Wilderness — A Meditation

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nature Heals

The Atlantic
Adam Alter Mar 29 2013, 7:33 AM ET

How Nature Resets Our Minds and Bodies

Paoli, Pennsylvania, is a small town with a local suburban hospital. Patients at Paoli Memorial recover in a row of rooms facing a small courtyard. In the early 1980s, a researcher visited the hospital and gathered information about patients who had undergone gallbladder surgery between 1972 and 1981. 

Gallbladder surgery is routine and generally uncomplicated, but most patients in the 1970s recovered for a week or two before they returned home. Some took longer to recover than others, and the researcher wondered whether subtle differences between the hospital rooms might explain this discrepancy. Some of the rooms on one side of the hospital faced onto a brick wall, whereas others slightly farther down the corridor faced onto a small stand of deciduous trees. Apart from their differing views, the rooms were identical.

People who are exposed to natural scenes aren't just happier or more comfortable; the very building blocks of their physiological well-being also respond positively.

When the researcher looked at their recovery charts, he was struck by how much better the patients fared when their rooms looked out onto the trees rather than the brick wall. On average, those who faced the brick wall needed an extra day to recover before returning home. They were also far more depressed and experienced more pain. On average, their nurses recorded four negative notes per patient -- comments like "needs much encouragement" and "upset and crying" -- whereas those with a view of the trees warranted negative notes only once during their stay. Meanwhile, very few of the patients who looked out onto the trees required more than a single dose of strong painkillers during the middle part of their stay, whereas those facing the wall required two or even three doses. Apart from their view, the patients were very similar, and they had received identical treatment at the hospital. Each patient with a view of the trees was matched with a patient whose room looked out onto the brick wall, so that their age, gender, weight, status as smokers or nonsmokers, and attending doctors and nurses were controlled as tightly as possible. Since those factors were controlled, the only explanation was that patients who looked out at a stand of trees recovered more quickly because they were lucky enough to occupy rooms with a natural view. . .

If you wish to read the rest of the article, click on Adam Alter's name above.
It may well be worth your time. :)


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Love You; Love Your Genius

         While boiling water for tea, it occurred to me that you are Dorothy's wizard from Oz.  Do you know the story? Frank Baum gave the Wizard some very special characteristics, kind of like those I have "given" you.

 Given is the word 'cause every time I share with you how amazing I find your talents, you downplay them and suggest that "anybody" might be the same. You expostulate for instance that any mechanic could do all the work you do.
Well, the Wizard of Oz had folks convinced that he was one mighty genius, but in truth it appeared that he was just an ordinary man in a halloween costume. Finally, however, it becomes clear that the Wizard really is a genius. He has a talent no one in his world can match—he has the ability to read people and help by pointing them in the direction they need to go in order to manifest their own best "self".

Your own most amazing ability lies not in your ability to wield tools or solve lighting problems or build houses.  Your real genius is that you model a calm, even keeled problem solving demeanor, that you live your life according to the lessons you have learned which means that you value what is most important and then with the most amazing integrity do not let others intervene and turn you into someone you are not.  You look for the best in others and quietly assume that they will all manifest that "best" with the same quiet confidence with which you face each new day with your friend the ButcherBird...your alter ego.
You value that which cannot be replaced and that which is most tender and sweet in life.  Laughter and wit, joy and comraderie balanced with the making of a living.  Your time is spent doing what you enjoy and even those tasks which are onerous are turned into problem solving moments which enhance everyone else's sense of well being. It is a joy
to be in your space because you unfailingly turn a routine situation into a joyous occasion. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Big Apple

 In the Big Apple Ethiopian food was good, but I was a tad too nervous to really enjoy it.  I have discovered that first of all, I am not a very relaxed traveler.  Arriving at Penn Station was fraught with a variety of frightening fantasies about whether our luggage actually made it from Chicago and I worried about where in that huge space we were to find our bags.  

 I was also concerned about how we were going to connect with Saddie, although we had text messaged her several times before we actually arrived in the station.  Being winter already - at least in terms of the length of the days and being particularly tardy in our arrival,  I was worried about the dark.   

Silly. NYC is never really dark.  Especially at the holidays and as close to Times Square as we were, there would be plenty of light.  Still, my fantasy world often takes over my rational mind and all hell breaks loose.  This was one of those times.  It is a gift to have Sy around at these times, as a solid ground for my flights of fancy.

We did detrain.  Our luggage did arrive, just as heavy as it had been when we checked it in Chicago on the advice of the ticket agent who issued our boarding passes.  Saddie found us and showed us where the taxi ranks were.  We arrived safely to our abode for the next five nights, a comfy first floor Chelsea cave.  She had scoped out the room situation before we arrived and urged us to get a first floor room since the stairs were vry steep.  Wooden ducks decorated the almost ceiling decor.  Wood was everywhere.  Warm, dry, and a firm mattress with plenty of pillows with accents of  yellow hominess crated a refuge from busy New york Cit.

