A 46 second video of a recent hike… listen for the bird and see if you can tell what it is! He was mostly grey, with light circles around the eyes, some striping on the wings and tail, a lighter underside… about 6 inches tall.
These hot Adirondack days my favorite road trip is south to the mountains and a swim in the Bouquet River along Route 73… We have a new favorite spot where, even on the hottest weekend day, we’ve not had to share the river with another soul! These photos were taken for fun with a GoPro camera.
Lately I have been concentrating on simplifying. Namely, paring down possessions by selling and giving things away to friends and strangers. Living in the land of plenty we tend to collect possessions – it’s a deeply ingrained priority of our society… One that is so accepted and so closely followed that one can seem strange to coworkers and neighbors if they drive an old car when they can afford a new one… Keeping up with the Joneses I guess.
I have found that living in a rural area makes selling and even giving away ‘stuff’ more complicated. There simply aren’t as many people who use websites like craigslist or freecycle. A friend in a similar phase turned me on to a facebook group of local people selling things to each other. In trying all three methods for the past many months I have found that craigslist is more widely used around here than freecycle, and the people who respond to my ads have been very nice… The facebook group, however, has been more trouble than it is worth. Ultimately, the best way to just give things away is to load up the vehicle and drive into town (10 miles) and drop boxes off with the thrift stores whose sales benefit the local animal shelter or hospice.
For months now I have been slowly winnowing down my clothes closet. I have given lots of stuff away and sold some nicer things at a local consignment (which, in a rural area, is also a very limited method of getting things out of the house). Happily, we have a local food shelf that also gives clothing to people who need it. More than anything I want to get my unwanted things to people who will use them. I certainly don’t want to dump good stuff at the landfill!
One fun thing has been to choose objects I know a friend will love and pass them along. I hope to be giving away my second bike to a friend soon. I can ride only one at a time! I have been asking family if they feel compelled to give a gift – to give of their time rather than to send more things, or steering them toward gifts we can use. It’s not that people give us silly things, it’s just an effort to make it clear that we are trying to simplify and would rather have a letter written by them, or a visit, than one more cool thing to put on a shelf or on the wall.
Another choice I made a little while back was to approach my daily activities with an eye to frugality and simplicity. Living over ten miles from a grocery store means planning ahead when making trips into town and always making a list of groceries and of other tasks (a trip to the bank, a visit with a friend, etc.) – not just running in to the store for some milk. I have also greatly enjoyed making the shift from car commuting to riding my bike to work most days. I arrive invigorated and ready for the day! I also sleep better at night – because of the exercise and because I have consciously saved fossil fuels by using my legs instead, and by making well-planned trips into town.
A while ago we realized that eating out can often be a waste of money for two people who love to cook! Although we thought it would be fun to go out to eat we began to realize that the cost often was not worth the experience of inferior food, or unenjoyable atmosphere. Simply put – we love good food that makes us feel good, and we like our own space and at our own pace.
We once had a bumper sticker on our car that read “Live Simply That Others May Simply Live”. Over the years we have both made changes in our approach to life that reflect this ideal. We have many miles to travel in order to truly live simply, don’t get me wrong! But we have learned to live a questioning life. Reordering priorities has been helpful to us and less harmful to the environment. In addition, some of the small changes we have made over the years have helped us to save money that will facilitate us following our dreams in the future.
One of the hardest things for me to realize has been that buying things will not bring happiness. I love clothes, I like gadgets, etc. As I have altered my priorities from those of my teens and twenties I have realized how much my approach to money has been shaped by a consumer-oriented society. Now that I have chosen to simplify life my approach has been to try to understand my motives in buying something, honestly questioning whether it is needed and examining how I will feel after purchasing it. Simply questioning myself often brings to the surface the true reason – what I call a poverty of spirit… The feeling that I will be more complete/cool/happy/whatever by owning this thing. Along with that realization is the knowledge that I often will feel bad after buying that next big thing. Buyers remorse?… Or the understanding that happiness does not come from filling my life with toys and possessions, but from gaining higher self-esteem, giving of myself and my time, sharing the love of friends and family, wandering to new places, feeling a part of something larger – this world, this life, this moment.
44 degrees, 92% humidity
cold on the bike… the canada geese leading me north, talking, talking, talking as they fly and land and take off and land and eat corn… fog clinging to the corn, and still being made over the lake… everything changing color, leaves falling, flying down the road… sensei crow in a dead tree with small black bird pupils hanging on it’s every word… the lake steaming, just handfuls of boats left moored in the rising fog, sun screaming off the water… young fox foraging – a big dead raccoon in the road just beyond him… apple pickers ambling out with their bags over their shoulders, waiting to catch the buses up to the orchard – the smell of their breakfast lingering in the air… and the apples, the apples so red and full and heavy on the limbs!
