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The extraordinary environment (feng shui / energy) of Bald Mountain Retreat facilitates spiritual practice. This awesome land is itself a meditation. It is a spiritual experience.

The peace and quiet of the environment reflects into your spirit. The external quiet seeps inside, calling forth the inner quiet and peace. Outer nature reveals inner nature.

Nature leads you to the Natural Way. The meditative spirit is unbroken throughout the activities of the day. Peace pervades, tangibly. You can feel it.

***

Three Onenesses

Kabbalah, Zen and Yoga all have Oneness as their goal:

The chief kabbalistic mantra requests that our prayers and actions be "For the sake of the Union of the Holy One Blessed Be He and His Shechinah," that is, the union of the male and female aspects of divinity, for the unity of this world with the higher worlds. This is the "redemption from exile," so much a part of Jewish liturgy.

Zen considers subject-object dualism as the prime error of mind, and holds the loss of self, and the consequent unity of experience to be enlightenment.

The word "yoga" is related to the English words "yoke" and "union." Yogic practice seeks to render the physical (body and lifestyle) a vehicle fit to wed the cosmic.

***

Kabbalah-
Towards the end of his life Moses tells the Children of Israel that the Torah (the Way, Tao...) is not far from them. Kabbalah is at once an occult study of a select group of orthodox rabbinic initiates and a force revealed in the workings of our daily lives. The spiritual principles it describes and defines are at work in the highest heavens and in the simplest things of this earth. The microcosm (man, psychology) reflects the macrocosm (the universe.) Just so the workings of our daily lives reflect reflect kabbalistic principles. Perhaps it is not possible for us to fly on esoteric winds, but we can at least feel the breeze on our face.

The light of Kabbalah provides insight into the complexities of our psychospiritual lives. Kabbalah is the means by which we, who are created in the Divine kabbalistic "image" may begin to know the Unknowable, to have a direct experience of G-d.

(Read more at Kabbalah Healing.)

Zen-
"Buddha exclaimed on achieving enlightenment, "How wonderful! All beings are already enlightened, just as they are!"

"If what is fundamental exists within you, how can you say that you have not obtained it?" Wen-i

"The Way is like the bright sun in the clear blue sky. Yet, people ask, "Where is it?"

The only thing possibly "wrong" is our belief that there is something "wrong," and even that is not "wrong." Change your attitude. Lose your self. Free of expectations, spontaneous creativity becomes possible. This is the Zen state of "no-mind." Unencumbered by preconceptions and prejudice response is natural and fitting. This is "no-action." Enlightenment is perceiving and reacting to experience without the bias of self; "Ordinary mind is enlightenment." It is our pre-existing attitude which obscures the way.

(For more see Zen Quotes and The Poetry of Disease.)

Yoga-
There is a point in performing a yoga posture (asana) where balance is reached. Standing on one foot, there is no longer any shifting or tilting. Then you are not so much "doing" the asana as "being" the asana. There is no you. There is only the asana. It's like learning to ride a bicycle versus actually riding it; the learning, the trying to ride is much more difficult than the riding. The momentum balances and carries you along. Then the effort of doing the asana disappears and the energies flow through the subtle yogic channels (ida and pingala.) As the Zen masters assert, "enlightenment is the easy way."

 

East Meets West?

Spiritual practice does not translate easily from east to west. The western mind only difficultly adapts to eastern ideas. The western inclination towards belief and theological speculation contrasts with the direct experience of the east.

Similarly, the western psyche (heart and mind) is not easily understood by eastern masters. Almost thirty years ago I heard the Dali Lama speak. I had just finished helping a friend pack his San Francisco apartment into a moving truck which we drove across the Bay Bridge to the Oakland Coliseum. In that huge room, filled to capacity, I listened drowsily, fatigued by my labor, to His Holiness speak through an interpreter. The last thing I remember was His Holiness repeating an old Buddhist adage (new to me at the time), "If there's a problem and there's something you can do about it, then there is no need to worry. And if there's a problem and there's nothing you can do about it, then there is also no need to worry." Right before falling asleep I thought, "This guy has been on the mountaintop too long. If there's a problem and there is something you can do, you don't worry, you do it. And if there's a problem and there's nothing you can do, that's sad, that's failure, but still you don't worry. You worry when there's a problem and you don't know what to do about it or if there's anything that can be done.

