Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I Really Know About Long Walks

I spent my 13th birthday in July of 1960 hiking portions of the Ditmar Trail high up in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania.  It was the longest walk of my young life. A city girl from Pittsburgh, I was 100 miles from home at a two-week Girl Scout camp. I had been to an overnight camp before and I had survived, so I was not completely out of my element. A stranger when I arrived, I quickly made friends with campers and counselors alike. I had never experienced camping outdoors, nor had I gone on an overnight hike, but I was very I was eager to try.

Outfitted with a pack frame, I carried 3 normal-sized packs, as I was strong and tall for my age. Each hiker carried her essentials for the 14 mile first leg of the hike, and the camp truck delivered our sleeping bags, food and cooking gear to our evening campsite, in a farmer’s cow pasture along the banks of a running stream.

The walk was grueling, hot and dusty and straight up and straight down, sometimes over gravel switchback roads, but mostly on paths through the rugged wildness of the Eastern Front of the Alleghenies. Fourteen miles each way with an overnight camp, this was a great challenge for young women.

When we made camp that evening, we built a campfire and cooked our evening meal.  I can’t remember what we ate but the birthday cake we baked over the campfire in a reflector oven, and the birthday song sung to me by fellow campers and counselors, were the sounds and the taste of victory. We slept that night under the stars, and I awoke in the foggy dark dampness to see a cow staring straight into my eyes, her head just above mine. I had no fear.

On that walk I developed courage, determination, self discipline and self-sufficiency, and my lifelong love of the outdoors was born. That walk instilled in me the concepts of teamwork and community, of setting and reaching goals. The strengths I developed that July when I turned 13 have remained with me throughout the years. That walk that took me over 28 miles in two days started me on the pathway of my life.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Midsummer Wisdom

Busy, busy, busy, busy hands.....making pesto, pickles, zucchini breads for the freezer, cooking for friends and family, hanging sheets on the line. Solitary work only occupies my body. It allows my mind to float free. If I am calm and happy, I am in the astral world, a state of simplicity, harmony, order and serenity. When my mind resides in the astral world, I become a different kind of human being.

It has taken me the better part of the two years since retirement to reconnect with my home, my garden and with nature, relaxing into the silence and enveloping calm of my farm, my daily habits and chores.

An easy recipe for happiness:
  • Be grateful.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Count your blessings.
  • Use Your strengths.
  • Commit acts of kindness.
Even the most reliable of life's gifts can be taken away unexpectedly. So seize the moment and live in joy. Search for kindred spirits along the way. Take the time to smell the air, and in doing so, imprint memories related to those smells upon your brain, your heart and soul. Later, when you are old(er), those same smells will trigger the wonderful memories you have attached to them......of a rich and redolent life.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life." (Melodie Beattie)

"Knowledge comes, wisdom lingers." (Daisy Hickman)

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." (Marcel Proust)

The spectacular view of the garden through my kitchen window;
I am grateful and blessed to have such beauty and abundance surround me.

The garden begins to deliver its organic bounty. We are grateful to receive it into our bodies, for nothing tastes as good as organic, home-grown veggies! We are optimistic that we will have a healthy tomato harvest, after the disaster of late blight in 2009.

Scott, Art and Harry are exercising their Second Amendment rights on the 4th of July. We all celebrate and count our blessings!

The Second Amendment guarantees us the right to own and bear arms. This right has recently been closely studied by our US Supreme Court. The Court has ruled by a majority that each citizen may own firearms (within certain State restrictions; only mentally stable adults, not having been convicted of a serious crime). Under the Constitution we have the right to protect our families, homes and property. History has shown that we are a nation prepared to defend global freedom. We owe the deepest debt of gratitude to all those who have defended us and freedom worldwide, and who have paid the ultimate price for our Constitutional rights.
God Bless America! God bless us all on Earth!

Jon and Peggie, as they prepare to move to a new home and practice opportunity. They are using their strengths in new ways and we wish them happiness!

Pure Prairie League in concert in our little town
Somerset PA, Saturday night, July 10, 2010.

I think that acts of kindness work in many ways; not just when we bestow kindness on others, but also when we receive kindness, which, like love, can flow in ALL directions.

I have been happier - consistently happier than I've ever been in my entire life.

My beloved spouse, (...of 41 years!...alias "Mister Wonderful", alias "Mister All-Or-Nothing-At-All", alias "Slim Cookie", alias "Judge Slim Lebowitz"), has even commented on it! He is my 'Mirror of Truth', my 'Best Friend of the Heart', my 'Other Half', my 'Soulmate', my "Everything".... so it has to be be the truth.

I am grateful for so many things....all of them "biggies" in my mind. Some wouldn't think they are worth mentioning, but they are THE most important things to me, and more highly prized than jewels; my family and my friends (especially those who remembered and celebrated me on my birthday:)). I am so grateful for the rain and the sun;

grateful for my amazing friend (canine) Moses who is my constant companion; grateful for my strength of body, always so willing to take the abuse my WILL heaps upon it; SO grateful for my eyesight, my excellent mind; my heart that bursts and overflows with love; my senses (of compassion, altruism, fairness, of loyalty, of direction, of hearing, of balance, taste, intuition, time....and even my hot flashes).

I hope I have not sounded self-important or vain, as I am not any of those; especially in these times of suffering for so many, of economic stress, of terrorism, of discontent, of anger, of violence, of Earth Changes. This is NOT the time for 'self'.

I am simply filled with gratitude to God and filled with love......and I just wanted you ALL to know how very much I love you.........Max