Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year...

My New Year's wish for you will be:

Gentle sunsets filled with peace and love.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finding peace..

It is mid-December and folks are dashing about to find the perfect gift, the perfect decorations for their home, or the perfect gift for the ones they love. It is hard to find the peace of Christmas in all the rush. I, too, scurry here and there with my important errands. And then there's the baking!

Tonight, after resting in my chair from the day's work, I put down my book and turn toward the tree. The top half holds meaningful ornaments and lights, but the bottom half is mostly bare. The reason? I have a Maine Coon kitten in the house. He's almost nine-months old now, but still a little stinker who stands on his hind legs and removes the ornaments from the tree. Then he bats them around the hardwood floor until he tires and returns to the scene of the crime.

This is peace for me as I look on in wonder at the soft furry soul.

Friday, December 2, 2011

And then come the gifts...

A few weeks ago a ferocious October snowstorm blew through my property like a wild thing. In its wake, trees were toppled and heavy branches fell to the ground. Hundreds of them! It was devastating to observe the damage, but after the melt I could clearly see the gifts that were left behind.

Now I have wood for several winters to come, and the animals have enormous brush piles to hide under. In spring I'll begin splitting and stacking, making new rows in my field where the wood can dry. The forest is thinner now and the warmth from the sun's rays will allow for new growth on the forest floor. It's a win win situation for me, and the animals that feel safe here.

Every difficult situation can become a growth challenge. And then come the gifts...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Almost Thanksgiving...

This morning I'm watching the turkeys run through my woods. No doubt they are heading for my bird feeders and deer feeding stations, hoping to find dropped seed or leftover corn from the night before. As they scurry past my cabin windows I am struck with passion for the animals who share this land with me.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Here, on my acreage, all animals are honored, for their life is as precious to me as my own. Each one can live here feeling safe, and knowing that this land is protected for them. Here they can roam about, find food and shelter from the huge brush piles made just for them. Here they are not hunted.

As a vegetarian I will enjoy my Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. My mashed potatoes, gravy, faux wheat meat, herb stuffing, roasted butternut squash, creamed boiled onions, cranberry relish, New England Brown Bread, and pumpkin pies will satisfy my hunger. And I will be thankful for the lifestyle choices I've made.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Looking out my cabin window this morning I'm noticing the bare trees and how fast the seasons pass. As we enter one we get excited about what it might bring, but in three quick months it disappears. Then it's on to the next, and again we change our perspective.

Last year, during the autumn months, I took my annual trip to Maine. Southwest Harbor was bustling with life and, on occasion, you could catch a glimpse of the locals readying themselves for the coming winter. Rows of wood piles separated homes from one another, and it was easy to note which houses had wood stoves. Most did, by the way.

My days included walks on the rocky beaches nearby. I climbed in and around the kelp covered stones until I was too cold to keep going. Once, on the way back to my car, I spotted one lone feather sitting proudly for me to view. It was white and rested lightly atop the kelp, and it was gorgeous against its dark backdrop.

I looked for the feather's owner, but it could have come from any one of the eleven seagulls close to shore. Until, that is, one looked back and held my eyes for a moment too long...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The nature of outdoor life...

Autumn days are special to me. While life marches on for most of the human population, it also goes forward for the animal life on my acreage. We prepare for the coming months in the northeast by making sure we have the proper heavy clothing, wood for stoves and fireplaces, and shovels. (Where do they go every year?)

Animals, however, walk through these fall days making sure that their tummies are full, and they pay attention to food sources for the coming storms of winter. Squirrels are hiding nuts and seed from my feeders, chipmunks, too, are scavenging the woods for food, scurrying back to their homes with bulging cheeks.

From my cabin window I watch the deer and fox. They fascinate me. Deer coats are changing color, turning a darker brown. They blend in with the fallen dead leaves and deadwood on the ground. But, the fur of the fox stays a gorgeous red and their tails are fluffy, large and tipped with white. During the winter they are extremely visible as they run through the snow. I wonder why Mother Nature chooses to darken the coats of some and not all, leaving the fox vulnerable. A question to ponder?