We slept well that night in our double bed, almost not even pushing each other around what seemed initially as a small space.  Taking a shower in the room mitigated some of the dryness endemic in radiator heating below the window.  We ended up opening the window a tad to let the cool outside air keep us from suffocating in the middle of the night.

I think it is there that I left my camera, but I am unsure of where that might have happened.  This was the trip of loss, New Zealand rain jacket (returned) $250 Canadian and debit card (not returned), my camera, and finally upon our arrival in Brisbane, $150 New Zealand propolis tablets and toothpaste.  Very strange that I should be so very forgetful once out of my comfort zone.  Still, that was a small price to pay for the adventure of it all and the companionship of the tall Aussie dude who held my hand in the face of repeated loss.

Back to NYC.  We found a breakfast spot the next morning.  Good coffee, interesting locals, tasty clean oatmeal, yougurt, scrambled eggs, yummy bread, and a tangled but comfy atmosphere.  A little corner French bistro to which we returned three or four times in our stay in Chelsea.  Not a far walk from our room, maybe a block and a half on 8th Ave and 24th Street.. in that neighborhood.  On our way back to the room before taking off in several directions, we walked through the breezy streets with hats on and my grey long scarf tucked round my neck.  Graham wore his grey fleece, the heavier one, most of our time in the city.  It was never quite warm enough to wear our cool weather gear.  Cold weather stuff was the rule of the day.  Perfect weather for walking at Thanksgiving time.  Made all that hot food perfect.

 We took the subway from the apt. that first night and bought our weekly tickets then.  What a godsend to have only to swipe cards instead of forging through pockets to try and find change for each subway ticket.

The second day we had brekky at another place, on 21Ave, not as friendly, not as warm, male dominated. The food was plebian rather than French.  No cozy French smells.  Latte was not available.  It was nourishing, but not for the soul, not friendly in the same manner. 

Amazing what ambiance does for appetite.  We went back to the  French bistro for lunch.  Later that afternoon Saddie walked us through Central Park after we took the subway to her house at the far end of Central Park.

We walked the rainy north end of Central Park, lovely. Although flowers were not in bloom, people were.  A marriage or engagement ceremony was being photographed near the lake.

We ended up over on Broadway where we enjoyed a lunch at Popovers.  Delicious with a hearty soup on a cold Sunday afternoon.  

Monday, The next morning we went back to our French Bistro.  It was cold.  We took the subway to MoMA.  I was disappointed.  Starry Night is under glass.  The helicopter, a piece of art in the atrium hallway caught Sy's attention.  I sat quietly while he went back to take pictures.  I just couldn't resonate to anything that was there.  The museum which I remembered as having character  has been renovated, seems cold, white, square, and uninviting.  Nothing in particular caught my interest.  Both MoMA and the Met had German art exhibits as special shows.   

The Met's oils were preferable to the scrapbook art of MoMA.  Nothing spoke to me.  Cold. Starry Night should not be hanging in suchplace.  It deserves better ambiance.  Even the Dali's lost their intimacy and their enigmatic cleverness in the setting of MoMA.  I preferred seeing them at the Prado. This is not a place to which I would choose to return.

For lunch we walked over to Rockafeller Center.  The skating rink was busy, but the Christmas tree was still in it's rigging, a huge wooden structure holding it straight.  Ugly, unlike many Christmas gifts that are more beautiful in their wrappings than they are after being disclosed.

Sy needed a hat and bought a brown NYC baseball cap. He hates baseball.  We had lunch in the basement where the server spilled an entire cup of latte on Graham, much to his discomfort.  Our soup and sandwiches were not memorable.  Afterwords we had a Ben and Jerry ice cream before we headed back out to the cold.  As we walked Graham decided I looked much like a bag lady with my down over which I wore my green fleece, my grey long scarf, my blue mittens, and my hiking boots.  My knee hurt, but I was warm.  We wandered past the Murdock monolith.  Ugly black building atoning for it's owners smaller than usual psyche.  Nothing inviting or beautiful or unique in its form.  It just stuck out, a male ego - I guess we ought to be glad he works with money and not with munitions.  He must be much like our president trying constantly to assert his power out of fear that someone may not notice. Ugh!

