Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Costa Rica Waterfall: Guest Writer

March 24, 2019

One morning during shavasana, while still in Costa Rica, I ended the class with a visualization. The visualization was about becoming the element water. As water, I guided the group into becoming a flowing river. The flowing river was alive and well aware of its tumultuous journey, aware of the enormous boulders made smooth by the power of water to wear away stone.  The river flowed fearlessly forward, aware of other rivers snaking and tumbling through forests and meadows.  The rivers became the veins of the earth, essential to life. My visualization described how other rivers were also striking their own unique course and how eventually the various rivers would meet up in the vast waters of the ocean.

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After shavasana, I learned that Sarah Tsagris, one of the retreat participants, had created a piece of writing along the same lines the night before!  Her body of water was a waterfall.  Her writing is beautiful and she gave me permission to share it on my blog. Below is her writing. This is my first time to have a guest writer appear on my blog.  I’ll also add more photos from our fabulous time in Costa Rica. Slideshow of the retreat is at the bottom of this blog post.

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The Waterfall by Sarah Tsagris

As the molecules of water flow down the waterfall, what must they be thinking?

Maybe they started deep within Mother Earth and were birthed gently by the spring into the river? Maybe they began as cloud vapor and huddled together as a raindrop falling hundreds of feet to moisten the earth before finding the stream? Maybe they crystallized into snowflakes and drifted gently towards the Earth.

Once in the river, the molecules flow along together. Maybe their path is calm, maybe it is turbulent, maybe they get frozen at times, maybe, at other times, they are assaulted by chemicals or pollution. Whatever path they encounter, they will eventually flow down the river.

What must they be thinking the moments before they enter the waterfall? They can hear the roaring water but they cannot see what is coming next. They can sense the anxiety of the surrounding molecules. They cannot turn back. There is no other way to go but downstream. They must surrender to the flow of the river, the flow of life.

As they flow over the edge, they must feel as a child feels going down a slide for the first time: scared, exhilarated, and energized. As the water molecules bounce and cascade down the rocks, maybe they lose their direction, maybe they make contact with the rocks, maybe they have a free fall, or maybe they glide effortlessly down the falls. Finally, they land in the refreshing pool at the bottom of the falls. They regroup, breathe, and look back at where they came with pride and thankfulness.

Their journey does not stop there.  It is a never ending cycle. They will head back into the river with more confidence. This time they know with all their being that they are doing what nature intended. They know they can just BE and THAT is enough. They must surrender to their fate and find faith, trust and fearlessness. They need not exist with uncertainty and anxiety. Eventually they will burrow back into the earth or vaporize into the air and the cycle will repeat itself.

And below is the link to the slideshow I put together from our fabulous week in Costa Rica!

VIEW SLIDESHOW

The next dates for Yoga in Costa Rica will be (two weeks to choose from!):

March 21-March 28, 2020  AND March 28-April 4, 2020

Details/Information

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Embracing Pura Vida in Costa Rica

March 24, 2019

I came back last Sunday from a one week yoga retreat in Costa Rica. I love Costa Rica! The expression Pura Vida takes on a lifestyle in Costa Rica.  This simple beautiful expression refers to the “simple life” embraced by the people of Costa Rica. This expression embraces a philosophy. When you say thank you in Costa Rica, you will hear “pura vida” in response to your gratitude.  The expression can be used to say:

Hello

Goodbye

Everything’s cool!

You’re welcome.

Last week I gave perhaps one of my most successful yoga retreats in Costa Rica.  Everything about the retreat was wonderful. The setting, the delicious fresh and organic food, the kindness of the staff at our boutique hotel, the weather, the views from our yoga platform and sea view terrace, and the birds and sounds of the lush jungle contributed to a perfect place to rejuvenate, rest, and relax!

On the first morning of our yoga practice, I asked everyone to share an affirmation with the group.  The affirmation became a mantra or a set of words carrying a positive message that would keep us focused on peacefulness and well being.  The affirmations are below, accompanied by my favorite photos of the week.

I am healthy and pain free.

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I am enough.

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I am strong.

I am confident.

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I am fearless.

I like me here.

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As I breathe in, I connect to my spirit.  As I breathe out, I smile.

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On day four, we did affirmations again. This time, they were different in an interesting way. When I heard these affirmations, I felt they reflected a deepening of our yoga practice:

I am strong.

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I am happy.

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I am present.

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I am kind.

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I am evolving.

I have strength by being gentle.

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I am getting healthier.

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I have balance.

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I am released.

I am enough.

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Never doubt how powerful words are!

And how about a little free write for you?  Written on the bus on departure day…

iridescent blue butterflies, each wing as big as my hand, flutter magically in the jungle…four days is all they are given..four intense days of life to feed, sleep, breed, reproduce, be beautiful, shine, fly, live, explore the jungle…what would you do with four precious days of life? 

time concepts..it takes nine months for a pineapple to grow and ripen, just like a human baby..think about that next time you eat a pineapple!

pepe-the-coati eats bananas every morning, a coati is related to the raccoon, looks like an anteater and walks like a monkey, suzanne watches pepe’s little tongue lapping up water out of her hot tub, john and i spot a bird with an incredible red head and shiny black body, and on the boat we spot spotted dolphins, they are attracted to our boat and gather round, swimming and showing off! howling monkeys sound like apes and singing cicadas almost make it impossible for everyone to hear me during yin yoga! costa rica is rich with wildlife

dancing tango and salsa moves, music stirs the soul, forty years dance instructor shows his great skill, teaches me salsa steps, encourages and teaches a young man who wants to impress his girlfriend with new dance moves..certainly new dancing skills will give our young man the confidence he needs to dance flawlessly with the love of his life

warm weather..sun turns my skin brown, sunshine factor of 10!!, we all become more flexible, my skin is so clear, my eyes are a deeper brown showing flecks of green i inherited from my dad, clean pure food feeds body and soul, i feel light and healthy and free

morning yoga on the jungle platform filled with birdsong, cool wet towel is comforting, forests are alive and forest bathing is real, the trees give off chemicals that are cancer fighting and ever so soothing to the soul, i am one with the jungle, the rainforest calms me and brings us serenity, hardly any mosquitoes at this elevation, a cool breeze comes just in time and the infinity pool offers cooling waters…evening yoga on hot stone slab, the sound of the cicadas accompany the sunset..everyday is spectacular from start to finish, red streaks in the sky and we hear a bird crying over and over again, “last call, last call, last call” or at least that is what it sounds like and we laugh until our stomachs hurt..spa drink quenches out thirst and is soothing after our evening yoga on the sea view sunset terrace

NEXT COSTA RICA YOGA RETREATS March 2020: LINK

Never too early to sign up! Come join me.

