Nature’s Spirit

Lately, I have been experiencing a dry spell. What to write? What to write? What to write?  For me, our present political scene is depressing, thus making it hard to feel positive about much in life.

I was so excited when we returned from our vacation to the east coast. My grandson met relatives for the first time. He visited the sites of his mother’s childhood. We explored Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and New York City with all its complications was enjoyed. Along the way we interacted with a great variety of people. I felt…….real life isn’t as damaged as I thought. Then Charlottesville, VA. My heart sank. What now?  I have decided for me to maintain a healthy physical and mentally balanced life I must turn back to the spirit of nature. I must observe, listen, respect, experience, and rejoice in it.

I am presently half way through the book: God Is Red by Vine Deloria Jr.  The writing is thirty years old but is speaking to me about the philosophy of life I have come to develop over my sixty-seven years. The basic premise is that we are but a small part of nature.  All life is not dependent on us. We are not life’s focal point. We must submerge ourselves in nature and react to the world in the here and now.   Somehow this gives me strength….

We must observe:

  1. You have seen this image in a previous blog. It is the crocus growing in the yard of a friend in Japan after the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The strength of this disaster could not discourage or bully this lovely blossom.

 

 

 

2.  Despite the Road Commission’s attempt to mow down the  life in my yard the milkweed recovered quickly. I found three monarch butterfly eggs. They are presently in their chrysalises soon to emerge ready for their trip to Mexico. I am not the only one making such an effort.  There are thousands of people, some working with the University of Kansas program Monarch Watch, and others on their own, protecting these little predictors of the future.

 

 

3.  A cactus, given to me 30 years ago by a struggling student, finally blooms. What a beautiful surprise. I hope this means that she too is blooming wherever she may be.

 

 

 

 

4.  Animals still feel there is a reason to reproduce, nourish, and protect their young.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life is not dependent on us to flourish, however, we are capable of destroying it on a large scale.

 

We must listen:

The bees have been talking: Colony Collapse Disorder. Colony Collapse Disorder occurs when the worker bees disappear from the hive. They have left plenty of food for the queen and a few nurse bees for the surviving larva. In 2006  North America experienced a drastic number of disappearances of the western honey bee. Western Europe along with other spots on the globe also experienced this but to a lesser degree. Bees pollinate one-third of our food. If they lose we lose. We are listening and some improvements are being made. There is still a ways to go.

 

2.  The Karner Blue butterfly is talking and we may have missed its message. This lovely creature’s entire life cycle is  dependent on the blue lupine plant.  The blue lupine grows in sandy soil in maple and aspen barrens. Fire is the blue lupine’s friend as it controls the growth of shrubs allowing the maples and aspens to grow and give the plant shade. Human invasion of the lupine’s territory, death due to pesticides, and human control of fire has dwindled the blue lupine population to almost nothing showing a 99% drop in the butterfly population. The loss of any strand in the food chain weakens the whole.

 

3. The  Western Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna is talking.  Presently, marine fish account for 15% of the protein in our diet. It is projected that the consumption may grow to 35% of our diet in the near future.  Sushi lovers can not get enough of the blue fin tuna. At this point in time over harvesting has endangered this fish.  In Maine I witnessed the tuna fishermen bringing in their catches….numbers being carefully monitored.  What is the rest of the world doing? During my visit to Japan I came to realize this tuna is worshiped.

 

4. The monarch butterfly is talking. In or around 1996 I began teaching fourth grade. I wanted to create a team-like atmosphere for my students so we became the “Mighty Monarchs”.  The first days of the school year were spent studying this magnificent creature and its journey south. We tagged butterflies and supported schools in El Rosario, Mexico. It was hoped they would stop logging and begin a tourist industry celebrating the Monarchs that over wintered there.  A week or so before school I would collect caterpillars by the dozens.  As the years passed I found fewer and fewer caterpillars until I found none. I ordered caterpillars through the mail….IMAGINE THAT….. This seemed so artificial to me and many of the little caterpillars did not make it to the butterfly stage.  The last five years of my teaching we became the “Super Stars” studying the heavens.

Human invasion, cutting down or killing the milkweed, pesticides and logging are all contributing to the decline of the Monarch butterfly. More and more people are being educated about the needs of this butterfly and are interacting with it. This year I have raised four. That is twice as many as last year.

 

We must respect:

It is my opinion that humans have disrespected nature for thousands of years and we have and are suffering for it. We can think about over crowding and poor sanitation that brought the plagues.  The earliest recorded bubonic plague, also known as black death, was the Plague of Justinian in AD 541.

