Approaching the Equinox

Snowy-BuddhaThe Spring Equinox arrives Thursday. The snow lies deep across the landscape and this morning’s temperature is -7 F. The sunrise was lovely, casting a pastel glow on the Adirondacks across the lake. The March sun melts some snow each day, the water pooling on the sidewalk, then freezing at sundown. The sidewalks are fit only for skating and are best avoided. Evenings continue to lengthen, sunset coming well after seven now, and skiers and snow shoers utilize every available moment of sunlight. Shortly after dawn this morning there were skiers on the path behind our home. Continue reading

The Complexity of the Medicine Wheel

Bird-Feeder-In-StormAlthough the calendar suggests we are in mid-March, and thus, deep into maple sugaring season, the weather insists we are not. While yesterday was in the low 40′s F, today is in the low 20′s, and we are in the midst of a significant snowstorm.  It has been snowing all day, although one cannot say how much snow may have fallen as the wind is whipping the snow around, lowering the visibility to near white-out levels. Sugaring is on hold. I’m pleased to be home with the wood stove, rather than out driving in the increasing tempest. Continue reading

Spring, Creativity, and The Dreaming

Shadow-PlayIt’s March and cold; winter seems unrelenting. .  Close to a foot of snow and ice covers our yard. This winter Lake Champlain froze over for the first time in years. While the winter has felt severe, in reality it has been more of a normal season, much like the winters prior to 1990. The past ten years have witnessed consistently warm temperatures; some Vermont ecologists have monitored a winter temperature rise of over 5 degrees F at their recording stations in the southern part of the state. Now a winter filled with below zero nights seems cold indeed. Continue reading


TulipSpring has come, bursting onto the landscape in an intense green fire. The woods have closed in, blanked in new leaf and, this morning, fog. The annual chorus of bird song greets us at 4:30 in the morning. The rich melodies of Aaron Copland’s iconic chamber music, Appalachian Spring, fill the classical music airwaves, providing a soundtrack to this eruption of color and song.

The force of Nature’s rush into Spring at the higher latitudes is awe-inspiring. No wonder we speak of the birth of Spring, noting the rush to space and light that seems to mark the arrival of all new life. There is waiting,  anticipation, urgency, then a full headlong charge into being. Continue reading


We came home to 19 degree F weather. Today we have light snow.
The annual maple sugaring is underway. Next week we do ceremony to honor the Maple tree and maple sugaring. Apparently last week marked a good run of sugaring. Here is an explanation of the nature of sugaring.

Originally posted on Rebecca in the Woods:


We started tapping maple trees on campus this week. I would guess that most of my readers are familiar with the general process of making maple syrup – you tap the trees to collect their sap and boil it down to get rid of the excess liquid and concentrate the sugar. The Ojibwa Indians in this area were already collecting sap to make syrup and sugar before the first European settlers arrived, and there’s even a town south of here called “Sugar Camp” because the site was known as a center of maple tapping activity. But why do we tap the trees at a specific time of year? What exactly is going on with the sap?

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Well, we are heading into the last week of the term. Essentially this means every second is precious, and  I often don’t have much time to blog.

I do want to take a moment and thank all of you who wished me a speedy recovery from last week’s minor surgery. I am happy to report the eyelid seems to be healing fine!

The weather has turned cold and sunny. Warmer weather is promised for the first round of college graduations. I’ve been thinking about suvivance, a good concept to think about as we move fully into the growing season. More on all this soon.

Spring and the Promise of the Sixth World

Th Green Wold of VermontI’ve spent most of the weekend on my back, cold and hot compresses glued to my right eyelid. Thursday I had reconstructive surgery on my eyelid. It took all of twenty-five minutes! Recovery takes three weeks.

Over the weekend the Natural world burst into Spring. The living world’s  recovery from winter has taken many weeks . Now, with the arrival of rain, our increasingly desperate dryness has eased, and the plant world has rushed into leaf! Even the trillium in our wildflower garden have bloomed their deep maroon, their flowers hanging low in the rain. Continue reading

Spring, Gratitude, and The Medicine Wheel

Alicia Daniel, my friend and colleague, and a field naturalist at UVM, was the guest presenter in my class this week. Her theme was “Spring and the Medicine Wheel”. Although it had been snowing and raining for over 24 hours, Alicia gamely took the class to a nearby natural area to look for signs of Spring, before settling in to our warm classroom to explore the nuanced meanings inherent in the Medicine Wheel. There was still snow on the ground as the class dutifully trudged off along the trail.  Here and there, atop the snow, rested sap buckets, recovering from this year’s sugar season. My favorite sign of spring was a bullfrog croaking in the nearby wetland. Continue reading

The Promise of Renewal

Back in November I was given a bougainvillea plant. For a while, it lived in our sunroom, but did not seem happy. Recently, we moved it to the studio where it seems to be thriving, sending along branches and new leaves.

In the forest, the tree buds are thickening, giving the woodlands a more dense feel. Sap is beginning to rise in the maples. Underneath the snow the bulbs are awakening. A scattering of robins have returned. For the past few years, a few robins have overwintered. This year,  with our deep snow, sightings have been few. Slowly, deep winter gives way to spring. The first sap runs are imminent. The crocuses are buried beneath a couple of feet of snow, waiting. Continue reading