New eyes on a new path…

IMG_4678Tyringham, MA. I went exploring, seeking a new trail, and racing ahead of the snow that was forecast and to my delight was rewarded with new inspiration. My current theory is that hiking the same paths frequently puts me into autopilot-mode, rather like repeating the same workout routine, weights, treadmill, stretches, my muscles can plateau. My eye muscles need changing it up too in order to keep my ocular tissues alert for revelations.

IMG_4605In starting out I thought I was in for another cold, barren, leaf-strewn path (the result of those overstrained eyes) but as I climbed in elevation, I passed interesting crumbling stone walls and in rounding a corner my ears picked up a familiar sound. I wondered if it was road noise but that seemed very unlikely as I was a long way up from the road, then I thought it must be the wind in the trees, but the air was still. I kept ascending and craning my neck toward the sound and sure enough far below me was a rushing brook. It was too far down the hill to reach so I kept to the path ahead and the racing water got louder, taking me back to memories of my childhood at a favorite cabin (see blog post “The cabin that built me…”).

IMG_4640One delight of a new trail is stumbling upon the unexpected, like being attracted to someone for the first time, you feel the excitement, the rush. Today I met a new beautiful rushing friend, and my heart was pounding. Around here they call this a waterfall, though this California girl knows what REAL waterfalls look like. But I’m not complaining it was a beautiful cascade and a sublime treat to find lush life in the middle of frozen winter. I called her Belle, so sappy, but later looked her up and found her proper name, Camp Brook.

IMG_4627After hiking all along the creek, hopping from rock to rock, I said my good by with a parting recital of “I was born upon thy banks, river…” and went up further only to walk into the second surprise, a pond!! A sparkling gem, frozen over and the source of the lovely downstream brook, with a cute little bench someone had installed along the banks. A bit of snow began to fall and the wind broomed flakes across the ice with beautiful swan-like moves, and every now again they would up and do a little twirl like an ice skater.  I wished that I had brought pen and paper to sit and journal or draw, but alas this day I was without them not expecting such beguiling scenes.

IMG_4632The sun was lowering and it was time for me to continue on and find the path around the mountain back to my car. I realized the conundrum that not only is there delight in looking with new eyes but in contradiction, I’d love to sit here every day like the Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and watch changes take place from moment to moment. I can’t wait to come back here and stretch my looking muscles along with my observation skills to see the details that familiarity breeds.

IMG_4664

brown, barren, baron?

I went for a quick hike in New Marlborough, MA last week. I was looking for Dry Hill Trail, one that I failed to find last year because of a snowstorm. This year the snow has held off and the trails are covered in only a blanket of dry leaves, but it was still a challenge to find. In the process of failed turns and roads that lead to infinity I looked to my left and saw this view…

Stone Manor, New Marlborough, MA on the way to the trail

Stone Manor, New Marlborough, MA on the way to the trail

It never ceases to amaze me that the Berkshires are filled with beautiful castles and mansions in out-of-the-way, hidden places. It sets my imagination afire to wonder who built them, who lives in them and when I will be invited to some baron’s private estate. I looked up this beauty’s name, Stone Manor,  to find that it is now a private addiction recovery center. No invitations coming from there for me, sigh.

I finally found Dry Hill trail and had the whole thing to myself all afternoon. Much of the trail is rocky and a bit treacherous with the leaves covering them. I couldn’t tell when I was stepping on earth or slippery stone and consequently rolled my ankle 3 times before I decided I better take it slow. IMG_4360

I love the stark beauty and stillness of the Berkshire winters. I found a small abandoned nest hanging right near the trail and marveled at the diligent work that went into it’s creation and WHY build it right next to the path!?

The trail lead up to a lookout and even though the weather was overcast I enjoyed sitting a few minutes breathing in the barren view…reminding me this holiday season of the Virgin Mary’s barren womb. Though seemingly lifeless it became a fertile ground for growth.

Speaking of Christmas, it has been another year of diving into traditional delights with both feet. Gift giving, carols, sing-a-longs, stockings, baking, cooking, visiting family and friends were the usual highlights. My daughters and I read aloud a silly play called The Butterfingers Angel complete with a talking tree, sheep, cow and Scandinavian Louts that spoke in incomprehensible grunts. A delightful way to spend Christmas Eve.IMG_4396

Wherever you call home I hope your holidays were not barren and if they were there is the promise of another season to come soon. These brown Berkshire trees will be bursting with color again before we know it, and light and life will return with abundance. Get out for a walk in the woods and see for yourself.

“The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Happy Bounteous New Year!

