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The Gift of Trees

Trees Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

All week, the pristine quiet of my new foothill home has been disrupted by the roar of chainsaws, the hacking of axes, the deep bass drone of earth movers and trucks and the all too distinct crack and thud of a tree going down.

IMG_5989 copyright (c) March 2013 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved IMG_5987 IMG_6029copyright (c) March 2013 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

I would estimate more than 50 trees have come down so far. That first day, I could feel the shock of the trees, the earth, the birds. I reassured the trees on my property that the chainsaws would not be coming for them. I spent the day feeling completely rattled. A hawk flew overhead screeching as one tree was being cut. Was its nest high up there in the branches? I saw the same hawk fly down to the ground from a low limb the next day. Were there young ones to feed that now found their home on the ground? I don’t know. I only wonder.

My heart hurt and I cried. I also heard an internal voice chastise me saying “Where do you think the lumber for this house and this deck came from?” I also found myself curious about the process of cutting trees and furious about the destruction of the landscape to pull the logs out.

As I felt into all of my reactions,  I came to understand (among many other insights) that what bothers me most is (and this is an assumption) that they have not been honored. They were not taken down in a sacred manner. No one offered their prayer or blessing or gratitude.

As I said, that is an assumption. So, it all comes back to me. Have I offered my prayer, blessing or gratitude?  I spent that first evening in my sacred space doing just that. It created peace in my spirit and gave my heart a bit of rest. I am reminded to continue the practice of walking in the Beauty Way, honoring all of life. It’s so easy to forget.

The felling continues. As I write, I hear the drone of the tree mover with the big pincers creating roadways through the forest and dragging felled trees to waiting trucks.

This leads me to my invitation to join me in a healing ceremony, of sorts.

IMG_5975 apple blossom copyright (c) March 2013 Kathy J Loh

I invite you to join me in expressing gratitude to trees.

Leave a comment with your words or write a blog post on the subject and post the link in the comments section below.  In this way, we can practice some earth medicine and send energetic healing to trees being felled everywhere. In addition, if you feel so moved, speak your gratitude directly to a tree today.

I will start:

Thank you to the trees.

Thank you for your beauty, shade, blossoms, shelter.

Thank you for offering yourselves to become my home, furnishings, books, bags, paper.

Thank you for giving me your limbs for warm fires on chilly evenings.

Thank you for your medicine and the wisdom you always convey to me when I seek your counsel.

Thank you for harboring birds and squirrels.

Thank you for my guitar, violin, piano and the sweet songs that come from them.

Thank you for your sweet aromas, your waving branches in the breeze, your reminder to remain grounded.

Thank you for your teachings, sometimes painful, through the taking out of power for a day or two, or falling through a roof of a house or car.

Thank you to the giants for living so long as to remind us of timelessness.

Thank you for reaching high and pointing the way to the stars and that beautiful silhouette you create encircling me as I stand in a clearing stargazing.

Thank you for peace laurels, Christmas trees, wreathes and garlands.

Thank you for opening my heart and reminding me of the sacredness of all life.

 

Will you join me? Thank you for posting your gratitude for trees in the comments below (click on “comments” the last word of this post, below the likes and tags)

Many blessings!

Copyright © March 2013 Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
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With the help of a small pre-lit tree, borrowed from a generous friend, and a Christmas music channel on Pandora, I am beginning to feel like it might be Christmas. Which is helpful, since today is Christmas Eve.

I moved in early December and I am still getting things into place. Last night, I finally got my home theater components hooked up and in the entertainment armoire (which took a lot of reaching, bending, flexing and patience). I’m still missing the speaker wire for the sub-woofer, no boom-boom sounds for now. My printer is still offline since it was not installed to communicate with the AT&T wireless modem that AT&T insisted I buy to use instead of my perfectly good Netgear model.  (Yes, I’m complaining. AT&T has always brought out the best in me – challenging me to find my most patient and compassionate self.)

I think I have bought  two gifts. Thank goodness our family event is not until the New Year, almost.

I have had the magic of snow, the frustration of things gone missing, the unnerving of trees swaying wildly with the wind and rain and power outages that, in this neck of the woods means I can’t pump water either.  It also means I wear long-underwear and polar fleece jackets indoors.  I have had ice that dares me to go anywhere in a car and forces me to walk with tiny baby steps across my deck to the garage and laundry. I know, it’s all sissy stuff compared to what most people live with.

Today, though,  the sun is shining and I am absolutely in love with my new home. Trees make for wonderful companions. The other day, I saw two jack rabbits that came right up to my deck and peered at me through the window. Today, I saw the coyote who is their likely enemy, chasing after something down the hill in the direction from which I’d seen the rabbits come the other day. Though my first view of the coyote was right out my kitchen window, by the time I got my camera, it was weaving in and out of the trees. Coyote was so intent on the hunt, it did not even notice me as I stepped into the yard for another peek. They are fluffier and healthier looking up here than the ones I’ve seen up in the Marin Watershed.

Here are some photos of the coyote in the morning woodland fog. I did not touch them up. I like them looking as mysterious as it felt.

copyright (c) Dec 2012 Kathy J Loh All Rights reserved coyoteEnlrg

Animal sightings are pure magic for me.  My delight rises from my wild nature through my heart and out my mouth as a simple gasp and single word of surprise “coyote!”

Coyote is the trickster; reminds us of how we lie to ourselves in a way that makes rational sense. My lie was that I did not need to decorate for Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve already and I am having holiday meals at other people’s homes. Why would I go to all the trouble to get ornaments out of boxes and deck my house and then have to go to all the trouble to put it all away in a few days? Why?

Coyote reminded me of magic. There is a magic I want to feel around the holiday and there is a child in me who insists on decorating the tree. So, I listened to her. We put on the music, we chose just-right ornaments that speak to me now – most of them woodland creatures. Enchantment rose in me and illuminated my new home.

Later today, I will go for a hike with my friend who is now my neighbor. We might even go snow-shoeing which would be a new activity for me, one I look forward to experiencing.

I said I moved here because I wanted adventure. I have not been disappointed yet. It’s just the sometimes it is hard to remember that adventure is not always comfortable. There is no predicting the Mystery and yet, there is no need to wait for enchantment.

We are all magicians traveling this Full Moon Path.

What illuminates your path?

How is the Mystery speaking to you today to get you to follow it into the woods of timelessness and create a little magic of your own?

Sending you all love and enchantment!

copyright (c) Dec 2012, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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I am incredibly fortunate to have a mom who reads my blog, likes it and, from time to time, comments on it. So mom, I know you are reading and this one’s for you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mom sent me an email after reading my March 19, 2010 post: Spring Equinox Musings with a Touch of Mystery. In it, she wrote: “Always enjoy witnessing your awareness of all nature. Reminds me very much of my mother. “

I got a chuckle from that. It’s true, Grandma was a nature lover. She sent me books about animals and birds. My favorite (and it still sits on my shelf) was a big picture book of birds that included a small record of their songs.  I also received from her plastic models of birds (one was a red-headed woodpecker) which I assembled (no warships for me). I can still smell the paint I used to color them. Whenever grandma came to visit, we’d go to places like the zoo, the aquarium, the hummingbird exhibit, or, if it was spring, to the desert to see the flowers in bloom.

Yet, as much influence as my grandmother had on my love for nature, my mother’s impact was even more profound. Here are some of my memories.

I remember (at about 8 years of age) standing on the front lawn of our suburban home staring up at the night sky. We were stargazing. With a little book in her hands, mom pointed out Orion’s Belt, the Big and Little Dippers and other constellations. In those days you could still see the night sky in most parts of San Diego. Not so true now. That book was Seeing Stars by W.B.White, published in 1935 and I have it right in front of me now. The binding is held together with scotch tape. The title page bears the inscription:

“To [my mom’s name] from Aunt Leah Dec 10, 1940.”

It also has my own name scrawled in pencil by my 8-year-old hand. To this day, I am an avid stargazer and opponent of light pollution.

Thanks mom!

Two other books that have traveled with me all these years are: Golden Nature Guides to Birds and Golden Nature Guides to Insects.  Everywhere we went, mom would point out the birds. She knew their names and if we could not identify them, we would go to the bookshelf and pull out one of the guides, either the Peterson Field Guide to Birds or one of several amazing books of Audubon drawings. I used to trace them with pencil and tracing paper and then color the birds appropriately, much as I painted my little models.

Thanks mom!

Yellow Warbler copyright (c) Kathy J Loh

Yellow Warbler (K J Loh)

Our family did a lot of camping together. We’d pack up the yellow Mercury wagon with tent, cots, sleeping bags, a big cooler, boxes of food and camping equipment and our suitcases. Most of the time, we stayed at CA state or national parks. A visit to the nature center at each park was a must and it wasn’t so that we could buy trinkets. It was to get educated about the local flora and fauna. Then we’d hit the nature trails with the little brochure in hand and stop at every numbered sign. Mom would read the brochure notes out loud to us. Dad would get impatient. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested, but he liked to keep moving. He was an active guy. Even if there was a large sign we could all read, mom would read it out loud. It’s no wonder I became an audio learner (or perhaps it’s lucky that I was born that way) because I got so much of my nature education listening to mom’s voice.

Thanks mom!

Mom was the leader of my Girl Scout troop for a while. Though some of the badges were for rather domestic things (like how to make a bed – can you imagine?) her support of me in scouts also led me to camp where I encountered lots of new and interesting wildlife, like the raccoon that was staring nose to nose with me when I awoke one morning. In scouts we also went into a canyon in Torrey Pines, located wild animal tracks indented in dried mud and made plaster casts of them. I learned to call squirrels with a clicking between tongue and cheek. We watched jays eat our picnic lunch, encountered giant ant hills under our sleeping bags and hiked to the tops of mountains. I was a little chubby as a kid and those hikes were not my favorite time, but I got to see lots of different kinds of plants and animals that live at higher elevations.

Thanks mom!

I grew a deep appreciation for the magical springtime appearance of wildflowers that were only on display a short while. We caught fireflies and put them in jars or paper bags in my bedroom at night. I learned to always be on the lookout for wildlife, for a splash of color hidden in the grasses, for some movement or shadow that gave away the presence of a bird or butterfly overhead. I learned that every creature and every plant had a name and if I wanted to know what it was I could “look it up.” Those words will ring forever in my ears.

Thanks mom!

There was a time when I rebelled against knowing the names of things. My rational was that a tree is no less beautiful if I know it to be a tree or an oak. In my wisdom now, I know that it is powerful to speak names. It is powerful to speak our names and it is powerful to speak the name of a tree, a flower, a bird. There may be spirit names for them that we don’t know (unless we listen and the tree reveals it), but we all can feel that an oak and a redwood are not the same. Their energies, wisdom and medicine are uniquely their own, not only from genus to genus, family to family, but from tree to tree.  So to call it by its name, even the one humans have supplied, is to honor the tree. And if I have to take the time and go to the effort to identify that tree, insect, flower, constellation using my guides or on the internet, then I will, eagerly.

Thanks mom!

Wild Iris - copyright (c) Kathy J Loh

Wild Iris

I used to gather flowers and leaves and press them between sheets of wax paper with an iron. I still gather feathers, shells, rocks, leaves, and wildflowers that I press between pages in my guidebooks. I take photographs of every flower, butterfly, insect, bird, tree, moss, mushroom, rock that calls to me when I am hiking and I even record the calls of birds by day and hooting of owls at night. On my hikes, I say “hello beautiful” to the amazing creatures I come across and I let melodies drift from the wind, into my consciousness and out my vocal chords as I go. I observe the changing of seasons and the cycles of growth, of moons, the way everything changes. I marvel at the many shapes of clouds and catch as many sunsets as I can. For me, the world is alive and magical. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is traveling with delight and being truly enchanted by the Great Mystery

Thanks mom!

Thank you, mom, for teaching me to love and honor the world around me and to find delight and wonder in the beauty of nature.  There’s something about that love that I have for nature that cycles back and I always feel loved by the nature in return. This is how I know, in my being, that I truly belong.

Thanks for teaching me to slow down long enough to observe; that there is a time to be getting one’s exercise and a time to be present to our surroundings.

Thanks for teaching me to “look it up.” I know you probably never thought you’d hear me thank you for that, considering all the times I complained about it, but I am a master researcher as a result.

And mom, while I may remind you of your mother, my grandmother,  I am truly my mother’s daughter. It has taken me many years to be OK with that. Most of us don’t want to hear those words “You’re just like your mother.” Now I am not just OK with it, I am thrilled and extremely grateful. I could not have been any more fortunate and I know, truly know, why my soul picked you. And I didn’t even get to mention the ballet and music lessons, money management, writing skills,  gardening, pruning roses or my ability to cook from scratch. Yes, Dad was influential too and there are many memories I have that come from that side of the parental team. I’ll write about him next month.

So here it is, from my heart to yours , mom.

Happy Mothers Day!

And yes, I did interrupt writing this post several times to take photos of creatures that sailed by my window while I was writing; one Turkey Vulture,a Variable Checkerspot and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies, a Red-tailed Hawk  and a Carpenter Bee.

Note to readers: thank you for indulging me this personal thank you letter to my mother. It is my hope that you will be inspired to write your own love letter to your mother as well as to know the treasure you are to your daughters and sons.

copyright(c) May 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Today, my love for mystery is bumping up against my archetypal victim.

Phooey on evolution and new ways of thinking and being.

Phooey on dreams and visions that require me to be more vulnerable.

Phooey on cleaning up, empowered relationships, and mastery.

And double phooey on social media upkeep.

The only thing that soothes me is the comfort of nature. That, and food; gooey sticky tummy-filling comfort food. Oh,  music too.  If I think about it, I’m speaking “womb;”  surrounded by good energy, well held and well fed while listening to the rhythm of the heart and singing of  blood as it’s pumped through the veins.

I’m floating in the void; at one and the same time comfortable and extremely frustrated.

When I am in this in-between space and in the grip of “victim,” I find myself waiting to be rescued. I’m hoping that the next email, the next phone call, the next mail delivery will bring me a pleasant surprise. I’m hoping that this next trip into town will yield a chance encounter that turns golden. Sometimes, it does. I will get an email inquiry from a potential client, checks in the mail or make a new connection. But most days it’s just bills and junk mail and a bag of groceries in the back of the car.

Where is my knight in shining armor?

Where is Publisher’s Clearinghouse with my million-dollar check?

Waiting to be rescued is a sign that I don’t want to take responsibility for my life, my visions, my happiness. Responsibility feels punishing; like really hard work with high odds of failure. Well, at least that’s how my victim sees it.

I’m rattled by the mess that the fallen oak tree left. No one is stacking firewood. No one is cleaning up the limbs that are dangling from the trees that were slammed by oak on its way down. No one cares about the huge pile of dead boughs. To top it off, the wind carried a big bright blue plastic bag into the center of the whole scene as if to garishly announce  “trash heap.”

These thoughts followed me out to the hiking trail.

The view from my window is not what it once was. It’s not what it will be. It is what it is. I don’t want to take responsibility for it and I want it to be a certain way.

My life is not what it once was. It’s not what I imagine it will be. It is what it is. I don’t want to take responsibility for it, but I sure as heck want to control it.

Video still

Snake (Kathy Loh)

And that’s the moment in my rant that a snake and I came face to boot on the hiking trail. It was a striped racer, not a threat, and a great reminder of the process of transformation and rebirth.  When snake sheds its skin, its eyes cloud over. My eyes are clouded. I can’t see. I’m shedding my old skin. It doesn’t feel good.

In my old life, I did things the hard way. I suffered to earn reward, love, and worthiness. Responsibility was a burden. Discipline was like living in eternal boot camp. I was hard on myself. OK, I think I was actually darn cruel to myself at times.

Who I am becoming is self-nurturing, inspired by Love to walk the path of Beauty, a dancer in the Great Mystery, truly enchanted by life. To this evolving me, responsibility is the “ability to respond” and discipline is “being a disciple to.”

I want to remember  (re-member) what makes me happy and be a disciple to my passions. I want to be able to respond to the winds of change. I want to know and speak the language of the heart.

This experience of floating in the void, this bumping up against like the incoming and outgoing tides, that feels like I’m going nowhere, this shedding of skin and waiting for the new to dry; waiting…waiting….waiting…is full of tension.

This tension is pure creative energy.

I know I am in a deeply creative process and I’m itching for resolution.

I suspect that powerful re-solutions arise in their own time and are not especially responsive to control.

So, I set down control and I surrender to creative chaos.

I allow myself to be enchanted by the mystery of it all.

I am grateful to snake for the reminder that I am re-minding from brain to heart and that it is a process that knows its own timing.

So…

Phooey on control.

Phooey on making things hard.

Phooey on waiting to be rescued.

Uhm, except …

I’d still gladly accept that prize from Publishers Clearing House.

Copyright (c) November 2009, Kathy J Loh, all rights reserved

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