top of page
Tracks By The Post.png

Tracks by the Post

#8 Stairs

Dear Friend,

Did you see the moon this morning? As I type this, the moon is setting over my right shoulder, slowly weaving between wisps of clouds making its way down, down, through the early morning sky to slip away into the ocean. Lovely.

The moon moves so gracefully as it sets. Have you noticed that it appears to grow in size as it nears the horizon? Even this morning, our ‘micromoon’ (Read Why It Appears Smaller) seems to get bigger and bigger as it sets behind a band of clouds in the west, meanwhile, because I am in Northern California, the sun is peeking over the Sierras in the east, and another week has begun.

Happy last week of February - enjoy the extra day that this leap year has to offer! What will you do with this extra day?

Do you know anyone with a birthday that falls on February 29th? (Did you know that Leap Year babies are required by law to observe their birthday on March 1st)?
Hmmm. Law and Time. It’s an interesting thing, owning time, the way human beings have corralled it into manageable chunks to keep it organized so that everything can happen step-by-step.

It’s how we learn most things, step by step. If you’ve ever been tasked to teach someone something, you are aware of breaking things down into manageable chunks… the first steps being the most basic.

And as our attention spans seem to expand as our interest expands as our knowledge expands, the steps can become more complex.

When I was a little kid, I loved stairs! If there was an opportunity to go up a stair case, I would! It wasn’t that I wanted to know what was at the top of the stair case, it was the actual climbing that I enjoyed. After years of cleaning split-level and multi-storied homes, my infatuation with climbing staircases has waned; I’ve actually fallen up more stairs than down. But, whether I fell up or down, it’s too many times to count, and I’ll blame my attention-span every time. If I’m not paying attention, each step is a potential for disaster. I expect myself to be alert and I guess I take it for granted that each stair will be safely measured, the same as the next… but staircases haven’t always been built with safety in mind.

Have you ever used stairs that aren’t the same distance from one to the next? Or if you have big feet like me, have you ever used stairs that have such a narrow ‘run’ that you climb up using your tiptoes and down using your heels?

Maybe you’ve never built a stair case? Watch This Helpful Video on Building Stairs by Josh Fedorka of Training Hands Academy to find out How!

The rise and run of ‘to code’ stair cases is all about math (and, if you’re like me, it’s great if the “run” accommodates your shoe size).

Another big deal is accessibility, (building so that everyone can get from here to there). If you’ve ever had a leg injury, you’ve had to adjust your approach to stairs. Physical Therapists agree that it is best to step up with your strongest leg and step down with your injured leg. “Up with the good, Down with the bad.” And it is always good to remember to ‘inhale at rest and exhale on the job’… exhale while moving, (stepping up or down or when you are lifting out of a chair). All this PT stuff is a whole ‘nuther subject.

Out on the trails, sometimes we encounter other ways of climbing… (not all trail guides warn of such climbing features so it’s good to read reviews… you might not feel up to doing an impression of Spider Man).

Thank you, as always, for being here to read Tracks by the Post! Please Contact Me if you'd like, let me know how you're doing!

Each day that goes by, we are grateful for you and we are also grateful for your caring thoughts and prayers in our direction.

Wishing you a lovely week ahead!

Gently Be,

Leslie and Frank

Thank you, Frank, for these beautiful photos! xo!

#7 What do you think?

Dear Friend,

 

First of all, think of the vast amount of time that you have spent over the past 60 weeks opening and reading my weekly letters… I don’t take it lightly. Thank you.

 

If you’ve scrolled ahead, you’ll see that there aren’t any of Frank’s photos. So sorry about that. We’ll pick up on our collaboration next week. For now, I’ll stay the course, keeping the benefits of brevity in mind.

 

Words have meaning, as you well know, and sometimes a small few are strung together to create a memorably clever, humorous, significant line and a ‘Quote’ is born. You have birthed some doozies, yes? I believe it is possible that you have created quotable quotes whether or not you consider yourself to be famous.

