter day in the Smoky Mountains. He drew the picture you see here. This is his story:

Snowing

“Once I went to North Carolina and I just could not wait to feel the snow at my feet. When I got there I found out that my grandpa bought me a sled for the snow! Would you like that to happen to you? I got all of my gear on and raced outside. I could feel the cool breeze in my face. Then I formed a ramp and slid down it. Then I fell off my sled and landed in the pearl-white snow. It was fun! Would you like that to happen to you? Next I went exploring in the woods. I hiked all the way up to my uncle’s house. It was a lot of work! When I came back down I got a little lost but then I passed a tree I recognized. That tree was close to the house! When I got to the house I was really tired. I jumped on the couch and drank hot chocolate. I wish you were there to enjoy the snow with me.”

Last time I described how the teacher made this writing assignment so much more fun by sending a “top secret” note home asking the parents to respond to their children’s essays. The children knew something mysterious was going on and had to wait a few weeks to find out what it was. The mystery was solved when they opened the sealed envelopes their parents had sent back to school and found their special letters inside.

Connor and Jake’s mother, Robyn, has a master’s degree in education and is one of the best mothers I’ve ever known. I’ve learned so much from her about how to listen and respond to children with patience, kindness and respect that I honestly think she should make instructional videos for parents! You’ll see the kind of person she is when you read her response to Jake:

“Dear Jake,

“I remember last winter like it was yesterday and I couldn’t have described our experience as well as you. When did you become such a talented writer? Reading your essay actually made me feel cold! I now long for new sledding adventures and more treacherous hikes. Most of all, I’m now seriously craving a mug full of rich, steamy hot chocolate!

“I, too, find North Carolina the most beautiful place in nature. As magical as the snow-covered Smokies are in winter, I tend to prefer summers in the mountains. I love our drives there each July, counting down the hours until we arrive. It’s always thrilling to see the first mountain range, then eventually make our final turn onto Buck Creek Road. How I love to roll down the windows just to smell the forest! Can you imagine that woodsy scent right now?

“In North Carolina I feel as though we are one with nature. I am in awe of the animals we encounter, from the tiny hummingbirds that buzz around like giant bumblebees to the chubby chipmunks that scurry across our porch hoping not to be seen. How many slippery salamanders do you suppose we have caught over the years? Not to mention the fireflies — it’s incredible how they light up the night sky! What about the black bears we cautiously avoid on our long walks through the woods? I’d secretly love to catch sight of one — from afar, of course!

“I couldn’t write about the glory of North Carolina without mentioning the waterfalls! I’m amazed that some begin as tiny trickles from above. How do they then explode into raging bursts of water that dramatically plunge hundreds of feet downward?

“Of course I have to mention our rafting adventures! The rapids are exhilarating, but I think my favorite part is the very beginning when we paddle out early in the morning watching the mist float on the surface of the river, listening to the cheerful birds loudly chirping and squawking, greeting one another at the start of a new day.

“On our annual trips, hiking in the woods offers the most beauty. When we arrive at the end of each trail the sights are breathtaking! I could sit at the top of Whiteside Mountain all day, gazing down at the trees in the valley far below, feeling humbled and mesmerized and grateful all at once.

“I have traveled to North Carolina every year since I was a child, and I have forever cherished my time there. I am blessed to share my love of the mountains with you, Jake, and can’t wait for our next trip. What else do you think we might discover?

“All my love, Mom.”

I’ve published these stories and letters partly because I’m a proud grandmother who delights in celebrating my grandchildren’s accomplishments; partly because I’m an educator who wants to share a very special activity for other teachers and parents to use; and partly because I’m a nature lover who’s worried about the carelessness with which we’re treating our Earth Mother, Gaia. At this stage of my life one of my greatest fears is for Her welfare. Likewise, one of my greatest hopes is that my grandchildren’s grandchildren will inhabit a world of unspoiled beauty in which they too can experience the mystery and wonder of swimming in an unpolluted ocean and sledding over pristine white snow on a densely forested mountain.

If a crystal ball could show me my great-great-grandchildren’s world would I dare gaze into it? I’m not sure I want to know.

 

 
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