Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

Kripalu Mindfulness Outdoor Experience Guide & Life Coach – Get Outside. Go Within.


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Nature, Trees and Grandchildren

“Hope is the tree that holds the world”

Pliny, the Elder

“Most people never listen.”

~ Earnest Hemmingway ~

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”

Hermann Hesse, Wandering ~

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Silly Tanner climbing a tree

“Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be, the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes Calamity.”

~ Michael Chardon ~

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Baby Colt checking out the flower on the Magnolia tree

“If man is not to live by bread alone, what is better worth doing well than the planting of trees?”

~ Frederick Law Olmsted ~

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Checking out a very wise tree at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.”

~ John Muir ~

“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.”

~ Anton Chekhov ~

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Hugging Trees at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

“The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life and activity; it affords protection to all beings.”

~ Buddhist Sutra ~

Teaching children to connect with nature at an early age has been a very important part of my life. First with my own children, nieces, nephews, and their friends taking them for hikes, sleeping in lean-tos in the forest, and playing outside daily. Now with my grandchildren – Taylor, my eldest granddaughter, Tanner (5), Colt (3), and soon the youngest, Lainey (10 months) and Abram (6 months). Sharing the love of nature with children gives them a lifelong love and knowledge of our interconnection with the nature and all the life it maintains.

Whenever I get the chance I am outside with others learning about our environment, forest bathing, enjoying the sounds, smells and sights. Living mindfully in nature allows time to reflect, to take in fresh air, exercise the body, feel the spirit, and relax the mind. I have been very fortunate over the years to have attended classes with other like minded people, belong to groups, and volunteer at locations that allow time outdoors.

If all goes well and I am accepted into the class I will be spending 9 days outside in October of this year learning more about forest bathing, mindful outdoor meditation, group facilitation skills, and more. This will be truly a dream come true. After the class I will be a certified instructor and will begin to share my knowledge and experiences with others. What a blessing it will be to bring a sense of wonder and share this knowledge with the next generation.

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt ~

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

Do you take time to hug trees? Do you teach children about their connection to nature? If we each take on the responsibility to protect nature we will be blessing our children and their children with a life sustaining gift. More precious than all the money in the world. 

A few things that you can do to help our environment:

  • Use cloth bags when at the grocery store or any store
  • Pick up garbage from the ground and throw it in the trash
  • Carry your own reusable water bottle
  • Purchase reusable sandwich bags – wash and reuse
  • Bring your own reusable lunch bag
  • Make your own meals from real food – not boxed or canned
  • Try to have less trash
  • Donate any unwanted items
  • Compost
  • Grow your own food in a garden
  • Walk, ride a bicycle, take public transportation or drive a Hybrid
  • Ride share
  • Use your towels / wash clothes more than once before washing
  • Turn off the lights when not using, use energy saving light bulbs
  • Unplug your equipment when not using (laptops, computers . . .)
  • Have your furnace cleaned before cold weather
  • Carry all trash out of the woods when hiking or camping
  • Don’t write on trees or carve your initials in them
  • Plant trees every year
  • Call your representatives and senators to request more green space
  • Spend an hour or so outside daily connecting with nature
  • Hug a tree or two
  • Read books on nature – educate yourself
  • Take an outdoor class
  • Remove all chemicals from your home – inside and out  – find natural alternatives
  • Don’t purchase Round Up and don’t hire anyone who uses chemicals on your yard
  • Purchase only organic foods and grass-fed beef, free range chicken

Do you have something to add to this list? Please share.

Love and Light!

 


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WPC – Dense

This week, let’s get into the thick of things – share your take on “dense” — you could focus on a natural landscape like I did, or take the theme in a different direction, from a sweaty crowd at a rock concert or a busy avenue during rush hour to a fresh loaf of bread, waiting for someone to take the first bite.

I love densely wooded areas where the trees are allowed to grow. Whether blanketed in white, brown, orange/red, or green it brings a sense of balance and peace to my life.

