Monday, August 15, 2016

I Think I was a Tree...

In a former life.  All my life I have adored trees. They have always been there for me - to listen to my thoughts, to laugh and sing with my joys and to comfort my sorrows. My first tree friend was an enormous spruce tree which stood sentinel outside the house where I grew up. Birds would call his limbs home knowing they were safe and secure even if they would wave to and fro in the winds. My mother and I would gather his cones in the summer months for use later in the year in crafts. He was a dear friend and it saddened me to find out that he had died after our family left the house.

Over the years I have come to know many types of trees, as one would get to know a variety of people. They all had their own quirks, their own personalities. I got to know two distinguished Live Oaks in Louisiana. There age was old - about 150-200 years. They spoke in a slow and deliberate manner - imparting the wisdom gained over the centuries to those who would slow down long enough to listen.

I have met many magnificent Cottonwoods. Their trunks would curve and arch and bend, translating the energies their roots absorbed from deep underground water sources. This is a reason the Hopi like to make their Kachina dolls from Cottonwood roots, because of the trees ability to find water. To the Hopi, the Cottonwood is a spiritual link to water, the life giving essence in a very arid land. 

The woods of Arkansas was a heavily populated area. Sweetgum, Sassafras, Black Walnut, Magnolia, Dogwood, and Oaks were abundant. Their ability to live together was a lesson for us all. Together they were an impenetrable force to many outsiders.

Many ancient cultures and indigenous peoples believe that trees have souls.  The ancient Celts believed that the spirit (soul) of a deceased person could inhabit a tree (or a plant or a place or even a rock). Cultures all across ancient Europe had customs and beliefs which involved trees. In the Americas, many Indigenous People believed that every living thing had a spirit and trees were revered as being wise  and knowledgeable. Trees were often consulted by Shaman on matters of seriousness.

I recently ran across an article about a group of people in Russia who revere Nature. To them a tree contains a soul in a transitional process of evolution. To intentionally fell a tree is to destroy a living being. Check out this article and accompanying photos for an insightful look at the Mari People.

I, too feel this way. Trees do so much for us. They give us shade and air to breathe. They will listen to our woes and give us the calm to quiet our frazzled nerves. Trees have knowledge. Take a walk at your local park or open space and get to know a tree.  Make a new friend.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Viking Voyage

The ability of the Vikings or other people from Europe, Asia, or Scandinavia to sail across the Atlantic Ocean and settle in North America has always been called into question. But the Draken has now proved naysayers wrong!

Many people are of the thought that there is no way a wooden boat of this size and build could make it across such a vast body of water. And while the crew of the Draken did use modern navigational equipment, the boat was quite sea-worthy, sailing from Norway to Iceland, on to Greenland and then to Canada and the U.S. I am hoping that another journey such as this is tried using only the navigational devices which the Vikings had.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Road Trip ~ Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

It's been awhile since we've been on a roadtrip. But with the recent ebb and flow of guests, I knew a roadtrip would be on the agenda sooner or later. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo fit the bill for out-of-towners and their young daughter.

While I do not necessarily condone zoos, some zoos (when started under the right pretenses) do serve a purpose. I am a firm believer that zoos should properly protect the animals from marauding humans with tall barricades which cannot be easily climbed or jumped over. With that being said, this roadtrip to the zoo will show very few animals but general photos of enclosures and mainly the artwork and other unique aesthetic adornments.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is perched on the side of a mountain. Cheyenne Mountain to be exact. It's a large zoo that encompasses 140 acres with incredible vistas of Colorado Springs and the plains to the east. The zoo is constantly revamping the animal habitats and improving them. Many of the animals at the zoo are in breeding programs with the offspring being reintroduced to their wild habitat after they have gone through a training period and are old enough to fend for themselves. 

The CM Zoo has themes areas - Africa, Australia, Rocky Mountains, Asian highlands, Splash Zone (Hippos, Penguins, some small fish), a Great Ape area and a child's play area. So enjoy the photos, there will occasionally be a caption underneath.

Giraffe Statues outside Africa exhibit
Real Giraffe and Giraffe statue - which is which?
Concrete Baobab Tree

Buzzard Sculpture by Zebras
Ole Gnarly - concrete tree near children's play area

Cute Lil' Hobbit size Door
Asian Highlands 

Kodiak Bear
Real or Fake?
Beaver Lodge with concrete beavers near River Otters
Moose Enclosure

Rhinos Spray to mark their territory. Don't get too close!

Elephant Sculpture
Hyena Sculptures
Broadmoor Hotel

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Anasazi Towers

Is there a commonality between the Round Towers of Ireland and the Anasazi Towers of the American Southwest? I write about this in the June issue of Alternate Perceptions magazine.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wyoming Anomalies book

I recently published the next book in my series about Anomalies in the 50 States. This one is about Wyoming. Now available as an e-book on Amazon. Click here!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Werewolves, Pyramids, Giants - Oh My!

I would be remiss if I didn't write about something a bit odd or unusual on this Friday the 13th. So, here goes....

Werewolves. Why does this person depicted in this painting have fangs?

This is part of a larger installation which can be found at the Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs. The museum is actually the old county courthouse from 1903 to 1973. It is built from granite blocks. The building became the home of the museum in 1979.

But back to the painting. There are four sets of murals on the second floor of the museum. Two of which can be seen in each stairwell and then two panels flank the doorway into a display room. The panels depict the history of the Pikes Peak region beginning with the Louisiana Purchase and continuing on until the post WWII era. The mural was painted by Eric Bransby.

Now about the guy with the fangs. In case you didn't know, many famous people either lived in Colorado Springs or were born there. Among them are Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Robert Heinlein, Lewis Black, and Lon Chaney to name but a few! And I mean only a few! 

Lon Chaney was born in Colorado Springs on April 1, 1883. Lon Chaney is reported as being the man depicted in this particular part of the mural. Lon Chaney made a lot of films and was famous as Quasimodo as well as the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. Chaney was a master of make-up which enabled him to play a lot of roles. The museum brochure about the murals states that the last mural panel with the man with fangs is Lon Chaney. But in the research I did, Lon Chaney never portrayed a werewolf in films. His son, Lon Chaney Jr., was the one who became famous as The Wolfman.

So, we are back to the beginning...Who is the man with fangs in the mural????

Outside the museum is a pyramid. It is entitled , Follow the Setting Sun. It was designed by a local artist and depicts historical events of the Pikes Peak Region. The uprights are lit from within at night. Interesting to say the least.....a pyramid outside a granite building. Lots of energy there!

And lastly, the Giant. In a 1907 newspaper from the nearby town of Castle Rock, is this article - Workmen excavating for the lake to be used in connection with the shoot the chutes at the Zoo near Colorado Springs , have unearthed the skeleton of a . giant Indian and a horse at a depth of about ten feet . With the skeleton were found the remains of a bow and arrow and a half decayed fragment of a blanket . The supposition is that the Indian was a Cheyenne and was carried from the cliffs in a landslide .

A wealthy businessman from Colorado Springs, who was more loan shark and mob boss than entrepreneur, owned some property in the foothills to the southwest of town. Always looking for the next way to make a buck, this ambitious man decided to build a sort of amusement park complete with animals and various rides. There is some controversy as to the "Chute the Chutes" ride. Some say it was a roller coaster while other reports claim it was a water ride. I have a tendency to believe it was a water ride because there is an area adjacent to one of the local parks which bears the name "The Chutes". This area is in a very steep canyon with a stream running through it. Perfect location for a water ride.

Were there Giants once living in the Pikes Peak area? If the Indian was a Giant, then was his horse of large proportions as well?  Can't say for sure. But I do know that the area where The Chutes are located is currently off limits to the public. It is owned by Colorado Springs Utilities. What better way to keep people out of some place and 'accidentally' discovering a relic from the past.

These are but a few of the 'oddities' found in or near Colorado Springs. There's still Tesla, and NORAD, and the Garden of the Gods, and ....... so, you'll just have to wait till next time to see what is written about.