I'll supplement rations for the deer this winter as I always do. Not too much, but enough that they know it will be there for them during the stormy season. When food is hard to find, and snow layers the forest floor, corn and sweet feed will cover the feeding stations at the edge of my woods.

One winter evening I saw a raccoon, a lone fox, eight does and two bucks, and a opossum, all feeding from the flat rocks near my cabin. At the same time! The birds, squirrels, and chipmunks had all found their night homes. And the wild turkey had flown up to roost in the tree tops.

What a sight. It gave me a Spiritual sense of knowing that we're being taken care of on this planet.

All of us together. All of the time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Unexpected storms!

It was almost the end of October and I sat in my cabin looking out at my trees bending in the wind. A normal sight, I thought, but then it started to snow. And snow! Wet, sticky and furious, it snowed all night and the trees suffered greatly. With the leaves still on most of the branches, the weight of the snow snapped off the tops of many. Limbs broke and fell to the ground while other smaller trees just gave up the fight and uprooted themselves.

We ended the following day with ten inches of wet heavy snow, and three acres of debris. With chainsaw in hand, I'll work hard on the cleanup.

As always, there are gifts from every disaster. One of the many will be the HUGE brush piles for the animals and birds to hide under this coming winter. With every snow or ice storm, animals look to find shelter in my woods. These large piles are perfect places to rest, getting out of the harsh winds and lashing snow. They may be made by my hands, but the animals don't care. It is cover and they'll hide within and out of the reach of Mother Nature's fury.

Animals and birds bring a special energy to my land, and all of them share a part in my story. They are the purist light of themselves at all times. There is a lesson in that for me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Feeling vulnerable...

If you live in the woods you are used to feeling more vulnerable during the autumn months. The leaves begin to drop, and the underbrush thins. Even my cabin sits there on its stone foundation, becoming more exposed with each falling leaf.

As I sit inside and look out the wall of windows on the back wall, I can see deeper into the woods than I can in full summer. Neither one season nor the other is better, just different. But, I've found that with each one my mood changes.

My cabin has a propane stove to keep me warm at this time of year. So far I haven't lit the pilot light, but soon I'll be turning it on. I hate to depend on propane for comfort! The cost has gone through the roof and I'd rather use wood, but for this one out-building it makes sense. And is it ever cozy!

So, feeling vulnerable as fall arrives is part of the price of living in the woods. Unless, of course, you have a lot of acres. I have only three, but I feel blessed with each one. Only those who walk my property can see me in my cabin, and I have shades to pull if I'd prefer. But the windows on the back wall give me a view that I'd never give up. After all, I'm sure the animals on my land feel more exposed as well, and that's why their fur changes color with the seasons.

How perfect is that?

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's almost time.....

Now that autumn has arrived, it's almost time to begin the supplement feeding of corn to my deer. I say 'my' deer because that's the way I feel about them. In spring, fawns were born and their moms left them to sleep in the dappled sunlight of my woods. During the summer they frolicked between my rows of stacked winter wood, and around my writing cabin windows. As late summer turned to fall, these same deer lost the velvet on their antlers. Now, they are nibbling all the green they can find on the surrounding undergrowth. My field nearby has been rained on during the entire month of September, so the grass there is still rich with nutrients.

Every year at this time my deer walk to the flat stones perched on the small foundations I've made, and look toward my home or cabin. They know that soon, corn will arrive. It always makes me laugh when this one buck stares at me through the windows, and throws glances my way as he puts his nose to my bird feeder. Does he have a sense of humor? I think he does!

One of my favorite places to go is my local feed store. I buy corn there in fifty pound bags and bring it home to fill the containers in my small barn. From there I dole it out according to the need. I love that they know the drill!

It is not yet time. But soon......

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The day after...

