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Bored & Brilliant January 29, 2015

Filed under: inspiration,peace,Random Post,Solutions,The Natural World — Karen Shafer @ 9:14 pm

Thursday, January 29, 2015

 

Bored & Brilliant

 

Those who know me even a little know I’m a fan of unplugging from technology — mild understate.  I’ve gone so far as to ban electronics for a week on family beach vacations…  if I felt I could get by with it.  Slightly autocratic I admit, but the results in calmer grandchildren who let their creativity shine amidst this “boredom” and wonderful conversations between adults — not to mention just gazing out at the scenery as opposed to down at the electronic device — was impressive.  Of course, this does not mean that one can’t be creative with and through technology.  Still…  Needless to say, I was interested to hear this interview on the BBC World Service.

 

Slight conundrum:  participating in this project of unplugging from technology requires an “App”!  (It’s only in the last couple of years that I figured out what that word even means.)  And this project comes through a website called “New Tech City.”  But even a luddite was impressed with and intrigued by this interview.  Also, yes, I am aware that, once again, I am putting this “out there” on a computer through WIFI.

 

http://www.wnyc.org/series/bored-and-brilliant/?utm_source=showpage&utm_medium=treatment&utm_campaign=featured&utm_content=item0

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Nature and Our Humanity November 30, 2012

Filed under: inspiration,The Natural World — Karen Shafer @ 11:30 pm

Friday, November 30, 2012

 

 

“Nature is a part of our humanity, and without some awareness and experience of that divine mystery man ceases to be man.  When the Pleiades and the wind in the grass are no longer a part of the human spirit, a part of very flesh and bone, man becomes, as it were, a kind of cosmic outlaw, having neither the completeness and integrity of the animal nor the birthright of a true humanity…

 

The ancient values of dignity, beauty, and poetry which sustain it are Nature’s inspiration;  they are born of the mystery and beauty of the world.  Do no dishonour to the earth lest you dishonour the spirit of man.  Hold your hands out over the earth as over a flame.  To all who love her, who open to her the doors of their veins, she gives of her strength, sustaining them with her own measureless tremor of dark life.  Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas;  rest your spirit in her solitary places.  For the gifts of life are the earth’s and they are given to all, and they are the songs of birds at daybreak, Orion and the Bear, and dawn seen over ocean from the beach.”

 

                     ~~  Henry Beston, The Outermost House:  A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

 

Elemental Things October 6, 2012

Filed under: The Natural World — Karen Shafer @ 1:32 pm

Saturday, October 6, 2012, Cape Cod

Elemental Things

 

“My house completed, and tried and not found wanting by a first Cape Cod year, I went there to spend a fortnight in September.  The fortnight ending, I lingered on, and as the year lengthened into autumn, the beauty and mystery of this earth and outer sea so possessed and held me that I could not go.  The world today is sick to its thin blood for lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water welling from the earth, for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot.  In my world of beach and dune, these elemental presences lived and had their being, and under their arch there moved an incomparable pageant of nature and the year.  The flux and reflux of ocean, the incomings of waves, the gatherings of birds, the pilgrimages of the peoples of the sea, winter and storm, the splendour of autumn and the holiness of spring — all these were part of the great beach.  The longer I stayed, the more eager was I to know this coast and to share its mysterious and elemental life;  I found myself free to do so, I had no fear of being alone, I had something of a field naturalist’s inclination; presently I made up my mind to remain and try living for a year on Eastham Beach.”

                                                                                  

                            ~~ Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year on the Great Beach of Cape Cod (1928)

 

 

Cookie-Free Zone. Or Maybe I’m a Luddite? July 31, 2012

Filed under: no technosavvywhatsoever,peace,The Natural World — Karen Shafer @ 11:14 pm

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Journal Archives: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

 

Cookie-Free Zone. Or Maybe I’m a Luddite?

 

I’m staying in a New England coastal town.  It’s the off season, which I like — no crowds, little traffic, but there’s the company of friendly locals so that one doesn’t feel isolated.  The weather is beautiful:  sometimes sunny and mild — and sometimes chilly, blustery and raining.

 

Today I’ve returned to the spot where I come every day, and many other people seem to feel about this particular place the way I do.  The few tourists that are here at this time of year, as well as ‘year-rounders’ —  retired residents out for a stroll, workmen at lunch or on their way home at the end of the day, teenagers out of school for  spring break — every few minutes people pull into the car park where I’m sitting overlooking the sand bars stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean beyond us.

 

Some, mostly tourists like myself, take pictures.  A few people descend the stairs to the beach to walk their dogs, search for shells, fly kites, play catch or just amble.  Others sit in their cars or stand on this bank above the beach and gaze at sand interspersed with sea that expresses itself in some inexplicable combination of ease and power.

 

A few point at the beach and ocean, turning to their companions and discussing… what?  Whether that is a gray seal or just a log way out on the sand bar this early in the year?  (Seals!)  Anticipating the unusual appearance of the Great White Sharks that have come in recent years to hunt the seals and wondering if they’ll appear this season — is there a chance that’s a fin way out in the water?

 

Earlier in the week, I spoke with a man who comes here weekly from a nearby town simply to see how the shape of the sand bars has changed.

