Tag Archives: sit spot

Sit Spots

Day 141

photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

It was the bones that brought me there.

To the small water catchment pond,

at the edge of the park,

next to the roadway,

near the metal bridge.

It was man-made,

earth scooped by machines to make a ditch.

I followed the line of Sycamores,

with their bleached-bark camouflage.

The skeleton lay still in the morning air,

half-buried in grass

and mud.

All there, except the skull.

The cage of ribs,

long limbs

with dark hooves at the end.

Deer.

Bones were still unfamiliar to me, strange,

and frightening,

secret things,

exposed to the light,

never meant to be seen.

I knelt and looked around.

Willows, Crack, near the water’s edge,

the Sycamores of course,

Box Elders, twisted and leaning,

a line of small Ash trees,

Purple Loosestrife,

Nettles,

Creeping Jenny,

Multiflora Rose.

Strangers to me then.

All I saw was worlds of green,

and blurred colors on beating wings.

Nameless.

The Sparrows, Chickadees, Goldfinches, Warblers, Cedar Waxwings,

and Wood Ducks

looked all the same to me.

Unfamiliar.

Yet,

somehow I knew it was home.

Recognized,

the small spot on the Earth

that would help me remember.

It was the bones that brought me there.

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

Our guest post tonight is from Zach. A fellow writer and rewilder, you can read about his adventures on his blog, Becoming the Native.

http://www.becomingthenative.com/

I asked him if I could re-post this piece here on . It’s a beautiful account of some of his experiences and observations at his own sit spot, a place that is clearly dear to him. When we share our stories, we can all learn from them. And that’s a gift. And that’s a revolution. Thank you Zach!

Meditating on sit-spot meditation

By Zach Elfers

Since October I have been practicing daily sit-spot meditation (well, almost daily). I have found it to be deeply powerful and especially beautiful and peaceful. As the days go by, and the seasons circle, in a profound yet subtle way one develops intimations of the grander patterns of nature and her cycles.

It’s winter now in early February. And what a long winter it has been! — and it’s not over yet. We had our first snowfall on December 8th, about a few inches. At the time of writing, the ground is still blanketed in one to four inches of snow, though the thaws and freezes have resulted in an icy crust.

My sit-spot is on top of a boulder along the banks of the east side of White Clay Creek in Delaware. The rock butts against a beech tree, which just the other day I noticed has a leaf-wrapped luna moth chrysalis dangling from a branch above my eyes. I hope to witness the moth’s emergence in the spring.

From my rock, I watch over a serene section of the creek as it winds its way downstream from a bend to the north. The eddies that ripple on the surface leave impressions of the contours of the riverbed below the current. I see too to the west the farther bank. Beyond, the white skeletal canopies of winter sycamores frame in overlay a few white pine looming in the background, painting an abstract landscape through natural juxtaposition.

The forest composition is predominately oak-hickory, with red, black, white, scarlet, and chestnut oak alongside bitternut and mockernut hickory. Tulip poplar, Delaware’s state tree, is also strongly represented, and red maple are to be found, remnants of the early forest successional phase. From my little window onto the world at this rock I also see sweetgum, black cherry, hornbeam, and shrubby things like the evergreen rhododendrons and the wintry leafless stems of spicebush. Black walnut can also be found nearby. To the west facing away from the water, steep hills arise upward to the horizon. There are two houses on these hills, but I never catch a sign or a hint of any human activity. They are presumably empty, or they must be the gravesites of the living.

This time of year there is not much happening in the forest herbaceous layer. Aside from the evergreen ferns like christmas fern, and the lichens and mosses, there are to be found the basal leaves of white avens, and what I believe to be the dead remains of shiso (beefsteak plant), or wood nettle. Raspberry canes, multiflora rose, and other brambles trail over the ground, devoid of leaves. (December and January were very good months to eat the delicious craisin-tasting vitamin-C packing hips of Rosa multiflora!)

