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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. 

John Burroughs

Clare and I walked on water today. It was frozen, but that’s besides the point. We walked all the way to an island in the middle of the lake and it was exhilarating because, even though we were told it could hold a car, we were also a bit unsure  of how smart we were being.

But we’re here to tell the tale!

Today’s hike was a little slick and you had to be careful of your footing. No falls, though!

What I’m loving most about the Finnish countryside is that, for the most part, you live off of what is available. Granted, there is a small grocery store nearby for items like milk, cheese and bread,  but our water comes from the well; the firewood is stockpiled in the summer from the surrounding woods;  blueberries and strawberries are starting to grow everywhere and they’re yours for the picking in the summer. With that ease of access comes a different sort of serenity than I’m used to. We eat well, sleep well and enjoy our surroundings.

In other words, I highly recommend Finland!

Fires are a constant source of heat.

The constant fires require a constant supply of wood.

I love the door handles here. They're all unique.

The pine forests grow alongside the birch forests.

Footprints in the snow.

Silhouettes.

Venturing out onto the frozen lake!

I was hoping to see a fish looking back at us.

Looking back to shore.

Resiliency: the reeds grow despite the thick ice.

Angels in the snow, on the lake.

Making our way to the island. No turning back!

Outhouse lovin'.

A man of the woods.

The ice didn't crack! We made it!

Red rocks and lichens.

Right where she left it.

More stored boats.

The forgotten exoskeleton of some critter.

Bows of boats.

A contrast: greenery in the snow.

Green logs.

The green eyes of Pat the cat. We're unsure of his/her gender, but he/she is very loving.

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The same sky at night

NIGHT SKY

My first year as a resident assistant I had a few new additions during spring quarter, one of whom was a foreign exchange student from Japan named May. Her roommate had a broken leg and was unable to walk across the green to show May how to use the laundry machines so I volunteered to help. After getting through the usual string of introductory questions and comparing our cultures a bit, we temporarily ran out of conversation topics.

The sun had set since we entered the laundry facility and the night sky was clear. I had been looking at the stars and decided to break the silence by saying, ‘these are the same stars you see in japan.’

‘How romantic,’ May joked and I had to laugh.

There have been a few nights where I feel homesick, and one of them I looked up at the stars and remembered that conversation. While it still makes me laugh, there is a calming truth behind it. Sure the constellations vary depending on where you are, but in the end we all still have a similar view.

MODERN TECHNOLOGY

Along with that cliché thought, the ability to call home or send an email helps immensely. I’m able to find out what’s happening in the lives of my family and friends. It’s not the same as being there, but it will suffice for now.

My mom put things into perspective when she told me how difficult and expensive it was to call home while she was in Germany for seven weeks in 1982. It made me realize (though obviously not to the full extent) how different this trip would be without that convenience.

[If you’ve heard this anecdote, feel free to skip ahead!] Best Buy had other plans for me. Just before I left I went into the nearest store and expressed concern that my computer was nearing its end and I was about to be in Africa. ‘There’s nothing we can do,’ they told me, conveniently just before my warranty was set to expire. Now it won’t turn on; thank God for internet cafés and kind hosts.

NATURE NURTURES

One of my favorite quotes is: ‘I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.’ – John Burroughs

Besides the chickens, goats and lizards that I’ve taken interest in and are everywhere, it’s also a treat when I get to play with a cat or dog. Even though they roam the streets (more so dogs), I’m not able to pet those ones because I’d rather not need a rabies shot.

I thought I was seeing things at first!

His camouflage is perfect.

The trip to an eco-lodge in Cape 3 Points was great for many reasons, one of them being the pet dogs and cats. A kitten I called ‘Leo’ became a friend for those three days and I woke up on our last morning to find him sleeping in the wood shavings for my composting toilet.

A little kitten I nicknamed 'Leo'. We became friends.

When I got back to my host’s home I was happy to find that they had gotten a new puppy while I was gone. Sasha’s still a bit timid, but he’s warming up to me. He especially likes Macho, the bull mastiff who’s about six, and cries when they’re apart.

This is Sasha, an 8 week old pit bull at my host's house. Macho, the bull mastiff, is in the back.

The thing is, I act a little differently around animals than most Ghanaians. For them the animals seem to be seen in a much more practical matter. Hence the stares while I picked up a kitten in Cape Coast and talked to it.

SOLACE IN FAMILIARITY

Books and music have occupied many of my evenings. I’ve read six books so far and just started my seventh. Books offer a break from reality that is sometimes needed, no matter where you are. It’s been nice to get caught up on some books I didn’t have time to read during school.

And if all else fails and I’m feeling homesick, I simply remind myself that this trip is a great opportunity and I’m very fortunate.

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