My hate is general, I detest all men;
Some because they are wicked and do evil,
Others because they tolerate the wicked,
Refusing them the active vigorous scorn
Which vice should stimulate in virtuous minds.
Ok, I confess: whether it be from honesty or hubris, I don’t know, it’s true, I do feel that way sometimes. I barely saw a soul last week working at The Springs, and that was fine by me.
To occult something is simply to hide it from view. As Mark Passio explained in his Natural Law Seminar, people occult knowledge to create or preserve a power differential they use to their advantage. Take the idea of satanism; what is the first thing it conjures up? Mark was a priest in the church of satan, and when I heard him explain their 4 basic tenets, which he knew first-hand, it opened my eyes.
Survival: self-preservation is the top priority
Moral relativism: if it’s good for me, it’s good, if it’s bad for, me it’s bad
Social Darwinism: it is right and desirable for an elite few to dominate the other 99.9999% of humanity
Eugenics: who is allowed to procreate, and at what rate, must be controlled
That is satanism unocculted.
At the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail, it is U.S. Highway 67 that has been unocculted. The removal of huge colonies of black locust trees from both the north and south ends of the preserve, along with the buckthorn cutting, have exposed the sights and sounds of the highway to major portions of the trail. I won’t occult the truth: this is very obnoxious, especially in winter, and worst of all, at night. The bright, rolling headlights, intermittently blocked by trees, evoke the feeling of prison bars and clandestine interrogations; not very relaxing or natural. And on Saturday night, it was one car after another… I don’t like it one bit. We have to get some native shrubs planted and recreate a healthy understory.
Despite my deeper appreciation for those who prefer a wall of buckthorn to highway traffic, I continued to work the brush cutter last week at The Springs. Tuesday was cold and I had to rest my water bottle in the relatively warm river to keep it from freezing solid.
Here is how it looked before I started…
… and after
While on my evening stroll, I got a call from my old friend, Randy Schilling, who came out to The Springs 2 years ago to harvest some oak, hickory and cherry logs. He had some presents for me: vases and bowls turned with care into art on his wood lathe.
Thanks Randy. I love you man!
Friday was perfect and I worked on the south side of the river just upstream from the gaging station bridge.
Again, before …
… and after.
I think this is the best use of my time now: solidify the gains that have been made in the last few years and prepare for the burn next spring.
Yesterday I did some work on the south end of trail focusing on black locust.
It was a dam cold winter morning at the Hartland Marsh when I carelessly let my hands get bitten by frost. Like gravity, it’s a law of nature: if you don’t understand and protect yourself, you’re going to get hurt. Ever since then my hands are the first to tell me Winter has arrived.
The polarity between hot and cold is really only a matter of degree i.e., the amount of vibratory energy that is present. And the rhythm of the seasons is just Nature’s Way. We have no trouble understanding the physical laws of nature but how about the spiritual laws of nature? What are they?
I’ve recommended Mark Passio’s Natural Law Seminar before on this blog and it bears repeating. The degree to which we, collectively, live our lives in adherence with natural law, will determine the kind of world we create: the reality that manifests around us.
I’ll give you a quick, thumb-nail sketch, using a few slides from Mark’s presentation to wet your appetite.
What are the principles, or first things, underlying natural law?
And what binds them together?
But you already know this!
What are the consequences of following natural law or ignoring it?
At it’s heart, natural law teaches us the difference between right and wrong.
What distinguishes natural law from mans law?
How can we get what we say we want from life?
You don’t have to look far to see which way we are heading… but, we can change that by seeking and speaking the truth.
I like to think I’m combining the laws of nature (physical) with natural law (spiritual) by voluntarily giving my time and attention, my spiritual currency, working to reveal the beauty of God’s creation. For my reward, I get to keep my sanity in a world gone mad.
This past week I continued prepping The Springs for the prescribed burn that the DNR plans to execute next spring. I’m focusing on the sand prairie area now cutting buckthorn, cherry, red oak, black locust and honeysuckle seedlings and resprouts.
I’m taking my time and poisoning as many cut stumps as I can find after each tank of gas burned in my Stihl FS-90 brush cutter. One reason the buckthorn is coming back so strongly here is that I took the shortcut of not poisoning the stumps the first time I brush cut here back in 2012. For every stump I didn’t poison, a half-dozen new shoots appeared.