 

There are hundreds of thousands of famous Quotes (spanning Time and from all over the world) – they are added to images on social media, used on greeting cards, in political speeches… they can be pithy, emotive, humorous, all clever and all memorable… and though it can be easy to embrace the meaning of the words, do you think that it is important to consider their source?

 

I ask you that question without singling out any one quote. For instance, what if you found out that your favorite quote was attributed to your least favorite historical figure? Would that change the way you experience the words, their succinct meaning? It might give new perspective but does it negate the significance?

It’s just something I’ve been pondering for a while.

fish bowl scale cropped.jpg

What do you think?

 

Meanwhile, on to a much lighter matter.

 

I found this little tale while culling my files (from Jan. 1, 2019)... thought I’d share it with you.

 

My New Year Promise
With all of the happy wishes given at this time of year, I had a sudden thought earlier today: My dog has survived a great deal, and he seems very happy, yet he doesn’t make superstitious wishes, he’s a dog!
I will follow his lead. I will cease pelting fountains with pennies.
I’ll take the cake as is, keep the candles for emergencies.
No more star-searching for me.
No more looking for four-leaf-clovers.
Never again will I play tug-o-war with an old turkey bone.
No more wasting my breath on dandelion fluff. I’ll save my breath for living. I’ll take life as it comes.
I’ll be just like my dog: Happy.
So, on our walk just now, I promised him, “Winchester, I am going to follow your lead. I’m going to take life just as it comes.
He glanced up at me, wagged his tail and then continued on up the sidewalk, sniffing and peeing and sniffing and peeing.
Why do you have to pee on everything?” I sighed.
He paused his sniffing for a moment and replied, “For good luck!

 

Thank you again for being here to read Tracks by the Post. WRITE TO ME if you’d like, and give an opinion and/or share a quote or two.

 

Have a wonderful week!

 

Gently Be,
Leslie

#6 Water falls

Dear Friend,

 

Hi again, it’s so good of you to be here, thanks for reading; I’ll try to make this quick, there’s always lots of other things that you could be doing … reading a letter shouldn’t be a laborious time-suck.

 

What have you been up to? Is it about football today? Are you throwing a party? Tossing a salad? Flipping a chip?

 

Maybe you are enjoying the quiet outdoors while others are throwing and tossing and flipping?

Or maybe you are outdoors and it isn’t quiet. Birds are singing and off in the distance, you can hear the constant whoosh of water, falling.

 

Water falls. Gravity pulls it from higher places to lower places, from way up on mountaintops down, down, to the big blue sea. And as it moves along, water lifts and carries bits of this and that, pebbles, sticks, (abrasives) which, over time, help the water erode streambeds, cut through softer rock and slice deep gullies into the earth. Water tumbles along. The hard rock remains…

… and, like a staircase, the water tumbles down, often having to fall great distances over cliffs before continuing on. As the streams flow downhill, they meet each other in the canyon, and a river is formed.

When I was a little kid, I wondered about things. And if, while on a hike near a waterfall, I had suddenly needed to know how much water was pouring over the side of a cliff, I could have asked my rocket-scientist-Dad and he would have quickly and quietly pulled a pen and a 3/5 card from his shirt pocket and drawn the following equation Ep = mgh. Then he would have said,

To which, I would have said, "Wow! That's a lot!"

I miss you, Dad. 

The beauty of a water fall, of water falling, and the feeling of being in nature, it’s good and real. You’ve probably heard of negative ions? Nature seems to make us feel better, but why? Read All About Negative-Ions

It is important to me that I spout accurate information in my letters to you. But Science is still searching for ways to prove things … “Is kindness really good for health?” “Do trees really emit helpful energy?” “Are negative ions really all that?” Those sorts of things… all waiting to be proven, but that doesn’t mean that we should wait for test results before being kind, hugging trees, or being grateful for every moment we can soak up the goodnesses out in nature.