“You must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne ~

“The forest makes your heart gentle. You become one with it. No place for greed or anger there.”  ~ Pha Pacek ~

If you would like to see additional photos for this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own, click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/dense/

Love and Light!


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In Honor of Trees

Today I am honoring trees. They are beautiful, provide oxygen, shade, energy and more. It seems that there is a war on trees near my home town. Today I took a ride to the Saratoga National Historical Park. Some of you might remember that I visit this park quite often. It is my refuge and I love walking amongst the trees, deer, greenery, and beautiful views. It was a trip to the Park that made me question the destruction. On the left and right – trees felled and piled high, other areas the trees were already removed and the land filled in. The only remnants of the trees are in my memory. There are swathes of land that have been cleared for new ticky-tacky houses standing in a row – all matching and lined in straight rows with very small yards because the McMansions cover the land. It saddens my heart so I am sharing a photo of a tree that I took last year. Love this photo because the tree looks like there are eyes and a nose. Just wanted to remind every one of the importance of trees and our need to maintain a world where humans and nature live and share out world.

Trees - Carl Sagan quote

When children come to visit we play under the trees, visit the parks and check out the little doors within the trees, leaving little presents for the critters that visit. We run through the woods and hide behind the trees, hug them, and sit under them sharing stories. Maybe the next generation can be educated and have a better understanding of sharing out earth with nature.

Are you teaching your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or children in the community about living lovingly in nature? We can inspire and transform our world!! I picture a world filled with trees, birds, bees, flowers, and beautiful loving energy where human beings cherish our earth.

Love and Light!


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Mindfully Walking in Nature

On Sunday I was grateful to be near the Saratoga National Historical Park. Every time I am in the area I park my car and head out in a different direction.

Saratoga National Historical Park

Neilson House – Saratoga National Historical Park

Sometimes I go to the right, down the long curving hill and take another right down the trees road to circular parking area to enjoy the view of the Hudson River and farmland. Other times, I walk down the hill and go to the left on the opposite side of the red house.

On other walks, I go to the left past the Neilson House (photo above), down the long treed roadway past the open field and cut across the dirt path through the woods to the road on the other side. When time permits, I cross the road and continue onto the Wilkinson Trail through the woods across an open field down a steep hill that leads to a brook, then back up the hill through the woods to the road. If I cross the road at this point I will walk across a short field to a small bridge to another treed path that runs along a cliff overlooking the brook. After a long walk in the woods, I cross another road and find myself at the same road in which I began.

In the fall, the trees are decorated in reds, orange, and gold. The sound of the fallen leaves crunch underfoot, geese honk, honking in the sky above, as light filters through the trees. The smell of earth and decaying leaves fills the crisp air and I lose myself in the beauty. It is on these long walks that I sometimes find myself in a meditative state walking through the woods without realizing how far I have traveled. Time seems to stand still.

Along the walk deer step out onto the road or cross in front of me along a path in the woods. They stop to check me out and then go about their business. I walk slowly through the woods as to not startle them or other critters that live in this protected area.

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I never get tired of seeing deer. When my mother, Aunt Helen, and Uncle Don were alive they would ride through the Park or the outskirts of the park to count the number of deer they spotted. Sometimes they would count upwards of 50, especially in the fall when the deer were smart enough to know as long as they stayed on this property the hunters could not shoot them.

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Sometimes the deer and I have seem to have contests to see who can stand still the longest. As in the photo above, we stood for quite a while before the two deer decided to move on. Many times I win because the wind will turn course and once they smell me off they go. On the days that I continue on this road past the deer, I pass an open field on the right and then back through a treed area before returning to the Neilson House. Sometimes I walk fast releasing my thoughts as I travel. Other times, I meander along enjoying the flowers, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, coy dogs, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks and a variety of birds.

There are always gifts of beauty along the way whether in the woods, fields or along the roadway if you can slow down to witness. Maybe pick an apple to eat along the way.

I see others walking quickly, ear buds in their ears, music blaring from their iPhones and wonder if they ever slow down long enough to really enjoy the nature around them. Do they ever stop to chat with the deer or watch the chipmunks and bluejays play? On my walk I stopped to watch a bluejay and chipmunk chasing each other around like little children. Instead of music, I listened to the leaves rustling in the wind, crunching under the weight of the deer, a plane overhead, cows mooing on a farm in the distance, geese honking overhead, and to my own heart beat and breath. I gave thanks for the beauty of nature that surrounded me and wished I could share this with others.

By the time I walked out of the park the sun was beginning its decent. If you look closely in the distance in the photo below you can see the outline of the Neilson House surrounded by trees.

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This is one of my favorite spots. Sometimes I stay in the park until sunset to hear the howl of the coyotes and watch the last slit of red in the sky. But on this night, I had to hurry home to prepare for the red moon and eclipse that would not be seen again until 2033.

On the way to my car a couple was walking into the Park. We chatted for a bit, they were heading to the Neilson House to watch the lunar eclipse and dance in the moonlight to Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. They have danced under every full moon for the last four years. It seemed so romantic. I was invited to stay – it was very tempting – but the eclipse would take a while and I live half an hour from the Park so I thanked them and went my way. While driving home, I almost turned around several times but was grateful I decided to return home to watch the rare event.

My question to you is – when you walk, do you walk fast and listen to music or do you slow down and listen to nature? Do you stop and smell the flowers, watch the bees, notice the beauty around you? Life is a wonderful experience if you can slow down long enough to enjoy it. Can you give yourself the gift of time in nature? Will you give yourself this gift? It doesn’t take a lot of time to get in tune with nature and yourself. Aren’t you worth it? Please share your experience with nature and walking, I would love to hear from you.

Love and Life!


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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Inspiration.”

 

“I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness. My own special self is nothing. I want to be like a flake of glass which nature passes.”

~ John Muir ~

There are many things in nature that inspire me as you will see from this week’s photo entries. These are just a few of nature’s creations that seemed to slow down time as I took in the essence of their beauty. Each is available to all if only we slow down and take notice.

To be honest, I didn’t always notice my surroundings on work days in my mad dash to get the kids out the door and to work on time. On weekends, we were outside hiking, playing, picnicking, or walking. On those days we enjoyed the smell of flowers in spring, walked barefoot in summer, played in the leaves in autumn, and rolled in the snow in winter. We were tree huggers, literally, and I would always stop to touch a rock or pick up a stone.

It always amazed me that others didn’t notice the beauty around them. Even in the city you can see a sunrise or sunset, birds, flowers, weeds growing up through the crack of the sidewalk. When working in New York City, I stopped to smell the flowers at the local flower stand, and watched the sunset as I strolled around the city in the evening. People walk so fast in the city I wondered if they ever slowed down even to eat or did they eat and run every night. Slow down – I would think. Enjoy life!

While living in California I was amazed at the flowers growing on the walls along the roadway. When sharing my observation with a coworker she asked, “What flowers?” She had lived in southern California her whole life and didn’t notice the colorful flowers. While living there I would walk the beach, most morning and evenings there were only a handful of people. I always wondered how people could live so close to a beach and not visit daily to watch the sunset. Where they inside  sitting in front of the television watching movie stars enjoying the beach. It didn’t make sense to me and still doesn’t. The ocean beach is over three hours away now but there are still lakes, rivers and ponds nearby to visit.

Is there an area in your neighborhood that you haven’t visited that might stop time for you? Do you get out to see the sunset in the evening sky? Or the sunrise in the morning?

If you suffer from anxiety, take time to think about your life. What do you want life to look like? If it’s spinning out of control, slow down. Maybe you can sit in nature for 15 minutes, watch the sunset, get out to see spring flowers poking through the ground, or the sun shining through the trees. Your anxiety will not be able to keep hold of you if you take control of your life by learning to slow down and enjoy the nature around you. It doesn’t cost a sent to walk barefoot in the grass, in the sand on the beach, in the dirt of a garden. Touch a tree and allow the energy of the earth to heal you. Walk barefoot and allow the energy of the earth to flow through you. Time will slow down and you will feel refreshed and energized.

I hope you have enjoyed natures creations and will allow yourself to view nature close up and personal.

Love and Light!


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Enjoying Nature with the ‘Big’ Kids

My daughter and her friends – grown up, purchasing homes and having babies. It doesn’t seem possible but it’s so nice to see what wonderful individuals and parents they have become.

Amanda (always Mandy to me) and her husband Kellin, invited me over for a visit. What a surprise when I arrived. 61 acres of mostly old growth forest and a home from the 1800s. Sorry now that I didn’t snap some photos of her home but nature is always a priority for us. I didn’t even get photos of Mandy’s little guy, Madde. He went in for a nap so he didn’t get to explore with us. Maybe after my grandson’s birth in September I will be able to get photos of all the little ones together.

Here as some of the photos from our walk in nature. What a gift to have as a backyard.

As we walked up the wooden steps a couple of snakes slithered into the space between the top steps. I realized that I wasn’t afraid. Over the years I must have lost my fear of snakes and it felt great. Then we chose which path to take. Along the path miniature frogs hopped about over and under the leaves. There were hidden treasures throughout the woods left over from days gone by. There were a couple of abandoned wells that Mandy and her family will have to fill in eventually to avoid any future disasters.

The variety of trees was quite amazing. Mandy said the previous owner allowed a lumber firm to cut down cherry, oak, and other trees and haul them out down the service road. That service road will become a driveway for her in-laws in three years. They are taking their time to build their home back near the original house and barn.

This land had been abandoned and ignored for so long that local teens began to use the land for their private partying place. The first night that Mandy and Kellin stayed at the house a couple of cars pulled into the driveway, that is until Kellin walked out onto the porch. The first car turned and pulled back out with the others following. Mandy laughs now, but she was a bit frightened that evening. Now that the walls and ceilings have been painted the abandoned house has become a home.

The one thing that I found amazing was how time seemed to slow down while we explored the woods.  It felt like we went back in time to when they were twelve and thirteen. The girls would come to see my daughter, Cassie, and stay over for the weekend. We shared many Easter and Christmas holidays together as well as normal days. I love these girls and have fond memories from those earlier days. It brought back memories of a rainy day when the girls were bored and sad about the rain. I turned up the music, opened the front door and went out to dance in the rain. The girls stood in the doorway watching, embarrassed. Then Cassie ran out with Mandy following close behind. Mel decided she wanted to join in. As I watched them dancing in the middle of the street laughing and releasing their self-conscious bondage, I knew they would be fine. Watching them now, I’m impressed at how they dote over their little ones, bringing them outside to enjoy nature, playing with them and providing good homes. It gives me hope that their children will grow up to be close friends, to learn the true value of nature and how precious it is.

Love and Light!

 

 


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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”

There were so many photos it was difficult so I chose five that represent a sense of depth in a variety of ways to me.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”


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Santanoni Preserve

Today when I left my home the sun was shining but the roads were a bit icy. As we traveled from Albany north on I-87 we weren’t sure if we would see snow especially when it started to rain. When we pulled off the highway at exit 29 the rain seemed to be following along but after a while the rain turned to snow as we climbed the mountains roads. What a beautiful site – the trees covered in snow looked like a winter wonderland. Ahead we could see the snow falling on the mountains ahead and we knew it would be a good day for snowshoeing. I have been wanting to visit Camp Santanoni Preserve located on Rt. 28N, Santanoni Rd.in Newcomb, NY for quite some time. It is a little over a two hour ride from my home. Today was a perfect day to check it out.

When we arrived we were told that the preserve was open for the holiday weekend so it was our lucky day. Apparently the preserve is not open daily in the winter. A Monday off, snow, the Preserve was open, and perfect weather with the temperature around 30 degrees. Our clothing was layered and waterproof so we were ready for any kind of weather. Miracles do happen!

I thought it would be nice to share some of the photos for those of you who may live in New York State and are looking for a place to hike, explore, snowshoe or cross-country ski. For those of you who do not live in New York and weren’t aware that we have a very large, diverse state in more ways then one these photos will give you a different perspective of this beautiful state. Most of the people I have met in my travels think of New York as Manhattan and don’t realize how large this state is. The majority of New York State’s population live in NYC but the rest of us are very proud of our state and our environment – especially the nature that surrounds us. So enjoy!

Welcome to Santanoni Preserve in the Adirondacks

Welcome to Santanoni Preserve in the Adirondacks

Bridge to Santanoni Preserve

Bridge to Santanoni Preserve

Information station at Santanoni Preserve

Information station at Santanoni Preserve

Some original buildings in Santanoni Preserve

Some original buildings in Santanoni Preserve

The buildings are original to the Preserve – check it out on FaceBook at Camp Santanoni and Santanoni Preserve or you can check it out by doing a Google Search.

Stone House in Santanoni Preserve in the Adirondacks

Stone House in Santanoni Preserve in the Adirondacks

Loved this stone building in Santanoni Preserve

Loved this stone building in Santanoni Preserve

Snow covering trees in Adirondacks

Snow covering trees in Adirondacks

Birds nest waiting for spring

Birds nest waiting for spring

Snow covered Cross-Country ski trail through Santanoni Preserve

Snow covered Cross-Country ski trail through Santanoni Preserve

As you can see from the photo below I was dressed in warm clothing, not the most attractive dress style but very comfortable and warm. It was such a great time being outside.

Snowshoeing in Santanoni Preserve

Snowshoeing in Santanoni Preserve

It is always difficult to leave these trails whether in the winter or summer. I find it exhilarating when in nature. I hope that you enjoyed the photos.

Love and Light,
Sandy


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Magic in Nature

A week ago Monday and again on Sunday a friend bundled up and took a walk in the nature preserve behind my home. We placed my new Nikon camera in the backpack and headed out the back door. Each day brought its own beauty. One one occasion we went out after there was a freeze and on the other it had warmed and their was some snow on the ground.

After walking through the woods for a while we decided to pull out the camera to see if we could capture the magic of the droplets that looked like little crystal lights on the limbs.

Droplets delicately hanging from the thin limbs

Droplets delicately hanging from the thin limbs

It was breathtaking and very fragile. If we moved too quickly the droplets fell to the ground. My friend sneezed and several fell as I was taking a picture. We laughed and began to walk a little more cautiously. Below is a close up of one of the droplets.

Look closely and you can see the reflection of a pine tree

Look closely and you can see the reflection of a pine tree

As we moved on toward the pond I wanted to capture the beautiful colors of the reddish tree with greenish-white moss but discovered a little surprise after the photo was taken.

Initials found in a tree

Initials found in a tree

It wasn’t until I went to check the photo that I notices the initials. There was a thin layer of ice on the pond and I became fascinated by the leaves floating in the water just under the ice. They resembled a gel candle with flowers suspended within.

Fallen leaves caught within the ice

Fallen leaves caught within the ice

I must have taken ten photos of the leaves in the water. The picture below is one that I felt especially connected with. Some of the leaves are frozen within the pond, while a couple are suspended in between freezing and free, and two others are on top of the water but appear to have their underside caught in a thin top layer. You can see the water froze while in movement.

 

Leaves in various stages of freezing

Leaves in various stages of freezing

In the photo below you can see even more closely that moment in time was captured when it became frozen. There is a little wave in the water that froze while in movement. It seems as if the water and leaves where enjoying the flow when the icy air capture them in the moment.

Love this! A moment captured in time.

Love this! A moment captured in time.

Then while sitting and enjoying the view one straggler leaf floated along on top of the ice as if skating.

The lonely skating leaf

The lonely skating leaf

It was a beautiful experience and every time I hike out in back there is a new discovery. This time it was a wooden bridge.

Looks like it is slanted but it is really due to the way the boards are laid.

Looks like it is slanted but it is really due to the way the boards are laid.

There is a brook that runs through the preserve as well as a couple of ponds. It is a treasure right behind my home. I feel so blessed. This is me touching a tree to soak up the energy of Mother Earth. As you can see from this photo the ice was no longer clear and smooth. It had frozen, melted a bit and after the snow froze again. It will no longer have the clear smooth surface.

Soaking up the energy of Mother Earth through the tree

Soaking up the energy of Mother Earth through the tree

What I have discovered while being in nature with a camera in hand is that I slow down and begin to focus on the close up as well as the whole of the forest. It is in the close up view that we can see a whole world that most people miss in their busy lives. If we could all learn to take time to slow down and enjoy the small things we may just learn to live with less and enjoy life more.

Love and Light,
Sandy


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Finding Beauty and Peace Locally

Today I thought it would be fun to share some of the local gems near my area. No matter what the season all of the locations can be visited. Some with snowshoes or cross-country skis but well worth it.

There are not many eateries or coffee shops, except for Dunkin Donuts near my work. One day I stopped in to purchase some stamps at the railroad station and discovered the coffee shop within. The staff is friendly and very accommodating. I generally order a cappuccino with soy and once in a while add in a dark chocolate bar. Last week a coworker and I walked over to the post office and to purchase a coffee. She noticed a new jewelry counter set up near the entrance to the trains so we checked it out. It was a local business man and his wife who just set up the store. Prices were very reasonable and both were friendly and helpful. I purchased a beautiful scarf.

Hidden gem in the train station

Hidden gem in the train station

Yesterday my home town of Stillwater, NY had an Old Time Caroling Cookie walk. Although not very many people showed up to carol it was a beautiful evening for the event. An assorted array of cookies were boxed and sold for $5.oo each at the local library. What a deal!

Local Treasures

Local Treasures

The block house, once housed at the Saratoga National Park, was moved several years ago to a farm the eventually the citizens came together to collect money and have it moved to the village. It is a beautiful location overlooking the Hudson River. You can visit inside and meet some local historians, sit on a bench and enjoy the scenery or bring a picnic and enjoy friends and family. My cousin was killed in one of the Twin Towers on 9/11, as she was a local girl the village planted a tree in her honor on the site.

Saratoga National Historical Park

Saratoga National Historical Park

I love walking in the Saratoga National Historical Park, lovingly know as the ‘Battlefield’ due to the Revolutionary War being fought in this location. While serving in the Army National Guard I was able to stay in shape and prepare for the yearly PT test by running on the road because it is marked every 1/4 mile. My favorite walks were those with my children hiking along the trails or cross-country skiing. Whenever I get the chance I head up to the Battlefield for a long walk in nature. It is well-preserved and they have reenactments throughout the year. There is one location near this red house where you can stand and look out to the east and see for miles. We always say you can see the mountains of Vermont from this location. It is a stunning view.

On my many walks over the years I have brought my own children, nieces and nephews, their children and my granddaughter. I look forward to sharing this experience with my grandson in the near future. Mainly I like to walk on my own so I can stop and lie in the grass and watch the clouds or sit and read or write in my journal. It is very relaxing and healing.

There is mainly farm land surrounding the park with the Hudson River to the east. There are many streams, woods, deer, coyotes, and other wildlife. It also is home to dragonflies of a variety of colors. When in need of peace and time away from the hubbub of civilization, this is the place to escape.

Love and Light,
Sandy