Like the buckthorn thickets of the kettle moraine are ‘a bit’ like the jungles of Africa, The Buckthorn Man is only ‘a bit’ as noble and virtuous as the mighty Tarzan. Yes, yes, if only I could be as self-possessed as the king of the jungle, how liberating that would be.
Imitating the lord of the apes, I aspired to noble contemplation of ethics and aesthetics as I bent over the spotted knapweed on the sand prairie and listened to The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas. Sweet freedom. Paradoxically, I do love my servitude to The Creator, which is my free choice to labor at The Springs, because it enables me to manifest my version of Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic, and satisfy my desire to make the world a more beautiful place.
I finally did read A Sand County Almanac, which includes Leopold’s thought provoking essay, “The Land Ethic”:
A land, ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land.
Much of what he said resonated with me, but, and I hope you won’t think that The Buckthorn Man simply must have a buckthorn spike stuck in his butt to quibble with Aldo, like other careful readers, I found myself disconcerted by some of the things he said, or, as the case may be, did not say. He fails to mention the highly evolved Seventh Generation Earth Ethics of the indigenous people, while hoping that “we”, homo sapiens (Latin: “wise man”), who violently and rapaciously “conquered” the land, have learned a lesson.
A nation spawned from empires built on the backs of slaves is not easily weaned from gluttonous exploitation. Lest you think my ranting hyperbolic, consider this example from Donald Culross Peattie’s fine work, A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America:
Until almost the turn of the present century (1900), pecans reached the market largely from wild trees. The harvesting methods in early times consisted in nothing less heroic and criminal than cutting down gigantic specimens — the bigger the better — and setting boys to gather the nuts from the branches of the fallen giants. It seemed to the pioneer then, as it did to every American, that the forests of this country were inexhaustible. Thus it came about that the wild Pecan tree had become rare before men began to realize how much was lost.
Before I proceed with the riveting story of what happened when The Buckthorn Man returned to Shangri-La, I must complain about another, subtle perhaps, line of Leopoldian thought. He espouses a moral relativism that positively rankles me: “An ethic, philosophically, is a differentiation of social from anti-social conduct.”, and later: “The mechanism of operation is the same for any ethic: social approbation for right actions: social disapproval for wrong actions.” No Aldo, NO! There is an objective difference between right and wrong, independent of the whims of society, which Mark Passio eloquently and passionately explains in his Natural Law Seminar.
If you have any doubts, please check with Fredrick Douglas.
I arrived at the Ottawa Lake campground on Friday, August 22, excited to setup camp at the walk-in site #335, only to find that it had been let to another party an hour earlier. It reminded me of that scene where Jerry Seinfeld complained to the car rental company that knew how to take his reservation, but not how to hold it. Undecided about what to do, I took a walk downstream in the Scuppernong River to inspect the work that was recently done to improve the channel.
Here are some views of the stretch of the river just upstream from the gaging station bridge that still need some channel remediation.
While wandering the trails I met Eliot and his son Isaiah, and they graciously invited me to stay with them at site #388, which is a beautiful site on the bluff overlooking Ottawa Lake. Thanks again guys!
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Friday were dedicated to digging and pulling spotted knapweed on the sand prairie. Most of the seed is still firmly attached and, since I did not mow the prairie this year, there is a ton of it.
I didn’t care if it rained.
It was hot, humid and buggy, but beautiful nevertheless.
The Hillside Springs.
The Indian Springs.
Ottawa Lake sunset.
On Tuesday and Wednesday I was determined to finish clearing the buckthorn along the trail that follows the east shore of Ottawa Lake between site #380 and #335. I was concerned about the bar oiling mechanism not working properly on my chainsaw and, sure enough, it was kaput. So, I carried a little pint bottle of bar oil in my chaps and stopped every couple minutes to manually apply some lubrication to the bar and chain. No problem!
… and after.
The sights and sounds of The Springs:
Buckthorn seedlings along the cut-off trail.
The cut-off trail.
Giant thistles that I should have positively identified as friend or foe a few months ago.
The Hidden Spring.
The area of phragmites that I poisoned near the Emerald Spring deck is finally coming back to life.
The Emerald Spring.
The Scuppernong Spring.
