Category Archives: What Nature Reveals

Every Morning

I woke up this morning feeling more peaceful than usual, with some words going through my head: The sun still rises every morning, no matter what is going on in your life or in the world. It rises whether the sky is clear or covered with a blanket of clouds. It still rises at the darkest time of year and on days that carry an emotionally charged significance. The sun still rises every morning, no matter what is going on. Attune to that as you discern what to do about everything else.

The words kept spinning in my mind like horses on a merry-go-round, and I watched them go around and around again until it finally occurred to me that there might be a reason why they came to me at that moment, like a morning alarm, with such persistence. So I opened my eyes and looked out my bedroom window, and sure enough: The sunrise looked more compelling than I had seen it in quite some time, although I was catching the tail end of what I knew had been deep, fuchsia clouds becoming lighter by the moment. Had I opened my eyes the first time the words spun through my head, the colors would have been much more dazzling.

It feels great to wake up on the river again every morning, after spending so much time away tending to my parents’ house. But I return home with greater clarity and a better idea of what I ultimately want and am considering moving this year due to changing circumstances and certainly not because of the view. I have become accustomed to a fabulous sunrise view of the river and love being able to store the kayaks on the dock and simply walk across the street to paddle during the warmer months. I would miss that view and the easy kayak access so much.

Then I remembered that, for a few years, I wasn’t even able to enjoy kayaking on the river because of the massive General Electric PCB dredging project that one year took place literally right in front of our house. Other years, it happened so close that the constant boat traffic made it unsafe to venture onto the water.

It was anguishing to live on the river and not be able to do the thing that made it so worthwhile to be here in the first place – the activity I looked forward to during the cold months. Kayaking was the way I released my energy after a rough day at work and how I restored my peace of mind. I called it “paddling for peace.” Many summer evenings, I’d float close to our dock, taking in the sunset sky canvas and wishing I could bottle the feeling and share it with everyone. That’s why I started this blog four and a half years ago.

The dredging years were long ones, but now they are in the past. We got through them. Now we can kayak again and enjoy the peace of this quiet stretch of the Hudson, without any dredging traffic barreling past us, only the occasional pleasure boat.

I remember the day we went kayaking on the river and paddled around the bend only to discover a fleet of dredging equipment anchored there. So that was the source of the increased boat traffic! The feeling that, “This is really happening, and right in our own neighborhood!” was sad, infuriating, surreal. It felt like an army had invaded, and there was no escaping it. 

It wasn’t the only time there was tension and danger around the Hudson River that flows by my house. My next-door neighbors still have the remnants of a Revolutionary War field hospital on their property. This is where the Battles of Saratoga took place, the Turning Point of the Revolutionary War. And predating that, there were conflicts between Native American inhabitants and French, Dutch, and English settlers. Some quiet evenings, I would go paddling after sunset and think about how dangerous it would be to navigate the river alone throughout history, and yet, there I was. I could almost feel the spirits of former inhabitants and soldiers around me. Even though the dredging project was a big deal, the river has known worse. Despite all the struggles and strife it has been witness to, it still flows.

The year when the dredging project was scheduled to take place right in front of our house, we considered finding alternate housing because we were concerned about safety issues such as airborne PCBs. So I did lots of research and had informal, off-the-record conversations with scientists who did not have a personal or professional bias or vested interest in perpetuating any kind of propaganda. I monitored the data recorded online daily and contacted the media when I noticed airborne PCB levels were elevated for a number of days in a row. I also found a more inviting body of water for kayaking, where there was a kayak available to me. I made the best of a challenging situation.

Aside from having limited or no access to kayaking on the river, the greatest challenge during the dredging years was discerning fact from fiction between the two opposing camps. Simply stated, pro-dredging environmental groups asserted that removing as much of the PCBs as possible from the river was integral to the long-term health of the river ecosystem, whereas local, anti-dredging groups countered that the PCBs had sunk deep down below the river and that wildlife was returning to the river because the river was taking care of itself naturally. The anti-dredging camp believed the PCBs were less of a problem if you just let them be and that dredging would stir them up again and create a “toxic soup” that would set the health of the river ecosystem back decades. So one side was saying to leave it alone – let the PCBs stay way down below the river – and the other insisted they must be removed and that G.E. must be held accountable for its actions and make it right. Yes, dredging would be a massive, messy, disruptive undertaking, and the PCB levels in the water would increase for a while, but conditions would improve over time, and the river would be much healthier. The conversation was about maintaining status quo vs. literally stirring up a huge, toxic mess.