The House that Cap Built

The street where I live

The street where I live

After a hectic summer, I have moved all of my belongings from Seattle, Washington to a small town in Massachusetts. I grew up in the country but I have never lived IN a small town. Here in Lenox I can walk to the dry cleaners, the market, the library, the post office, restaurants, bars, get a great latte and giggle with a friend in a fabulous bookstore. Small town life suits me. Continue reading

A little renaissance renewal…

IMG_2542

Making friends with the Muskogee police that are dealing with the security on the film shoot.

I’m off on location for film shoot. I’m hanging out with a film crew and young people who have never acted before and who have lived through tougher times than I will ever know. There are moments that I think I won’t make it through the 7 weeks. But here I am one week in and still alive and finding positives in weary days. Continue reading

Anticipation…

googleimage

googleimage

I’m heading off again for another 8 weeks on the road. This time it’s a bit different in that I have been hired to accompany a group of young adults that are acting in a feature film. We will be traveling to 5 central US states. When the 18-23 year olds are not acting, I will be taking them on excursions and showing them some of this great country I love. I am also there to help them process their emotional responses to the film work they will be doing. Pretty exciting stuff! Continue reading

Perfect Blonde Storm

Snowed-in, Massachusetts

Snowed-in, Massachusetts

OK, so I was just writing and realized for the first time that K9 actually comes from the word CANINE. Sometimes I’m so dense! I am a very intelligent woman but there’s a mix in me that would match a country song like the Perfect Storm. As another Berkshire blizzard rages outside my windows I have the  Brad Paisley song on repeat.

If she was a drink she’d be a single-barrelled bourbon on ice

Smooth with a kick, a chill and a burn, all at the same time

She’s Sunday drive meets high-speed chase

She ain’t just a song she’s the whole mix tape

She’s so complicated that’s the way God made her

Sunshine mixed with a little hurricane

And she destroys me in that t-shirt and I love her so much it hurts

I never meant to fall like this she don’t just rain she pours

That girl right there’s the perfect storm

I know how to make her laugh or blush, or mad at me

But that’s OK there ain’t no one more beautiful angry

And she loves just as deep as she goes when she’s down

The highs match the lows can’t have one without the other

And I love her just the way God made her

     Sunshine mixed with a little hurricane

She’s the girl of a lifetime a guy like me spends his whole life

Looking for, that girl right there’s the perfect storm

I think I could add a verse or two… She’s smart with a dumb-blonde side. It’s taken me awhile to accept that this is a good thing, that this specimen of femininity is not predictable and perfect… but straight and narrow with a side of curves. I’ve always wanted to be all things to all people but it makes for a really unhealthy way to walk through life. So I’m working on enjoying the “Sunshine mixed with a little hurricane” part of my personality, the angel and demon, the “Sunday drive meets high-speed chase” that makes life interesting. And I’m having success! I like being complicated and unpredictable, able to surprise and follow impulses…the girl that willingly has the instincts of a fool. 

Well anyway, Brad Paisley has me figured out and I’m grateful to know on this snowy day that maybe there are some people out there that can enjoy the puzzling way God made me. At least I hope it’s more than a nice song or maybe it’s time to write my own…

She’s smart with a dumb-blonde side.

Straight and narrow, with a side of curves

The girl that willingly has the instincts of a fool.  (Love, Lori)

Fowl play in foul weather…

I took a few very chilly walks this week…brrr…but always worth it. The first was on a rail trail where I strolled from Massachusetts into Connecticut and got obsessed with taking photos of these beautiful barns.

Ducks have been on my mind as I read Eckhart Tolle’s description about how they are able to squabble and squawk at each other, then turn, flap their wings a few times and swim elegantly away without ruffled feathers. He recommends that we do this too. Let the emotions roll over you and then flap your wings, throw them off and get back to the business of living in the now. He does not advise reliving, revamping, or re-saying what it is you should, could, or would have said or done, but just let it go. On my walks there was a plethora of ducks to illustrate his point.

I took a sojourn to Stanley Park in Westfield, MA. It must be a lovely park when it’s not zero degrees. They have a special bronze duck, named Ozzie, on a little island in the middle of a pond. A few years back the real Ozzie was killed by a teenage boy stomping him to death. The town kids brought in their pennies to fund a campaign for a memorial for the murdered Ozzie.

As I came up the hill there arose a cacophony of squawks and duck calls (they sounded eerily like the ones my mother would practice for duck hunting) that stopped me in my tracks. The pond was FILLED with beautiful, iridescent male and female ducks and a white swan.

