I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My eventful week

Yesterday's amazing sky
When I went walking with the ladies yesterday morning, we had just finished a couple of days of rain, but the day was forecast for clouds and, later, sun. I happened to look up as we were gathering and saw these interesting clouds. We had a lovely walk, all twenty of us. Last week we walked in torrents of rain, and not many showed up. Today was dry and delightful.

And then yesterday afternoon, I went to a concert that my friend Al, the leader of our Thursday hikes, had mentioned. It was a free concert at a local church, so I didn't know quite what to expect, but I was blown away by the Male Ensemble Northwest, a group of thirteen educators from around the Pacific Northwest, some local and some coming from as far away as Idaho. They get together four or five times a year to practice, and all of them teach, elementary to college level. They are good friends, and next month they will travel to Thailand for their first international concert series. From their website:
While a high level of artistry is always an important goal, the members of MEN value the professional and personal associations they have with each other.  It is important that the personal soul is fed as well as the artistic.  
 It showed in their performance: starting out with regular chorale singing, by the time they were finished they had the entire audience standing and clapping, with one song even miming the playing of instruments. One talented fellow, Justin Raffa, was able to sound like a piccolo! I sure enjoyed this, as you can tell, and if you visit their page you can also find out more about them. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, it's worth going out of your way to hear them.

Last Thursday's hike up to Church Mountain was a memorable one, too. Our first hike of the autumn season was spectacular with fall scenery, and the group size of eight made it easy to visit with everybody. We were without our leader, Al, who was a little under the weather, and I think that might be why I ended up with such sore legs afterwards. Al sets a very nice slow pace, and without him I think we climbed the incredible 4,000 feet of elevation at a faster pace than usual. Or maybe it was the downhill, who knows? All I know is that when I got out of bed on Friday morning, I hurt just about everywhere, but especially my quadricep muscles. Today, Sunday, they are much, much better. The five-mile walk yesterday helped work out the kinks, too.

I am so glad that I can still do such difficult hikes as Church Mountain, and I know there will be a time in the not-too-distant future when I'll be lucky to hike to the meadow rather than making it all the way to the top, but as long as I'm able, I'll keep going. It not only feeds my need for exercise, but my soul as well. Someone told me about the concept of "forest bathing" or the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku. That link will take you to a Washington Post article about the practice. From the article by Meeri Kim:
A number of scientific studies emphasize that reveling in the great outdoors promotes human health. Spending time in natural environments has been linked to lower stress levels, improved working memory and feeling more alive, among other positive attributes.
I can certainly attest to feeling more alive after a time in the wilderness. In fact, my Thursday hikes are sacrosanct: it takes a lot for me to miss one, even in the rain and wind. We only have another month, at best, to play in the High Country, and then for late fall and winter, we'll move to the lowlands. But we will still go out on Thursdays to play in the beautiful outdoors. I do think it keeps me healthy.

One hike I'll miss will be in early October, because I'll be heading off to Vashon Island with my blogging buddies for our fifth adventure together. It's hard to believe that it's been five years already since I met my fellow bloggers for a three-day retreat to the island. We have since expanded our time together to five full days, and I look forward to it with anticipation. We will miss having one person with us (we started out as six), but she lives in Colorado and the rest of us are more locally situated. Plus the six-bedroom farmhouse we rent for the period has one bedroom that is not as comfortable as the others, so we will not have to use it. Everyone has her own room at the Lavender Hill Farm. Being surrounded by lavender fields is also a real bonus.

My dreams during this past week have been vivid, for whatever reason. I met an old friend in one dream, and she's been hanging around with me ever since. Although it's someone I had a difficult time with for years, in my dream we made up and became close again. And probably because of the concert yesterday, I dreamt last night about an old favorite song that has been playing inside my head. When I was young, my parents had a stereo system and a collection of albums (remember those?). One that I particularly liked was The Ink Spots. They were a black vocal group popular in the 1930s and 1940s. They have been a presence in my life ever since. The song that I keep hearing in my head is called "If I Didn't Care," and I found it on YouTube. Here it is, and I apologize for the lead-in commercial, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I've listened to this a couple of times now.

And with that, I've finished another post. As usual, I wish all the best to you, my dear readers, for the week ahead. Now that we in the Northern Hemisphere are in the autumnal season, with leaves falling off the trees and painting our pathways, I hope that path will take you to some walks in the great outdoors. And I always have to remember that some of my readers are beginning their springtime. What a great world we live in!


Marie Smith said...

Incredible performance of If I Didn't Care, which I remember and totally enjoy. The spoken oart is as lovely as the sung part and the harmonies are incredible.
Thank you for sharing. Have a great week!

Linda Reeder said...

While I can't do nine mile/4000 ft elevation hikes (at least I don't think I can) I do love being in the out-of-doors. Coming back from the coast, I saw as we drove over the rivers and through the woods and up and over and around the hills that the autumnal season is definitely upon us.
By this time next week I will be in an inn near the north coast of Massachusetts, there for a nieces wedding on Sunday and some touring for the week to follow. I'll get autumn on two coasts!
Now it's time to get moving and get out for our morning walk. It's time to get back into the groove around here. Have a good week, and happy hiking!

Silver in AZ said...

I'm' glad that hike didn't leave you too sore for too long. Sounds like it was a lovely, lovely week.

John's Island said...

Hello DJan, If I Didn’t Care is so great. Thanks for taking me back! And your mention of “forest bathing” … I’ve been participating in a study at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island seeking to find the impact of walks in the forest on improved health. I will have a post about that on my blog in the not too distant future. Thanks for the info on MEN … my next stop on the World Wide Web. Have a great week ahead!

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

glad you had a splendid weekend.
that photo of the sky is indeed wonderful, thanks for sharing.
Music is a wonderful peace maker for the soul.

have a great week.

“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence”-Rabindranath Tagore

The Furry Gnome said...

I'm certainly going to be out there trying to get my share of hikes in the great outdoors!

Red said...

Just being outdoors is a tonic and benefits our physical and mental health. Oh I remember the Ink Spots. I didn't know they were that old. One thing that keep you going is the regular walking and hiking you do. Once I didn't hike that often I lost it. However, I found other things to do.

baili said...

loved your gorgeous photos above and story of your life you proved yourself a brave and very strong woman i am proud of it and wish to gain strength like you dear.best of luck for you sky visits and wishing you safe landing each time love and hugs from Asia

Elephant's Child said...

I always look forward to these posts - and, as usual I have had my anticipation rewarded.
Lots of food for thought. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I should get out in nature more often, but it is so hot and humid due to the hurricane season here in Hawaii.

The Broad said...

I envy you your hikes and the comradeship you share doing them. For several months I have been suffering from a strained Achilles tendon and the more I walked the more painful it became. Fortunately, the summer in France I have been able to have my feet up and be outdoors and now the problem seems to have cleared up. Needless to say, I am looking forward to getting back to my regular walking routine when back in the UK.

MEN sounds like an extraordinary musical ensemble and you must have been blown away! I am looking forward to reading all about them on the website. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to listen to the Inkspots, but I will try again later in the day when my Internet connection tends to improve.

Rita said...

Oh my! They were both so wonderful to listen to. Wow! Thanks so much.
Glad your body recovered in a couple of days. I'm sure the pace can make a lot of difference. Enjoy your last month of the high road--LOL! (Now I have that song in my head, too--LOL!)

Carole said...

Love the concept of forest bathing. It's so true! The great outdoors is my sanctuary.

Loved the video. Thanks for sharing DJan, and as always, I so appreciate you and your ability to touch my heart each and every time you write :-)

Arkansas Patti said...

Ooh, I would love to try some forest bathing. I get outside enough but I don't think attacking weeds has the same effect on the soul as wallowing in nature's beauty. I am so impressed that you don't let pain deter you.
I had to skip the Ink Spots. That has ear worm written all over it. I remember them and actually saw them in a live performance a bit past their heyday in a nightclub and they were still wonderful.

Rian said...

Love that sky! I wonder what you call those clouds...

And I agree that being out in Nature is very soothing to the soul.

C-ingspots said...

Sounds like you've enjoyed a wonderfully, full week. Loved the sky shot! And I really enjoyed the song as well. I didn't remember that one, but I remember the Ink Spots. :)

I particularly enjoy when "modern science" catches up with what God's word has always said about getting out in nature. Good for the body and soul! Hope you have another beautiful week.

Sally Wessely said...

That photo of the sky is one fantastic photo. The sky really was interesting. Thanks for sharing that beauty with us.

The concert sounds like it was really a great thing to attend. I'm so glad you were able to attend.

Yes, nature is so good for the soul.

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

I love following you on your walks. I hope you don't mind but I am a bit of a stalker in that regard. :)


Mel said...

What a lovely post, and yes, what a wonderful week you had! I love the cloud picture, and following you on your hikes. As always you inspire me to get outside more, and let nature work her magic on me. And to hike far and wide while I still can!

Isn't live music a transforming experience? I can't wait to click the MEN link and listen. And yes, I remember the Ink Spots, and this lovely song. Before albums, we had a reel to reel music player and I almost wore those tapes out.

Thanks for all the gifts this morning, wishing you many more great weeks. :)