To get to the sit-spot I cross a small stream below the welcoming boughs of a beech that I know has been well-cherished and long-lived. It features carvings and etchings in the bark, a plank-and-nail ladder, and Benzoin Brackets eating away at the isolated decay of one of the lower limbs. Once I cross over that little stream, I begin to tread on hallowed ground. If the weather is warm enough I’ll take my shoes off. Otherwise, I foxwalk in my boots the extra hundred-or-so yards I need to go to reach my rock.

The Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore once said, “Love is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.” I ponder these words in days past on my way to the sit-spot. The sit-spot has become a daily ritual, and it is something that I love doing. Because I love it, it grows and flows as a source of creativity, nourished by the love and dedication I feed the ritual with. There is something wonderful about dedicating yourself to daily ritual in such a way. It is hopeful. Fresh, invigorating. I always look forward to my sit-spot time — it is like home. I always go for at least fifteen or twenty minutes, but frequently find myself staying for an hour, or even more, provided there is daylight still and I have no other obligations.

When I first began I focused intently on expanding all of my physical senses — sight, sound, smell, touch, and even taste, so that I could observe more faithfully. And of course I still focus on expanding the senses, but my awareness has expanded in several other further directions. The thing about nature observation is that the more you interact with the world, the more it changes. Thus, sit-spot focuses on stillness and mental calm, “actionless-ness”, allowing one to exist in the forest in a state of minimal impact, experiencing the woods at its baseline state, much like things would be if you were not actually present.

It has been a pleasure getting acquainted with the other animal beings that make this place home. Since doing sit-spot, I have been introduced to the joys of bird-watching. A pileated woodpecker makes his territory very near my sit-spot, so his presence and bustling activity is something I can expect most days. I also see northern flicker, downy woodpecker, and red-bellied woodpecker. I think I can almost distinguish these species now without vision, going solely by the pitch of their pecking. But not quite, yet.

Other birds I have become familiar with are the blue jays, which though now rather silent, sounded their alarm calls more frequently in the fall. Also carolina chickadee and their tree hollow homes, tufted titmouse, robin, white-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, mockingbird, golden-crowned kinglet, cardinal, eastern towhee, carolina wren, starlings, dark-eyed junco, crow, and the white-throated sparrows with their distinctive whistling. All these and more are residents of this place, much like myself. In this we all share a common bond. I have also seen bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, a merlin falcon, and can hear from time-to-time in the afternoons the far off hoot-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo of barred owl.

Sometimes a great blue heron will wade silently along the shore, or stand motionless and head-tucked for what seems like hours. Even in flight the heron is silent, a master of stillness and calm. They are sagely birds.

A stark contrast is the pileated woodpecker, who seems to flip out in nervous fits occasionally for no particular reason that is discernible to me.

Other wildlife encountered include fox, squirrel (plus all their banter), Canada goose, and mallard duck, featuring in particular an apparently 5-year-old large Mallard/Domestic duck hybrid individual with a black head and white breast instead of the usual green/chestnut mallard color palette. I have also seen snow geese fly overhead, and I know rabbits are present because I have seen their tracks. And I have made no mention yet of the many white-tailed deer that run along these woodland corridors.

In recent weeks I’ve had a handful of intimate encounters with the beaver family that lives along my stretch of river. I have known about the presence of the beaver since I began doing sit-spot in October. Being primarily nocturnal creatures, and strongly territorial, if beaver live nearby, you can count on seeing them swimming at dusk. But last week, the temperatures had been low for several days, causing the creek to freeze over six or seven inches. As I arrived to my spot, I noticed holes chewed in the ice beneath gnawed masses of gnarly roots along the bank where the beaver had their burrows. This presented an opportunity to watch the beaver emerge from their home. Walking onto the ice and creeping carefully, I squatted down like a rock two arms-lengths away from the hole. Sure enough, the beaver comes out of the hole. He doesn’t seem to notice me. It is now twilit dusk, but I can make out his paws, whiskers, and leathery tail, and I watch in awed silence.