The industrial revolution completely ignored the needs of the Earth dumping waste in rivers, lakes, oceans and the air. When the Cuyahoga River caught fire people began to take notice.  We have had years of regulations, some followed and some not, some kept, some lost. There have been great improvements, however we still suffer.

For me, global warming is very real.  I acknowledge the fact, it is hard for many to understand. There are also many who do understand and are afraid to acknowledge it.  I get it, it is scary. So what can we do….I feel like a mouse swimming in the ocean.

  1. Reduce  Reuse  Recycle
  2. Do not change the landscape to suit human purposes….New Orleans paid dearly for that.
  3. Reduce your waste. Our recycling bin is filled weekly. Our trash bin is rarely half full monthly.
  4. Purchase items with recycling in mind….I buy glass rather than plastic.
  5. Plant native plants and flowers.
  6. Allow animals native to your area to share your space. Yes, coyotes, wolves, cougars, etc. Learn how to live with them….our mistake is thinking it is all about us.
  7. Teach the children about the balance of nature.
  8. Continue to educate yourself concerning the Earth’s needs.

They Set Up A Camera In The Forest And Captured The Most Incredible Scene Ever

Experiencing nature is a gift:

Photo by Carrie and Kylie
Woman’s best friend
Photo by Karen Rieser

 

 

 

 

Their are also times we must experience nature’s wrath to protect life. It is amazing how many people will answer this call!

Rejoice in nature.

Rejoicing in nature is simple.  Nature is found outside your window, in the cracks of your patio,  in your yard,  on beaches, in boats, in city, state and federal parks, etc. etc. One can sit, hike, swim, sail…

For me…I love opening the window in the bedroom all year long to smell the night air. My husband….not so much. I like to sit on the porch when it is raining. I like to walk in the rain. I love the snow by a fire. It is endless. There is so much to enjoy by just thinking to use your senses.

There are more formal ways to rejoice in nature.  The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy takes you into the forest and teaches you how to look at it using all of your senses. You are immersing and cleansing yourself with nature. This is not a hike or a swim rather it is an experience. It is referred to as ‘forest bathing’ and is proven to be beneficial to both mind and body.

I close with a smile on my face and a purpose. Reach out to nature…whatever that means to you….and find peace of mind.

Once again I find a place for Chief Seattle’s quote:

  1. Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.

 

 

 

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Have Wings Will Travel – The Monarch Butterfly

Photo by Karen Rieser
Photo by Karen Rieser

 

Butterflies, bees
our wingèd, happy friends
Oh, to dance in the air
and float on the breeze…
~Terri Guillemets

 

Butterflies, small, delicate, and amazing creatures have been with us for 56 million years. They are named for the seasons in which they appear spring and summer, also known as the buttering season due to rich grass growth and luscious milk production at this time. These insects appear fragile but are hardly that. Butterflies are hardy survivors learning life lessons during their transformation from egg to adult. For this reason the Monarch butterfly became the symbol for my fourth grade classes….we were the Mighty Monarchs. My students entered fourth grade as fragile learners and over the year transformed ourselves into magnificent young people ready for flight. We began our year raising Monarch butterflies and referred to our experiences all year long. I would like to  focus on the King of Butterflies…..the  Monarch and its unusual life style.

Photo by John Owens
Photo by John Owens

For a butterfly to exist it must pass through a complete metamorphosis requiring four unique stages .  In the first stage an egg is laid on a leaf – for the Monarch only milkweed will do, hence the name Danaus Plexippus or milkweed butterfly. Four days later a small larva or caterpillar chews its way out of the egg and eats the egg case. Its next meal is the milkweed leaf which is devoured at a rapid rate. The milkweed leaf contains a toxin making this larva poisonous to most of its prey. This stage lasts for two weeks. During this time the caterpillar will shed its skin five times as it grows 2,700 its original size. To prepare for the next stage the caterpillar climbs until it finds a spot it would like to hang from and spins a silk

By Captain-tucker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Captain-tucker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
button from spinnerets on its back-end. It then fastens its last pair of legs into the button and hangs upside down in a J formation. It will hang like this for about twenty-four hours before it begins to twist and turn shedding its skin for the last time and becoming a chrysalis. My students thought it looked like the larva was taking off its pajamas. The chrysalis is the structure in which the winged butterfly will develop. Depending on the temperature the adult will take between nine and fourteen days to develop. As it develops the green becomes clear and the butterfly can be seen inside.  My fourth graders were often able to witness the transformation from larva to butterfly and were awe struck.

