Rick's Journal

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Technical Difficulties

Well, here is how it played out: We went on the Tracking Expedition out in Cape Cod, and it was really successful and amazing. When we returned, I was all set to upload pictures and stories and showcase our new summer workshops and stuff like that. And that is when the trouble started.

We use Adobe Contribute to make changes or additions to our website, and it began to malfunction. I started to find out why, and learned that I needed to get the latest version of the software. Being that we are a non-profit organization, we had to go through the non-profit and educational department of the company, and then order the software, verify that we are indeed who we say we are, and this took several weeks. People, this stuff takes time!

There is installation, connecting to the website securely and lots of other details that are in the way before I could actually sit here and start this update! Whew!

In between all of this ordering, updating and stuff like that, I managed to visit about eight schools, talk to countless parents, visit some colleges, move the cabin from the lower parking area to the new campsite, built an adirondack lean-to cabin, installed our new bridge railing and deck, started getting the camp road intensely upgraded and countless other big and small projects completed....

And guess what? I didn't do it all by myself, either! I had a lot of help from everyone here at Hawk Circle, and lots of volunteers too. Barry, Luke, Matt, Jerry, Amy, Sean, Lyn, Trista, Dave, Matt and Ryan all kicked butt under pressure, and we excelled and it was good. Come to Hawk Circle and see for yourself. Or just look at the pictures!

But, seriously, back to the Tracking Expedition....

It is hard to describe the feeling of leading someone to seeing more in the forest. To become closer to nature, to the animals, the plants and trees, we spent time with these things. We studied the sands, and the way the sands moved and aged. We studied our own footprints, and those of each other. We tracked in deep leaves and pine needles, finding each footprint by sight and then later, by feel. We went out in the night and experienced the ocean in a storm, and found the red fox who had walked there before us. We gathered kinickkinick, sweet fern, reeds for arrows and beautiful stones and shells.

Frankly, I was amazed at the speed with which every student learned and grew. We challenged and tested each other, even as we practiced reading the very emotion of the person we were following. The last few days we tracked deer, rabbits, skunks, coyotes and crows, and followed these extensively, learning so much about track indentification, varied ageing, animal behavior and how they moved and responded to the landscape, weather, presence of people, cars, birds and other animals. We not only learned intensely but we also played intensely, with whateve was available, and it was good. It was healing. It was powerful. I thought of the countless days of my own training under the relentless guidance of my mentor and teacher Tom Brown, Jr, and how he pushed me to be the best I could be. I thought often of my own independent study of months and months, and how much I learned on my own, in the woods, trails, deserts or mountains, with few people to share my discoveries and I thought of how special it was for us all to be together, learning with each other and being able to talk about what we did, how it felt, and the wonder of it all... I feel truly thankful and blessed to have been a part of it all. Luke Gaillard was so great, so detailed and carefully prepared that it made the trip seem effortless. I learned a lot from his teaching and rolemodeling the very best traits and ideals of what a tracker is. If you get a chance to learn and explore the natural world with Luke, don't walk but run to be a part of it! All in all, it was much too short, and we left so grateful for the land, the learning and the use of Luke's family's house, which gave us a special place to renew ourselves between outings... Thank you so much!

I will write more about the last few weeks here, the school groups, the gardens, the new campsites and stuff like that in a few days. Now that my software is up and running, I can write anytime I want! Until then, have a great day!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Valentine's Day Blizzard

or How My Week's Plans Changed from Meetings to Digging and Shoveling and Moving Snow

I guess you can't call it a blizzard, really, because technically, a blizzard is a complete white-out, where you cannot see anything except snow, and you have trouble knowing which way is up. We didn't have that in this storm, although it was close, especially as it got dark. However, I wouldn't call this snowstorm 'weak' in any way either! It managed to drop over three and a half feet of snow in one day and caused me and the rest of our community here at Hawk Circle a lot of hard, physical work just to dig out and reopen our road the the outside world.

We woke on Wednesday to about ten inches of fresh powder snow, on top of the foot of powder we already had. It was still snowing hard and it continued all day, and into the evening, when it finally subsided. By that time, we had spent about five or six hours plowing the snow into deep banks on the side of the road, shoveled our paths out of the houses to the woodsheds and roads countless times, trying to keep up with the storm. In the end, we slept and waited for the storm to move on.

On Thursday, Barry Keegan, our awesome Head Instructor, hiked in on snowshoes to see how we were all doing. We began to plow again, and dig and shovel, and probably made it halfway out of the driveway with Sean, myself and Barry alternating and digging out the truck when it got stuck. We would ram the snow into piles and then try to move those piles further off of the road, and every once in a while we would get stuck, the friction of the snow around, under, on top and alongside the truck just too much for the tires to pull us free. Then the digging started, and we would get out, and then start all over again. Progress was measured in feet, and each push brought us a few inches closer to our goal: Route 166!

All in all, we were in good spirits, although we were tired, sore and ready to be out by Friday! We almost ran out of gas, so we had to hike out to the road with gas cans in a sled, by snowshoe, and hike back with full cans so we could keep on plowing and pushing.

We felt free and excited to be out when we finally met Ken Haggerty coming in along the last stretch, and after a few more hours of clean up and scraping, we were done. We laughed at how much snow this storm brought us, and how glad we were that it wasn't rain and floods, and also at how beautiful the land was all covered in fresh powder.

I wanted to get these pictures up just to show you that we survived this massive storm and that we did well, and that it was amazing and awesome and also very tiring! I am still recovering from the full body workout, but it felt good too, to be so fully focused and work so hard. Kind of like doing a summer camp or school group program!

I will write more soon, but just look at the amazing depth of this snowfall and come visit if you have a chance! We would love to see you and take you out skiing or sledding or whatever!

This sure makes my last post seem a bit off, doesn't it? Irony. Well, we got plenty of that around here to go around. Help yourself to a plateful!


Monday, January 1, 2007

A New Year

There is something weird going on with the weather around here. Plants budding and leafing out. Bats coming out of hibernation to search for non-existent insects. Spring peepers singing for mates. Grouse drumming on fallen logs. No snow. No cold. Southern winds blowing and thick clouds racing like a chinook storm in March.....

Yeah, it is probably just La Niña.


Well, if it doesn't get cold, this is what it means. More deer and wood ticks. More tent and gypsy moth caterpillars. No soil aeration from freezing and expanding. No seeds awakened by the cold frost. No other pests killed by cold. Expanded deer herds leading to more car accidents. No maple syrup season.

And on and on and on....

So what can we do? I mean, honestly, what can we do about any of this?

We can pray. We can ask for help from something greater, that balance be restored in time for a real (short) winter. We can even ask ourselves what is in our hearts and seek our own personal changes that will help bring about this balance.

Meditate. Take a walk. Talk to the trees and the winds. Ask whoever you talk to when you need strength, to guide us all, and listen carefully for the answer.

It might take some time, but listen anyway. We are all counting on you to share your message and your heart's voice, that we all might learn and find common ground. Perhaps this can be a good thing, this out of balance crazy world, if it can help to bring us closer together.

Good luck and if you feel called, please write to me about anything you find out. My heart is with you and the nature around you. Be well, and may this year bring us closer together, in spirit and in purpose.