Monday, January 31, 2011

Abundance and Gratitude

I have been very blessed on this MooseBoots journey, or, perhaps, I have blessed myself?!  I believe that we create our reality.  We are here to serve some purpose, to learn some lesson.  Subconsciously, we all know this ... gut feelings, intuition, knowing something is not right, etc.  I am extremely grateful for both the abundance in my life and the awareness I am working to develop to recognize this.

Over the least few months, there have been several poignant moments of recognition.  I started about a year ago ... Wendy had submitted her book proposal and received a contract from her publisher.  She has been writing since she was 12 and has always dreamed of being a published author.  Her dream is well on its way to being a reality.  Her book, Surviving the Apocalypse In The Suburbs, is at the printer and will be released on April 1, 2011.  It has been an exciting year, following the writing, editing, and publishing cycle.

Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: The Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil

Additionally, I changed my attitude about work.  I took the time to create some memories that I hope my girls will cherish.  We continued out monthly outdoor skills class, as a family.  We participated in a weekly nature adventure class, as a family.  I participated in the father daughter dance at their dance recital, which we all play a part in ... Wendy helps with hair and make-up backstage, I run the sound and create a general nuisance of myself, and the girls dance.

Our garden produced very well.  We were even blessed with 180 lbs / 82 kg of Hubbard squash that volunteered.  We expanded our foraging efforts and knowledge - we learned a few new plants and took the offered abundance of some old friends.  Our weekly visits to the farmers market also paid dividends by putting us in contact with farmers who had both pig shares and cow shares.  This was all in addition to the 44 broiler chickens (averaging 6.5 lbs/3 kg each fully dressed), 6 rabbits, and more than 144 dozens eggs we harvested from our little 1/4 acre lot.

At Thanksgiving, we were given, in exchange for a composter we never used, a turkey.  Our friend raised turkeys, which I've got to say we HUGE!  The day the turkeys went to the butcher, I received a call.  The butcher said the turkeys would not fit into a conventional oven and would have to be cut in half.  Each half weighed 19 pounds / 8.6 kg.  Needless to say, we spread it out over two holidays.

And, when you thought it couldn't get any better ... I changed jobs.  It is fairly common knowledge that my job was driving me insane.  I put out that I was looking and ... voila ... an opportunity arose.  I am working for a company that seems to truly value its employees, they pay well and do not abuse them by forcing ridiculous work hours / schedules.  In the month I have been there, I have been told many times ... "I'm glad you're here."

I know that I have a lot to be thankful for, and I am.  My family is healthy and happy.  I can live with my job.  I am learning incredible new, spiritually/emotionally.intellectually fulfilling things.  Thank you, Universe.  My MooseBoots path is simply amazing.  I look forward to all of the wonders in this new year.

So, that's my story.  What things are you, dear readers, thankful for?  I would love to hear.  Remember, not only do we create our own realtiy, but our gratitude and appreciation are the least we can offer in return.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Primitive / Colonial Skills Class - Week 4

I am always surprised by the little synchronicities that arise on this MooseBoots journey.  The moments happen far too often to be anything but the law of attraction - the drawing together of like-minded people, kindred spirits perhaps.  And, when they occur, I am surprised by the depth of commonality.  The world is changing more than can be attributed to the changes occurring withing me.  A shift is occuring ... perhaps we are all feeling it in our own ways.  There seems to be some kind of awakening happening.  At least, I recognize it when I see it, perhaps it is that I am just more aware of it on the same level it has always had.

We met again for our bi-weekly class.  This week's plan was simply to start working on spoons.  Because the weather was particularly wet, we held class inside.  One of the parents brought some dried beans and a screen.  We spent a bit of time winnowing the beans.  It held the kids attention for a bit - crush, pour through the screen, and bounce them around until the small bits of shell fall through the mesh leaving ... beans just like you would get in the store.