Let me explain my hesitation…I have been snapped at by nasty geese and chased by trumpet swans. A few years ago, unbeknownst to me, I walked near a couple of nesting swans and let me tell you, they are huge, beautiful and terrifying when they are mad. Wings out and slapping the water, with necks that stretch straight at you, they pursued me as I ran away as fast as I could. I will always remember that narrow escape with nervous laughter. So as soon as I heard the din and cackle of fowl noises my fight or flight response kicked in and I thought twice about going forward.

Thankfully there was only one swan and she/he didn’t seem to be nesting and the whole pond was welcoming me with open, clacking beaks fully expecting a handout. As I forged ahead, they calmed down and decided to leave me be since I did not come bearing gifts like the Magi. I was just another shepherd coming to gaze at the scene without even the poorest offering. I saw Ozzie’s burial island with many ducks perched around him keeping him company. I had a Lord-of-the-Flies moment of horror at the idea of a gang of boys taunting and killing an innocent duck. I am glad that they have honored the outpouring of rage against a senseless act of unkindness.

Stanley Park, MA

Stanley Park, MA

The collected pennies for Ozzie brings to mind the play I am in at the moment where I perform the role of a mother of a coma patient. Every time my character arrives at the critical care facility to visit her daughter, I place a head’s up penny on the floor by the bed to bring good luck into the room. Pennies have been a simple reminder of good fortune for a long time. I hear that we may do away with them altogether as they are not worth enough in our currency to bother printing them. But for the many reminders of simple, priceless good will, I hope they stick around.

Two songs came to the forefront this week. I wish I had the DJ skill to mash them together…I think it might come out quite magical.

The duck was dancing by the water, quack, quack, quack                                                                                The rhythm made him think he oughta quack, quack                                                                                        He was dancing to the samba, the samba, the samba                                                                                       Oh, goose, oh.

This little penny is to wish on                                                                                                                              And make your wishes come true                                                                                                                         This little penny is to dream on                                                                                                                       Dream of all you can do

The goose was gaining passing by, honk, honk, honk                                                                                        He stopped and gave the dance a try, honk, honk                                                                                              He was dancing to the samba                                                                                                                                The new thing.

This little penny is a dancing penny                                                                                                                      See how it glitters and it glows                                                                                                                            Bright as a whistle, light as a thistle                                                                                                                 Quick, quick as a wink up on it’s twinkling toes

Then a lovely swan swam by, in all her majesty, and she loosened up.                                                 Hoochy-coochy-coo did that swan.                                                                                                                       She joined the duck and goose and did the samba too.                                                                                    You should have seen the kind of samba she could do.

This little penny is to laugh on                                                                                                                               To see that tears never fall

They did the samba so long, they all fell right in the water.                                                                           While they were singing away,                                                                                                                           quack quack quack, quack quack quack

This little penny is the last little penny                                                                                                            Most important of all, for this penny is to love on                                                                                           And where love is, heaven is there                                                                                                                          So with just five pennies, if they’re these five pennies                                                                                     You’ll be a millionaire

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq27GXKM-yg (Danny Kaye- “5 Little Pennies”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-AS7dpGuH8 (Karrin Allyson- “O Pato”)

Going stag into the woods…

View from the Summit House, Mt Holyoke, MA

View from the Summit House, Mt Holyoke, MA

I start tomorrow for the great hot river I’ve been wanting so long to see and alone as usual...”

I’m reading “John Muir’s Last Journey” right now and though I’ve only reached page 29 it has inspired me. Mr. Muir took his final 8-month journey to South America, Africa, Egypt and back through the Mediterranean at the age of 73 years and he did it alone. I’ve been ruminating on this aloneness in my own travels. I thrive on solo adventures, hiking, and seeing new places I’ve never been. Continue reading

Love handles…

I’m in a hilarious mood today, my writing is as witty as a 70’s sitcom, well, maybe not, were they witty? I am veering from my norm and  having a blast thinking about online dating. I have never done it, or explored it, I should say? But at the enticement of my sister, who is threatening to dip her toes in the online pool, I’m thinking “who doesn’t like company for a dip in the pond?” I’m having more fun just thinking about it, and in all honesty, JOKING about it, than I probably will actually meeting anyone.

First up is picking my online handle. Continue reading

Questing on the backroads…

IMG_1986New Marlborough, New Marlborough, New Marlborough just try saying that three times in a row. I was practicing yesterday as I was exploring this new-to-me area of the Berkshire Hills, and finding it one tricky tongue-twister. New Marlborough is a conglomeration of 5 tiny villages, Mill River, Southfield, Hartsville, New Marlborough, and Clayton. There’s not much here, but the appeal is strikingly cozy.

And as usually happens, a perfect Rodney Atkins song came on the radio for me to sing along to… Continue reading