December has brought so much happiness and joy, but one of the biggest surprises was a snowstorm nobody quite expected. Our part of the state reported a record 11 inches. Not bad for Alabama. And while roaming the property simply in awe of all the beauty, hardly another thought popped into my mind for those two quiet hours. It was a ‘winter whites’ meditative kind of walk…one we’ll always remember.
We were lucky enough to catch Chris Thile’s Show last weekend at The Town Hall in NYC. And this little gal came on with her guitar midway through the show and simply blew us away. As in tears flowed it was so beautiful. We are now BIG fans of the lovely and talented Sarah Jarosz. From The Blue Heron Project, commissioned by the FreshGrass Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts, here’s her Painted Blue.
The green canopy of the back woods is calling our names…for long walks, trail rides, meditation, dog jaunts, chanterelle seeking and more. It’s a real thing, these trees that beckon, and when we get deep among them they fill our minds and bodies with peace. So when we lost 40 (yes, 40), 40-year-old giant Leyland Cypress trees due to the effects of last year’s drought, it nearly broke our hearts. But Mike D’Avanzo, who never backs down from a worthy challenge, immediately got busy chopping down dead trees, hauling out stumps and branches and burning them, and talking to friends, arborists and horticulture experts about replanting options and hardier species. Then we started all over again, ordering 40 baby trees and planting them all over the place. We know it will take years — decades even — for them to reach the heights of their stately predecessors, but we believe it’s our duty to do this for the next generation…much like they were gifted to us when we moved here.
In Japan, shinrin-yoku, also known as “forest therapy,” has been gaining more and more credence here in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal ran an article just last week on “tree therapy” as a way to fight what ails us. Mother Earth News prescribes “forest bathing,” or time spent in green spaces, as a way to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase our immune defense systems. Outside Magazine says this slow-nature movement is a necessity and that, since the age of the Internet, North Americans have become more aggressive, more narcissistic, more distracted, more depressed, and less cognitively nimble. Yikes. We didn’t realize there were so many labels and scientific findings on the subject. All we know is that we simply like walking in the woods. And we plan to spend a lot of time doing just that, “in treatment,” this summer. 🙂
It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
Just some special words to take to heart for the beginning of another year…
Ring Out, Wild Bells
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
– Alfred Lord Tennyson
Here’s to a beautiful 2017!