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Hidden meditation

Hidden meditation

What?  you say.  SNOW? Wait a minute!  This is summer!  What is a snow picture doing in this blog?  It can’t be snowing in the Upper Peninsula in July!

Although some of our local folks are grumbling mightily about the chilly weather this summer, don’t worry, it hasn’t started snowing.  Yet…

Settle down for a story.  This photo was taken by my daughter back in early December.  We hiked up Little Mountain, south of L’Anse, on a cold winter day.  She was staying with us for a few short weeks and we wanted to enjoy the outdoors and experience some of the local sights.  We trudged up the trail, happy that the snow measured only a few inches. 

We reached the top of the mountain (and ok, you guys, no comparison to the Rockies or Smokies.  These are Michigan mountains after all.  You might choose to call them ‘rocky hills’ with more accuracy.)  Then we began to wander around, looking here and there, admiring the view.  I sat down to meditate for awhile and she snapped this photo which she titled “Hidden Meditation”.

It was on that hike, that very hike, that the idea for this outdoor commitment and blog incubated.  It was such a lovely day and I mused, “Why don’t I do this more often?  It’s really pleasant outside, not that cold, and look at how wonderful we feel spending time outdoors…”  You know the rest of the story.

Today, our guests Amy, Daniel and I hiked once more up Little Mountain to its panoramic view of Baraga County.

Little Mountain overlooks the Keweenaw Bay

Little Mountain overlooks the Keweenaw Bay

There is something about reaching the top of a mountain.  As we neared the summit, we ceased talking.  Silence settled comfortably among us.  A sacred sense of reverence filled our awareness.

Each of us wandered off to view different landscapes, to feel the energy of the mountain.  I fell into the silence of meditation, as if seven months had not passed. 

It felt like the mountain was meditating.

And the silent climber could sit still and meditate with the mountain, if he or she chose.

Ancient cracked slabs of stone

Ancient cracked slabs of stone

The mountain told stories of rock:  granite, quartz, slate.  The mountain tossed the mane of her flowered hair as the wind blew ragged through the pines.  The wind moaned and muttered around the crags.  The mountain’s jewelry was sumac, buttercups, daisies, blueberries.

Ripening sumac

Ripening sumac

The mountain takes the long view.  No short judgments.  She assesses the landscape before she makes a decision.  And her decisions might take eons and eons.

The mountain ponders the southeast

The mountain ponders the southeast

Branches lie scattered all around.  Trees are always losing limbs in the wind and weather on the unprotected mountaintop.  Perhaps lightening has seared them off, but more likely the wind blows away that which is unsecured, weak, tentative.

Downed mountain branches

Downed mountain branches

Humans being humans we try to interact with the mountain in our own ways.  While some of us choose to meditate to hear her silent voices, others of us build rock cairns.  Rocks lie atop one another, marking the ascent of previous travelers.  There is also Rock Art.  Men and women have knelt and sketched their name in stone, scratching the surface with a sharp instrument.  Someone had scratched “Dan ‘n Me” on one rock, which seemed apropos as another Daniel now walked across the stones.

But my favorite almost-invisible stone was a face grinning up at us, from a modern-day human perhaps delighted by the mountain hike, the expansive view, the endless sky, the bays of Lake Superior:

Rock Art

Rock Art

If you have a chance to meditate atop a high hill, or mountain, please do so.  You will not regret the time spent in silence, feeling the wind on your cheeks, the rocks hard and etched with lichen, the scent of summer wildflowers close by.

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Keweenaw Bay ice begins to break up

Keweenaw Bay ice begins to break up

When was the last time you took part in  a Scavenger Hunt?  The last “real” Scavenger Hunt I participated in occurred about 7th grade.  Our science teacher brought a group of students to his home.  We all received a list of items to find and return.  The first team to make it back to the house with all the items won the hunt!  (By the way, the teacher’s last name was Hunt, hmm, odd coincidence…)

Here’s your list.

You must go out in nature and find the following items.  You can take a picture instead of bringing them to me.

1)  Pussy willows (C’mon…if I can find a pussy willow, you can, too!)

Item One...view Spring Pussywillows...Ode to Joy!

Item One...view Spring Pussy willows...Ode to Joy!

2) Sumac or Wintergreen. Your choice.  I have a photo of each.  If there’s ABSOLUTELY no sumac or wintergreen in your area, please substitute.  But don’t make it TOO easy.  Find something a little surprising.  Something enchanting.  Something that makes your heart pitter-pat at least a tiny bit.

The first time I could photograph sumac this year!  (drifts melted, you know...)

The first time I could photograph sumac this year! (drifts melted, you know...)

3) Birchbark.  On the tree or lying on the ground.  White or yellow.  But make it birchbark and think about all the lovely and practical items one can craft from birchbark.  Sing praises to the birch tree!  (Scavenger hunts are really about praising what one discovers….)

Pretty piece of birchbark, hmmm?  Just lying there in the snow.

Pretty piece of birchbark, hmmm? Just lying there in the snow.

4)  Animal scat.   Oh I’m sorry to add this to your list.  But we’re talking about a Scavenger Hunt out in nature, aren’t we?  So what’s abundant on the ground during the springtime after the snow melts?  You got it.  Scat.  Please do not pick up.  Photo only! 

Deer Scat

Deer Scat

5)  An animal.  (OK, it doesn’t need to be the same animal connected with your scat photo.)  It can be a bird.  A fish.  A mosquito.  Just capture a photo of it while giving thanks to the animal world.  Fortunately or unfortunately, in my Scavenger Hunt, the scat came from the animal posted below:

We see you peeking through those trees, Mr. Deer.

We see you peeking through those trees, Mr. Deer.

That’s it.  Five items.  Wasn’t too hard, was it?  Now send the photos to me in a green envelope (reminding of us spring) with your return envelope and I shall send you a small prize.  Because we’re all winners when we go scavenging in nature, aren’t we? Especially when we have curiosity, love and joy in our hearts!   🙂

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