The world between two pines

A mystical magical foray through the foggy forest

“The richness of a moment comes when it’s both full and empty at the same time. The truth is, we live simultaneously in time and timelessness.” ~ Ram Dass

Where does reality leave off and imagination take over? Does it matter?


All at once the light of overcast day turns to fog as we step between the two tall pines and descend into into darkening wood.

I proceed with an uncharacteristic reverence, my steps slow and deliberate.  

The air is damp. Tufts of fogginess elongate, curving and curling between the trees trunks like an asp lending an air of mystery to the atmosphere. Although I am inside a natural area that’s inside a large park, I could be anywhere. 

There is a sense of timeless here, of ancientness. I can smell it. The pine needles, the mud, the old leaves, the moss. Ancestral memories encoded in my DNA have been awakened. I feel oddly at home, every twist and turn takes me deeper and deeper in. 

My usual gleefulness is gone, replaced by a watchfulness. Where my causal romp through the woods has become more than causal. I notice my steady breaths and I notice the birds are quiet. It seems as everything is at a standstill, but me.

It’s as though I am walking through a dream. The haze grows murkier with every step, my footing has been lost in the fog. The path twists and turns and suddenly I find I have lost the path altogether. The mossy floor feels like soft clouds and I imagine I am high in the sky feeling the cool fresh air. I feel so relaxed and at ease , I am compelled to sleep…

Then I spy glossy black wings in the corner of my mind’s eye and hear the cawing of the crows…
…suddenly I’m back on the ground slipping in the mud, catching myself in dreamland and jolting myself awake. 
Better watch my step…haha.

 

~SBI
All photos taken by me on The Wildwood Trail in Washington Park in Portland, Oregon. 

 

 

 

 

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Muddy trail kind of life

The air is fresh and chill. The wind blows tiny droplets of rain onto my face. I close my eyes and it feels like I am flying but the honking of geese above me remind me that I am not. I am walking, and walking on a muddy trail at that. My eyes quickly scan the ground and I scamper up a rocky hill like a little mountain goat.

These trips have gotten me in great trail shape. I spend a good portion of my free time out here in the wildish trails around my home in Portland, Oregon. It is a necessary component of my life to get out in whatever nature I can get to. We have no car, by design , my husband and I. We walk, bike or take public transit which is pretty good here. We like this sort of life, this muddy trail kind of life. I am very fortunate to have found someone who likes this as much, or more than I do. We are best friends, pals and companions as well as a loving married couple. He encourages me to be me and he smiles and shakes his head in amusement as I run up and down hills and even sometimes climb into the trees to snap pics and talk to the animals, real and imaginary. This is great fun to us and we are lucky to live where we do. So in spite of the rain or maybe because of the rain we are here at one of our favorite spots.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a swampy, wetlands area smack daub in Portland, Oregon. Lots of birds live here especially ducks. I like to greet them as we pass by. We see lots of animals on our adventures. We have seen deer, beavers and nutria,  possums and a plethora of birds especially the waterfowl.  This is one of the places we go in all kinds of weather. Today it is super rainy and the trail is super muddy but we love this.

Pluviophile. a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

 

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”~ John Muir

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. -Mother Teresa

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a city park of about 141 acres in southeast Portland, in the U.S. state of Oregon. Located in a floodplain along the east bank of the Willamette River near Sellwood, the park is known for attracting a wide variety of birds. Wikipedia

 

Errol Heights Natural area is cute in a boggy sort of way. This is a short walk  but has become a favorite of ours since it is so close in the city.  On our first visit we met a curious man who popped out of the bushes.  He told us in breathless Kiwi accent about the 10 beaver dams there as he was running around trying to photograph all of them in order before the sun set.

One meets all sorts of interesting people in places like this.

