World Water Day 2015

Today is a holiday to celebrate water! Yesterday, I got to see the Atlantic Ocean and water everywhere-it was wonderful. Water has a way of southing and nourishing my soul, my spirits and my heart all at once. We are lucky here and water abounds. I drink many glasses a day of water. Water flows out of the spigot easily for so many uses almost as if by magic. It’s without much thought to the availability, and ease, of that fabulous water that my daily routine flows each day.

However, World Water Day is a serious issue. I like the way Time Magazine featured it-so I will give you the first bit here, and then send you all over to the article for the rest. 

A holiday for H2O

Sunday is World Water Day, a United Nations initiative to celebrate clean water and bring attention to those who don’t have enough of it. A new report released ahead of World Water Day warns about a looming shortage, and centers on this year’s theme: water and sustainable development.

Here are five ways to celebrate World Water Day….

http://time.com/3753021/world-water-day/

(I’ll give you a hint as the five: food, females, and of course- poop- but it’s not what you think. By the way, on the last one, check out the astronauts, they and Bill Gates have this “recycle” process in common!) 

Another great site and easy to absorb (ha ha) info is from UNWater. It’s a great presentation of water and the worlds needs. http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday

I close this post with MOE- Botanical Beauties Minister of Clean Water.

He has water-breathing gills and can travel in the seas for as long as needed. He and his family can adapt to sea or land as needed. This makes Moe’s job as Minister of Clean Water a natural for him. As he swims, he performs water tests, makes notations of underwater spots of beauty and reports on problem areas. Unfortunately, these areas are more common than he would like to see. He strives to help in any way he can, for he is aware that it all starts with ONE person, or in this case one Botanical Fish. 

Moe, Our Minster of Clean Water
Moe in his element WATER.

Water, drops, drips, frozen=ICE

icicles
Wellie breaks out his super fantatical Icicle cutters.

ICE – Ice – ice…..no matter how you type it’s still frozen water, slick, cold, and reflective. Clear with a blue tint, blurry at the edges or sharp as a knife.

Ice is such odd contradiction of concepts to me…

  • Beautiful but can be deadly…..
  • Can look soft and yet is incredibly hard.
  • One end of the spectrum is a tiny ice crystal-the other may be a glacier.
  • Water is fluid-Ice is stoic and solid.
  • Ice makes: pellets, hail, dams, snowflakes, crystals, needles, sculptures, ice cubes, a coolant, ice houses/blocks, a famous movie* and musician**-since it can make all those things it ought to be flexible…. and yet it is not.
  • Did you know there is something called Rime ice? Rime ice is a type of ice formed on cold objects when drops of water crystallize on them.
  • Here’s a really odd one! Did you know that according to wikipedia “Ice can be used to start a fire by carving it into a lens which will focus sunlight onto kindling. A fire will eventually start.[38]”  Makes sense but really, I don’t think I would have ever thought of that.

Ice- all part of  Winter Wonders. I am hard pressed to call it a Winter Wonderland at this point. It has created havoc for so many and worn me down. Mother Nature-you win with 100 points…me-I’m down to about five points.

So I am holding out for the hope of spring, warmer days, no more ice and bitting cold temps. A while ago a dear friend shared a poem that I know is near to his heart. I am sharing it with you all now…. On so many levels, it’s so fitting right now.  Here’s to hope for a weather change, a season change, and because hope in life and what the future may present is often the ray of sunshine and warmth we need to hold on to.

It is called
Hope” is the thing with feathers. By Emily Dickinson.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – 
That perches in the soul – 
And sings the tune without the words – 
And never stops – at all – 

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm – 

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

(thanks Gary-a special nod and hug)

* I thinking of the movie Frozen
** Vanilla Ice and his 1990 single “Ice Ice Baby

Snowflakes. Unique as we are.

For the final truth about snowflakes is that they become more individual as they fall—that, buffeted by wind and time, they are translated, as if by magic, into ever more strange and complex patterns, until, at last, like us, they touch earth. Then, like us, they melt.” –http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/01/03/all-alike

Izzy out in the snow- the 3 large snowflkes are Bentleys Snowflakes images.
Izzy out in the snow- the 3 large snowflkes are Bentleys Snowflakes images.

I am wondering how to do what seems like the impossible, i.e. put a good spin on all this white snow. All these tiny little crystals are getting the best of me. I will admit that the other night the snow did indeed actually glisten-it was as if there were little tiny shimmers popping on and off. It was quite spectacular, and I enjoyed the surreal movie scene quality to it. I know, some people love the snow, to them I say “Lucky You.” Maybe if it didn’t “interfere” making so many things, in my everyday routine, so much more difficult I would agree. I will give it a “pretty factor” of +8  (out of 10 – It can’t be 10 for the GIANT piles from the plows all over the place are NOT pretty.)