The very next day I went for a run down my trail. As I approach my sit-spot rock, I notice directly on my right beside the trail two beaver chewing cambium in broad daylight. I stop, stare. I could clearly see the beavers’ red teeth, claws, fur, and tail. Again, they take little notice. One spots me and scrambles back into the water. The other one looks in my direction, but doesn’t see me. He flares his nostrils with a look of confusion, smelling something unusual, but seeing nothing out of the ordinary. They must have poor eyesight. I must assume these two beaver are a breeding pair, as beaver are fiercely territorial between families. Though I can’t tell which is which — beaver have no external sexual dimorphism. They grow to the same size and look exactly the same, regardless of sex.

I have also tried watching deer in a similar manner. One day I encountered a young buck — he may have been a two-pointer, I don’t quite remember. I froze mid-foxwalk and as he turned his head I would squat down lower and lower. He approached to within four yards before he would look straight at me with a look of nervous panic. He didn’t immediately run away. It would take him several moments before he decided my presence was a threat. Still, if I had been a hunter those moments would have come far too late.

Another day I saw three small, young deer in their first year of life approach in my direction. Again, I squat down and draw inward my presence as they trot in my direction. They notice me, but can’t figure out what the heck I am. I watch in silent amusement as one of the young ones stamps his front legs in a deliberate rhythmic parade in an attempt to provoke my reaction. I am unmoved. Eventually, the three young ones deem whatever it is I am to be harmless, and they gather up the courage to keep on walking past. And so they go.

I think of what it means to be wild, and how wildness contrasts to domestication. Contrary to what may be the common sense intuition, I come to understand wildness more and more as close kin to discipline. A Hobbesian or other mechanistic scientist would look at the cyclical ways of nature and the undeviating routines of animals as indicators of automaticity, otherwise called unreflective instinct. I see things differently now. These animals and other wild beings, are characterized by tremendous discipline — not to mention the tremendous awareness — and it is this discipline which manifests like unthinking routine to those who don’t stop to consider and think about their routine.

By contrast, domesticated animals are a psychological wreak. We — yes, I include us humans — have lost our wildness, and with it, much of our discipline. And now here we sit in our homes, overcome with boredom, nervous energy, alienation, and ennui. But I believe that through disciplines such as sit-spot, we can not only reconnect our lives with nature — her patterns, colors, senses, and fellow beings — but in doing so we intuitively reaquaint ourselves with the natural discipline instilled by the wild, or what the Iroquois called the “Original Instructions”:

“The original instructions direct that we who walk about on the Earth are to express a great respect, an affection, and a gratitude toward all the spirits which create and support Life. We give a greeting and thanksgiving to the many supporters of our own lives-the corn, beans, squash, the winds, the sun. When people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and human life on this planet will come to an end….”

I think too about life and all its forms. I see so much of it from my tiny little sit-spot, a point location in the woods just outside town. And there’s so much more here that I sense but cannot identify nor understand. Imagine all the rest that is missed! And to cherish it all anyway, coming to know it and relate to it, even if it is not yet understood or comprehended… this is a worthy and meaningful pursuit.

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But then something happens

Day 106

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

Every time I go to my sit spot it’s the same thing.

Even after all these years.

I have a moment of panic where I am ABSOLUTELY sure that there is no possible way my busy mind will quiet long enough for me to notice anything.

Or connect to anything, or

even just let me relax.

And I sit all tensed up, eyes furtively darting around,

shoulders hunched,

thoughts racing,

money, car trouble, Revie’s ear infections, my bad dream last night, my grocery list, how cold I am, how much I have to pee, how tired I am, yadda, yadda, yadda…

and I think “this is dumb, this is futile, I might as well leave and go on with my day…”

but then something happens.

In between breaths, I feel the beat of my own heart,

and it matches the hum of the honeybee near my left shoulder,

and the thumping of the vulture wings against the highest tree branches,

and the soft, chipping calls of the sparrows feeding,

and I finally

start

to

slow

down.

And then I relax.

