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Posts Tagged ‘1000 Islands’

Photo Mar 27, 2 30 22 PM

The beautifully colored St. Lawrence River at Alexandria Bay, NY.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

I went with my family to an Easter Brunch near the St. Lawrence River.  It felt like a homecoming in many ways; I hadn’t seen the river in a few months, and my heart swelled to see her.  Like a vibrant ribbon against brown fabric, the bright blue-green of the river certainly gave a spring feel to an otherwise sleepy land that hasn’t quite woke up after winter.

As I took in the majesty, I reflected on how lucky I am as a Pagan.  Sure, there were times in the past where I resented celebrating my Christian family’s holidays while they could barely remember mine.  Things have changed.  We’ve all grown.  My family has worked to show respect to me and my path.  I think it’s cute how my mother gives me Easter cards but crosses out her holiday’s name and writes “Spring Equinox” in its place.  It’s the little things, right?  It’s helped me feel more accepted, and I’ve become less threatened acting; more accepting myself.  I’ll be the first to wish them a “Happy Easter,” and I gave my niece Easter stickers in a basket with other goodies.

I thank the Kindreds for how lucky I am.  I sometimes get annoyed that my family doesn’t celebrate my holidays more, but they make gestures.  Honestly, I’m just happy to be together.  So many in Pagan traditions live in fear of their family finding out, or they’ve actually been isolated because of it.  Meanwhile, tempers are flaring in the Pagan and Polytheist communities, and the world at large is so full of hate and chest thumping…

I’m not sure how the world could become a more peaceful place, but I’m glad that my daughter and niece get to experience different traditions and see that we can still love one another and find commonalities.

 

 

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This past weekend, I spent a couple days at different beaches along the St. Lawrence River. On Friday, I put my feet in the public beach at Alexandria Bay. On Sunday, I went swimming with friends at Grass Point State Park. It was a fantastic way to spend some of my remaining vacation, especially as it was so hot. Both times, as I stood in the blissfully cool waters and felt the warm sun on my skin, I was reminded of the Two Powers meditation. I remember how I struggled with that once upon a time. Turns out, the more I did it, the better I became at visualization and even sensing the energies flowing through me. Part of my improvement over the years has been through mindfully storing memories.

As I stood in the waters, I did my best to be present at that time, capturing details of the experience for later reference. When the bitter cold winter sets in, I will need memories of summer at the river to help me connect with the cooling waters and warm sun, just as I rely on my winter experiences to supplement my summer meditations on hot, sticky days. As we move into the cooler half of the year, I hope you take some time to reflect on your experiences in places where you connected with the sky and water energies.

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A view of Alexandria Bay and Casino Island. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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The view from Wellesley Island, NY. Photo by Weretoad, 2014.

Like most people in America, I spent some time outdoors with my family this Labor Day weekend. We decided to explore one of the larger islands in the 1000 Islands – Wellesley Island. We chose to take a late afternoon hike on one of the shorter trails at the Minna Anthony Nature Center. We arrived shortly before the building closed, but we were able to take a quick peek at the butterfly house. There weren’t many butterflies in there, but we did enjoy what we saw. Honestly, the highlight for me was finally seeing a positively identified nettle in person. There’s a world of a difference between looking at field guides and live specimens. Now I have a better sense of what to look for when I go foraging again!

Since we had toddlers with us and none of us were dressed for a longer hike, we decided to take a short trail. You can lengthen your hike by continuing on to a lookout over Eel Bay, but we turned towards a dock*. All the while, the St. Lawrence River was just visible through the still green trees, it’s gentle waves hushing the chattering squirrels. There were several large oak trees near the path. We stopped to admire them – even hug them. I’ve been teaching Bee that trees are important Nature Spirits. We say hello to them, and I teach her their names as we do this. “Hello oak!” She always waves.

We were delighted at how quiet the dock was. Perhaps it was the time of day, or perhaps most people were busy swimming or having picnics. Had it only been myself, my husband, and daughter, I would have asked for some quiet time to meditate. It’s a great spot for just that. We put our feet in and caught some sun on our faces. Land, sea, and sky – an island is a great place to connect with the Three Realms.

Weretoad and I intend to return on our own in the future. We want to hike the longer trail to Eel Bay, and I would like to do some meditation. It’s a large state park, and there seem to be plenty of quiet areas where a Druid or even a very small group could go to meditate.

*We discovered afterwards that the dock is also accessible via an even shorter trail right behind the center itself.