For two days I drove through early morning mist to attend a horse clinic in New Jersey, given by Buck Brannaman. The drive to the barn was spectacular and worth the early morning wake-ups. Fields glistened with dew, and streams ran strong from recent rain as I wound around the back-country roads.

For those who are not familiar with Buck, he is the original Horse Whisperer. If you get a chance, see the documentary/film, Buck. I've seen it twice and strongly recommend it. You don't have to own a horse, or even be associated with one to appreciate the film. Buck's words go beyond the lessons of horses, and straight to the heart of life.

From my cabin window I look out at the animals in my woods, and realize how much I am committed to their well-being. There are days when I go from euphoria to despair, especially during hunting season. I do what I can to give these souls a place of safety. Buck does this same thing in the clinics. His horses are gentle and quiet, asking nothing in return but respect and he gives it to them. He teaches riders to prepare for the unthinkable, and I believe we can follow that same rule in our own lives.

Be gentle, but firm. Accept nothing less from animals than what you would expect for yourself. I loved the clinic and learned much more than how to handle a horse.

Safety and shelter are different sides of the same coin. In our hearts we all ask for this. Next time you see a Buck Brannaman clinic in your area, give it a go!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Equinox..

As I look out on a gorgeous morning it comes to mind that the Equinox will occur later in the week. Hmmm, a time when day and night are approximately equal in length. "What does this mean for me?" I ask myself?

All life, including mine, is equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are each given what we need to carry during our years here on this planet. Perhaps I can make equal time for all that is important to me. A balance, so to speak, of life's gifts.

Every life has a story, and in every story there is a lesson. It is up to me to listen carefully, for my thoughts create my reality. During this time of Equinox I hope to work hard with whatever gifts I own, and then let them go. It is not up to me to direct, it is up to me to do everything I can within my own space here where I live.

And then I'll ask my God, what would you have me do for the greater good? For what is real, and what is lasting, is who you are.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Still and uncomplicated!

It is the beginning of September, and the country fairs are in full swing. People show the bounty from their summer gardens or quilts they've made over the past winter. I love this month and know it as a gentle one. Nothing is expected, no leaves to rake or large meal to prepare, and no holiday with gifts to wrap. Those joyous seasons come later.

September is a time when I feel still and uncomplicated. The days are warm and the nights and mornings are cool. The air is not as humid and the vegetation will become dormant soon. It is a time to allow myself the pleasure of tranquillity.

A recent hurricane blew through, rare but not uncommon for this month, and some of the old trees fell. I hate when old wood falls, but it is a reminder that we all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Trees give of themselves in both life and death, and I feel the worth of that fact as I split their logs to use in my wood stove over the winter.

Within the stillness I feel my spirituality renew itself, and again I am grateful for this month of softness.

Friday, August 26, 2011


What a scene playing out before me!

Sitting here in my cabin this morning I'm watching a doe with her triplet fawns. Mom is trying hard to nudge them away from having their breakfast on her! It's the time of year to begin the process of learning to eat from nature, and the mommies are attentive to their work. Because of their size, all three fawns are feeding from the soft green leaves of the underbrush. Grabbing a leaf in their small mouth, they pull hard until it rips from its branch. Once in a while they hold on to it for a moment before chewing, and it is comical to watch them walk away with the leaf sticking straight out. It looks like a green cigar!

Now, a second doe with her twins are walking by and they are doing the same thing. Teaching the young. Tails are wagging lazily keeping the bugs off their bodies, and their ears are twitching to keep anything from flying in. To watch the innocence and caring of the mothers is nothing short of heartwarming. I love how they all stick together, as if all in one family.

Squirrels chase each other around my oaks, and birds fly through the woods beside them. The deer hear the noise, but all of this seems normal. The white spots on the fawns are fading, but so far they are all keeping their tan coats. I see the little ones are tiring and are nestling themselves into the ferns. They will stay in the dappled morning sunlight for a while, then get up again to follow their moms.

