inhale...exhale...relax your shoulders...repeat as often as needed

Monday, September 29, 2014

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.
-Omar Khayyam
Have you ever heard the earth breathe?
-Kate Chopin

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Guest post from Gretta::People's Climate March

You know you're going to hang out with a lot of hippies when you get on a subway packed with paper mache suns, the smell of incense, and a lot of outdoor gear brands. Ben and I started the journey to 72nd and Central Park West, taking the G train to the C train. The C was already pretty full in Brooklyn, and it became absolutely packed as we headed north through Manhattan. Finally we emerged from the eau de activist into very busy streets. I was wearing a camp tee shirt, and almost immediately, a gangly teen hopped down from clamoring in some scaffolding to say he had been a camper too.
I knew that lots of people I know and love were filling city blocks nearby, but as it neared 11:30 and the start of the march, the area got more and more packed. It became pretty impossible to find anyone. Even so, it was pretty cool to know that I was sharing this experience with high school friends, college friends, work colleagues, friends from studying abroad in Australia, camp folks, and my best 4-year-old friend. (Later on, Ben and I waved to a little camper from the summer as we passed, and the kid's mom shouted with glee, "IT'S NATURE BEN!")
Ben and I ended up marching in the front of the "Solutions" section. Upon arrival they must have sensed our strength, because we were immediately asked if we wanted to carry flags. We marched right behind the big section banner that read "WE HAVE THE SOLUTIONS." Our section didn't get moving until nearly 1:00, but it was fun to wait in anticipation and chat with the people around us. We also we able to participate in the moment of silence, which ended as we heard the roar of the crowd ripple back to us down several blocks. It was pretty amazing.
We finally started moving, making our way through Manhattan. By Columbus Circle, we got to see jumbo screens showing people matching around the world. We headed into Times Square, lined with tourists and those who were simply too tired to continue. When we marched towards the end, we got the preliminary numbers: 310,000 people! We were reaching the end around 4:30, and there were still 15 blocks of people marching behind us!
Afterwards we went to Penn Station for Taco Bell. I think part of it was the pushy vegan contingent in front of us. (I don't disagree with veganism, but this particular group's insistence that I wasn't a real environmentalist because I ate meat really irked me.  I spent 4 years studying the environment and I teach children how to be sustainable citizens. It takes all kinds.)
Take aways: Whatever happens at the climate summit, 400,000 people came together that day. There is such complexity in the movement. I saw kids, fusion scientists, PETA activists, drag queens, yogis, priests, college students, and people who had been at the March on Washington. People working locally, nationally, and internationally. People who care. And yes, we made a mess. There are lots of pictures around of the trash left behind. To which I say: So it's a problem for Manhattanites to have trash on their stoop? Wow, that must be rough. Perhaps they should take a trip to the trash heaps in Jersey. But something really powerful happened. Whether it comes to policy or not, I definitely felt reenergized!

P.S. I had my 5th graders write a paragraph about what they would say to the UN Climate Summit if they had the chance. They had some pretty powerful ideas. Of course, none were perfect, but kids totally want to come up with solutions. It's inspiring!

Gretta, 23, teaches 5th grade science and works in the office of an independent school in Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Guest post from Lindsey::Mt Mansfield Adventure

We've always been a fairly outdoorsy family; Mom and Dad always encouraged us to play outside and generously sent us to overnight camp in Vermont every summer to get grubby, make friends, and learn some independence and "personal responsibility" (which was great, by the way). In my first summer there as a wee 11-year old, I climbed Killington (the second tallest mountain in VT), Pico, and Shrewsbury - three local mountains - in a day. Not sure I could ever do that now, but years later, the desire to hike outside and see beautiful views is still with me. Lucky for me, Dad is also up for the challenge! Last year we hiked up Camel's Hump (the third tallest mountain in VT) on a beautiful September day and saw the fall foliage in all its glory from an elevation just over 4,000 ft. This past Saturday, after a year of anticipation, we journeyed up Mt. Mansfield - the tallest mountain in Vermont at just under 4,400 ft.
We started up the Hasleton Trail on the south eastern side of the mountain with lots of snacks and layers (man would I be glad I had those when we got to the summit!). Dad had been stair-climbing for weeks to prepare and I have to say I was envying his strength as my "training" consisted of a cavalier attitude.

Once we reached the Visitor's Center at about 4,000 ft we had surrendered to the fact that the clouds would be with us all day and we needed those turkey sandwiches and local carrots. After a nice chat with the summit caretakers about all the outdoor ed places we had all worked and people we knew in common, we pressed on along the ridgeline from the "nose" to the "chin" (people say the mountain is like the profile of a man's head). At this point we were in in the alpine tundra zone, where tiny plants have to work very hard to get established and grow. The plants were beautiful, and so was the rock we were scrambling over with nice blustery, wet, winds that nearly toppled me off the ridge more than once. To give you a sense of temperatures up there, I had four layers on my top, two on my bottom, and a wool hat! Sadly we had no views while we were up there, but reaching the summit was a point of pride for us both.

