Vulture Medicine and the Efficacy of Valentines

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(sketch by Hurricane Bob)

“Grandfather, does the world really revolve all around me?”

Such was a question asked by a third generation grandson vulture sitting next to his wiser grandfather vulture on a cliff-side arena where they were watching potential carnage between a predator and prey show far below. “Well, yes it does, just like it does for everyone else,” grandfather vulture answered.

“But let me explain a little more,” continued Grandfather.

“To the prey you see below, his world indeed puts him in the center of survival. Nothing else matters, because if he does not reach deep inside to use every ounce of himself to escape, death will result and his world will be over.”

“In the larger scheme of things, it takes more than one animal to make a community, and it is the community that really matters because nature requires all its parts to function properly. If the earth was flat and extended into infinity, then perhaps needed resources required for life would always be possible simply by always being able to cross some far horizon to obtain it.  But the earth is round, so everything in nature works in roundness, like the way we use our wings to climb higher on the thermals. Circles are where all earth wisdom resides. Life and death is the only constant in a circle. Give and take is the process of how all things can continue to change and flow forward.”

“Light and dark exist because the earth spins in a circle as it goes around the sun, in an even larger circle. But dark doesn’t mean everything stops or doesn’t work anymore. Some animals have adjusted their patterns of living in the dark and so sleep in the light. While others make their living during the light and so sleep in the dark.”

“We vultures live by feeding off of death, as do all other animals. We just do it a little more directly. But other animals like the humans are often drawn to death just the same. Like us, they sometime gather on the banks of a river where the rapids are the most difficult, because if any boat carnage is to occur, that is the most likely place it will happen.”

“Why do they do that? What drives those disaster chasers?” asked grandson vulture.

Grandfather continued: “That curious behavior  may not have just one answer. Sometimes it is because they can temporarily escape their own problems by looking at someone else’s. Sometimes it is to relieve boredom. When nothing much different happens over and over again, it only breeds for the dullness of “sameness.” But that is uneventful and depressing. Watching things where potential for something exciting to happen brings thrilling anticipation to the blood. Wanting to know what comes next is what keeps your feathers ready for flight. And flying is doing, and that is what life is all about.”

“But, those with more wisdom conjugate at the edge of any potential carnage area to broaden their learning. By observing the mistakes of others, they can learn what not to do, so they do not repeat the same behavior. They wish to fly longer, so pay close attention to what things they can do to prolong their flight. The vultures that fly with the wings of science tell us two vultures can’t fly the exact same space at the exact same time. But those whom inevitably will try, only crash.”

“So grandson, you must always pay attention to your own flight to keep your wings working, but not forget that all other vultures have the same mission and worldview. Not paying attention to the flight of others might cause you to touch wingtip to wingtip and that could bend your feathers to cause your own crash.”

“If only your flight mattered, and you were the center of the world, all other vultures would avoid you, and that would be boring. An open heart with care for others, is what really makes all flight for all vultures more exciting and meaningful. It is what makes the world go round.”

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Happy Valentines

Barb and Gary

http://www.doryfun.com

GARY BARB HOLLY

 

 

Gate Keepers of the Nature Deficit Culture

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Is Facebook, twitter, a computer, or a cell phone the barrier between you and the outside world?  Are sophisticated technological contraptions your gatekeepers? You know, the obstacles that stand guard at the portals to reality?

Mind numbing fixations by advanced technology leads to nature deficit disorder. But nature is the foundation to our home in the universe.  If we don’t take care of it, we will lose it.

Computer screen oriented technologies is not the same as natural tool oriented technologies. One is a simulation that takes place only in the mind, the other is a real world experience that engages the mind with physical activity. Knowing without doing, only leads to stagnation of human health and degradation of the soul.

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What is your gatekeeper?  Most folks forget or do not  realize they even have one. Often they are ghost-like and merely a step beyond perceptible.  But, bringing them to your awareness is the first step in getting control,  or at least managing them, so that all your time is not absorbed into unreal worlds of data streams.