 

A minute ago, a middle-aged man came up from the beach.   It’s cold today, but he was barefoot!  Well dressed, balding, tidy jeans rolled up.  I said to him, “Like your shoes!”  He laughed and gave me a ‘thumbs-up’.

 

There are dunes to the right of here, then, beyond, more ocean.  Far down the coast are shoals — nicknamed ‘Turner’s Terror’ — which caused the Mayflower to turn back in 1620 while it was attempting to reach the Hudson River to set up a settlement in the New World.  These shoals are the primary reason that New England was started first at Provincetown on Cape Cod, and ultimately at Plymouth [Plimouth] rather than on what is now Long Island, New York.

 

During a hurricane a few years ago, this was one of the places which was charted to be ground zero.  I remember seeing a television reporter standing on this very beach, being almost blown away by the near gale-force winds, trying to anticipate with some accuracy what was to come within the hour.  Fortunately, the hurricane moved off its expected course and spared what lies in front of me now.

 

It is mesmerizing, calming, yet moving to be here.  It is peace.  Along the coast, and particularly in this spot, are the only places I’ve been in a long time where people just come, sit, look and think.  There is no intermediary here between oneself and the natural world —  — no one interpreting, screening, collecting your ‘cookies’ in order to send you Google ads that fit your profile.

 

One almost never sees people here driving around speaking into their cell phones, nor do people in restaurants talk on their mobiles or text.  Instead, they talk to each other animatedly over dinner or while sitting in a pub over a pint.  I don’t know why it’s that way, but I like it.

 

KS

 

 

 

Solitude May 15, 2012

Filed under: healing,inspiration,peace,The Natural World,Vocation — Karen Shafer @ 11:36 pm

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Solitude

A little over a decade ago, I had the serendipitous good luck to find myself staying in a small village in France called Ermenonville after a wedding I attended in a nearby town.  At the time, I had no idea that the [very inexpensive but lovely] chateau hotel where I was lodging was the location where Jean Jacques Rousseau had, in 1778, spent the last months of his life.

 

 

I fell in love with the village, with the castle itself, and with Parc Jean Jacques Rousseau across the street from the chateau, where I went hiking many times.  On my hikes, I carried along a journal and a sketch pad, and stopped to write and to draw various sites in the parc.  I still can’t believe my good luck in spending a week in those lovely surroundings.

 

 

The odd thing is, on one of my hikes in the park, I was grappling with the question of my own at-times-competing needs for solitude and company, and I was able so resolve some of these vexing questions while in that extraordinary natural setting.

 

 

I had read Rousseau in school but remembered little about his writing, so when I came home I purchased a book or two of his, one of which is Reveries of the Solitary Walker.  Here is an interesting quote from the chapter entitled ‘Third Walk’ on the subject of solitude, a subject with which Rousseau grappled as well.

 

 

“It is from this time that I can date my total renunciation of the world and the great love of solitude which has never left me.  The task I had set myself could only be performed in absolute isolation;  it called for long and tranquil meditations which are impossible in the bustle of society life.  So I was obliged to adopt for a time another way of life, which I subsequently found so much to my taste that since then I have only interrupted it for brief periods and against my will, returning to it most gladly and following it without effort as soon as I was able;  and when men later reduced me to a life of solitude, I found that in isolating me to make me miserable, they had done more for my happiness than I had been able to do myself.”

~~ Jean Jacques Rousseau, Reveries of a Solitary Walker, “Third Walk”

 

Parc Jean Jacques Rousseau

http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/ermenonville_parc_jean-jacques_rousseau

 

Lessons Learned in a Rowboat April 19, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lessons Learned in a Rowboat

[Rowing With My Grandchildren]

c Karen Shafer, 4/2012

Photo by Mandy Mulliez
'Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.'

 

 

1)  It’s important to work as a team.

 

2)  Every crew member has something special to give to the effort.

 

3)  If you don’t appreciate the way someone is rowing, try, just for a minute, to row along with them.

 

4)  Never underestimate the power of the Young.

 

5)  Sometimes there’s chop, and sometimes there’s smooth.

 

6)  If you’re drifting off course, correct your direction as soon as possible.

 

7)  At some moments, even on a good day of rowing, things can feel a little dicey.

 

8)  If you have a choice of when to row against the current, do it when you feel fresh.

 

9)  It’s really nice sometimes just to drift.

 

10)  Each time of day has its own kind of rhythm and beauty.

 

11)  The appearance of the boat doesn’t determine how ‘yare’ it is.

 

12)  Never underestimate the power of the Old.

 

13)  Rowing with a lot of effort increases your level of endorphins;  so does just sitting in your boat on the lake and feeling the peace.

 

14)  Just because brush obscures the shoreline doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

 

This Pretty Planet April 18, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This Pretty Planet

[A Song Louis and Anna Learned at School for Earth Day]

Photo by Mandy Mulliez

This pretty planet,

Spinning through space —

Your garden, your harbor,

Your holy place.

Golden sun going down,

Gentle blue giant,

Spin us around

All through the night,

Safe till the morning light.

Photo by Mandy Mulliez
'Touch the earth. Stay grounded.'