Beaver Dam

 

The beavers are pretty shy but you can see evidence of them not just by the dams but but by the trees they are in the process of cutting. Many of the tree trucks are protected by wire netting but there is still ample wood available. The birds are typically out in full force here as it is a haven for waterfowl and songbirds. I love to just stop and listen to their beautiful music. Today the soundtrack is dominated by geese who fly overhead in their famous V formation. It is amazing a place like this exists in the middle of the city.  We are lucky to live here.

Dusk at Errol Heights Natural area

Errol Heights Park & Community Gardenlocated at SE 52nd Ave & Tenino St, is 12 acres acquired by Portland Parks in 1996. Its amenities include a great walking path through the site with views of the Errol Creek wetland area. Many native plants and shrubs thrive in Errol Heights – part of the Johnson Creek Watershed.

The Voice of the Universe

The voice of the universe is everywhere.
In the trees. In stars. In the air.
In my heart. In my hair.
Within.”

—Jonna Jinton

 

I listen to the wind move through the trees tickling leaves along the way. I hear the loneliness in them, the smallness of them. The universe is made of these. Bits and parts of somethings that make a whole.

We are one together. A breathing being is the universe. I witness its breath in the clouds. I feel the beat of it’s heart in the river. I touch its profoundness in the soft moss under my feet.

I feel so alive in this one very moment; I take in the million joys that spill over like a wave. It fills my valleys and makes them green again.

The voice of the universe speaks to me. Not in words but pure emotion. It speaks to me in brilliant birdsong and in the roar of the sea.  It whispers in the Sunday breeze, knocking down fence posts to make me listen.

Once in a while the universe sends something so absolutely exquisite I can’t help but pause in splendid wonder. Once in a while can be everyday if I let it…

 

~nlm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden of the Mind

 

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece

~Claude Monet

 

We all engage in self talk. A running inner dialog that writes the script of our lives.

Seldom are we completely aware of just how influential we are on ourselves. We definitely live up to our own expectations. Positive or negative.  Problems arise when insecure feelings begin to dominate the conversation. And rarely do we share these dark thoughts with others. They are hidden behind a wall of bravado we put up between each other. This causes us to see only the exaggerations put together by our imaginations not the full scope of reality.

Insecurities are kept in a secret place locked inside ourselves in that dark closet of pessimism, where fear lives. It is fear that leads us to lie to ourselves in the first place. Much of the negative crap that our own insecurities whisper to us is not accurate or realistic at all, but these hidden feelings do have a profound effect on our behavior. Only when we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect can we begin to rebuild and replace all that negative crap with good crap.

I liken a life to a garden. What grows in our garden is what has been planted.

 

 

The lives which we are living now are the result of our past actions and those past actions were the result of our past thoughts. The seeds we planted long ago are sprouting now.

We truly are what we have cultivated. We can thrive in a colorful vigorous and sunny garden or we can wallow in the dark. and it is that simple… of course surprises can spring up

Life is random and certainly not fair. We are subject to the whims of that randomness…

…and no matter what we do surprises can spring up…

Sometimes squirrels can dig up your tulip bulbs and plant them in your neighbors backyard…sometimes a spring hail shower can wreck havoc on your tender pansies. There have been times when a black cloud descended into my garden and left it cold and dark. There have been times when I thought that the sun would never shine again…

And then I found the sunshine within myself and lit up my garden with hope, faith and blind determination.

 

 

These are the times when we have to rely on that sort of sunshine to make our gardens grow.

…that’s why you need a good dose of it stored up in your pocket for a rainy day.

 

 

Determination: Yes. Work: Most certainly. Anything worth anything takes work and belief. That is your sunshine and nothing will shine without it.

Gratitude is like water. It nourishes life in our garden. It makes what grows grow. Without gratitude we will never find the happiness and contentment we seek.

Attitude. How we frame the picture we see.

What some may interpret as a raging storm can seem like a gentle shower watering a summer flower.

 

Seeds are the ideas we present to ourselves. We can plant what we want.