Oh my, now they're back on their feet waiting for the large buck who is approaching fast through the forest. He's herding them to the water baths I set out and waits patiently while they drink their fill. Paying close attention to what surrounds him, he slowly leads his family into the deeper woods.

Five fawns, two mommies, and a buck. A graceful serenity that presents itself to me this morning. I feel blessed to witness this natural wonder most every day from my cabin window.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Turkey Talk!

I am walking toward my writing cabin as fast as I can, holding my computer in one hand and a bundle of papers in the other. A darkening sky and blowing wind accompanies me this morning, and I can hear thunder in the distance. Yanking the door open, I slip inside, closing it tightly behind me. I'm safe, dry and snug in here, I think.

Through the wall of windows I can see lightening break across the sky, jagged and powerful. Tree branches are whipping wildly against each other as the storm arrives in full force.

Ten wild turkeys are running through the ferns, heading for my pile of brush. I put it there for the ground animals to hide under during thunderstorms and blizzards. The turkeys climb on top of the mound tucking their feathers tightly to their bodies, and lower themselves on the rough dead wood. I don't think they like to get their feet wet. They preen a little, and then drop their heads.

Loud thunder...gobble gobble gobble. Louder thunder...gobble gobble gobble. With each roll of thunder comes the turkey talk. I'm guessing they don't like being interrupted from their ground scratching and pecking, but what do I know of turkey talk?

For a decade I've witnessed many storms in these woods, and the turkeys always squawk after each clap of thunder. A private joke perhaps? Laughter? I'm not sure, but it never ceases to amaze me.

Turkey talk! Who knew?

Friday, August 12, 2011

My writing friends.

I have the most amazing writer's group. We critique each other's work, write stories for our newest anthology, and laugh at our own mistakes. We've been together five years and all of us are dedicated to becoming better writers.

For example, after I've spent weeks or months writing and editing a new short story, I go back to my group with ten copies of it tucked into my briefcase. Unwillingly, I pass the stapled copies around and ask if someone would read it. Out loud! I listen. I watch the faces with curiosity while they mark up their copy of my valued work.

After the reading is finished, I reluctantly ask for comments. What they say, you don't really want to hear. You do not want to be told that the first sentence is off the mark, or that there's not enough dialog, or the protagonist is not described well. Even worse is noting that someone is writing furiously in the margins of their copy before they pass it back.

When I return home, I leave the ten copies in my bag, and don't look at them for two weeks. I don't want to read their 'additional' comments. Three weeks later, after bringing them to my writing cabin, I turn them upside down on the floor by my table. The pages talk to me as they sit at my feet with their corners flipping up in the breeze from the open wall of windows in front of me, and I feel their urging to be looked at.

Finally, enthusiastically, I grab one. Then another. Now I'm on the floor with all the copies forming a circle around me. The comments are helpful, but I wince when I see the obvious mistakes I've made.

I've a long way to go as a writer, as you can tell because this blog has not been edited by my friends, but I get better with each piece I submit to my group. I'm proud to be a member. And when it's my turn to write a comment on another writer's story, I'm honored. Really!

Friday, August 5, 2011

My cabin!

A new friend came over to visit this week, and in the process of walking around my woods I introduced her to my writing cabin. Her oooooh's and ahhhhh's, surprised me and we sat within the cabins soft walls for an hour or two. We spoke quietly with each other and watched the deer, birds, and wild turkeys play by my windows.

My cabin sits proudly on its stone foundation, one that I built with my own hands. And as I sit inside I am humbled once again by the distinct loving feeling it gives to all that enter.

Later, on the way out to her car, we walked by my tool shed and I told her how my housemate and I lived in it for six months while we built our home. Our two Maine Coon kitties came along with us for the adventure, and we lived in it until the cold and snow drove us away. This comment drew raised eyebrows and a frown, followed by disbelief. Then she laughed and said, "only you!"

