California and Back, Again

It’s been a while since i have posted any pictures or written any updates. I haven’t been that inspired as the last few months have been consumed with program and practice, internal process, and life decisions.

After spending six weeks at Shambhala Mountain Center in an often wet and leaky  tent, I can officially say that I hit my limit. It turns out when your done, you’re done. After 17 months of living on the road, unpacking and packing, sewing patches on my clothes, living out of bags, and sleeping on couches and unfamiliar beds; I’m ready for a home and a job. I know you didn’t think it was going to happen, but believe it or not I wasn’t planning on living this way forever!  I started this journey looking for a new home. I found two. But since you can only live in one place at a time, decisions had to be made.

A can tell you this, It’s been a wild ride!

So before I unpack again (for a while), it was time to visit friends and family in California and soak in the West one last time (for a while). I’ve done this trip before.  I started my journey with a trip from California to Colorado. This time I did it the other way around, and back again. I was a little less inspired to take pictures, but here’s a few to document the trip. I’ve got one more road trip to go before I reach my destination, and a new journey begins.

Stay tuned, I’m heading East.

 

IMG_2589IMG_2594IMG_2603IMG_2612IMG_1876IMG_1883IMG_1892IMG_2632IMG_2844IMG_1901IMG_2655IMG_2662IMG_2673IMG_1949IMG_2867IMG_2881IMG_2896IMG_2919IMG_2929IMG_2924

Feeling Full(y)

Karme Choling:  June 10, 2014

Karme Choling: June 10, 2014

As my time here has come to an end, I am flooded with emotion. Both joy and pain. Appreciation and disappointment. Sadness and love. There was a time in my life when I felt very little, but the numb disconnectedness that allowed me to feel safe in the world. There was a time when I started to open my heart that I mostly felt the sadness, pain and the suffering of living. As my time at Karme Choling comes to end and my year-long gap of space starts closing in, I can say with great appreciation and awe; that I feel deeply. All of it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve had the best year of my life.

It’s never to late to follow your heart.

Here are some highlights of Vermont in May and June. They don’t call them the green mountains for nothing!

IMG_1693

Hill Farmstead, special, special beer

Hill Farmstead, special, special beer

IMG_1698IMG_1702IMG_1700

Cute Vermont Store

Cute Vermont Store

 

Honor System, yes!

Honor System, yes!

 

IMG_1710IMG_1716IMG_1713IMG_1714IMG_1720IMG_1719

Perennial Pleasures

Perennial Pleasures

IMG_2467

High Tea and Garden Stroll

High Tea and Garden Stroll

IMG_2472

River in New Hampshire

River in New Hampshire

IMG_2503IMG_2491

On the Verge

On the Verge

Swimming Hole, New Hampshire: It was cold, but worth it!

Swimming Hole, New Hampshire: It was cold, but worth it!

 

Before I was attacked by black flies

Before I was attacked by black flies

 

Fairies Live Here

Fairies Live Here

IMG_2483

Karme Choling Garden: June 10, 2014

Karme Choling Garden: June 10, 2014

June Garden

June Garden

IMG_2520

Lettuce Harvest

Lettuce Harvest

IMG_2534

IMG_2525

Goodbye Poppy

Goodbye Poppy

Leaving a Mark

Leaving a Mark

Saying Goodbye with Paint

Saying Goodbye with Paint

 

 

 

 

 

Sugaring

IMG_2211

The best part of this last year has been having the opportunity to be more connected to nature.  Seeing the river change from a frozen block of ice to a super flowing stream. Being in tune to the phases of the moon and looking up at the sky at night, seeing stars and planets illuminating the sky. Hearing the birds chirping their first songs of spring, and watching the seasons shift and change…..I could go on and on.

Being able to take part in “Sugaring,” collecting maple sap and processing it into syrup has been another way to connect with the natural world. Checking on the trees each day has been an opportunity to track the change of seasons and be part of something fun and exciting with others. I’ve felt like a child during this process, learning something completely new with wonder and awe.  I feel so lucky to have been here for this!