It seems difficult for masters, east or west, born into spirituality to appreciate the difficulties posed for us by our materialistic, godless western culture. Can the Dali Lama, treated like a god from the time he was a toddler, appreciate what it was like being raised in my family? How can we approach the damage done by the inadequacies of the nuclear family in a decayed secular culture?

There is a different yoga for the west. It is one that takes into account the negative experiences of the damaged western persona. It may be easy enough to meditate on compassion, if you're not already wrestling with the demons of psychological abuse and spiritual abandonment. Tantra affirms that our outer experience is identical with, is an expression of the spiritual essence of existence. So our traumas and our western obsession with self are spiritually essential. Their spiritual essence is revealed when we exchange the above-mentioned western proclivity for belief and speculation for the eastern reliance on direct experience. Respecting one's incarnation, having compassion on one's wounds and weaknesses is the necessary prerequisite for any transcendent experience. As the masters say, "Be here now." Consciousness, acceptance and creativity are the antidote for western fixing, conquering and conversion. Compassionate demon confrontation brings about a coming to terms, the remembering (putting the fragments together) that is necessary for forgiveness; you can't forgive what you don't remember. (More about this can be found in The Poetry of Disease.)

"Paradoxically, then, it is my own wounds and weaknesses and the relationship I have established with them that best qualifies me to guide those challenged by their own darknesses. As James Hillman wrote, 'You find that what you've been running away from turns out to be your authentic being.'"

Dr David

bull moose winter covered bridge, foliage island pond lake willoughby chantarelle fawns

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Bald Mountain Retreat

August Newsletter

"I've never been somewhere so remote."

Magnificent Lake Willoughby, "Vermont's most spectacular lake,"
waits for you a short drive down the mountain.

Enchanting woods stretch up the ridge from our meadow,
and there is no Lyme Disease or poison ivy.

The cabins have beautiful paneling and views.

Alyssa brings Bach and Irish jigs to the wilderness.

Angel graces us all with his Zen-like elegance.

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802-659-4347,
drdavid@baldm.com

 

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The wild majesty of our natural setting makes some folks uncomfortable.

The power of spirit and healing at times overwhelms the casual visitor.

Beneath the luxury of your wants lies the simplicity of your needs.

Beneath the pretense and show lies the rawness of nature.

Away from the distractions of self people get scared.

Transformation requires courage and commitment.

Healing occurs in the places that scare you.

Like it or not the place confronts you.

The lack of things human disturbs.

Nature dominates and awes.

Strategies blow away.

Covers are stripped.

You are left naked and free.

 

 

 

Bald Mountain Retreat
in August is
the Garden of Eden.

We will exceed your expectations.

I could promise you less.

You are Welcome,
Dr David

 


Simplicity, Sustainability, Sanity

Bald Mountain Retreat is a natural refuge from the modern world and a human refuge in the the wilds of nature. We believe we have struck a good balance between the comforts of home and the rawness of nature. Experiencing a thunderstorm on our mountainside from the security of our Lodge is truly awe-inspiring. Coming back to your cozy cabin after an adventure in the big woods is reassuring. The warmth of the campfire complements the vast starry sky.

Still some folks get spooked. We call it "latent agoraphobia." They might be okay outside in the suburbs, but up here where nature dominates they get uneasy; the quiet gets to them. We're just a half a mile from the end of the road, but people have exclaimed, "I've never been somewhere so remote." It's not the distance; it's the energy, what the Chinese call feng shui. Nature bursts in great waves from the wooded slopes, rolls across the meadow and breaks grandly right up against the Lodge's many large windows. It's like looking through a glass-bottomed boat into another world.

Then, there aren't all the comforts of home. We've traded luxury for a natural simplicity. The knotty grain of our cedar paneling more than makes up for our spotty cell phone coverage. The view out the window is better than anything on TV. One guest said she wanted to get on line, "to see what's happening in my life." We accommodated of course (our high speed internet connection is usually great), but we believe that the best in life is off line.

