In early July, extended family gathered in Maine to celebrate Chuck Hilly’s 100thbirthday. Hale and hearty, Chuck still plays golf several times a week, has a mind as sharp as a tack, and is warm and engaging with both family and friends. It felt like a celebration of all the good that life has to offer, and highlighted the gifts each generation passes on to the next. It was a fitting beginning to a journey to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands, where life processes and ecological balance are made so explicit both through the natural world and through efforts by concerned humans to promote this balance. Read more
I recently had the great pleasure of spending two weeks traveling in Vietnam with my daughter Taryn. Going there has been a dream of mine for a number of years. Born first out of an interest in kayaking Halong Bay, this vision soon morphed into a dream of doing a photography trip with Taryn. Last fall we both realized that we would be able to take time off in April, and we locked in the dates. As I get older, one-on-one times with loved ones has been a growing priority, and I want to make these happen while I am still reasonably fit and healthy. The trip completely exceeded my expectations; Vietnam is now on the short list of places to which I would readily return, and the time with Taryn was the most precious part of all!
The Canadian Ski Marathon has become a defining part of my life. It is a one hundred mile challenge across the wooded landscape of western Quebec, held annually for over 50 years. I just celebrated the 40th anniversary of when I first participated, made all the more special by sharing the experience this year with Alec, my youngest son. Read more
My first memory of Cuba was of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I had just turned eight, and shortly after my birthday the tense standoff with the Russians began. I didn’t understand much except that the Russians, who were the Bad Guys, had placed rockets with atomic bombs in an island country somewhere near Florida called Cuba. It was the era of air raid drills, where we would crawl under our desks and put our heads down between our knees and clasp our hands over our heads. Later, some wag would add the words “… and kiss your a– goodbye….” to this emergency sequence. But at the time I’m sure we were comforted by practicing some tangible act that might save us. Grownups tried to hide their own anxiety, but many children my age and older knew something serious was afoot. Two weeks later, we knew that the immediate threat was over. Read more
I was recently invited to exhibit a selection of photographs at our local hospital’s Healing Arts Gallery. This led to reflections about healing, and what images would be most appropriate for this show.
A few years ago I traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic. Wandering the city, I came upon a parade of visitors approaching the statue of St. John of Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge over the Vltava river and placing their hands on the metal relief. Touching the statue is thought to bring good luck. I became fascinated by the diversity of hands and of the manner of touch, and wondered what they might reveal about the person. Read more
I stand on top of Table Rock just as the sun rises and enjoy seeing the mountain’s shadow stretch off to the west across Linville Gorge. Looking at the woods and mountains around me, I reflect on this special place, the people who have worked here, and the program that has had such a profound impact on my life. Countless lives have been transformed here, and now hundreds have gathered to celebrate and honor what happens in this wilderness setting.
This year summer seems reluctant to yield to passing time. October is unusually mild and the forecast suggests it will stay so for a while. Insects still provide a steady background chirp in the evening forest, bringing me back to childhood evenings listening to night sounds and enjoying the feel of warm breezes as I drifted off to sleep. Even now I love sleeping next to an open window in weather like this. I recently heard coyotes howling in our woods, and I wonder if they are aware of the unusual warmth of the season.
I wander through the woods to check the pond behind our house. The beaver is there, near the outflow that I intend to open up to discourage her and her partner from settling in. She slowly swims towards her lodge, then back again, looking at me from about 20 feet. She does not seem afraid of me. She looks like she is wondering if I will once again undo her hard work, as I have done every day this week. Maybe she thinks, “Here is that strange creature again, coming to take apart the section of dam most critical to keeping this pond level up. I don’t understand this at all. He does not eat from the pond, nor does he take the materials he is removing for his own use. It seems that all he wants to do is to ruin our home and livelihood.”