As I sat in the woods, rejoicing at the beginnings of the changing colours of autumn, the leaves at the top, yellows and a few reds, and looked down upon the ground at those which have already dropped and turned brown, it deeply came to me how the love of this season is also about having faith.  With the rejoicing comes faith, faith that come another season, the leaves will return, grow and green.

For a moment I wondered what if one did not know, and saw the leaves gathering upon the ground, the branches becoming bare, the changing colour, what would they think and feel. Would they see it as the end as they watch leaf after leaf turn and fall? Would they listen to the trees and hear, “no, it is okay, it is what we do”? Would they rush in frantic activity, attempting to save the trees, paste the leaves back on, return them to green, lobby the government? Would the pray that they stopped falling away, send energy to the trees? Or would they pause and listen, stand humbly, waiting, heeding the call of the trees.  “It is fall, the leaves must fall, it is part of a cycle, one that is necessary for life and rebirth”

This season is also about allowing and being with what is. I first wrote some of the above a few weeks ago, when the forest and trees felt so different,

“And as the hills are still mainly green, and many have come to see the fall colours, including myself, it means being with what is; not rushing things, nor bemoaning that it is not that which we expected it to be. To be and appreciate what is.”

Tis now the end of the season. I look at the trees, standing increasingly bare and think of what I wrote but a few weeks ago. How quickly it changes, how we waited, the engaged, and now it has passed. And in between, I cherished the colours, knowing how fleeting they were, being in the moment, wanting to hold onto it yet knowing, that like the leaves, it would soon fall away. And now it has – the trees stand bare and naked, only a few leaves hang on, and once again to allow and be with what is.


This time also calls up  cycles and seasons, those of the short and those of the long, those beyond our earthly knowings, those beyond our own. It is a time of understanding; understanding beyond that which we can see. Or admitting, there is much we do not understand.

When we work to heal the earth, do we honour the cycles?  what are the consequences when we do not? What is working with and what is an attempt to control and bend it to our ends, our versions of what should be. And when do we do this, attempt to abort cycles, seeing a moment, not knowing that it is part of a larger whole. Assuming we know, not seeking to understand. The timelines that extend beyond our own. Not seeing what may be necessary for life to continue. Do we listen? Do we hear a snippet and believe that it is the all? Are we able to hear – the earth, the universe, each other, ourselves. The trees teach us so much.

This time of year there is a passing away. Those whose life cycle is shorter, those who live for a year, or a part thereof, those other plants that are part of the forests, the farms, the streets. Those whose life is done – yet it continues on. The seeds that are dispersed, that return to the earth, for the next generation to come, the generation that does not know its parents, or even have elders around, those to emulate, those to teach, whose guidance is encoded in the seeds. The many seeds that are sent out, not all who are born, the many who do not go on. And so is with ourselves.

It can be painful, knowing that some may not make it through.  Can we discern the difference between those we knock down, and those that return to the earth. Between those that are sick and hurting, and those with energetic cycles. And so with human beings. Do we insist that all continuously have glistening tender leaves; yes some are evergreen, but others are deciduous, and all are valued, part of the whole, contributing to the life cycles.

Many years I have been in the forests of evergreen – the redwoods, the great cedars, Douglas firs, pines, even palms and eucalyptus trees – those whose leaves do not drop and I yearned for the change, for trees with leaves. Yet in these zones, come winter, or the brown season, I seek the green, value the evergreens, trees that at this time of year I have overlooked.

I ponder, how the trees and forest that surround influence our perceptions. The places where seasons are not so defined, to see the eternal, that which seems unchanged. That life is meant to be evergreen. That when the needles turn brown and drop to the ground, that it indicates that the trees are sick. That it is not natural, not part of the cycle of life, or at least one we can see.

For the time I am here. The trees stand naked and exposed, and so do i. Energy returns to the roots, a life beneath the surface, and so for me. Knowing the connections there, valuing and being with what is. Feeling that which goes on above, and that which continues beneath. A slowing of energy, communing, sensing, a part of the all, the cycles within cycles and spirals. And having faith in the miracle of life.