 

Being afraid; having social anxiety…the alien-ness I felt being on the autism spectrum…my alcoholism.. these were symptoms of a greater problem these were/are my challenges. I on instinct planted seeds to counteract the ones planted many years before which led me to feel so sad.

How do I do this? I change my inner dialogue. I forgave myself. I saw myself as a poor damaged thing that needed sympathy, love and understanding.  I began to treat myself more kindly; I began to lie to myself but in a good, encouraging way.

I told myself wonderful things about me; things I didn’t believe. But I kept planting and counting.

I counted reasons to be grateful. I thanked God or the spirits that be. I thanked the universe for my good fortune. I embraced mindfulness and tried to enjoy every passing moment for what what it is without expectation. I found worthiness in contentment and strength in humbleness.

 

I wrote words like”optimistic” ,”happy”and “Yes” in bright colors and tapped them around the house.

I found solace in the colors of music and the sound of the rain.

I refused to be daunted by a reluctant sun so I made my own.

 

What began as a tiny spark has grown larger and my garden is growing with colorful, green, growing wild things.

I continue to plant seeds whenever I can. My garden is a work in progress. Always planting something, digging, weeding, taking it all in.

Despite changes and setbacks I am here to encourage other gardeners who may be discouraged. Maybe to make myself feel a bit better too.

 

As Ram Dass once said: We’re all just walking each other home.”

And I say that it’s damn good to have a friend to walk through the rain with. 

 

~nlm

 

 

 

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Fresh Quotes: Mary Oliver

I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else.

~Mary Oliver

Coming in whispers that speak to that child that lurks within

the one that plays in grassy fields and kisses the sweet spring wind

she who laughs at chickadees and muses with birds

Quietly knocking one over the head with her simple earthy words.

I have been literally brought to tears on more than one occasion by this immensely talented writer and poet.

Mary Oliver is an artist who more than paints pictures with words. She illustrates profound feeling in vivid and not so vivid colors and hues. They hit me deep down in my soul.

Never before have I so connected with another’s words. It reinforces to me the greater connection we all have with each other and our beautiful planet.

What follows are some of my favorite quotes by this Pulitzer Prize winner.

MARY OLIVER

 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

There is nothing better than work. Work is also play; children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work. But people grow up, and they work with a sorrow upon them. It’s duty. 

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”

 

 

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”

 

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing. If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

 

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

 

 

Do you love this world? Do you cherish your humble and silky life? Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath? Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden, and softly, and exclaiming of their dearness, fill your arms with the white and pink flowers, with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are nothing, forever?

 Yes…yes I do Mary Oliver… thank you for your inspiration. 

~nlm

MARY OLIVER

Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio.  She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College.  As a young poet, Oliver was deeply influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and briefly lived in Millay’s home, helping Norma Millay organize her sister’s papers.
  Oliver is notoriously reticent about her private life, but it was during this period that she met her long-time partner, Molly Malone Cook. The couple moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the surrounding Cape Cod landscape has had a marked influence on Oliver’s work.  Mary Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. In addition to such major awards as the Pulitzer and National Book Award, Oliver has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also won the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize and Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 
(Excerpt from the Poetry Foundation Bio)

Mary Oliver (Poetryfoundation.org)

(Great site chocked full of resources including full-length poems)

The Song of the Universe

tumart art psych

Music effects me like nothing else; pure sound melts into my body and fills my every pore. It travels down deep through my veins and capillaries straight to the heart then to the soul where it lingers a while, resonating like a fine wine. I am intoxicated.    Even amid what may seem like chaos one can feel those fine melodic tones pushing through to the surface. They cover me like a soft blanket of warm sand. They scintillate and tickle me, tantalizing my arm’s and legs.  I feel a rush of joy like a child in the sun. I am warmed and revived. Music does that to me. Good music, harmonious music.