 

 

Living in a Beautiful World

March 1, 2019

I led a Yoga + Snowshoeing Retreat over Presidents’ Day Weekend at Walking Lightly Ranch in Whitefish, Montana.  The weekend retreat was perfect in every way, except that everyone thought it was too short!  We all flew from Seattle to Kalispell for the retreat and I agree we should have had at least one extra day.  Next time around, I am adding an extra day so we can have the option to go into the town of Whitefish to have a look around!

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The NEXT WALKING LIGHTLY RANCH RETREAT is next year:

May 21 – May 25, 2020 (Memorial Day Weekend)

View Details

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If you love mountain landscapes and big blue skies, healthy organic cuisine made to fit every person’s specific dietary needs, kind gentle folk who own and run the ranch, sweet loving Tennessee Walker horses waiting for a pat on the head, and if you love a spacious and pristine yoga studio with warm radiant wood floors where you can practice your yoga while looking at the trees from the many studio windows, you will be in heaven at Walking Lightly Ranch. It’s a very special place.

Kim captured the tomatoes in the pattern of a heart before the salad got tossed and eaten!

One evening, I asked everyone to randomly choose a winter haiku from a stack of index cards.  Earlier, I had sifted through many winter haiku and selected the ones that stood out the most. Though the haiku were written in the late 1600s and early 1700s in Japan, they are so contemporary and they fit our winter retreat scene so perfectly. Below, I will include the haiku I had prepared for the group along with some photos.  Thank you to the yoga retreat participants for contributing some of your photos!

And don’t forget to view the short video below!

photo by Lee Ann

Tethered horse;
Snow
In both stirrups.

-Buson

Awake at night—
The sound of the water jar
Cracking in the cold.

-Basho

The winter sun—
On the horse’s back
My frozen shadow.

-Basho

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Winter solitude—
In a world of one color
The sound of wind.

-Basho

Photo by Kim Johnson

Blow of an ax,
Pine scent,
The winter woods.

-Buson

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Cover my head
Or my feet?
The winter quilt.

-Buson

Flowers offered to the Buddha
Come floating
Down the winter river.

-Buson

The snow is melting
And the village is flooded
With children.

-Issa

From the end of the nose
Of the Buddha on the moor
Hang icicles.

-Issa

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See the river flow
In a long unbroken line
On the field of snow.
– Boncho

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Napped half the day;
No one
Punished me!

-Issa

VIEW VIDEO of the retreat weekend set to Coldplay’s Beautiful World

Not too early to sign up for next year’s late spring Montana adventure!

View my WEBSITE for details.

Dave and Mata Mandir playing for us.

Silverswords and Moonlight

January 23, 2019

I’ve been back from Maui for almost two weeks now.  My last blog post had a slideshow that didn’t post properly in everyone’s inbox.  Some got it, some didn’t!  The mysterious glitch produced an advertisement for skin tags!  What a disaster!  I will try to include the slideshow again at the end of this blog post. If instead of tropical paradise, you see an advertisement for skin tags, moles, warts, or men’s underwear, simply ignore.

One of the aspects I love about writing is that blogging and/or writing is a learning experience for me.  When I see unusual flora, for example, I can do a little research and share what I learn with you, my readers!  Below are four learning encounters I experienced in Maui.

SILVERSWORD

Haleakala Silversword (or ‘ahinahina as is their Hawaiian name) is an endemic plant.  It is found nowhere else in the world other than on the slopes of Haleakala on Maui.  It grows on volcanic soil and puts out a strong taproot so it can withstand high winds. The panel at the Halekala National Park had this to say about it:

Despite harsh conditions, ‘ahinahina can live up to fifty years. It flowers only once in a lifetime, then dies.  Its seeds, as many as 50,000 in a single flower stalk, dry out and are dispersed by the wind.

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The Haleakala Silversword relies on the native yellow-faced bee for cross pollination.  Alien yellow jackets and Argentine ants are preying on the pollinators, threatening the long-term survival of the ‘ahinahina.

The information panel at the park listed the exotic and gorgeous silversword as an “endangered” plant, but on line I read that the plant is “vulnerable”.  There is a world of difference between “endangered” and “vulnerable” when referring to the continuing existence of a plant or animal species. I hope what I read on line is true and that the information panel at Haleakala Crater is in need of being updated! Either way, there is a risk of losing this plant forever. If protected, I hope this plant can make a strong comeback and survive!

Apparently, once upon a time, Haleakala’s volcanic mountain sides were covered in silverswords.  A long ago traveler to the Haleakala Crater, Isabella Bird, wrote the following stunning-but-simple description of what she saw in 1890:

We came upon thousands of silverswords, their cold, frosted silver gleam making the hillside look like winter or moonlight.

This is from an information panel from Haleakala National Park:

‘Ahinahina is believed to have evolved from a California tarweed that arrived here (Maui) millions of years ago, perhaps hitchhiking on a bird.

When I think back on my experience of Haleakala, I still see the glimmer of the silverswords, its succulent spikes shining like pieces of aluminum foil reflecting sunlight.

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PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVERS

BIRDS!!  With the Hawaiian Islands being the most isolated land in the world, the closest neighboring land mass being 2467 miles away in California, it is astonishing to think that Pacific Golden Plovers fly past California, all the way to Alaska. In fact, Pacific Golden Plovers make an annual migration back and forth from Hawaii to Alaska.  That is a nonstop bird flight of 2,982.5 miles one way! I am clueless as to how the Pacific Golden Plover can make such a migration without stopping to rest, eat, or drink.  I kept thinking about them while on the flight back to Seattle.

Plovers are ideal subjects for this kind of research because they return to the same wintering territories every year, so scientists know exactly where to go to find a particular individual. “They’re so strongly site-faithful that we can predict where they will be with almost 100 per cent accuracy,” explains Johnson. “If they’re alive, it’s almost certain they will come back to the same place.”