OK…here’s the positive spin I could come up with for all this past, present and future snow.

#1) “Snowflakes start off all alike; their different shapes are owed to their different lives.” –http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/01/03/all-alike
My own translation into “human” terms/lives…. We are all the same inside. Our outer looks, our shapes are transposed by our environments, unique DNA and lives. As a snowflake floats through the sky it’s altered by environmental factors-as we drift through our lives we are altered by many things as well, and so we too make adjustments as needed.

#2) “A snowflake is either a single ice crystal or an aggregation of ice crystals…Initial attempts to find identical snowflakes by photographing thousands of them with a microscope from 1885 onward by Wilson Alwyn Bentley found the wide variety of snowflakes we know about today.”  – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowflake
My own translation into “human” terms/lives…We are indeed individuals but a community gives us strength. Just like snowflakes arrive in masses, no man/woman is really an island. 

#3) “A non-aggregated snowflake often exhibits six-fold radial symmetry…” (That makes many snowflakes a hexagram shape.) Within Indic lore, the (hexagram) shape is generally understood to consist of two triangles—one pointed up and the other down—locked in harmonious embrace. The two components are called “Om” and the “Hrim” in Sanskrit, and symbolize man’s position between earth and sky. The downward triangle symbolizes Shakti, the sacred embodiment of femininity, and the upward triangle symbolizes Shiva, or Agni Tattva, representing the focused aspects of masculinity. The mystical union of the two triangles represents Creation…”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexagram
My own translation into “human” terms/lives – Creation is usually a good thing. Creations not only means human lives, but to me also means imagination and creativity.  Therefore, we have the yin/yang, the male/female sides to creativity and the simplicity of a clear known shape intertwined. 

That’s it, I think three good positive reflections on all this snow is pretty darn good!

By the way…Want to know more about the native Vermonter Wilson Alwyn “Snowflake” Bentley (1865-1931), the man who is one of the first known photographers of the snowflake?  He manged to capture more than 5,000 images of those little tiny crystals we know as snow, and indeed showed us, no two are the same!
Click link http://snowflakebentley.com

6:03 ET…12_21_2014

Winter solstice. Dark skies. Cold temps. No wonder bears and other animals decide to hibernate! Some days that indeed feels like the perfect plan. Today is the shortest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, we get only 9 hours and 4 mins of light here. That’s kind of a bummer until you flip it around and realize the positive, that TOMORROW it immediately starts getting better! The days start getting LONGER! Another positive about the long winter nights is, that if there is a clear night, it can be spectacular star gazing.

WInter Stars

Isabella has decided to “accentuate the positive.” She is listening to music (“Baby it’s Cold Outside” just happens to playing as I type this. A fun winter song of dilemmas and choices that often makes both Izzy and I smile!) Izzy (her nick name) knows the importance of attitude as these dark days role thru the winter. Remember, the dark skies make the bright stars appear to shimmer and sparkle!

We (Izzy and I) want to remind you that Isabellas role, in the community of Botaniums, is that she is the driving force behind “The Knowledge Café.”  A place that strives to always offer a warm welcome to all that travel through the doors and to be a gathering place for all. The Knowledge Cafe is a place of wonderment for many and that delights Izzy. The Café not only houses the Joyful Sparkles Bakery of Julia with its delectable goodies and beverages, but also acts as a general store with books, handmade local gifts, fun technology, an art gallery as well as arts center, and sometimes even an art studio. All this helps foster friendships, and connections. Izzy believes in the importance of all these facets of life, especially the friendships and connections part-life is not nearly as much fun or interesting without those!

All this helps reminds her, and by proxy we hope you too, that life is actually pretty darn great….Despite winters cold temps, head colds, slush/mush, dark days, and some of the other less exciting winter attributes, there is still plenty of reason to smile, snuggle, enjoy and be happy.

According to Victor Hugo-Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” How can we argue with a famous poet, novelist, dramatist?

…One kind word can warm three winter months. – Japanese Proverb…
Make Victor Hugo proud – use kindness and laughter to warm up these long dark winter days and nights!

Yin and Yang, Good and Bad, Happy and Sad.

” I admire how open your heart is to the happy and sad moments that life brings us,”   – K.S

I am taken back by the clarity of those words. We all have those moments, those days, even months. But if we don’t try to take in BOTH the good, and the bad, it really does get a bit overwhelming at times. The good may feel like, or in reality be, only tiny snippets at times—and that does indeed stink and makes it more difficult, but the better, and the good, is there somewhere. It just has to be. It may be buried very deep, and it may be very simple, but it’s important to seek it out. Like all of us, I have experienced harsh realities and adversity at times. At certain points in my life I was amazed, and almost embarrassed, as horrible things were surrounding me that I could smile, or laugh at all. I could have tears instantly followed by laughter. I still can’t make sense of those extreme jumbles of highs and lows. Laughter and tears. However, I am glad it was, and is, still true.

I looked up Yin/Yang and this is what I found. Somehow, it all seems fitting and right to post this here, now, today….

Four Main Aspects of Yin and Yang Relationship

Yin-Yang are opposites
They are either on the opposite ends of a cycle, like the seasons of the year, or, opposites on a continuum of energy or matter. This opposition is relative, and can only be spoken of in relationships. For example: Water is Yin relative to steam but Yang relative to ice. Yin and Yang are never static but in a constantly changing balance.

Interdependent: Can not exist without each other
The Tai Ji (Supreme Ultimate) diagram shows the relationship of Yin & Yang and illustrates interdependence on Yin & Yang. Nothing is totally Yin or totally Yang. Just as a state of total Yin is reached, Yang begins to grow. Yin contains seed of Yang and vise versa. They constantly transform into each other. For Example: no energy without matter, no day without night. The classics state: “Yin creates Yang and Yang activates Yin”.

Mutual consumption of Yin and Yang
Relative levels of Yin Yang are continuously changing. Normally this is a harmonious change, but when Yin or Yang are out of balance they affect each other, and too much of one can eventually weaken (consume) the other.

Four (4) possible states of imbalance:
Preponderance (Excess) of Yin
Preponderance (Excess) of Yang
Weakness (Deficiency) of Yin
Weakness (Deficiency) of Yang

Inter-transformation of Yin and Yang.
One can change into the other, but it is not a random event, happening only when the time is right. For example: Spring only comes when winter is finished.

Taken from— http://www.sacredlotus.com/theory/yinyang.cfm


…And to finish up this post, I found this some time ago on Facebook. There is no name with the image, so I have no idea who is supposed to get the credit for the image or the words…but I like it…and again…it seems to fit.

Your mission for the day — remember to laugh at least once. Bulldog and laughter

Falling leaves, Slippery leaves.

Ollie in the fall
Image from the BBB3 archives

 

Here in my little corner of New England the leaves are close to peak, and indeed it is beautiful to see. Fall is in full swing with all its transformations. I have been thinking about the change of seasons and all that entails, both externally in the natural world and internally to us as human beings. In the ancient Taoism/Daoism seasons, we are in the season of Gathering and these three months of autumn are about Containment and Balance. It’s the time to draw our energies inward. Now (not January 1st) is the time to start laying down the paths for a healthy and happy new/next year. “It is time to still our hearts and minds and to gather and collect the spirit and the qi 氣 (energy).” (further reading) … so, how does this fit into my mind, to our everyday lives?

Are you ready? Ready for change? Ready for a new season/year that is quickly approaching? Ready for an open mind? Ready for a new whatever it may that you might be seeking? Look around yourself NOW. Temps are falling. Light is dwindling. Flowers are fading. Trees are having one last glorious blast and then letting their grandeur drop to the ground. Nature is preparing to go dormant for a winters rest. It is a time of gathering nutrients and strength for a rejuvenation that pops in the spring. The ever so obvious natural message to us is:  We too need to let go, drop our leaves, let go of what ever we have been carrying/holding that is no longer of use, or beneficial, to ourselves. (So we are back to one of my recurring themes of letting go.) In the above referenced article it reminds me that “BREATHING is a very powerful way to let go of our tension, whether it is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. It is one of the primary cycles of yin and yang in the body. Having inhaled we must let go of it before we can take any more in.” I like that, it resonates with me. If your lungs, mind, bodies, heart, are filled with the “unneeded,”  maybe its old dusty air, or “bad”/ugly/painful/sad thoughts, or maybe it’s just plain old unhealthy air/thoughts/actions/patterns, how can that possible be good to hold inside? Mind you, I am not saying it is a piece of cake and all you have to do is breath deep and exhale all the “crap” we all collect right out of our cells. If only it were that easy!

However, all this does tie into another topic I often think about these days that is called “mindfulness.” To me mindfulness is much like awareness but with an extra dose of consciousness. It seems that with awareness you notice, and hopefully make a note of whatever “it” is. With mindfulness you have awareness combined with additional thinking, and hopefully acting upon the thoughts, from your awareness. Make sense?  The yin and yang of life….Let in (how about WELCOME IN) the good, breath out the unneeded, the painful parts that are holding you back. Gather yourself up, let go of the frenetic (although often full of fun) summer energies, unfortunately we lose that summer warmth as well (now we have to recreate that artificially.) Calm down those long list of “things I should do” that pop up so often in the fall. Start gathering that which nourishes you and strengthens you. Small moves in perceptions, actions, can make for enormous changes later. Do it now, while they are tiny, this keeps some of the drastic melodramatic changes away and so a smoother road ahead. And really, do you want those big rough bumps on your road?  Most of us do not. “Chart the difficult when it is easy, act on the great when it is tiny.”  … “Act when something has not yet come to be, regulate when it is not yet disordered.” (Laozi chapter 63 and Chapter 64.) Again, as I sit here writing, I think, if only all, or even part, of this all was easy!

You may be thinking, wondering why the title of this posting? Falling leaves—it’s about letting go. Slippery Leaves—that one makes me smile. It’s a phrase that came to be a gazillion moons ago with a group of very good friends. We were doing our usual hanging out. It was in the fall season with indeed slippery wet leaves all around us. Someone stating the obvious said, “Watch out for the slippery leaves” (I think we were walking?) The response was something like, “Hmm, think so? I think I had figured that out all by myself!” It was not snide, mean, or an unfriendly response. I think we all burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of stating the ever so clear fact. It has become a phrase in my personal lexicon that has transpired a bit and come to mean generically, watch out for the obvious. It can be physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, it doesn’t matter, we often do see, and know the obvious BUT, we also sometimes MISS the obvious—and occasionally our friends do have to help…mindfulness is key.

So, in this season of transformations, let go of what you don’t need and be mindful of all those slippery leaves!

Part two-‘You’ll never know your limits unless you push yourself to them’ – and The Pacific Crest Trail

“Sometimes in life we choose opportunities to test our limits; sometimes we must simply deal with what is.”
– Kirk Sinclair

It was August 7th, south of Crater Lake (Southern Oregon), at the end of a Humanity Hikers post I see the above words. (http://www.humanityhiker.com ) A statement that really came home for me and so I am sharing it with you on the opening of this post. It seems like a good Be Here NOW statement! Our opportunities, our limits, our possibilities — sometimes we get to choose —sometimes we don’t!

The heading for that particular post of Kirk’s was Limits. In the second paragraph of his post he says, “Occasionally at a road crossing we see an inspirational note for thru-hikers pinned up. One such note near Little Hyatt Reservoir read: “You’ll never know your limits unless you push yourself to them.”  It got Kirk to do some reflection on his past PCT hike, and now his present one with his current challenges. I will let you read his words on your own — http://www.humanityhiker.com/limits/. As for me, I can’t read that and not drift into my own thoughts — what are my limits and boundaries that I am personally and professionally pushing? What are the things I simply must accept and “deal” with? Always good to think and about. Always good to be mindful of. Always good to have some clear thoughts on. I hope you give some thoughts to your own journeys, spend a little time and labor over the thoughts, I can almost guarantee it will be time well spent. I am all for following the path and the flow, but that must be accompanied by, and with, mindfulness. The river and current do indeed glide where they want, but you direct your own boat!

In early August, two friends joined in the PCT hike (Mike and his girlfriend Jill) and they are now hiking what Kirk calls “high country.”  Skirting around “Three Fingered Jack and a long approach to the ever looming Mt. Jefferson. At one point we joked that we must be in the Twilight Zone, as we would hike around a similar looking knoll to an open view of the towering strato volcano, without it looking much closer. Only once we got to Jefferson Park did we see the mountain in its full majesty, though obscured somewhat by the haze of recent fires…My knees were aching that night from over 16,000 feet of elevation change in two days, but all together they were full days worth the cost.” The next post he mentions there was a 10,000+ feet elevation change over 22.6 miles. O.K. – let’s be real -the mileage alone is impressive! Add the elevations changes, backpacks , etc., and it is actually a bit intimidating as well as awesome! By the way, he does also say-“I foresaw lots of ibuprofen in my future.” That made me feel a teeny tiny little less sluggish and unfit! …Then again — a rain deluge falls on them. …”After about 20 minutes, the rain abated and we continued on. We first saw the beautiful results of a cloudburst. Flowers sparkled with raindrops, and mists rose like smoke from the distant valleys. Yet we were traversing the spurs of an imposing mountain. In between those spurs were creeks to be crossed, creeks now swollen from the funneled waters of a cloudburst streaming down between those spurs.” I can only imagine how beautiful that must have been!

Montage

It is now mid August (8/16) and the gang is actually on a rest day! They are at Kirk’s sister-in-laws house and getting ready to hike what is apparently the “the most remote, rugged section of trail a section in Washington State. I figure if we complete this section we’re golden.” The post is in actuality about the strange and mysterious ways the brain can work. It is called A Conundrum, and it is an interesting view into what/how actions, reactions, sights, senses, and exercise can work with our brain synopsis. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/a-conundrum/) – Very interesting and worth a read!

August 19 and they are driving up to Rainy Pass (a mountain pass on State Route 20 in the North Cascades Mountains of Washington State.) Here they are to begin the potentially most difficult section of trail. As they arrive they were greeted with an “increasing parting of the clouds. When we crested at Cutthroat Pass we witnessed what John Muir once phrased as “a new heaven and new earth” with a new panorama of steep, snowfield blotted mountains before us. So this is what the North Cascades looked like! Wow! Right up there with John Muir’s Sierra.

The North Cascades
The North Cascades

They had a forced rest day – “The trailhead bulletin board at Rainy Pass announced that three sections ahead were obstructed by blowdowns and washouts. There was a reroute around the section north of Harts Pass, but that was marked by blowdowns as well. Anticipating the worst, as is wise to do for Cindy’s affliction, we had to conclude that reaching the Canadian border might be impossible for us. We arranged for Charissa to meet us at Harts Pass for that contingency. I started thinking in terms of an incomplete thru-hike, not uncommon, as we met several thru-hikers that skipped sections that were rerouted on roads because of forest fire.” Now, you may, or may not, have been paying close attention, but this seems like a very big statement to me. Kirk goes on to say in a few days later posting, that they will indeed keep going until Thanksgiving, doing their “long hike” now (which by the ways means 2,000+ miles!!!!!), and that hopefully, next year they will return to finish up the last parts/bits they cannot complete this time around. Charissa has a cold and so is doing the support role and to boot gets a flat tire… a very scary realization that indeed rocks FALL on the road and a beach ball size rock had rolled into the road a little further down from the flat tire happening… Mike is indeed with them so I imagine that is a plus… but Cindy is in tears, “while up on that beautiful ridge, a tearful “hiking is not fun anymore.” I (Kirk) knew changes needed to be made; I (Kirk) put my arm around her and discussed what those changes would be.”  Clearly a bit of a rough ride, but there is more to come. Posted on August 24, Kirk says “All along the Stevens to Rainy Pass stretch worried me the most. This was the longest stretch with the longest climbs on our journey.” It was clearly a tough 3 or 4 days. It is much than I can do justice to with a recap- so again I provide you with the link, enabling you to read it first hand. http://www.humanityhiker.com/when-a-cold-is-good-news/ I will tell you the result was a few changes, shorter mileage days, and a rest day every 5-7 days.

This seems like a good “golden rule” to end up on at this point.

‘Our original goals have changed, but not our resolve.

And so that takes us to today — next weekend happens to be Kirks birthday. If you hike over to his site-send him your good wishes for another year of goodness and hiking.

My next post about The PCT journey willbe an interview from Diggerfoot to Kirlk.
Stay tuned!

Holidays, Alzheimers, Exercise for Brain Health Research, and the PCT

As we here in North America settle into Labor Day Weekend, I will use these “holiday days” to post a tribute to my friend, and his labors of love for his wife and their cause.

You may (hopefully) remember my post of the introduction of Diggerfoot and so my friend Kirk. Kirk, his daughter Charissa, and his wife Cindy, are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with, and for, Cindy’s bucket list. Cindy has Alzheimer’s. The couples core is as long distance hikers, or as they seemed to be called, thru-hikers. As a couple they have traversed the country (The Continental Divide Trail,) hiked the Appalachian Trial and this is Kirks second time on the PCT. Compleating the three is called the Triple Crown. It’s a desire of Cindy’s to have that accomplishment, matching her husbands. As Kirk so clearly stated on his website, and I want to remind you…”We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.  To see how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit that page.”

Cindy-and-Charissa

Flowers-Sierra2

I will take two consecutive posting here on The Botanical Beauties & Beasties site to try to recap some of what I found the enticing tidbits of info and fact from the first two months of their journey. These two postings may be a bit longer than usual, but I hope you will find them compelling and that they tempt you to connect to Kirks blog and find out more about their cause and journey. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/) ~

The hike began at Snoqualmie Pass. This pass is about 45 minutes from the Seattle Metro area and is part of Rocky Mountains. It was a little tougher than expected the hikers had a false start. From Kirk’s blog -“We spent our whole first day in the snow, also struggling to find the trail. The day never climbed above freezing…” So here in MA we were enjoying all the summer trimmings and they were in snow! For a few reasons, Kirk makes the call and they turn back. He decides “We would go further south to start our hike north to the Canadian border, precisely at Mackenzie Pass in Oregon. I also resolved that we really had two goals. One was to get Cindy the Triple Crown. The other, and more important, was to enable Cindy to enjoy life, even at the cost of the other goal.”

With this change of their plans they have created  “a “flip flop” thru-hike in order to stay away from snow and make the hiking easier for one not as sure of foot as she once was.….Our first day out from Mackenzie Pass, after first hiking through a lava field reminiscent of a moonscape, we encountered over a mile of hiking on snow, followed by burned forests littered with extensive blowdowns. This was not making hiking easy for Cindy but I made the call to go on this time because the snowfield was on gentle slopes, no steep traverses, and burned forests don’t go on forever.”

Sonora-Pass-View2
Panoramic views!

Now, they are on track, up at 10,500 feet, they have climbed out of Sonora Pass and have an amazing panoramic view. Sonora Pass northern boundary is Yosemite National Park, and it also where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Hwy 108 for those of you who know roads! With an elevation of 9,620 feet, it is the second highest paved pass in the Sierra Nevada range. By early July the gang is in the S. Lake Tahoe area. Kirk is running support and a self-appointed Sherpa to make this journey possible. He says in his posting that “I think is one of the most beautiful stretches along the PCT, the Desolation Wilderness.” I read that the temps are in 80’s, I haven’t read bad words about snow for a few postings now, and the trip seems to be moving along. I am glad for them.

A July posting is called Collapsing Tent Poles. Cindy is struggling with daily tasks and  towards the end of his post Kirk says- “At times like this you wonder why you would continue with this. The answers come from Cindy. We are always meeting other hikers and tell them something about what we are doing. To one group I gave the report on how exercise is the only thing shown to actually regenerate brain tissue. Cindy chimed in cheerfully: “Yep! That’s why I’m out here! …. Well, and I love hiking.” The positivity that Cindy demonstrates, and the strength they all show, is proof of the wonders of the human spirit when we, as people, need to call it up, somehow it seems to rise to the occasion! If you are mindful of it, you can witness this all the time in our daily lives. The struggles are unique to our own paths, and each one is equally important to the individual facing the challenge.

A few days later and the group is about 10 miles N. of Sierra City, headed over to hike the Sierra Buttes section of the PCT. “As we descended into Sierra City we finally got down low enough to be out of the snow.” (Amazing out here on the East coast we were enjoying a very lovely summer! Sun and no snow thank goodness!)…By mid July I am seeing posting that mentioned Cindy and her gang are hiking 20 miles a day! Impressive!

SNOW!
SNOW!

This posting is from Kirks blog on July 26, and the three hikers are back close to where they actually tried to start their hike originally. Remember that a 10 mile snowfield turned them back around to begin elsewhere!  “We were just a few miles into the Three Sisters Wilderness…As we tackled this section south of Mackenzie Pass on July 22 there were no ten mile snowfields. Indeed, I failed to remember how spectacular the scenery was through here, a source of continual awe were it not for being focused on the footpath. The lava fields made for some tough footwork for Cindy, as did the snowfields. For though they did not last for ten miles the patches occurred frequently over such a length.” Day two of that section, and thunderstorms hit…rain, drizzle, and cold, created this sentence. “All rain gear not made of rubber, to my knowledge, have a saturation point. Ours had reached that in the continuing rain. Wet and cold, I knew Cindy faced hypothermia conditions. After only three miles I knew I had to find a campsite soon.” As expected, they weathered the storm … one of the most heart warming moments in my readings of Kirk’s post is what he wrote after setting up a campsite, cold, wet, and in that storm – “This was the essence of us as a couple: content in our sleeping bags after a day’s hike, weathering the storm. This was normal for us; the way things should be. I looked over at Cindy and absorbed the music, knowing just how fleeting such “normal” moments now are. I wanted to freeze and hold onto that moment forever.”  http://www.humanityhiker.com/weathering-the-storm/  As Kirk stated, the experience had created a new normal and they had gotten thru it all. An interesting question for us to think about. That concept of “normal” and how it is really a very wide dynamic range for most of us and pretty much most of the time! Do you have a new “normal”? Is yours ever evolving? I know mine is.

So I will end this post here – and in a day or two, I will ”recap” the best I can the August postings! Catching us all up-to-date, and hopefully a little more “aware.”

As I write those words, I can’t help but also be reminded of all the awareness that the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought to the ALS issue. There are so many important places, things, and issues that call for our attention and awareness these days!

 “Slowly, I witness the constants in my life fade around me. All things must pass. I just wish we could have more control in the manner of their passing.” – Kirk Sinclair

 

Meet Diggerfoot – A Pacific Northwest Guy!

This is the first installment about my friend Kirk, who with his wife Cindy, and their daughter Charissa, are hiking The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT.) That translates into that they are hoping to hike from the Canadian border to the Mexican Border! To me, this alone is amazing. But wait, there’s more….

…I met Kirk and we become friends thru our connections/websites/beliefs about kindness. On that note, when Kirk told me about his upcoming long distance hike and its purpose I knew I wanted to help out if I could. A unique and fun way for me to pitch in is to share some of Kirk’s words about their adventures, adding a twist in my own way. Naturally, this translates into getting The Botanical Beauties and Beasties involved and sharing it with you all, my readers. As to the purpose of the hike —these words are Kirks own words that were posted before they actually left the East Coast for the West…

 “Our daughter Charissa, Cindy and I will hike the 2666 mile Pacific Crest Trail, starting this June 15.  This will complete the Triple Crown of long distance hiking for Cindy, the top item on her bucket list as she deals with her early onset Alzheimer’s.  In the coming months the blog posts will focus on both Alzheimer issues and the PCT adventure.

We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.  To see how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit that page.”

To, that end-I have created a new Pacific Northwest Botanical Beautie. I am delighted to introduce Diggerfoot. Named after Kirk himself, created from true Western trail plants (Thanks to one of my other amazing friends, Susan Nolde!) In future installments we will hopefully learn how Kirk, and now this newfound Botanical, got the trail name of Diggerfoot!

DiggerFoot with ID Labels
Diggerfoot! This image is actually a rare occurrence where I am showing you the Plant ID of Diggrfoots “parts.” Special THANKS to Susan Nolde for these original plant images and the ID’s!

During the 5 months or so that the hikers will be out, Botanical Diggerfoot will be interviewing Human Kirk. He will be answering some of Diggerfoots (and mine) ever pressing, and hopefully interesting, questions. If you have a question for Kirk too, feel free to email it me, and it will get asked as well!  The questions will range from humorous, to plain logistics about this kind of hike, to the seriousness of the cause at times. We will get to see these post as time for the interview process goes, and connectivity to the NW Mountains goes too!  You can follow the trios adventures closely by following Kirks Blog at  http://www.humanityhiker.com/ to keep up on the hike, its trials, tribulations, success and beauty. I find the reading fascinating, as this kind of hiking is so far removed from my realities, and inspirational as well.  Its heart warming to again see what people do for their loved ones and as well watching people follow their dreams. I am pretty sure you will empathize and learn a bit about the unfair and unjust disease of Alzheimer. It’s shocking to learn that every 67 seconds someone in this country is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, with over five million total now being afflicted, likely including someone you know. This degrading, terminal disease with no known cure causes more deaths than breast and prostate cancer combined, while robbing a person’s memories and ability to function in the process.

And, BTW, yes, they are indeed off and hiking! After a few false starts they seem to be sorted out and being able to work on the process of making this journey an amazing one. Diggerfoot will share his first interview very soon!

 

It’s always a good thing to join in and help others.

This post will begin a new mini series for us.

Tractor
Heirloom Charlie on his upcyled, recyled tractor getting ready to do some organic farming!

Last year we tried to help out with the use of Heirloom Charlie. He was introduced to you all in May 2013, and with each sale of an Hieloom Charlie product I stated I (as The Botanical Beauties & Beasties) would donate 15% to Long Life Farm. The hope was to help out a family in need to be able to obtain a CSA farm share within the Long Life CSA program. This translates into the ability for a family to eat fresh organically grown vegetables that has been grown locally without the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides. Well, last weekend I am proud to say I did indeed write a check for the intended purpose. I was not able to raise enough to buy a whole share, but Laura (one of the owners and farmers of Long Life Farm) told me that the Botanical Beauties check brought the total up to the needed $ amount to indeed obtain a share for a lucky family. Other shareholders had also donated monies, and this check just happen to be that last part. I find that wonderful in a strange and magical way. I am thrilled to be able to help out in this small fashion.The website for Long Life Farm is http://www.longlifefarm.com. I  find the site engaging and hope you take a minuet to check it out. It is filled with all sorts of good information! 

Another cool piece of this story is that Heirloom Charlie is also a main character of our new book! The book is coming along nicely-I think we may do some test marketing at The Hopkinton Farmers Market this summer. (Sundays 1-5 Hopkinton, MA.) If you are interested, and particularly if you know anyone in publishing, please let me know! Heirloom Charlie now has a new nick name- the (working) title of the book is The Food Dude!

Now, on to one last piece of business for this post.

Our helping this summer will come as blog postings and a new character called Diggerfoot. Diggerfoots purpose is to help a friend of mine who’s name is Kirk. He, his wife (Cindy), and a daughter (Charissa) will start hiking the 2,666 mile Pacific Crest Trail in a few days. Cindy has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In his own words- from his website http://www.humanityhiker.com“We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.” To see, how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit his website. Kirk will naturally be writing about their hike, my postings will be an additional outlet to let more people follow their path, and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s. Naturally, my post will link to Kirks site which has a plethora of resources and a place where one can donate if you care to help the cause in that way. So get your hiking shoes tied and get ready for a long distance hike from Canada to the Mexico boarder! Next posting on the trip you will get to meet Diggrfoot and see how the trip is going. These post will be peppered into the “normal” Botanical postings, and DIggerfoot will be acting as an interviewer looking to share a bit of the adventure with you all!

Growing, people and our business

A few weekends ago we (that would be I and the gang of Botanical Beauties) were off again to a pretty special little town called Sharon Springs NY.

First, a heartfelt thanks and a nod to Cobbler & Co. located on Historic Main Street in Sharon Springs. They are now on the list of places you can walk into a brick and mortar store and buy Botanical Beauties & Beasties cards! It is a delightful store filled with wonderful treasures. Straight from their website- “Cobbler & Co. is a twelve-room eclectic gift shop. We offer an ever-changing array of gifts for you, your family, your friends, your home and garden and all of your entertaining needs...Take a look around our store and remember, we can ship anywhere!” (www.cobblerandcompany.com/index.html If you find yourself in that neck of the country I highly recommend a visit. For that matter, there are quiet a few stops worthy in Sharon Springs and the nearby environs.

Botanical Cards in the store.
Our cards displayed in the Cobbler & Co. card room. Hurrah!

Which brings me to Sharon Springs generally. The 2,000 census counted the population  as 547!  Sharon Springs NY is up in the Mohawk Valley, not too far from Cooperstown for you baseball fans. The countryside is beautiful, the wonderful Adirondack Park and Catskill Mountains are close by borders giving you some idea of its beauty. The ride is about 3 hours for me, the people I meet are always warm and friendly, meaning both the town folks and the fair attendees. Although I am lucky to even get close to breaking even when I am done with gas, lodging, fees etc I find myself returning each time. Why? What draws me to these shows 2x a year? The annual Garden Party (as the spring show is called) and the Harvest Festival (as the Fall show is named)- it seems like a crazy idea to keep going? So, why do I keep returning?

All this brings me to the words of hope, fascination, and charm. I think these may be the hidden charms of Sharon Springs?  There is something a bit intangible about it all, but it is contagious. I never know whom I will meet, but they are inevitably interesting people at these festivals. Some of it is plan old small town living, some of it is who these festivals draw in, and some of it Sharon Springs and its community. Granted, The Beekman Boy’s name is behind these fairs, it was fairly predominate, now it is a bit obscured. (Their FB page.) As a matter of fact, ETSY will be running the fair in the fall, so well see how that plays out. Regardless, The Beekman Boys are still a “draw” and fans come out to play!  There is a tour their home (a separate but planned extra if you so wish) and a fun array of other scheduled events happening on these weekends. For sure, it is a fun “weekend get-away” for many. I have decided to add to my weekend routine…after the arts fair is over on Saturday, I walk over (about 500 steps) and have a lovely cool cocktail on the amazing front porch of the American Hotel. Totally relaxing after a long day.  One never knows who might turn up there to chat with, and I like that! It is what I consider a quintessential front porch, and I met the nicest folks last time.

The American Hotel

Part of what is fascinating about Sharon Springs NY is its history. Here is a brief glimpse.  At one point, about 1836-1860, Sharon Springs was well know for its mineral water spa, with multiple large grand hotels and boardinghouses. By 1841, the village had become world-famous as the social elite came to take the waters. Magnificent large hotels and forest-like parks graced the village landscape. During the second half of the 19th Century, Sharon Springs was home to over sixty hotels and rooming houses accommodating over 10,000 visitors each summer. By the early 1900s… the summer clientele with the influx of European visitors (had become) primarily from Judaic tradition.” (more info.)  “Thanks to its sulfurmagnesium, and chalybeate mineral springs, Sharon Springs grew into a bustling spa during the 19th century. At the peak of its popularity, Sharon Springs hosted 10,000 visitors each summer, including members of theVanderbilt family and Oscar Wilde (who gave a lecture at the now-demolished Pavilion Hotel on 11 August 1882).” (more info) Sharon Springs also had a great location – in the 1800s two major paths (turnpikes and canals)  were constructed and Sharon was connected to Albany as well as larger cities like NYC easily. Farmers with cash crops of wheat and hops were now well positioned to thrive. To add to the good fortune of Sharon, the Delaware and Hudson Railroad open a spur thru Sharon, and the age of the spa was pretty well golden! Eventually, as family (and so spa and hotel proprietors) aged, fires, a hops blight, Prohibition, plus a few more national factors, Sharon Springs thriving success was brought to a halt. Here’s an interesting tidbit According to a NYT article (26 August 2000) “After World War II, Sharon Springs got a second wind from the West German government, which paid medical care reparations to Holocaust survivors, holding that therapeutic spa vacations.” More info.) In 1994 Sharon Springs, and its Spa-related structures were added to the National Register of Historic Places and Sharon Springs became a Historic District. The walking tour and the accompanying plaques were created to guide visitors through our history. The plaques showcase the many buildings, some still remaining, some long gone and put them in their historical context.” (Here is  a link to a brief, but complete  story of the fascinating history of Sharon Springs. More info. 

In todays, world Sharon Springs is again picking its self up and seems to be a story of revitalization.  There are charming stores and delicious restaurants to peruse and enjoy.  It appears that growing communities of artisans (both material and culinary) are living, and moving to the area…and don’t forget-I always seem to meet nice people there! Need a break? Try out a visit during the Fall Festival Sept. 20 & 21, 2014: Arts, countryside, amazing food, fun, frolic, and pretty much guaranteed a pleasant time.

Sharon Springs Collage