Nature and Art Converge

22 05 2017

IMG_2748Nestled in the woods in eastern Connecticut lies a unique, eclectic, edgy – I don’t know what – artist colony, center, living installation? Located on about 450 acres adjacent to a state park, I-Park is an anomaly, a creative endeavor, a unique way of looking at landscape, nature, and its intersection with art. Brain child of co-founders Joanne Paradis (now Executive Director) and Ralph Crispino, it provides a safe haven for creativity to prosper.

With various studios scattered over the main blueprint of the property, this international artist-in-residency program is far from the madding crowd and provides a place of peace and restorative energy. Since 2001, more than 800 artists have created visual, auditory, and textual pieces both inside and on the landscape.

Recently, a ribbon cutting ceremony opened new studio space, and simultaneously welcomed twelve 2017 site responsive artists-in-residence from wide ranging locations (USA, China, Sweden, Japan, and the Netherlands). They will be provided with bird walks, history talks, and other presentations to provide a sense of their location, to be integrated into their work while on site.

IMG_2764Ceremony attendees were treated to a vocal performance by Raymond C. White, who sang O Sole Mio and other works in a bellowing voice as he was transported across a beautiful pond on a floating platform by its constructor Ted Efremoff.  The sun set behind them as they docked what was called the “Floating Living Room.” Minds that think of terms like that follow different neuron pathways than the common brain. Where do they get these ideas? The novelty, creativity, and uniqueness of their thoughts and visions manifest themselves across the I-Park landscape which provides the environment to “nurture artists and the creative process.”





Sprague Preserve and Willimantic Friendly’s

28 07 2015

Robinson1 Oct 2013 Sprague FranklinJuly 13, 2015

Cherry and I meet in East Hampton to consolidate cars and I drive east to Franklin. Cherry has found a description of the Sprague Preserve by Peter Marteka and a Friendly’s in Willimantic. We are on our way.

 I made the mistake of asking Cherry to check the map on the way, forgetting how directionally challenged she (and her sisters and mother) is. Eventually, we arrive at the well-marked dirt road that leads into the preserve and bump our way down.

Suddenly, bright orange plastic fencing and HazMat notices. Not again (our previous encounter has not been published to protect the innocent)! We continue to the described parking area near an old cabin, where we can see orange fencing stretching for acres. In fact, there is a mobile headquarters and two rings of fencing, the actual area, and a decontamination ring around that. I look at Cherry and she justifies her choice by indicating Marteka’s recent article. The date? Oops, September 2010.

I search the bulletin board on the old cabin unsuccessfully for a trail map, while Cherry checks in with the HazMat headquarters. She returns, saying, “We can walk anywhere except in the fencing.” But we have no clue where the four miles of trail actually are. While standing on the dirt road that led us into this area, a worker is leaving the HazMat project. He carefully dips one shoe, and then another, in a pan of disinfectant before heading towards us. What in the world is out there?

We ask him about the trails and he hands us a beautiful trail guide from inside the headquarters (why the original staff person inside didn’t give it to Cherry is beyond us). I ask why the fencing? A former skeet range. Lead contamination.

And so off we go. We do our usually talking and checking in. Cherry has been spending more and more time alone and enjoying it. She says she’s changing from the extrovert to introvert. I talk a bit about how distress from relationships trickles into all interactions. Meanwhile, the trail arrives at the Shetucket River and we are stunned into silence. The broad shallow expanse running across a rocky bottom sparkles in the sunlight. A jewel. The guide says it’s part of the National Heritage Corridor and we understand why. Fortunately, the white blazed trail follows the river for a mile and we enjoy its splendor.

We return under the powerline, dubbed the waterfall trail, but we couldn’t find the turnoffs. Instead, we were treated with fresh blueberries, blackberries, and beautiful orange wood lilies. With a short stint on the Fairy Trail, it wasn’t long before we were back on the white-blazed trail and to our parking area. The two-hour loop was perfect.

The trip to Friendly’s in Willimantic went quickly as we joked about second close encounter with a HazMat site, and the date on the Marteka review. Ordering the “2 for $20,” we were pleased with our lunch but especially the included sundaes. Lunch was a welcomed respite from the hot, humid day outside and we had worked up an appetite. Our waitress, overloaded, finally cracked a smile when I asked for a chocolate covered cherry to match my forbidden chocolate and hot fudge.





Using Nature to Heal Grief and Loss

3 06 2015
Clouds Never Die

Clouds Never Die

Pathfinder is a monthly publication to console, support and empower the modern widow/er. A recent article based on an interview with me on how nature can help heal grief can be found on their website about 2/3 down the page.

For a complete copy of the article, consider subscribing to the magazine.