On their spring flight northwards, the birds averaged 63 kilometers per hour and covered around 4800 kilometers in about three days. They made the return trip in around four days.

Plovers are well-known as fast flyers, and in this study some birds reached incredible speeds, presumably with the wind behind them – for example, the ground speeds of three individuals ranged from 167 to an exceptional 185 kilometers per hour.

A few facts about these Super-Birds:
  • The Pacific Golden Plover eats molluscs, insects, worms, crustaceans, lizards and is known to eat birds‘ eggs and small fish.
  • Breeding: The Pacific Golden Plover breeds in Alaska in June and July. The breeding habitat of Pacific golden plover is the Arctic tundra from northernmost Asia into western Alaska.
  • It nests on the ground in a dry open area.
  • A beautiful shorebird, the Pacific Golden-Plover breeds in western Alaska and Siberia and winters on islands across the Pacific Ocean, through southeast Asia, to northeastern Africa. It is uncommon in North America and is found breeding in Alaska and migrating/wintering in small numbers along the Pacific Coast.

EDDIE PU

Next I have the story of a native Hawaiian from Maui called Eddie Pu.  He was a legend on Maui and he often said of himself,  “I’m just a simple Hawaiian.”  This made me think of the Dalai Lama, who says in a similar fashion, “I am just a simple monk.”  Simple, but extraordinary!

“I wake each morning before sunrise and meditate to thank the land, to thank my ancestors for what they have given us.” -Eddie Pu

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(above: Jack on the Eddie Pu Trail)

I first learned who Eddie Pu was as we walked along a portion of the Eddie Pu Trail.  He was a park ranger, lifeguard for over twenty years, a man who meditated every morning and connected to the land and to his ancestors. It is said that when he was young, he had a dream in which his ancestors came to him and asked him to walk the ancient sacred trail that circumnavigates the island of Maui.  This trail is 211 miles long. It is the original shoreline trail used by the ancient people of Maui. It is overgrown and winds around the coast and is also known as the King’s Trail or the King’s Highway.  I was very impressed to hear that Kelley met him once and her parents knew him.  Eddie Pu passed away or, more aptly put, returned to his ancestors in 2012.

Eddie Pu was a legend, and earned the nickname, The Walking Man of Maui.

He was hired in 1972 as one of the first park rangers at ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, a series of pools and falls now part of Haleakala National Park. Over the years, he saved many lives, including those of the Saudi ambassador and his wife and son, who were swept out to sea. Pu dove into the waves and rescued them one by one, though he ended up in the hospital for several days. Later, the “simple Hawaiian” was flown to Washington to be thanked in person by President Ford. In the decades Pu stood guard at ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, where flash floods in the mountains catch seaside bathers unawares, no one drowned. Since he retired, seven people have died.

Imagine Eddie Pu walking on the strenuous trails in the hot sun, passing coves, black beaches, and sharp lava formations on his solo annual pilgrimage. I imagine him communing with the off-shore humpback whales and sea turtles from the trail.  I wonder what kind of shoes he wore?  And how did he survive the 211 mile solo annual spiritual trek with just a bag of dried fruit?  Where did he sleep? I wonder if locals took him in for the night? What an honor it would be to open up one’s home to this living link of the ancient Hawaiian culture.

Pu always walks the nearly 200 miles alone. “A spiritual walk to heal my soul,” he explains, and his secret route changes from year to year.

I really like the following camera story:

Pu has come across sacred ruins and even human remains. “I bring no camera, draw no map—these things must be left there and not disturbed,” he says. He tells a story about how on his first two trips, all the film he shot came out black. After the second trip, he dreamed he must go to the island of Moloka‘i. A young girl met him at the airport and said, “You follow me. My great-grandmother is waiting for you.” They came to a home where an old woman sat on a porch chair, rocking and laughing.

“Eddie Pu, you should throw away your camera,” the old woman said, still roaring in mirth. “Your film will never come out. Your mind, that is where you must store pictures, so our ancestors will not be disturbed.”

The following was written about Eddie Pu in 2005, when he was still alive. I was not surprised when I found out that Mr. Pu and I share the same birthday:

It is hard to guess Eddie Pu’s age. His long gray hair is pulled neatly back and kept in place by a ti-leaf headband to ward off headaches. In a few weeks, he tells me, he would set off with a towel, a walking stick, and a bag of dried fruit to do what he has done nearly every birthday for more than 25 years: Walk around Maui. On November 25, he turned 75.

SEA BURIAL

After a long walk one morning, we saw two long traditional Hawaiian canoes out at sea, moving quickly in tandem towards the beach. The canoes were decorated with large green leaves.  The rowers, both men and women, wore traditional sarongs and had wreaths wrapped around their heads. As they made their way from the sea towards the sandy beach, a large group of locals had gathered to welcome the rowers.

When we arrived at the site where they had pulled ashore, I introduced myself to one of the rowers and asked him as politely as I could about the ceremony taking place.  He was so kind.  He shook my hand and explained that a dear friend had “gone back to her ancestors” and that this was a traditional Hawaiian sea burial.  My guess would be that the deceased was a Harley rider because most people gathered on the beach wore their Harley leathers and chaps.  There were children standing near their parents and people were holding hands and hugging, comforting one another.  I fear that Stacey, for that was the name of the deceased woman, was most likely a young or middle aged woman who lost her life in a motorcycle accident.

Then the chanting started.  The leader would say a stanza of prayer in Hawaiian, ending the prayer stanza with Hui Hou Stacey.  When he said Hui Hou Stacey, the group of grievers would say it aloud in unison with the prayer leader.  It was so beautiful.  And like magic, calling out Hui Hou Stacey seemed to calm the masses.  I later learned that A Hui Hou means “Until We Meet Again”.

Until we meet again, Stacey.

I refused to take photos.  All the tourists on the beach gathered around the grievers and were clicking away.  I am sure it would have been fine to take a photo or two, but I was so moved by the ceremony and I just wanted to pray for this unknown Hawaiian woman whose community of loved ones had so deeply moved my heart.

