Excellent weekend of camping and hiking!

We got to hike out by Salmon Lake on Veteran’s Day!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We got a good dose of nature, fresh air and exercise! 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The three amigos!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert EinsteinOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And even though the mountains are so mesmerizing, don’t forget to look down at your feet!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe little lichens that the reindeer eat through the snow in the winter, called reminder moss or caribou moss. 😛 Per some scientific theories, the lichens may reflect ultraviolet light that the reindeer may be able to see. Or something crazy like that! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Feeling so alive!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love this ethereal Arctic soft-glowing light. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These cranberries were at their peak sweetness, and frozen and kind of tasted like little cranberry popsicles!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There was a whole giant patch of crow berries!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wolf foot prints!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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I love these little weird lichens on the tundra. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They kind of look like something you would see in a Dr. Seuss book! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is Cladonia asahinae, or pixie cup lichen…or Dr. Seuss Lichen. I found out by googling tee-shaped lichen. 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Doing the chicken dance walk to keep warm!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. ~John MuirOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Later we tried to drive out to the hot springs, but got caught in a snow storm and then got stuck on top of the pass. So we hung out in the moonlight by Salmon Lake instead. 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The mountains in the magic moonlight.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Pathway to the moon.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Super moonOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sitting by the campfire on the beach. No place I’d rather be!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Like sparks to the sea. …sounds like an old quote or something. 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A man and his fire. Why can’t that be enough? …Seth Kantner said something like this in his stunningly beautiful book “Ordinary Wolves.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“We don’t need a lot of money, we’ll be sleeping on the beach, keeping oceans within reach. …We’re gonna be alright, you can close your eyes tonight.” -Over the RhineOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How He Too Was Someone

Some days you get to talk to a beautiful soul. A raw but beautiful soul.

A diamond in the rough.

A kid* comes in with an injury for removal of stitches. I know this kid, I saw him before for a different injury, for a broken bone. He talked openly about smoking a lot of pot. And not giving a shit.

He had the same non-chalant, “don’t give a shit” attitude that he had before. But there was a spark in him too. He was open, honest and didn’t hold back. He talked about how drinking had started to mess his life up. How alcohol had contributed to his reinjury. I talked with him a little bit about it, as I took his stitches out.

I was walking out, hand on the door.  “I smoke too much weed and I know it’s messing up my life” he said. I heard in his voice the admission, the realization, the subtle but present desire to change. I turned back around and didn’t really know to say, but felt that a moment of honesty is an open moment for honesty. I said “Yeah, you do.” and I went and sat down. I asked him, “What do you really want to do?” He said “I don’t know.”

“What do you enjoy?”
“Well I was going to school to be a mechanic.” But I don’t know…”

He talked about how his dad beat him his whole life and his mom was never there, and one day, he couldn’t take it any more and he beat the shit out of his dad. Then he ran away from home, he did drugs. He got a DUI. He got arrested. He broke his parole, and he’s scared, but he wants to make things right. He owes a lot of money to people. He doesn’t know how to go back.

We both know he had to deal with more pain and toughness in life than many can imagine, and yet he made it away from that. He moved past the pain. Yes, he’s running, but yes, he’s still alive. Sometimes you have to just get away so you can see your life from a different view point, so you can see it all with fresh new eyes. I wonder if there’s anything really wrong with that. I told him that he has a chance to do something with his life. He shrugged.

“Do you like to read?”
“No I hate reading.”
“The reason I think of reading is because there are stories, not unlike yours. And there’s a lot of inspiration and triumph in the human spirit.” Have you ever read East of Eden?”
“Yeah we read that in high school.”
“You did?! That’s deep, I just read that in my 30s.”
He smiled.
“Yeah. I love that book. There is so much about life and sorrow and pain and overcoming.”
We talked about what he wanted to do. What he really wanted to do. What makes him tick, what makes him get out of bed in the morning.
There is so much more when you look a human in the face. So much more depth, character, will, sadness, tragedy, pain, fear, strength, charisma, beauty, heart-beating, desire to be alive.
I would have never known. And something made me go back and sit down.
He talked about what he could do.
“I drank too much.”
“Yeah, you’re body is fighting a hard fight for you. You are lucky. The amount you drink is a lethal dose for some.”
“If I keep on the track I am going, I know I won’t be around much longer.”
“Yeah–you will be lucky if you make it to 30 or 40.”

