Fireflies and Milkweed Walk

Lights twinkled in the yard and labyrinth. The faint perfume of milkweed wafted up in the still, hot, early summer air. Calling. Calling.

We had arrived home at dusk after a long journey home from the East. Still in “travel mode” we unpacked the car and put away most of our trip supplies. As darkness wrapped around us, we let ourselves release the tension that builds up from high-speed driving through eight states and visiting with numerous family and friends in four different states.

So, in the dark, with stars guiding me, fireflies dancing around me and the soft aroma of milkweed calming me, I walked the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.

How can I explain the grounding, settling in and the sense of “coming home” that flowed into and through me? I kept saying over and over, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

To the rental car for its comfort. For safe travels by car, on foot, and in buses and subways. For great meals with friends and family. For respites in unexpected places. Fr color. For quiet. For seeing different parts of the land and meeting different people. For perspectives.

While my words are weak in conveying my experience that evening, I trust that some readers have had a similar experience the memory of which lingers in their soul. A memory they can return to time and again to calm, soothe, and refresh them.

Walking the Labyrinth in the Snow

The subtleties of walking a labyrinth in fresh snow or in the dark have not been lost on me.  Muscle memory, night vision, and simple observation help navigate the terrain when obvious landmarks are obscure.

Night in the labyrinth

Muscle memory helps find the path in the dark.

Before the snow fell, when I walk the labyrinth in the dark, the memory of the path, familiarity with the number of steps to a turn, and the various plant heights help me navigate.  The funny little statues and boulders along the way form the boundaries.  Lights from passing cars not only illuminate the path briefly and also wreck night vision.  So, counting steps and simply being aware of where I am on the labyrinth help keep me on the path.

 

With snow on the ground, the snowshoes make terrific “pat down” equipment and after a few times walking is easy. So, until a new snow, I can just wear boots. Stay on the beaten path or find myself “post-holing” through deep snow.

The brilliance of a sunny day can be confusing, so after a fresh snowfall, I look for the burned stems of plants and the slight depression of past walks as guides. And, how the drifted snow reveals a different texture is fascinating.

Odd marks in the snow capture my attention.  Little holes that appear from nowhere, then tiny tracks of a rodent, then another little hole where it dropped back in the security and relative warmth of the snow tunnels.

The fate of the incautious rodent is evident where tracks suddenly disappear with telltale feather strokes on the snow. Whoooo’s for lunch?

Walking the labyrinth in winter brings its own rewards.

2018 Labyrinth Pilgrimages

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
(Fiddler on the Roof)

As 2018 draws to a close and different cultures celebrate traditions near and dear to their hearts, I take pause and reflect on this year of walking labyrinths daily.

When I began walking the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth late December 2017, I didn’t realize I would commit to walking each day. Sunrise. Sunset. Wind. Rain. Snow. Cold. Hot. Still. In happiness. Sadness. Anger. Calm. Just because. With intention. With others. By myself. Content with nature. Content with self. In Gratitude.

In April when I attended Veriditas Council at Stony Point in NY state, one of the members, Chris Farrow-Noble gave me a book she had written and published on her year-long journey of walking labyrinths. The synchronicity of intent!  So, I began reading her daily entries on the same day I would walk a labyrinth. And, feelings often walked hand-in-hand.

Later in the year, I had re-affirmed that a way to success is to scaffold a new habit on an existing habit. I have a habit of writing a gratitude on a sticky note and putting it in a jar on the kitchen counter. Out in the open where I pass several times a day.  So, I simply started jotting a date and a comment on sticky notes and stacked them beside the jar.

Now, I have started scaffolding my fitness log on top of these two positive habits.

Once I thought about the labyrinths, I have walked this year I added them up. An incredible 32 different labyrinths throughout the year.  Most outside. Some canvas. Others cloth. A few wooden lap ones.

 

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
(Fiddler on the Roof)

As 2018 draws to a close and different cultures celebratetraditions near and dear to their hearts, I take pause and reflect on this year of walking labyrinths daily.

When I began walking the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth late December2017, I didn’t realize I would commit to walking each day. Sunrise. Sunset. Wind. Rain. Snow. Cold. Hot. Still. In happiness. Sadness. Anger. Calm. Just because. With intention. With others. By myself. Content with nature. Contentwith self. Extending positive energy into the Universe to be received where itcan be accepted. In Gratitude.

More recently, as the year closes, I simply enjoy the walk and listen to the sounds. Take in the sights. Become aware of the air around me– the fresh smell of the north wind, wood smoke from the chimney, acrid smell of the recent burn off of the labyrinth. Oh, and the southeast breeze wafting up the “odorless” sewer plant! The texture of the ground underfoot- squishy after a downpour, soft grass, crunchy ice, iron hard dirt, brittle burned stalks of grasses and forbs.