The Indian Spring.
A beautiful, unidentified flower near the Hotel Spring.
The valley of the headwaters.
Wednesday morning and I had a date with buckthorn.
… and after.
You can follow the lakeshore trail all the way from the beach to the north end of site #334 and enjoy wide open views of the lake and fen to the west the whole way. It’s lovely.
Thanks again to Carl Baumann, for splitting and restacking my stash of firewood!.
And thanks to Dave and Lindsay for coming out to visit; I really enjoyed it. I had a couple of uninhibited and inspired guitar jams by the fire and, despite all the rain, never had to setup my tarp at camp. It was excellent.
The Scuppernong Springs are “a world class site” according to Ron Kurowski, the godfather of the Scuppernong River Habitat Area restoration project. I’m humbled to be a servant of Mother Nature helping take care of this beautiful place that attracts me so; it gives me the opportunity to manifest my vision for the world:
The attractive force of The Springs has been drawing a lot of attention lately.
I hope to post the work of landscape photographers Byron S. Becker and Kristen WestLake, who draw inspiration from The Springs.
The dynamic DNR duo, Melanie Kapinos and Amanda Prange, organized a volunteer workday pulling garlic mustard at The Springs and we were happy to have Wendy and Rene help us.
Like a martial arts expert, Ben Johnson turned the pull of The Springs into the capstone project for the masters degree in environmental studies (emphasis on environmental management and planning) he is working on through the University of Illinois Springfield. This is a 240 hour commitment and we thank Anne Korman, Assistant Superintendent of the Kettle Moraine Forest — Southern Unit, for expediting this DNR internship.
I had a heart-warming encounter a few days ago at The Springs, specifically, at the hotel springs,
where I met a group of people who were conducting a meaningful, and possibly religious, baptismal ceremony. I was drawn by their energy, and surprised later, when they stopped on their way out to give me a beautiful, rose crystal, straight from the Black Hills, for my heart. Not my head; my heart. I get it!
DNR fisheries biologist Ben Heussner, organized a workday tomorrow to fill in with brush the wet areas on the outside of the coconut rolls they placed into the river late last fall.
And yesterday I ran into DNR Water Resource Management Specialists Rachel Sabre, Craig Helker and April Marcangeli, who were doing their annual fish count on the Scuppernong River.
Yes indeed, The Springs are attractive!
I started yesterday near the old hotel site taking down some of the aspen we girdled last year so that we can use the wood as fill along the riverbanks tomorrow.
After a couple tankfuls of gas in the chainsaw, I was ready to move to the north side of the river when I saw Craig, Rachel and April with their fish shocking sled in the river. I helped them last year and learned how they use electric shocks to temporarily paralyze the fish so they can catch and count them. A coincidence, or was it the law of attraction? I took a break from the chainsaw and followed them upstream.
Don’t miss the shocking interview with the DNR team at the end of this video!
I was a mosquito on a buckthorn leaf watching them sort, count, measure and weigh the fish.
… is better than a warm day at the office! That’s me on the left back in the days when we struggled to get complex “Sales Illustrations” software to run in 640k of memory.
It was really challenging work but at the end of the day, it was just for money; my heart wasn’t in it, my mind was exhausted and the fire in my belly was out cold. It’s been 2 years since I retired and I’m very lucky the way things turned out.
Working at The Springs helps me keep my sanity. If you open your eyes, see what is going on around in the world, study history to build out a context for current events, and use a method like the integrated Trivium (knowledge/grammar, understanding/logic, wisdom/rhetoric) to sort fact from fiction, it’s hard not to get depressed. The powers that should not be are enslaving humanity and most people choose to ignore it. They choose IGNORE-ance rather than knowledge, contracting fear instead of expansive love. The Truth is that which is; that which has actually occurred. We can come to know the truth, and be set free, or we can ignore it, and be enslaved. The aggregate of all of our free will choices, bounded by the Laws of Nature, will determine the reality that manifests in this world. I encourage you to check out the work of Richard Grove at Tragedy and Hope, especially the podcasts, and tune in, don’t drop out.