And I smell the citrusy needles of the white pine, and the rainwater scent of the fluctuating pond, and the earthy decay of the Sycamore leaves under my feet. I smell the fresh barn hay of the deer lays, and the dark, decomposing of the roadkill Red Fox, and the sweet minerals of the dark, black forest soil.

And I touch the cold, smooth stone beneath me that makes my seat, and the soft, roughness of the elm bark, different than the scratchy Ash bark, and different still from the scaly Sycamore. I feel the soft feather of the cardinal wing, and the small hard berry of the rose. My fingers read the stories, whisper over the wild Braille, inform my second sight.

I hear the Great Horned Owl call in the distance, and the squirrels digging up black walnuts they buried in the last warm sun of fall. I cup my hands behind my ears and make out the babbling of the faraway creek and the rushing of distant cars. I hear voices laughing far away and snow melting in the grass nearby. And I hear the hum of tiny beetle wings, and the sparrows singing, singing, singing.

I can taste frozen cold air on my tongue, weak sunlight and cool damp, from the water, from the ground, from the sky.

And I see. From the corners of my vision, the deer walk past at the edge of the field, the tiny mouse scurries past my feet,

the sun, near setting, floats in the pink, western sky.

I see my hands, soft, slightly callused, folded in my lap,

and I see my own small shape, as if from above,

sheltered by the trees, and the rocks, and the shrubs, and the pond, and the creek, and the animals, and the soil,

and the sun, and the sky.

And I am slowed, and I am calm, and I am connected,

and I am aware.

And I am in love.

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

 

revel’s new sit spot, and who is your accountability partner?

Day 52

photo by wilson alvarez

photo by wilson alvarez

We went to story time this morning instead of going for our usual walk at the park. And then we did various things inside and then we took a family nap.  So by the time we woke up at 4, Revel ran straight to the door asking to go outside.

I figured I’d bundle us up and we would head to my new sit spot, at the edge of the neighborhood, at the edge of the cemetery, next to the monsanto corn, near the singing trees.

But at the entrance of the cemetery, Revel, cozy in his stroller, tiny mittens on his little hands, burst into tears. So I stopped and hugged and kissed him, and asked him a bunch of questions like, “do you want to get out?”, and “Do you want some milkies?” and “Are you cold?” and finally realized that he wanted to go to the park with the playground, where we usually go walking in the morning. That he was trying to say he was not in the mood to go with me to my spot.

And then I realized that Revel has his OWN spot, it’s the park where we go walking, and that’s where he wanted me to take him.

So that’s where we went.

Revel’s spot is all vanilla skies, sandy ballfields, and open meadows. It’s where the baby groundhogs play in the spring, and where the mullberries ripen first in early summer.

It has sky-high slides, and sandy baseball diamonds, perfect for tracking. We study the marks our stomping feet leave on the ground; look at the impressions the doggies make as they chase one another and wrestle in the dust.

We lay on our bellies and look at the ants, and when the weather was warm, we practiced catching crickets. The squirrels feast on the Black Walnuts and the acorns on the edge of the fields; we watch them eating and imitate the tsk, tsk, tsk of their chewing, I instruct Revel NOT TO PUT ACORNS IN YOUR MOUTH! and he laughs and runs away, arms swinging, curls blowing in the wind.

At Revel’s spot we dig in the dirt, and poke leaves with sticks, and listen to the calls of the blue jay. We watch the way the sparrows fly to their perches when the prowling cat comes through with its’ swishing tail, and marvel at the war cries of the crows mobbing the red tail hawk. And we point to every plane in the sky.

We don’t do much sitting, unless its time for milkies, and then we pause, his cool hand brushing my warm neck, snuggled together, all hats, and scarves, coats and mittens.

At Revel’s spot we run, we jump, we sing, we PLAY.

We connect to the land with light hearts, and happy spirits.

So now I have my new sit spot, at the edge of the neighborhood, at the edge of the cemetery, near the Monsanto corn, next to the singing trees.

And Revel has his new sit spot, with vanilla skies, and  sandy ballfields, and open meadows. It’s where the baby groundhogs play in the spring, and where the mullberries ripen first in early summer.