 

Frank took a solo day trip one rainy day last week. Well, he wasn’t entirely alone, his camera went with him. He knew that a particular canyon would have a lot of water flowing and it would be a perfect opportunity for waterfall photography.

 

He parked at Pantoll Ranger Station on the western side of Mount Tamaulipas (Mt. Tam) in Marin County, California. He’s been hiking there by himself since he was 14 years old. Though it’s the same trail, he has seen it change over the years. The trees fall, the water reroutes, but this particular trail through the temperate rainforest, is always green, always magical.

Frank began photographing this trail when he was 22. But before that, he just hiked here and in other coastal forests because he loved the feeling of being in the trees. He’d leave his home in San Rafael and hitchhike to Mt. Tam. or catch the Golden Gate Transit and get off at the stop in Fairfax, then hitch a ride to Olema, and hike to the ocean from there. His journeys out into nature happened organically, with very little planning, but work always came first. As a 7th grader, he had a job after-school and weekends at the Elk’s Club, bussing tables and setting up events; that job bridged into others and though he would never miss work, he would often skip school… what better classroom than this?

And as a professional photographer, his subjects come first, his connection with them, their spark, mood, story...

Thank you for your good thinks. We always appreciate knowing that you care. (Such knowledge is not scientifically supported, but we’re living in and with it anyway). Please write when you have some time, we’d love to know how you’re doing!

 

Wishing you a happy day and a really good week ahead!

 

Gently Be,

Leslie and Frank

 

As I’ve mentioned recently, my website is undergoing changes which should be behind the scenes. Thank you for your patience if you encounter glitches.

#5 memories 

Dear Friend,

 

This is going to be a sort of short, check in letter, though I hope to cover some things of interest, I’m mostly writing to let you know that I’m thinking of you, hoping, as always, that you are doing well, staying healthy, warm, sheltered from the storm. And, how is the weather where you are? And more importantly, how are you?

 

It’s been a week of review for me. I’ve been consolidating and reorganizing my computer hard drive on which two decades worth of photos and videos are stored. People change over the years and I’m not talking about the people in the photos and videos. Time has gifted me a lot of life experiences and lessons and my perspective has shifted, along with how I react to memories.

 

This photo has always meant a lot to me, Winchester with his very first, Best Friend, the lady that gifted him to us, Frank’s sister, Andrea. I have always been glad that Frank took this photo; it shows how small Winchester was as a puppy and documents how much he was loved from the very first day of his life, September 10th, 2006, when Andrea’s dog, Rose, had her pups. But now, when I see this photo, I immediately focus on the Joy in Andrea’s smile and I can hear her happy laugh. This photo is a precious memory of her and the love of life that she shared. It is an image that reminds me of her dedication and encouragement, her beauty and tenacity. Through this photo, I am prompted to review … and I am grateful for her presence in my life.

2 early-winchester.jpg

And though we will never forget Winchester, these photos bring back memories of life with a puppy… sometimes we forget the training days, nights, and in-betweens ...

... and sometimes we forget how much he really taught us about patience, consistency and ‘unconditional love.’ He was certainly our ever-present Friend and always will be.

It is true that life throws all kinds of tricky pitches at us, some with no warning and at full speed. Life happens to everyone. Memories can be emotionally draining if we let them, and they can also be reminders of our resilience, they can bolster our gratitude for the lessons learned and the goodness that comes with participating in life.

 

To remember is a gift, it’s up to us to decide how we’ll use this gift.

I had the opportunity to meet a woman who was about to celebrate her birthday, she laughed when she couldn't quickly remember which one. (Let's just say, she was born before 1940). Over several-dozen visits with her, she told me story after story of her youth and of her career and of her family. She was articulate and focused, able to recount her experiences with humor and grace. It was an honor to get to spend time with Dorothy. She had lived through a great deal of hardship but did not consider herself to be a victim, rather, she continuously underscored how fortunate she was; she lived her life with a grateful heart. 

(Winchester loved to visit Friends!) 

Thank you for your care and for taking the time to read Tracks by the Post. If you’d like to drop us a line, send a shot across our bow, write us a note, get in touch, say hi… please do - contact us. 

Have a good week,

Gently Be,

Leslie (and Frank)

Ps: I’m continuously thanking you for your patience if you experience any dust or clamor when visiting EgretTracks in the next couple of weeks. ~ Leslie

#4 Mushrooms

Dear Friend,

How’s the weather where you are? I usually write to you in the morning, before the sun comes up, (my favorite time of the day to write), but today, the sun is already up – and what a beautiful day! A short-lived rain storm just passed through leaving puffy white clouds to drift in blue sky. It’s noon and I’m writing to you about mushrooms.

 

What do you think about mushrooms? Do you like them?

 

First of all, it’s not an emergency, you don't have to learn all there is to know about mushrooms in order to enjoy the following photos that Frank took while on a hike near the ocean in Northern California.

You can enjoy the photos without knowing the names of the mushrooms, how they reproduce or who their friends are. Just to look at them, you don’t have to know all of the scientific research that is being done to promote mushrooms as a biodegradable replacement for plastics, or as one of the most environmentally friendly super foods ever… you don’t have to understand how mushrooms are being used in construction as building materials, in textiles (shoes and clothing), as alternative energy, or that, in medicine, mushrooms are being studied for the benefits they offer neurologically, (bolstering nerve growth and brain function / memory / sleep), and more, including their effectiveness as a cancer treatment.

View these mushrooms any way you wish: see them as poisonous Toad Stools, ingredients in a witch’s brew, cute little houses for magic pixies or storybook mice…

Frank-Bevans-Photography_530881.jpg

And you don’t have to be told twice! ‘Of Course!’ you would learn how to determine what’s safe and what’s not before going out and harvesting your own mushrooms to eat! Right?

 

Mycologists study molds, yeast, mushrooms, (all the fun-guys), and help other scientists determine potential uses for fungi. Science is knowledge, yes, but it is also about learning and gaining more knowledge about how to attain more knowledge and share, test, fail, learn, share...

 

And because there is already SO MUCH information out there about mushrooms and the how-s and why-s and where-s the mushroom industry is growing, there simply isn’t time for me to consolidate everything there is to know about these beautiful fungus-fruits in one letter/blog.

Before I sign off, I’d like to share some information about how to grow your own safely-edible mushrooms at home.
Most mushroom farmers agree that the easiest way to get started is to purchase a kit from a reputable Mushroom Farm. I don’t have any experience with Mushroom Farms and don’t feel comfortable recommending one to you. I did find that the website, Far West Fungi (out of California), was informative and possibly a good place to start in one's search for Mushroom Growing Kits. 

Here's a great use of 67 mins of my Hot Spot Data. YouTube videos by an adventurer and learner of life, Alex Smith, on his channel, "Just Alex." 

What are Mushrooms? - 1 year of Searching and I Finally FOUND them!

and

How to grow mushrooms at home - Full process day 1 to 60 

I've learned an awful lot about mushrooms, many positives that I didn't know before. And some 'negatives' were underscored, like the fact that edible and non-edible mushrooms often look very similar and the effects of mushroom poisoning(s) are pretty unpleasant. 

I still really like mushrooms. I think that they are adorable and, (as mean as this might sound after having said that I think that they are so cute), I also think that they are delicious, in fact they're probably my favorite protein. 

How about you? While we are on the subject, do you have any mushroom recipes that you’d like to tell me about?

 

There are thousands of species of edible mushrooms… yet, at this moment, there aren’t any that I would harvest out in nature for meal prep without more information. Certainly, a Mushroom Field Guide Book would lower the odds of misidentification. (smile).

Well, as always, thank you for being here to read Tracks by the Post! We are very grateful for your care and for your good thoughts, please know that you are also in our daily Thanksgivings.

 

If you have a mushroom story or recipe to share or if you just want to say 'Hey', please do Contact Leslie and Frank

Gently Be,

Leslie (and Frank)

PS: As I mentioned last week, my website, EgretTracks.com, and Frank's website, FBPhoto.com, are both undergoing updates behind the scenes. Thank you for your patience if you encounter glitches on either in the coming days. 

1Frank-bevans-Photography--need-new-window--base_0001_prv.jpg

# 3 Clouds

Dear Friend,

 

I hope that the past seven days have brought you here to this new week healthy and eager to take on the next thing, whatever that might be. It’s still January so that means we still have a sense of newness and beginnings; the first full moon of the year, the Wolf Moon, happens this coming Thursday.

 

Do you feel any different on a Full Moon? It is a given that the moon directly affects the ocean tides. But what about other things in nature, like you and me? Scientists have studied the effects of the light of the full moon and agree that it can have an effect on sleep patterns in some human beings. Scientists also agree that more studies will need to be done in order to determine whether or not (and how) the Full Moon might affect human beings in other ways including emotionally and psychologically. 

 

As you know, moon light is actually the reflection of sunlight onto the surface of the moon. The moon is mostly gray in color and shadows on the moon’s surface create shapes (that some of us see) as light hits moon craters, hilltops and broad flat plains. Depending on our point of view, the full moon appears to have a face… is that a smile?

 

Our eyes combine the wavelengths of Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red (the color spectrum in order of shortest to longest wavelengths) and we see white, the absence of color, the presence of sunlight. Black is the absence of light.

 

A wall painted white is a different thing but can still take on qualities of illumination because of the reflective properties in some white-paint-pigments. It’s pretty neat how science and white paint is teaming up to help save natural resources. 

When is the last time you painted something? Was it a canvas? A wall? Was it painting for design? Just for fun? An illustration? Or, maybe your masterpiece was a self-portrait? As you may or may not know (or care), I do enjoy painting. (It’s a fact that I have been applying color to walls by use of various mediums for over 5 ½ decades, my earliest works included bellybuttons on everything… including the sun, the moon, the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and clouds).

 

Sunlight creates warmth on the ground. The air just above the ground begins to rise (we all know that heat rises). And as this warm air rises, it combines with cooler air, higher in the atmosphere, and moisture in the air condenses (like your hot breath on a cold window pane). As air pressure and temperatures drop, a cloud can form. Clouds do not have bellybuttons.

 

Are clouds just poofs of vapor with no real substance? Clouds are a combination of water, dust-particles and ice crystals; substantial elements, though you would (more than likely) fall to earth if you stepped out of an airplane onto the beautiful billowing clouds below. You might see clouds building and shape shifting anywhere and at any time because of fluctuating temperatures in the sky and on the earth. The presence of moisture in the air determines whether or not a cloud will develop into a raincloud (a ‘nimbus’).

5Frank-Bevans-Photography_534011Proto--copy.jpg
9Frank-Bevans-Photography-cloud-saver.jpg

The tiny bits of dust in the air will act as a filter for light and cause a change in color so clouds and the moon can appear to be red or pink, purple, orange, even blue.

And these same dust particles and ice crystals in clouds give moisture something to cling to, as raindrops form. It stands to reason that a colorful moon indicates the presence of dust particles and the potential for rain: *“Pale moon rains; red moon blows. White moon neither rains or snows.”

 

Stratus clouds are what make our sky overcast and when they reach from sky to ground, they are called fog, or the eerie mist that veils the light on the night of the Wolf Moon! Stratus clouds don’t always produce rain, but because they are in the lower atmosphere, they can linger and bring dampness to the fur of your otherwise dry and toasty Labrador Retriever.