This was simply a challenging week for me… the loss of a dear soul… the difficult tasks innate in being someone’s boss… so I went back a few weeks in my photo archives to present to you some wonderful smiling faces!
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are native to the Americas and grown for their seeds, oil and leaves (the leaves are used as feed for livestock). Until now I had always thought they were heliotropic – that their flower heads would track the sun across the sky during the day… Apparently this is only partly true. The immature buds do this, but eventually the head stops in one place and continues to grow in a stationary position facing East.
The sunflower was first domesticated in the Americas and eventually introduced to Europe by the Spanish. This flower has been thought to symbolize many things, by many people over the ages – the sun, the solar deity of the Aztecs and Incas, the Vegan Society, the aesthetic movement in the late 19th century… clearly these faces resonate with humans!
Spend a little time with these flowers and you may think there is nothing wrong with the bee population in the northeastern US. These sunflowers were loaded with bees busy pollinating every flower… And ignoring every photographer!
Some of the lore surrounding sunflowers is interesting… If you want to know the truth about something sleep with a sunflower under your bed and the truth will be revealed… to protect against smallpox wear a bag with sunflower seeds around your neck… Most revealing for me – sunflowers help relieve sadness, attract joy and lift the spirits!
This lovely Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) growing wild across the road from the sunflowers held it’s own magic for me. This plant made the opposite journey of the sunflower – it was introduced into the Americas from Europe and Asia. Not as showy and loud as the sunflower, this plant has a calming effect on the senses!
“We believe in puppet theater as a wholesome and powerful language that can touch men and women and children alike, and we hope that our plays are true and are saying what has to be said, and that they add to your enjoyment and enlightenment.” – Peter Schumann
About 15 years ago I had the pleasure of witnessing a wonderful spectacle of art, puppetry, acting, political theater and community all displayed in full glory at the Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover, VT. Bread and Puppet was founded in the 1960s in NYC by Peter Schumann – who is still the driving force behind it’s now scaled down productions.
Growing up in San Francisco area, and being an artist myself, meant I was familiar with political theater, puppetry and performance art… but I had never witnessed anything like the Domestic Resurrection Circus… A day-long production of multiple small (and very large), political plays incorporating painting, sculpture, costumes, acting, humor, politics and, of course, puppets. The setting was a rural landscape of rolling hills and old barns (on a former dairy farm) with a large natural amphitheater as the central stage. Surrounding the amphitheater the woods were filled with small “sculpture happenings and esoteric musicals with activist ingredients…” (to quote Peter Schumann)
Recently I went back to the Bread and Puppet Theater… It was revelatory and inspiring. The museum on the grounds holds hundreds of puppets and sculptural works, along with paintings and banners and ephemera from the many performances over the 50 years this group has shared their work, ideas and bread around the country and world. This is the first installment of photos from my visit.
A photographer works to get just the right angle on some of the wonderful banners along the route to the amphitheater.
Decorations in the form of printed and painted banners, and paintings directly on one of the large barn buildings at Bread and Puppet.
One entrance into the museum with a washerwoman welcoming visitors from just inside the door…
The washerwomen puppets and sculptures celebrate the workers Schumann and his associates met during the beginnings of Bread and Puppet in NYC.
I loved the light streaming through this window and onto the white sculptures and puppets… as I photographed I began to notice the living resident near the window…
These faces were about two and a half feet tall… so elegant.
Outside the museum and down the hill, past where the bread is baked and served, past the lines of banners… and into the amphitheater… a crowd of onlookers!
Two cuties on their way to find a seat and watch the theater!
Stay tuned for the next batch of photographs from my amazing day at the Bread and Puppet Theater. To read more go to the website http://breadandpuppet.org/
This summer we discovered a very fun activity in our own backyard. One lovely day we decided to go berry picking at a local farm and store. Friends had been raving about how many pounds of blueberries they picked, and we were looking for something to do outside… We gathered our plastic containers and straw hats and headed to one of our favorite stops in summer and fall – Rulfs Orchard.
a very cool truck at the orchard
the rows of high bush blueberries
Just a few of the lovelies we brought home with us. On a few of the days we picked you could just place your hand under the branches and tickle them to get dozens of large blueberries to fall into your waiting palm!
we rinsed them all and then laid them out to dry in preparation for freezing
The above photo shows about five pounds worth of berries drying or waiting to be laid out to dry. We froze the majority of the berries we picked… They will be so wonderful in the dead of winter! In order to keep them from becoming one big mass of blueberry in the freezer, however – we dried them carefully, then spread them on cookie sheets and froze them singly. Once frozen we poured them into bags like little blue marbles waiting for our winter baking projects.
The berries on trays in the freezer. Of course we left a few pounds out in the fridge for immediate use! It’s amazing how much longer they keep than the blueberries bought at the store. I feel like a bear every time I grab a handful for a snack!
If you decide to go pick your own: http://www.rulfsorchard.com/
And here is some musical inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek1P7GM33so
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