 

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Doing and being is real world living. This is quite different from fantasy, where illusions and delusions fill our mind and take us to an unreal world. Often this is where our machines take us. We begin to live our world through screens and devises where the dance becomes one between the human mind and data of the machine. It is a trap we get caught in where we live in a world of imagination, and forget about stepping out of the distraction to walk on the real ground. Only on terra firma can we feel the earth beneath our feet and kick up dust.

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Living a personal dream is dancing the dance.  It is a laying-down of our own tracks upon the soil. Action is the catalyst to change one event into another, beyond which they become experiences that give meaning to our lives.  Participating in the here and now to engage raw nature builds personal history. History is where our memories go to make sense of the future, or should, if we wish to employ the gift of wisdom to lead the way. Otherwise the bad things we experience and wish to avoid will inevitably get repeated again.

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(How you jump-start your kid matters)

Real world activities lead to compassion, while living only in the mind on computer world experiences leads to separation from nature.  Our human nature is nurtured by real world nature.  To care for something, one must have compassion.  True feelings come from the act of feeling. Emotion and feeling come from real world touching, not thinking about them.  The image staring back at you in the mirror is not you. When you touch that finger in the mirror, you feel only your own finger, not that of the image of it.  All life experiences are the same.

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Passion and compassion ride either side of the dragon’s back.  One stimulates the self while  the other creates empathy for others. Bottomline: transform the data stream into a river stream and ride the ride.

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Stick your feet into the river.

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Or walk on water.

Why The Sacred Salmon Ceremony in Riggins Idaho is Sacred?

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It is nearing that time of year again.  The 13th  annual Sacred Salmon Ceremony is planned for May 10, 2014 about 10 miles upriver of Riggins, Idaho.  This event was originally spawned during a controversial public hearing to consider potential dam breaching on four lower Snake River dams in the year 2000.  Save Dams or Save Salmon was the main issue, with about 140 miles of potential restoration of primary spawning habitat for Fall Chinook at stake, as well as addressing additional runs and downstream smolt mortality  as potential for improved survival  rates and overall enhancement of the salmonoid’s  fishery.

A group of five local Riggins river guides, tired of controversy and the never seeming end to every political battle being tied to the dollar sign, decided to pay attention to how First Nation, original native people  addressed fish before dams and colonial settlement industrialized the region.

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The Columbia River anadromous fishery is no small matter. It is of world-class  status and is historically  an epic migration route for salmon and steelhead. The spectacular cascading Celilo Falls, near The Dalles, Oregon was a nexus of salmon fishing and a time immemorial honored trade center where many indigenous cultures gathered to fish and barter for centuries. This was long before the arrival of alien explorers,  and continued annually until Celilo Falls was flooded in 1960 by another Columbia River dam. The Dalles Dam was the sixth dam of fourteen total dams on the Columbia River of today.

The native people always welcomed the salmon back to their home waters annually, for to not respect this migration and immensely important source of sustenance would be to invite diminished returns.  Part of that respect was a worldview that recognized the connections of all things, and that over-fishing is a result of no respect and thus eventual avenue for depleted runs.  They held sacred ceremonies annually for what became a major spiritual icon to their primal cultures.

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So, those of us river guides who also take guests fishing, see it in the same light, with great appreciation and as awesome respect for.   After all, we too are native to the planet, as no one culture holds a monopoly on appreciating nature. There is a reason rainbows contain all colors of the spectrum, and why all people can see them. The sun does not hide the light from some and shine on others, in the big picture.

But, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate something to be sacred.  Just as you don’t have to be religious to appreciate having morals.  Morality and sacredness can be religiously oriented, but seeing the results of Manifest Destiny of the early colonialism era  is testimony to prima facie evidence of hypocrisy and exploitation at the expense of others. No one culture is privy to being the most privileged to appreciate  the sacred.

Sacredness is about giving special significance to something that is highly important and worthy of properly being cared for.   Keepers of the Fire, Keepers of the Fish, Keepers of the River, Keepers of Wisdom or whatever it is that is important to them,  is how people collaborate and cooperate to help perpetuate things and make them thusly sacred.