Also, we're not quite done. As someone said, almost every building in the Northeast Kingdom is "a work in process." There are a few dry wall edges waiting to be covered by molding and some exterior work yet to be done on the Lodge and the cabins also need some finishing touches inside and out, but the place is very habitable, especially when you realize how deep woods we are. What we lack in "spit and polish" we make up for in rustic authenticity. If it's a simpler life you want, we've got it.

The kitchen is clean, but there may be a few blades of grass on the floor. The lawn is cut, but the meadow may need mowing. We are Vermont; the yard has some piles of lumber and a table full of pots where Alyssa plants. If you want a manicured, luxurious vacation, please look elsewhere. If you'd like an original adventure, come on up... and if you're lucky, Alyssa will play her violin.

 

 

 

 

 


July Newsletter

"Your food is delicious and
so is your personality."

Sean and Elise came and built us an inipi, a traditional sweat lodge. Rocks were heated until they glowed inside a blazing fire inside the stone circle. Then they were carried inside the inipi where they radiated heat and created steam when splashed with water.

They conducted a ceremony that had three 30 minute sessions with prayers and thanks and invocations. Then everyone jumped in the pond.

Each sapling was blessed before harvest. Each hole dug was sprinkled with corn meal and holy intentions. Many thanks to the wonderful couple, who created such a wonderful ceremonial center to focus the sacred energies of the land. (Here you can see the rocks.)

With all the wetness last month in New England it has been hard to get in the garden. Still, Alyssa s green thumb has been working its magic, here with Jaguar Marigolds

Then Don s three-bin, hot compost-maker is turning leaf mulch, food scraps and whatever else he finds to put in it into dark, rich soil pronto!

 

awe

it is nature not as you know it
not something in the backyard
or down the street in the park
or at the edge of town
it is not something that needs our protection
but something your ancestors feared
and struggled against
it is the power of thunder and storm
crashing around the house
lightening striking too close
a big wind and torrential rain
exploding against the window
a fusillade pounding roof and walls
it is night s jet black sky
holding an infinity of stars
unimaginable vastness and scale
titanic mountains
unbroken forests
clouds billowing impossibly high
on a bright sunny day

it is big and unrelenting
and though we may ruin our place in it
its supremacy is never in doubt

this mountain is like the sea
not where families swim along the shore
but out where oceans collide
and ships are lost
among gargantuan swells
it is roaring
calling you from within
dare if you will
to listen.

7/8/9

 

new

innovation may be an improvement
for one who is rooted in the past
but the new without the old
does not nourish or thrive
nature programs on TV
are no substitute for actual nature
one friend of flesh and blood
human or animal
outweighs vast online social networks
virtual reality is not

7/8/9

 

something different

while you were all shopping at the mall
and painting your toenails
he was searching for the meaning of life
if you can t anymore believe what the television tells you
come on up
he has it nearly figured out

7/8/9

-and the Joe Pye Weed sprouting up in it-

 
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It just does not get any better than summer in the Northeast Kingdom.

Warm days and cool evening breezes.

Pure mountain lakes and ponds to quench the heat of the day.

Think, Garden of Eden.

Think, Tom Sawyer

Think, Huckleberry Finn.

Come ready for an adventure.

We are passed the end of the less-traveled road.

Walk barefoot through our wildflower meadow.

Meditate atop our 100 foot cliff.

Enjoy nearby Bread and Puppet Theater.

Explore spectacular Lake Willoughby.

Thrill to Alyssa s virtuosic violin.

Rejuvenate and heal.

 

nothing between

it stands alert
ears pricked in our direction
listening
it has heard me call upstairs
though all the windows are closed
and I spoke no louder than needed
-Alyssa, deer by the cabins-

it stands at the forest edge
all senses trained towards us
who give it neither sound nor smell nor sight
matching our stillness to its own

there is nothing between us
nothing that separates or removes
there is no time or need
it is all now
all here
clouds weaving through treetops
misting down mountain slopes
a sea of wildflowers waving in the meadow
the creek still gushing with yesterday s rain

if you have an agenda you will miss it
if you expect something you will not see it
be still and quiet
watch and listen

the deer relaxes its guard
lowering its head for a moment
into the tall grass and ferns
that already conceal most of its body
then it turns
and disappears into the trees.