Not a scientist myself, I listened to the arguments coming from both sides. Once, I sat quietly on the riverside, asked the river what it wanted, and listened deeply. It seemed the river preferred to have the toxins removed. My personal preference was to be able to continue enjoying the river – my little paradise – but ultimately I wanted whatever was best in the long run, for the greater good. If dredging would produce widespread, long-term benefits, then it was worth some personal sacrifice and temporary disruption. Believe me, there was nothing fun or beautiful about dredging up suspected carcinogens that had been put into the river decades ago. It was disturbing to watch the sloppy process up close, and we had front row seats for a time.

Meanwhile, I watched great blue herons gulp down fish that were swimming in PCB infested water, only to migrate in the fall and bring traces of PCBs with them, contaminating other parts of the earth. It is impossible to separate a river from the rest of the world. It flows to the ocean, which covers the whole planet, and has a whole ecosystem of its own that attracts wildlife that comes and goes. It’s also part of the water cycle that involves vapors rising in one place and falling in another. 

You see where I’m going, right? This isn’t “really” about PCB dredging any more than the movie, Field of Dreams, is “really” about baseball. Though the dredging metaphor may not be perfect, I have been getting that feeling again.

Whether the massive, ambitious, and expensive Hudson River PCB dredging project will be viewed in the long-term as a success, a catastrophe, or something in between has yet to be seen. All I know is that we got through the dredging. It didn’t last forever, even though it felt like it would at the time. And from experiencing it, I learned there are times when we must defer our personal interests and preferences to pave the way for more widespread, long-term benefits and perceive the process from a far greater perspective…or we will make ourselves crazy. We must have patience. To do this is a radical act of faith that hopefully is neither ignorant nor complacent. Sometimes short-term disruptions produce long-term benefits and greater awareness because they motivate us to do our research and inspire us to take action. To come together and be more involved. To speak up and communicate from the depths of our hearts. To look out for one another. Sometimes situations that seem dire and threatening serve to raise our personal and collective consciousness and show us what we are really capable of.

Although the dredging years were challenging and sometimes scary (especially when PCB levels seemed to spike), we finally made it through to the other side.

And we will do it again, one sunrise at a time.


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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2017. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

Sometimes the Universe Conspires

Sometimes the Universe seems to conspire to ensure that certain works are accomplished or (in my case) images are captured. You can call it intuition, inspiration, or various other names. It’s the voice that might literally wake you up so you can be in the right place at the right time and sometimes employs unwitting accomplices.

That happened to me yesterday morning, after staying up late doing research. At 6:00 a.m., my phone rang. It was the director of a private school calling to ask if I could fill in for the day. I had to decline because I had promised to care for my granddaughter for a few hours. After taking the call, I realized I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep, although I closed my eyes to try. But something about the misty morning light compelled me to get out of bed, despite not feeling as rested as I wanted to be.

It had been a while since I’d photographed a river sunrise, mainly because of my late night work habits. It was a shocking 7° (F) outside and a morning when I’d prefer to stay indoors. But something wonderful was about to happen. I could feel it and (as I’ve said before) have learned to trust that feeling. So I put on my warm clothes, coat, and shoes and went to the chilly river’s edge to photograph the sunrise, which looked rather like a painting.

Sunrise 4-5-16-4

If there is a way to predict the “wow” value of sunrises and sunsets, I have yet to discover it. But the pink-orange mist was intriguing, so I stayed outside to see how it would develop.

Sunrise 4-5-16-2

As the sun began to climb the trees, the way it played with the trees and appeared to stretch their branches with golden light was phenomenal. In my four years of photographing sunrises on the river, I’d never witnessed that particular effect so intensely.

Sunrise 4-5-16 detail

It made me think of Moses and the burning bush – for the trees were “on fire” with brilliant light but not consumed. I hoped I could capture it exactly as it appeared so as to express what drew me to it and stopped me in my tracks – because when a sight grabs you like that, there must be some kind of spiritual nugget in it.

I selected the image below to share online because the way the various elements came together was most pleasing to me. The deciding factor was the relationship between the branches stretched by sunlight in the center of the image and the branches across the river in the lower right corner that seemed to reach out to them. That spoke to me.

Sunrise 4-5-16-1

After I shared the image, people reported being drawn to different elements of it and seeing certain shapes and symbols in the sunlit trees. I’m fascinated by how we gravitate to certain images or elements and discover meaning or satisfaction in them. When we gravitate toward an image, it’s an invitation to go deeper. We can consider what calls us to it. What is our connection to it? What does it stir in us? What longing does it satisfy? What does it reflect that is alive in us?

As I contemplated the above image, the words that arose from it were: Source it higher. Fuel your life from a higher source. Gas station and food metaphors came to mind. Tapping into ordinary consciousness is like filling up with regular gas or fast food that makes you feel jittery. But there are higher quality options, like premium gas or farm-to-table, organic meals containing a rainbow of nutrients that leave you feeling truly nourished and energized. A beautiful soul who adopted the name Peace Pilgrim said, “Junk thoughts can destroy you even more quickly than junk food.” That is the idea I’m trying to convey.