Hectonichus own work
Hectonichus own work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

462px-Danaus_plexippus_emerging_from_chrysalis_01Our butterflies would emerge first thing in the morning and on numerous occasions we were able to witness this event. The photo to the  left shows the first sighting of wrinkled wings and chubby body. The body contains waste accumulated during the pupal period. The waste is pumped into the black veins of the wings where it hardens making the wings stiff. Excess waste falls to the ground…a reddish liquid. The butterfly opens and

By Captain-tucker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Captain-tucker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
closes its wings and soon begins to flutter about the cage. By noon, the warmest time of day ( it needs to be 40 degrees or above for the adult to survive), they were ready to be released….nature’s perfect timing. Some years we tagged the butterflies and collected information such as location, release date, weather conditions and direction of flight for the Monarch Watch program out of the University of Kansas. We never got tired of watching these beautiful animals fly freely into their world.

 

Photo by and (c)2008 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man)
Photo by and (c)2008 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K (Monarch Caterpillar. (Danaus plexippus)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K (Monarch Caterpillar. (Danaus plexippus)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Let’s take a quick look at the larva or caterpillar. The larva is transparent at its beginning.  Over time it develops yellow, black and white stripes warning predators it is poisonous and camouflaging it among the milkweed plants. It develops filaments on its head and hind quarters it uses as whips to deter insects and to guide food into its mouth. How do you tell the head from the hind end? You look at the legs. The legs near the head, the true legs, are slender with small claws. These will become the butterflies legs. The chubby ones in the back are prolegs  which have small hooks and will not appear after the larval stage. The caterpillar can not see well with its six pair of very simple eyes. To breath the larva has small openings along its body called spiracles. These openings take in oxygen and through a system of tubes transport it though out the body. The marvels of nature.

 

Now for the butterfly the creature that brings a smile with every sighting. The scientific order’s name for the butterfly and moth is Lepidoptera Greek for

By Anatoly Mikhaltsov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Anatoly Mikhaltsov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
scaled wing.  Scales actually cover the insects entire body and perform several functions. They provide color that camouflage or warn predators of poisons , act as solar panels collecting warmth, and provide insulation.  Two compound eyes are located on the head that see  color into the ultraviolet range. Their sense of smell comes from special cells on their antennae. A straw like tube, a proboscis, extends from the head and into the flower to suck up nectar and water. When not in use the proboscis is curled up tight to the head. An insect must have six legs but the butterfly appears to have four but in fact has six. The two front legs are short and kept close to the body, the  remaining two pair are longer and easier to spot. At the base of these hind legs are tarsus that grip the leaves. The base of the legs have specialized cells for smelling. My students were either amazed they smelled with their feet or totally disgusted.

The adult will live anywhere from two to six weeks. During this time it will serve as a pollinator whose major purpose is to reproduce. The female is ready to reproduce after about five days. She lays hundreds of eggs over several days. To tell a male Monarch from a female one must look at the lower wings for two small black dots on a vein. The male uses these pheromone sacks to release an odor to attract females.

What is amazing about the Monarch is that it is one of the butterflies that migrates (another is the Painted Lady). The rhythm of its migration is what fascinates me.

The migration cycle of the Monarch:

1st generation – 2-6 weeks : The Monarchs have spent the winter in southern California or Mexico. It is the Rocky Mountains that separates the ranges. As the days grow longer, usually in early March the butterfly’s head north to the most southern states of the United States looking for the first milkweed. Once found they lay eggs and die.

2nd generation – 2-6 weeks : This generation moves further north as the milkweed appears and repeats its cycle.

By MonarchWanderungKlein.gif: Harald Süpfle derivative work: B kimmel (MonarchWanderungKlein.gif) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By MonarchWanderungKlein.gif: Harald Süpfle derivative work: B kimmel (MonarchWanderungKlein.gif) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
3rd generation – 2-6 weeks: The milkweed in now appearing in the northern United States where this generation lives out its cycle.

4th generation 6 to 7 months: This generation has moved to the most northern states and Canada and  is referred to as the migrant Monarch. This generation will make a 3,000 mile journey south to overwintering grounds in El Rosario, Mexico or southern California depending on which side of the Rocky Mountains they are on. The butterflies return to the same overwintering sites as the generations before them. How do they know the way? This is unclear as yet but scientists suspect magnetic fields and or celestial bodies such as the sun, moon and stars may guide their way. They will join thousands of their kind roosting in pine trees waiting for longer days of sunlight to return north. The map shows paths not generations.

By Agunther (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Agunther (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Sonia Carolina Madrigal LoyolaBy Sonia Carolina Madrigal Loyola from Nezahualcoyotl, Estado de México
By Sonia Carolina Madrigal LoyolaBy Sonia Carolina Madrigal Loyola from Nezahualcoyotl, Estado de México

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After fifteen years I had to change my class mascot, the Monarch, as I could no longer find caterpillars…..I used to find dozens at a time. The Monarch numbers are dwindling due to logging in their overwintering areas, loss of milkweed due to human development and farming, insecticides,  and planting the wrong milkweed type that blooms earlier and is affecting the migration time table. My husband found a larva today that I am rearing to adulthood and will release. I will be looking for more. After 56 million years let’s not be the era in which this King of Butterflies disappears.

We have just touched the tip of the iceberg when thinking about Monarchs…..there is so much more to say about this incredible creature. If you are interested in learning more please go to monarchwatch.org This is a group that has studied the Monarch over many years, keeps data, sends reports (I got one last week) and has the most accurate information. They help the people of El Rosario, Mexico turn Monarch Watching into ecotourism trying to replace the business of logging which is narrowing the overwintering grounds and endangering the butterfly. Supporting this organization with dollars, planting the proper milkweed in our gardens, creating butterfly gardens, or spreading the word would be marvelous. My entire yard in a wild flower field…milkweed included. The last two weeks we have spotted several butterflies. I was able to stop a local park from removing the milkweed. Once I explained the situation the foreman sent all his workers out with pictures of milkweed instructing them to let it stand. My students earned money by collecting pop cans. The money was  sent to Monarch Watch to buy educational materials for the schools in El Rosario for general study and Monarch education. Monarch Watch is an important organization doing important work.

For me I personally feel I have a special connection with butterflies, the Monarch and Painted Lady specifically. I have raised both in my classroom  for over twenty years. Since early times many cultures, the Japanese, Greeks, Europeans, Native Americans, Aborigines to name a few, believed that butterflies are the embodiment of the human soul. I have had several interactions with butterflies that make me wonder.

When my husband’s father passed away we could not make it to the memorial only the internment. During the memorial we went to the nature center where we had dedicated a tree to my husband’s younger brother who had died some years earlier. We sat under this tree remembering both Dad and Matthew. As we sat two Monarchs sat on the limb above us. The stayed for about twenty minutes until we got up and walked to the car. They followed us to the car then flew off.

Sadly,  a wonderful teacher passed away much too early from breast cancer. Upon returning home from her funeral I got out of the car and a Monarch flew into my face and stayed a bit. I felt she was at peace.

Brain cancer took my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law was a chef and a good one. During her last year she could not cook much so I made and mailed her chocolate chip cookies often. She loved those cookies and I wanted her to feel special. She passed in the early fall. After hearing the news I went out my front door (almost never do) and there on the pavement  (most likely staying warm) was a Monarch. I was worried as it was a bit chilly. I picked it up and took it to the pine tree blowing on it to keep it warm. I placed it on the tree and it flew to my chest. This happened three times. I wrote her daughters about this and they seemed to understand.

My last experience was with my father. My father, after dying of old age, was interned in the church’s memorial garden. Through out the short service a Painted Lady Butterfly stood by my foot. Once the last prayer was said it flew off.

I see butterflies often and sometimes they are for me and sometimes they are not. There seems to be a difference for me in giving of a message and going about your business. We all have to make up our own minds as to whether nature speaks to us. For me I take great pleasure in thinking it does.

Photo Karen Rieser
Photo Karen Rieser

 

Photo Chris Rieser
Photo Chris Rieser
Photo Chris Rieser
Photo Chris Rieser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://journeyofhearts.org/butterfly/bfly_myth.html

http://www.monarchwatch.org/

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When Dogs Fly – Dogs Part 2

By Jerry Reynolds from Fargo, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jerry Reynolds from Fargo, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Part of the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan is a two day,  full day Ultimate Air Dog Show.  For me this is the National Cherry Festival. What could be better than watching dogs do what they absolutely love while eating cherries. This years show was as great as always.

Unlike many dog sports this one is for the dogs, humans are allowed to enjoy if they so wish and believe me they do. As I watched the dogs drag their caretakers to the pool to jump I became curious as to the origin of this sport.

Dock jumping as it is called began in 1997 when the Purina dog food company sponsored the Incredible Dog Challenge. It was an immediate success. ESPN created the Great Outdoor Games in 2000. From there organizations have been popping up all over the United States and United Kingdom. Dock Dogs and Super Retriever Series Super Dock were begun in 2000. Splash Dogs in 2003 and Ultimate Air Dogs in 2005. In 2008 Ultimate Air Dogs partnered with the United Kennel Club. North American Diving Dogs came along in 2014. In the United Kingdom Dash-n- Splash arrived in 2005 and Jetty Dogs in 2007.

By Victoria Rak (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Victoria Rak (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Everything a dog loves to do is involved in dock jumping. They love to run, jump, retrieve, swim, be cheered on and please their caretakers.  Some dogs teach themselves others require some training. As I watched the dogs approach the pool they were literally dragging their people to the platform….I could just hear them….”Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy it is my turn.” One would think the lawn was ice covered the way the handlers were sliding. The dogs also cheered for each other. I saw a brother jump into the pool from the side when his sister was on her way out of the pool with the bumper…..tail wagging, big grin.

So what do these dogs actually do. There are two different jumps: the Ultimate Air or Distance Jump or the Ultimate Vertical. For the Ultimate Air a toy is thrown and the dog jumps after it. The distance is measured. The Ultimate Vertical requires the dog to grab a bumper hanging 8 feet over the water. Once the dog is successful the bumper is moved two inches forward. The dogs get two tries for each turn. The dogs entered in a particular match and work in a round-robin rotation.

The deck is 35 to 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 2 feet above the water. The body of water or pool is four feet deep. The deck in covered with artificial turf, carpet or a mat for footing. There are two ways the dogs are prepared to jump. They are taken to the end of the dock to check out the situation. The place and send technique places the dog at the far end of the dock and the  handler moves to the edge. The toy is thrown and the dog is then sent to fetch it. The chase method can also be used. The dog begins at the far end of the dock, the handler give the command to jump, when the dog gets to the edge of the dock the toy is thrown. Chase is the harder of the two to learn. Once the dog hits the water the measurement is taken from where the tip of the tail enters the water. The world record is 31 feet five inches held by Vhoebe. Check her out.

 

Ultimate Air Dogs came into being in 2005, its creator Milt Wilcox and his son Brian. In Milt’s other life he was a Detroit Tigers pitcher famous for winning game three in the 1984 World Series.  While vacationing on one of Michigan’s many lakes Milt saw the ESPN Great Outdoor Games. Milt’s dog Sparky had been dock jumping all week for fun. Sparky could do this. Milt entered Sparky and his dog took off.

Milt decided to create his own organization with the goal of it being a family sport not a high pressure disciplined sport and that it is. To be an  Ultimate Air Dog your dog must be at least six months old and know how to swim. They can be any size, breed or mix. The sport is dog centered. There is no harsh treatment, words or gestures. There are fees to participate but not to observe.

Milt’s Ultimate Air Dogs do 60 shows a year some of which are the National Cherry Festival, United Kennel Club Premier, Aflac Outdoors Games, Dominion Riverrock and the Country Music Association Music Fest.

I focused on a dog named Dexter. Enjoy his pictures.

 

Photo by Karen Rieser
Photo by Karen Rieser

 

Photo by Karen Rieser
Photo by Karen Rieser
Photo Karen Rieser
Photo Karen Rieser

For more fabulous adventures with dock jumping dogs Google them and be prepared to be amazed.

 

Resource:

http://www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/WebPages/DogEvents/DockJumping

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dock_jumping

https://ultimateairdogs.com

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Nature’s Predictions of Hope

CrocusAh, the New Year, 2016. For most, the New Year represents new beginnings full of hope. Nature confirms this. The winter solstice has passed bringing us minutes more light each day. The trees are resting buds waiting to bring new life and fruit. Very soon we will hear the first songbirds in the icy air and the joyous first sighting of a robin.

Nature does not limit its message of hope to the New Year but speaks to us daily. One of its most dramatic messages came to me in April 2011. The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami slammed Japan March 11, 2011. It was the most powerful earthquake to ever hit Japan and the fourth most powerful in the world.

The quake damaged many cities and towns the town of Shiwa in the Iwate Prefecture among them. Shiwa is the home of one of my dearest friends Kozue, her family, extended family, and many of my acquaintances. Many, including my Kozue, temporarily moved out of their homes to safer grounds. I could hardly bare to think of her home and beautiful gardens covered in ash and trembling from the many after shocks. I kept in touch.

Kozue returned many times to check on her home. On one of her trips she found a lone crocus in the backyard pushing its way up through the ash reaching for the sun. Knowing its value she took a picture. It was a true sign of hope….life has and will continue to return. After some time Kozue’s family returned to live in their home.

For the last four years the treasured picture of the crocus has had a prominent place on my desktop. For me it is a symbol of hope for today and many days to come.

 

 

 

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