Fall Colour | Third Quadrant Reflections

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Fall of 2014 has been a special time at Friendly Forest.  After difficult summer of losses, of winter lasting 7 months, of a massive invasion of Forest Tent Caterpillars, dense hordes of mosquitoes, and a daily battle with my beaver neighbours, the mosquitoes vanished, things dried up, the Caterpillars pupated and then many  flew off as moths, and the sun encouraged the denuded trees to put forth a new set of leaves.  Gradually the landscape returned to a version of its normal summer finery.

After welcoming  my new canine partner Thrum, and learning how to deal with a high energy Airedale Terrier puppy and understanding why such creatures have been called terrorists, I was able to take time and tools into the forest.  First of all I wanted to restore the walking trails.  The wet and heavy snow that came early the previous autumn had done serious damage to many trees and the trails were virtually  un-walkable because of the  fallen and bent trees that blocked progress.  In early Spring I had cleared a portion of the  routes, but two  weeks of hard work remained before  the paths not under water were cleared and walk-able.  Then, with continuing good weather and making progress  against the beaver in lowering the water level of the pond, I turned energies to bringing in, splitting, stacking and covering fire wood for house and Inipi fires.  New gravel and road grading had happened to  Boundary Road adjacent to my land, and  wile my truck registration was still valid, I went out to collect stones that would serve to bring the fire of Father Wi into the heart of the Initi during the course of upcoming  Sweat Lodge Prayer times.  My body protested the hard work at times, but overall,  new vigour returned to older bone and muscle.

The tincture of Goldenrod that I had made and used daily seemed to  relieve the inflammation from the ongoing arthritis.

With a new high-energy companion, I have also been taking longer daily walks into the forest, and now without the warning bear bells and bear spray.  Thrum, my new companion was growing quickly and my confidence in her  desire to remain close to me even while she raced and tore along the forest trails to explore new territory, new sights and smells, I am able to  leave her off-leash with confidence that she will not  be running into serious troubles.  Burrs and hooked seeds can be combed out of tangled hair, and later on, a first haircut and longer  legs, that problem lessened too.


With greater peace and joy in my soul and more time to enjoy being in the forest among my  Standing Nation friends, thoughts about  walking the Sacred Hoop in the third and fourth quadrant become more frequent.


During a part of my professional life I was a High school Biology teacher, and each year I engaged students in chromatography experiments using pigment-rich  leaves.  We discovered visually the separation of leaf pigments and by measurements, determined that  there were many different pigments hiding under the green mask of Chlorophyll A.  Although we did not take the procedures far enough to exactly identify all of the materials moving up along the chromatography strips, the lesson was clear;  there was a lot more happening within those leaves than had been revealed to our vision earlier. 

We also learned about  tropic responses and adjustments plants made to shorter day light hours.  We considered the requirement for hardwood trees to be deciduous in these latitudes and the destruction  snow loading could have to those woody structures, while the different types of Xylem tissues in the conifers allowed them to be more flexible and simply bend under the same snow loads. We considered the transitory nature of the revealed colours  of leaves as Chlorophyll A (The green one) degraded, and the sequence of other chemical changes that  happened when the abscission layers grew to separate leaf from branch.  We also considered the deep reds and purples that  even ground plants underwent even though their leaves would survive the winter snow and cold, how different sugar molecules could protect  leaf cells from ice crystal damage when the temperatures  fell.

Who was there  sending messages to these diverse members of the Standing Nations warning them to prepare for winter's onset?  Coded responses to changes in daylight within each cell's DNA were at work encouraging the adjustments  each plant needed to make to complete that year's cycle of growth and decline and preparation for winter.  Leaves fell to the ground and took with them the accumulated  debris of  active food factories and quickly faded and changed colours to  muted tans and greys and they welcomed the time when they were not making food for the tree, but were becoming food for  the bacteria and other saprovores of the soil, releasing the minerals and other nutrients for  the next year's  cycle of life.  Where leaves separated from branches there were now  scale-protected buds leaves that could endure winter cold or become winter food for a few hardy animals that  also lived here through this fourth quadrant of the year. 

These are Earth Mother's changes and cycles on abundant and brilliant display all around me in this forest land.  A few late water birds who had a horrible nesting season with rapidly rising water levels drowning out  shore nests, lingered or rested to feed on sinking pond vegetation that was also preparing  for the winter ice.  The beaver abandoned the now small trickle of water draining off toward Christopher Lake, and worked feverishly to stock their winter pantry beside the  Lodge.  The Muskrats who shared the Lodge "Condo" are also busy waiting the creation of surface ice so they can make their push-ups for winter forage runs under the ice. 

Yes, there is no doubt, winter is near and Nature is changing and preparing to complete this cycle of life.  But what about me?  I too am in the third or fourth quadrant of my Hoop Journey.  Am I heeding the signs and preparing to complete my journey, and what does this change and preparation look like for the Two-legged Nation?



When we, the two-legged ones, approach our time of winter  rest and completion of our  cycles of living, we undergo some changes that also resemble what has happened to our Standing Nations companions.

The growth and vigour of the long-days of youth are gone. Our bodies  exhibit  the results of injury and abuse of years past and joints, bones and muscles ache more in the mornings.  Hair loss on the top of my head has "moved south" and my metabolism too has changed.  But other things have been going on in our lives that have not been obvious.  We have been learning , making mistakes, trying again.  We have been sharing the gifts we have been given in various ways.  We have acquired knowledge and skills, and we hope that we have also acquired some wisdom with those years.  We hope that our hearts have grown from the love we have received and that our own capacity to love has grown. 

When the outside signs of youth and vigour  fade we hope that the inner beauty is able to shine out and give joy to those who share this space with us. With the wisdom we hope we have acquired, we also need to learn the lessons of the Fourth Quadrant, the lessons of the North; to let go, to separate from what had been so important in the past, to move to the centre of our journey and the life we have been given.  We have more time to speak to our Creator and open our hearts to the needs of the entire Earth.  We  can put together the bits and pieces of  our learning's and perhaps acquire a larger vision of what is and what  can still be.  We also need to leave behind the regrets of what could have been and focus to what yet lies ahead, knowing  even more deeply how much we are loved and how many companions we have along this life path on the Sacred Hoop.  We  realize that those who walked with us for a while and who have already gone to the Centre of the Sacred Hoop, that their Spirits are still walking with us and giving us strength and making our feet walk more gently on the earth, and yes, make them walk more slowly too.  That slowed pace allows us to stop and look around us, and we can see the beauty that is  sampled in the photos on this page and in the photos of our memories where we  hold all that we have known and all those who  shared what they are with us, be they of the Standing NAtions, the Two-legged, the Four legged, those that fly, those that crawl and those that swim in the waters, and those that lie and are hidden from our view, those  whose Spirits are in the skies and on the winds.


The lesson to me?  We are never alone.  We have many companions along the way.  The love I have been given in my very life and for every step along this Sacred Path, reveal a Creator so wonderful I can only look forward to the final steps with  great anticipation and great confidence.  Those realizations bring forth a whisper that then is spoken and then is shouted to the skies: "Thank You!"  And that is my worship.  That is all of my worship, and it is enough if that is all of my life.


Hoop Boy, October 31, 2014