He talked about quitting and maybe turning his life around, and becoming what he set out to do. And after a while and encouragement that now is his time to turn his life around, he left, and I went back to seeing other patients. I don’t know what he will go out and do after this, but I sincerely hope that he can find the strength that already exists within himself to seize the moment, and take back his days, to be the better person that he wants to be. To continue his “journey with plans and the simple breath that keeps him alive.”

Excerpt from the poem “Kindness”

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans 
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems 

Home

*This is a story from multiple different people that I’ve seen over the years in various places. Details have been changed to protect all identities.

Hello, Sun In My Face. It’s a New Day, and Mercies Are New Every Morning!

My husband and I got up to meet the Sun this morning. It rises at 10:40 now, so it is not hard to get out and see the sunrise. And, my, what beauty! This morning it almost looked like the pale moon, shimmering through the sea spray, as we first saw the white rim of it rising over the ocean horizon. The waves were wild today. Mad seas. And it made the sun look so beautiful! Here’s some poetry that celebrates the Sun Rise.

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Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
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Hello, you who made the morning
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and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety –
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best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens
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to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,
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to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light –

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good morning, good morning, good morning.
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Watch, now, how I start the day
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in happiness, in kindness.”

― Mary Oliver

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HEARTWORK

Each day is born with a sunrise
and ends in a sunset, the same way we
open our eyes to see the light,
and close them to hear the dark.
You have no control over
how your story begins or ends.
But by now, you should know that
all things have an ending.
Every spark returns to darkness.
Every sound returns to silence.
And every flower returns to sleep
with the earth.
The journey of the sun
and moon is predictable.
But yours,
is your ultimate
ART.

― Suzy Kassem

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Flying Wild Alaska: Nome to Unalakleet

We got to fly to Unalakleet, where the Flying Wild Alaska show was born.

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We went to visit our good friend and artist, Miss Robin Child!

Photobombed!
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The flight was fantastic–we got to soar over the tundra like a bird. Down below we saw the colors and shapes of the landscape, like a giant canvas of abstract art endlessly on display below us.

We saw a bear…or Sasquatch. It was hard to tell…! 🙂 We saw a few bears, actually!
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Our sweet little bird!
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We brought some of our musical instruments to play with our friends.
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Flying into the mystic
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Cliffs and green water
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Colors of the tundra

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White wings over the green-blue water is a magical sight!

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Can you imagine being a bird flying over those cliffs and the water!

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Flocks of birds!

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Wings over water

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Sheer cliffs

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We also got to see so many beluga whales!!!

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Beluga whales!!! They were everywhere!

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Baby beluga!

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Amazing sea arch along the cliffs!

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Be still my heart!

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Looking back

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Beach party!

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Like pieces of fallen sky on the tundra.

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We found some weather, but it wasn’t too bad…

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Sky below us and above us! Beautiful reflections!

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Orange trees, blue rivers.
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Fall beautyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looks like some ancient drawing
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The shapes and colors of the tundra are like abstract art!

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Tundra dressed in fall colors
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Snow on the mountains! Button it down…here comes the Winter!
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Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity. Thich Nhat Hanh

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Driving out of town we found this herd of muskox–by the end of the airport.

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Every time we fly the NOTAMS (Notices To AirMen) say to watch for “migratory bird activity and muskoxen” on the airport.

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Ancient beasts

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Such a happy furry herd.

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I know I took too many pictures of these ancient animals, but I couldn’t help it!
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Ack! so cute!!!

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Autumnal ochres and siennas: warm, rich colors.

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We saw this funny looking bus. I wonder all sorts of questions about it!

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Ahhhhhh, driving by these inspiring snow-capped peaks makes my heart soar!

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Autumn Grace

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“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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“The miracle is walking on the earth, not walking on water or fire. The real miracle is walking on this earth.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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The lovely little spring.

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The sunlight was golden and dreamy, lighting up the details.

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“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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My scientist husband, gathering spring water and algae for his life science classroom

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All the life in this spring!

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Beauty

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Fireweed seeds, blowing away in the wind

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Fireweed stars

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I love fireweed, from beginning to bursting with flowers, to the end with its last breaths of floating seeds, peeling and curling tendrils. Like its whole life is an art project.

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*

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Snowy hills, golden light.

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“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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I could stay right here in this moment forever!

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“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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this is how my soul felt today!
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