My infant granddaughter, Ava, arrived soon after I photographed the sunrise. She napped a few times during the course of our time together. She fell asleep in my arms, when I swayed gently with her, and when I lay her on my bent legs so we could face each other. As she rested in her human cradle, I found myself feeling bad about conditions in her life. But then I heard, “Source it higher” and recalled the luminous image of the sunrise trees – and lifted into a state of trust. I thought of how many challenging circumstances I’ve lived through and realized that my own life experience will help me to trust in her strength and guide her to discover her own strength and resilience. It seemed the spectacular sunrise was the source of the energy I was giving Ava – the energy she was feeding on, even as she slept.

“Source it higher,” backed by the sunrise image, has quickly become my new mantra that helps to dispel worry and fear. It reminds me to unplug myself from a lower source of energy and tap into a higher, more luminous source. Without a mother or grandmother in my life anymore, it seems to be up to me to hold the faith and nurture subsequent generations. Connecting with that light eases my worries and allows me to trust what is and what is in the process of becoming.

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

When Snow-Covered Daffodils Speak

When I opened my eyes this morning, I was surprised to find the landscape covered with snow. I’d heard talk of snow in the forecast for this weekend but never checked the forecast for myself – and after yesterday’s warmth, chalked it up to an April Fool’s joke. But sure enough, the ground and the trees were white.

I sprung out of bed with my sights set on the daffodils I’d photographed yesterday in the park. It felt Really Important to photograph daffodils blooming in the snow, although I didn’t know why. I have learned to trust that feeling and didn’t waste a moment getting to the park.

Daffodils-2

As I spent time connecting with the snow-covered daffodils, it dawned on me why it was so important to photograph them. They carried a message of hope that seemed relevant to challenging times in general, and to my daughter’s current situation, in particular.

Some daffodils were fully bloomed. Others were working on opening up more. Some were still closed, with tips swollen and yellow. Most had some snow on them, and some were more weighed down than others by snow. The message that came through is: Don’t give up because you wake up one morning and find yourself weighed down by a clump of snow on your back. It’s not going to last. The snow that is weighing you down at this moment is temporary. It will melt. In the meantime, keep your face to the sun.

Daffodils-1

I photographed one daffodil that had what looked like a petal of snow hanging from it.

Daffodils-3

The instant after I snapped the picture, a small twig broke free from being tangled up with other twigs and smacked the snow petal off of the daffodil. Just like that, the snow was gone.

Several minutes later, a gust of wind came along and blew the snow off some of the other daffodils.

Meanwhile, the sun was rising in the sky and becoming warmer and would melt the rest of the snow in time. But you might not even have to wait for the warmth of the sun to melt the snow from your petals because the wind or a twig – or even a person or animal passing by – might come along and remove your burden in an instant. Your situation can change in a heartbeat. New information, possibilities, and answers have been known to fall from the sky. Be aware and receptive.

Daffodils-5

As these associations came through the snow-covered daffodils, I spoke them into my voice recorder. I thought of my daughter and felt eager to share my daffodil insights with her, even though I realized it might be one of those “you had to be there” instances that wouldn’t transmit as powerfully as it was experienced. As I was recording, I looked up, and a woman appeared walking on the path hand-in-hand with a very young girl. They were heading in my direction, and I guessed the little girl was younger than two years old. The pair instantly brought to mind my daughter and infant granddaughter. They also brought tears to my eyes because it felt like a serendipitous occurrence. I sensed the Universe was both reinforcing my insights and assuring me that my daughter and granddaughter would be okay by showing me this woman and very young girl walking peacefully along the path.

It turned out they were the only people I saw the whole time I was at the park.

Keep blooming. Don’t become discouraged. We have no idea how quickly circumstances – like the weather – can change. Yesterday, it was sunny and warm. This morning, the ground is covered with snow. But it will be gone soon. Don’t give up, even when the cold stings your back, and the weight of it all pushes you down.

Daffodils-6

You have the warm sun – whatever source of light you have in your life. (There is a source of light in everyone’s life.) Trust it. In time, it will melt the snow.

Ava Portrait-1

Don’t become disheartened. You never know who will cross your path and what conversation might change your course. Be receptive to all the assistance that is available to you and discerning about what kind you are willing to accept. Be wise. But don’t wait for someone to come along and rescue you. Show up. Do what you can, without overdoing. Put all your energy into blooming. Have faith that the Universe will help you do it. Even when there’s more snow in the forecast, realize it won’t last. The sun grows stronger every day.

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