Not Always Warm Inside Mother Earths Womb

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For us humans who view earth as a living thing, we often like to use metaphorical language to help shape our understanding of the mysteries of the natural world.  Of course, for me, taking a winter jaunt into the frozen landscape is just another seasonal variance to expand my consciousness into other realms of mystery.

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At this time of the year, in my neck of the woods in Idaho, that be Riggins area more specifically, high pressure has brought sub-freezing temperatures. That spells hunkering tight for wildlife and scraping out a means of survival when conditions get tough, but also some particularly interest works of art written by some unseen hand of nature.

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Just yesterday I had this urge to go out looking for nature’s artwork.  Locally, there is an unusual rock (limestone maybe) formations that contains a cave hidden behind a curtain of waterfalls. It requires a steep hike to gain access to the entrance, then a rope for the last pitch to actually get inside the cave.

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But on this day, the upper portion of the rope (a permanent one left behind from climbers of long ago) was frozen under a slab of what looked like a micro river frozen in time. And the lower section of the tilted wall was so slippery, without crampons it was impossible to negotiate. I thought my chances to get inside were over, so I settled for photos from the outside only. But, I began thinking maybe there was another way in, so scrutinized nearby potential routes. Never had I needed or even seen one before, but soon saw some potential. It was not easy and required some serious moves in two places that came with the risk of a near vertical fall of about 30 feet, as a consequence of a mistake.

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Why didn’t I bring a rope?  Of course, I didn’t think I would need one, but how many times do these sorts of things happen that by now I should have known to come more prepared. So, the next best thing to do would be  put  my “what would MacGyver do”  thinking into play and entertain another solution from my bag of mindful tricks.  I did have a tripod with straps for carrying it on my back to free my hands for climbing. Flash, that was my light bulb.  Take the straps off to use for anchorage, (expert climbers use petons in solid rock for a good foundation) albeit shakey, to be sure, but better than nothing all the same. I really didn’t want to give up too easily.

So I managed to get a 6′ cam strap around a giant icicle for self-belay (granted, a little marginal) but reasonable with careful negotiation. Whew, I made it.  But, it did remind me of the fact that often times it takes degrees of risk to find deeper rewards offered by nature. While certainly not an expert,  I did rely on some of my semi-serious rock climbing days to make the harder and very calculated moves required to gain entrance.

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I knew my chances for success were actually high, if I did the precise moves required. All it took was seriously focused attention. No distractions, just unadulterated laser beam concentration. But having the experience of using this technique to negotiate serious rapids by boat when the river is not frozen gave me a high confidence level.

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I knew it would be worth the risk, and it was. Inside was a room full of magic-land. The shapes and formations of ice reminded me of entering a well kept secret of enchanted fairy land, where I could run rampant in fantasy world. The sound of dripping water that contributed to building all the little elf and pixie like figurines also created a surreal feeling of being able to see and listen to the heartbeat of mother earth from the inside out.

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There I go again with that metaphorical thinking and anthropomorphism. Such is the inspiration  of natures beauty and mystery. And such is it to be merely human. Ah, the birth of a new year.

Note: for those who would like to see video of this awesome place, go to our facebook page:



Law of the Jungle

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All actions that take place on planet earth revolve around the Law of the Jungle. Eat or be eaten is the relationship game, no matter how tiny or sophisticated any given species becomes. Man often forgets his place in the scheme of things, elevating himself above the fray into  a false sense of security. All life systems function the same under nature’s law.  No exceptions.


While some animals are called apex predators, by their position at the top of the food pyramid, it is a marvelous deception.  Because they too are food for those at the very bottom.  Microbes turn even the biggest of brutes into nutrients to recycle through the broad range biological spectrum again.  Predator-prey relationships is the foundational dance of all earthly entities that ultimately define the struggle for life and death.  One feeds the other in perpetuity.

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Even folks who go to the supermarket to buy food are hunters. They are looking for what they want, weaseling here and there when crowded stores create competition for limited resources on the shelves.  Trophy shoppers buy gourmet products while meat hunters look for cheaper ways to feed their families.