 

Cirrus clouds are made up of ice crystals and appear as thin wisps high in the sky. They can indicate wind. *“Trace in the sky the painter’s brush, the winds around you soon will rush.” Have you ever heard of ‘Mares’ Tails?’ You will see them form high up in the sky as wind pulls cirrus clouds into long curled ‘tails’ which evaporate and disappear with warmer temperatures.

2Frank-Bevans-Photography-A0512504.jpg

Cumulus clouds can build up high like masses of puffy white towers, if they contain rain and develop thunderstorms, they are called cumulonimbus clouds.

Masses of small puffy clouds patch-patterned in rows are sometimes called ‘Mackerel Scales.’ *“Mackerel scales and mare’s tails make lofty ships carry low sails.” These two cloud formations will often appear together a couple of days before a storm.

Long before the age of the digital-data-storage ‘Cloud’, raw nature has provided a heads up to navigators of tall ships out at sea as well as alfalfa farmers hundreds of miles inland; if we pay attention, there is still time to learn the ‘old ways.’

 

*Our thanks to the National Park Service for this fun, FREE-PDF of old-time weather-related sayings.

Over the past year, Frank has captured many hours of time-lapse video. Here is a three-minute Celebration of Clouds.

Thank you very much for being here to read Tracks by the Post. As we journey on in search of home, we’ll continue to capture the beauty and real-life that we find out in nature. We are grateful to be able to share our journey with YOU!

 

As always, when you have a moment, drop us a line, we'd love to know how you are doing!

 

And at your leisure, please visit 2023 Tracks by the Post 

Have a beautiful week!

Gently Be,

Leslie and Frank

A heads-up: In the coming weeks, we’ll be making some updates to EgretTracks.com and fbphoto.com – all of these changes should be behind the scenes but we appreciate your patience if you encounter oddities while visiting our websites.

#2 river ways

Dear Friend,

Today is January 14th. According to statistics, by now, most New Year resolutions will have “failed.” I’m not sure that ‘fail’ is the right word. In making a resolution we hold ourselves accountable to make different, better, (possibly fewer) choices. We attempt to break a habit or shake up a rut.

First, we become aware of a desire to make a change. We wait until the time is exactly right, say, New Year’s Day, to attempt this change. And we take a stab at embedding this change into our lives. Throughout the distractions of a day, our level of awareness fluctuates. Priorities change. We live on, making choices and our resolution is no longer in the front of the line.

 

But just because we fail to accomplish the resolution every day, doesn’t mean that our attempt to make a change has ‘failed.’ Sometimes success is found in simply realizing … awareness fluctuates, desires fluctuate, no two days are the same, we are never the same as we were the day before. So, though we attempt to maintain Daily-Success-At-Changing, what we might really need to maintain is our awareness.

 

Isabella Bunny had free run of our house. I wrote about her in Tracks by the Post 2023, April, #15 bunnies and other music.  

She had a predictable, daily routine. She made it clear (by thumping her back feet) if she was upset by something like the distant cry of a hawk or if we moved the furniture. At snack time, Izzy would meet me at her cage. I’d change out her water, tidy up any spills, and offer her a sampling from her bag of Rain Forest Crunch.
Choose, Izzy,” I would say.
Invariably, she would rifle through the bowl with her nose until she found the dried banana. If that wasn’t there, she’d choose the chunk of papaya. She expected to have a choice. If neither the banana or the papaya was available, she would indicate (by snorting) that I needed to dig deeper into the bag.
That’s all there is,” I would say.
Then she would take not one, but two, of whatever was left, usually avoiding the alfalfa pellets as those are for ‘rabbits’ not ‘bunnies.’

Izzy was aware. Izzy was ‘on,’ always teaching patience, acceptance, adaptability, respect, gentleness… instructing us on Bunny Ways. Apparently, in Chapter 1 of Izzy’s Master Class for Indoor Bunnies: Ruling the Household, awareness and choice are key components of success.

 

Watch a drop of rain on a window pane. Do you see how it seems to team up and merge with other drops and run together along a little stream, sometimes horizontally, only to combine with another stream and finally run down and quickly drip into a puddle below? Water chooses, almost like it is aware of the best direction. It moves together, forming streams, pooling in ponds, running further as rivers into lakes, continuing on into the ocean only to be evaporated and returned as that rain drop on your window pane. Is it aware?

 

“No man ever steps in the same river twice for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
That quote is attributed to a man named Heraclitus who lived so long ago (c. 500 B.C.E.) that it is difficult to imagine his words running on through time, finding us today. I get it, you may not be a ‘man,’ neither am I, but for me, the take away is, ‘Who am I in this moment, am I aware?’

 

Change finds everything.

 

Consider a river and its river ways. Raindrops combining, moving, changing the land, changing direction, changing our perspective. Frank has photographed hundreds of rivers, each experience, a gift of life and light and peace to his soul… here is a sampling for you to enjoy.

Frank Bevans Photography_544059.jpg
Frank-bevans-Photography--2_544034_prv.jpg
Frank-Bevans-Photography_FBP2267.jpg
Frank-Bevans-Photography_FBP6282-.jpg
Frank Bevans Photography 5737.jpg
Frank-bevans-Photography--2_545465_prv.jpg
Frank Bevans Photography_544582.jpg
Frank-Bevans-Photography_0233.jpg

Our thanks to you for being here to read Tracks by the Post. We'd love to hear from you... when you have a moment, please drop us a line. Wishing you a beautiful week ahead. 

Gently Be,

Leslie and Frank

 

Ps: We welcome you to read Tracks by the Post 2023 

frank Bevans PhotographyFBP5602.jpg

#1 where the air is better

Dear Friend,

Here you are! And, how are you?

I want to start my first of fifty-two letters to you this year by sending you a hug powered by gratitude. Thank you. Thank you for being here to read Tracks by the Post. Thank you for your care.

 

Thinking back to last Monday, the first day of 2024… did you have a good day? Maybe you spent time calling friends and family to wish them a Happy New Year, maybe texts and emails came pouring in… perhaps you worked your regular job that day, if so, thank you for keeping the world turning. Or, if you had the day off of work, did your day involve parades, football, gatherings with friends and family, solitude, vision boards, how about resolutions? Did you carry out any New Year’s Day traditions like greeting the new year with a nice walk out in nature?

 

We hiked a path under a canopy of oak and bay trees, so happy to find ourselves the only hikers in the middle of a truly dark green forest. All around, the ground was lush with grasses and ferns, and feathery mosses covered the remains of fallen trees. Old berry vines camouflaged boulders and piles of stones. The earthy trail, moist after several days of fog and rain, was soft under our feet. Overhead, thin limbs and branches bounced as squirrels chased and chattered, and a pair of red tail hawks called to each other high above the forest in the clear blue sky. Three young mule deer stood like statues on the shadowy path ahead while the first twelve measures of Grieg's Morning Mood was repeated multiple times by a philharmonic orchestra of forty-two raccoons.

 

You’re not sure if I’m kidding.

 

Moss is such a beautiful plant. Lichen, too, but it doesn’t have roots, stems or leaves and is not actually considered a ‘plant.’ Lichen takes hold on pretty much any surface and grows almost anywhere in the world. There are even hundreds of different types of lichen growing in Antarctica (the coldest place on earth) and between rocks in Death Valley, California (an extremely hot place to hang your hat).

 

Lichen occurs because of the relationship between an alga and a fungi. (It also occurs aquatically between a cyanobacterium and a fungi) but for the purpose of this story, an alga lives within the (plant-like) structure of a fungi and together they are able to survive in environments that neither would survive alone. Alga is able to glean nutrients from the sun while the fungi is able to hold moisture. 

 

Clever.