When we started sugaring we had to wade through 3 feet of snow on the ground. Now the snow has melted, streams are running, the landscape has completely changed, and the trees are surprisingly still dripping. Sugaring season is almost over, but just last night we boiled down the second batch of syrup. And so it continues, until it ends of course.

IMG_2185 We spent a day tapping all of the maple trees. We used a hand drill and then hammered the taps in and hung all the buckets. The next day, many of us adopted trees.This is Lady Tree, one of my adopted sugaring trees. IMG_2204This is Francine. Max named her and I liked it. I would spend the next two weeks with Lady Tree and Francine, collecting sap daily. When we started collecting there was up to 3 feet of snow on the ground.IMG_2205IMG_2207IMG_2208Some days there would be more sap to collect than others. Generally the amount of sap the tree produces has to do with weather conditions. Good temperatures for sugaring is 40’s in the days and 20’s in the nights. IMG_2209We would collect from our trees daily into these buckets and then bring them down the hill.IMG_2218Once all the buckets were collected, they would be put in a big garbage pale and brought down by truck to the Patneaude shed-soon to be Sugar Shack, for the boiling process.IMG_2249The sap would be poured through this strainer, and then into the container below which would filter down into the arch for boiling,IMG_2243IMG_2242IMG_2231We would stand around and watch sap boil for hours. It’s kind of like watching a fire. The arch would be going almost every night that sap was collected. Someone has to watch the fire. IMG_2230IMG_2225This is Jason. He is responsible for bringing all of the materials and experience for sugaring. He was the one who put in solid hours feeding the fire and watching the sap boil. IMG_2252This is Aaron. He’s responsible for bringing sugaring to Karme Choling and coordinating the whole process. He also logged in solid hours of watching sap boil.IMG_2227The whole point of the arch is to boil down the sap into syrup, so there was always tons of steam. IMG_2256This is boiled off foam, it has toxins and things that you don’t want in your syrup.IMG_2270I forget what this spoon was for. Maybe to check sugar levels from the arch.IMG_2303Once the sap has been boiled down enough, it is brought up to the house to finish it off. We started with approximately 50 gallons of sap and ended with 4 gallons of syrup for the first run. Those numbers could be completely wrong, but you get the idea. A lot of sap, a little syrup. That’s why maple syrup is so expensive!IMG_2307Testing the syrup with a hydrometer, we are looking for a reading of 32.IMG_2317Big moment! We are ready to roll. I was beyond excited. Throughout the whole process and especially at this point.IMG_2322Doesn’t that look like amazing maple syrup? It tasted like a amazing syrup!IMG_2335Filling little log cabins of maple syrup!IMG_2344IMG_2350Filling little maple leaves!IMG_2355After our first run, we thought the season was just about over since the weather was warming and the conditions were no longer ideal for sugaring. We had a few days where the trees didn’t produce much, but then they started up again. As long as there has been sap, we have been collecting.IMG_1553We are now on the second run.  Look at how the landscape has changed! All the snow is gone and it officially feels like spring.IMG_1564But the trees have still been producing. Once the sap turns yellow, it’s no longer good for syrup. It’s hard to tell here, but some of the buckets have clear sap and some we have collected was more yellow, which incidentally tasted a lot sweeter.IMG_1555Here’s Francine in the Springtime.IMG_1556Here’s Lady Tree!IMG_1557These are all the buckets that we collect each day.IMG_1563It’s hard to believe that just 10 days ago, this whole area was covered in snow.

We’re not in California anymore Toto!

 

 

Still Winter

IMG_2293When I arrived at Karme Choling, it was still winter.However as I write this post, there has clearly been a shift to spring. The ice banks are breaking and the river is flowing fast, the pond is more than half melted and the bright orange fish that have been under the ice are crowding the edges soaking in the sun. You can feel the sunshine warming your face and body and the spring breeze is fresh and crisp.

