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Sun May 18, 2014, 10:15 PM

Order vs Disorder

“.I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” -- John Burroughs

One of the nice things about spring-time in the northeast is going for walks. At my extreme age, I don’t get around as well in the snow and ice, and so I’ve been making up for being inside too much during the long winter months. My favorite places to walk tend to be around my own property, and along three trails in particular: one is a long-abandoned turnpike; the second is the bed of a railroad that closed in 1957; and, third, a beautiful creek that crossed each of the first two.

This week, I’ve left the “comfort zone” of my own neck of the woods a couple of times. A bank, a doctor’s office, a drug store, a library, a garage, the Post Office, a grocery store, and then, last, to a school to give a presentation. Add to that a trip to the Canadian border, to pick up my daughter from college.

Although I am prone to enjoying solitude, I do enjoy people. In the bank, a pleasant woman approached me and said that, with my long hair and beard, I reminded her of the Founding Fathers. I thanked her, though I can’t recall any of those fellows having long hair nor beards. Another woman, who I went to school with, saw me and said, “Ah, our eccentric hermit; what brings you to civilization?” I explained that I had actually left civilization to come to a community of human beings.

I’ve also had a virtual flood of phone calls and e-mails this week. Extended family and friends, several with news about people I know who are ill; a couple of invitations to speak here and there this summer; a few asking advice on political matters; and a close friend who is feeling detached and burned out. She has stopped by the house a couple of times this week to see my daughter, who is back from college. They are in an acoustic group together.

The library where this friend works part-time -- she’s a full-time teacher -- has asked me to do a display of artifacts that document local Native American history there. I’ll be presenting a program to the public there in June, then in another city in July. In coming up with a mental outline, I found it worthwhile to take a walk along the banks of the Susquehanna and Unadilla Rivers, visiting ancient occupation sites, as well as an expansive camp where Mohawk leader Joseph Brant had warriors during the Revolutionary War. Letters to General George Washington from that time tell of a significant number of “rascally escaped slaves” who had joined the Indians there.

This is the land where I spent my childhood. Across the river is the old house where the grandson of Seneca historian David Cusick lived; we remained friends over the decades, after we had both moved away from that rural neighborhood. I end up stopping to see my childhood “best friend,” who recently bought his grandfather’s farm. We talk about the various people who lived on this rural road, and influenced our childhood. They are all long gone now. My buddy says, “How did we end up as Elders so quickly?”

When I get home, I decide to cook the evening meal out at the fire pit out at my pond. As always, I start by feeding the fish, and refilling the bird-feeders. My daughter and friend come out, and we enjoy watching the birds, and listening to their songs. One of my favorite things is when these two play guitars and sing. I know that human beings have sat around a fire, and sang, for thousands and thousands of years. It’s as much a part of “nature” as the birds’ singing their songs.

We all get a turn here on Earth. People tend to measure their turn in terms of how many times this living planet goes around the sun. For some, it’s quite a few circles around that life-giving sun; for others, it’s a shorter ride.

Before I know it, I’m alone at the pond. The sun has gone down, and the fire is giving off the only light. Most of the birds have called it a day, and now it’s the frogs’ turn to sing their songs. As it grows dark, I can see the reflection of the fire on the pond’s surface. In time, the fire burns out, and I begin my walk back to my house.

It’s a busy time in our society. The combination of a larger population and technological advances has created a new speed of daily life for most people. While the planet continues to move at its own pace, the world is spinning faster and faster. Everyone should be taking time to “turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream,” as John Lennon sang. Especially those who are feeling frazzled by all the pressures of everyday life.

Spending time in nature is what I do. How about you? What helps put your senses in order?

H2O Man

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Reply Order vs Disorder (Original post)
H2O Man May 2014 OP
NRaleighLiberal May 2014 #1
H2O Man May 2014 #5
RobertEarl May 2014 #2
Hoppy May 2014 #3
PuraVidaDreamin May 2014 #4

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:22 PM

1. Really lovely - best thing I've read on DU in many days....

I can picture what you described - as a native New Englander, I got to spend 4 years in New Hampshire, and spent time in Vermont as well. Just great memories..

Pretty fortunate here (knock on wood) - one daughter in Seattle, the other nearby - but both independent, on their own, and doing fine. My wife spend the day making Tshirt and memory quilts, me selling veggie seedlings, planting and tending my garden, and writing. After paying my corporate dues (25 years...glad it is behind me), life is much slower paced for both my wife and I now - most of it spent outdoors when possible, with the music of the bird songs....I find myself spending far less time on the laptop or indoors between spring and early winter...it is wonderful "out there" (at least until the extremely hot and muggies hit Raleigh!).

PS - the older I get, the less "it" all makes sense....the politics, fights, squabbles, injustices - just a mass of inconsistencies. It is all hard to stomach...hence my wife and I enjoying as much as we can our relatively peaceful "bubble".....

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #1)

Mon May 19, 2014, 10:54 AM

5. There are times

when I prefer the company of the chipmunk community near the pond, than I do that of the general human population. I was thinking about that the other evening, while watching them gather sunflower seeds. My grandfather used to feed some at the edge of his garden. Maybe it's an "old man thing."

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:38 PM

2. Have to have a regular dose of outdoors


It is the best medicine.

Springing wildflowers, fireflies, bumble bees. New green leaves, finally. Warm blue skies with the foreground of green trees is a welcoming and fulfilling sight for these sore, winter weary eyes.

In wilderness is the preservation of the world, said some old time bard. I forget who, but he was dead on. Being where there are but natural voices and natural earth sights, is like taking a drug, that without, we whither away.

The old bones don't want to follow around so much anymore, but upon forcing them they eventually come to see the wisdom of the travel. But are happiest when they do get back to relax, and at that time the mind is in a far better mood, and all is well again.

I shall miss most the sauntering, when I am done.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 11:48 PM

3. I'm getting older too, with ailments that come with age.


I am taking on challenges that were not difficult years ago.... a day hike to Sunfish Pond in the Delaware Water Gap. Maybe three or four hours round trip in past years, It took me five hours last month but I got there. I climbed most of Mt. Tammany at the Gap last Saturday. Years ago, I made it. This time I didn't. Next time in a week or so, I will complete the climb.

This is funny --- the name Mt. Tammany. You see, New Jersey doesn't have mountains. We have a couple of places that are named mountains but nothing is above 2,000 feet elevation. So we don't have mountains.

But, we have some great scenery. Birds, butterflies. My self-appointed task is to photograph them and show them to people so that they, in turn, will stop to look at the things around them and be amazed that such beauty was around them and they missed it and it will be there if they stop and look.

I guess I'm doing a good job of this because many people look at my photographs and begin to walk away but then some actually turn around and look again. The second time, taking longer to look. And they ask me "Where did you take that?" And I tell them, hoping they go to find the same place.

I look at things differently, I guess. That is because I am blind in one eye --- been that way since I was born. That means what I see through the viewfinder is the way I see things all the time.

I have tried to post my photos of New Jersey on the photo sub-site but I have never succeeded. A couple of DU'rs have tried to instruct me on how to post photos but it doesn't connect. Nothin' like an old fool, eh? But I am figuring how to post them and when I do , I will post the link

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 04:57 AM

4. Deep breathing

Long slow inhales, followed by long slow exhales.
And reading your post above I know I did just that.

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