Friday, November 21, 2014

Here, There, and Everywhere

Another single day off, so I took photos while running errands today. Our autumnal color has pretty much faded away, so I decided to acknowledge that by shooting in black & white. As the title of this post implies, they were taken in different spots around town.

Dykeman House overlooking the south duck pond and fish hatchery
The rail crossing at Penn St.
My landlord's frozen backyard fountain
A potted garden fades with the season

Speaking of the title of this post, you know I had to go looking for the Beatles song of the same name. Here 'tis. Enjoy!

© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wrapped In Mama Gaia's Loving Arms

I follow folksinger Janis Ian on Facebook, and she has a quote of the day feature; today's was: "I wish people cared as much about the earth as they did about who they think created it. - Unknown". My comment was: "As a pantheist who wraps himself in Mama Gaia as often as possible, this states my attitude exactly!" Heh, heh! And of course I shared it to my own timeline!

This is an issue I tackle often. Much of mainstream religion - and by mainstream I include not only the Judeo-Christian group but also Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. - downplays the physical world and the oh-so-fleshly human animal. It sees nature and humanity as a distraction, an illusion to lure humanity away from the spiritual world. As Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, translates Ecclesiastes 1:2 ("Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." King James Version): "Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.] There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke." There it is again - the world is an illusion, a tissue of lies meant to deceive and distract.

As anyone who has followed this blog (and my presence on the former and on Facebook) knows by now, I totally reject this perspective; it's anti-human and destructive to the world. It's the basis to the thought pattern behind the willful pollution of land, air, and water; why take care of this place if our real home is in some non-physical place and this world is just a waystation? And it's the attitude behind the belief that humanity is perverted by nature and needs to be saved by some other-worldly magical power. Talk about setting up the whole human race for a massive case of self-hatred! Oh yes, I reject that kind of thinking with my whole being.

To me, all creation is sacred, and all together we form the Divine; each physical thing - human, animal, vegetable, mineral, star, microbe, etc. - is a cell in one universal body. And as the Tao Te Ching teaches, each component needs to work in harmony with the whole for the whole to survive. For that whole to work, each component needs to regard all the others as sacred. As the Tao says, remain centered in the Way and harmony will prevail.

For me, that means allowing myself to be wrapped in the loving arms of Mama Gaia, to walk the woods and the hills and the salt marshes and become one with it all. This is what my walks around the area, even while doing such mundane things as going to work or the grocery store, mean to me. I'm plugging in and recharging. Far from being a distracting illusion, immersing myself in this very tangible and beautiful world is what keeps me sane and healthy. I did that again today, and you can come with me.

Nature's beauty is everywhere, even downtown
Fallen Autumn leaves
Asian Bittersweet berries, Autumn's gift to seasonal decorators
The rolling hills of Central PA, seen from the upland meadow in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Tree fungus along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A view of the Dykeman Spring wetland in late Autumn

Someone responded to my comment on Janis's post on Facebook by calling me a hippie atheist. Well, that's actually a title that makes me proud, as long as you substitute pantheist for atheist. Hey, just call me a hippie; that's enough to make my week!
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Calendars R Us

It's that time of year again, friends and neighbors. I've updated my calendars to 2015 and added two new ones - South Mountain and Dykeman Spring Nature Park. Yeah, I know; it's about time I added some calendars featuring the area I now live in. My only excuse is that it takes a few years to take enough photos to offer a decent choice to use. In any case, you can go visit my sales page at Lulu here. So if you need Christmas presents or just want your own for the new year, check it out. The bonus is, they've lowered the price to you and given me more of a payment percentage, so we all win!

© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

An Election Day Stroll

After voting this morning I decided to take a stroll through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park to monitor the state of the Fall foliage. It was a gorgeous day, with a slight overcast and temps in the low 60s. Along with the autumnal colors, I saw and heard a good few birds, all of whom managed to avoid my camera - some newly-arrived Dark-eyed Juncos (who people around here call "snow birds"), several White-throated Sparrows singing to each other, a couple of Carolina Wrens fussing at me, a female Downy Woodpecker, and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker. It was a nice walk and I bring you these shots to prove it.

Along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Dykeman Spring wetland
Along the north duck pond
The south duck pond and the Hatch House
The north duck pond again
Branch Creek by the ball fields along the Dykeman Walking Trail
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Samhain 2014

It's Samhain (SAH-wen) time again (actually, it's tomorrow, but I'll be at work, so I'm posting a day early). This is the old Celtic New Year, celebrating the last of the harvest and settling in for the "death" of the Earth in Winter, waiting for life to return in the Spring. It was a time when it was believed that the veil between this life and the afterlife was thin, and the dead could cross over and speak to the living. So it's a time for remembering those who have passed on, memorializing the ancestors and the recently departed. It's a somber time yet it's also a joyous time, celebrating the lives of our loved ones. It was appropriated and "Christianized" by the Church in the early days, turned into a holiday to celebrate the lives of the saints; it was called All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, and the night before was called All Hallows Eve, which is now called Halloween. You can read my full essay on this here.

My favorite image for Samhain is a gravestone with Fall foliage. I decided to take a new one this year.
Samhain is also about the last harvest and getting ready for the onset of Winter. Mr. Squirrel knows all about that!
And of course Samhain happens at a time when Mama Gaia is at her most colorful, so we celebrate the holiday with the appropriate colors.
I missed it last year, so this year I've decided to go back to celebrating Samhain with two favorite videos appropriate to the holiday. First is the gorgeous PBS special animation of Camille Saint-Saëns' "Danse Macabre".

The other video is Loreena McKennett's "All Souls Night", a favorite of mine for years now, and I don't know what I was thinking not to post it last year. Here it is again.

A Blessed Samhain and a Happy Halloween to all!

© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Rainy Day Off

Two days off, and it's raining on the first one. I had no choice but to be out in it ; I've been having some health issues lately, and had a doctor's appointment and prescriptions to get at the pharmacy. So I took advantage of having to be out and got some shots of Fall foliage in the rain while I was out and about. Heh, heh! Those trees always look so much brighter on a gloomy day.

Walnut St. scene
Looking east down Neff Ave.
Richwalter St. at the end of Neff Ave.
Episcopal Square, N. Prince St.
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Autumnal Touches

A single day off today, so as usual I walked through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park on the way to the grocery store. There's still a lot of green here, but the colors are turning more and more each day. Unfortunately the turn is coinciding with windy days and a lot of that Fall color has blown off the trees and drifted to the ground. Ah, well, at least there's some color. 

© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger