Why go out in the rain?

You plan a walk or a hike and then it rains.  So you stay inside and postpone the walk until the weather's better. I've done it plenty - I've stayed inside because of rain.  I like dry weather and blue skies and long views.  But I've also learned to like fog and mist and rain and even a downpour here and there.  I've learned to love raindrops dripping from flowers and leaves all shiny and wet.

While I've never been a fan of hiking in the mud- in fact walking in mud for fourteen miles on my first day on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont made me cry - I realize that a walk in the rain can often be lovely. It shifts the perspective closer- to the moss on the trail side, or a bark-darkened tree, or a puddle adorned with fallen leaves.  Rain puts up a curtain around the long views so you notice what's right in front of you.  Sometimes its a box turtle in the trail.  Or a squirrel fixing up a nest for the evening.

Last night I hosted a wordless walk - it was supposed to be to enjoy the sunset and moonrise, but clouds and rain all day made visibility of the sunset unlikely.  So people who'd planned to attend the walk mostly stayed away  - rain tends to do that.

I learned from six months hiking the Appalachian Trail that if I only hiked when it wasn't raining, I would never finish the journey. It rains a lot in the eastern woodlands. Yesterday I had nowhere I needed to be and I could have easily stayed home and canceled the walk, knowing that people understand that you don't go out walking in the rain.

But I'd been inside too much this week.  So I went. And I'm so glad I did.  The quality of light as day shifted to night was magical.

The rain was only a sprinkle here and there.  I really did watch a squirrel prepare its nighttime cozy spot.


And the moon peeked out from the clouds for a moment!

The breeze was the absolute perfect temperature, and I got what I'd come out for - stillness for my soul.

Here's one more wordless video for you - raindrops on the bayou.  Watch the ripples.  So calming.


So what are your thoughts? Will you go walking in the rain?  What do you love about rain?


30 Day Challenge - Day 13: Wordless interlude

Grass time, check. Paper time, check.  Now I'm just keeping up with new papers instead of going through piles.  There are virtually no visible piles!  Cool! Drawing time, check. In process and a minor disaster, so no photo.  I think I'll just admit that when it comes to art, while I love making works that are representational, I am one lazy drawer so I get something more toward primitive.  I'm just so anxious to get to the part with the colors!

Best of all, day 13 included a nice long wordless interlude.  And tomorrow will include one as well, as I'm hosting a wordless walk in the swamp in the morning.  I'm a big fan of wordlessness as a way to still our overactive minds and connect with our deeper selves and the beautiful world around us.  Today, my sweetheart and I scouted a couple of trails.  I knew there would be a lot of water, and I was right.  But when it's warm, what's better than an Amazon-like experience of wading shin deep along swamp trails?

We saw two owls, a bunch of ibis, a yellow crowned night heron, a deer, a bunny and several squirrels, along with countless spiders and dragonflies.

Check out this cute of an ibis sharing our wordless walk with us.  I especially love the symphony of swamp sounds in the background. Click here for the video!  wordlessness with an ibis   (What happened to YouTube video previews?  boo!)

And here are the ibis a little more close up.  I love their curved beaks!

Here's to wordless interludes - they make such a difference for me - I just soak up the sounds and scents and breathe and relax.  Are you fitting wordlessness into your days?  I would love to hear about it!

Moonlit wordlessness

I used to be afraid of the dark.  Once my brother went off to college and it was my job to bring the garbage cans up the driveway to the street, I would drag them up at top speed, then turn and sprint back to the safety the inside of the house. What was I afraid of?  Goblins?  Witches?  Some kind of supernatural evil?  Who knows, but I'll never forget the one time it was pitch black and raining and I was running so fast with those trash cans that I almost ran straight into Mr. Heath and his little dog, out for a walk in their matching slickers.  I think we both scared each other a little, but he certainly was no warlock.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my fear of the dark.  I spent more time walking around in the woods at night and found out that nothing really changed except it was quiet and you couldn't see as much, and sometimes the sounds were different.

And some time after that, I grew to really enjoy walking in the woods in the dark, especially when the moon is out.  There's something so amazing about seeing your shadow created by pure moonlight.

If you haven't yet tried a nighttime wordless walk, this weekend is a great opportunity.  The moon will be close to full.  Go to a place where you feel safe.  Bring friends. Find a picturesque location to watch the sun set and the moon rise, preferably away from artificial lights.  Still your mind and just breathe and listen and be.  Stay long enough for it to get really dark so you can see your shadow by the moonlight. Marvel.