I hibernate in my den for a few days – back at the Happy Bear, in a den. The season has turned. the leaves fallen away, the rains come down and the temperature drops. For a couple of days I stay mainly within.

At times it feels sad this season, the glorious displays of colour dropping away, the oranges, yellow and reds that had once been green, now shades of brown beneath our feet. Energy drops, goes to the roots, the depths beneath the surface

But I also know the life is rich there, even if it is unseen. And there in the woods, the forests, are vast underground communications networks linking tree to tree, the fungi and more, part of an interconnected whole. A whole of many beings, part of the larger whole, that includes me.

I know I will not hibernate for long. Yet in this season my external activity slows, and I commune in other ways. The nights are longer, and soon the veil thins. As we approach halloween, Samhain, the Days of the Dead, the days of All Saints and All Souls.

Falling Leaves

It is fleeting this season. I pause on the path, a few leaves are dancing in the air, making their way down to earth. It stops and starts again, a dance, a joyous dance and I find a rock to sit upon and watch the falling of autumn – shapes and colours swirl in the air for a moment until stillness comes again. Birds begin to sing.

Perhaps it is because we know it is so fleeting and transitional that we cherish these moments so.

If the leaves were always these colours would it be so precious? Yes, we would love them, but would we notice and engage to the same degree – not assuming that all would change from one day to the next?

I think of the forests of the west, evergreen of so many types, trees I love, engage with, yet there is a greater sense of stability.

Leaves falling, to nourish the earth, the soils in which the trees grow, the coming generations of leaves – the cycle of life

The season progresses, the leaves making their way to earth, a carpet, protecting and nurturing, for the seasons to come

The trees now stand increasingly exposed- becoming naked, revealing their skeletons, their bones. To love them just as much now that their finery, their flashy dress, has fallen away. Energy returns to the roots



Who are the newcomers and how do we welcome them? Who are they and from where do they come? Are they many, an influx coming in, or a few, trickles from here and there. Do we see a similarity and kinship or foreignness and difference? What do they bring? what do they need? what are their gifts? what do they lack? Refugees fleeing conflict? Those seeking an opportunity, if not for themselves, for their offspring, a better way of living and how is that defined? Those who seek to join in, to bring in new ideas and energies – respecting, or not respecting, those which are there? Those who come to conquer, to make a place theirs? movement between lands and worlds, migration of many sorts – and just what is an alien – illegal, national, or without a prefix or suffix?

Those of us who are here, who came before, once newcomers ourselves, or in our ancestry, do we welcome them, do we feel threatened, and just how does the fabric of a place change?

New humans are coming in and what we see in the material world with migration, immigration, the world that has become global with borders that have both dissolved and fortified, is also happening on an intergalactic scale. And for all, both old and new, there have been many teaching from known history, from what has happened in the real – have we learned, can we learn, or do we repeat what has come before. For all is interconnected, all is part of the one.

Water pours in – flooding tunnels down below, at a place that is the centre of a U, connecting two sides, making them one, in the underground, the journeys beneath. two lines that go far up, connecting beyond, now seperate until the water is cleared.  For the moment, turned back in two places, having to come up to the surface there, in the center can not pass through otherwise. A quick journey takes much longer, need to find alternate routes, routes that we not designed to take on the extra load, and others means of going added on. Or journeys not made, plans altered, alternatives found. I was not going there today, was getting off where it stopped anyways, and returned early, before it was too full, as it was could not get on the first one, had to wait, and as it was had altered my route, but made it back before the waters came down from above again. In the 3D world – the story is – Union Station subway flooded, trains turned around at Bloor and Osgoode, has been at least all afternoon, continuing now, yet this speaks on so many levels.

What is the vista of our days – that which appears when we look as far as our eyes can see, that which lay upon the horizon, or is the horizon? Does it call us forth to journey beyond, to walk to distant lands? Does it hold us in, like a cocoon, nurturing or trapping us? Is it one that we notice or look out upon – is there a beyond to see? Is it one that seems stable, unchanging as we go about our day, or is it one that seems to change with every twist and turn we make? And what is the relation between what we physically see with our eyes, and that which we envision inside? Just how does the vista of our lives, help frame our perceptions, and our lives? In turn, how do our experiences, thoughts and emotions effect what we see out upon the horizon?


Last week when i went to place a stone and found his home in front of a bench, with a sweeping view of the treed valley of the arboretum and the mountains beyond, all of these questions came back to me – questions i have asked many times, in many locales, with a variety of vistas that have effected me in different ways.

While this came to me, i know it had been silently gnawing at me for some time. Gnawing at me as i walk around the city of Reno, feeling caged at times. Comfortable, yes yearning for more, but not able to see the beyond. Reno sits in a bowl, on the edge of the Great Basin, that expanse of desert land where the few waters do not flow into the sea. A land contained, sitting between two vast mountain ranges – the sierra nevadas just west of here, and the rockies, a long journey away. In between are mountains and valleys, a land where little flourishes and grows, a land of rock and desert scrub that lay beneath an open sky, with little life on the surface to mediate the relation between the two. It is a harsher land, unforgiving at times.

in it i can feel the remnants of a life and history gone by, a time that once was, when seas and plants and large animals, even those that we call dinosaurs flourished here, a very different place it must of been, before it all collapsed, becoming desert and harsh, an environment that supports such little life – and i can only envision what happened – then i shudder and feel a sense of not quite horror, but something that comes close to it. I feel it in the stones, those that are this land, and i feel it as a larger presence when i pass through – as i have a few times. It is a place where people pass through, the booms and busts of the mining towns, those places where the the secrets have been stolen from the earth, where that which lay beneath the surface has been ripped out, exposed, and crushed, without respect to what it may say or reveal. that goes on still, the mining of the earth, and that is what some of the few towns that dot the land are about. but most seems empty, devoid of people, dotted with ghost towns or abandoned mobile homes and it is place i feel that us humans are not meant to live. for me, much of it seems to be haunted, a past gone, yet also a vision, a warning, of what might become.

And that is what i see when i look out in three directions – to the north, south, and especially east – to the brown mountains that form three sides of the bowl. They do not beckon or call me forth, but seem like barriers to a place i have no desire to go – though a place i must pass through if i wish to journey to the other side. A place both of my imagination and one that is real. A place i have spent little time, but have little desire to explore – although i know from my brief trip up a few of the hills, that there is more than meets the eye, there is wisdom in the land, a wisdom of old, a wisdom of ancient times, and also the follies of our day and the not too distant past. a future – of that i am less sure – and as for the present, the now – it seems harsh to me. And thus the vista becomes a barrier, or represents one to me.

In the other direction, to the west, stand the foothills to the Sierra Nevada, a majestic mountain range. The land seems more alive, with a smattering of green, and here my imagination can call me forth – at other times of the year. Winter comes early to those parts, and lasts a very long time, the lands covered in a deep snow, the mountain passes that one must cross to reach the promised land – the rest of california that lay beyond. One would be tempted to say California as the promised land, but the state line is not far from here, and as i know, Truckee is part of that state, a town where cars had a few inches of fresh snow on thier roofs when i passed through last June; a place which in the summer, has night time temperatures that are usually the coldest in the nation. But that i would not know had i not been there before, the vista itself does not tell me that.
At this time of year, i also recollect the infamous Donner Pass, that place where the donner party who were crossing the land all those years, but still not long ago, and got stuck and trapped in the winter snows where the few who survived did so by eating their companions who had died. This is something i know, not from the vista itself, or from experience (though i have camped a few times at the state park that is there today and named after them) – but from what i had read and been told – the stories of the land that have been passed down, stories that form part of our collective consciousness, and part of mine.
Those mountains that i see to the west, have beckoned many a time, for myself at other times of year, and for many right now – and not merely as a place to pass through heading the call of “go west young (wo)man, but as a place in itself.

Lake Tahoe is not far, though i would not know that from what i see from town. That magical lake of deep blue, a holy place gone amuck, with cottages grander than many homes elsewhere dotting much of its shore, towns, some state parks preserving the land, and the national forest that lay above – mainly on the california side. For me it is a place for the summer – of camping and hiking, for i do not ski.

