My summer has been rolling by like a river...soothingly slow in sections, and rapidly tumbling around the bends in others. I sit here and wonder how it all of a sudden came to be the end of August, with most of summer resting behind me. And I feel grateful, that during the last few months I was able to do so many things and see so many of the people I love. And grateful for the stillness that I have returned to after so much jumping around and adventuring. I love the balance, the middle-way. I love the diversity of experiences in life and the multitude of ways they feed my soul. Thank you all for being a part of this beautiful patchwork of my life! I am anxious to get these words onto this blog page, so that I can rotate my glance forward again, downstream, to what lies around the next bend in this ever rolling river.
And so, the end of June found me on my fifth plane ride of the year, heading towards Pennsylvania. This visit to my home in Centre County was a whirlwind of events, of family and friends gathering for celebrations and wonderful moments. I arrived just in time to help celebrate my grandmother's 86th birthday. It is amazing to see how healthy and happy and busy she is at her age. She gives me the inspiration to continue to live in a healthy way, to be able to carry my health with me long into the future.
And my niece Teagan is now One! Her first birthday party was held on a beautiful hot day in Alan Seeger Natural Area. This is an old-growth forest filled with flowering rhododendron, white pines, and towering hemlocks, and a cool creek that runs through it all.
Teagan is a joy: full of laughter, joyful independence, excited clapping, new words, and big developmental accomplishments. I loved my time with her, loved seeing all of the ways she is growing and learning, loved being able to develop more of a relationship with her.
I was also happy to run into good friends from high-school, Eric and Mandy, in the middle of the woods. It was so fun to later hang out with them and with another good friend from high-school, Megan.
After Lucas joined me in Pennsylvania, time continued to fly by fast. Showing someone new around my old stomping-grounds felt like I was swimming through memories. I spent 24 years living in State College, and so have many associations with the past anywhere I go in the area. Memories of so many times long gone, of dear old friends, of times with my family, all the pieces that helped me become who I am today. It was fun to share this perspective with someone new. During this visit, there were many delicious meals eaten and many nice stretches of time of sharing my home and my family with my beau.
A rainy humid hike at Shingletown Gap:
A tour and delicious lunch at The Gamble Mill, where my brother Mike is THE brewer in their new brewery:
And finally, a long weekend camping trip in the Allegheny National Forest, near Heart's Content. Here Lucas and I gathered with hundreds of fellow rainbow-family peeps. Our campsite was situated on a quiet fern covered hill where we could hear the wind rustling the leaves in the beautiful trees that stretched high into the sky.
We spent hours every day walking the sprawling trails that led to different kitchens, beautiful handmade natural bridges, classes and workshops, barter circles, fire circles where musicians shared their songs, and the main meadow circle where everyone gathered for dinner each night and silently prayed together for peace the morning of July 4th.
It was a sweet and gentle forest with several different topographic and vegetative changes in a relatively small area. The people were so nice: giving, loving, approachable, talented. It was impressive to see how people can come together and create an event in the forest of this scale: to create the network of pathways, to create a piping and filter system to provide the kitchens with clean water, and to pitch in to help each other make this all possible. It was amazing to live in the forest for several days, and, in retrospect, a humorous adventure dragging and pushing our rickety Radio-Flyer stacked high with camping gear up and down the steep rocky winding rooty 3 mile trail that led in and out of the event's site!
Goodbye's get harder and harder for me. I am starting to say, "Until the next time!" when I part ways with family and friends. I wish I lived closer to my family, wish I was around to watch Teagan grow on a more regular basis, wish we could all get together more often. I love to share my time with the people who are close to my heart. Yet, again, I parted with my family as I headed to the opposite coast for a month in Oregon. And I parted with Lucas as he headed back to his family in Texas.
And so, the river rolls, winding, twisting, slowing, speeding up, sometimes returning, but always moving. Always moving forward. Instead of moving upstream where I would meet resistance, I move downstream, following the natural flow, being present with life as it comes, and celebrating the beauty of it ALL.
Stay tuned for Part Two, my summertime adventures in Oregon, coming soon. And FYI, I have changed my settings on the blog to make it easier for non-registered readers to leave comments...so feel free to comment away, friends!