GPS signal lost

“GPS signal lost. No Sirius signal.”

Two phrases broadcasted through our car radio. The truest music to my ears. We were pioneers! Nothing but our car and enormous redwoods to guide us through the Navarro River Redwoods State Park in Mendocino County, California.

We felt like the only humans on the road, wrapped in the magnitude of the mighty redwoods and their preternatural understory. It was quiet and cool and magical. Fairies? Mystical creatures watching us from the privacy of their hiding spot? Maybe! This far into the woods you’d believe just about anything.

The brush underneath the 300+ foot trees deserves its own mention of beauty. The luscious greens and forest scents. Ferns leaning toward the spots where the sun forces its way through to the forest floor. It was absolute heaven.

Unfortunately, this little swallowtail was not long for the forest. He was injured somewhere and trying to limp along unsuccessfully. I’m thankful he let us capture his array of colors. I will treasure this photo all the more for the effort he had to give up to allow it to happen.

Tilly was overwhelmed by all the exciting smells and my little bitty 6’3” husband was no match for the vast height of the California redwoods.

Standing in the middle of this road was one of the highlights of our trip to the coast. The quiet air around me. The road leading us to unknown places. The embrace of the redwoods. The magical dance of the sunbursts. I wanted to sit down and be for just a few moments longer.

I felt the energizing truth of forest bathing.

And then, within a few moments of our forest drive, the smell of salty air started to overtake the pine and our view of the Pacific started to emerge.

I’ll take THIS house, please.

California is the most unusual state. The topography changes within a handful of minutes. Desert. Mountains. Forest. Sea. What an incredible place to live. We keep discovering more and more ‘favorite places’.

Having soaked up the fresh air and lowered our blood pressure from the terpene in our forest therapy, we were ready to put our feet in the Pacific…

The Seductive Proximity of January 1

Our affable goldendoodle, Tilly, soon to be two years old, has become enthralled in the world of squirrels. I feel confident that she does not mean them harm. I believe her understanding is that they are merely more creatures with which to romp and play. They sit on our back fence, eating the specialty bird feed we buy at the specialty feed store and put out for the specialty fancy birds. Birds of stately yellows and regal reds. Birds that will not tolerate unhusked sunflower seeds nor rub shoulder wings with common underlinings like crows or blue jays. The squirrels, however, give not a second thought to scraping leftovers off the ground, possessing neither dignity nor self-restraint. Squirrels are not too proud to pick among the weeds and filth at the feet of God’s more majestic creatures of flight.

We have a large window in our dining room that is low enough for Tilly to sit for hours watching the squirrels in action, or (more humiliatingly), she simply stares at the spot where the squirrel disappeared over the edge of the fence. Tilly is nothing if not hopeful that the furry creatures will return at any minute, this time to ask her to play. Her innocent enthusiasm is infectious.

The week between Christmas and New Years is an odd wormhole of time where many of us are not quite sure what to do with ourselves. We carefully wrap and box away Christmas ornaments while we simultaneously pack away the previous year: our high hopes, our realized disappointments, our many questions about the virginal new year that lies ahead.

What resolutions shall I make for this next year? Are they reasonable goals? Are they reachable? Are they lofty enough to challenge me to new growth? I have plenty of anecdotal proof that resolutions are often broken. I regularly chastise myself for the perennial goals I have yet to achieve. At what point am I too old to set to paper, goals I want to achieve in the new year? At what point do I allow life to simply unfurl before me without pre-determined resolve or intentional orchestration?

Each year we are reminded that there is nothing magical about the first day of a new year. And yet the secret places in my heart believe that there, in fact, is something special about an empty tablet lain open in front of me, words yet to be written, experiences yet to be had. A renewed opportunity to change, grow, evolve. Become the kind of person I’ve always aspired to be. My better angels win out over my cynical tendencies and I tell myself, yet again, there are new vistas to climb. There are character flaws to hone. There is service to give. There are people to love.

May we always be enticed by the seductive proximity of a new year hanging over our to do lists, calendars, values, life goals. May we always resolve to resolve for a better tomorrow. A stronger self. A more binding community. An ever-expanding understanding. We are not too old. We are not too failed. We are not too ‘too’. We have survived and thrived and met the challenges of each past year. We are capable. We are over-comers.

Make the New Year’s list of resolutions. Hold them with grace and forgiveness when you fall short but also know that you were brave enough to commit them to paper and therefore, strong enough to try again.

From our home to yours, we wish you the happiest and healthiest of new days ahead. We hold a warm and tender space for you in our hearts and in our home this new year.

– g