Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bald Eagle Cam

It's a rainy day! Since it's not ideal hiking weather, you might enjoy spending a little time checking out these friendly fellas....

Duke Farms Eagle Cam

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We Are A Community - Lessons from No Impact Man

No Impact Man is a documentary about a family attempting to live for a year making no negative impact on the environment. Colin Beavan, his wife Michelle Conlin, and their daughter Isabella live in New York City. During the project, they attempt to make little or no trash, buy nothing but food, eat only locally, use only bikes for transportation, compost all their garbage using a worm bin, give up elevators, television, and eating out, and even ultimately turn off the electricity to their apartment. Any negative impact on the environment is offset by positive action, such as volunteering for a project restoring oysters to the Hudson River for water filtration.

The movie gave a lot of information about our impact on the environment. But the most interesting part of the film to me was the evolution of the relationship between Colin and Michelle. Initially, Michelle was skeptical and reluctant, and few habits die hard, such as the daily cup of non local coffee. During the course of the year Michelle is transformed by the effort to live intentionally and simply; she said the best part of the project for her was the intimacy in her family. Colin is transformed as well as he helps Michelle live out her own dreams. They grow closer without the diversions of television, restaurants, and lights and electricity. They spend more time outside as a family during the hot New York summer. Their friendships deepen over home made meals, games of scrabble and charades, and meaningful conversation.

The main lesson of the film, for me, was the importance of community for social change. Colin speaks about community:

People ask me, "If I can just do one thing, what should it be? Not use plastic bags or not use plastic cups?" I would say if there was only one thing to do it would be to volunteer with an environmental organization. Part of the reason for that is because there's community. I believe very strongly that a lot of the environmental problems in our planet have come because of the breakdown of community. Because without community none of us feel accountable to anybody else. All of us are interconnected on many levels. If you're religious, then you understand that at a religious level. But even if you're just practical, you can see that we're interconnected. If I splash a puddle and you're standing next to it, it splashes you. If I make pollution you have to breathe it in. My mind wants to tell me that I'm the only one that's important, you know? So I have to keep teaching myself over and over and over again that that's not true.

At the end of the project, Michelle spoke about what changes she would like to maintain. Her list included biking, little or no garbage, the farmer's market, eating mostly vegetarian (with a hot dog now and then), and no television in the house. The first thing she wanted to get rid of was the composting worm bin in the kitchen!

No Impact Man was very thought provoking. The project inspires us to look at our own daily lives and discover how we can lessen our negative environmental impact and increase our benefit to the planet. We can also ask ourselves how we can become closer to our families, friends, and neighbors and build close knit communities. As we learn to care for each other, we naturally want to take care of our environment which sustains all of us.

For more info, see the No Impact Project.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Special Birthday for a Very Special Friend

Today I helped celebrate the 70th birthday of my friend Hong Foo. His family had a wonderful party for him at the Trexler Game Preserve. We had a perfect day, warm in the sun, and ever so slightly cool in the shade. It was a great day to walk around and enjoy the park too.

Hong's son gave a touching tribute to him. He said his father influenced him by showing him the value of friendship; Hong's friends are very diverse, from many different walks of life and many cultures, and they all feel very special to him. He also said that his father raised him to think globally; they traveled often and developed a wider perspective of the world. Finally, Hong taught his family to follow their dreams and be independent in thought and spirit. Hong's daughter also paid a special tribute to her father. She talked about a Quaker (Society of Friends) saying "let your life speak". She said her father and her mother let their lives speak by their shining example; they lead lives of meaning and relevance and kindness and purpose. They have filled their lives with the love of many friends.

We enjoyed a fabulous Chinese meal including red colored eggs symbolizing fertility and prosperity and noodles symbolizing long life. Afterwards there was plenty of time for socializing and enjoying the park.

To see my very talented friend's artwork please visit his gallery at Hong Tatt Foo's Gallery.

Happy 70th Birthday Hong!

What a glorious day for a celebration!

There sure were some strange guests at this party.

Just lounging around and hanging out

I love this time of year!

The guest of honor and me

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hawk Mountain, Kempton, Pennsylvania

Today was a clear and cool day for a visit to Hawk Mountain to catch the Spring raptor migration. Spring migration is not nearly as dramatic in numbers as Fall migration; the birds take their time coming through and migrate more sporadically to a variety of locations. As it turns out, today was a slow day for migration, but still a gorgeous day to be out for a hike overlooking some beautiful Pennsylvania farmlands. We also spent some time in the native plant gardens enjoying some of the early Spring blossoms of trillium, wood poppy, bluebells, and many others.

A view from South Lookout to the River of Rocks trail below.

A view from North Lookout and some beautiful small farms

Spring blossoms

Overlooking the vista

More views of the River of Rocks below

I loved seeing the arrival of Spring on the mountain. Waves of variations of light green are interspersed with a few bare trees.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Glorious Easter Sunday

Today was another magnificent Spring day. The weather was absolutely perfect, with warm breezes and sunny skies. It was an ideal day to spend with loved ones, cherishing the beauty of this season.

I love the flowers of this season.

Magnificent magenta hues

If you live in this area, make sure you visit the magnolia garden at the Bethlehem Public Library. It truly is magical this time of year. But get out there soon, this luxurious display lasts only a short while.

Blossoms everywhere

A palette of colors

An opulent display

Library provides a beautiful backdrop

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Jacobsburg State Park, Pennsylvania

Today was one of the most beautiful days in the year so far. The weather in the morning was slightly breezy, but temperatures eventually reached into the eighties. Spring has arrived with all her beauty; the trees and flowers are blossoming everywhere.

It was a great day for a hike in one of the prettiest State parks in Pennsylvania. Jacobsburg has flowing streams, cool woodlands, and sunny fields and pastures. A variety of plant life grows in all the environments in the park, attracting a diversity of birds and other wildlife. I heard cardinals, chickadees, towhees, phoebes, and woodpeckers.

I love the rebirth of Spring and the revitalization it brings. Some say that everything in the physical world is a reflection of something in the spiritual world. If that is so, then Spring to me is rebirth, new life, new possibilities, and new directions. Today was a beautiful start to that season.

Flowers catching bright sun rays

A little rivulet forms a small waterfall.

I love these hemlock forests.

A beautiful stream flows through the park. We watched some little birds nesting in some high rocks along the water. I think they were phoebes.

Stopping for a moment on the bridge

Finding some serenity in Henry's Woods

Spring is bursting forth everywhere! I love the juxtaposition of seasons, last year's leaves provide a foundation for this year's new growth.

Sunlight catching ripples in the stream


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