After the prayers, all the grievers and the traditionally clad rowers carried the two large sea-going canoes out to sea.  I couldn’t believe I was an accidental participant in this sea burial.  I watched transfixed as the Hawaiian pallbearers carried the two canoes out to sea, canoes carrying the ashes of their loved one.  Then the grievers stood in the sea, as the waves lapped up around their legs, they silently watched the canoes swiftly row out to the sea.  Once far from shore, the rowing stopped. The canoes rocked in stillness.  People from ashore solemnly witnessed Stacey’s ashes returning to the sea.  The rower I spoke to at the start of the ceremony had told me, “She loved the sea and she will return to the sea today”.

Read more about Hawaiian sea burials.

VIDEO (3 minutes long)

Below is my three minute video from Maui.  The video is set to a song called Kolonahe, meaning From the Gentle Wind, by the artists Ku’i Lei Awapuhi  (vocals) and  Keola Beamer.  Thanks to Kelley for introducing me to this song! The song carries the rhythm of the island. It’s very soothing. Turn up your speakers!  If all else fails: click here to see the video

From the Gentle Wind

January 21, 2019

Hopefully the slideshow will come through the second time around?? -fg

I’ve been back from Maui for just over a week now, but I still think about the sound of the waves, the feel of warm sunshine on my skin, the palms swaying, and the freedom I felt while on vacation there.

Two more blogs about Maui coming your way soon, I hope!

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I put together the following Slideshow Video with my photos from Maui. It is only three minutes long.  The video is set to a song called Kolonahe, meaning From the Gentle Wind, by the artists Ku’i Lei Awapuhi (vocals) and Keola Beamer. Thanks to Kelley for introducing me to this song! The song carries the rhythm of the island and goes well with the photos. It’s very soothing. Turn up your speakers!

‘Twas Twain’s Maui

January 12, 2019

I’m back from Maui and my heart is happy to have traveled there. It was relaxing to bask in the sunshine, enjoy the warmth of the island, and marvel at the lava-red sunsets. I still have a few Maui blog posts to write and will write them and line them up for the next couple of days so you can travel vicariously with me! img_7310‘Twas Mark Twain whose heart was captured by the great beauty of Maui way back in 1866. Mark Twain was Missouri’s famed son. He was a quick-witted American writer, journalist, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, lecturer, silver miner, world traveler, popular public speaker, and keen observer of life.  One of the most influential American writers, he painted word-portraits of the world he lived in.  He was only 30 years old when he traveled to Maui, Oahu, and Hawai’i Island.  Clearly, he had a great time:

Twain hiked through Hawaii’s beauteous jungle. He surfed naked on a wooden surfboard. He rode horseback across the plains.

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When Twain visited Maui, the Hawaiian Islands were a full 93 years away from American statehood.  Hawai’i wasn’t even a US territory when Twain traveled there. It became US territory in 1898 and became the fiftieth state in 1959.  Back in 1866, the islands were known as the “Sandwich Islands”, so named in 1778 by Captain Cook after the man who sponsored Cook’s voyage, the Earl of Sandwich.

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Twain spent five weeks in Maui during an overall four-month visit on the Hawaiian Islands and for the rest of his life, he longed to return.   I had prepared the following excerpts before traveling to Maui, hoping to share them with my fellow traveling friends on the day we went to Haleakala Crater and National Park.  I thought the following Twain quotes would be inspirational because Twain climbed the same crater we were at and described it as the “sublimest spectacle” he had ever seen.  However, sharing what I had prepared was not to be while in Maui, so I am now sharing my selected excerpts from Mark Twain below, along with some of my photos.

On the trail: Haleakala Crater

Haleakala National Park: above the clouds at 10,023 ft (3055 m) above sea level.

“I went to Maui to stay a week and remained five. I never spent so pleasant a month before, or bade any place goodbye so regretfully. I have not once thought of business, or care or human toil or trouble or sorrow or weariness, and the memory of it will remain with me always.”

“The native language is soft and liquid and flexible and in every way efficient and satisfactory–till you get mad; then there you are; there isn’t anything in it to swear with,” he wrote.

No alien land in all the world has any deep, strong charm for me but that one; no other land could so longingly and beseechingly haunt me, sleeping and waking, through half a lifetime, as that one has done. Other things leave me, but it abides; other things change, but it remains the same. For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surf-beat in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore; its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud rack; I can feel the spirit of its wooded solitudes; I can hear the splash of its brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.
– Samuel M. Clemens (Mark Twain), Paradise of the Pacific, April 1910

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This is the most magnificent, balmy atmosphere in the world–ought to take dead men out of grave. -quoted in Mark Twain in Hawaii

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Biophilic Spheres

December 15, 2018

Over the course of a few years, I witnessed the jungle-like biodomes of Amazon’s headquarter campus emerge from the ground on Seventh and Lenora. I curiously observed the three spheres billowing out from the raindrop-splattered window of my bus.  I eavesdropped and heard my fellow bus riders-turned-critics unhappily refer to the spheres as Bezosballs“.  I giggled and googled.  Yes, I giggled at the critics’ comments.  And I googled turn-of-the-last-century black and white photographs of the old Denny Regrade, as seen from 7th and Lenora, fired my imagination, and marveled at this current transformation of Seattle.

For a long time, I resisted going inside the spheres.  I’m not a part of the Amazon world (or am I?) and questioned why I would want to visit this employee lounge and workspace.  To be honest, negative thoughts concerning Amazon’s monopolistic behaviors had me planting my feet firmly far from the spheres, not wanting to go there.  But finally I succumbed to my curiosity and stepped inside the biophilic spheres with my friend Anna. I’m so glad I did because only now can I fully appreciate these conservatories and workers’ green lounges in the heart of the Denny Regrade!

The spheres have meeting spaces and can seat a total of 800 people.  They are of biophilic design, meaning they incorporate nature into the built environment.

The three glass domes are covered in pentagonal hexecontahedron panels (see the shape below) and serve as an employee lounge and workspace. The architects looked for biologically inspired patterns.  I found this pattern motif to be incredibly fascinating!  If you look at each of the photos where you see architectural structure, you can see this pentagonal shape repeated again and again.

Biophilia is defined as follows:

Biophilia (according to a theory of the biologist E. O. Wilson) is an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world.

Biophilia is the theme running through the spheres. The word refers to the rich natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by natural organisms.

Spheres: Origins

The Spheres are a place where Amazonians can think and work differently–surrounded by plants.  In their design, we were inspired by biophilia: the idea that humans possess an inherent love of nature and other life forms.  But what began as a concept for adding plants to the work place evolved over time into a lush botanical conservatory, home to thousands of tropical plants and trees. Today The Spheres offer nature immersion for its visitors working in the heart of the city.