Friends and family come to my home often, but few realize the agonizing efforts of construction. We built a house 'from scratch'...two women, one crazy-cool opera-singing contractor, and hammers tucked into our tool belts. The experience was exhausting, exhilarating, and exciting. I'll cherish those months and carry them in my heart forever.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pecking order?

Early this morning a raccoon knocked my bird feeder to the ground, and helped himself.

A red-tailed hawk grabbed a squirrel from the largest of my oaks, and flew away.

The resident red fox unearthed a mouse, and ate it in front of my window.

A catbird flew by with a butterfly in its mouth.

An ant carried a dead stink bug over the stone step to my cabin.

Is this called a 'pecking order'?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

White spots make me smile!

I'm in my cabin trying to pound out a short story for the Bethlehem Writer's Group anthology, coming in 2012. I keep hearing noises under my open windows but I've been attributing them to the rustling of dry leaves being pushed around by the gentle breezes of the morning.

But, now I hear a sneeze. Okay, that's not a trick of the wind! Standing slowly and quietly I move to my wall of windows and sneak a peak. Oh my, a fawn! On the ground and nestled in dappled sunlight, he looks up at me with sleep filled eyes. No fear yet, and it seems I present no imminent danger. Perfectly aligned spots cover his back, and are the color of snow.

I fade back and out of sight so he can rest again. And, so can I.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We do best what our heart tells us.

Gazing out my cabin window this early morning, I feel compassion within. It gathers strength as I watch two fawns frolic in the dappled sunlight, then run through the ferns at the edge of my woods.

As I watch I melt with grace at the beauty of these two babies, and I make a commitment to non-violence in thought, word and action. Compassion is the reason I'm a vegetarian, and I have a difficult time understanding the 'need' to kill anything this beautiful. Or any other life form, for that matter.

This Earth will live on after I leave. The question I ask myself is; have I done my part to sustain or offset other's carelessness or non-caring? If the answer is no, then I must try harder with the life I have left. All living things need our mercy, sympathy, and kindness. I can challenge myself to do better.

Life is a gift. And love? It connects all of us....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A new beginning

Spring is arriving in my woods. Green tips on underbrush, peepers at the creek, and birds singing their songs of love.

At dawn, on the path to my writing cabin, I look up between the oaks to watch two red-tailed hawks circle one another. Soon they'll make their nest high in one of my trees and I can only hope its close enough to watch with my spotting scope.

Spring brings with it the opportunity to start again. You are the master of your own fate, create the space for that reality and stand strong within it. Bring a piece of the light of yourself to everyone you meet. Take responsibility for the space you hold here, and make a difference within that space.

What is real and what is lasting is who you are.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Often I've wondered how the trees, animals, and birds in my woods survive the harsh winters of Pennsylvania. My cabin gives me the best view to watch and learn. Life lessons can be understood, when we take the time to pay attention to them.

I slowed down my frantic behavior during the holiday season, and realized that my life became easier. I had a simple Christmas, and a simpler New Year's Eve. All by watchng the trees, along with the animal/bird habits on my acreage.

By carefully observing the trees I noticed how they pulled inward conserving their energy, by staying dormant. Or vice versa!

All are focusing their attention on only one thing. Survival.

Some birds eat the seed I put in my feeders, and peck at the tiny dirt from the shingles on my shed's roof. Other birds eat only insects and/or berries, and have their fill here. Barberry bush berries, and insects within my stacked winter's wood, give them the food they need.

My animals are content with the few remaining green shoots hiding under the fallen leaves, along with left over nutrients from brushwood, hemlock, and other green goodies. I also supplement their diets with cracked corn that I leave on my feeding stations each day.

My lesson? Quiet yourself. Slow down, observe nature, and learn. Animals, and birds stay out of the harshness of winter by finding warmth in areas where the wind does not hit them. They eat less because they are not nesting or giving birth. And lastly, they conserve energy for their survival.

We can do the very same thing by enjoying the quietude of this season. It is a time of healing, and starting over.
Happy New Year!