New York City was full on, worth every moment, loved by both of us.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flannery O'Connor

I don’t have a lot of time.  I can give a poem a couple of lines, a short story a paragraph, and a novel a few pages, then if I can stop reading without a sense of loss, I do, and I go on to something else.
–  Flannery O’Connor

One wonders when in her life O'Connor made this statement.  It certainly echoes my own experience these days.  And, I'm wondering if being 72 is the reason for my impatience with average literature.  I am constantly looking for plots, dialogue, settings that resonate in some deeper fashion. I want my literature not only to entertain, but also to offer seminal teachings.

I am a curious soul; I have a desire for new adventures, new environments, new characters.  But, I am fussy about the manner in which they are introduced.  Since I probably only have another ten years of brain power with which to satisfy my curiosity, I am a tad demanding. Is it an aspect of being old or of having read it all (indeed, I have not)?  Or am I just eager to sample the very best in the small amount of time that remains in my reading life?

Monday, March 25, 2013

North to America

Arrived home on Friday morning at 9:15 full hour before I left Brisbane on Friday morning.  Love the international dateline. Hated losing a day going west, but love gaining it back upon my return.   

The plane ride was uneventful. A couple of young vivacious drinking Aussie lads behind me, a lovely young university student mom and her five year old daughter besides me, and some pretty darn good service en route.  

Movies were Relatively Calm, a British movie based on a Noel Coward film - clever witty, and entertaining, Keeping the Faith which I have already seen, but which was easy to watch again, and Nurse Betty which was just beyond my attention - so foolish, and a Discovery channel piece on care stealing in the U.S. 

The young woman beside me asked if I noticed that all the criminals were black or Hispanic? We talked of the wisdom of showing a piece of lawlessness in the U.S. to arriving visitors.

I don't think I actually slept. I tried, but the night is short coming back and I don't ever seem to be able to sleep in daylight. Well, not until I got home.Slept for twelve hours yesterday. Woke refreshed and feel pretty good today.  My body is still on Australian time., your time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why I Write

          To awaken love and compassion, of course.
One teacher suggested that we don't write enough about the turmoil of our lives, that we need to pick and choose painful moments and write them out in all their vigor.  I know this is a good idea because like so many I avoid recalling the depths of those moments and readers love to be engaged in the midnights of our lives.

However, this evening I want to suggest a way to reach a sense of loving kindness in our lives — the way to reach into our power.

When we believe that we don’t have enough love in us, there is a method for discovering and invoking it.  Go back in your mind and recreate, almost visualize, a love that someone gave you that really moved you, perhaps in your childhood, perhaps yesterday or at some amazing moment in your adult life. 

 Traditionally, you are taught to think of your mother and her lifelong devotion to you, but if you find that problematic, you could think of  anyone who has been deeply kind to you in your life.  Remember a particular instance when a specific individual really showed you love, and you felt their love vividly.

Now let that feeling arise again in your heart, and infuse you with gratitude. As you do so, your love will go out naturally to the person who evoked it.  You will remember then that even through you may not always feel that you have been loved enough, you were loved genuinely once.  Knowing that now will make you  feel again that you are, as that person made  you feel then, worthy of love and really lovable.

And now write the spiritual passage that has somehow eluded you for so long.  
Amazing, huh!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sunrise Over the Equator - an excerpt

Good morning, America, how are ya?  Don’t ya know me, I’m your native........

When I am in a good mood, even the smallest deed brings me pleasure.  The beauty of the relationships I have with friends in Nordakcotah, California and and in Australia creates a planetary sense of community, an opportunity to be in relationship where ever I travel.  And that is an excellent manner in which to perambulate the globe.  

I realize that dastardly deeds are being done in all kinds of places around the world,  and yet at the same moment on the front porch of a little Sears bungalow or on the back veranda of the old Queensland Colonial gentle breezes move the leaves on the trees, the walnut sprouts forth a darker green, the macadamia produces autumnal fruit and all together the leafy branches  ward off the sun.
Graham is sleeping peacefully in Brissy where I will join him in six weeks.  His support provides a sense of equiniminity. Julie provides a beautiful space in which to wake in the morning. Sarah offers the enthusiasm of her young life and at the same time takes good care of her own needs.  Matt wanders the globe in search of human canvas on which to plant his artform, and Tina cuddles with her newborn.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Night Blooming Jasmine - A Love Poem

            Night blooming jasmine
                        wafts through portals
                                    open to night air
                                                Celtic Enya hums aboriginal tunes
            Quietly the Aussie strolls into my thoughts
                        His sure step
                               and wide palms healing all they touch
            Silence with a smile  excites
                              A low soft moan escapes
                                                as he enters the emptiness of my mind
            Meditation impossible

            Like this morning’s red tail hawk,
                        He wends his way with power into my solitude
                                    Lusty thoughts replace empty rhetoric
            His presence fills my empty nest

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

National Geographic March 2013

Behind the children, the lady in pink is me.  Gathering to support efforts to maintain a pristine prairie

Monday, March 18, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

1 January 2004

A Love Poem

         After we talked last night on the phone, I sat and wrote the following in my journal.  

