What is Mentoring All About?

“It’s a monster!” Payton yelled out! His fishing pole, made for a child to catch tiny fish, bent in a 180-degree arch. Somehow, amazingly, he guided the monster close enough that I could grab its lower jaw. Seconds later it was in the boat.

Boy with bass

A proud fisherman.

Wow!  It was a monster. 5.1 pounds is a big Largemouth bass. After carefully removing the hook, we slid her back into the water. The fish finned away, yet the memory will linger for a lifetime.

We’ve known 10-year-old Payton and his family for several years. His parents don’t fish and they want him to develop a wide range of interests.  I, Rich have fished for most of my 72 years and offered to take him to a local pond. That was in the spring. We’ve since floated in my tiny row pram several times.

 

 

 

Mentoring. I thought I’d teach him how to fish. I sort of succeeded. At least by these skills he’s learned:

  • Casting with one hand.
  • Fishing without getting many tangles…..and being able to untangle most of the ones he does get.
  • Learning knot tying.
  • Identifying fish species.
  • Picking the right lure and gently handling and releasing fish.
  • Spotting mink, kingfishers, turtles, and toads.
  • Collecting data. We keep length and weight records of the fish we catch.

What I didn’t realize before we started fishing was what I’d learn, including the patience needed to untangle snarls of line. I also learned some new easy-to-tie knots so I could show Payton. And, we had the chance to talk about conservation as we got to know each other.

Boy with fish

Payton has learned several skills.

Mentoring. It’s fun. Fishing has been our activity but an adult mentor can spark a kid’s interest in all sorts of activities, ranging from playing golf to fixing engines. It’s rewarding to share a hobby with a youngster…..and initiate a lifelong passion.

Have You Noticed the Forest Magic?

Winding Pathways borders 110-acre Faulkes Heritage Woods, a primeval woodland that changed dramatically in 40 minutes last August 10, 2020, when a derecho roared through Eastern Nebraska, all of Iowa and into Illinois.

Indian Creek from ridge

A short walk through the woods brought us to Indian Creek.

Prior to the storm, the view from our back deck was of towering oaks, hickories, walnuts, and a few maples. We’d often walk a quarter-mile to Indian Creek under a nearly closed crown of intertwined branches far overhead.

Then a derecho roared through with 140-mile-an-hour winds. (Watch several videos of the storm)

 

 

 

 

When we ventured outside, we found two big trees on our garage and cabin, and most of our own trees prostrated. Our power and Internet were down. Our biggest shock was the woods. Instead of immense giants, we saw trees that had withstood 150 years of wind shattered. Some were uprooted. Many snapped off with their trunks standing like poles. Others were twisted apart by the powerful wind.

It was devastating.  Heartbreaking.  All winter our view was of broken trees………until spring’s warmth worked magic on the woods.

Forests are resilient. For the first April in over a century sunlight reached the forest floor. As it gained strength in May and June it triggered a resurgence of vegetation we’d never seen in the woods before. All were plants that can’t thrive in dense shade.

We were overjoyed to see tree sprouts. Baby oaks, hackberries, ironwood, maple, and basswoods popped up here and there. Soon they were joined by a thick growth of what many would call weeds.  A few are new to us, including oakleaf goosefoot. Some are concerning. The sunshine is encouraging invasive garlic mustard, multiflora rose, and Japanese barberry, but we also spotted something delicious.

Long dormant raspberry and blackberry canes rose from the soil.  We’ll enjoy a great berry harvest next summer and for many following years until new trees gradually shade them to dormancy.

Nature is resilient, and we’re watching a woodland resurrection from our back deck.

Watch a video from 12th Ave. Bridge in Cedar Rapids.

 

How Did You Spend Pandemic Time Creatively?

Quilting and the Chesapeake Bay

Guest Blogger, Sigrid Reynolds

I have always loved the humble arts of unknown women who pieced quilts. My own attempts at the craft had resulted in exactly 10 squares in the 1980s when I had small children at home who took afternoon naps. At the same time, I started looking through the piles of quilts at antique stores in the Shenandoah Valley. It thrilled me to see the patterns, colors, and precise stitching of women from the past. So seduced was I by these piles, I knew collecting could get out of control. But then I found a Pennsylvania Dutch unquilted top in an original bold tulip design of blue, red, and yellow colors. I decided to seek and purchase only this color combination. That kept the lid on it since these colors are rare in combination.

