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Andrea Chilcote, Kairos Chilcote, Cave CreekArizona is just beginning to grow hot right now, but it is where I belong. It is where I find peace and refuge. Join me as I reflect back to the beauty of the dwelling I call home (June 2013).

 by Andrea Chilcote

I am on my way home. Heading across the country at 34,000 feet, destined for one of the warmest areas on our continent. Arizona is hot right now, but it is where I belong. It is where I find peace and refuge. There’s nowhere I would rather be tonight, even with tomorrow’s forecast high of 118 degrees. This night, I focus on my relationship with my home.

Often I wonder what makes one connect with a certain environment, culture or terrain. For some, it’s the place where they were born and raised, the mother anchor that, regardless of the journey traveled, feels like the only safe womb on the planet. But there are others who, like me, chose an adopted home.

I grew up in the Midwest, in a small town near (but not a part of) prairie farmlands. As a child I held a strong vision of moving west, even though I never traveled more than 30 miles from home until my late teens. My longing to be in the West was certainly influenced by the dreams of my Dad, who also had not traveled far except while he was a youth in the military. He suffered greatly from arthritis and longed to live where it was warm. The sad irony is that I was able to finally visit Arizona in his last year of life, and I moved there shortly after he passed away. In the many  years since then, I’ve traveled enough to know where I’m most at peace. My desert, my home.

Of course, one’s choice of home has much to do with the people who inhabit it. My beloved husband and dogs are waiting for me tonight, and my friends are surely ready to re-engage in our happy routines. Yet there is more to this. The place itself carries a resonance that is palpable and real.

Where or what is your home? Whether or not you are there right now, feel it’s cocoon, its blanket, or its invitation. Consider your own relationship with the beauty of the dwelling place that calls you, as Arizona’s splendor calls me.

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

Playful Flight

by Andrea Chilcote     Animal Speak_Capture

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. 

One morning this week, as we were leaving our driveway for a hike with the dogs, I noticed a raven flying overhead, breakfast prey hanging from his beak. I wondered to myself what lesson he had in store.

“Good morning Grandpa.” I greeted him as I often do, with the name I’ve come to use since meeting a raven up close in the Grand Canyon many years ago.  “Grandpa” is a bit like Santa Claus. Even though there are many of them, I pretend each one I see is the same bird.

As we walked, I continued to notice Grandpa flying nearby, and smiled at the company. Having these companion birds along on our hikes is a fairly common occurrence, and there are natural explanations. Ravens and crows are known to serve as messengers to warn small animals of impending danger, calling out their cautionary sounds as they fly. It makes sense that they would warn the desert animals of our arrival, as we hike with two large wolf-like dogs, a Husky and a Malamute.

The other possibility lies in the simple fact that there is a long-standing synergy between ravens and wolves. There is much documented evidence of ravens and wolves hunting together in a symbiotic relationship. And surprisingly, their bond often includes play, with the birds dipping and soaring amongst dancing wolves after a successful hunt.

On this day, I felt sure the bird was calling us to join the social activities of its congress. As if to confirm my intuition, others began to gather. By the time we were completing the last quarter of our loop hike, we counted 10 ravens. They flew along as we walked, landing intermittently on high tree branches to allow us to count them before moving ahead.

Ravens are said to symbolize magic. In his classic book Animal Speak, Ted Andrews says raven teaches us how to go into the dark and bring forth light. He says wolf teaches us to breathe new life into our life rituals.

It’s always a bit too easy for me to allow the stresses of a busy life to hijack my focus. One of the reasons I hike the dogs each day I’m at home in Arizona is that I get a brief connection with nature in a way that’s playful and physical. And even so, I sometimes miss the magic for the heaviness at hand.

We all bring forth light when we lighten up in social ways. Consider the gifts of raven and wolf as you interact within your families, teams and communities. Temper work with play, and magic just might take flight.

“It appears that the wolf and the raven have reached an adjustment in their relationships such that each creature is rewarded in some way by the presence of the other and that each is fully aware of the other’s capabilities.”  The Wolf: The Ecology and Behaviour of an Endangered Species  –Dr. L. David Mech

Being There: Nature’s Enduring Conversation By Guest Blogger Karla Boyd

 

 

It’s set to be a very hot July 4th Holiday here in my desert. I’m longing to connect with nature for more than the scant 60 minutes I get each morning before the scorching sun rises, and so it seems fitting to share my friend and colleague Karla Boyd’s piece on “Nature’s  Enduring Conversation.” Enjoy. I’ll be back to writing after I’ve had a long hike. – Andrea

 

I wake up to a hot shower, liquid hot packs on tired shoulders. Later I start to climb a mountain trail close to home. Near the curve of my lookout I gaze over the vast panorama and breathe in deeply. The view looks good from here.

Recently, Heather Armstrong, writer and lover of Super Mutts, Chuck and Coco, took her daughters, Marlo and Leeta, on an outdoor adventure. Hand gliding, Crocodile Bungee or Volcano Boarding you might ask? No. Who needs to lean over cliffs when we’re cut off from our roots?

Heather packed her kids in the car and drove 3.5 hours to Arches National Park in Utah in the snow.  The oldest daughter after seeing this magnificent red-orange, brick-hued arch quipped, “Awesome, being out here is, like, nothing I’ve seen ever.” And given the internet, media’s playground, that says it all. Nature, it’s like nothing we have ever seen.

In our American scarcity conversation, our hunt for the next adrenaline rush, we ignore the obvious. To connect with Mother Earth. We all need to recharge, powered by slow walks and energized runs out onto grassy knolls. Nature is a magnificent host anchoring us, granting inspiration to fuel our day and to stay in relationship.

I love nature’s creatures. Okay, I love most of them. But in nature, there is an enduring conversation that is constantly teaching us. As William Shakespeare said,  “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” That certainly was true for me yesterday.

I was at a beautiful gathering in a community on acres of rolling hills, wisteria and gardens that overlook fountains and a little Buddha planted amidst bright yellow and indigo flowers. I was there in birthday celebration of a life reaching out from her 92 years, her contribution inspiring to all who know her. As I walked toward the assembly hall, I was a bit surprised to see the gathering crowd staring off at the grass as if they had not seen green earth before. Granted many came from nearby brown hills with temperatures sweltering in the high 90’s, but this is a wet ocean town. The grass is always green.

As I approached so did a friend, one of the community residents. Momentarily I saw the grass come alive. Bryce glided through the crowd and swooped the snake up in one smooth movement, holding him then in the air. People gasped. A photo was taken. Bryce ceremoniously draped the snake around his neck, smiling. Astonished vocalizing ensued. Some laughed. The snake squirmed. Bryce departed, snake in tow.

Later, I asked Bryce about his experience. To my admiration he responded, “Poor guy, he got scared when people laughed.” My snake phobia melted watching him that day. Bryce confided he felt himself a snake in a former life and he was recognizing his great-grand nephew. We both smiled. We are all connected. What better way to be reminded of our connection than in celebration of a 92 year-old life, while engaging nature’s paradise?

(Karla Boyd, the author of this piece can be found at http://www.namasteglobalvision.com/)