He has been working at The Springs recently, piling brush along the trail where we have been cutting. You can see his latest efforts in the first picture above. It really warms my heart to see others independently volunteering their time and attention at The Springs and, thanks to Andy, I had a convenient brush pile to light up yesterday to keep me warm. Thanks as well to John Hrobar for stopping out with Sue and Tim and throwing a couple piles worth of brush on the fire. Below are a couple perspectives before I started working.
It was a cold, snowy day but I was happy to get out of the house and careful to keep my hands warm.
After work I enjoyed a walk around the trail in solitude and took the north end trail route from east to west through the Buckthorn Alley to get back to my truck. I think a couple more weeks and we’ll have a wide swath cleared on both sides of the trail through the Buckthorn Alley!
The world rides on the back of a turtle! It’s a beautiful metaphor for that which is beyond our comprehension e.g., the nature of God, the origin of the Universe, or our existence in the spiritual realm.
My first exposure to “turtles all the way down” was during an interview of Dr. Patrick Byrne by Jan Irvin and Richard Grove on Gnostic Media, where they examined the “cosmology” of regulatory agencies that are supposedly monitoring our financial institutions and their speculative shenanigans.
… There was this story about Bertrand Russell, who was once debating with a Hindu cosmologist. And the Hindu cosmologist said: “The world rides on the back of a turtle”. And Russell asked: “What does the turtle ride on?” And the Hindu replied: “On the back of another turtle.” “Ok, and what does that turtle ride on?”, to which the Hindu replied: “Sorry professor, but it’s turtles all the way down“.
In the Hindu tradition the world rides on elephants, who are in turn supported by a turtle. It is mysterious that the turtle should play such a prominent role in the cosmology of traditions as diverse as the Hindu and Lenni Lanape. I just encountered it again in The Last Of The Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper in the character of Uncas, the son of Chingachgook, chief of the Sagamore.
In the story Uncas, the scout Hawkeye and major Heyward, in their attempt to free Cora and Alice, have fallen under the control of a tribe of Delaware Indians and Uncas is about to be burned at the stake. When his captors rip off his hunting shirt, they are frozen in their tracks by the sight of “the figure of a small tortoise, beautifully tattooed on the breast of the prisoner”. Seizing the opportunity to assert his rightful status Uncas declares: “Men of the Lenni Lenape! My race upholds the earth! Your feeble tribe stands on my shell!”
I often wonder what I stand on; is there any substance there? What is “there”. We have to start with principles and, per Mark Passio’s fantastic seminar on Natural Law, I’m trying to focus on the generative principle of CARE. What we care about is our spiritual currency. How we spend our time, and what we pay attention to, are the causes that manifest the effects we experience.
I was happy to spend another day paying attention to The Springs and satisfied with the effects, modest though they were. Given the recent heat wave, I thought conditions might be good enough to continue burning brush piles on the northeast end of the trail, where the cut-off trail intersects with the main trail near signpost #13.
I left my gear and walked down to the Hotel Spring to get some water.
We did get an inch or so of powdery snow the night before and I had my doubts about lighting the piles. I poked my chainsaw into one, consolidated a stack of wood, and tried to light it. My whimpering torch barely generated enough heat to light a doobie. Hmmm, must be the cold temperatures are not allowing the liquid propane to convert to gas at a fast enough rate, I speculated. The wood was wet and green and I barely got one pile going. I decided to switch gears and cut buckthorn on the east side of the old cranberry bog on the north side of the trail.
I gave it my best shot but, after bending a chain while trying to remove the bar from a pinch, and spilling the contents of the chainsaw gas tank on myself, I thought perhaps the price was too high to spend anymore time paying attention to buckthorn that day.
The white oak revealed above was my reward.
It’s a good thing I stopped when I did or I would have missed this classic winter sunset on the Indian Campground.
See you at The Springs!
p.s. don’t miss the workday this Saturday with Jared Urban and the DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation Bureau at the Eagle Oak Opening State Natural Area near Eagle.
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…”, that’s what George Gershwin said. Per the Natural Law Principle of Polarity, he might have added another line like: Wintertime, and the livin’ ain’t easy; although it may be true, it doesn’t ring with the same poetry. Hot and cold, easy versus hard, they’re simply polarities of temperature and effort. Or, consider the swing between the summer and winter seasons, or solstices, as an expression of the Natural Law Principle of Rhythm. At The Springs we adjust to Winter’s Rhythm by carefully relaxing, lowering expectations, and dressing warmly; then we carry on.
