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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Nature Writers I Follow #4: Mary Holland of Vermont

Books by Mary Holland:

I marvel at how little I accomplish in my life, relative to the amazing output of others. Nature writer Mary Holland seems to be a whole team of creative and scientific experts, not just one person. Her website, books, articles and professional photographs encompass a seemingly limitless encyclopedic exploration of nature, presented in short, easy-reading, wonderfully illustrated pieces. She creates educational tools for all ages, especially children.  When she’s not doing any of that, she’s spreading knowledge and wisdom in speaking engagements. You can feel her passion for natural history in her work.

(Better disclosure: I benefit nothing but pleasure by promoting the nature writers I follow. I have no investment or business interest except as their customer, I get no freebies or incentives, and I have no family connection with them — that I know of!)

Mary Holland’s qualifications root her as a naturalist with specialization in education, plus leadership in environmental and natural sciences in public and private sector organizations. Did I mention she’s a skilled, accomplished writer and photographer? ==> Please continue reading ==>

The Trouble With Fire

Revised July 3, 2019.

The trouble with fire is that it never stands still long enough to be seen. It’s like water falling, or snowflakes drifting down, or dry leaves blown by a gale.  But the camera loves to make them stand still.

These pictures were extracted from photos of a tiny fire I built at Kieferhaven (here at Balsamea) on November 4, 2018.  It was just a little pile of sticks and scraps of birch bark, something to enjoy for a little while.  That little fire has lasted a long, long while.

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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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Put a Woman in Charge (revised)

WordPress clobbered the previous post when I tried to add this note to the  reblog of Put a Woman in Charge written, illustrated and originally posted by Lisa Brunetti at Zeebra Designs & Destinations~ An Artist’s Eyes Never Rest, online home of an artist, naturalist and writer in Ecuador with a global heart, whose blog I would keep following if I could keep only one, for its beautiful offerings in education (in art and more), entertainment, and inspiration.  I wrote more extensively about Lisa in my May 27, 2017 post Nature Writers I Follow #1:Zeebra.

I should know better than use the reblog button instead of just reporting on the piece myself.  So just go to  Put a Woman in Charge and take the time to read all of it and enjoy the heart and the art of it.

Aranyaka – Part 4 (The End)

Continued from Aranyaka Part 3

Aranyani is a member of a family of forest goddesses and legends around the world.  Among many ways that Aranyani-like attributes appear, there is the goddess Abnoba, worshiped in and around the Black Forest

Abnoba by Günter Pollhammer -2016

I respect the way that Pollhammer depicts the goddess as she is in nature, herself, not just personified as a gorgeous naked woman as so many goddesses are.  Most modern artists miss her essence just to make a pretty picture.  Remember though, from the Vedic hymn, that she is elusive.  She doesn’t pose for pictures.

There are not many contemporary forest goddess paintings or digital creations that are more than whimsy.  The ones true to the ancient myths are rare, and it has been that way throughout the ages.  She is not one to be captured in pictures, neither in the Black Forest nor India.

It seems Pollhammer knew this.  How did he approach this elusive subject?

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Aranyaka – Part 3 – Thoreau, Shakespeare, Maharshi, Jung and Aranyaniism

Continued from Aranyaka Part 2.

Pine flower. Thoreau discovered them by climbing a big pine to the top. I got lucky. This one was on a tree bent low to the ground. I’m not sure, but I think it’s a scotch pine, of which we have very few at Balsamea. I’ve never seen another one of these “flowers,” so I feel lucky.

If I were to invent a religion, it would be centered on forest immersion.  It need not be a highly social alliance of souls, because silence and solitude are like vestments of immersion.  Other critical components of the Order would be creativity, play, liberality and education.

Religion that has lost its playfulness can be dangerous.from an article by Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn

This new religion is wrapped around a core understanding that there are not two natures, human and non-human.  There is one Nature and we are part of it.  Forest immersion can make this knowledge holistic, both visceral and intellectual, drawn from the primordial biophilia in human nature, and from burgeoning modern science on the topic.

Adherence to this religion calls for daily walking through forest or field, ideally twice or more per day, at least 40 minutes at a time, ideally 90 minutes or more.  That would be merely casual adherence.

You never know what may happen during deeper immersion, if you let go of the usual tight grip on yourself and let “wild mind” roll.  For instance, here’s Thoreau doing it (in one of a thousand possible ways):

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Die as I should

Often when I walk these woods I get awe-struck by the enormity of all these trees cradling me, nursing me in mind and body, opening themselves to me, entreating me to surrender ever more fully to their care.

Autumnal view of a big American beech (with splashes of maple and balsam fir)

I have no idea how many trees are in Balsamea, so I say ten thousand.  It’s probably a drastically low estimate, especially if you count all the little ones just getting started.  I also say I’ve walked these trails ten thousand times, but I know it is many more.  I just stopped estimating when it reached ten thousand.  It’s all too much for me, and never enough.

I am immersed in the virtually miraculous nature of this unbelievable gift in which I swim.  I did nothing to deserve it or earn it.

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I live not in myself …

“I live not in myself, but I become a portion of all around me … Are not the mountains, waves and skies a part of me and of my soul, as I of them?”  -Lord Byron.  See the full poem at the end of this post from which this quote is derived.

Of course that’s what I always say when asked what I am.  Actually, I often take it as far as saying that I am all that is not me.  Yeah, well … never mind.  A line for another time.  But do read on for something that makes sense to normal people.

I stumbled onto this quote at Joseph Cornell’s Sharing Nature website.

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