Spiritual sacredness is different that religiously sacred things.  Religion comes with one creator, while the spiritual aspect of something can be simply the essence of that energy that flows through everything. When you talk to yourself, your personality becomes that spirit, or soul, that gives life to time in this world. All other animals and plants have a similar spirit or energy flow, too. When death arrives to human, only then will anyone know, or not, if spirit continues flowing in another realm?

At least, as a non-religious person, that is how I view the world, and  have learned over time the more I learn and know, the more I don’t. Increased knowledge always opens up more questions.  But, one thing I don’t question is how important salmon are. Based on watching people react to catching them, or just observing them, that is vividly apparent.

So, this is all part of the reason we continue to respect the fish and hold an annual ceremonial event to welcome these mighty Chinook Salmon back to the Salmon River, which is their name-sake and special place to return each season. The event is basically a bi-nation (First and Second Nation) affair, is free, and open to all people. Though, also a non-alcoholic function. Thank you.

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The Ceremony: Spiritual leader and Wisdomkeeper Horace Axtell, conducted all Nez Perce ancient ceremonies for this gathering in the past, but has passed that torch forward. We appreciated how he performed ancient ceremony along the river bank and in the boats out on the water with drummers and singers tuning into  the songs of their ancestors.

We are seeking other Nez Perce facilitators to conduct First Nations ceremonies to help unite all people to the land, water, fish, and wildlife.

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The Two Nations collective ceremony includes a riverside salmon ceremony, 3 sacred boat circles, a closing “talk circle,” and a final potluck. This friendship feast is an informal visiting session and get-to-know your neighbor finale.

The celebration is also a touchstone event to help remember treaty obligations and the importance of maintaining the integrity of all major elements that shape the human landscape of our area. This face to face event is intended as another personalized way to continue fostering healthier relationships between two sovereign nations with a stormy past. In today’s world, and the many human cultures that share common natural resources together, how we move forward to create a collective history together is important.

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This is all about the Seventh Generation Philosophy and Passing the Torch.

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Two Nations Fish Gathering

May 10, 2014   

High Noon (mtn time)

Spring Bar (10 miles upriver of Riggins)

For more Salmon Ceremony info go to: http://www.doryfun.com/updates.html

For a short video on “The Sacred,” go to:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1656629129682  An Indigenous Perspective

Gary Lane

http://www.doryfun.com

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It’s Hard To Find a Good River Guide These Days

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“It’s hard to find a good guide these days, “is an old saying we like to use when things go wrong out on the big creek.  But, contrary to the old saying, it seems good  river guides are actually quite easy to come by.  All you need check is most any river touring website to learn that most outfitters have only the very best ones working for them.  Apparently, it is much harder to find a bad one or even an average one.  If everyone is already a member of the crème del crème club, then it isn’t likely many will be reduced to the mere riffraff gang.

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Somewhere back in the beginning, everyone has no experience and starts off with a clean slate.  There are many different ways to get experience, but aside from that, there are a lot of rules and regulations to become a bona-fide river guide.  Initially, in Idaho it is required that 3 trips be conducted under supervision of a licensed guide for each river or section you wish to be legal for.  Now that doesn’t make a real guide, but, along with first aid it does meet the required criteria for becoming a documented one.

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Many hoops come with the territory to help gain official job status as a guide and access to experience is highly varied.  There are numerous books, whitewater schools, or private boaters with enough trips they decide to transmute over to guide status.  But teaching good relationships and developing healthy people skills is a bit trickier and time-consuming.

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A common malady in this profession is that  once  some potential guides develop the proper river skills to run a successful trip, or like  what happens to some of the  more experienced people whom have already guided for a few years,  sometimes egos morph over into self-absorbed show-boating.  Unfortunately, grandiosity is like a disease that makes everyone sick.

