Friday, November 26, 2010

Chilly in Erie

Doug (my spouse) and I visited his mom for Thanksgiving this week. She lives in Erie, PA. I really like where she lives. Her house is only a block away from a really beautiful lake that is lined with little trees. In the summer, there’s a rental store where one can rent a canoe and putter around on the lake. Even in winter, there are ducks that swim around on the surface.

Of course, in winter, the place looks pretty desolate. My mother-in-law’s house is close enough to the Great Lakes that she gets the dreaded “lake effects snow” for weeks on end. Oddly enough, this snow doesn’t really pile up. It’s a thin flurry that falls from the sky all day and all night. It’s quite pretty to look at.


My guess is that the ring of trees are a recent phenomenon, since they all look pretty small. I’m sure that it’ll be pretty impressive in another decade or so.


It’s sort of hard to do a real power-walk in weather like this. It’s 30 degrees outside, windy, and overcast. I wore my heaviest sweater and my heaviest coat (the full length insulated leather trench coat that looks like something out of the movie “Shaft”) and I was freezing cold within a minute after leaving the house. Egads! I don’t know how the ducks could take it, but I know that I couldn’t!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunlit Late Autumn Walk

It’s amazing what two weeks will do when the seasons change. The last time I visited my favorite hiking trail, most of the trees still had remnants of amber and red foliage. Today, it looked downright wintery. It was 51 degrees, sunny and faintly breezy. It was a perfect late November day.


While the hiking trail is usually packed full of joggers and bicyclists in the summer, I had the trail almost all to myself today. I saw another human being maybe once every fifteen minutes or so, and they were all on bikes and quickly whizzed by. The rest of the time, I had some very peaceful and much-needed solitude.


The water in the little streams are crystal clear and ice cold at this time of year. There are no buzzing mosquitoes or gnats. While I appreciate their vital role in the ecosystem, it’s nice to have a break every once in a while. I know that when spring returns, the insects will return too – and that is as it should be. Today, the trail was nearly silent except for my own footsteps, the breeze blowing through leafless trees, and the occasional call of a lone bird somewhere. I think we all need silence sometimes. I am glad that my cell phone doesn’t work on the trail.


I don’t actually know what these berries are (shame on me for being a Wiccan and knowing absolutely nothing about herbalism). But they are quite festive looking. They made for a nice contrast against the browns of Autumn. I am hoping that the Third Degree priest who wants to continue me Wiccan education will eventually teach me about plants and herbs. I’d like that.


The shadows at this time of year are pretty long even at mid-day (this was taken around 1:40 PM). There’s a slightly orange tint to the sun as we approach the Winter Solstice. It’s pretty .


Water drips over this boulder year round. There are five such rock structures in the first four miles of the NCR trail. I really like how the combination of sun, stone, and water makes for a miniature ecosystem in its own right. Life seems to find a way.


The tree and vines here just struck me as being delightfully sculptural.

It’s good to be able to find life and beauty in every season. This is the time where most of the life-energy returns to the earth. This is the time of shadow. But even in the looming darkness and the impending winter, life continues. Blessed be.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Being forgotten

It is a terrible thing to be forgotten. I have few friends. I am strange enough and different enough that I'm not very likable. I wish that was not true. But I don't really socialize well. I want to be able to, but I always fail. I fail badly. I am a very defective person. Other people don't like to be around defective people. And so I am forgotten.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Autumn Stones

One of the many wonderful things about the Wiccan/Pagan path is the ability to sense the inherent energy of the ecology. It is interesting to feel the shift in the flow of life energy as I walked ten miles on the NCR trail today. It was very quiet today. Unlike the height of summer, I heard only a few birds and the sounds of insects were sparse and slow. Most of the trees have shed their leaves. A handful have foliage of deep red that is rapidly turning brown. The path was full of dry leaves that rustled in the brisk wind. Though the trees looked dead, I knew that was not so. I could feel the quiet, subdued energy of the trees and knew that they were slumbering but not deceased.

The sun does not rise as high in the sky at this time of year. We are well past Mabon (autumnal equinox) and Samhain has come and gone. We are nearly to winter now. The path was cast in shadow for most of my ten-mile hike. It seemed highly appropriate that it should be so. We are in the darkest quarter of the year (Samhain through Imbolc). But without the darkness, how can we appreciate the light?

Since the foliage has thinned, I was able to take some pictures of a few very pretty rock formations. I like the big stones. Most of them seem to be platforms for other kinds of life -- moss, lichens, and even small trees. Rocks are often underrated.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Peace with the Dead

I had the opportunity to attend two Samhain services this year. The first, at Turning Circle, was a ritual that I co-officiated. The second was by invitation from a friend in the Craft. There is a different kind of energy at this time of year. It's not quite winter. The days are getting very short, very quickly. I can feel the thinness of the Veil.

I made peace with the dead years ago. There are no spirits that wish me harm. I am grateful.

I think of my stepfather. He was much of what my biological father was not. He could not take the place of what my dad should have been, but he at least treated me with kindness and was often friendly. He had a generosity of spirit. He gave me a beat up 1981 Chevette when I had no car and was in danger of losing my job (this was in 1997). He was better family than my blood kin.

He was not a healthy person. He died of heart disease at age 48. He worked until the day he died. He lived his life with courage and a sense of duty. It was a privilege to know him.

Over the years, I have made peace with the dead. It always comes down to a final dream about the deceased in which the deceased says goodbye. It is always the last contact. I know it has to be that way. The spirits must continue their journeys just as I must continue mine. Perhaps it will be that my stepfather and I might meet again. But I am in no hurry to cross the Veil. I do not fear death, but I am grateful for life.

To Charles, Frasier, Jewell, Harold, Gus, Elaine, and Elanor: Thank you for the light you gave when you were with us. We remember you. May the Goddess guide your paths in the Summerland. Blessed be.