We stayed long enough to snap a photo before heading down the Long Trail down the north eastern side of the mountain. Soon enough we were down below tree line again and out of the fierce wind exposure, but the way down was harder than the way up, as the clouds had left a nice layer of slippery wet over the bare rock slabs.
We started following a "three points of contact" rule and I voluntarily scooted down rocks on by bum for a while to avoid landing on it anyway. Eventually we checked the GPS and with dismay, saw that after our time in a tough downwards scramble, we'd barely made it a quarter of our way down. A little recon revealed a ski run just to our right, so we jumped off the LT and headed down that way.  You Stowe skiers are crazy - that run was steep! Dad and I did some switchbacks to ease the pain in our thighs. By this time we were completely wiped out, and the mountain obliged with a few nice views as we came out of the clouds at lower elevation. Before we knew it we were taking our last painful steps to the truck to head home at last for hot showers, "vitamin I" (Ibuprofin), and beers at the local pub! Still feeling it a couple days later but also proud that I've hit the trifecta of VT's tallest peaks and shared another great adventure with Dad.

Our daughter Lindsey, 30, works for a not-for-profit in Boston. This is their inspiring mission statement...Our mission is to help low-income teenagers transform what they believe is possible for themselves and develop the skills they need to become college-educated leaders who give back to their families and communities.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Yoga is seeing life the way it is.
-Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

As Batman and I worked our way through a few years of downsizing, sprucing up, enduring a long time on the real estate market, packing, moving, settling in and dealing with surprising medical challenges, we had our dream of living in Vermont full time front and center. It is what kept us focused and moving forward despite getting weary and worn along the way. 

But it took a toll. 

Going to Kripalu has been on my bucket list for ages, and this past weekend I went to the Berkshires and had a 48 hour retreat from absolutely everything. I reconnected with yoga and was able to find ways to come back to a practice that I had abandoned after my knee replacements 7 years ago. I ate nothing but nourishing, whole and delicious food. I had fine conversations with strangers/kindred spirits. I found my way back to myself.

Wow. Just wow.

Now I am seeing life the way it is even more than I had before...

sunflower petals, blown by the night's stormy winds,
scattered amidst the beets, still in the ground.
zucchini, blooming even as the leaves are blackened by frost.
pie pumpkins, strutting their stuff

Happy last day of summer, dear friends. And for goodness sake, remember to b-r-e-a-t-h-e.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

a tumble of things

Oh, friends, sometimes life is such a tumble of things. As summer fades into fall, all sorts of distractions have filled my days. I made a set of two monogrammed/appliqued tea towels for a wedding shower gift for "Sarah and Dan" and it was very nice to have my sweet Bernina humming again.

 Our good friend Tracy, from our college days came to visit for a bit. He is a vet, so of course, we had to take him to Dog Mountain. While we were up that way, we also went to visit the barn at Bread and Puppet again. We spent a morning at the Tunbridge World's Fair, too, where I fell for the beautiful oxen once again. We had a dinner party on Saturday night and ate right out of the gardens. There may have been s'mores around the campfire too, but we missed the northern lights due to cloudy skies.
There has been such love coming to my mailbox! (You know who you are...). Some wonderful cards and packages have surprised me...

A pitcher and handmade doily came from Sharon of Sallymomsprouts, and a beautiful Etsy order arrived from her talented daughter Anne, of MyGiantStrawberry.  The newest issue of Taproot magazine arrived last week, and it is full of goodness. (I also splurged and bought this, after much longing, and I am so glad I did.) Inspired by all this snail mail, I pulled out some lovely stamps and revitalized my own correspondence.

There are a bunch of fun things yet to share with you, dear readers, but they will have to wait a bit. I am sending each of you best wishes for a lovely time of seasonal transition, wherever you may live. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

september ninth

  • another cord of wood, stacked neatly into the woodshed (being full-timers, we now take winter even more seriously!)
  • the pumpkins are going from blush to full-on orange, tucked under their spiney leaves.
  • our first crop of onions, looking good.
  • we grew so many beautiful carrots that a bunch of them went to the local food bank.
  • last week it was summer, and then a storm that brought sparkling droplets cooled us off to autumn.      just*like*that.
  • i woke early and caught the harvest moon, setting in the west, as this season's typical "valley mist" rolled through.
Oh, the food we are eating...harvested, prepared and eaten within hours.

Pinch me. Is this real?

Friday, September 5, 2014

luminous days

evening light in the garden
low and soft
morning light,
bright and inspiring...
a reminder that "e"very day is a blessing.

these days are precious.
let's fill them with light and love,
shall we dear friends?

other sunflower posts here and here and here and here.