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Perhaps susceptibility to this big headed-ness is partially due to the “spotlight effect.”  Commanding attention is an attribute that comes with the guiding territory, as escorting people through the wilds requires such for good leadership. This aspect  can sometimes transgress into behavior for some, similar to a performer being on stage. There is a subtle temptation of always trying to keep the plate spinning and be the center of attention.   The power of theater and drama sometimes magnifies the scene into something more than it really is.  Place is the important quality people usually sign up for when selecting a river trip.  Movies are where you go to purposely be entertained by actors.
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When the run-away horse of such illusions show up, a smart guide should grab the reins to regain the essence of what guiding really is.  Any guide worth their salt should recognize it isn’t about being the focus of the beam; it is more about spreading out the light for others to see things they might have missed without a little help.  There are many things to read from nature’s manuscript, and those who are more familiar with it are better able to help interpret what it is revealing to those who live more sheltered lives while in pursuit of other things.  Attention is the grail by which we see the message. That is, wherever our attention goes, so go we.

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One thing I observed in my early professional years was that the language used by a lot of guides towards guests was often quite condescending.  Calling people degrading names like dudes, peeps, city slickers, or some sort of business referral like customer or client was always a little  embarrassing for me to hear.  If I went to the city,  and being mostly out of my element and lost, it wouldn’t make my experience any better by being called a hill billy, country bumpkin, or ignorant backwoods okie. To me the word “guest” seems much more appropriate in either case when referring to any kind of visitor. It is much warmer and conveys a more welcoming spirit.

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Helping people have an “ah ha” moment is the compound interest gained in an unusual outdoor adventure experience.  You never know when it might happen, but it helps when a guide is able to facilitate that potential by knowingly putting people in special places that are a rich seedbed for such growth to happen. Wisdom comes from nature, and once guides learn this value they can appreciate the importance of setting up circumstances where guests can be put into the middle of that garden of enlightenment.

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If you could ask Lewis and Clark what value a guide has, you would discover how important their guides were to the success of their mission. For example, on the 1806 return trip in June, Lewis and Clark had great apprehension about crossing the snow-covered mountains without guides. They felt they could not cross without them and luckily were able to persuade Speaking Eagle, Black Eagle, and Ahs-kahp, who were three of the very best Nez Perce guides to lead their way. Of course, these were not their only guides, besides them, and Sacagawea who led them a good part of their distance in uncharted territories.

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These guides were as excited then, as guides of today often get when taking modern people into some of the same rugged and beautiful landscapes of today. The Nez Perce were paid with guns which made their hunting easier, while guides today get paid in money which make their livelihoods possible. Though the more esteemed value to both was deeply felt in the heart and spirit where no material thing can be taken. What is life really about, if not to get out and see what there is to see? Inspiration keeps depression at bay.

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But, in the process of getting out and seeing things we have never seen before, it is only reasonable to find a good guide. It can be a writing guide, or human guide, but in either case it is the information and knowledge they contain that we seek. Sure, anyone can go out on their own without consulting any form of guide for true unadulterated exploration. But, aside from that goal, guides help us save time and offer more opportunities to see wonderful things we might otherwise miss. It takes a large chunk of time to make your own trial and error path trying to learn anything new. The learning curve is greatly reduced by piggy-backing someone else’s consumption of time to figure things out.

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Even guides consult other guides, maps, guidebooks, and any source that might provide additional insights into becoming more intimate to an area. Rather it is new country, or a different perspective in familiar country, one can never learn too much. So while adventure isn’t the map, a map still has the advantage to make the adventure less risky and a time effective endeavor.  Dead end trails eat away time and back tracking efforts might cut a designated time trip, to a shorter length, and possibly to even miss the final planned destination.

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Hidden dangers, and dangers not even suspected to be dangers that are known to guides, but not the uninitiated, can mean the difference between failure and success, or in extreme cases life and death. All through time humans have sought the advice of guides, from soothsayers to YouTube, people continue to seek sources to guide their way forward through the march of time.