Tears..There they are: all the cliches about tears emptying blue eyes - dredging from the depths of my vocal chords my ability to murmer apologies for once again being the "drama queen"
Swearing in one breath - murmuring intimate nuzzlings the next - such confusion --
Why did unknown forces bring us together if the razor wire of distance and circumstance  separates us?
 I want his huge thumbs on my back now!
 I want his sweet subtle teasing now.             
 I want his sleepy crossness filling my empty spaces.
 I want to feel complete beneath his powerful self -
 I want to sing my song of satisfaction:
                  short, shrill moans of ecstacy.. 

There are depths below the heights that I can only visit in his company, the fullness of life manifests only in his presence.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Son

                                Look at him, my son
                                I see myself in so many ways
                                Did I realize that's my expression
                                No! Well quickly, look again
                                Catch that toughness he is showing
                                Recognize the stance, the jutting jaw
                                Understand that my reflection
                                Will be within him for evermore
g rutherford

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Strahan Tasmania - a lovely village in the summertime

Strahan Tasmania - Australia

The Esplanade at Strahan in the far west of Tasmania, the little island state of Australia which sits just south of the Bass Strait has skies that might make a vacationer tremble.  The light from what must be a sunset or late afternoon break in the clouds is evocative of what the harbour offers to shipping and fishing vessels in the southern ocean.

Strahan is located about mid west coast.  Farther south is the great SouthWest of Oz, the land of antarctic storms, high winds, higher seas, and cold blasts from the South Pole.  There lie dragons, mate!

But on the early autumn afternoon when we arrived, all was peaceful; the bay a mirror of the last vestiges of civilization in the land that lumber companies have denuded and fishing boats have overfished.  One might not think so to look at this lovely photo, but behind the scenes there is much to NOT admire.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our stay before we moved onto the Copper mines at Queenstown. 

There is much volunteer work going on in this land to attempt to save what has not yet been plundered.  And those volunteers deserve the financial and political support of us all. Here is a website for your consideration:

The beauty of tree ferns, multiple versions of euclyptus and clear rapids makes my heart sing.  Clear cutting would destroy this entire forest and all the creatures within.

Our short time spent in Tasmania this past week has enhanced my appreciation for all that is wild! May you someday make the journey yourself.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Quiet Time


I have just completed Sarah MacDonald's chapter on ten days of silent meditation in her 2002 travel memoir, Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure.  You may wonder why I am reading the travel memoirs of a youthful Australian journo.  You see, I am in the midst of  researching 21st century women's travel memoirs and since I am in Australia, I thought it a brilliant idea to read a few Australian commentaries.  Holy Cow is my first. 

You might notice that earlier in these blogs I mentioned Jamaica Kincaid's  Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalayas. 

The two books have very little in common.  Except for the moments of reflective meditation  and near death experiences that move both authors.

Both books linger in my own imagination.  As I trotted out to the front garden on this cloudy, relatively cool morning to try and rescue a few of the plantings that survived my year's absence, I found myself pulling that which I classify as weeds..the native green stuff that I didn't plant. 

Somewhere in between trips to the burlap basket in the side garden where we store all our green waste, I realized how relaxed, how apt to hum my favorite tune, I was.

I am sure my tendency to hum was a direct result of MacDonald's reference to all the 'oldies' that filled her mind during her ten days of silence at the meditation center in northern India.

I am also sure that I would find it impossible to spend ten days in silence.  But, I experience some of the same effect from spending a few morning hours tidying up my garden.  The Butcher Bird kept me company.  A couple of Noisy Minors were having a convo on the powerlines down the street.  Several lizards scooted from beneath shrubs and a few ants climbed my shin in search of whatever aphids they could find living there.

My mood, as it always is in the garden, was celebratory, quietly so.  My sense of well being, of compassion, of being in the midst of a generative scene overtook me once again.  Gardens are good for some of us - not walking in them, but tending them.  Having garden soil underneath fingernails is good for the psyche.   A bit of perspiration mingled with the tiny earth clods makes one feel as though a good deed has been done.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Love Poem

Prince of my love;
Strength surrounding vulnerability; 
Beautiful mind clothed in powerful musculature; 
Grey eyes, the seers of detail;
Kind entity arriving with small perfect gifts;
He who sees what I refuse to admit;
Who reads my body with a passionate gift of pleasure;
Who feeds me breakfast and a reason to rise each morn;
You are he who manifests the Butcher Bird, the Possum, the fat assed wombat and the Golden Orb Spider
To clothe my imagination in the wilderness of Australia