…must mean we’re on the wild southwestern coast of NZ! In this entry you’ll see photos from both Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers, as well as shots from the temperate rain forest to which these glaciers descend at their lowest, warmest level where they’re melting all too rapidly these days, what with holes in the ozone layer and global warming more generally. There are also views from the Haast Highway along the south coast, and up and over the Haast Pass alongside Mt Aspiring National Park into the town of Wanaka. They all have names that identify them. To put this in some perspective, think of the last entry (or scroll down to it) and understand that we did a fairly substantial last-morning hike along the nearly-tropical-seeming Abel Tasman Coast track, grabbed a water-taxi back to Motueka, hopped in the car and stopped for some berries and dinner along the drive south, then spent the night a short walk downriver from the ice cave at Franz Josef Glacier just below. It’s really quite unreal and surreal at the glaciers because, despite significant melt and receding up their canyons to higher ground, they still descend to the level where rich dense temperate rain forest grows and unusual-sounding birds call, and it just feels utterly other-worldly. Certainly this close to sea level, this far downhill from their main bodies, neither of these will stand out if side-by-side with other, bigger glaciers you might have seen…but the clear way they’ve affected the landscape and the simple fact that a short walk away one is enveloped in dense temperate rainforest is pretty amazing.
Eight miles into the Atlantic from the mainland coast at the border between New Hampshire and Maine lie the Isles of Shoals, a small cluster of windswept rocky bumps in the ocean which housed some of the earliest long-term European settlements in North America. Ample cod fishing fueled the economy, a legacy you’ll see reflected in the weathervane on top of the old stone church which now serves as non- or multi-denominational chapel for the many conference-goers who enjoy week-long conferences and other retreats at Star Island, which has served as a base for Unitarian-Universalist retreats and conferences for more than 100 years. I’ve just been out there for a week of meditation, my third such outing since 2009. I’ve deeply relished and valued all of these meditation weeks, the intensity with which they permit to settle into the moment and clear my mind and emotions of plans, of worries, of day-to-day “reality” and just be for a bit. In essence, meditation – especially when I’m on Star to do it – takes me to a mental and spiritual place which evades intellectual and verbal description. That said, this time more than my two past such retreats, I was intensely drawn all week to attempting to photograph & record the magnificence of that which is small, the perfect beauty and reality of this physical world, its tides and seasons and flowers. And though I’m working with a very basic pocket-sized field-appropriate camera, I think my results were reasonable. Hopefully you’ll find at least some of these images as lovely as I do and maybe they’ll take you into a quieter place for at least a breath or three. Peace, enjoy.