Though it is gearing up as i write, the world class ski hills that surround the lake, that call so many forth at this time of year – a time anticipated with excitement, a time and a place that become magical and alive, a place and activities they are passionate about. And how different these foothills to the west must appear to them right now – for in them, the skiers see something completely different than I.
The vista changes throughout the year – at present the foothills have a light dusting of snow on top, something that has more recently appeared. Again. for i was here two months ago, coming out of the mountains from the north – from susanville, lassen national park, the lakes, down from mount shasta way to the north, and when i arrived the mountains called back to me, how i yearned for them, and wished desperately to go back, to go back to where i had been – and beyond. I went to tahoe and returned, and then an early october snow storm came in and covered all in white, a blanket which i felt closed the mountains to me – for a while at least.

Though i had planned journeys in my mind, to the south, the eastern route to yosemite, which i had not yet taken, and still have not, the time for that having passed by now, at least if i wish to bus and came. Another journey, to the eastern shores of tahoe, the nevada side, another place i have yet to go, and have thought of many a time. But it seems out of reach, The commuter bus to Carson City, the gateway on this side, only runs in the morning and at night, the last morning bus at 6:45am, and i have yet to go. And i ask what does it mean to have a vista shut off, to not be able to get to it? Or where the journey is most difficult? And i have asked this in other locales, where mountains appear, but i have no way to get there, the beyond seeming inaccessible – out of reach. It is then that one feels most trapped – a yearning, a call, one cannot fulfill, or so one believes, and then does one believe that is true for all?

But then i passed through, back to the other side, to the coast, a land of very different vistas that have spoken to me, in so many different ways, at so many times. So much to write about the vistas that have framed my journey, both those that are physical and those that exist inside. I know they are connected, not separate at all, one calling forth the other, until a shift is made, a shift which is often reflected in the other – be it inside or out. And these vistas i meant to write about, but for now it is time to broaden my vista, step out beyond the four walls of the room that surround, that are my vista as i write and type.

What do we see when we walk out the door? What is the physical environment that greets us each day? That which we are a part of, and that which is part of us. Is it something that makes us smile, calls us forth, or something that makes us want to run back inside? And to what extent can we adjust our lens – our perceptions – just what is our role in the dance? Is it merely changing the way that we perceive, or do we need to alter the physical landscape itself?

I awake in downtown reno, walk out the door of my cheap motel room. A parking lot below, a parking garage to my left, and across the streets to my right. A huge sign for a restaurant, that is a concrete box, and several low rise motels, all with signs, a few that glow in the night. On the next block, I see one of the towers of Circus Circus that rise above, the neon red name flashing off and on in the night. A wide street, with barely a tree. And just beyond, a few more casinos, the more old fashioned kind, that are places of gambling that do not pretend to be more; and more low rise motels, a hospital, a few shops selling nothing – trinkets, convenience food and alcohol – very little that calls. This is what i see when i walk out the door, of a nondescript room, institutional but clean, nothing wrong with it, but the spirit is not there – empty like that which surrounds.

I venture beyond, learn to adjust my lens, in the midst of this, learn to value the gems that are there, call them in and forth, and enter another world. The river which flows with life, the trees and rocks, the ducks and geese, down there; i find the oasis, the river walk, just a few blocks, but with something more, i find the parks, the hills above, a few old neighborhoods that are here before you enter that sprawl, the areas with feeling and spirit, that are few, but in this time have learned to value them so, to see differently, to appreciate them – perhaps because they are so few.

But then i come back to this – the lifeless concrete boxes, and can no longer pretend, for though i adjust my lens they are still here – like a factory spewing out contaminated smoke, of a highway that runs through, the constant roar of traffic that you no longer here, the area around full of homes and trees – just how long can you pretend it is not there. And though you may turn your attention elsewhere, focus on growing the life around in all, eventually the pollution gets to you and you see how it has affected you all along. And once you see it again, you can no longer pretend that it is not there. As much as you try to focus your energy on that which you wish to call in, the other still remains. But then to turn to that, you become a part of it, and the light slowly fades away. And it is beyond what you can physically transform, do you take a stab, or do you move away.

When i first arrived i was dismayed, could not get out of here quickly enough – staying in a Casino hotel at very discount rates, a lovely huge room with a view beyond, but being a casino hotel you needed to walk through the gaming rooms, past all the slot machines in a cavern that is neither day or night, to get there. And i left, and returned and left again. Yet something called me back.