I carry this with me, in snippets of memory; in songs that get stuck in my mind and play as a soundtrack to accompany parts of my day. This inner soundtrack lifts my mood and encourages me. It  strengthens my spirit and resolve. It calms me, makes me happy but also allows me to feel a million moods from sunny yellow to deep stone black. Through music I hear the song of the singer. I feel their thoughts and hear their dreams, even experience their heartbreak in a small way.  I hear their soul singing out and I hear a hundred million others.

Music is that powerful.

 

 

guitar moon col

 

According to string theory, absolutely everything in the universe, all of the particles that make up matter and forces, including you and I and my cat Mario are comprised of tiny vibrating  strings. Because of this some have likened the universe to a symphony. 

Michio Kaku the famous Physicist once said ” We are nothing but melodies. We are nothing but cosmic music played out on vibrating strings and membranes. Obeying the laws of physics, which is nothing but the laws of harmony of vibrating strings.” 

Playing the song of the cosmos I suppose…

 

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows Sh 2-106, or S106 for short. This is a compact star forming region in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan). A newly-formed star called S106 IR is shrouded in dust at the centre of the image, and is responsible for the the surrounding gas cloudÕs hourglass-like shape and the turbulence visible within. Light from glowing hydrogen is coloured blue in this image.

 

I think that is how we are connected and why music holds a universal appeal with us. It’s something we can all share. It is a ancient connection that’s been wired into us since the beginning. It is the ultimate in communication.

I’ve had musicians tell me that playing with others in concert operates on a very intimate level and that doesn’t surprise me.  I have felt similar feelings when engaged in a slow dance with a partner. I think most of us possess the ability to connect with others through music and with music itself.

This makes me think how life on earth is like a orchestra and we are all members of that orchestra.  We hum along, creating our own music in everything we do, think and feel.    I can see how imbalances could cause the music to distort and become unpleasant. Only when harmony is restored are we whole and playing beautifully once again.

I believe we on the planet are in a state of extreme disharmony. There are too many voices that sing songs of hate and exclusion,  inequality, indifference and greed. Songs that disrespect and pillage our planet, songs that kill the soul and lull desire.  We need to sing together for the common good; for peace and love, for kindness and understanding in concert with the earth and with the universe itself. 

African Children's Choir spreads peace.
African Children’s Choir spreads peace.

 

Most of us go about our lives encased in a hard shell that we have developed from our own personal experiences of being alive and living in the world we do.  Many of us hide our true thoughts and feelings from each other and to an extent I think we rarely realize, we are all connected by circumstance, by fate and by our very atoms themselves, down to those tiny vibrating strings but we act like strangers to each other. I think society teaches us this; that we should be wary of the different, have disdain for the unusual and mistrust the independent minded. Our mutual fear of each other causes misunderstanding and disharmony.   Children have a natural affinity for other beings. They don’t see what adults have been trained by society to see. We share so much and yes we are capable of singing a beautiful song in harmony  made up of beautiful voices, of varied colors and hues of thoughts and ideas.

 

Together we are the song of the universe.

 

And as I go about my week I am going to keep this in mind and try to remember that we are all connected, even those that may disagree with me. We all share the same needs, wants and fears.  We can attune ourselves to the same frequency if we listen and find some common chords.

 

~NLM

 

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”
― Alan W. Watts

 

 

Related sounds of the universe

 

Lady Gaga sings America’s National Anthem/The Star-Spangled Banner at Super Bowl 50

Fiona Apple – “Across The Universe

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Our beautiful planet Earth naturally resonates at a frequency of 7.83 Hz. Many believe we can tap into this “heartbeat of the Earth”

Schumann Meditation 7.83 Hz 

unnamed-6 meditate art fantasy color
The above link connects to music that contains isochronic tones of Schumann Resonance or 7.83 Hz. Often it is referred as “Earth’s pulse”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schumann…. Research that have been done with experienced meditators (Zen meditators) show that it is a significant frequency. Its benefits are: Stress minimization, Healing acceleration, Muscle rejuvenation, Learning skills enhancement and mental well-being.

