I went for a stroll this afternoon in the backyard. I do this every day during the warmer months, sometimes several times a day, but winters up here in the mountains can include daytime temperatures below zero, and so I don’t often get to spend some time meandering around our little property…

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This is the enormous box elder tree we have in our backyard. When we tap the maples on our property and at my in-laws’ place, we always throw a tap in this one, too. Did you know that you can mix box elder sap with maple sap and boil it down? It’s not as sweet as the maple sap, but it definitely helps stretch our yield when it’s not such a great year for sugaring.

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There are three large branches at the base, and sometimes I think of them as the Three Sisters. To the right there you can see the stone medicine wheel I created last summer when I started my year-long medicine wheel mentorship with Dakota Walker.

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I love this picture looking skyward from the base of the Three Sisters.

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We have a meditation spiral cut into the tall, wild grass at the far back of the property. I walk this spiral many times a day during the warmer months. In the winter months, it’s a little more difficult when we have a deep snow cover, but this year, it’s wide open.

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And of course, as soon as the girls hear me walking near the edge of the woods, they rush over to the far end of the chicken run to see if I’ve brought them a bowl of food scraps.

The winters up here have just been getting stranger and stranger… It’s been quite a while since we had a good blizzard that dumped at least three feet of snow on us. We swing back and forth between 55 degree days and -10 nights. The snow arrives and we celebrate, but then it’s gone with the rain. (Rain?! In the Adirondacks? In January?!)

Last night was a sub-zero night, and the air was still cold enough to hurt my face when I walked and took these photos this afternoon. But, as always, it’s important for all of us to stay connected to nature and the cycles of the seasons. Developing and maintaining the connection to nature helps us learn how to quiet the mind and get in touch with our true inner nature.

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