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In the natural world on a finite planet ecology is a closed system. Populations of any given species goes up and down in response to the supply and demand of various elements in the natural economy.  Equilibrium occurs between predators and prey  only when they pass each other on their way up or down, depending on which direction each is heading at the time the board is the same distance from the ground on each side.

Politics functions under much of the same rule, with each side trading places over time in who is up in power, and who is down. Unfortunately, the decisions of the elite whom supposedly represent the masses, are often out of kilter with reality. Their board has fallen off the fulcrum when decisions are made that may sound good on paper, but cannot be supported by ground truths.  Archeologists whom have studied all major cultures have noted this dire of circumstances common to all great civilizations,  when carrying capacities have been undermined by misinformation,  denial, and/ or distortion of the truth.  Good solutions require facts, not fiction. Poor judgment comes from  faulty reasoning and ignorance.  Not knowing and ignoring are two different forms of ignorance. One is vacant of facts, while the other pays them no attention. Both lead to the same wrong answer to any question about natural resources.  There is no escape from the Law of the Jungle.

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When ivory towers tumble, grass again begins to grow. Grass root efforts essentially undermine the highest of sky scrapers that ignore their own foundational shoring. Once the foundations crack, no technology or ideology of man is immune from crash and burn atrophy. When man is out of sync with natural processes, harmony is disrupted and progress heads off into helter-skelter land ruled by nature’s whip.  It is her way of discipline in maintaining earths  Law of the Jungle.


Synchronicity Update:

Extraordinarily, just after I posted this essay, I ran into some very disturbing information concerning predator prey relationships still being carried out by our Dept of Ag through an agency called Wildlife Services.  (misnamed to be sure). It reveals an ideology and practice that still  permeates a segment of our culture that needs to be changed.  As ugly and disturbing as this video is, it is important to watch, if you really do care about our wildlife legacy:

Remember: ignor-ance comes with a high price tag. In this case, to wildlife.

Topophilia – When You Become the River

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Topophilia is a word that comes from the Greeks, meaning “love of place.”  Often I find that the more I run a river, the more it becomes a part of me, and me, it.  I find that the more I engage with the same environments, my learning improves and  a deeper understanding of the place increases. It is as if by some kind of osmosis that the spiritual entities enter my body from those unseen, but ambient presence’s that enrich the very  land and water through which I travel.

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My identity soon gets absorbed as much by the place, as the place drinks in me and makes it a part of the very geography itself. Later on when our earth time eventually passes and our personal histories are remembered by the next generation, does our spiritual vapor-trail  help keep the ancestral ties connected to the living.

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For time immemorial, all places get impregnated with behavior of humans engagement with raw nature, and can be remembered by those who do not forget their past connections with those that came before them.  The longer a people live closely to an area, as opposed to sporadically moving around and transplanting new tendrils elsewhere, the stronger is their love of place and sence of connection to it.

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Thus, the original native people, who were first to inhabit any region, have gained the greatest amount of common history tied to a singularity of place. They are closer to the roots of the tree that gave them life, compared to the seeds that get wind blown to the four directions, which start new trees in other places. A seedling is like the tree that gave it flight, but not the parent tree itself.

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Various cultures develop as time progresses and histories are built on experiences that happen between people and their engagement with the places they share together collectively.  Groups get defined by their common pursuits, such as mountain people who travel the high country, or river people who run  rapids in the canyon country. Each becomes a kind of tribe or clan, with specialized abilities that improve their skills and increase their survival  amidst the innate dangers that come with the territory they inhabit.

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As a river person, I appreciate many of the names of rapids that are born of bad experiences others have had there before me. It is a curious aspect of human nature that we like to name things after personal disasters, with the person’s name, like “Scottie’s Drop” or “Wendy’s Rock.”   Though, often it is the trouble itself that gets the name, like “Hell to Pay,” or “Widow Maker.” Or it can even be for some aspect of a certain inherent nemesis a rapid might represent, like “Demon’s Drop” or “Room of Doom.”

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These rapids continue to challenge the people who run them, and the stories created each time add to the power of place. It builds character both to the people and the place. Each becomes something that drives more meaning deep into the planet to make our home in the universe highly charged with life.  The blue dot, seen from space, is due to the watery nature of our planet and the life blood it gives to every form of the living that could not be, without it.

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