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Feathers, Snow & Sorrow

Posted by Angela Cannon-Crothers on February 13, 2013 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Feathers, Snow, and Sorrow

Outside with Angie

“Those who dwell…..among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth, are never alone or weary of life.” -Rachel Carson

I.

Nature is a constant reminder that there is a Spirit of Life that continues on beyond the doings of man. It’s not difficult to connect to, even if you can’t get outdoors, there are always the birds. A winter feeder or two, with plenty of black oil sunflower seeds, a suet block -- even peanut butter on stale bread – will bring them close. The birds at my feeders are dressed much like winter businesspeople in dark grays, black, tan, and just a hint or russet or daring red here or there. I had an evening grosbeak at the feeder in November, bringing back memories of my Vermont days with a baby boy on my hip. This winter I have a colorful pair of cardinals, at least two tribes of chick-a-dees, white and red breasted nuthatch mascots, swarms of dark-eyed juncos (actually in the sparrow family), kingly looking blue jays (of course), downy and hairy woodpeckers, pine siskin, and a couple tree sparrows. I was surprised to see this harbinger of spring, the tree sparrow, and thought at first it must have been a chipping sparrow with its ruddy crown, but no, there was the dark “stick pin” in the center of its pale chest – how apropos.

The winter of 2012-13 may bring a host of unexpected visitors: major birding sights are predicting the appearance of crossbills, evening grosbeaks, and pine grosbeaks in our area. Recently, a birder up at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester documented a Type 3 red crossbill (there are several types evolving new adaptations right now, Type 3 has the smallest bill). White-winged crossbills, red crossbills, and the grosbeaks are irrupting in new regions like ours this season -- some traveling across the entire U.S. due to spruce and hemlock seed declines in the Northwest states and Canada. Other less-frequently sighted species, like bohemian waxwings, will be here looking for buckthorn berries and other wild fruits; heavy draught throughout the north and central Midwest left little in the way of nutritious boreal mountain ash berries to sustain themselves on.

Rarely seen birds, with their unexpected colorings and element of surprise, are like soul food for the eyes. A good field guide is useful but several on-line sites like www.ebird.org and www.birds.cornell.edu, are helpful too. There will be other winged wonders to spot -- flocks of snow buntings will arrive and there are whisperings about the potential of boreal owls wintering here this year as well.

II.

I cannot imagine a world without snow. Last week, at winter solstice time, while the valley below waited for a few degrees more of a drop, you could drive up just a couples miles from Naples and enter a small snow line of white-etched trees and frosted ground. The feeling was magical. Winter in sepia tones that bleed into gloomy skies and long nights are simply too stark and barren.

I cannot imagine a world without snow: The shadows of winter are long ones. We are forced to be stiller than we had before, to venture inward both more physically and more psychologically. Since time began northern peoples have drummed to ward off the dark spirits of the season, huddled close for warmth and comfort, lit fires, and called their shamans in. Many early peoples and far north native traditions did not see a clear delineation between the metaphysical world and the physical one; they could communicate with wild animals, with their ancestors, with spirits, and with the Earth. I think that winter reminds us of these lost connections and our need for them now more than any other time of the year. Philosopher and naturalist, Kathleen Dean Moore, writes “is it a mistake to look at the world to tell us the meaning of our plummeting lives?.....Maybe there is no meaning in the world itself – no sorrow. In fact, no good or bad, no beginning or end.”

I cannot imagine a world without snow. I cannot imagine a world without light, a landscape drenched in heavy silence, an earth and sky decorated in crystalline structures of all kinds. Snow is purifying. Snow covers a world in its cycle of death and passing and sleep with something physically miraculous, the light of which is like an inner flame. Environmentally, snow is also a source for recharging our springs, wells, and lakes. It is prelude to a summer of precious water and also a source to recharge ourselves, to offer play, diversion, and respite, gifting a whole new dimension to our world and our lives.

III.

I cannot imagine a world without hope just as I cannot imagine a world without snow or birds. Kathleen Dean Moore writes in her book, Wild Comfort, “I don’t know what despair is, if it’s something or nothing, a kind of filling up or an emptying out. I don’t know what sorrow does to the world, what it adds or takes away.” But she continues: “How we feel about events, how we respond to them, how we transform them and judge them – these are our own decisions….a matter of the shape of our spirit, the corrugation of the feathers in our wings.”

We can learn a lot from the birds; recall the wonder of their hollow bones, their feather structure, their breaking down of territories in season to be in community. For sorrow’s sake I will do only what I can: grow to feel the cleansing of freshly fallen snow, watch the birds, fold paper and cut intricate snowflake forms to send love to children in sorrow shared, honor our fallen firefighters, and work to be part and witness to the world shining on.

 

 

 

The Deep Under-the-Green

Posted by Angela Cannon-Crothers on February 13, 2013 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

The Deep Under-the-green

Miracle of miracles. The landscape is awakening; the first killdeer are heard piping, spring peepers are ringing, rivulets of water are running and an emerald gleam is rising. I’m eager to go forage for the first feasts of spring: wild leeks to add to soups, dandelion and garlic mustard for vivid green pesto, fresh plucked fiddlehead ferns to steam with butter and if luck has it, a discovery of elusive morel mushrooms to devour.

It’s easy this time of year to see the life force sweep across the land, resurfacing it with growing, living things lifted up by the warmth of the sun. The web of life bursts forth like waves to the shore with each bud and blossom. It would also be easy to mistake such a sight with the presumption that “all of creation” is only here on the surface of our rare Earth; just a thin coat that serves as a shell and the only place that can support biotic activity; but it just isn’t so.

As I dig down to pull up a dandelion whose deep tap root is excellent for strengthening my liver and whose green leaves can provide the depth of my own tiny cells with important nutrients, I peer into the amazing ecosystem of microbes who help make all this upper green possible; everything from arthropods and soil nematodes to bacteria and fungi who keep the process of decomposition and nutrient recycling moving for the rest of us. The intricate webs of fungi mycelium themselves can be a couple square feet in size to over thirty square miles for a single individual. Millions of unseen creatures in the soil layers are working, busy, making the contributions necessary for life on earth as we know it.

Further down, much, much further down, is a place we imagine as a dark and mineral world void of life with merely a structural support sort of function. This is also wrong, way wrong. Sandra Steingraber, author, ecologist, and human activist for chemical contamination, wrote in the January/February issue of Orion Magazine about the amazing discoveries of “deep life” – not in the oceans, but in the bedrock, extending our notions of the biosphere up to three miles below the surface. Take for instance, ancient bacterium that use hydrogen for energy and transfer electrons into the mineral rock around them that exist in deep bedrock in colonies and communities creating their own vital cycles to Earth’s recognizance. Incidentally, these bacteria are estimated to have been present on Earth for about 85% of the planet’s history. Mankind? Our presence is just a mere blip of time in comparison. Even more astounding, a species of roundworm – a multicellular creature -- was recently discovered over three kilometers below the earth’s surface. Writes Steingraber, “by weight, more than half of all life on Earth likely lies within deep geological strata.” And she adds, “as a major player in elemental cycling, deep life may be contributing to climate stability.”

It appears that the mystical Middle Earth, the deep, deep, underground being blasted and injected with untold chemical stews from hydrofracking gas extraction is actually somebody’s home. And a somebody whose function and contributions to the planet as a whole aren’t even understood one iota yet.

Now, I’m not trying to give some Spotted Owl battle cry (not that I wouldn’t) to save the roundworm, Halicephaobus mephisto, or to protect an ancient radioactive fixing bacteria that might come in handy for cleaning up some of our other messes, but rather to ask that we consider not just our fresh drinking water, our clean (cough, cough) air (which by the way, turns out to also harbor amazing microscopic critters way up in the atmosphere) but a Kingdom of life we know nothing about, and an amazing geo-microbiological system that forms the foundation of a planet that just happens to be the one we live on. One that in the deepest depths of the entire ‘Verse, seems to be the only one we have that will support us.

Dandelion in hand, I rise back up from these depths in wonder with a gasp. There is some sort of life force deep, deep down within the Earth and realize -- the Earth really is Gaia, a living organism. I shake the dark dirt full of hundreds of miniscule microbes off the dandelion root and leaves that will nourish my own cosmos of cells, that I will wash clean with the sweet deep well water from my faucet that is still safe to drink (knock on faucets), as I take a full, deep breath and remind myself what a blessing this all is, how we should never take any of it for granted, no matter how deep or far away it seems.

 

The Remains of November

Posted by Angela Cannon-Crothers on November 23, 2011 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

There is a simple grace to the elemental, stark feel of a November day that my spirit feels drawn to lately. The dark denim sky, treebranches stretched like dancer’s arms, the somber color of fallen oak leaves scatteredunder low lighting beg me to answer solitude with solitude, to nestle in, tofind rest. We’ve had snow twice this season up in the hills, once enough tostick and hang heavy in the trees like a winter wonderland. Then the weather warmed again into the 60s to call me back to the garden to dig the last of the purple heirloom carrots, pull what onions remained, and eat one hard and roughskinned squash after another.

Formations of geese passed and the last of the monarchs disappearedwhile hardy yellow sulfurs continued to flitter here and there. I always waitto hear the low wonk-ing of snowgeese traveling by night, but even they must have found southern territory bynow. There is no season as lonely as November, when everyone has left by wing, insidethe wrapping of cocoons and woody galls, or down deep into roots to slumber.The annuals leave only their skeletal forms: tiny dried vase-like calyxes ofevening primrose, tall seed bearing stalks of mullein, creamy seed heads ofgoldenrod. November is the pendulum point just as it stops a moment to pause,get its bearings, and swing on to the arc of winter.

All around are the remains of summer’s memories, itsfecundity, its sensual smells and hums and songs. If I look closely I canremember it still and take comfort in its passing. In the naked limbs of my most closely acquainted trees are now visible the nests of last summer’s birds.Behind my bedroom is a robin’s nest, built above the crook in the tree branchand lined with grasses, and down in the woods a vireo nest is hung below the branch, just over 3 inches wide, and lined with fine fibers, pine needles, andspider silk.

Along the roadside, high and dangling from a black walnut tree, is a bald-faced hornet nest made from wood fiber and wasp saliva blendedinto a globe of small swirled patches. The bald-faced hornet is white and blackon the posterior with a partially white face. The nest is begun in the spring by a pregnant female who makes a simple set of paper chambers and lays a feweggs to tend. The brood that hatches and eventually pupates are entirely workerfemales who take over their mother’s duties so she can become “queen.” It’s notuntil fall that any males offspring are produced. Late fall’s fertilizedfemales find an old log to burrow into for the winter while the rest of the colony- including the queen - dies.  Accordingto folklore, hanging a bald faced hornet nest in the house will dispel headaches. If you decide to collect one keep in mind that the empty nest often houses other insects and spiders for winter quarters.

Along these slips of land between the lakes and hills I beginto feel confined despite the opening of sky and woodland the leafless seasonbrings. Deer-bow season has ended, which I am wary about but don’t feel imprisoned by. When rifle season starts my heart races, my ears go alert, and   1/4Isometimes duck on my own front porch. A rifle bullet, unlike a bow or musket,can travel up to a mile, or so I am told. There isn’t a straight mile any where around me that doesn’t run into somebody’s house or farm. Rifle season restricts my wanderings as well as my children’s ability to get outside – even at the Naples School playground (if that doesn’t speak for how much we should fear deer rifle season, I don’t know what does). I ache for the end of it, give thanks for our survival and run out into post-rifle season snow like a woman crazedfor freedom.

In this barren season the human-land relationship growsstrikingly evident; from the top of my driveway I count over 40 turbines spinning by day and blinking like Rudolf’s nose by night. A huge orange glow  rises up from the gas substation over the hill across Route 53. Both are constant reminders to me of our dependency on natural (and maybe un-natural)resources, but the latter’s presence make our recent escapade into wind turbine issues look greatly over-exaggerated or at least, like a much lesser beast.When I hear proponents of hydrofracking say that the method of extraction –high pressure fracturing deep underground while injecting a toxic chemical slurryof acetone, toluene, benzene, phenol, arsenic, barium, heavy metals and more to flush it out – as being sound science, I wonder what science they are talkingabout? Gas extraction and hydraulic fracturing science is, I suppose, a science too after all. But it’s far too ghastly of a danger to the environment and human health to be based on anything close to ecological or environmental science.

I often sigh and wonder why I had to be born in the fossilfuel era when there seems to be so little good to say about it. Like many here Iwant to live cooperatively with the land, with the earth and sun, the moon and stars, not as part of a society that will be remembered for blowing the earth to bits deep from within its core, slurping up all it has to give, then burningour drink into an atmospheric-climate-altering smog that comes back down as toxic rain (my environmental career began as an acid rain collector). Surely an intelligent life form (aka – humans) can find a better way to produce energy,one that doesn’t risk our water, soil, climate and fellow creatures? I am thankful for these beautiful hills and Finger Lakes, for hot water, heat, andelectricity (luxuries I have lived without elsewhere) but can we be truly thankful today if what we leave our children and grandchildren tomorrow is a land that resembles only the remains of November?

 

 

 

All My Relations

Posted by Angela Cannon-Crothers on October 29, 2011 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

All My Relations – A Halloween Story in Two Parts

If you want to see wildlife the best place to go isn’t thewoods but rather, the road. On one morning commute to Canandaigua I see Skunkdressed up with a Mohawk along the center line, her musky odoriferous smoggreeting me a mile before I ever encounter her body. I count Raccoon(squished), Doe (roadside), Squirrel dead center in my lane and someone elsetotally unrecognizable in a pile of blood and guts as I zoom by at a speed tooghastly for the early hour of the day. And I’m not the only car that’s raced bythese animals without concern. We are all so immune to our daily destruction ofthose who share our community that I wonder if even apathy can explain it. It’sjust plain scary.

Google Images of earthbegan to show only developments and sword-like crisscrossings of dirt roads,main roads, and highways. The animals who shared the land with us had tocontend constantly with our eagerness to get someplace in usually, a great bighurry. Animals had places to go too, obviously, or we wouldn’t have seen themon the road.

I’ve hit quite a few animals and I’ve been known to pick uproad kill on occasion: a fresh hit grouse that’s not too banged up has goneinto the pot and once, when I thought I had a grouse dinner in my grill plateafter a huge gust of wind sent a bird pummeling at my car, I ended up nursingwhat turned out to be a screech owl for a couple days and released it back intothe wild. One of the most memorable poems I’ve ever heard was about a womanpicking up a dead fawn on the road and utilizing every bit of it – down to thelard it made for pie crust. I’ve also collected porcupine quills for earringsoff a road kill, moved a coyote off Route 53 I planned to pick up after work andhave processed for its pelt (did you take it?), and eaten road kill deer that,when the cost of car repairs was over, ended up being some pretty pricey steak.

In some areas of the Country,salamander and other amphibian crossings caused such high mortality rates forendangered species that highway departments built amphibian crossing culvertsunder the roads in an attempt to get these small animals from the woods totheir seasonal breeding grounds. It helped some, until their habitats weredestroyed.

A couple weeks ago I was helping with a canoe program forHoneoye School ninth-graders at Hemlock Lake. There was a dead raccoon in themiddle of the boat access road; the route the school bus would be taking backand forth all day. Much to the other guide’s amazement, I asked if we couldplease take the animal off the road before the kids started arriving. The otherguide was surprised, even tried to brush off the idea saying “the kids won’teven notice it.” I thought some of them would and worse, that the bus would berunning it over again and again all day long. I got out and moved the animaloff into the wooded road edge. Two crows in the tree overhead yelled at me,probably afraid I was stealing their lunch.

Some animals wouldn’tcross roads at all but still their numbers declined. Wolves needed about 25square miles of uninterrupted territory – something that grew harder and harderto come by. Grizzly bears didn’t care much for paved roads either so GlacierNational Park is now the only living zoo with grizzly bears left in the Lower48. All the other animals are either in urban zoos or extinct now.

Of course one can talk about the whole food chain involvingdeath and scavengers and the wonder of our well-oiled ecological system; talkabout the overpopulation of deer, the dangers of breaking for wildlife(something I am not suggesting you do for fear of injuring yourself) – but whatabout the souls of these living relations? What about grieving amongst theanimal’s kin? What does leaving the dead in the road say about humankind?

Native Americansbelieved that the animals were our brothers and sisters. They believed that allthe animals – insects, birds, mammals – had messages for us; that Great Spiritworked through them to help us on our journey. The Animal People were ourspirit guides in a sense. One can only imagine the cost to our souls from theabsence of wildlife.

Animals do grieve and although I was reminded recently thatthere are people who don’t think animals have souls, people who think only theyare worthy of such afterlife-movings-on, and I suppose that could explain some ofthe apathy. But what about grief for the loss of a loved one – isn’t thatsomething we can all relate to? We know that a chimpanzee will carry their deadoffspring around for days in mourning. We know that elephants will stand vigilover a dead member of the herd; that some animals live a long, long time andsome mated pairs left without their partners display extreme sorts of grief.Even our pets display grief over the loss of an owner or stable mate and we forthem. Aren’t we all animals after all?

Most nocturnal animalshad layers of light sensitive cells, called rods, to help them see in the dark.They also had mirror-like tapetum lucidum at the back of the eye that producedan eerie eye-shine seen driving at night. One could identify animals at night bythe eye shine in their headlights:  deereyes blazed white, raccoon eyes were yellow, foxes and rabbits glowed red.

If we consider the souls and feelings of animals, considertheir importance to our own souls, think about how our behaviors might change. Afterall, what would a Council of All Beings say about our doings? One could getinto a whole slew of environmental and animal rights issues here but for now,I’ll just stick to the road. What does it say for us as a species that we careso little for the lives of others that we continue to drive on past death anddestruction? Of course, moving an animal off the road is tricky, gruesome,nasty, gut-wrenching business but trying to do so (given safety restraints) isan act of kindness that could be an act of higher human-kindness as well. Maybeyou say a little prayer, tell them you are sorry, blow sage smoke over theirbodies with a feather and wish them well on their next journey. Maybe it’s theleast we can do in this fossil fuel age until we can think of gentler ways tolive and be that takes into account all living things.

The movie, FantasiaII, and Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy made unique referencesto the animals trying to warn us of our own demise, giving up, and thendisappearing into outer space. It seems like that now, with all the animalsgone, the planet feels colorless and alone.

All Hallows Eve was actually an old pagan holiday that honoredrelatives who had passed away that year. It was believed the veil between theliving and the spirit world was thinnest at this time. Tradition involvedputting out a plate for recently deceased family members in case they spiritedby. Maybe this All Hallows Eve we could honor and remember All Our Relations, including those we consider so infrequently,those whose bodies we see daily in the road and those who feel our impactregardless.

 

 

 


September Strands

Posted by Angela Cannon-Crothers on October 29, 2011 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Outside with Angie -- September Strands

September is spider webs. Every morning long silver strandsreach from roof edge to doorway; perfectly designed nets are strung across theporch railings and in the woods small discs shimmer between tree branches. Themost active and talented webmakers this time of year are the orb weavingArgiope, or garden spider-- a large yellow and black spider whose females growthree to five inches in length. Each night the Argiope devours all strands ofher spiral web from the previous day and then spins a new spectacular piece ofwork to catch her evening dinner. As the month progresses she will feel theclose of the season, the hurriedness to finish all that is left to be done, layan egg, and die. The egg will hatch over 1,000 spiderlings who overwinter intheir snug egg sac, waiting till spring to balloon away into the world ongossamer threads.

September is sunflowers slumping their shoulders, heads offalling yellow hair bent as if in prayer, preparing seeds our winter songbirdscan enjoy. In September the curtain is raised; the unveiling of chlorophyllpigments of orange carotene, red anthocyanin and yellow xanthophylls in leavestake center stage. September is Monarch butterflies and troops of green darnerdragonflies gathering, preparing to migrate before a first frost drops cricketsin the fields like stones -- leaving us a sudden silence.

We live in a region where climate and season dictate theinstincts and changes in the natural world, but how much does season and climateaffect us? Are we not all engaged in this last flamboyant act? Seasonally thegrapes round and ripen and pie stands appear along the roadsides. The Fire Godlures me into hauling and stacking wood for a charismatic mystery and warmth Iwill be smitten by. Tomatoes are stewed and canned, the last of the basil ispicked, and chickens culled. We are shaped by the season, the shortening ofdays -- strands of the natural world that pull with a powerful tug. But doesthe web feel the pluck of climate change here?

I spiraled back to McCarthy, Alaska this summer (anengrossing writing workshop back in the town I lived in after finishingcollege) and basked in sweet balsam poplar scented air surrounded by ice cappedpeaks and rivers leaping like the backs of whales. I used to hike the Kennicottand Root Glaciers when I lived there, and although I was deliriously happy toget my crampon-footed -boots back onto that ice, I didn’t fail to notice thelarge tarn lake that wasn’t there before and the receding of this living,breathing being of ice and rock. But that’s what glaciers do – they change –change the landscape and their own forms, right?

One poetess there who spent five years teaching Inuitchildren above the Arctic Circle talked about the melting permafrost, aboutpolar bears coming into the village looking for food, about entire communitieslosing their homes due to climate change. All around me writers wondered how tohelp the call to action, how to help stop our rapid change in the planetarythermostat. I grappled with the enormity of such a task and then sat and justtook in the sublime that was still here around this little frontier town. I sawhow the cabins there had changed – solar panels on roofs now (not that therewas any other source of power), a community garden (free for the pickin’s), andsignage to remind everyone how precious their stream source of clean drinking waterwas to them (a water hole I visited like a ritual at the end of each day on myway back to my tent).  Driving inMcCarthy was practically forbidden (just getting a permit for a car in thevillage was pricey) but there was a shuttle van.  I saw that small, simple solutions, strandupon strand, might add up.

September, like our lives, strides forward with acceleratingspeed and blinding busyness. Should we not all rush to finish with all thisgrowth and production? And then I see the bright yellow side-striped spider,eight long legs nearly orange, just waiting. The labyrinth she strung across mypasture fence last night is one of her last acts of beauty before the seasonends. It reminds me how connected all life is with its environment, itsseasons, and its climate. I wonder what webs we might weave that could reflectsuch perfect grace if we truly took to heart the old saying attributed to ChiefSeattle, about how whatever we do to the web affects the web of life, thestrands of  which we are all part of.

 


How to Savor the Last Dregs of Summer

Posted by Angela Cannon-Crothers on October 29, 2011 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

How to Savor the last dregsof Summer (and lick the pan clean):

1.       When you first notice the sun’s azimuth growing lower adjust the brim of your hat tomatch the angle of light and ignore it.

2.       Although you may ignore the fact that summer is getting hotter, weather everywhere moresevere, and climate change is happening…lower your carbon footstep anyway: hangout the laundry, bring reusable bags to the store (wish I could remember thisone), buy a solar panel if you can afford it.

3.       Reach both hands beneath the weeds in the garden and pull out an overly largezucchini. Bring it in the kitchen and swear you will cook it for dinner.

4.       Take a walk in the woods after dark without a flashlight; look for the gleamingfirefly larvae in the leaf litter, shining foxfire (bioluminescent fungi) onold logs, and glowing Jack-O’ Lantern mushrooms. Try calling in a barred owl bygiving a guttural cry: who cooks for you?Who cooks for you aaallll? Wesley Hill Preserve on Gulick Road is a greatplace to hike.

5.       Go blueberry picking (the farm in Prattsburgh and Blueberry Hill in Arkport arestill open) or pick wild blackberries. Come home and make jelly all in the sameday.

6.       Pick wildflowers along a dirt road or in the fields. Gather armfuls of Queen Ann’sLace, black mahogany seed stems of curly dock, cat-tails, goldenrod, black-eyedSusans, arrange them in a large vase. Or recycle some of those phonebooks asflower presses and collect blossoms to decorate book marks, cards, even photoframes.

7.       In the morning, put your bathing suit on under your clothes even if you are goingto work (especially if you are going to work). Carry a towel with you all dayand be ready for the moment – even if it’s just to turn on the hose and danceunderneath it.

8.       Listen for the last calls of migratory birds, the clatter of flickers, the chatter oftree swallows, the lyrical songs of tree sparrows…

9.       Take down your hummingbird feeders but replace them with finch feeders and enjoy thelemon colors of goldfinches in full bloom.

10.   Sit at one of our area’s many restaurant porches like Roots, The Hotel, TheSawmill, or The Brown Hound. Order a fancy drink (it need not be alcoholic).Waste some time watching the world go by.

11.   Pack a picnic and visit an area park or beach you’ve missed this year, like OnandaBeach, Stony Brook, Sandy Bottom or Ontario County Park. Leave all yourcommunication gadgets at home and enjoy being in the moment, in nature.

12.   Watch the sun set and linger till long after dark. Look for constellations like Corona Borealis, Cygnet the Swan, or the Little Dipper.

13.   Camp out in the backyard with the kids (if they need motivation, tell them you justtreated the house for a flea infestation and they need to stay out for 12 hoursbut not to worry, you have marshmallows….)

14.   Investigate young milkweed plants for signs of newly hatched Monarch butterfly caterpillarsor look under milkweed leaves for tiny yellow Monarch eggs. If you don’t haveany milkweed this year, set aside a wild area of the yard for next year – Ihave plenty of seed.

15.   Challenge yourself with one more summer adventure – anything from backpacking on the Bristol Hills Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail to getting up one of the area’samazing gullies like Clark’s Gully, Conklins, or Stid Hill, kayaking or sailingon one of the Finger Lakes, or even heading up to the Adirondacks to hike a High Peak.

16.   Make a list of the top 5 things you are most thankful for. Be amazed that nothing on the list includes technology, consumer goods, signature vehicles, or stuff.

17.   Unplug yourself (and the family) for an entire day. If you don’t know what to doreview this list and then go out and enjoy the deepening of summer; the richnessof a season consumed with real abundance, the type worth counting your blessings for.

 

 

 


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