I now remember a photo i took, of ducks swimming in the river, a facebook post a month ago, asking what do i take pictures of, what do i focus my attention on, the downtown zone – often empty, with the wanderers who have known better days, or at times those who come to party for the weekend, the reflection on the larger society, or do i focus on the ducks and the river of life. And that i did, and learned so much, opening up and not closing down, feeling at one with the all, seeing and feeling the presence of god, not only in nature, but in so many of the people around, those who jog along with their dogs, and those who spend a day on a bench with their worldly possessions packed in a few worn bags, to those who frequent my favorite coffee shop – with their diversity, to those who make their way through life and those who have stories of an exciting life once lived.

But then i remember all the other places i have been, and as i stare down these hollowed out streets, the streets of a temporary state, of wanting the quick riches – riches that are false and cannot endure, I remember what i did not see, or rather did not appreciate. I think of San Francisco, Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal, even Toronto, the New Yorks – the cities that dance with life, and other landscapes of nature and wilderness – alaska, the oregon coast, vancouver island the mountains of many a place, elsewhere that i have been or smaller towns which are alive – Eugene, Kingston, and so many more, and ask why i did not remain there, so many wonders in those places, wonders i obviously knew, for it is their memories that return to me. And i remember how blessed i have been, something that i have often failed to realize, as the pain field that clung to me took over and that is what i saw, and as i began to see all that made any place less of an Eden itself, seeing what was lacking rather than what was there.
As i remember this, i try not to get mired in regret, but still i have stepped out of the now, and the magic fades away. I begin to plan for moving on and thus remove my energy from the place, something i am now aware of, as the disconnection begins to set in. And as i withdraw my energy the energy withdraws from me, and the magic begins to fade.

I notice the buildings that were built without spirit, and find myself walking, not through the old leafy neighbourhoods or by the river, but down the wide streets of low rise motels, casinos that have seen better days, shopping centers with discount goods and i begin to crawl in ever more, disconnecting from what is there. I then realize that this is what has allowed this deadened zone to be built, the disconnection from the all, from nature, from the spirit, from the magic of life, for what is matter but energy manifest?
Then i wake up in my motel room, and go to step outside, look around at what is there. look around at my life, and have a rude awakening – what is this – living in a cheap motel room, alone, in Reno – that second rate gambling town – with no where else to go, unemployed, in thrift store clothes, surrounded by men who have seen better days, or who struggle through life, and i ask what has my life become. And i know that others may see me as i failure, living this way. All the possibilities and opportunities i had, let go of or thrown away, a downward slide, as i remember myself living other lives, and i wonder what i have done, and that internal downward spiral threatens to take over me as i take on another lens.

But then i ask what is the reality? Is the joys of the park, the ducks, the life in all any less real that this? Have i not learned to see the spirit in all? Was it not that woman who i met on the street, everything lost, including her health, the one who talked about god, having faith, and living in the now? Was it not the man in the ragged pants, a major scrape on his face, who i met by the river, who talked of its beauty, the flow, the ducks how they swim and quack, the life and joy that is there, the magic of the place? And i know that this is what it has taken me to see, to fully appreciate the larger picture and the details of this life. And that exists everywhere – but it is not merely a matter of perception but of actively creating it, joining in that cosmic dance that is life.

Soon it will be time to step out the door again, walk through the parking lot and streets that surround, low rise motels and casinos, that speak of temporariness, and empty lives, and shine forth the light. For as long as i remain here, to be here fully, and focus the lens on the light in all – at times it can be harder to find, but to see it, and by seeing it, helping it grow. Not merely blotting out that which pains or feels dead, but looking through it, finding the hidden gems – those oasis of light that i have spoken of, but also the light in all. It is also time to create some too, and for that i feel that i may soon be moving on.

The dance with the physical world continues, for matter is really energy made manifest, and the interaction flows both ways – we speak to it, create our built environments, or bring ourselves to them, and it in turn speaks to us. What is the cycle that we create, or that is created in this dance – what energies feed back upon one another, thereby growing and manifesting themselves? The answer if not to disconnect, for much of what surrounds is a result of that, but to connect fully, and bit by bit make energies of light manifest, wherever we may be.