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One of the many benches at the Zenda Farm Trail. This one happens to have a great amount of shade in the late afternoon. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

In an effort to exercise more, as well as easily and safely enjoy nature with our toddler, we took another nature walk on a local trail. If you’re spending time in Clayton, NY, be sure to stop by the Thousand Island Land Trust’s Zenda Farm Trail.  (Officially, I guess the trail is called the LoisJean and John MacFarlane Trail, but that’s a mouthful.)    It’s called a farm trail because it literally was a farm.  The well-maintained gravel walking path loops around a pasture that has returned to a vibrant, ecologically diverse meadow, an excellent habitat for a variety of song birds and insects.

We went in the late afternoon/early evening.  Since it’s summer, the sun was still out.  It was quite warm and wasn’t much for shade on this trail.  Definitely dress appropriately and bring plenty of water.  Even though it’s short, you’ll want it!  There are plenty of benches around the trail, but, unfortunately, most were out in the sun, so sitting in them at the time we went was completely undesirable.  I imagine they would be more comfortable places to take in the scenery and relax when it’s cooler out.  Perhaps an autumn walk, when you want the sun’s warmth?

There was a bench near the heavily forested section, and that was perfectly shaded when we were walking.  We stopped there for a bit so that I could meditate.  I only did some breathing because, with a toddler along for the ride, I’m very likely to get interrupted.  So I just focused on my breath and let the smells and sounds of nature fill me.  It was really relaxing.  I imagine it would be a great place to do deeper meditation provided you didn’t mind the possibility of other people staring at you.  (There were a couple women also walking the trail with us.)  I don’t see myself doing any rituals here, but I could see basic prayer and energy work done on my own or with a few people – nothing that involves a lot of obvious tools.  Something about the trail strikes me as a very quiet, and open place.  I like some privacy.

One thing that really struck me was the sky energy there.  Because the trail loops around an open field, the sky is very prominent.  Song birds, dragonflies, bees, and other winged creatures arched through the air from one end to the other.  It is a great place to contemplate that energy.

Nearby, there’s the Zenda community garden and a play area for kids featuring natural wooden stumps to climb and balance on.  This is a shaded area.  If you bring a blanket, it would be great for a family or group picnic after a nature walk.

For mor information about the Zenda Farm Trail and Preserve, check out this pamphlet.

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The view from Grass Point State Park.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

The view from Grass Point State Park. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

My baby recently hit a big milestone – she’s technically no longer a baby!  She’s a toddler.  Yes, not only did she turn one, but she started to walk!  Crawling is still her modus operandi,  but she grows more competent walking (and even running a little) each day.  Furthermore, she has said a few simple words, is babbling incoherently, gesturing, using some simple sign language, and cutting teeth.  It’s adorable, remarkable, and bitter-sweet.  Like cherry blossoms, babies don’t remain so forever, and we must enjoy that innocent, transformative state as it swiftly passes by.  My first year as a mother has been so magical and yet so hectic at the same time.  With that in mind, we decided to forgo a big party.  Bee has been experiencing stranger anxiety a lot anyway, and I don’t believe in adding extra stress to her or myself.  It was her birthday and I wanted her to enjoy it as much as possible, even if she won’t remember it.

We decided to invite our most intimate family members and enjoy a picnic along the beautiful St. Lawrence River.  I wanted to bring everyone to Grass Point Park, a lovely NY State park between Clayton and Alexandria Bay.  It has a little sandy beach, plenty of picnic tables, and many trees providing much needed shade for sensitive baby skin.  No need for extra decorations or party games.  Don’t misunderstand me – I adore a party.  If it has a theme or involves costumes, it’s even better!  There will be plenty of time for whimsy and creativity, but this year has taken so much out of me.  Bee’s first birthday theme was family time outdoors and the Three Realms.  We played and ate in the shade of sacred trees.  We rejoiced in the gift of sunlight from the sky.  We waded in the river’s cooling waters.  In the few moments that I was able to sit in silence and watch my family enjoy themselves (Bee absolutely loves being outside and playing in water), I allowed myself to take in the surroundings and revel in the peace.  It was perfect.

And yes – there was even a little cake smashing.

Bee - 1 Year Old.  Photo by Weretoad, 2014

A one-year-old Bee triumphantly crawls off into the future. Photo by Weretoad, 2014

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Check out this amazing video from Jonathan Bird’s Blue World.  It’s all about environmental efforts to help one of my favorite fish – the sturgeon – in the St. Lawrence River.  Included is the first ever footage of them mating in a manmade spawning bed in the region!  Things like this give me hope, and it’s so cool to know this is happening in my region.  

Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Saving the Sturgeon – YouTube.

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