When I arrived in Boston on March 26th the temperature was resting somewhere in the 20’s. I had just arrived from California where Spring was full-blown. The sun had been shining and everything was glowing green. On the bus ride up to Vermont I found myself in a different world altogether. There were continued signs of winter with frozen lakes and landscapes, icicles frozen in time on the rocks lining the side of the road. At Karme Choling there was 3-4 feet of snow piled high all around the grounds. It was like I back tracked in time. I suppose in some ways I wasn’t ready for spring yet, like the animals in hibernation. I would have to wait it out a few more weeks before I got to experience the beginnings of a second Spring.

 

IMG_1521IMG_2201IMG_2198IMG_2278IMG_2279IMG_2280IMG_2187IMG_2302IMG_2299IMG_2274IMG_2288IMG_2276

 

Colorado to California

This is what it looked like the day I left Colorado. 14 degrees and snowing. It seemed like 0 visibility, but clearly I don’t know about these things. We took off without a hitch.

IMG_1392 IMG_1393 IMG_1395 That’s my bright turquoise suitcase on the bottom of that stack. It’s ridiculous. But you truly can spot it out of a crowd easily. I had to find a bag that was light enough for me to max out my 50 pounds allotted for checked bags. It’s a back breaker. That’s what happens when you have to pack a suitcase for 4 months and 3 seasons of weather.

The transformation of sky and landscape to California was spectacular. Right above all that snow and fog was a clear blue sky. It’s always there. It’s always crystal clear above the weather in our lives.

IMG_2146IMG_2143IMG_2155IMG_2142IMG_2154IMG_2156IMG_2158IMG_2160IMG_2159IMG_2161IMG_2165IMG_2167IMG_2168And just like that, I’m back in California. Welcome home to me! And to my surprise (I don’t know why), I was transported directly from winter, to spring.

IMG_1430IMG_1446IMG_1441 (1)IMG_1442IMG_1445IMG_1435IMG_1432IMG_1471IMG_1473Everything here is green and blooming! How lucky am I? Plus, I get to be reunited with this one!

IMG_1438IMG_1469This is Rosie. I haven’t seen her since July. She was just 3 months old when I met her. Shortly after, my mother was in the hospital for a month and it was left to me to try to train her. Now she’s a year old and continues to be unbelievably cute. She could definitely use some more training, but I love her! So does my mom’s cat.

IMG_1429

Here’s some family time. I ripped these off from my sister. This is from dinner last night, that’s my dad and my nephew Max…

1922508_10202518293332140_248325239_n 1376374_10202518216290214_186032533_n

So that’s what’s happening here. Dogs and cats. Lots of springtime. Watching 30 Rock and Lord of the Rings and the Bourne Identity series, again. Knitting, Brainstorming for private practice website. Visiting friends, hanging with family. Dreaming of tropical vacations. You know, really stressful stuff!

Trust me, I’m appreciating every moment of it!

Perspective

IMG_2093

Taking a step back, getting perspective, and taking a bigger view is an incredibly helpful thing to do. And surprisingly difficult sometimes.

I had the opportunity to change things up for a couple of days and what a world of difference that makes. I think that’s why I am in love with freedom right now. It’s such a gift to be able to do something different when you feel like it.

When I left Vermont I felt unsure about what my next steps would be, and I still do. But I told myself to pay attention to any auspicious signs to help me along my way. Today I unexpectedly got one. I’m still not clear about what I will do, but I have a better sense and continue to learn to value myself and ask for what I want instead of assuming I won’t get it. I do this in some aspects of my life more than others. What do we have to lose in this life by asking for what we want? And why is that so hard for some of us?

So I move forward with a fresh perspective, renewed appreciation for where I’m at in my life right now and darker shade of hair.

I got this one from a Facebook friend, pretty good Mr. Jung!

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
~ Carl Jung

IMG_2118