 

Frank took these photos of lichen that grows in Sonoma, California, called ‘Lace Lichen,’ (Ramalina menziesii). (As of 2016, it just so happens to be California’s designated state lichen, thank you Jerry Brown Jr.).

lichenFrank-Bevans-Photography_FBP2912.jpg

I didn’t start out to write a report on lichen but what do you think? Isn’t it an interesting living thing? Lichen absorbs everything in the air around it and won’t grow well if the air is bad. So, its presence is an indicator of the air quality in different environments.
Live where lichen lives, and breathe!

This is also lichen. If you stop and look, you’ll probably see lichen growing on the surface of your street sign, your barn door, your dog house, your space ship… yes, it can survive in space!

lichenFrank-Bevans-Photography_FBP2903.jpg

Lichen doesn’t hurt the trees it grows on at all. And neither does moss, (unless it gets super dense and heavy with water and makes a limb too heavy for a tree to maintain its balance). In fact, neither moss or lichen take anything away from the tree upon which they grow because they both get their nutrients from the air and sun. And because they both absorb moisture, they can actually be a benefit to the trees and can also act as an insulator during harsh temperatures. What a beautiful blanket!

Moss is a plant with tiny root-like ‘rhizoids.’ It is one of the very first living things ever to exist on the planet. Most mosses need moisture to thrive but some can just go dormant for years in dry climates and spring to life when the rain returns. If you look closely at a clump of moss, you’ll see an intricate system of tiny leaves and stems, the surfaces of which are perfect places for even tinier organisms to thrive. Then, look around you, look at all of the moss growing, imagine all that life! What an incredible world!

Frank-Bevans-Photography_FBP2854.jpg
Frank-Bevans-Photography-moss-river.jpg
Frank-bevans-Photography--_549707_prv.jpg

This moss is American Tree Moss, on a foggy day, the little plants reach out to absorb moisture through their tiny leaves...

... and look like miniature forests growing on the bark of fallen trees or mature, established trees or on decomposing stumps. Moss and lichen enjoy slow growing bark so if a tree begins to decline for any reason, you might see a growing abundance of moss and or lichen attaching to it. This is why some people blame the moss and lichen for killing the tree. A great example of jumping to conclusions. A thank you from me to those who’ve spent their lives studying living things so as to share knowledge with others.
(My most recent interview was less than informative. I had the attention of a whole grove of bay trees and asked the question, “Clearly this forest is in danger of being taken over by moss and lichen, what can be done? ” You should have heard the laughter!
: )

Frank-Bevans-Photography_541935.jpg

Knowledge is power. See how much stronger you feel?

Frank Bevans Photography_541907.jpg

There is so much more to say about moss and lichen. If you are interested in learning more or would like to involve your household in a moss project… Here’s a fun video on one way to grow your own moss garden. Thank you, Joe Lamp'l of joegardenerTV! 

People even create indoor and outdoor vertical walls and hallways of living, growing, lichen, moss and other plants. The air is always better where things grow because they’re growing where the air is better where things grow where the air is better …

 

(If you do decide to grow your own moss garden, most sources suggest that you go out and harvest small amounts from nature. But it is always a good idea to avoid harvesting from forests that are in recovery from fire or drought).

Well, as the week marches on, hour by hour, I hope that you take care to nourish your being with fresh air and joyful places.

Frank and I will continue our quest for home this year. For the time being, we have the gift of a lovely, warm place from which to work and plan and travel. We don’t know for sure when we’ll be “back on the road,” and we don’t know for sure if we’ll acquire a trailer. What we do know is that we are incredibly grateful to be staying close to nature and that each week, we are able to share our journey with you!

Please contact me and let me know how you are doing. And also, let me know if you would like to be added to my email list for the sole purpose of sending you updates and links to published blog/letters.
Until next week...

Gently Be,

Leslie and Frank

 

Ps: My thanks to Frank for supplying all of these stunning photos!

 

Here's a link to a very beautiful performance of Grieg: Morning Mood Vienna Philharmonic & Zubin Mehta (Summer Night Concert 2015) 

bottom of page