We had a window of opportunity last Saturday, January 4th, before the deep freeze arrived, to slash, pile and burn in the Buckthorn Alley. SuperFriends♥ Ben Johnson, his wife Karen and Pati joined me, softening the hardness of winter with their warm energy.
I visited the Hotel Spring when I arrived to get some fresh, clean, drinking water.
We lit the brush pile in the foreground of the first picture above and had a nice fire to keep warm by. Karen and Pati split their time between piling brush and feeding brush into the fire. Ben was obviously more comfortable with the chainsaw and, I dare say, I think he had a lot more fun. He and Karen visited this spot on New Year’s day and they bushwhacked through the opening in the buckthorn that Zach and I cut and passed through three different cranberry bogs before emerging on the cut-off trail. It is encouraging to know that the area between the north section of the trail and the cut-off trail is not a solid mass of buckthorn. I’ll have to check this out myself!
Snow fell, heavily at times, while we worked and John and Sue Hrobar stopped by to say hello. Here is how it looked when we quit.
Afterwards, Pati and I had time to enjoy a walk and the views through the large flakes of steadily falling snow on the cut-off trail were enchanting. That’s John and Sue on the gaging station bridge below.
The Hillside Springs.
The Scuppernong Spring.
The Indian Spring.
Check the Volunteer page at this site for the workday schedule.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I was reminded by Jan Irvin, the co-author with Andrew Rutajit of Astrotheology & Shamanism Christianity’s Pagan Roots regarding Amanita Muscaria mushrooms: “Be careful and realize the double edged sword that they are.” He was referring to the experience of Heaven and Hell that Clark Heinrich described in his book Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy. The only time I would consider taking the journey into the spirit world again would be in the context of my death with dignity.
I experienced many examples of Natural Law on my “trip” and I highly encourage you to check out Mark Passio’s seminar on the subject here. I’ll provide a brief summary and then give an example.
What does Natural Law mean?
Natural: Inherent; having a basis in Nature, Reality and Truth; not made or caused by humankind.
Law: An existing condition which is binding and immutable (cannot be changed.)
What are the General Principles of Natural Law, also known as the 7 Hermetic Principles (please see Mark’s presentation linked above for in-depth explanations)?
The Principle of Mentalism
The Principle of Correspondence
The Principle of Vibration
The Principle of Polarity
The Principle of Rhythm
The Principle of Cause and Effect
The Principle of Gender
Here is Mark’s explanation of the expressions of natural law.
He goes on to explain that the 8th, or “lost principle”, is CARE. It is depicted below as a circle encompassing the 7 Natural Law Principles and he refers to this image as The Seed of Life.
Without CARE we can never know, or live by, Natural Law. You can ignore Natural Law, but you cannot escape the consequences of doing so.
I became intimately familiar with the Principle of Correspondence:
“The Principle of correspondence represents the Hermetic axiom ‘As above, so below, as below, so above’ indicating an analogy between the various planes of being and life, it also reflects the Arcane principle ‘From One know All’. It says as much that all planes of being function after the same rules and patterns, and thus the unknown can be comprehended by the knowledge of the known.”
During my journey, just before my spirit was reborn, I descended deeply into time and space until I became aware of only the clicks of on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off until suddenly, with what I assume was an ON, I experienced my own “big bang” and began returning to the present moment. I’ll never forget the awareness of regaining consciousness in spirit form as I raced back to my bed. The binary concept is ubiquitous in science and technology and I experienced it at the deepest level of consciousness that I attained on my journey. “As above, so below, as below, so above”.
Since winter set in this year, it seems it has not relaxed it’s grip, except for the heavenly Saturday we had at The Springs last weekend. So, I watch the weather looking for the most benign days to venture out and yesterday was one of those days.
The views at the Hotel Spring, where I drew some water for the day.
I’ve noticed recently that the DNR has also been hard at work removing brush. Check out these piles on north side of Hwy ZZ near the channel that drains Ottawa Lake into the Scuppernong River.
I continued working in the Buckthorn Alley, which will be our focus until conditions improve to resume burning brush piles. I cut on the left/north side of the trail. Here is what it looked like before I got started.
I lit the brush pile shown above that was nearest my torch and had a nice fire to warm up by as I worked. I needed the heat to keep my cell phone working!