And if you're in the New Orleans area, you can join me this Sunday at 6 p.m. at Jean Lafitte for a sunset/moonrise wordless walk.  We'll meet at the Bayou Coquille parking area, and you can email me at carla@livingwildandprecious.com if you have any questions.  No matter where you are, if you haven't tried nighttime wordlessness, give it a try and tell me what happens!

Messages from the animals

I went to the swamp on a sunny Friday morning, getting ready to host a wordless walk the next day. I decided to visit my favorite tree, a giant live oak maybe 50 feet off the trail - to get there you have to kind of bushwack through the palmettos, so once you curl up in the tree's giant roots and settle in, it's as if you're in your own primeval cozy secret spot- with the Spanish moss waving in the branches high above, and the rustling fronds of palmettos all around you. I sat quietly for a while, happy to have nothing to do but sit. I'll be honest - the past two months have felt like a pretty big whirlwind as I completed coach training, started a mastery coach class, went to the coach summit in Phoenix, turned my paperwork in and got tested and certified, took a trip on the Appalachian Trail - and in the middle of it all kept doing my regular coaching and tutoring work. My calendar had been looking a little crazy, and that's exactly what I promise freedom from! Hmmm. Time to walk the walk.

So there I was. Sitting under a giant tree, gazing into woods under the arched palmettos.

And I sent out a request for the animal who had a message for me to appear.

And I am not making this up. Within five seconds I saw her, about 20 feet away, stock still, and staring at me.

This was my view. Do you see her? It's hard to tell.  I'll circle her.

Still not sure?  Well, what I did was crawl about 15 feet closer to her, and I sat with her for a while- maybe 20 minutes or so.  Neither of us moved much, especially her.  She blinked and moved her head a little, but she didn't take a single step.  Here she is close up.

I didn't reach out to pick her up.  It seemed to me that we had an understanding and I didn't want to disturb her.  I think she might be a three-toed box turtle, And I'm not 100% sure it's a she - I would have needed to look at the shape of the bottom of her shell - the plastron- to see if it was flat or indented.  That her eyes are orange, not red, means she's a female I think, but I'm not super-sure. (Can you tell I was once a naturalist and a science teacher??)

Anyway, I needed her message.  Slow down. Clear that calendar so you can work on the projects you've been back-burnering.  Or to just to take care of you.  Rest.  Retreat.  All is well right now.  No need do rush headlong into the future.  Take small steps and you'll get there.  Or take no steps and just be present for a little while.  Breathe and be. Just for a while each day.  If you move too fast you'll miss everything.  You'll forget to savor.  You'll fail to enjoy the process.  Maybe there's some time needed to bask in some accomplishments - to take them in.

Right.  Thank you! What a timely reminder.

After a while I left her, quietly and gratefully, and had a lovely rest of the day. The spring woods couldn't be more beautiful. I know - this may be a complete coincidence.  Maybe it was just lucky.  But that's fine.  I'll take it.  I needed to be reminded, and I got the message.  Take it slow.  You'll get there.

Interested in more messages from the animals?  Check out What the Walrus Knows, a beautiful book about animal totems and the messages we can receive from them, by Sarah Seidelmann, a fellow coach and amazing wayfinder.  I'm all for animal wisdom for everyone!

Fourteen things I'll treasure from four days on the AT with a good friend

1. Fragrant pink azaleas blooming.

2. Basking lizards.

3. Dogwoods.

4. Cliff views.

5. Irises.

6. Cute privies.

7. Campfires.

8. Hot drinks on a cold morning.

9. Fields with cows.

10. Spring green and Sky blue.

11. Creeks.

12. Cozy shelters.

13. Being on a woodland path that stretches across thirteen states for over 2000 miles.  That's magical.

14. Sharing a very special place and new experiences with a dear friend who'd never been backpacking before.

It's easy living, and time stretches in beautiful ways on the Appalachian Trail.

It's a joy to get out of my mind and into my body.

To breathe hard going uphill.

To feel the heat and the cold and the wind.

To eat because I'm really hungry.

To stay hydrated like I never seem to manage to do in "real life".

To walk and walk and walk with nothing to do all day but walk.

I look forward to sharing similar experiences with a very small group of women for a few nights in May, 2013.  I'm thinking May 23-27. More details will be coming, but if you want to get on the interest list now, email me at carla@livingwildandprecious.com.  It's going to be amazing!