Nuala’s Tree and Concordia

There are about 45 pictures on this page, including a few maps.  It may load slowly.  You can optionally open/download a PDF copy (6.24Mb) to read offline.

This is the only long post in this series on Concordia.  The rest have narrower topics and are mostly pictures and links.

Dear Nuala (NOO-lah),

I have less than two weeks before your visit, and too many other things to do, including figuring out how to fix the refrigerator that turned itself into a freezer today (M-m-m, frozen pickles), but I want to document something going on in the Balsamea woods that is about you, or because of you.  I want it to be on record, forever.  I also want to make sure you know about it, just in case your tour here doesn’t do this topic justice.

I’ve given you the pseudonym Nuala to protect you from the stigma of  associating with me, and to protect your privacy.  Even though only three or four other people will read this, if anybody, everybody on the Internet is a close neighbor with a fence to gossip over.

It’s a nice Irish name.  It came from Fionnuala (or Finnguala), notable in the popular Irish myth, The Children of Lir (PDF).  This presentation of the myth, with the art I added to it, a Thomas Moore poem, and extensive end-notes, may be the best treatment of the topic you’ll find.  Especially since you’re probably not looking anyway.  But seriously, it was a pile of work putting it together, and worth it.  It’s probably the best part of this post.  (It even has a naked picture of Nuala.)


Nuala (/ˈnuːlə/; Irish: [ˈn̪ˠuəl̪ˠə]) is an Irish female given name, derived from Irish mythology – being either a diminutive form of Fionnuala [or Fionnghuala] (“fair shoulder”), the daughter of Lir, or an alternate name for Úna (perhaps meaning “lamb”), wife of Finvarra, king of the fairies.  — from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuala


Fionnuala – In Irish mythology, Finnguala (modern spellings: Fionnghuala or Fionnuala; literally fionn-ghuala meaning “fair shoulder”) was the daughter of Lir of the Tuatha Dé Danann. In the legend of the Children of Lir, she was changed into a swan and cursed by her stepmother, Aoife, to wander the lakes and rivers of Ireland, with her brothers Fiachra, Conn and Aodh, for 900 years until saved by the marriage of Lairgren, son of Colman, son of Cobthach, and Deoch, daughter of Finghin, whose union broke the curse.[1] ‘The Song of Albion’, with lyrics by Thomas Moore[2] speaks of her wanderings.

The name is anglicized as Fenella. The shortened version Nuala is commonly used as a first name in contemporary Ireland.  — from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fionnuala


 

As you know, about ten years ago (maybe more, I’m not sure … the earliest photo I have is 2009), I dedicated a special maple tree to you, with your name.  Nuala’s tree (or just “Nuala Tree”) is now the centerpiece of a forest retreat with unique natural features and special relationships with many components of Balsamea’s trail network.

The place is called Concordia Park, or, as I’ll normally put it, just Concordia.

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Angel Wing Revisited

Back by popular demand, this is the “fixed” version of Angel Wing in the Stream posted earlier.  The PDF file here is MUCH smaller than before (80% smaller), so it should load much faster.  It is downloadable, so you can read it offline.  If you have a slow connection, it may still take a minute to load.  It is a 13Mb file.
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Getting Life in the Fresh Air (Nature Writers I Follow #3)

I suggest that you fellow admirers of nature writing explore the blog, Life in the Fresh Air; An exploration of life, nature, creativity and tai chi, authored by Sarah on the edge of the Lake District National Park in northwest England, including her work in “poems, photos, painting and writing, inspired by nature, landscape, gardening and tai chi.”

In particular, I recommend these two poems, the ones that first caught my attention:

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Good Again and Again

Human minds cling to negatives more than positives.  This helps us prepare for the next time a negative comes around, and lets us experience a positive anew again, unprepared for the pleasure.

Every year I marvel as in childhood, uplifted a little out of myself, as if it were my first time walking in the woods at night during the first accumulating snow of the season.

A Meditation on the Company of Trees, Aided by Forest Nymphs

During a slow sylvan saunter, if I stand still more than move, in bodily senses and in palpable transcendent essences I find reminders that nature made me to thrive among immortal woodland spirits, in refuge from the illusory blessings of merely mortal society.  I cannot exceed the company of trees, nor regret deep solitude among them.

Each phase of nature, while not invisible, is yet not too distinct and obtrusive. It is there to be found when we look for it, but not demanding our attention. It is like a silent but sympathizing companion in whose company we retain most of the advantages of solitude … — Henry David Thoreau, Journal, November 8, 1858

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A Short Hike at Debar Pond in Duane, NY

Debar 06b Pond_View_2

Debar Pond, a public natural resource in Duane, NY

Each phase of nature, while not invisible, is yet not too distinct and obtrusive. It is there to be found when we look for it, but not demanding our attention. It is like a silent but sympathizing companion in whose company we retain most of the advantages of solitude … –Henry David Thoreau, Journal, November 8, 1858

Warning: this article is 3,200 words; not a bloggism; a blogASM.
I warned you.  Now enjoy.

As the beautiful old song from The Sound of Music says:  “Climb every mountain / ford every stream / follow every rainbow / ’til you find your” swamp.

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Fern Lifts Leaf, Mind and Body

Another sample of Spring 2013 advancing.

One of our early ferns (May 6) did a little lifting on its way up.  Balsamea never stops entertaining us.

The leaf was gone the next day, so my camera-play had been lucky, leaving me with a souvenir of mindful woods-walking.

That’s what most of my photos from Balsamea are about: just taking time to notice what is really there.  It is a fun hobby to collect souvenirs to remember things, and to remind me to keep being mindful of them.  It is good medicine to mind and body.

However, sometimes I make a point of leaving the camera home, to “bathe” in the essence of the forest just for the sake of doing it, taking a lesson from my canine partner, being there just to be there, belonging there.

But Buddy has learned to pause the walk on his own when he sees the camera come out of its case.

A word about Balsamea’s snowshoe paths

Actually, it’s around 1058 words.

Originally I intended to let the snowshoe path pictures in my previous blog post speak for themselves.  Today, Pyrrhite’s comment on that post got me wondering about what makes Balsamea’s snowshoe paths so attractive to me that I popped off more than 200 snapshots hoping to get lucky in the handful I found worth posting here.

In pithy Pyrrhite style, I read, “I love snowshoe trails. Nothing much is quite as compelling.”  Why are they so compelling?  Okay, Py, you pulled the cord to muse up a scribblement.  Let’s see if I have the gas to shoot through it quickly, because I am supposed to be doing something else.  I may be a scribblement addict, and you an enabler.

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Balsamea Winter: daily walking snowshoe paths

These photos from March 26, 2013 are samples of Balsamea’s snowshoeing paths just before the big thaw.  This is a taste of the blessing of Balsamea that Buddy and I walk through three times every day, all year, in all weather, day and night, without fail.

20130326-Snow-Paths-10

20130326-Snow-Paths-02In many places the snow is still as much as 18 inches deep (hole to the left), placing the floor of the path (right) at about one foot above the ground.  That is very densely packed snow, from months of accumulations and walking on it.  Usually it begins turning to treacherous ice this time of year, and I rely on strap-on ice cleats.  So far icing has not happened.  It seems we will have a short ice spell, if any.

If my Uncle Jimmy were here, he would say, “Eat your heart out.”

Click any picture to see large views in carousel mode.