And Wil has his new sit spot, next to the creek where the coltsfoot grows, where the yellow leaves fall like so many piles of gold.

And they’re all near our house, within walking distance, so we can go to them frequently.

And when we come home from our separate adventures we share stories, and ask questions, and describe colors, and imitate sounds. Our hands flutter like birds’ wings, our talk is loud and excited. We listen to one another.

And with cheeks still pink from the cold we look in our field guides, and identify plants, and trees, and birds, and write about them in our notebooks. And we show Revel all the pictures so he can start to recognize the patterns; of the bark, of the feathers, of the deer tracks.

Revel and Wil are my accountability partners. They motivate me to see more, watch more, become more aware. So that even if it’s cold, or raining, even if I’m tired, or sad, or cranky, I want to go outside, find treasures to share with them, find stories I know they will delight in.

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

Identify your accountability partner or partners. Tell them they are important to you, ask them if they’ll embark on this magnificent journey with you.

And in this way our sit spots will not only allow us to connect to our landbase,

but to one another too.

And that’s how the culture of rebellion will continue to grow, and grow.

And, of course, we will continue to encourage, and inspire, and connect with one another through this project, through this blog, and through this amazing web.

Thank you for doing this with me.

and

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

The landscape of loss, and my new sit spot

Day 45

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

My grief creeps into these days like kittens with rough tongues and soft feet. But at night, my grief rears up with wild tiger roars, claws scratching at the walls.

At night in the quiet, family sleeping beside me, the sadness tumbles in.

The wolves with their spirit eyes and noble strides, gunned down by ranchers with 10 gallon hats and sharp toed cowboy boots.

The wild eyed children in dirty cities being sold into sex trade.

The mountains, tops brushing blue sky, disappearing bit by bit, stolen by the mining companies and mountaintop removal.

The ancient bedrock, cracked and mutilated, force fed chemicals to extract precious bubbles of gas.

Our beautiful PA streams, radioactive, contaminated, poisonous.

The culture of destruction tells us raw emotion is shameful, should be hidden behind tissues and closed doors.

Medicated away, swallowed down, where it eats away at our insides, makes us bitter, hardens our hearts.

But what if our culture encouraged us to grieve together? To join hands, and voices in song, to wail and moan, to feel our salty tears mingle together on wet cheeks?

PLEASE take a few minutes to watch the video clip below. It is one of the truest, and most beautiful displays of group emotion I have ever seen. Wil and I came across this show years ago, and it has stayed with me ever since. I cried when I saw it the first time, and I cried all over again with the Anuta tribe when I watched it again this afternoon.

It speaks that loudly to me of truth and beauty.

The entire episode is fantastic, the Anuta tribe are some of the warmest and most authentic human beings I have ever seen. But the part I want you to see starts around the 3 minute mark, when the tribe begins their farewell ceremony for their visitor, and runs to the end.

So much feeling, such gaping, open emotion! My grief wants that. My grief wants to sit with the grief of others. To be poured out of open mouths, and crying eyes. My grief wants to be sobbed out onto wet sand, flung from heaving shoulders.

Grief can be a salve for our wounds from civilization. It can also be an offering.

photo by wil

photo by wil

An offering to the ones we’ve lost, to the ones we’re losing, to the ones who’ve slipped through the cracks.

Our grief can send them messages,”My heart breaks for you, my hands shake. You are not forgotten, your life was not in vain. We remember you, we see you. Thank you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.”

Our grief can bring us together, wake us up, rattle our bones.

This grief can heal. But only if we let it in.

But only if we let it

out.

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

I found my new sit spot

Revel and I took our afternoon stroller ride through the small cemetery at the edge of our neighborhood today. We saw the big orange tomcat again, and suddenly I realized that I was looking at my new sit spot.

It’s nestled at the southern edge of the cemetery, between the oldest, crumbling headstones, dates worn away by time, and a dense hedgerow of blackberry brambles, honeysuckle shrubs, and white pines. Meadow to the eastern side, Monsanto corn field to the west.

