Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.

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Alpine Soil

Olympic Mountain Range, Olympic National Park, WA

Olympic Mountain Range, Olympic National Park, WA

Mountains intrigue me and I feel fortunate to have always lived around them. I’m fascinated not only by their beauty, their influence on global and local weather patterns, their geologic makeup and topography but also by the tremendous forces created by our dynamic planet that result in their formation: the upthrust and tilting over fault lines, volcanic bulges and breakthroughs, and of tectonic plates crashing and grinding into one another. I am also fascinated by the processes that wear them down. With the exception of volcanic action and the build up of lava, the forces of weathering away are easier for us to witness.

The following is an educational fiction story of how the process of soil building initiated on mountain slopes, over time, helps to change the face of a mountain in the northern latitudes at altitudes of 6,000 to 8,000 feet.

Alpine Soil

Chapter 1: Melt Waters

The last star of morning faded from the purple skies as ever so slowly the sun broke over the eastern horizon tinting snowcapped mountains a delicate pink. As the sun rose higher, the cold alpine air gave way to warming spring rays that cut through the chill and began soaking into the debris, dust and silt particles strewn atop the snow.  Microscopic flotsam: pine needles, bits of moss, tiny seeds and dust had blown in on the winds and now collected warming solar rays that melted surrounding snow crystals. Drop by drop the melting waters carved veins into the packed snow layer atop the mountain’s rocky surfaces.

Melting snowpack

Melting snowpack

The thaw eventually reached into the higher snowpacks and remnants of ancient ice fields clinging to the granite hillsides. Trickles of melt water seeped into the glaciers’ crevasses, washed over their craggy brows and dislodged rock-strewn chunks that gathered momentum and cascaded down the mountainside causing an avalanche of snow, ice, silt and debris, twisting and tearing up all in its path until slamming to rest against the landscape below. Little by little the slowly moving glaciers slipping along on thin layers of melting water carved away the mountain: eating, digesting pulverizing all in its path; its fine silt or rock dust settling into the other trickles and waters that fed into creeks, streams and rivers flowing down the mountain.

Other hydrologic forces helped to break apart even more of the mineral rich rock across the alpine terrain. Moisture from the melt waters, the atmosphere and rains squeezed into fissures within the rocks, turned to ice at night, expanded and chipped away at the stone. It is not unusual on a warming spring day, to hear rocks clattering together and/or careening down the talus slopes as the expansion process breaks them apart and gravity continues the momentum of dragging them downhill. Continue reading


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Raven’s Journey ~ Chapter 11: Answers

Raven flew straight to the river where he’d last seen Otter with hopes of locating her close to the spider’s web. Indeed! he wondered, Would it still be there? The web was easy to find; Otter, wasn’t. He spiraled upwards for a higher perspective in the area of the now tattered web; but he found no trace of her nor of the mysterious spider who wove the orb.

The weather, however, was cooperative. The sun continued to shine and the mists dissipated in its heat, tendrils of steam caressing the trees. Raven flew back down the river to where a series of shallow rapids ended at the braided, boulder-strewn mouth. Here the stub-tailed, gray Dippers dove into the water searching for aquatic bugs to feed their numerous broods. Here is also where he’d seen Otter snatching fish from the pools before they moved upstream during the migrations. Raven really didn’t expect her to be there and was pleasantly surprised to see her basking on one of the rocks.

He flew over her body, casting a shadow across her face. She looked up and lazily slid off the rock and entered a deep pool upriver. He landed on the rock and waited for her to resurface. Otter took her time chasing down a meal of salmon smolts, young salmon resting in the pool before completing the last leg of their seaward journey. At last her hunger appeased, she climbed out of the pool, shook water vigorously off her pelt and joined Raven on the rock. She chuckled but instead of being irritated by it, he felt somehow comforted.

Otter stretched and carefully began grooming her fur. Raven cocked his head studying Otter, much like Hummingbird did with him when they sat together on the web. Hummingbird knew Raven almost too well and now he wondered how well he knew Otter. It had been lifetimes since they had spent spirit time with one another, a time so distant, his memory of it remained sketchy.

Otter, sensing his need to talk about the task just completed and remembering Raven’s propensity for questions, decided to set the tone of their discussion, first by speaking in the universal awareness of all tuned to the Spirit of Mystery: through imaging and telepathic thought. She began by refreshing his memory by sharing many of their episodic adventures from lifetimes spent together as archetypes of creation.