7/7/9

 

sun and shade

June was rainy
in the meadow
the Joe Pye Weed
has taken advantage of the wetness
to assert itself
in a way not seen
since it dominated
before we put the creeks back into their beds
repairing the watershed
from the ruin
of the loggers
with their skidders
dragging out trees
in the early 80s

today
the sky is blue in earnest
half-covered with billowing clouds
the kind Maxfield Parrish painted
just over in New Hampshire
the sun so long a stranger
shines strongly
making amends for its absence
the wildflowers
yellow, purple, pink, blue, orange and white
enjoy the heat
swaying in the breeze
half-naked on this bench
I do too
relishing the solar fire after so much gray
bathing in the glow

then as I start to bake
a cumulous mass
blown on high winds
interposes itself
hiding the sun imperfectly above
the coolness is delightful
in the shadow below
like jumping in the pond
on a hot summer day
then sitting in the shade a while
breeze adding to the chill
my flesh begins to quiver

bees buzz by
birds sing from the apple tree
inside Alyssa practices scales upon her violin

sun and shade
heat and cool
June and July
it all takes time
improving the soil in the garden
finishing the cabins
cultivating love

the sun makes a final appearance
before a big bank of clouds rolls in
I look around for my shirt
if the mower were back from the shop
I would cut the lawn
and the Joe Pye Weed
sprouting up in it

7/5/9

 
 

 

 

 

 


June Newsletter


"You cannot put it into words."

Moose and deer are in the meadow.
Apple blossoms are on the trees.

 

Dandelions are the first flush of the many wildflowers to come.
Wild strawberry blossoms are almost as plentiful, but smaller.

 

The cabins are coming along nicely.

 

We have four beautifully sited, tucked neatly into the forest along the edge of the meadow. Each has privacy and a great view.

 

Each is at a stage of completion, ready for occupancy
...and we are finishing them up more.

 

A balsam tree at the edge of the meadow blew down in a recent wind. (Nature on this mountain is strong.) The question of whether there would have been a sound without someone there to hear it remains undecided as I heard (and saw) it "snap, woosh, thud."

 

 

detox

our lights are the sun, moon and stars
candles and oil lamps
brilliant flashes of lightening

our sounds are only the wind's many voices
water rushing downstream
frogs in the pond
birdsong
a coyote's rare wail...
rare also the sound of an engine
coming up the drive
or some big machine
heard dimly off in the distance
when the wind is just right
soft so you have to listen
rare enough so that you do
"what's that?!"

some are disquieted by the quiet
this flood of nature
buoying them up off familiar ground
this wavy, forest-green sea
covering mountains and hills
breaking where the tree-line
meets the meadow's shore

and even this is too much for some
the huge views
the open space too open
they sit inside our ark of a lodge
and stare out the big windows
like looking through the bottom
of a glass-bottom boat

still the wildness confronts them

it is like jumping in a lake
on a hot summer day
the heat and sweat all washed away
pressure and haste dissolved
"come on in. the water's fine"

but
like a diver rising from the depths
some come up too quickly
separated from the lights and noise
they get disoriented
"where is the hurry? where are the stores?
what am I without them?"

this is not another experience
to be bought, consumed or acquired
not an event you attend
a movie
where you go in
are entertained or fall asleep
and then go out

this is not a state of mind
this is your mind in its original state
it is a meditation
a freeing from distraction
a paring down of senses and thought
to reveal things as they are
the fundamental truth
the awe of oneness
after so much separation

the frog slowly cooking in the pot
jumps out
the fish becomes aware of water
you don't know until you stop

6/11/9

 

We will exceed your expectations.
Dr David

 
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Contact us for special rates.
802-659-4347
drdavid@baldm.com

Click on any link for more information

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Bald Mountain Retreat is a jewel in the crown of Vermont's natural beauty, which is the Northeast Kingdom.

In a region known for spectacular beauty ours is a very special place

Hikers come from all around passing through on their way up to nearby Bald Mountain with its stunning fire-tower views

For its views our third floor has been called "the prettiest room in the Kingdom."

People say, "I've been to Vermont," but now come see a Vermonter's Vermont.

In the heart of the Lake Willoughby National Recreation Area

unique, secluded, spectacular, idyllic, peaceful, rustic, charming...

nature, natural healing, recovery, stress reduction, perspective, belonging...

This year get away from it all close to home.

You cannot get away as quickly as far.

Exotic and affordable.

We offer authentic wilderness experiences and the comforts of a lodge.

We offer affordable residential natural healing immersed in nature with a naturopathic doctor as your guide.

 

about us

we are a home, not a hotel
it is like going to visit
your dear brother and sister-in-law
or aunt and uncle
or the kids
if they had a house off-road
in the backwoods of Vermont
my buddy, Chris, who showed me this land
having wandered it
growing up on Mad Brook Farm
the (now former) commune just down the road and mountain a ways
commenting about a certain house along Lake Willoughby said
"people come up from Connecticut and build houses just like there are in Connecticut"
Farley Mowat wrote in his book, The Siberians (not my favorite of his)
about the simplicity of their country homes, dachas
rustic and plain
how they leave the city behind
and how they complained when they came to America
about our bringing our city ways and things to the country
bringing our city/suburban homes to the country
we are what up here they call a camp
off-grid we make our own electricity with a whisper-quiet Honda generator
but prefer candles and lamplight for illumination
electricity is a wonderful thing
but like most wonderful things in our culture
we use too much
we are excessive in our consumption
your cell-phone might not work
but you can make calls and check your email on our high-speed internet connection
although, internet and phone seem a lot less important up here in the woods
here again, as a culture we are obsessive
most everyone just lets the messages go for a day or three
truth is it is great to watch guests shed the hustle and bustle still clinging to them when they arrive
and let the quiet and peace seep in
the flatlands become more distant
as the mountains and meadow become more immediate
now, I like to talk as much or more than most
still I like to think that I know when to be quiet
I have seen the change, the quiet come over people here
some sooner than others
the nervous energy dissipates
it just seems that there is less need to talk and more reason to listen
to the wind, the quiet
or the occasional story about life in these parts
people are changed
like the fellow who was a lot quieter coming down Bald (Mountain)
after spending time in the fire-tower
than he was going up
meditative as opposed to chatty
less of that illusory self
I actually wanted to talk
but as I say, I know when to keep quiet

we are being in the woods without camping
the luxuries we have are natural
not the kind you buy in a store
we have plenty of convenient, easy living
what we lack in shopping convenience
we make up for in hospitalities
we are very accommodating hosts
and the place is built for guests
we are here to provide for you
to keep you comfortable
to guide and to entertain
and independence is encouraged
private time for reflection and meditation is a big part of the retreat
still we are here to serve you
not like hotel staff
but in a homey, family way
Bald Mountain Retreat is our home
and we would like to share it with you

while I am able and do provide instruction in formal meditation
I am quick to point out that this place is a meditation
the property, the environment, the atmosphere is conducive to meditation
people sitting on the first floor couch
looking out over the meadow, ridge and beyond
get a tranquilized look in their eyes
you can see their brainwaves deepening and slowing
someone responding to my characterization of the place as paradise
volunteered after his first week here,
I know what you mean now, but you cannot put it into words

 

naked

here nature dominates,
there are few signs of man,
the quiet can disquiet,
the peace may disturb,
humility is a challenge to those craving power,
some people get anxious waking up from the technological hypnosis.

 

Please call or write:
802-659-4347
drdavid@baldm.com

 

You are Welcome

 
 

 

 

 


April 2009

"Most people have never seen such beauty."

 

 

Looking up towards the wobbly ridge of Bald Mountain Retreat (left) you can see that there is still snow on the mountain.

April 1st with some great folks from Burlington I took the last snowshoe of the season around the meadow. It was sunny and warm, strange and fun being out on snowshoes in shirtsleeves. The Burlington folks came to see the facilities because they are interested in offering a retreat this June. They loved the place; everyone does. As I say, When you come, you will come back.

 


Up on the mountain the snow was still deep enough to need snowshoes, but down along the Clyde it was all but gone. The Clyde River is part of a National Water Trail network coming down from Maine. It is great for paddling, even when it is not swollen with spring melt.

 


I went north to the border town of Newport to get some supplies. (There are great country stores nearby, but we are 22 miles from the nearest supermarket or building supplies store.) Beautiful Lake Memphremagog straddles the frontier with Canada on its far shore.