Coincidentally, I learned in April at the Veriditas Council at Stony Point in NY state, that one of the members, Chris Farrow-Noble, had also walked for a year and gave me a signed book she had written and published on her year-long journey of walking labyrinths. The synchronicity of intent!  So, I began reading her daily entries on the same day I would walk a labyrinth. And, feelings often walked hand-in-hand.

Later in the year, I had re-affirmed that a way to success is to scaffold a new habit on an existing habit. I have a habit of writing a gratitude on a sticky note and putting it in a jar on the kitchen counter. Out in the open where I pass several times a day. So, I simply started jotting a date and a comment on sticky notes and stacked them beside the jar.

Now, I have started scaffolding my fitness log on top of these two positive habits.

Once I thought about the labyrinths I have walked this year I added them up. An incredible 32 different labyrinths throughout the year.  One about every eleven days. Most outside. Some canvas. Others cloth. A few wooden lap ones.  And on rare occasions when I was flying and not at all in locations to use a cloth, lap or physical labyrinth, I used the palm technique of tracing a three-circuit labyrinth on my hands.  It tickles!

My thoughts are not deep or profound.  It’s just been a good journey.

Labyrinths Around the Twin Cities

                                    Around the Midwest

Swallowtail Soiree

Guest Blogger, Sheryl Ochs

On a jaunt to the garden to retrieve some herbs for my freshly cooked carrots, I paused in surprise to see 12 small black caterpillars, each with a tiny white stripe in the middle, chomping away on my only parsley plant.

Caterpillars on parsley.

Caterpillars happily munch parsley leaves.

I knew that parsley was a butterfly host plant, and I knew that Swallowtail butterflies were partial to it, but the only ones I’d noticed before were bigger, fatter and striped with yellow/green.

Seeking advice from a trusted website, I discovered the tiny black caterpillars were indeed the first instars of the caterpillars on their way to becoming Swallowtail butterflies. As I watched what I called “my children” grow, I saw each of the four instar stages in which they shed their skin.

Each morning and evening I’d head to the garden to make certain they had not succumbed to hungry birds or other predators and each time I was relieved to count 12.

Swallowtail Caterpillars

Caterpillars on parsley.

Before the caterpillars finally vacated, they mostly decimated my parsley leaving only a small sprig for my next dish of carrots. A small price to pay for the pleasure of watching them grow to adulthood. Now they’ve meandered off to form their chrysalises and I anxiously await an influx of beautiful butterflies to grace my yard.

 

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Black Swallowtail butterfly on cup plant.

Links to Stories of Wondrous Yards

The Gazette in Cedar Rapids has had several interesting nature stories connected to creating wondrous yards.  Living Section features “Birds do it, Bees do it”, “Add a Little Luck to Your Landscape” and Purslane (by Winding Pathways).  We loved reading about the birds and bees’ cooling strategies and welcomed the return of clover to yards as natural nitrogen fixers and deep-rooted water retention plants.  And, of course, we love to eat purslane.  Let us know ways you fix this healthy vegetable.

Also an article on wasps of late summer.  They are beneficial, ‘though deserve keeping distance.

First Chrysalis of Summer.

Success on the Bena Farm!

Best of all was the picture of the Monarch Chrysalis from friends, Nancy and Gordon Bena found on their farm.  Let’s keep encouraging habitat for insects that form the basis of life for many other creatures.

Sunnylands Labyrinth, Rancho Mirage

A Guest Blog by
Teri Petrzalek

Background Information:

Sunnylands is the 200-acre estate outside Palm Springs of Walter and Lenore Annenberg. In 2001 they created a trust fund to “address serious issues facing the nation and the world community.”  A 25,000 square foot, Mid-Century marvel, this peaceful oasis is set in the center of a 9-hole golf course. The property is now used for retreats as well as high-level summits. Former President Obama met Chinese President Xi Jinping.  Other dignitaries include the Reagans, Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher. The work of the Foundation is committed to sustainability, Global Cooperation, Democratic Institutions and Global Health and Food Security.

Teri in Sunnyland Labyrinth

A hint of Thyme.

A visitor center was constructed at the entry and with it several breath-taking garden vignettes. As we toured the gardens, the tree-lined path around the great lawn opened to a clearing which contained a labyrinth. The 7-circuit path was wide and separated by low plantings.

To finish reading this guest blog, go to 1080 Labyrinth of Recovery and Laughter.