And somehow it seems fitting, that my new spot is there where the starlings roost, surrounded by the ancestor bones, so many forgotten, long dead, invisible. And the zombie corn, straight and tall, eerie in its’ sameness.

It is the perfect place to observe the patterns in shadows, to learn the ways of the wind, to watch the movement of the winged ones.

It is the perfect place to listen to the landbase.

And, I’m hoping, the perfect spot to navigate the landscape of loss.

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha

photo by Wil

photo by Wil

I am an addict and welcome to your sit spot.

Day 44

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

I’ve been working on rewilding myself for 11 years.

11 years of deliberately rejecting the culture of destruction and cultivating my relationship to the land. 11 years of trying to reverse the indoctrination I received through public school, 11 years of living simply, living small, and 11 years of fighting for what I believe in.

And still,

STILL,

every so often, I wake up with an insatiable craving, a hollowness in the chest.

On these days I wake up and I

WANT.

STUFF.

Shiny purses and soft leather boots. Jeans that accentuate the hips, shirts that minimize the waist, and bras that maximize the breasts. Shiny new pots, mixing bowls in every color, spoons carved from the finest woods.

Books from every author, so eager in their shiny new jackets, the richest paints, the highest quality paper. A new computer, the fanciest i phone, a printer that prints the brightest blues, and the most brilliant greens.

Overstuffed couches, corduroy chairs, the tallest bookshelves, golden lamps, wool rugs. Candles, and pencils, pens and paper. Soaps, and lotions, and hats and mittens. Miles of necklaces, gold, silver, and stone, earrings that brush the collarbone, bracelets that climb the arm.

I want, I want, I want. Every commercial I’ve ever seen burns through my veins. My appetite for things is voracious, I may never be satisfied.

I am an addict.

Addicted to things, to stuff, to junk. To buying, aquiring, stockpiling, consuming. I want to hoarde mountains of things, and I don’t want to share.

And yes, I’m in recovery, mostly.

But like I said, I still have cravings.

And, on the spectrum of consuming, my addiction was never even really that bad.

But still, I was born into the harsh lights of T.V. screens, and consoles. Raised on cornflakes and fruit loops. My playthings were plastic, my Christmases were piled high with cheap toys made in china, most likely by children not unlike myself, paid for with credit cards, fake money my parents never had (although I thank you mom and dad, for loving us so much, and wanting to give us the best).

I learned to recite the brand names right along with the ABC’s. A, B, C, McDonalds’s, Burger King, Coca Cola, could recognize their logos like the faces of friends.

And I was one of the lucky ones, had a big backyard, and played outside with friends on sunny, rainy, and snowy afternoons, but still, I became indelibly imprinted with the consumer culture I was born and bred in.

Indoctrinated to WANT,  through T.V., and magazines, billboards, and schoolyards.

And it’s not so mysterious, this addiction. They say we are still hunter-gatherers, in body, and mind, in DNA. The same as our ancestors. Bred to hunt, and gather, to be quick of mind, and strong of wit. Born to roam the open land, eat the wild foods, and live under the open sky. Made to observe, search, hunt, and gather, bring food home to the tribe, share, and live in community.

But the scourge of convenience has rendered our hunter-gatherer skills useless. Water comes through the tap, heat through the flip of a switch. No longer do we need to roam the landscape to find food. A stop at the grocery store, or better yet the drive through, after work, and our subsistence is easily secured for the day.

So we shop. We buy mountains of things. We search for, and acquire, and bring home bags and boxes and armloads of stuff. In an attempt to fill an ancient craving, a hunter-gatherer shaped hole in our hearts.

And the shopping is a poison, a drug like any other. An attempt to replace connections to one another, and the land, and God, with a quick fix, a shiny wrapper, a fast car.

But this constant craving, this endless thirst, is destroying our world, and collapsing our planet.

So what do I do? Those days when the craving to consume burns hot like a fever and all I do is WANT?

I go outside.

I go outside to my spot. A small spot, with a small pond, and a small spring, in a small park.

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

I go to my spot, and I WATCH.

I watch the deer eating purple loosestrife and the squirrel building her nest. I watch the mink bounding along the edge of the water, and the sparrows kicking up the underbrush. I watch the slow twining of the honeysuckle, and the gentle dying of the grasses. I watch the sun set in the western sky, and the moon rise in the eastern one.

and I LISTEN.

I listen to the Great Horned Owl’s call, and the sound of wind through the leaves on the trees. I listen to the quiet whisper of the water over rocks, and the soft sucking sound of mud. I listen to the Raccoon rustling in the bushes, and the tapping of the Pileated Woodpecker.

and I FEEL

the cold ground beneath me, and the fresh air on my skin. I feel the eyes of the rabbit on my back, the soft brush of pine needles, and the rough scratch of the hackberry bark.

I SMELL and TASTE

the first curling tendrils of a new fire. The last apples on the trees, and the sticky sweet of the soft wild persimmons.

I gather acorns, I hunt deer. I laugh with Wil at the silly fox pups, and smile about the tiny turtle making it’s way to the water. I marvel at seeing the same friendly jumping spider, in its home, for the third day in a row. I kiss my baby, I love my husband, I laugh with friends. I raise my arms to the sky in wonder, and lay, on the ground, and feel the soft swell of the earth beneath me.

Outside is the antidote, the antivenin, the inoculation

to the hollow-hearted addiction that is consumerism.

And my small spot, with the small pond, and the small spring, in the small park

was the hand that reached out and grabbed me, the sponsor that told me it would be alright, the warm embrace of a loving friend.

My spot saved me. And I’d like to introduce you to yours.

Welcome to the sit spot.

And this is also the next blackout action, so spread the word far and wide, invite your friends, write it on the bathroom walls.

A sit spot is one tiny area of this big beautiful world that you will visit very frequently.

Sometime in the next two weeks, you will find a spot that calls to you, in a local park, in an abandoned field, in your own backyard.

You will listen to your instinct, and you will find the place that calls to you. It does not have to be special. It does not have to include sweeping vistas. It will become special to you. The tiniest patterns will soon become as breathtaking as the grandest views.

You will go to your spot as often as possible. Once a week, a few times a week, or better, everyday.

You will sit quietly. You will engage your senses. Pay attention to each one. Vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell. Breath deeply, try to relax your mind.

You may feel uncomfortable. You may feel cold, or hot. You may have to pee, you may be hungry. You may feel scared. You may imagine strangers behind you, and eyes watching you. You may want to go inside. Don’t. I promise you, it will get easier.

Start with 10 minutes and work up to 20. Don’t try for more than that right now, we’ll increase the time gradually, as we go along.

Find your spot, start to go there, practice engaging your senses. Your spot will be your teacher, your mentor, your guide. It is where you will learn about the plants and animals. The smallest patterns will teach you about the largest ones. You will learn about yourself, your strengths, and your own mind.

We will start small, and grow together.

I’ve been spending time at my small spot, with the small pond, and the small spring, in the small park for 10 years now. I have learned the patterns, and the habits, and the names of the plants and animals. I have learned about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses. I have learned about the earth, about connection, I have learned to be alive.

And I branded myself with the map coordinates of my spot. To keep the feeling with me when I’m not there, to remind me of the connection. To quiet my mind when I’m driving, waiting in line at the store, picking up the mail.

photo by michelle J.

photo by michelle J.

It’s a small spot, with a small pond, and a small spring, in a small park.

But to me, it’s home.

Nature is the antidote, the antivenin, the cure to the affliction that is consumerism,

that is civilization.

Go outside. Find your spot, Start to connect. We’ll do it together, we’ll write about our experiences here, we’ll talk about them if I we see each other in person, you’ll write me letters and e-mails, I’ll write you back.

Find your spot,

find yourself.

I love you.

I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

Thank you for listening,

Love,

Natasha