Nevada, the state where i find myself – home of the Nevada Test site, much further to the south, seemingly far from here, but in stones throw of the major city in this state, one that boomed more recently, but now a bust, a continuation of the cycle here, the boom and bust, mining towns, gambling, nothing to be sustained. In the land, this ‘great basin’ are remnants of another ancient time, a time where life thrived, now visible in the rock that makes up the landscape, above and below. Memories of eons gone by, of other life forms captured in the stone, still lingering on, transformed, but not gone.

i read a book, Savage Dreams, by Rebecca Solnit, she who reveals the mystery and history of the lands in written words. The Nevada Test site, it still remains, no longer a testing ground for nuclear weapons, ‘forgotten’ by many, or in the recesses of our minds – tours now pass through, but what was done there remains with us and for how long, It is less than 20 years ago that the last know nuclear test took place underground in 1992, but how long will its effects remain with us – the explosions that ripped apart the earth, leaving behind a chamber filled with radioactive rubble. The last test, of 928 that are known in this locale. After about 100 nucleur bombs were exploded in the air for all to see, the radioactivity carried far upon the winds, and deposited upon the surface of the land, they were moved underground after 1962, and while out of sight, they could not remain hidden away.

Over the next 30 years, the ground shook, craters were made, radioactivity pumped into the ground, as testing continued, not only in the seemingly dead rocky ground, but a third of them in aquifers, the precious water deposits that were life, and some even further down into the depths of our mother. A time of peace camps and protests, how i once wanted to be there, of people speaking out, calling attention to what was happening there.

With the cold war a distant memory, this too seems in the distant past. But how much of it is with us today, what lingering effects in out bodies and in our lands, to remain for tens of thousands of years, leaching out, hidden, but when to be revealed, like the fossils and what relics we find in these lands, forgotten but never really gone away. In our cultural amnesia, the online world, the FB newsfeed, a blip of information, and then it is gone, forgotten, as we move onto the next thing, the next urgent matter, but like the data stored, never knowing when a statement made years ago will come to bite us in the back, a small thing, forgotten but never gone away.

i feel the ancients in this land, layers of history, and what layers do we leave behind, what energies are lurking beneath.

Ancient Calling Forth - Head of a wise one from another time

The ancients stand above, their figures cast in stone. They have not gone away but they are here, for us to see and honour if we only know how to look. To give us lessons, ones i am just learning to here, and a reminder that there was life before, life that stretches our imaginations and our conceptions of history. Rocks they say, beautiful rocks say some, but i know that they are more than that, they have told me so.

The Ancients go marching on

On a hill overlooking town, are jumbled piles, rock outcroppings, that stand above. For many a part of the scenery, or something they jog or mountain bike past, but they call out to me – and there are so many that i have not seen

.Camouflaged Cat - blending in with the flora of today

I had gone for a walk, not even knowing that they were  there, but i caught a glimpse and had to find my way up, and i did and another world opened up. and now, that i have been there twice i realize that these were not even the first outcroppings i saw, but the ones that beckoned me. And here are only a few of them, the ones that spoke to the camera, asking to be revealed.

Head of the Ancient

So many heads around, once you begin to look, with both your eyes and your soul.

Another Head above the valley below

And now that i look at these photos, i wonder what lays beneath these heads.

A large head with a small one at right

But not all stand alone. One outcropping is full of tall thin figures gathered  together.

A Gathering of Many Standing Figures

One lying down

As i turned and walked around this area, so many faces and figures came to me, telling me of a life that once was.

another pair that really spoke to me - the suburban developments in the background

another pair joined together

not all pairs are joined physically

A Maiden looking up.

and other creatures seem to be emerging from the rockpiles

creatures in and on 'rockpiles'

The ancients stand above, cast in stone, and i ask why we do not recognize them. And as i was about to leave my first day, one area with an even higher energy called me forth, and i was to realize it had not always been that way. for what i came across was a place where the ancients had been venerated, by others in the past, a sacred place it felt (see part 2)