The domes house 40,000 plants. The plants were not taken from the wild, but cultivated in various nurseries. The bulk of plants were cultivated in massive greenhouses on the Eastside.

Your Brain on Plants

We created The Spheres to give Amazonians a chance to refresh and restore themselves. Imagine a work conversation happening near a waterfall or a flowering wall of orchids.  Even short doses of nature have been proven to boost well-being. Immersed in greenery, we’re more relaxed and alert–we can think more creatively.

Much like a climbing vine or the veins of a leaf, we wanted The Spheres to be built of highly detailed, organic shapes. There are no corners in nature.

Smart Sustainability

Our new buildings in The Regrade, including The Spheres, are heated with recycled energy. This district energy system captures heat at a non-Amazon data center in the neighboring Westin Building Exchange and recycles that heat through underground water pipes instead of venting into the atmosphere.  Nearly four times more efficient than traditional heating, this innovation saves energy and makes long-term sense. Meanwhile, the energy we recover is enough to heat about 365 homes each year.

District Energy

How does the system work? Warm water from the Westin Building runs through underground pipes to a heat exchanger in the Amazon building, Doppler. From here, heat recovery chillers raise the temperature of the water, which is used to heat three campus buildings with two more planned for the future.

A note on “biophilic design”:

Last month, global report by Human Spaces into the impact of workplace design revealed that, “employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 15 per cent higher level of well being, are six per cent more productive and 15 per cent more creative overall”. Some call this ‘biophilic design’ – the introduction of natural elements into the built environment – but the term perhaps risks over-complicating something profoundly simple: people just feel better when they are closer to nature. And the office shouldn’t be an exception.

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Cooking as Therapy

December 11, 2018

In my last blog post, I included some photos of some dishes I made last weekend and I mentioned that cooking is therapy for me.  I think a lot of people can relate to cooking as therapy.  In this blog post, I will include some recipes for you.

Thai Shrimp Coconut Curry

What you should know about this dish is that I made up this recipe. I’ve made enough Thai dishes that I have a feel for which ingredients go well together in a Thai curry dish. I wonder if my friend Joon Joonwong from Bangkok will laugh when he sees my recipe! (He reads my blog!)  Many Thai dishes call for sugar. Instead of sugar, I use roasted sweet potatoes. They give the sweet taste without having to use processed sugar and by roasting them, they don’t completely melt in this dish. Instead, roasting the sweet potatoes gives the potatoes a firm texture.  Plus, sweet potatoes have good nutritional content and are healthy to eat:

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene). They are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus.

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Peel and cube two sweet potatoes. Toss them in olive oil, crushed garlic (about 4 cloves of garlic), salt, and pepper and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about a half an hour or until they are cooked through.

Chop one yellow onion and saute it in coconut oil.  (I made the saute directly in my Le Creuset Cast Iron Pot, pictured above).

Slice one green pepper and add to the mix above and saute it.

Peel and slice about 6-8 large carrots.  When the onion is translucent and the green pepper softened, add carrots to the above mixture.

Meanwhile, add the contents of one can of coconut milk to the onion, pepper and carrot mixture.  The carrots will not yet be cooked through when you add the coconut milk.

Add two-three tablespoons of Green Curry Paste to the saute mixture and the coconut milk (Thai Kitchen brand is the one I used, see photo below). The paste has ginger in it and is very tasty.

When the sweet potatoes are roasted, add them to the mix.  At this time I also add salt and one tablespoon of sambal (use more if you like spicy!). Sambal is a Thai pepper paste which I buy in Pike Place Market, but is available at most stores in the Seattle area. The one I use is Huy Fong Foods Sambal Oelek Fresh Ground Chili Paste. It comes in an 8 oz bottle.

Add the juice of one lime.

Simmer the curry. Stir it often.  When the carrots are cooked (or soft), add shrimp. Use fresh shrimp or, if frozen, defrost first.  How much shrimp did I put in?  A lot!  At least 12-14 large shrimp. They were not in their shells, but still had tails on. Cook the shrimp 3 to 4 minutes. Doesn’t take long. Don’t over cook. Cooking time depends on the size of the shrimp.

Serve with brown Thai rice.

Vasiliki’s Greek Salad

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Lucky me! My friend Vasiliki has had me over for lunch a few times recently.  “Let me just put together a salad.” And voila, she puts together a salad so good that I have to reproduce it, again and again.  “Oh, it’s so easy. Everyone makes salads like this, don’t they?” She actually thinks everyone makes salads this delicious!

Add the following in a bowl (you can decide the amounts of most ingredients).

Feta Cheese (cubed)  You can buy really good feta cheese from Trader Joe’s.  Not sure where Vasiliki gets her feta. I’ll have to ask!

Cherry tomatoes (sliced in half  or Roma tomatoes if you prefer)

Celery (slice about 4-6 stalks very thin).  Don’t be shy. Use a lot of celery!Vasiliki strips the celery of the long threads before slicing them.  This completely alters the texture of the celery, leaving it crunchy but not stringy or hard to chew.

Green Onions/Scallions (5-8 scallions, chopped)

Black Olives (Vasiliki tosses them in whole and you have to spit out the pits as you eat!)

Capers

Garlic (Vasiliki uses garlic salt. I use a little freshly chopped garlic) Warning: Everyone will know you just had Vasiliki’s Greek Salad.

Dress the salad with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano.

Mamma Gallo’s Spinach Balls

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This recipe is one of my favorites and makes a great appetizer! It’s healthy and a great way to eat your greens! I will include my mom’s original recipe and you will also see in my notes below that I have adapted it in many ways.

One of the biggest adaptations is that I only sometimes use spinach. Often, I use all sorts of Power Greens that I grow in my garden: kale, chard, mustard greens, collards are the ones I love most. I harvest the greens, steam them, cool them, squeeze out the excess fluid and replace them with the spinach in the recipe below.

Honestly, who needs polpette/meatballs when you can have these?

20 oz frozen spinach, chopped (Fran’s version: fresh spinach/power greens such as kale, chard, mustard greens, or collards steamed, cooled and squeezed of its excess liquid)
7 oz package of Herb Stuffing Mix (Fran’s version: about two cups of Italian seasoned bread crumbs)
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 lb butter, melted (Fran’s version: I never use butter. Instead I use olive oil)

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Finely chop the greens. Saute the onions and add the garlic to the saute at the very end. Mix all ingredients together and make into walnut-sized balls.  Note: if mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If mixture is too dry, add one extra egg. It should be very easy to form firm balls Line a baking dish or cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the walnut-sized balls on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 F

La Pina Ro’

November 24, 2018

My maternal grandmother, La Mama Anto’ gave light to a child nearly every three years or so. She repeated this pattern ten times. To give light to a child is a Sicilian expression meaning “to give birth”. By the time her tenth child was born, my grandmother’s eldest child was already married and had children of her own.  The eldest of my grandmother’s ten children was named Rosa.  She was lovely, hardworking, and had a cheerful disposition.  We nieces and nephews lovingly called her La Pina Ro’.

Rosa passed away yesterday at the age of 101 years old.  I imagine Rosa being welcomed into heaven by my mother and her other siblings who made the mad dash to heaven early on.  As is the Sicilian custom, Rosa’s funeral and burial took place within twenty-four hours of her death.

I pray Rosa is resting peacefully after a long one hundred and one years of life on earth.

SB_1356359485I met La Pina Ro’ for the first time when I was ten years old, on my first trip to Grotte.  She was recently widowed when I met her in Spring of 1972. She was clad in black from head to toe. Her daughter Pina, young and still living at home, was also dressed in black, black being the color of mourning.

My Nonna didn’t have a shower in her house.  In order to bathe, I had to go down a steep ladder and into a musty-smelling damp wine cellar, where there was a large old-fashioned wash basin that my mother would fill with a mixture of boiled hot water and cold tap water for my much-dreaded bath. Water was precious so my mother filled the wash basin with about five inches of water and I had to climb in and get clean. I was ten, but, under the circumstances, my mother had to help me bathe.  As my mom washed me, I stared at Papà Vivi’s suit that hung in the cellar right next to the tub: dark gray trousers, white shirt mottled by the passing of time, and a black vest.  I was very frightened of the hanging suit.  My grandfather had already been dead many years by 1972 and there was his suit hanging in the basement cellar.  Thankfully, my mother bathed me, for I would not want to be alone in that cellar for a single moment.

La Pina Ro’ made my life much easier by offering to have me come over to her house for my showers and to wash my hair.  Her house was not far down the medieval labyrinthine streets in the oldest section of Grotte, but she had a modern shower and a water heating unit that needed to be turned on about thirty minutes before the bathing ritual. She was quite proud of her shower and water heating unit.  She even had a hair dryer for me to use.

20. GrotteRosa invited me to spend the night with her, too.  Her house was built out from one of the original grottoes the town is named after. Going back hundreds of years, perhaps to prehistory, the early inhabitants of Grotte lived in the grottoes. My aunt used her grotto as a wine cellar and for storage.

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When I spent the night at her house, I slept with her. If my memory is correct, I remember we had to climb a steep ladder to get upstairs to her room.  We snuggled in bed.  It was April and there was a chill in the air, but the bed was warm and super comfortable.  She had placed hot water bottles at my feet under the covers and I felt toasty warm.  As we lie in bed, she asked me if I knew my prayers in Sicilian and I said, “No.”  That night, our feet warmed by the hot water bottles, La Pina Ro’ patiently taught me to pray the Hail Mary in Sicilianu.  Again and again, she had me repeat the prayer in the ancient language of my ancestors.  Again and again, I prayed the words Rosa taught me until my eyes grew heavy and the prayer was deeply etched into my brain:

L’Avi Maria

Avi Maria, china di razzia
u Signuri esti cu Vui
Vui biniditta siti ntre fimmini
e binidittu esti u fruttu di vostru utru, Jesu.

Santa Maria, Matri di Deu
priati pi nuatri piccatura
accamora e nta l’ura da nostra morti.

Amin

She turned off the lights.  The room was the darkest dark I had ever known.  We were sealed in a cocoon of deep silence.  As I was starting to drift into sleep, she asked me, “Fra, ti scanti?”  “Fra, are you afraid?” She must have sensed that I was the kind of child who was afraid of my own shadow, certainly afraid of my deceased grandfather’s suit hanging in the cellar in my grandmother’s house, perhaps afraid of the depth of this Sicilian night.  But on this dark night, deep in the heart of Grotte,  I was not afraid.  I had the warm loving comfort of my Pina Ro’ next to me, my Sicilian prayers memorized, and the protection of Mother Mary in my heart.

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11. Grotte

Long before I met La Pina Ro’, I already knew so much about her.  My mother always spoke of her with deep respect.

One story I have of Rosa is that when she was engaged to be married, the custom was that her fiance would spend evenings at her house in the company of her entire family.  There was no television, so he would have to be creative and find a way to entertain the family.  Apparently, my mother, who was just a child, became the source of entertainment for the whole family.  She had a certain way of mispronouncing words, as many children do, so the family would say, “Pippina, what do you call a baby horse?” And my mother, who was just a little girl with a speech impediment that she would outgrow, was clever and she would avoid shouting out the word for pony, puddriddru, because it was hard to say and she knew she’d jumble up the word. Instead, she’d say cavaddru, the word for horse, because it was much easier to say. Everyone would howl with laughter because she was so funny.

Rosa started sewing at a very young age.  When Rosa was twelve years old, she sewed a suit for her father. She created the pattern by herself and she cut the material.  Furthermore, she sewed the entire suit by hand!  Her father proudly wore his suit to Sunday mass and Rosa became the talk of the town. She became a sarta, a seamstress.  In Rosa’s case, she was a child prodigy seamstress.  People lined up at her parents’ house on Via Confine to have Rosa take their measurements. She’d hand-sew beautiful suits and dresses for her clients.  She worked diligently and voluntarily gave all the money she made to her parents.

One day, Papà Vivi (her father, my grandfather) went to the neighboring town of Racalmuto to buy Rosa a sewing machine as a surprise. He carried it home on his back, all the way from Racalmuto to Via Confine.

Rosa was sewing when she saw her dad carrying the sewing machine into the house.  He heard her whisper to herself,  “Beddra fosse si fosse pi mia.”. A literal translation would be, “It would be beautiful if it were for me.”  Suddenly her father walked right up to her and placed the sewing machine down and said, “Rosa, my first born, this is for you!”  She began sewing for everyone in town.