She related to him that after his sister’s death, because he showed an ease in communication with the realms, Otter took on the task of training Raven in land and water magic. As she continued to fill in the history, his memory of the events began returning. Raven remembered shape-shifting and flowing into her universe of rushing waters, tidal shifts and migrating salmon, of fulling living in the moment. But when he was ready to leave her and seek a teacher who could teach him the magic of flight, he became infatuated instead with a newly-emerging life form: humanity.

Raven, however, struggled in remembering the string of events involving humans that caused him to lose favor within the spirit realms. Otter patiently aided Raven in piecing his lengthy story together, answering his many questions. No matter how reluctant Raven was in hearing some of his indiscretions, he knew he must be truthful with Otter, but even more important, truthful with himself.

He had started out full of curiosity and compassion for the humans and willingly helped them reach their potential as stewards of the land. Ancient stories abound with how he helped in their emergence. But Raven became bored with their eagerness yet at the same time growing fond of their modern representations: the artwork and masks, the jewelry, the ball teams that hosted his name and graphical images of his likeness, the countless road markers, businesses and boats that bore his name, the poems about him and the movies where he was the subject of adoration. However, humans proved to be even more beguiling than Raven could have imagined. He fell into an ego trap and ended up being seduced by their greed, glamor and power, eventually living off their spoils, a most humiliating position for Raven.

Now, however, he’d been given a chance to repair his reputation and reclaim his true spirit. Raven wanted to know more but the events and excitement of the day had taken their toll. He struggled with fatigue. Otter agreed to share more when he was rested. Quite humbled, he left her and flew back into the forest to rest seeking a spot not far from the remaining shreds of webbing.

Raven entered into dreamtime almost immediately. Bathed in the moon’s soft glow, he dreamed of a time long ago when the light that emanated from all living matter stitched together a fabric of life…fibers, strangely glowing, connected in a tapestry rich with motion. Impulses of thought, feeling, information, flickered over this intricate living web in full witness to all beings everywhere: a magical time, a time before this time yet a future time.

River otter on tidal flats with flat fish

River otter on tidal flats with flat fish

When Raven awoke, he felt quite rested. After stretching and flexing his legs, feet and wings, he flew directly to the surf to grub about for food. Satiated with snails, several crabs and a dead fish, he flew back upstream to the same area he shared yesterday with Otter; but there was no trace of her. For a change, Raven felt no impatience; instead, he checked out the remains of a fish he found scattered on the rocks just above the flowing river. It looked to be from the large, flat fish he sometimes found scavenged on the beach, a favorite food of eagles. It surprised him, though, that one this big would be so far inland. It’s skin had been peeled away and the bones were stripped of meat but instead of being torn off the bones, it looked almost as if it had been cut. He wondered if a bear had drug it up there and sliced it apart with its razor sharp claws.

(To be continued in Chapter 12: Humanity’s Essence)

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Raven’s Journey ~ Chapter 10: The Creatrix

Calming himself and entering into stillness, he sent a raven’s chant of sounds: deep, resonant, abandoned echoing through the forest community. Even a squirrel who had been persistently chattering throughout the morning’s activities, ceased its squirrelly racket. Then in quiet contemplation, Raven thoughtfully broadcast his simple message to the essence within the drop stressing living a life of gratitude in the moment and respecting the creative potential of the whole.

He waited briefly upon finishing his soliloquy, then cautiously opened his beak and caressed the drop with his narrow black tongue; however, Raven again, felt an inner awareness so familiar, so comfortable as to put a stop to his actions. His heartbeat increased but the heartbeat within the drop remained steady, if only slightly altered. Raven looked around; he still felt something tugging at his conscience. He peered closely into the drop still ablaze with spiraling jewels, flickering threads of light. Raven, alert, cocked his head: Unsure of…of what? 

The strange sense of familiarity became almost overwhelming until he imaged a sibling, a sister nest-mate, lost in a tragic event eons ago. Her death in the strong talons of a great horned owl at daybreak as she stood on the rim of their nest, eager to take her first flight, devastated him; for she was a creatrix more gifted than himself. But why think of her now? Decades could pass and he gave no thought to her but when he did, his heart ached with a profound sadness at the lost opportunity to know her better.

When still sharing the nest with her, he’d experienced his first spiritual and magical insights. She could look into his mind and bear witness to the great spiraling patterns of life to which they would have access when they eventually ventured forth. After her tragic death, Raven began his training with Otter; yet, he often wondered:

What would have happened if his sister had lived? He also wondered: Why, when she was so talented, she had not seen her death coming? Had Spirit brought her back to live within the realm of Humanity? Is she one of the flashing lights pulsing within the drop? he questioned.

Hummingbird shrilled a loud “zeee” which brought him get back to task. Raven again caressed the drop with this tongue and sucked the precious orb into his mouth. It was very dense and heavy and he struggled not to swallow it. Fortunately as he began flapping his wings in preparation for flight, the elasticity of the web’s lines gave him extra bounce and helped Raven spring off the webbing with his valued cargo. Slowly he made his way along the route taken earlier by Hummingbird.

His cargo was much heavier than he anticipated and the raven soon grew enormously tired. His flight dropped lower and lower until skimming the cedars, he knocked one of the branch tips particularly hard, lurched and came very close to coughing out the drop of water. Fortunately, beach and salt water lay directly ahead.

The drop, though, seemed to be getting still heavier and the raven of old almost succumbed to the thought of spitting out some of it. He surmised that since it was so close to the ocean, surely the tide would retrieve the spit. However, Hummingbird appeared next to him and began sending messages of encouragement and support to finish his task so he and his sister’s magic would be given a chance to have an impact with the co-evolving world. Raven’s love for his sister possessed him when he realized he was ferrying an essence endowed with her essence. Raven flew on, now buoyed with that hopeful knowledge.

With his beak tightly clenched around the heavy drop, Raven banked steeply and dove towards the waters of the deep channel. However, the downward flight felt awkward, the drop becoming heavier as if a force was pulling him into the ocean. Bordering on the edge of panic, he clawed the air just as the waves split apart and a gigantic whale breached upward. He felt a sharp stab in his throat and jaw, forcing him to spit out the drop.  The magical raven watched as the drop fell into the churning waters.

Raven quickly regained control of his flight and with his companion hovering close by, observed the massive white and black body of a humpback whale submerge and smack the glistening drop with its broad tail flukes. The water droplet broke into pieces of flashing, twisting light which dispersed and disappeared.

Raven wondered: How will humanity’s essence spark a re-evolution? How long will it take? More questions than answers plagued his thinking but first, fully fatigued, he limply flew back to the beach. His feathered companion circled, humming thanks for his help. Raven watched her dart off towards a clump of wildflowers and busily buzz to and fro, sticking her head in and out, sipping sweet nectars, replenishing her energy.

He looked about the beach and found some snails and a dead fish. The fish’s flesh offered his beak little resistance and Raven, famished, ate the whole in no time. Content that he had fulfilled his work and full of belly, he lifted his black body off the beach, gave a throaty, “Kraawk!” and flew back up the river to find Otter.

Raven had done some thinking. He realized on his flight with the essence, that Otter’s frog-eating message had meant he must clean up his act and the eagle’s threat meant that he’d almost lost his chance to be a creative force again. Now he hoped Otter could fill in some answers to a host of other questions he had in that regard. What of my sister?

(To be continued in Chapter 11: Answers)


Raven’s Journey ~ Chapter 9: Delivering the Drop of Water

The second part of his task, though, had him flummoxed: how to deliver the water drop to the ocean? He looked down through the strands of the web, noting the position of the river  and momentarily gave in to the old thought process of tossing the drop off the web as the quickest and easiest way to send Humanity on its way. But Raven quickly cast that thought aside for the web lay too distant from the flowing waters and besides, Hummingbird’s instructions were to take it to the ocean. The only logical way, he surmised, was to ferry it in his mouth.

He looked at the diminutive figure of Hummingbird sitting on the web, her head cocked towards Raven, studying him. She shifted her body and in a blur of wing beat, lifted off the web and disappeared. Raven followed. He now sensed she expected him to hold the drop in his mouth and deliver it into the Blood of the Mother, the sea water. This flight was in preparation for that happening.

Raven watched Hummingbird fly the shortest and least complicated route along river and stream beds, through the forest and out over the ocean. The mists had retreated far out over the water although Hummingbird flew only to the deep channel a short ways off shore where the water took on an almost blue-black color. She stopped, hovered and dove towards the water, turned and skimmed its surface as if looking for something below the surface. At one point she hovered again and appeared to be spitting up something…a drop of liquid fell into the water. She looked at Raven, nodded, then flew back towards the beach. He continued practicing the routine, diving, skimming the water, fanning his wings in a hover and spitting out a drop of moisture.

Raven’s confidence grew and soon he retreated inland to the spider’s web, landed next to Hummingbird and the water drop. Raven peered more closely at its flashing, energetic contents.Thinking of the spirit animals and the message each carried including his own, he looked calmly into the drop, his gaze mirroring back at him. He saw himself magnified many times. For a moment, all was quiet except for the light breeze blowing through the silken strands of webbing. Then Raven heard his own heartbeat and realized the water drop was echoing back his heartbeat like the drop was mirroring back his image. He clucked a chuckle, much like Otter’s. Yes, he told himself. I will make the message so simple, even I will follow it.

