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Showing posts from December, 2010

WildLives: A Letter to Susan Tweit

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Dear Susan ... It is New Year's Eve, a cold, wintry day and I am listening to your CD WildLives while some holiday shortbread is baking.  What a lovely surprise to receive the compilation--thank you for this unexpected gift.
A few hours ago, when I decided to do some baking, I searched among the few recipes I brought with me when I left the ranch in the Black Hills six years ago, but the shortbread recipe was not among them.  The recipe had been my college roommate's, passed onto her by her Scottish grandmother.  A much treasured thing, it was handed over to me with a certain amount of ceremony and was probably the first holiday cookie on which my children cut their toddler teeth. 
But today I had to phone a dear friend in the Black Hills to retrieve a copy of the recipe, an especially poignant reminder that sometimes we must leave behind the things we cherish most.   
As I listen to the WildLives CD, I hear your confident, soft voice speak about the pungent fragrances of juniper…

The Giving Nature of Trees, NPR's Morning Edition, and Sexing Your Pinecones

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This silence in the timbers. A woodpecker on one of the trees taps out its story.
Robert Haight* Each tree, too, has its own story, its own family, its own tribe. And even though we do not know if they give their lives willingly, we could not live or breathe without them.We fell them for their timber, for fuel for our fireplaces, and to grace our homes during the Christmas season.  We thin themto allow other nearby trees to mature and to help prevent insect infestation. 

In the small mountain community where I live,hundreds of
Douglas fir and Ponderosa pines are being selectively felled for fire mitigation.  We are using the straightest of the “poles” to build a new barn for our community herd of horses, a bittersweet project because the trees must die.  
But by this time next year, the barn will be built and the horses will be able to seek shelter on the leeward side, protected from the wind and rain and snow.I walk the dirt road where the cutting is taking placeand touch the stumps that r…

Honor Your Creativity with a Creative Altar

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We create ceremony and ritual around all other parts of our lives—baptism, bar mitzvah, feast days, confirmation, graduation, death, we even create ceremony around sports (think of Monday Night Football or the all-American baseball game), yet our culture does not have very many examples of rituals which honor the creative part of our nature.  Let me clarify, not rituals (like last night's Kennedy Center Honors) that recognize the artists of our culture, but rituals that honor the process of creating art--the act itself--rituals that set the stage for us, that prepare us as we begin our work.  
Rituals and ceremonies around our writing and art and song create safe atmospheres for our creative spirits, much like churches, or mountain tops, or secluded paths in the woods, create sanctuaries for our faith.  The spirit knows when we enter a temple or a kiva or a sweat lodge or a mosque that these are safe places for the prayerful spirit.
Our creative spirits need an atmosphere that tell…