Papà Vivi owned a sulfur mine. He rented it out and made sizable profits.  When Rosa was 12 years old, he had a savings of 18,000 lire in a private bank.  My cousin, one of Rosa’s sons, says that 18,000 lire might have a value of close to a million US dollars today.  My grandfather was able to buy Rosa a house and all her furniture outright when she got married.

But back in 1929, something really bad was about to happen.

Back in America, Wall Street crashed. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the whole world spun into financial crisis. Banks were collapsing in America. Banks in Italy also failed at alarming rates and collapsed. Worldwide depression of the early 1930s hit Italy very hard in 1931.

The story of the Licata family’s lost wealth goes like this:  a woman came to the Licata house on Via Confine to have her clothes made and she talked about a rumor she heard.  She said, “Private banks will be going bankrupt!”  Papà Vivi’s face went pale.

Papà Vivi went to the bank the next day to withdraw just 500 lire to see if the bank was indeed going bankrupt.  He received his withdrawal of 500 lire without a problem.

My grandfather had no way of knowing that the banks were allowing their clients’ monetary withdrawals and proceeding as normal to avoid suspicions of the coming disaster. The banks knew they were in crisis mode. That night, my grandfather decided that talk of bankruptcy was simply not true.  Three days later, he lost his entire fortune as his bank collapsed.  When he thought he was completely alone, he broke down and cried.  He was inconsolable. It was his darkest hour.  He thought he was alone, but his wife and all his children witnessed his emotional breakdown.

Lagrime ‘mare.  Bitter tears.

That is how Rosa described Papà Vivi ‘s tears. Rosa would never forget this day.  She vowed to make herself stronger for the most precious person in her life, her father.   She, the eldest of this large family, would not let her father crumble.  She would see to it that her family would pull through.

My grandfather Vincenzo Licata (Papà Vivi):

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Morning to night, Rosa sewed for her clients with an unwavering resolve.  There was no field work for her.  Instead, she sat at her sewing machine morning and night, sewing to help her family out of this financial disaster.  She tried desperately to pull her father out of his deep depression.  Life became incredibly difficult. Papà Vivi got very sick. And Rosa sewed and sewed, the whir of her sewing machine echoing throughout the house, the rhythmic sound of the fast moving machine spilling out onto the narrow cobblestone streets of Via Confine.

She pulled the family through the depression.  And there is much more to her life.  She was incredibly loving and raised her own family.  She had deep faith in God and felt blessed to count among her children a son who became a priest.  Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are the loveliest family members ever. In her later years, she developed dementia and her children tended to her with the steadfast love and respect she earned.

REST IN PEACE

Rosa Licata

October 12, 1917 – November 22, 2018

24. Pasqua 1988Below is an article from the local paper, celebrating Rosa Licata 100th year of life from last year.  Translation in English follows.

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Nonna Rosa compie 100 anni!
Gli auguri della comunità cittadina

L’Europa era in pieno Primo Conflitto Mondiale. La Russia viveva la drammatica Rivoluzione d’Ottobre. Tra i tragici eventi che funestavano quel periodo, in una abitazione di Grotte si verificava un lieto evento: nella famiglia Licata veniva alla luce una bambina, cui era dato il nome di Rosa. Era il 12 ottobre 1917 Sopravvivrà a quel conflitto e vedrà, da signorina, le vicende dell’altro confitto ancor più drammatico, la Seconda Guerra Mondiale. Ed in tutte le difficoltà che la vita le presenterà, Rosa Licata troverà i1 modo di farsi coraggio, accudire e far crescere i propri cari con quell’amore che solo una donna forte e tenera sa dare. Oggi al superamento della soglia dei 100 anni – un secolo di vita -, accanto alla signora Rosa vi sono i suoi figli e nipoti a festeggiarla con il classico augurio “Buon compleanno!”: “Nata a Grotte nel lontano 1917 Licata Rosa, nota ai più come la za Rusidda”, compie oggi i suoi 100 anni! Donna di profonda fede cattolica, l’unico “peccato” è che sia arrivata a questa veneranda età segnata dalla balorda malattia senile, ma amorosamente assistita e circondata dai figli Don Vincenzo, Giovanni e Pina, che ne rendono omaggio insieme a tutti i nipoti e pronipoti . Tutta la comunità cittadina si stringe attorno alla signora Rosa per augurarle tante altre candeline da spegnere. Gli auguri dell’Amministrazione: “Cent’anni fa nasceva una donna speciale: la Sig.ra Rosa Licata alla quale il sindaco Paolino Fantauzzo, la presidente del consiglio comunale Rosellina Marchetta, gli assessori e consiglieri tutti, formulano tantissimi auguri”. -Carmelo Arnone 12 ottobre 2017

Translation of the above written last year on Rosa’s 100th birthday:

Grandmother Rosa is 100 years old!  Congratulations from the community of Grotte.

Europe was in the thick of World War I.  Russia was living out the dramatic October Revolution (also known as The Great October Socialist Revolution).  Among the tragic events that were unfolding, a happy event was taking place in a house in Grotte: a baby girl was born to the Licata family.  They named her Rosa.  It was October 12, 1917.  She would survive these conflicts and she would live to experience, in her youth, the coming of yet another more dramatic conflict, the Second World War.  And in all the difficulties that life would present, Rosa Licata would find a way to become courageous, to look after and raise her own dear family with the kind of love that only a tender and strong woman knows how to give. Today on her reaching 100 years of age, a century of life, her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are with her to celebrate with the classic congratulatory “Happy Birthday!”   “Born in Grotte in the far off year of 1917, Licata Rosa, more popularly known as “za Rusidda”, became 100 years old today! A woman of deep Catholic faith, the only “sin” that she may have ever committed at this venerable age, is to have fallen victim to dementia. She is lovingly assisted and surrounded by her children, Don Vincenzo (Father Vincenzo), Giovanni and Pina, whom with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, bestow great honor to her.”  The entire community of citizens (of Grotte) gather closely around la signora Rosa to wish her the occasion of many more brightly lit birthday candles.  The Administration’s congratulatory wishes are: “One hundred years ago, a special woman was born: Mrs. Rosa Licata, to whom the mayor Paolino Fantauzzo, the President of the Community Counsel Rosellina Marchetta,  and all the community assessors and counselors send their best wishes”.