COVID-19 Quilting

Taking up quilting again didn’t occur to me until Spring 2020 when I was asked to join a young friend’s virtual pandemic quilt circle. In a time when we all faced our own mortality and the uncertain path the pandemic and the nation would take, we needed something to calm ourselves. As a retired person, I had nothing filling my time and frankly, felt the need to leave some little part of me behind in the lives of my descendants.

The group chose a striking geometric pattern with many triangular pieces. I purchased material, cut a few triangles, and then I went rogue. My inclination was to go faster, larger and more personal since I’d found piecing tedious in those earlier tries. Besides, I am 30 years older than the members in my group so my “life” time is more limited. I found purpose in a multi-generational family vacation home on the Chesapeake Bay just begging for Aunt Sig artifacts for posterity.

A “Fishy” Quilting Inspiration

My first quilt was a re-interpretation of a fish painting that the family had owned for 90 years. The family has always asked guests to tell them how many fish they see in the painting. So, I added goldfish for a humorous twist and quilted in additional fish. In all, there are 40 fish in this quilt.

What came next was an urge to recognize the other birds and animals seen regularly on or near the Bay: herons in the morning and evening along with osprey all day. And then I was remembering sunning turtles in a nearby spring-fed pond. I added more goldfish and quilt fish to keep the puzzle going.

I next needed to represent the loblolly pines that line the shores of that estuary. And, of course, I needed additional visitors: raccoons, foxes, and box turtles. While quilting, I added one ghostly possum in the lower right-hand corner. And why not add some quilted poison ivy since that is always an island hazard? And yes, there are fish quilted into the water to count.

New Inspirations

Finally, as this quiet, worrisome time comes to an end, I realized that I needed to turn from nature to hail the Baltimore Light, a caisson lighthouse, that has defined the deep channel for ships going into Baltimore Harbor my entire life. Since it was winter, I recalled the two times that I had seen the Bay had frozen and decided that might be a good subject. And yes, there will be quilted fish to count under the ice floes.

Nature Continues to Inspire

I have pondered what prompts this late-in-life creativity and conclude that the pandemic opened up a fertile field in me that might have remained fallow. I, like many, turned to the nearby nature of our backyard and parks but memories of a barefoot childhood on the Bay persisted. Quilting allowed me to visit the nature of my memories.

 

Smokey Bear Re-Visited

A few months ago, we posted a blog honoring Smokey Bear on his 75th birthday. Smokey was created by the United States Forest Service in an effort to encourage people to be careful with fire. His was one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history.

Smokey Bear Cutout with a woman standing beside.

The allure of Smokey Bear.

Smokey is adorable yet commanding. When he said to drown campfires and snuff out cigarettes you did it without question. Today, we know that forest fires are a natural phenomenon with beneficial ecological impacts, but Smokey’s message still resonates.

Two Winding Pathways readers shared their memories of Smokey Bear.

Tracy McPartland of Cedar Rapids sent us a photo of her with Smokey taken at the Smithsonian. “I loved Smokey Bear as a kid. I used to voice imitate him even though I don’t know what his voice was like.”

 

Ancient Smokey Bear doll.

Smokey has been well-loved.

Jim Rainey is a retired US Army LTC who lives in Pennsylvania. Recently, he told us he received a Smokey doll from Santa in the early 1950s when he was four or five years old. “I was enchanted by Smokey. And, my doll still sits on the chair in my office.  Sometimes my dog uses him as a pillow. At age 65, or so, he has patches on his jeans, is missing some hair, and part of his nose is gone. A few years ago, we asked our three daughters what they wanted of our stuff and was surprised when our oldest daughter said she wanted Smokey. Before then I was thinking of having him put in my casket, but I really didn’t want him locked in a box for eternity. I’ll let my daughter enjoy him and think of me,” he said.

 

Rich also has pleasant memories of Smokey and passed his image whenever he entered the Boise, Clearwater, or Idaho Panhandle National Forests during his college years. In 1974 he was a US Forest Service Hot Shot and fought three wildfires in Idaho. He’s kept a Smokey poster on his office wall for years.

There is confusion. Technically he’s Smokey Bear, not Smokey THE Bear.

A former college contact, the Fazio Family, owns Woodland Catalog Smokey Bear Gifts and has a store in Moscow, Idaho. Anyone wanting Smokey items can order it online. There’s a Smokey Bear museum in a state park in Capitan, New Mexico. You can take a brief virtual tour at

Smokey endures for the ages.   His message is clear, and his presence is endearing.

Gratitudes 2019

For many people, 2019 was a roller coaster year in some respects. A habit I have developed is writing down each day a gratitude on a sticky note and placing each in a jar on the counter. Then, at the end of the year (three years now) I read them and select a few to remember. These are randomly selected.

In General – * Several times throughout the year we enjoyed breakfast, coffee or dinner with neighbors and friends.
* Yoga classes are always an activity I am grateful for.
* Healing energy work at home and the Nassif Community Cancer Center.
* Computer help from Turner Web Marketing and Dustin at Kirkwood.
* Taking in displays at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art with a friend.
* The year-long Shaman class.  Meeting new people, learning different techniques and having the similarities of techniques affirmed.

January – * Grateful we have a competent tax consultant to help with tax ins and outs.
* We found an important letter that had dropped in the snow at the mailbox.

February – * After bitter cold for weeks on end, we had a sparkly, mild winter day.  Birds singing and the sun strong enough to melt snow and ice.
* The previous year I had investigated possible sites for Renewal Day 2020.  One of the excellent sites, Outlaw Ranch in the Black Hills, contacted me for an update. They were gracious when I explained the Veriditas Council had chosen a different location. The Ranch is a great location.  A concern is that late April we could have a “snowbound” event.
* We’ve done monthly Facebook Live shows with Hoover’s Hatchery featuring Winding Pathways chickens: what’s new, how to, humor and gratitude for the hens.  And, I hammed it up for KCRG-TV doing a FB live at the Nassif Community Cancer Center promoting their wellness center.
* A friend fixed our water pipe going to the outside, so it would not freeze up.

March – * Nancy arranged flights for me back East when Claire Patterson died. The ZOOM meeting from The Lake went well. The remembrance time at “33” on a beautiful late winter day – snowdrops outside the kitchen door. Coffee with Nancy before we separated to our respective terminals for flights. Flights on time!

April – * Excellent support from the Interreligious Council of Linn County and Lisa R. for the Global Healing Response program.

May – * A quiet student in the Journey’s class opened up day three, smiled and shared. Wonderful!

June – * Jazz festival Elkhart, IN. NYC with D and A and her mom. B-day celebrations by Jack and Marie. Quite the antipasto feast. Fireworks as we came back to Denville on the bus! Fireflies when we returned home.

July – * Walk labyrinth in the early morning.

August – *Journeys with outstanding colleagues.

September – *Tour of the Elmcrest Country Club by JH, who was so gracious to my sister and brother-in-law who is quite the golf enthusiast.
* Alaska adventures with B and N.
* House re-roofed.

October – * Visit with friends in Ohio. Attending the simple Sunday evening service at a retirement home. Labyrinth walks at Cedar Lake and Parsippany.
* Veriditas Council meeting to plan Renewal Day and Qualifying Workshop 2020 in The Black Hills.

November – * Dan and Amy’s wedding in the East. Fun times. Music. Food. Relatives and friends.
* Cleaned the prairie after the wimpy burn. Goodness the ground is wet and the air humid this year.
* Thanksgiving with friends here.

December – * Re-connecting with a massage therapist I know from another venue.
* D. came to Scott Mansfield’s memorial service.
* Calls from and to families.
* Kopecky’s hosted us and a family far from home.

Walking Labyrinths

Spring and summer have been great for walking labyrinths. Catch up with what has happened at the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth since snowmelt. On your travels check out The Labyrinth Locator to find labyrinths along your path. Read more on the wonderment tab of Winding Pathways.