 

 

SOUND

“In the world I am
Always a stranger
I do not understand its language
It does not understand my silence”
― Bei Dao

All I want for Christmas is some peace and quiet.    I need a retreat. A retreat from noise, a retreat from interruption. A break from the outside world that interferes with my thinking and writing.  I must do both of theses things and if I don’t for a while I become like a caged tiger. I pace the confines of my cell all stored up and ready to pounce, except that I don’t pounce–I suck it all in.

I am kind and patient. Seldom do I lose this demeanor but there are times that I feel as though I am a ticking time bomb ready to go off.  The pressure builds and builds, I cannot flee–I cannot fight–I hold it all in. This can’t be good for my health.

 

tiger art maxresdefault

 

There is no place where noise does not scream at me. I pretend that it doesn’t effect me like it does. I learned to fake nonchalance a long time ago but there is nothing nonchalant about me. I have prided myself in my outer coolness but I must confess and it feels damn good to confess that at times on the inside I can burn hot like a volcano.

 

WOMAN fire art

I try to meditate in my own way.  I seek out nature and I think good thoughts. I am earnest in my devotion to goodness, truth and beauty and all that. I believe I only lack one simple thing. Something that if granted to me would enable me to take on the world–whatever it takes. Silence, a wee bit of silence would save me. Time to listen to nothing would be utter bliss.

 

quote quiet still

 

If you have ever listened to silence you know what I mean.

Silence allows the mind to wander freely.  It gives us a chance to take a deep breath and relax.  The world is a noisy place, most of us experience a great amount of it in our daily lives.  These form the soundtrack to our lives. Most of it we cannot control.

 I seldom mention this but I am on the Autism spectrum (Asperger’s) and sensitive to sound. I have always been this way. Certain noises are amplified  in my head and at times this can be overwhelming.  Echoing reverberating noises, kids screaming, crowds of people talking, generally loud and unpredictable noises, these sounds can unhinge me but also small and meaningless ones too can set me on edge. I have learned to control my urges and I can block a lot of it out but this is tiring and doesn’t allow me to ponder like I like to do.

Noise effects me in good ways as well as bad. There are good sounds. Music is exquisite rapture and so are the sounds of nature; songbirds, the breeze in the trees, crickets, the ocean. These sounds speak to my soul. They call to the restlessness and the calmness in me. They soothe, invigorate and inspire.

These sounds are big and open like waves,  they do not mind sharing space with all the thoughts my mind.  These sounds not only allow me to think, to contemplate, they allow my mind to simply wander freely without intent purely for the sake of wandering.

Haystack Rock Cannon Beach Oregon sky water beautiful

 

I feel at one with the universe. I feel at peace.

Sounds can transport one to another place. I have listened to recordings of birdsong and whales and other natures noises. I will close my eyes and imagine myself there; in the forest or by a lake or in a bird sanctuary wherever it be my mind can travel there.

Music is especially magical.  Slack Key Guitar music instantly takes me to the Tropics and certain Heavy Metal songs from the 80’s take me back to my rebellious teens.  Melodies paint colorful landscapes across the universe of my mind.

color tree mountain lake water night sinset beautiful back

Just thinking of all this is good for the spirit. Already I am calmed.  It’s through expressing myself I’ll find the peace I seek. I know that I create my own reality and I know that if something is important enough I will make time for it.

Writing and putting this post together has certainly worked it’s magic on me. And I hope it will for you too.  Please take a listen to the wonderful sounds by clicking on the following links that will transport you to the mythical land called Youtube where the music of nature will play for you.  Enjoy and have a nice day!

~NLM

beach waves gif

 

Sounds of Nature: Ocean Waves

 

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) perched on a branch in Manitoba, Canada.

White-throated Sparrow: Whistler of the North

 

field of flowers

Bach, Air (“on the G string”, string orchestra)

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