Shinrin-Yoku This

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.

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Ring out, Ring in

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!

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Farewell and thank you

Aldo Galli & Richard Adams

On Christmas Eve, a magical night in which animals have been known to speak, beloved author Richard Adams slipped peacefully away from us and on to his next life…presumably one filled with rabbits. Through the incredible kindness of his friend and Watership Down illustrator Aldo Galli, we met Mr. Adams last year and had a wonderful afternoon of tea and conversation with Richard and his wife, Elizabeth, at their family home in Whitchurch. It was one of the most memorable days of my life, a day that also included a memorable hike up to Watership Down and time spent with our dear friend Aldo. (You can see more photos of these past trips here and here.) Over 40 years and 50 million readers later, Watership Down has become one of the most cherished adventure stories of all time–and has been made into a new BBC animated film to air on Netflix this coming year. In 1975, in The New York Review of Books, critic Alison Lurie shares her thoughts on why the novel remains timeless: The book “became an international best seller not just because it was well written and original. It was attractive also because it celebrated qualities many serious novelists are currently afraid or embarrassed to write about… What a relief to read of characters who have honor and courage and dignity, who will risk their lives for others, whose love for their families and friends and community is enduring and effective…”

Godspeed, Richard Adams. Thank you for sharing with the “whole world” your tale of faith, courage and triumph. We can just picture you now–standing atop your beloved Down, gazing out over the English countryside…forever standing watch for your old friends.

“Dandelion, get down!” [Hazel] said. “”Why are you sitting up there?”

“Because I can see,” replied Dandelion, with a kind of excited joy. “Come and look! You can see the whole world.”

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Wide enough…for thee and me

A beautiful and comforting essay for this tumultuous week in America. By Kristin Kimball, who makes her life and living at Essex Farm in Essex, New York.

“This world surely is wide enough to hold both thee and me.”  – Tristram Shandy

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Photo by Kristin Kimball, Essex Farm

 

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For the love of aprons

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“I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love…”

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Source: #LoveWhatMatters, inspired by Tina Trivett’s original poem, Grandma’s Apron. (And thanks to C.W. for sharing the original post!)

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