I couldn’t stay long and cut relatively less than usual, but it was an excellent day!
I made time to take a walk around the trails before heading for home.
I didn’t sleep at all last night; I couldn’t stop my mind from trying to unravel the mystery that I had experienced. Pati always encourages me to tell my “Santa Story”, which I got from reading Astrotheology and Shamanism Christianity’s Pagan Roots by Jan Irvin and Andrew Rutajit, and that is a good place to start to describe my “trip”.
The Amanita Muscaria mushroom grows in northern climates under fir, aspen, or birch trees. Pati and I found huge patches of it on Grand Island in Lake Superior and I even found one at the Indian Spring. The shamans in northern Europe watched the reindeer and noticed how much they loved this mushroom. They saw that, even more than the mushroom, the reindeer loved the urine that they, or their mushroom loving brothers, relieved themselves of. The shamans experimented and came to understand the dramatic effects this mushroom could induce (especially when un-metabolized mucimol, excreted via urine, was consumed.)
In the spring, the shamans would enlist the help of children to identify where the white caps of the mushroom were pushing through the warming soil — kind of like an Easter egg hunt. As the mushroom develops it expands through the white cap under which it was born leaving the characteristic snow fleck pattern that remains on the surface of the bright red or sunburst colored mature mushrooms.
When they were ready, the shaman harvested the mushrooms and hung them on the bows of pine trees to dry them in the short summer sun — like Christmas ornaments. As winter set in, and the entrances to the yurts the people lived in became blocked by snow, the only way to enter was through the smoke hole, or chimney. The shaman would travel from yurt to yurt carrying a sack of Amanita Muscaria mushrooms on his back. As he delivered his gifts, he recommended that they hang them over their fireplace mantels to finish drying them out — like you would a wet pair of stockings.
Over the period of the winter solstice many of the people would consume the mushrooms under the guidance of the shaman and travel in time and space experiencing their consciousness in remarkable ways. When thoroughly intoxicated with muscimol, the active ingredient in the Amanita Muscaria mushroom, the person would “leave” their physical body and experience their consciousness in pure spirit form. This was valued as it informed their reasons for living and prepared them for their own deaths.
The Shaman Santa Claus.
That story resonated with me deeply and I knew I had to experience it. I found an excellent source for the mushrooms and tried to brew them in a tea, which I had heard was the way to go. It might be for some, but I was not ready for the experience; I was still drinking way too much whiskey and smoking cigarettes. The first time I tried them, I was camped at the Hartland Marsh and spent the night shivering in my sweat drenched sleeping bag. I understood then that I need to detoxify my body and my mind if I hoped to commune with A. Muscaria. That was back in the fall of 2009 and I tried two more times in the interval and could not break through. My bout with a cancerous tumor in my neck in 2011 was the wake up call I needed to cleanse my mind and body.
Yes, I couldn’t sleep last night. I was still coming down from my ride with Santa the night before, and trying to recall the sequence of events as my consciousness left my body and I began to travel as a spirit through space and time, finally returning after a 16 hour “trip”. I began by chopping 4 ounces of mushrooms in the blender and preparing a mixture of apples, carrots, lemons, limes and oranges by pushing them through my juicer. I started Friday morning, December 27, at around 8:15am, with 3 heaping tablespoons of mushrooms mixed with enough of the juiced fruits and carrots to make it palatable, held my nose, and woofed it down. I ingested more “shrooms” approximately every hour, resting or doing gentle yoga asanas between each dose, until finally, around 2:30pm, after puking twice, drinking a cup and a half of urine, and consuming all of the shrooms, I departed this realm (Much of the muscimol, the physco-active ingredient in Amanita Muscaria, is not absorbed by the body in the first pass and leaves via the urine, hence the necessity to capture and drink it. Urine therapies go way back in the Vedic tradition.) But, just as I was leaving, I thought of those I love, especially Pati. I thought she might be at the bedside worried about me, and I reached out to her to say goodbye only to remember that she would not be back home for another week.
I traveled at a speed beyond comprehension and soon found myself in an infinitely vast space on the rim of what appeared to be a giant wheel that spanned the Universe. Perhaps it was an incarnation of the wheel of karma — the wheel that the Buddha often referred too — manifested from my subconscious. It is hard to describe “where” I was i.e. from what perspective I was on the wheel, but I could see it clearly extending in both directions. Via unspoken words I was offered the choice: did I want to return to life in a physical body or continue as spirit? I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Pati and I couldn’t just leave her like that, so the choice to return for me was easy.
I continued on and unexpectedly was given another choice; did I want to go to God? Yes! Yes! my spirit emphatically declared and I proceeded to somewhere above the wheel and as I approached what I thought was God, I heard the mournful lamentations of the spirits, “they’ve done it, they’ve blown up earth!”. I quickly passed by, or through, or rebounded past “God”, I don’t know which, but I was traveling fast and deeply into space and matter until I could see the atoms passing by. I distinctly remember becoming aware of the binary concept. And then I heard the click of off, on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off, on and suddenly, with what I assume was an “ON”, a big bang, and I began the journey back.
When I returned to the wheel I distinctly remember the voices of the spirits there contemplating if they, like roulette balls, should drop back into “the game”. They struggled with the gamble of their destiny in a physical manifestation. I noticed an incessant clicking sound which reminded me of the on, off, on, off, ON click or the sound of the balls ricocheting around the roulette wheel. I had made my choice and did not attempt to drop my ball in just anywhere, but I felt like I could still have changed my mind during that brief time on the rim of the wheel.
The next thing I became aware of on my headlong race back to the present moment was seeing an accident on a bridge over a river. I looked into the eyes of the lead horse, who was laying near the crumpled wreck of the wagon it was pulling, and I recalled Mark Twain’s characterization of life in 600AD as described in A Connecticut Yankee In King Aurthur’s Court, where he explained that if you were in a hurry, you would not hesitate to “kill the horses” to get where you wanted to go. And the horse explained to me that he couldn’t go on anymore, he was exhausted. “It wasn’t my fault”!
The bridge had caught fire and the people were dismantling the wreckage as I left the scene. The next thing I remember was a disembodied voice whispering to me “Sir Knight, Sir Knight…” and my conscious awareness returned to my body. I needed to relief my bladder, I checked the time and saw it was 5:20am, Saturday morning, but I knew I had not come all the way back. I laid down again and continued my journey and, amazingly, I saw the smiling face of Ben Johnson, who has been helping me recently at The Springs, and I knew I was back.
It took me a while to get going and my heart was set on being at The Springs. I walked from the parking lot on Hwy ZZ to the hotel spring to get some water, which I needed badly.
(I noticed upon review that I said I was on the east side of the cut-off trail at the beginning of the video. I was actually on the northeast side of the main loop trail that leads to the buckthorn alley.)
It was so good to see Jim Davee at the work site when I arrived. He listened to my tale and I felt like he did not judge me. In my haste to get to The Springs, I left my chainsaw chaps at home (they were hanging to dry in the basement) and when I expressed my fear of cutting without this protection, Jim immediately offered to go to Forest Headquarters and get a pair of chaps for me. His thoughtfulness almost reduced me to blubbering tears. He found Anne Korman, the Assistant Superintendent of the Southern Unit of the State Forest, and soon was on his way back with a pair of chaps. Thanks Jim and Anne!
Here is what the area looked like before we started working; me cutting and Jim piling.
As soon as I began working on the North side of the trail, where Ben Johnson left off, I realized that I had asked him to work in what was one of the worst tangled messes I had ever encountered; and it was his first time cutting buckthorn with a chainsaw! Sorry about that Ben.
Zach Kastern and I were trying to hook up at The Springs, and our schedules didn’t align exactly, but he made the effort to come out and arrived around 2:00pm. He asked where I wanted to focus and I suggested we try to carve a whole in the buckthorn in a southeasterly direction to reveal the old cranberry bog on the other side. That seemed like a good plan and we got after it.
This is a view looking toward the “Blue V” on the edge of the horizon that we oriented ourselves to as we carved out a channel.
We quit just before sunset and I was really looking forward to taking a tour with Zach. Jim went home to get some information about the Clover Valley spring, which is very near Rice Lake and the Whitewater Lake Recreation Area, and he arrived just in time to take a walk with us. We had a wonderful conversation as we traded ideas and information; it was memorable.
And remember… “He sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…”