Lady slippers

9 05 2012

The lady slippers are out! With all the blowdowns this past year, I hoped they would manage to erupt through the rubble. A group of fifteen to twenty plants, a third of them blooming, are yet again scattered across the curving slope of a conglomerate outcrop.

Lady slippers. The concept of orchids growing in New England is staggering. I think of them as tropic, difficult to raise, picky and delicate. Not winter-hardy or robust enough to flourish in our acidic woodlands.

And their blossom is, well…I’ll say it. Erotic. Scrotal. Yet girly pink. Maybe showing us the common ground shared by our two genders.

Native Americans, calling it moccasin flower, saw it with different eyes. Some said it could invoke spirit dreams just by its presence. Others used is as a sedative for mental health issues and women’s issues.

Me? I see them as a symbol of resistance, persistence, and spring. Welcome back, beautiful ones!

And you?

HealingNatureCT workshops in June

5 05 2012

Do you miss that peaceful feeling you get from spending time outside?  Would you like to be inspired by nature? Are you interested in advocating for nature’s creatures? Join a four-class session, HealingNature, offered through the Middletown (CT) Park & Recreation Department for an introduction to ecotherapy to help us balance ourselves through connections with nature.

Instructor Beth Lapin brings 20 years experience as a field biologist and an equal amount as a social worker — and masters degrees in both – along with decades of experience leading outdoor excursions and therapeutic groups. “Not just another hike in the woods, although that’s included, we will use our senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world,” she explained.” Anyone with questions can contact her: or call 860 398 4470.

Sessions will meet on Thursdays in June from 6:30 until 8:00pm at Ron McCutcheon Park at Crystal Lake in Middletown, CT. Pre-register by May 21: send a completed registration form (email for copy) and check for $65 to Middletown Park & Recreation Department, 100 Riverview Center, #140, Middletown, CT 06457. Open to all mobility levels.

Can Nature Help Us Heal?

2 12 2011

The other night, I was having dinner with several friends who spontaneously spoke about the healing value of nature. The first person talked about how she “listens to the quiet.” Just sits in the same spot and observes and listens to what is around her and how this provides her with a sense of peace and connection.
The second person said that nature was the only place that gave her a sense of power and strength after the loss of her husband and son. She would walk for hours in the woods and find solace and felt the return of her self. “It was only outside that I could find that.”
“When I’m inside, my container of troubles fills the house,” said the third friend who held out her arms in front of her, fingertips touching, to form a big circle. “But when I go outside, the world is big enough to hold them all.” She went on to say that, outdoors, she would realize how small her troubles were in the scheme of the whole universe.
Three unsolicited ideas about the importance of nature to our health. What are your experiences? Do you agree?

Fall colors

14 11 2011
Not in CT this year

After “Irene,” many trees turned prematurely brown. Perhaps their leaves were damaged by heavy salt content of the accompanying rain and winds. A hint at the possibility of a dull fall.

Extended Indian Summer provided hope that, somehow, the maples might erase those previous weeks and resume their transformation into autumn brilliance. Mission impossible with no frost or cooling nights before “Albert” dumped heavy snows at the end of October.

Fall color is cancelled. All along the Connecticut coast, it’s the same story. Leaves either ripped away, shed, or clinging in dull browns, muted oranges, and pale yellows.

For me, it’s hard enough to say goodbye to summer’s delights. The usual cacophony of color soothes my disappointed and  cocooning spirit. Not this year. I wonder if October’s storm suggests a brutal winter. Or perhaps that was the worst of it. Ah, time will tell. One thing I love about this Earth–certain of its secrets can’t be pried loose, even by the best of scientists.


11 11 2011

Last week, we had no power, which means, for me, no water. I considered every drop of water I used. How much do I need to brush my teeth? Wash my face? How many more toilet flushes do I have before I must trek to the creek for refills?

Now that my power is back, I can easily meet my needs. But I wonder if I should pay more attention to my water consumption. According to, each of us in the United States use 69.3 gallons of water every day. Every day! England, for example, uses only 14% of what we do (

Don’t get me started on the use of bottled water (107 liters per person per year in the US) …..


Snow before first frost

28 10 2011

Yesterday, I knew I was cold, but I didn’t truly believe that we would get snow. We hadn’t even had our first frost yet! When I heard sleet pelting the windows, I brought in my begonias. Only a short while later, there it was–flakes of the white stuff filling the air, covering the ground, blanketing the rhododendron leaves.

It had been a long Indian summer; I knew I shouldn’t complain. But snow in October did not seem fair. I decided that I would sleep inside. Since June, I had been spending my nights on the back porch. I was reminded of those who don’t have shelter, the increased number of homeless and those occupying various squares and parks. I was grateful for the option.

I settled into my bed and listened to the bang-bang as one cat came in (or perhaps out) through the cat door. Bang-bang. Another. Bang. There are only two cats. It’s a revolving door for them. The noise drove me crazy and the porch was probably only 15 degrees colder. Out I went.

Sleet hit the windows, the wind blew. Ah! Sounds that put me to sleep.


Indian summer

15 10 2011
It’s October 15 and we haven’t had a first frost yet. I’m not complaining. Impatients and petunias are still blooming and early evenings have a quiet softness to them that is missing in the humid summer or the crisp fall.
We had heavy rain yesterday and I can hear the gushing of the creek, forcing its swollen way over rocks and through crevices. Yellow pine needles cover the ground, as do shed maple leaves. Not much color, perhaps due to Tropical Storm Irene or the lack of cold nights, but they are a reminder of what’s to come.

All the premonitions of true fall urge me to appreciate this warm, luscious weather while it’s here. Change is inevitable, the seasons remind us of that. Welcome them all with open arms.

Cricket pulse

9 10 2011

Last night, I was sitting outside after sunset. Just sitting. My mind quieted and eventually I heard them. Crickets filling the air with their chirping. As I listened, I felt that their chirping, the pulsing, was like the beating of the Earth’s heart.