Afterwards, we spent a few minutes talking about knife safety.  You can image the scene ... 9 kids, ranging in age from 5 to 13, 2 dogs, and 5 parents carving away in a small 9 x 12 foot space.  Then, it was off to the races.  The kids don't really work on any project for the whole time and this class was no exception.  The kids wander off from time to time, but they always seem to come back periodically.  Amazingly, there was only one cut ... parent really should try to set a good example (just teasing).  The dogs were very well behaved, but they got tired of carving after a while, too.

While we were carving, Wendy was making an amazing stew with beef freshly butchered and delivered during the wood flying frenzy.  All of the ingredients were local, which is one of the synchronicities.  Most of the people who attend are very careful about their diets and where their food comes from (which is also why we were winnowing beans).  Another parent had brought a cauliflower/corn chowder.  The food heated nicely on the wood stove.  When there was a particular lull in the action, we stopped and ate, which brought the whole group back together.

After a snack, we gathered again for a guided meditation.  During the carving, we parents discussed many things, including Tom Brown, his books, The Vision and The Tracker, and his focus of spirituality and its connection to Nature.  One of the parents has trained with Tom Brown (author of one of my favorite books, Field Guide To Living With The Earth).  He teaches his students a guided meditation he calls "Meditation 101".  As she was describing it to the group, my mind was screaming "that's a shamanic journey".  A few months ago, Wendy, Big Little Sister, Little Fire Faery, and I went to a shamanic journeying workshop so that my family could be more involved with the other part of my education.  At the time, we felt Precious was too young.  Since then, she has been asking for me to teach her.  Synchronicity number 2.  So, as part of this group, the kids were taught the beginnings of shamanic journeying.  Too cool!  Precious was elated after the very short meditation - she is anxious to learn.

The most amazing thing to me is that I have wanted to learn all of these things for most of my life.  It is now happening and moreover, I am getting to share it with my family and a growing community of friends.  The Universe continues to provide exactly what I need when it is appropriate.  What more can be asked?  I will continue my work on this MooseBoots path - spiritual growth, appreciation of nature, practice of native skills, and awareness building.  And, I will continue to trust in the Universe's wisdom, guidance, and abundance.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Coming Of Age

There are transition times in our lives.  Sometimes, they are gradual changes recognized only much later,  Other times, they are clearly marked instances.  Last Fall, I was invited to participate in an observation of one such event, a young man's coming of age ceremony.  Ceremonies like this were common around the world in indigenous cultures - a symbolic transition to mark the real, often physical, change.  They were used to inform the "honoree" of his/her changing role in the society. 

Perhaps, this is why they are not common in ours - we have no clearly defined roles.  We hold our kids back ... physically, they are adults much younger than the legal definition.  How often have you heard, of a young woman, "She is ONLY 16?!  I thought she was 21"?  Further, when they become adults, we do not have roles for them to fill, besides that of a consumer.  We have lost our identities somewhere along the way.  It would not be a problem if, as a society, we had roles to support the people who surround us.  In indigenous tribes, we might be hunters, healers, basket makers, etc. to support the whole tribe.

My part is this ceremony was not necessarily key to the process, but vital for this young person's growth.  I was asked to offer a piece wisdom I have learned during my life.  We don't often, in these times, interact with those much older and so we lose their accumulated wisdom.  I feel honored to have been asked.  I was surprised to be told that this young man considers me a part of his spiritual family.  I was bowled over by the recognition that there are people out there who consider me as a vessel for wisdom - we don't always recognize those slow changes in ourselves.

I pondered for weeks about what was the most important piece of wisdom I could share.  When put into this context, it seemed important to pass on something that would serve him his whole life.  Several other men were also asked to speak.  Of course, spirit works in mysterious ways.  Each of the four of us, had different insights to pass on.  It was a genuine sharing of wisdom within a community, however temporary.  I, too, was reminded of a few things - slow down and enjoy the moment.

