Seek out a tree and let it teach you stillness.
~ Eckhart Tolle
Sunday, a little over a week ago, M and I went out to Assateague Island National Seashore to enjoy the beach and do a little hiking. We also renewed our OSV (Over Sand Vehicle) pass so that we could drive out on the beach to make our way down to some of the backcountry hiking areas.
Maybe it’s our age and forgetfulness, or maybe it’s that once you get out on the sand, everything kind of looks alike, but M and I ended up hiking an area that we’ve hiked before. It took us a little while to realize it. The Pine Tree campsite, it turns out, is the same area where we found the hunting lodge. (You can see the lodge in this post: Back to the hunting lodge.) We were confused the first time around, too, because we thought we were at the Tingles Island site. Turns out we were not. Either they’ve added new signage or we missed it the first time around.
As you can tell from the images, it was a gorgeous day. Mostly sunny, relatively warm (upper 50’s), and calm. I can’t remember the last time I saw the ocean as calm as it was that day. The waves were few, small, and breaking right at the shore.
The campsite is on the bay side of the island. It was cooler over that way than it was on the beach. That’s unusual. The reason it was cooler is because there were still patches of ice and snow here and there.
Even with ice at the edges of the water, the fish were swimming and the frogs were jumping as we walked by.
Today is not as nice a day as it was on the Sunday we went to Assateague. It’s raining, quite heavily at times, and somewhat warm (around 50°F). I’ve been sitting here staring out the window for a while, watching the rain change from light to heavy and back to light again. A wedge of tundra swans just flew by, maybe twelve of them in the group. A group of swans in flight is called a wedge, probably because of the chevron shape. On the ground, and only on the ground, they can be called a bank of swans. Other names include a bevy, a flight, a game, or a herd.
Isn’t it fascinating the way we name things? I’ve noticed that when I don’t have a name or a label for what I’m looking at, I pay more attention. Maybe that’s because I want to look it up later and find the label or the name. Or maybe it’s because without labels and names to interfere, it’s easier to pay more attention to what is rather than what I think it is. Sometimes I never learn the names of things, usually flowers or other plants that I’m unable to identify, and those things are just as beautiful, if not more so, without their labels.
Labels bias our perceptions, thinking, and behavior. A label or story can either separate us from, or connect us to, nature. For our health and happiness, we must critically evaluate our labels and stories by their effects.
~ Michael J. Cohen, Reconnecting with Nature: Finding Wellness Through Rebuilding Your Bond with the Earth (and no, not THAT Michael Cohen)
Our local Keep America Beautiful affiliate core team met this morning. Since I mentioned labels, I really should come up with a better label for our affiliate. I have not used the name we’ve given it because it identifies where I live. Maybe I’ll call it Keep Our County Beautiful (KOCB). It would save me some typing if I could use the initials.
I had no idea until we started this group how much is involved in making a group official. We had to come up with a Mission Statement (which, by the way, is beautiful and I am grateful to the team member who came up with it; we didn’t need to change a word). We are working on the Bylaws now, and will have to elect officers. Someone needs to find a lawyer willing to help us (pro bono) with the bylaws and our paperwork to incorporate as a nonprofit. Those are bigger hurdles than you might think, especially since we are a group of people who have never had to do this sort of thing before. Once that’s done, Keep America Beautiful has given us a lot of tasks to complete including a litter survey. The litter survey, they say, is the most onerous but frankly, driving around scoring how bad (or not bad) the litter is in certain areas is a lot more straightforward to me than Mission Statements, Bylaws, and incorporating as a nonprofit organization. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.
We had an almost full house for our meeting today, including a new person. It was heartening to see so many people interested in participating. We started out fairly small (just me and M). We’re up to about 10 or 11 people now, I think. One or two people were unable to make it for this meeting. We don’t need more than 10 or 11 people for the core team (which will become The Board with Officers; it’s all so official!). The other wonderful thing is that this is bipartisan. Not that it matters because we are a firmly apolitical group, and have to be in terms of engaging in political activity — it is illegal for nonprofits to engage in that sort of thing. (Yes, I know. It doesn’t stop some groups from doing it anyhow. I’m looking at you, churches.) Still, it’s been nice to talk with people on the so-called other side and find that we’re not really all that different in terms of what we want in life.
I think that’s about it from me on this rainy Tuesday. It is highly unlikely that we’ll be able to see the sunset tonight. If that changes, I’ll meet you on the dock. Sunset is scheduled for 5:39 PM. I’ll be there early so I can sit out there for a while and just enjoy the view. You’re welcome to come early, too.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,016) Coming together with other people in common cause and discovering that our differences are not as great as advertised. The media could stand to learn a thing or two about that. 1,017) More community, less social media. 1,018) A lovely lunch at a small and local seafood place. Nothing fancy. Just great food. 1,019) White chocolate truffles. 1,020) Warm, waterproof boots made for walking.