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As a river guide, I often find myself in places, such as where the Nez Perce guides of yesteryear once stood in awe of their surroundings. Like a special place in the mountains where Speaking Eagle, Black Eagle, and Ahs-kahp stopped before a rock Caryn built by their ancestors to remind travelers to pause and wonder at the meaning of their world. It is said that the voice of Itsiyiyi,  or spiritual Coyote, would sometimes speak to those who listen:

“Frail Human, standing tall with head near the stars above,
Proud-standing, with feet on the birthing-place of rivers,
Safely have you come thus far through these mountains.
How could you tell which way to go?
Looking up, what do you see? Nothing but sky.
Looking down, deep canyons.
Behind – mountains. To right and to left – mountains.
Looking ahead – mountains. Mountains as far as eyes can see.
You, who are a mere Human! How can you find your way?
Something Greater than you has been your Guide.”

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Gary Lane
www.doryfun.com

 

Romancing A River – Why Not Make the Salmon River Your Valentine for Tomorrow?

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What makes the sensuous Salmon River such a seductress among white water adventurers?  That is a large question for a large river. Perhaps the biggest reason is its curvaceous nature and sensuous excitement that waits mysteriously around each bend. 

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For any who get within range of sight or sound of this splendiferous river, its mighty pull is similar to what it was like when getting too close to the Sirens in Greek mythology.  Once nature’s spell is cast, there is no escape. It will lure you into the middle of the magic where it is hard to tell what is real or an illusion.

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Similar to what love does between people that makes them do wild and crazy things, so too does the Salmon River take you into a world beyond the rational.  Beauty comes in many shades and forms, but its power is all the same, though it can affect people quite differently.  It can take your breath away, or make you breath harder; can freeze you in the headlights like a deer, or make you dance like a happy footed penguin; make you what to scream and shout, or steal away into solitude and quiet.

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As in most relationships between two people, it is the physical attraction that first inspires that initial contact between a human and the river. In the case of the Salmon River, it is the deep emerald pools that make you want to jump in over your head, the huge riverside beaches with Hawaiian-like sands that make you want to play footsies with the shore, and grandiose canyon walls that have a labyrinthine stranglehold over your psyche.
LOWER SALMON 5 DAY

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The river makes its own rules and there is always an edge to worry.  Be it floating up to an event horizon at the top of a rapid, or standing at the brink of a  lava wall at the top of the canyon, the closer one gets to the line of demarcation the stronger the thrill.

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The premier attraction of any natural treasure is measured largely by its ensoulment to the heart. Like photographs that can never adequately capture the reality of place, neither can any words do a better job of communicating what feelings are evoked by actually being there.

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You can’t take a picture of or explain precisely what the Great Mystery really is, anymore than you can understand all the threads that weave it all together.  But you can feel and sense the mystery of it all when you immerse yourself in any natural wonder.   It is called a natural wonder because of what it makes you do.  Being enriched by nature makes you ponder everything between the far beyond and our place in the universe. Every answer to any of our wonders is most often yet another question. What else would one expect in an infinitely expanding universe?

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As we consider our place in time and space, it seems only fitting that as we humans use Valentines Day to celebrate human love,  we should also be reminded that there is a more fundamental element at work underneath it all. It is our relationship with nature that makes it all possible.

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Nature is the seedbed to everything else that happens in our world, and it is by water that the garden of our very being is nourished and grown.  This spiritual water is delivered by river, as much as blood courses through our veins.  So what better symbol of a valentine to those we love than the sensuous river of romance that flows through the heart and enriches all.

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My wife and I met on the Salmon River and were married on it, too. So it is very special to us. But, we are not the only ones to have been so influenced and seduced by this river. There are many others with similar such stories, and yet the river still lies in wait to continue working its magic spell of the sensuous over the uninitiated.

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Happy Valentines Day from Salmon River.
It doesn’t just occur on Feb 14th, it can happen anytime.

Gary & Barb Lane
www.doryfun.com
800-488-9872
or 208:628-3523 if calling by cell phone

Old Man Winter. Mother Earth. Why Humans Antropormorphize?