I offered this ... We create our own reality.  And, we must be honest with ourselves and others.  The first can be somewhat controversial.  I can hear people grumbling already.  The fact is that we DO create our reality.  Evey thing that happens is a result of the choices we make.  Tragic events occur, but if we accept responsibility for ourselves and really look at our actions, with an open-mind and brutal honesty, we will find things that would have changed the result if we had chosen or acted differently.  Additionally, we have to be honest with ourselves and each other.  Honesty is the measure by which we are judged ... was he honest with me, how honest, does he mean what he says, etc.  It is a real tragedy when we see a person who can not even be honest with himself.

Now, several months later, I find myself with one of my own making the transition.  I offer you, Big, Little Sister, the same advice.  I believe that we have raised you with these beliefs.  You are an incredible, young woman.  I am often amazed by the things that you do and the way you do them.  I am proud of you.

My MooseBoots path has been amazing, thus far.  When I look back, I see that I have grown.  I am assuming my proper role even as I learn it.  I am excited to know that I am growing right along with my family, who shares my path.  I recognize that we are always making a transition of one kind or another - life is not static.  I welcome you to share some of your own wisdom here for those in a state of transition.  Ask your family and friends to come and do the same.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Scene Of The Crime

My MooseBoots education has been gaining pace rapidly.  A month or so ago, I had the privilege of attended a mentoring class at the Maine Primitive Skills School.  It was an amazing download of information.  Had I been paying attention and had time to read it, I would have found that much of the material is presented in their book, The Invisible School: Playing Hard and Growing Smart.  It certainly would freed me to pay attention to the discussion instead of taking so many notes. 

Regardless, one of the exercises we did was a linking exercise.  Quite simply, the object was to find a disturbance in the forest and link other things to it.  For example, we found a tree that was blown over.  Its top had been broken off.  We observed many other trees in the area with similar damage.  Then, we notices that there were many small pine trees.  Counting the sets of branches (because a pine tree will put out a new set for every year of growth), we determined that the trees started growing about 12 years ago.  We made the assumption that the trees started growing because of the new opening in the canopy.  We then decided that this was all caused by the ice storm of 1998 that Maine suffered.  It just so happened that one of the instructors had been around then and confirmed this for us.  It was a great exercise.  The following is a similar exercise that we, homeschooling parents and students alike, had here at the Wyvern Heath on the drive out to the dance school.

At first glance, it might not seem obvious.  The tiny gray, white, brown, and black feather were strewn about it a rough circle about 8-10 feet in diameter.  A second look revealed some small seed dropped into the snow ... melted in a bit, but there.  What could it all mean?

First, we figured that the feathers are probably those of a chickadee.  The reasoning, which was not argued against, was that the colors and the sizes are about right.  Further, chickadees are numerous in our yard, especially this time of year.  Most often lately, we have been seeing chickadees, blue jays, and crows.  The other two do not fit.

Second, the seed was located directly under our black cherry tree and looks like the appropriate seed for the tree.  It must have fallen onto the snow and slowly melted into the surface.  This seemed fairly reasonable as the weather has been warm and the seed is dark colored.

Third, we also assumed that, given the large number of feathers, that the bird became someone's breakfast.  There were no blood drops, however.  And, there were no tracks into or out of the area. 

So, these are the simple facts.  The rest is our theory and the explanation for it.  First, we discussed the distribution and pattern of feathers on the snow covered ground.  The feathers seemed evenly spread in a circle.  This circle was too large for the attack to have taken place on the ground.  Additionally, there was no sign of struggle or tracks in or out.  So, we concluded that it happened above the ground.  The inclusion of the seed, indicated that perhaps the chickadee was perched in the black cherry tree eating seeds.

This seed eating could only have happened on tiny end branches were the fruit grows.  So, our culprit was not a raccoon, opossum, cat, or otherwise because they would have been too heavy to make it out to the bird.  Besides, these animals would have left a blood trail.  But, there was none.  So, what could it have been.  Then,we remembered that we saw, for the first time this year, at least one red-tailed hawk in the neighborhood.  That must be our culprit for the heinous day lit crime.  We did talk about owls, but as chickadees are diurnal, we ruled them out.  Besides, we have not found any owl pellets around here.

So, here is our theory ... the black capped chickadee was out foraging for food in the bright morning light.  It lit upon our tree and was nibbling the black cherries.  While he ate, we was spotted by a red-tailed hawk.  The hawk swooped in and caught our chickadee unaware.  This released a cloud of feathers and caused the chickadee to drop one of the seeds.  There was no wind, so the feather fell straight to the ground beneath the tree, as did the seed.  So, it was not really a criminal act after all, but a simple act of survival in nature.

This find and the ensuing discussion was amazing.  It engaged the whole family.  It required that know the species around us ... what they eat, where they live, when the are active.  We needed to think about what we saw and reason out how the things got there.  We thought about the recent weather and the impact it had on the "scene".  In short, it demanded that we be aware.  This is the type of awareness and understanding of the natural world that I seek on this MooseBoots journey.  It is amazing how powerful a few simple questions can be! 

I look forward to your comments, for or against the theory.  I certainly encourage you to play these types of games, as they present themselves.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Primitive / Colonial Skills Class - Week 2

If you have been tracking me along this MooseBoots trail, you know that I have been attending a couple of different outdoors/survival skills classes with Wendy and the girls.  Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, our Nature Adventure class ran its seven week course.  We were saddened and thought it was a shame to let the group dissolve back into the usual grind of daily living.

Additionally, I have been a bit disturbed by my situation.  According to Tamarack Song in the book Journey To The Ancestral Self, in a native culture, I would have reached the place of knowing my vision and exploring mysteries years ago.  In other words, I would be ready to accept and understand the wisdom offered me by my elders.  I am also nearing the age where I would start sharing my knowledge and skills with others, teaching.  Here is where I run into trouble ... I have no elders.  Everything I learn is done through books or sporadic contact with others.  I have a burning need to learn and share these skills.  Perhaps, I have found a connection to the Spirit In All Things.  It has shown me the path, it is up to me to follow and fulfill my purpose.

Wendy and I spoke with Mike and several of the parents in our group.  We decided that the group needed to continue.  As such, we have begun meeting at our house.  Mike is temporarily out of the state earning some money to continue his path and is not available.  So, we are teaching the class.  I have no particular expertise in the true complete sense of survival, but I have many useful skills, that I have learned through all of my bumbling around, to share with the kids.

Over the next few months, because it is Winter, we will work primarily with fire and craft items that would be useful in a native context, specifically spoons and bowls.  We've already met a few times with the kids ranging from 5 to 13.  I like to joke that we've taught other peoples kids to make fire.  Additionally, we've also shown them how to play with fire ... to make bowls.

For me, this supports both my learning and my need to share these skills.  First, when we learned these skills, we never finished either project.  Time is always short for this type of work, which tends to require patience and persistence.  The bowl, shown above, was one that I started with one of the girls over two years ago.  Until a week of two ago, it was as I had left it.  So, while it may not be completely finished, it is near complete and would be usable if I hadn't gotten so overzealous with carving the bottom flat (spelled L-E-A-R-N-I-N-G  E-X-P-E-R-I-E-N-C-E).  Similarly, the spoon was started some time again and not finished.  Of course, I needed examples on so I finished them so that I could support my second need - to share the skill.  Seeing the progress over the last class, I recognize that it will probably take more time that planned to finish both a bowl and spoon, but the kids can work on their own, too.  I should mention that parents are encouraged to participate in the activities as well.  The hope is that they will learn something to share with their kids and that perhaps, they will have something to share with the group.  I guess to say it another way ... we are building a community.

My MooseBoots journey has given me so many fantastic experiences.  It is imperative that I share these experiences or create the opportunity for other to have their own.  I am so fortunate.  I remain eager to see where the path leads, but in the meantime, I'll help guide a few other people along their own "MooseBoots Path."