Horses of the Vikings

November 11, 2018

The Icelandic horse has been around since Viking times.  It is one of the most purely bred horses in the world. No other horse has been introduced to Iceland since the Vikings settled there in the 9th century.  If an Icelandic horse is brought outside of Iceland, that horse will never be allowed to return to Iceland. Race horses who compete in other countries are sold after the competitions. There are even strict regulations about bringing saddles or riding boots from another country into Iceland. By law, the breed has been bred pure in Iceland for more than 1,000 years. And because of this lack of contact with other breeds, Icelandic horses have very few diseases.

The Viking parliament Althing forbade horse imports to Iceland as far back as 982 AD, to prevent the degeneration of the stock.

Traditionally, the Icelandic horse was used for herding sheep, transporting hay, and carrying fish from sea to village. They were originally bred for farm work.

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The Icelandic horse is the only horse breed in the world that has five gaits.  Other breeds walk, trot, canter, and gallop. In addition, Icelandic horses can also do what is called tölt:

The Tölt is a natural, fluid gait of the Icelandic Horse, during which at least one foot always touches the ground. Foals often tölt in pastures at an early age. The tölt is an extraordinarily smooth four-beat gait, which allows the rider an almost bounce-free ride, even at 32 kmh (20 mph). It is said a rider can drink a pint while riding, without spilling a drop. The footfall is the same pattern as the walk, but is much faster, almost as fast as a gallop.

I rode a horse and got to experience the tölt and the ride really did feel bounce-free and smooth.

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In addition, the Icelandic horse can perform a flying pace:

The Flying Pace is a fast, high speed gait (48 kmh – 30 mph), during which both legs on one side of the horse simultaneously touch the ground. The gait is used for short distances, and can equal the speed of a full gallop, thus it is the primary gait used for racing. Being a two-beat gait, at one interval all four hooves of the Icelandic Horse are suspended off the ground during a flying pace. Riding at a flying pace is considered the crown of horsemanship.

Below are some facts about the Icelandic horse:

  • Even at full maturity, they are pony-sized. They are 4-5 feet tall and weigh 600-900 lbs.
  • Pound for pound, they are the strongest breed in the world.
  • Icelandic horses have heavy three-layered coats protecting them from the freezing temperatures of Iceland.  They shed the coats in the summer and became very sleek.
  • They can appear in 42 different color combinations, with more than a hundred variations.  Their coats can change colors according to the season. They can also have blue eyes.
  • They tend to be very easy going and friendly, docile, easy to handle, and they form affectionate bonds with people and with other horses.
  • They are traditionally raised in herds, which helps them develop social skills and high intelligence.
  • They are not trained nor ridden until the age of 4. Their structural development is not complete until the age of 7.  Icelandic horses can be ridden for 25 years, or until they are 30 years old.
  • An ancient burial custom, Icelandic horse owners were buried with their horses.  If the horse did not die in battle with its owner, it would be killed and then buried next to its owner. Many grave sites have been found containing bones of a human body and of a horse lying side by side.
  • The breed is very long-lived. There are known cases of Icelandic horses living to be 42 and 56 years old.
  • Mares and stallions are fit for breeding until the age of 25.  In most other horse breeds, fertility decreases at 15 years of age.
  • The Icelandic horse has no natural predators so they do not spook easily and are of a very gentle nature and show no fear of humans.

The Icelandic horse was venerated as a symbol of fertility in Norse times. They were considered supernatural in Norse mythology. They were said to be able to transcend mortal and immortal worlds and they carried the dead to the afterlife. Horse spirits visited humans in their dreams and relayed messages from the gods. Horses acted as intermediaries, connecting man to the supernatural world of gods and goddesses. Horses had the ability to carry the gods across various worlds and the gods trusted them to do this transcendent work.

In Iceland, I assigned a god or goddess to every retreat participant and we all had to do a little research and present our findings to the group.  I was Nott, goddess of the night.  Nott had a magnificent horse called Hrimfaxi, whose name means Frosty Mane.  Hrmfaxi was responsible for creating night.  Hrmfaxi would pull Nott’s chariot and as they rode across the skies, his legs created night.  His breath became the frost covering the grass and the trees.

There was also Skinfaxi, whose name means Shining Mane, who was responsible for creating day.  And there was Odin’s horse, whose name was Sleipnir.  He was the most famous of the Norse horses.  Sleipnir had eight legs and was the fastest of all horses. He never  tired.  He carried the dead to Valhalla, which is the Norse mythology equivalent to a Christian heaven.  In Valhalla, souls dine with the gods in the great hall of Odin, the king of the gods.

Back to modern times, I want to tell you a little about a horse whose name was Raven. She was so named because of her color.  Her body was black as a raven and her mane was the same color as my hair. She was six years old and just starting her formal training. Already she was showing much promise to be a race horse. Raven is extraordinary in many ways.  She is a healer. My entire group witnessed something incredible.  One of the women in our group had been thrown off a horse back in the States and had experienced serious physical injuries. Though her physical injuries have healed, she was left with emotional trauma from the accident.  Well, Raven sensed this and literally reached her big beautiful face out to do her healing magic.  The two connected and the emotional trauma healing started taking place. It was the most moving human and horse connection I have ever witnessed in my life. I will never forget Raven’s deep intelligence, intuition, and kind heart:

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And finally, because I teach yoga, I should also talk about the Horse Pose, Vatayanasana. It is one of my favorite poses. There are actually two poses with this name. The one I generally teach looks like a wide squat or a sumo player’s stance. Perhaps you prefer to call it a plié? Horse pose benefits Hamstrings, hips, thighs, quadriceps, and knees. It is also very grounding and is said to connect us to the Root Chakra (feet and legs connection in terms of body and earth in terms of connecting to an element) and the Sacral Chakra (pelvis in terms of body and or water in terms of connecting to an element).

What I love most about Horse Pose is how strong it makes me feel! Maybe also because I am Sagittarius. And one may wonder if this pose is the actual horse or is it the rider?  And the answer, as one of my equestrian loving yogis said, is BOTH.  Horse Pose is both rider and horse, as the two should be deeply connected and ONE when riding.


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