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It is a curious thing we humans do with many aspects of nature. Calling it “her” as if it can be either feminine or masculine to begin with, or giving elements outside ourselves any other attributes that are human like, is ironically only human nature. The fancy word “anthropormorphic” simply stands for the idea that humans attribute human characteristics to things that are not human.

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Mother Earth, Father Sun, Old Man Winter, Grandmother Ocean, Grandfather Time, just to get started on a few such examples.  We give female names to ships and storms, male names to deities and monsters, and animal names to describe weather conditions and various aspects of life situations in general.  March roars in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb; birds of a feather flock together; meaner than a hornets nest; making a mountain out of a molehill; straw that broke the camels back; raining cats and dogs; a crocodile smile; messier than a pigs sty, a fly in the ointment; …and on and on.

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While rafters seek gnarly whitewater runs, surfers pursue gargantuan big wave rides, and mountaineer’s go through hell to reach heavenly peaks, the emotions and aspirations encountered along the way are most often described in anthropomorphic terms.  A hippo of a wave, sliding down the dragons spine, or seeking an eagles view atop the world, all help give animation to our humanly  pursuits. We use these things to enliven our adventures.

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It seems our kind has a natural tendency to humanize everything. Perhaps it stems from some sort of deep-seated need to want to dominate nature.  How we manipulate our environment is prima facia evidence for that observation.

Is it that we cannot think of some other non-human metaphoric analogy?

At minimum, we seem only to better understand things by how they relate to us in our human centered world, by the feelings that are invoked.  To care for something, it must have some ability to care back, otherwise what would be the point?  What value is there if that “other” doesn’t care what we do?  Hopefully that aspect of human nature to give feelings to those things that cannot feel might be an internal mechanism in our DNA for us to not destroy things in the natural world. Our survival as a species depends on taking care of the things that nourish and sustain us. It is all in our own hands.

Protect the Earth

Ice Is Nice – Dendritic Fractals Anyone?

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There is no escape. Nature is everywhere. Even on a cold morning, its form can take shape on the window of your car. This time of year, which is also the beginning of a brand new one, (2014) nature expresses itself in the language of cold. Ice more specifically.  Interestingly the architecture of nature’s design, so eloquently translated as the real art for which  it is, is a marvelous sight to behold. How curious it is  that a sense of order can been seen in nature’s randomness. That is, each particular shape is different individually, but design wise, similar collectively. Self-replicating, fundamentally.

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When ice forms on panes of glass, it is sometimes refered to as window frost, fern frost, or ice flowers.  Some actually remind me of the symmetry seen of a large watershed when looked at from far above, like from an astronauts view point.  All the rivers branch like limbs on a tree and similar to patterns seen in the intricacy of a feather. This dendritic pattern is a central theme of nature in many formative processes, and is sometimes referred to as a fractal.  Such reoccurring  patterns, seen from near or far, are a visible form of math, in terms of how shape and scale materialize.  From bird feathers, geologic landscape formations, to ice crystals, nature has an orderly signature. Or at least, a very distinctive one, and easily recognized immediately for the hand that makes it.

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There are many types of snow and ice, all of which have certain characteristics common during the formation process. Snow crystals take the shape of a 6-sided dimension, similar to lava that also solidifies into columnar basalt matrix with the same number of  sides.  Yet, ice crystals take shape into a more dendritic fractal form.  Dendritic simply means a multi-branching tree like form, while fractal refers to a mathematical pattern that is common to much of the structure throughout nature. But why the different number of sides or patterns that give rise to each creation, and what mechanism causes them?  Hard to answer with variables stacked on top of variables that can affect the causation of such magnificent architecture.

Despite whatever explanation might describe why, the essence is Nature’s signature seems to indicate math as the main language for communicating the spirit of anything and everything that moves through nothing and all things.  While all this descriptive  ice nomenclature that provides us humans the words to communicate beauty in nature is fascinating, its formulation is still always a number’s game. But beyond that, a more pragmatic question –  why is ice slippery? I’m going to let that one slide by for now and go ice skating. Oars not needed.

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