(To be continued in Chapter 10: The Creatrix)

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Raven’s Journey ~ Chapter 8: Second Earth

Over time, Raven witnessed Second Earth take shape; but sadly, his role was no longer one of creator for Humankind with Spirit. However, Raven always hoped a for a time  when humans would once again be invited to share in creating Her story and he would be re-instated to help.

Rich with seaweeds, shells and other sea life

Rich with seaweeds, shells and other sea life

Of late, Raven felt it must be nearing that time for humans to re-establish a presence because the seas of the new earth now swam with fish, dolphins and whales; their shores filled with all manner of shellfish and seaweeds; the rivers teemed with salmon and white fish; the land sported deer and bear and the air flocked with geese and ducks. Many species of mushroom blanketed the forest floor and berries hung thick in their season. Everywhere plants and medicinal herbs grew in profusion as if, Raven noted, anticipating their use by the most creative species to evolve. All seemed ready.

As though reading his mind, Hummingbird told Raven about an important task he must undertake. Because of his skill as a interpreter for the spirit of universal mysteries, his mission was to invite and assist in bringing a more socially and spiritually evolved Humankind into existence with a clearer understanding of its connectedness to all beings, living and nonliving. “It is hard on the Mother when humans struggle…” Hummingbird hesitated and said nothing more. Instead, she instructed Raven to look into the water droplet positioned at the center of the web.

Up to this point, he had only taken cursory glimpses at the glistening blob. He stared closely now, noticing movement inside the drop. Although there was only one large, watery membrane holding it together, many small spinning flashes of pulsating light inside reminded Raven of a cluster of developing frog eggs.

Hummingbird anticipated Raven’s reaction and told him the large drop had formed from a complex of ancient dimensions and ancestral realms aiding in the formation of Humankind’s evolving consciousness. His task was to deliver a reasoned message to the sentient energies within the drop; and then remove it from the web lines and deliver it into the matrix of ocean waters off shore. Once again, Humanity would be offered an opportunity to advance but this time with a better understanding of its co-creative potential and responsibility.

It did not go unnoticed by the corvid that his selfish transgressions had not been mentioned. Raven pondered the implication of this in relation to his goal of gaining their trust. He must show them good effort to regain their total trust.

Raven was glad that Humankind would be given another chance. In particular, he fondly remembered the children, admiring their curiosity, their imagination and magic. He knew now that the message he delivered would be directed at them, for they carried the flame of life forward. If Earth’s children could grow up learning to use and honor the resources wisely, Raven was hopeful more realms could thrive in balance. However Raven couldn’t help but wonder: If it was inevitable for humans to follow the same greedy path as before the collapse or truly would their soul’s memory of the experience make them more compassionate, more conscious of their impact? And how would he be influenced by them?

(To be continued in Chapter 9: Delivering the Drop of Water)


Raven’s Journey ~ Chapter Seven: Moon


Moon as the Daughter of Earth

During the recent storm, the gray mists and rains had also obscured the moon’s familiar nightly glow. Raven felt unsettled by its absence much like he did during the melancholic daytime when only the somber tones of fog and mist fed his psyche.

Raven admired Earth’s passions and her kindred spirits. It was through her that he learned to love the moon. Moon fed his wild side but he realized he’d misinterpreted her love, making it personal. He realized too late it was the earth to whom the moon gave favor and allegiance. Earth was Moon’s mother. She had been blasted out of the earth’s molten body by asteroidal impact and Moon guarded her parent’s health fiercely. Together the heavenly bodies danced of give and take, choreographed to caress and withdraw, exchanging energies to sustain all life. Humankind had upset that balance. Now even Raven’s internal tides seemed disturbed.

For millions of years, Moon faced First Earth and watched the land grow into a veritable kingdom of riches in preparation for human stewardship. Through the early stages of evolution, humans honored what had been given by being grateful. Co-creatively, all the realms worked together. However with the coming of even simple technology, Moon witnessed the escalating destruction and squandering of her mother’s resources by the humans plus wanton abuse of its own kind. As the technology became more sophisticated, there was even more exploitation and assault.

Raven thought about how he, as a powerful leader and creator for Spirit, had eventually been drawn to his dark side when humanity took form on First Earth. Even knowing better, he joined with the humans in treating earth’s resources as solely for his benefit and pleasure instead of maintaining it for all of earth’s creatures.

