373295_103539949768314_781491031_nI’m taking on the A to Z Challenge again this year — Please check it out and follow: A to Z Blog Challenge: Animal Spirit Guides for a Good Life.

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Healing Nature WATER 06.21.12 004Are you ready for winter to be over?! Feeling a bit of Spring Fever? Sign up for my ecotherapy class being offered with Middletown (CT) Parks and Recreation Department again this year. Here’s the information and a 2013 HN Registration Form.
HEALING NATURE

Dates: June 7, 14, 21, and 28   CORRECT DATES: Thursday, May 9, 16, 23, and 30 (four meetings)

Times: 6:30 – 8 pm

Location: Camp Building, Ron McCutcheon Park at Crystal Lake

Fee: $65

Instructor Name: Beth Lapin (Beth@HealingNatureCT.com)

Ages: 18+

Description: 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!

Feel free to email me with any questions. Think Spring!

The Secret GardenI was riding the train to NYC, when I decided to reread The Secret Garden, which my (adult) daughter had downloaded onto my Kindle. I vaguely remembered the simple plot, written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and thought it would be entertaining.

 To be honest, I started in a grumpy frame of mind. We’d had some difficult times over the past few months, spurred by the Newtown shootings and several snowstorms, including one that dumped almost three feet of snow at my house,  took me days to shovel out, and left water dripping on the inside of my porch from clogged gutters. So I was perfectly matched with character Mary’s initial sour looks and nasty mood. By the time I was nearing NYC and halfway through, I had followed her to the secret garden, put my hands in the soil, heard the robin sing, met interesting friends, and was immensely cheered. On the reverse trip home, I finished and sat back to say, “Ecotherapy at its finest!”

 For truly that’s the gist of the story. Get out in the fresh air; it will do you wonders, it will heal your physical and emotional wounds, and will bring you great joy! I highly recommend it, available as a free download from Amazon.

Guilford harborLast Thursday, Cherry and I set out to hike the final portion of the Menunkatuck Trail to Long Island Sound. We met at 1:00pm at Chittenden Park on Seaside Lane and headed north with one car to the trail head on Clapboard Hill Road.

The entire route was along roads and, with snow recently, it was preferable to walk in the street when possible. It was about 40 degrees and sunny, but the initial section of street was rather busy and there were small shoulders. Cherry updated me on the almost completed status of her new garage, which was a huge relief for her. The Clapboard Hill section to Tanner Marsh Road, also known as Dudleytown (according to research done after returning home), had a host of historic homes. Cherry noted that one of them, dating from 1788, was quite similar to her house (1780). We turned down Tanner Marsh Road and were charmed by old farms and lovely homes and a much quieter neighborhood. Cherry spoke about coming to terms with being Alone, after significant loss in her life. She also whole-heartedly embraced her upcoming retirement in June, despite uncertainty about the future of her PEP program. We had an exchange about relationships and addressed that Alone concept again.

We then reached a stretch that covered Routes 1 and 146. As a main thoroughfare, this was most difficult to enjoy and almost impossible to carry on a conversation. Eventually, we reached Lovers Lane, which we followed to Old Whitfield Road past the Henry Whitfield Museum. We climbed up over the RR tracks (boo, no train going underneath), where I described the myriad options for me this coming weekend and how to make most of them happen. (Little did I know I’d wake up the following morning with a GI tract virus that forced me to cancel each and every plan over which I had angsted!)

We continued to Armster’s  Spaceship, before turning down Sunset Lane to the park and our final destination, a view of Long Island Sound. Clearly Storm Sandy had wrecked havoc here, although the water was tranquil and hid its potentially destructive nature. We were charmed by some flowering forsythia en route and, after covering the final 3.68 miles in just over two hours, congratulated ourselves on completing yet another milestone — hiking the Menunkatucket Trail from start to finish.

What will we do next? Find out next month (weather permitting).

Cindy Lane to Clapboard Hill Road 002

Massive blow-down

Thursday, for the third time, Cherry and I set out to walk the Menunkatuck Trail between Cindy Lane and Clapboard Hill Road (the first time, we lost the Cindy Lane trail head; the second time, Cherry had car problems). Today, our car maneuvers brought us close to four deer leaping across the road before us, as they merged into the woodlands along the road margins. Eventually, we parked one car on Clapboard Hill Road and the other on Cindy Lane and, at 9:00AM, headed south on a sunny day that started mid-thirties and ended mid-forties.

Our hike was easy and steady, as we traveled through forested lands, skirted open fields, and glimpsed charming tidal marshes along the East River. Our conversation drifted to holiday plans, our perspectives on Newtown, and personal updates. Cherry was excited to announce she had given six-month’s notice of retirement to her employer and would be a free person starting in July!

Hugging the edge of an open field, we were surprised to hear voices and turned to see three women and three dogs were coming close behind. The women quickly leashed two dogs but one exuberant golden retriever (are there other kinds?) kept running pell-mell toward us, so we stopped to let him catch up before collapsing. We exchanged pleasantries and the women surged past us, pulled by their canine companions.

We continued under power lines, flushing a small rabbit and encountering another group of dogs and their owners. I confessed to some small recent victories, such as knitting a remaining sock and creating hats from a sweater my aunt had begun many years ago. We agreed that getting these nagging items off our plate provided a sense of freedom and exuberance that opened the way for new opportunities.

By 11:30, after stopping briefly for a snack, we reached the southern end of today’s trail. We reviewed the remaining section, which traveled along roads to Long Island Sound. We agreed that it would be a perfect January quest, in case snow or ice made woodland trails difficult. After discarding a tick wandering over my hand, we headed our individual ways until next year.

Fall Flowering Forsythia 002

Monday, Cherry and I had planned to hike the Menunkatuck Trail, but we were forced to postpone until next week. Now, here it is, Wednesday, and I’m still struggling to adjust to the change.

It would have been a lovely day for a hike. Sunny and balmy for this time of year. Perhaps it’s the unseasonable weather that has me flummoxed. Southern fronts keep coming, making it warmer outside than inside my house.

Mind you, I am thrilled to be warm and not shovel. It’s the longest Indian Summer I remember and it helps me pretend that a long, cold, lonely winter is not on its way. So, why am I out of joint?

I go for a walk and am startled by the sight of flowering forsythia along my neighbor’s hedge. Have they been lulled by the warmth into considering it spring? What will happen when we get the (inevitable) cold snap?

Or are they taking advantage of a window of opportunity? Ah, a chance, a special opening in the grays of November and dark of December to celebrate, to stretch and grow. To catch up with the last few remaining tasks that didn’t get done in September and get a jump-start on Spring.

Now that feels exciting, motivating, enthralling, inspiring. Forsythia flowers: let’s tidy up our loose ends for 2012 and get a head start on 2013. I’m with you.

Saturday, November 3
10AM
Haddam Meadows State Park
Route 154, Haddam, CT

Let’s meet for a mindful outdoor walk to express Gratitude for our resilience, Healing for those damaged (including plants and animals), and Acceptance for Storm Sandy in our lives. We will meet at the parking lot on the left when you first drive into the park.