Healing Nature Workshops, Thursdays May 7-28, 6:30pm

20 04 2015

UCONN SSW Fall 2014 006EcoTherapist Beth Lapin is offering a series of four workshops in May in Middletown, CT. Details:

HEALING NATURE
Dates (Thursdays): May 7, 14, 21, and 28
Times:  6:30 – 8 pm
Location: Camp Building, Ron McCutcheon Park at Crystal
Lake​, Middletown, CT​
Fee: $65
Instructor Name: Beth Lapin  (beth@healingnaturect.com)
Ages: 18+

Description: In our hectic world, discover the calming,
peaceful benefit of nature.  In this program, we will use our
senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world
and be introduced to several techniques to help relax and let
go of daily stress. In addition, we will use our creative outlets
such as writing, drawing, music/sound, and movement, to
express our experiences and address weekly environmental
topics. Come explore what nature can do for you and what
you can give back!

Use the registration form to the right, which can be mailed to Middletown Recreation Division. ​2015 HN Registration Form

​Or email Beth, contact Recreation at (860) 638-4500, or download their brochure.





Hike Higby Mt Sat May 3 at 10AM

30 04 2014

On Saturday, May 3, Beth Lapin will be offering a hike on Higby Mountain as part of the City of Middletown’s rescheduled Earth Day Celebration. We will have a rare opportunity to access the Mattabesett Trail through the city’s water department lands that include Higby and Adder Reservoirs.

Come join her for a three+ hour moderate walk up the eastern flank of the ridge, along the top, where we can snack, and then continue our loop to the water treatment building.

Wear hiking shoes (some wet areas), bring a snack and water, camera, binoculars if desired.

Directions: on Route 66, about a quarter-mile west of the junction with Higby Road (Red Dog Saloon), look for an unmarked driveway on the right (north) with an orange cone that leads to the reservoir. Follow it to the buildings, where there are restrooms and parking.

Please let her know (Beth@HealingNatureCT.com) if you are planning to join us. Questions: 860 398 4470; that morning: 860 262 2788.





2014 Upcoming Events and Workshop

19 12 2013

Nature Hikes through Middletown Park & Rec

Spring Nature Walk

Wednesday, April 16
11:00 a.m., no charge, Wadsworth State Park, Middlefield, CT; Dress for the weather. Educational walk on the trails of Wadsworth State Park. Children under age 16 must attend with an adult 18+. Register through Park and Rec (Please use 2014 Spring Nature Walk Registration Form)

Questions? email Beth@HealingNatureCT.coom

Healing Nature WATER 06.21.12 004Healing Nature Sessions

Thursdays, May 1,8,15,& 22
6:30-8:00 PM
Ron McCutcheon Park, Crystal Lake, Middletown, CT

In this program, we will use our senses to strengthen our connection with the natural world. You will be introduced to several techniques to help you relax and let go of your daily stress. In addition, we will use our creative outlets such as writing, drawing, music/sound, and movement, to express our experiences and address weekly environmental topics. Come explore what nature can do for you and what you can give back!

Email Beth@HealingNatureCT.com for more information.





Haddam Trails: Route 81 Loop

24 05 2013

Route 81 loop 002On Monday, Cherry and I continued our Haddam trails visits with a hike at what is called Route 81 loop. We found the trailhead on the north side of Beaver Brook Road, west of the junction with Route 9, and began our hike around 8:45AM. It was cool and gray as we crossed a gently flowing stream and wandered through dense vegetation. The trail was initially distinct and we had a map. Keep to the left, we decided, in order to avoid inadvertently leaving the main trail and ending up at one of the other parking areas.

 Cherry talked about nearing retirement and all the activities she’d been pursuing. Between church variety shows and a Master Gardener trip to the Cloisters, symphony performances and trying to clean out her files, she had been quite busy. She affirmed that this was the right decision for her and we laughed about how the timing evolved.

Route 81 loop 003

We found a live oak peppered with pileated woodpecker holes and trekked through large laurel thickets. We had surprise eye delights of swamp pink and lady’s slippers along the way. Cherry said she’d decided not to travel to Buenos Aires, but would be joining a church group to the Holy Land in February. She would have plenty of time to renew her passport and have something to look forward to all winter.

Route 81 loop 007We crossed several small streams cascading over bedrock. With newly emerged leaves, the mixture of colors and patterns, combined with bird calls, the trail was enticing. I managed to discover yet another tick imbedded in me (that made three over the past 24 hours) and another crawling on me. I talked about progress with my city project to convert an old school to a senior center and the improved health of the 90 year old woman I assist (after a fall and stint at the hospital, she was now at the rehab center).

The area was delightful, showing little sign of overuse. However, in a few sections, more bright green trail markings would have been useful, and perhaps a sign indicating the direction of the side trail to parking. After about two hours, we’d returned to the car parked on Beaver Meadow Road, completing a 2.7 mile loop. True confessions? We stopped by a local shop in Higganum to grab a snack, sit at an outside table, relax together, and schedule our next trip.