Raven watched Moon grow despondent, then angry, matching her energy with universal pulses and causing major earthquakes, storms, huge tidal waves, and tsunamis that inundated the lands, washing away a host of species. Many cycles passed before Moon relented and withdrew her waters allowing the lands to dry but leaving peoples to suffer and perish from the diseases and famines in the wake of the inundations. It was a time of climactic chaos and great sorrow. (To be continued…)

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Changing Moon ~ A Woman’s Journey, Part IV: Engaging our Energy for Creative Living

A Dream Come True

A Dream Come True

Let’s imagine you are that lovely butterfly just emerging from the chrysalis which housed you while you made the transformation from a gluttonous caterpillar munching on leaves into the now fluttering beauty getting ready to lightly land on lovely, fragrant blossoms and sip their sweet nectars.  You’re probably noticing that a few things have changed in your anatomy and physiology that will take some getting used to. For instance, instead of having strong mandibles, or mouth and jaws, for voraciously chomping on leaves of trees and plants, you now are equipped with a slender tube called a proboscis through which you will suck in the fluids necessary to keep you fed and hydrated. Because the butterfly’s owner’s manual was encoded in the DNA, instinct will probably kick in with your need for fuel and you’ll be off to the right flower, triggering your proboscis to unfurl and begin sucking up the sweet liquid. Oh, and of course, the wings! No longer needing to slowly move your bulky form from leaf to leaf,  you now have strong wings attached to your back which allow you to rise above and see the world from a different perspective.

Yes, much like the newly emergent butterfly, your postmenopausal status gives you a new perspective about your body and outlook on life. But unlike the butterfly, you can incorporate freewill into your flight pattern and visit worlds and realms that feel right for you.

I wrote earlier when I started my journey into the writing of this blog: Alpine Lady began many decades ago as ideas scribbled on bits and slips of paper or whatever could hold a few words that would eventually jar my memory to an event or an idea passing through my mind at the time. Some words and webbings were momentary impressions, others were more like journal accounts or diary entries. For some reason I kept them all secured in notebooks, file folders, boxes and art books that preserved those moments representing the evolution of my life’s journey. This journey encompasses a very eclectic life spent in the more natural environments of North Idaho, Alaska, New Mexico, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington State. From childhood poems, to what it’s like to live in a sod house on the tundra of Alaska, to operating alternative schools with curriculums based on the natural world, to learning how to process herbal medicines, to running youth library programs or presentations at Fairy Congress, the reader will find a treasure house of experience and I will be well-rewarded with witnessing a life of service.

Like any art form where the beginning strokes of learning to play an instrument or paint a scene  are clumsy and unmetered, more discord than harmony, my writing snippets didn’t strike a form until well after I took everything out of hiding and began seeing the connections. Piecing together all the entries, quotes, one-liners, philosophical meanderings, etc., I began to see threads of commonality weaving throughout the pages and if I began connecting and embellishing them, they would form a tapestry of recipes, prose, poetry, photographs, homeschooling ideas, faery lore, observations of the natural world, etc., that could be entertaining as well as a resource for the curious.

When I looked at this description after I’d posted it, I understood that my life encompassed not only the life cycle of a butterfly engaged in her journey, but also it followed the archetypical Sacred or Divine Feminine stages so eloquently written about by Jean Shinoda Bolen in her books about the goddess archetypes. I was not introduced to these books until I was a mature woman but realized the value immediately in visiting the forms in order to understand what other women around the world throughout history have experienced in their lives that reflected the same stages only with different personas and descriptions. It seems we all pass through them in our journey as the feminine form of the Divine, the Sacred. It’s a shared sisterhood of growth.

Perhaps now would be a good time to sit with a recapitulation of your life, reflecting again on what it took to get you to where you currently reside physically and emotionally. Perhaps the journals, bits and snippets of paper you’ve saved, collages, scrapbooks, photographs, collections, musical pages, memories, etc. can be incorporated into this deliberation on your life.  And once they’re actively before you and/or within you, see what the threads are that connect them all together. Begin thinking about them in more detail, savoring the ones you wish to keep, honoring and tossing the ones you no longer have a use for but recognize they have served a greater purpose, perhaps a glimpse into the more shadowed side of your life’s purpose.

Until next time, I’ll leave you with a few books and websites to consider which may illuminate your journey as you admire your collections and begin seeing your purpose in this lifetime.

A PDF: Sacred Wisdom:


Crones Don’t Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen (2003)

Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women’s Lives by Jean Shinoda Bolen (March, 2, 2004)

Goddesses in Older Women: Archtypes in Women over Fifty by Jean Shinoda Bolen (2001)

Gods in Everyman by Jean Shinoda Bolen (March 5, 1990)

The Mothers of Change by Anastacia J. Nutt (2009)

A Fun Blog: