Reading Volunteers Needed

giselle-and-susaI am about to become a Reading Buddy volunteer again at Isaac Dickson Elementary School with my favorite Second Grader. I highly recommend this program and encourage anyone with the time and desire to look into becoming a volunteer with Read to Succeed. In one 45-minute session per week, you can make a huge difference and help increase  the number of local elementary school children who are at grade level in reading by the third grade. This year I can only help out until I move at the end of November, but the need is great and I am happy to do what I can. The next Reading Buddy trainings are Sept 28 & 29 – 9:30-noon Wednesday/Thursday and Nov 1 & 2  9:30-noon Tuesday/Wednesday at the R2S office at 16A Stewart Street.


Camping in the Blue Ridge


IMG_0611Below me, and out as far as the eye can see, the mountains look like they are floating. As they actually are, floating on the earth’s soft mantle. These silent mountain friends wish me well. I’m here to do a goodbye and gratitude ceremony for my nearly six years in these North Carolina mountains. It’s all impermanence, as the Buddhists say. From this, from change, come the wonders, the beauty of life.

Every day the world does this magic act of change! Here on top of the world, I get to witness this miracle of transformation. I blow tobacco smoke to honor the seven directions, and then my senses open even more, and I am nested within the sphere of the seven sacred directions.

There’s something about seeing the faraway and the close at the same time.  I see how the near goes into the far, the milkweed and goldenrod stretching down and down; and how the far comes into the near, the mountains with their coves and valleys entering right into my experience up here. Seeing the far and the near at the same time gives me back my own wholeness.IMG_0637In the evening I build a fire. It pops and dances, claps for joy. I feed it my old dream, naming and releasing what I wanted that did not come to pass.  I stare as the fire fashions, from my old dream, new ones for my new life. The full Pisces moon rises, and I, too, rise to my feet in exaltation. Like the fire, the moon swallows my old dream and transforms it–into the moonlight of the new dreams which I sing out.campfire viewAt dawn I wake in the sky a mile high, the clouds below me not yet revealing which world I shall find myself part of this day. The blessed quiet of no human sound allows me to listen differently to what the world is. Birds are just waking. I hear them stretching wings in the brush, rustling their good morning, but not yet singing. And a few early bees, trying out the buzz of their workday to come, their work of love, bees bringing shy flowers together in a kind of third party sex here on top of the world. I am a little human part of this waking day, conjoined with all that is.

The show is about to begin. The curtain of clouds is parting! The shapes of yellow green hills with their pool of shadows reappear to me. Fog lakes spill over the rims of their caldera bowls. As I watch, the solid green of the closest mountain appears. Drops of morning fog touch my skin, not rain but a tiny caress of mist to wish me good day and to mitigate the rising heat.

I think of Thich Nhat Hanh silently gesturing outwards with his arm, saying, Look! I think of Starhawk in her book Earth Path urging us to see the sumptuous world as play of light and dark, to look “where form intercepts light.” Was this world here behind the clouds or have my divine eyes just now created it by looking? Too many thoughts! I return myself to the effervescent present, so as not to miss the next marvel.

Now the mountains seem to stretch and yawn with early light. And the shadows! While the sun touches some of the mountains with her fingers, clouds sail shade over others. I have the best seat in the house for a wondrous shadow play. Sun through cloudbreak spotlights one round peak to show its holiness. Now the sun’s become so very bright on my white page that I must lower my lids like a lizard. I lick the pleasure of heat into my skin.

The writer on the mountain

camp dinnerAnd here comes the blue sky of the day, pushing the clouds westward, so gently that it looks like love. And isn’t all the world making love? The bees, the flowers, the sky, the mountains? Isn’t love, this only morning there is, the very breath of the living planet? Love, the constancy as well as the ever-changing impermanence.

Glorious and gorgeous, these gifts from Gaia, in September above Maggie Valley in North Carolina. I watch the beauty before me, I cry and laugh, I sing. Before I must go, I leave a clay rattle, made by my own hands and dressed with feathers, to return to the earth from which it was made. Like a prayer arrow, it holds my intentions, my new dreams. It has absorbed the moonlight and the rising sun. It has rattled my dreams inwards to my ears and outwards to the cosmos. I leave it here as my gratitude offering to these mountains that have nourished me.

I give thanks that the sun, rising where the night before the moon lifted its beauty, will accompany me in my new life. The sun and the moon and the stars, my companions, faithful always. I likely will not be back. Mexico, with new mountains and new beauty, calls to me.

Mile High and Lovin It

Slow Travel, Slow Talk, Slow Food

freighter travelYesterday, I spent the whole morning researching  freighter travel. Here is a lovely and  strangely-translated-into-English description from one site. I offer it as an unedited found poem by anonymous:

What is the attraction of the horizontal wideness of freighter travel?
What is the allured depth of the seemingly monotonous sea landscape on a Cargo Ship Cruise?
The answer is as simple as deep:
it is the switch from our fast moving daily routine to the unknown.
Far away from mobiles and internet, away from time pressure and private commitments
you will find a new way of calmness.
It may sounds emotional, but this stopping process of calming down
is one of the first steps of finding your inner peace.
Spending days of watching the diversity of the horizon and oceanic landscapes
creates on one hand an intoxicating, meditative feeling of freedom.
On the other hand, standing on deck it helps you to let the wind
blow all your worries of your daily routine away.
While the rest of the world takes part
on the daily game of efficiency, speed and peak performances,
travel will give you an authentic feeling of the wideness of the planet.
Slowly, destinations will come up and pass by.
Travelling like this becomes a journey to the inner self.
In the far distance, we can get close to ourselves…

Passenger travel on cargo ships is known as Slow Travel. Then today, I experienced Slow Talk. In my three dimensional mailbox, I received a genuine handwritten letter, the old-fashioned kind of long distance talking called correspondence by post. It was from a childhood friend whose familiar penmanship brought me heartwarmingly into her presence. Tomorrow I will experience one more kind of slow.  I plan to eat at Homegrown, an Asheville restaurant that proudly offers delicious Slow Food.

So what do Slow Travel, Slow Talk, and Slow Food have in common? An immensely wealthy sense of having all the time in the world– for eating, for friendship, for exploring the planet. Doesn’t it relax your whole body, just to reflect on such a measured, easygoing, unhurried pace?

freighter travel

Dolphins on Bday 69

Today a podmate from Holland sent me photos from the Wildquest journey where I met her in June, and it brought the beautiful experience fully present again. How grateful I am for the dolphin pods we communed with every day and for the human pod that helped me celebrate my 69th. (Click to see photos)

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Bday 69 Bimini


WildQuest Dolphin Swim