 

.

The thaw spills in exquisite waterfalls down the cliffs of Mount Pisgah closer to home along the shores of Lake Willoughby.

 

The ice on Pisgah that brings ice climbers from around the world has just about disappeared.

 

The ice on Lake Willoughby is breaking up. A 300-foot-deep, spring-fed lake it will take a long time to warm up.

 

But there are a dozen other nearby bodies of water which will invite a swim sooner, including our three ponds. Although, I admit, it would take a blazing sauna to invite a plunge in any of them anytime soon... but then that can be arranged.

 

 

clumsy

you must do something different
or it will remain the same
change arises from the observer
put on the robes
extend yourself
go off into the woods to listen and pray

you are the ever-present center
yet all the while look outside
enlightenment searches
frustrated only by your clever hiding

importance misconstrued
the whole forsaken for the parts
the pieces fit together in a way
yet unimagined

winter's snow melts off the mountain
water liberated from frozen form
cascades down rocky faces
singing past ice
yet adorning shaded northern walls

emerging from the barn in spring
after their long confinement
wild agility long bred out of them
clumsy cows
will yet scamper and leap

4/5/9

 

When you come, you will come back.

You are Welcome,
Dr David

 

 

Bald Mountain Retreat is unique, secluded, spectacular, idyllic, peaceful, rustic, charming...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year get away from it all close to home.

You cannot get away as quickly as far.

Exotic and affordable.

Contact us for special rates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature, Natural Healing, Yoga, Recreation, Spirit, Music, Art, Peace, Meditation, Recovery, Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisine, Raw Foods, Herbalism, Natural Health, Alternative Healing, Alternatives to Medicine, Juicing, Detoxification, Weight Loss, Stress Reduction, Alternative Health, Naturopathic Lifestyle, Perspective, Belonging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We offer authentic wilderness experiences from the comfort of our mountaintop lodge. With only a few guests at a time we are able to provide individualized attention. Let our staff personalize programs to your interests or explore on your own. Come share our bit of paradise in Vermont's most spectacular region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Northeast Kingdom is where Vermonters go to get away and play and Bald Mountain Retreat is in the heart of the Kingdom. "I woke up, looked out and thought I had gone to heaven." "The sweetest piece of land in Vermont."

 

 

 

 

 

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In the heart of the
Lake Willoughby
National Recreation Area
Westmore, Vermont

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our retreat center offers affordable residential natural healing. Immerse in nature with a naturopathic doctor as your guide. The spell of the wild rebalances body, mind and spirit. The land is the best healer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Find a new metabolic ground.
Let nature support your resolution.

 

 

 

 

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Purify your physical and emotional bodies beside streams of living water.

 

 

 

 

Please call or write:
802-659-4347,
drdavid@baldm.com

 

 

 

 

March 2009

Dr. David snowshoed up to the cliff

 


with a guest.

 


The snow was still a couple feet deep across the meadow and into the woods,
as witnessed by this lawn chair left out alongside the lower pond.

 

...

The peace was beyond words, but the pictures tell a story.

 

The snow was quiet, pure, pristine.

 

It was great to come back to the big woodstove on the first floor of the lodge.
We got the stove in place and finished the forty-two-foot chimney
to which it is attached just as the first snows started last November.

 

Our human nest in the wilderness just gets more and more accommodating,
without sacrificing its rustic charm.

 

Here you are not just close to nature, you are nature.

 

My recent attempt to put the atmosphere up here into words:

 

offering

it is a place where you cannot help but see
floating immersed
amidst the green quiet
like a turtle at the bottom of the pond

the unbroken spell of the wild
turns to a deeper self
a world alive
hills skip
mountains leap
trees raise their voices
the stone on which you sit
imparts a seamless revelation

here away is remembering
putting together
fragments made whole
fractal clouds
spinning constellations
what is it that the wind is saying?
what babbles the brook?

the height allows no coming down
no after
but continuous awakening
and unfettered dream
the unencumbered epiphany of now

below the surface wide currents flow
behind the veil of becoming lies the immensity of being

I could promise you less

 

Spring is coming and we hope you are too.
You are Welcome,
Dr David

 

***

 

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