I live in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, an hour from the nearest town—Cambria. Back in the 1930's my grand-father traded a horse and some tires for this land. My lifestyle defines independence. I cut firewood for heat, maintain water lines, and make my own power (small generator - solar is price prohibited so far). I don't have television, but do have a DVD player. My laptop runs on batteries (I love battery operated gadgets) and is plugged into the land line for communications.
I have chickens that roam the woodlands freely. They provide me with my main source of protein. I have dogs that chase away the bears, mountain lions, and skunks. I leave these woodlands to go to town as seldom as possible. Nature is my life.
In keeping with this month’s SUNLIGHT theme I’d like to tell you about my latest windfall. I’m very lucky. Some of my generous neighbors upgraded and have set me up with a minimalist’s solar system! I now have enough power, stored in a battery bank, to use my laptop and a light for several hours a night and day. It’s great!
Until now (since 1983) I’ve depended on gas powered generators for electricity. This Santa Lucia Mountain property is way off the grid. The problem with reliance on small engines is they break down. And I don’t like to tear up the skin of my knuckles on mechanical stuff. Not only that but most generators are heavy and hard to haul to the repair shop.
Consequently I regularly lived without TV, flip-the-switch lights, electrical kitchen appliances, pretty much everything that had to be plugged in. I owe many thanks to Sandy, my sister-in-law, for the dozens of soy candles she made me over the years.
One of the best things about having my recycled solar system is that I no longer have to grind a week’s worth of coffee at a time. Now every morning before dawn, without having to go outside to turn on the generator, the grinder blades whir and the beans burst with that delicious aroma. WOW! What a thrill. Fresh ground and brewed French roast with a splash of organic whole milk at sunrise is my favorite way to start the day. Oh yeah. Life is good.
Photos by David Hindmon
Sunlight – Feel the Love
by Michele Oksen
It's happening! For the first 21 days of December, Earth and Sun present—Short and Shorter.
Oh joy. The shortest days of the year are here. Unfortunately for many people this bums us out, especially since this occurs right when we're expected to be merry. Personally, short daylight hours make me feel more like a bear than a bearer of gifts. Sometimes I truly wish hibernation was an option.
It doesn't help that everywhere we go we're hounded by the commercial aspects of Christmas. Spend here. Charge it. Pay later (big time). Nearly everywhere we look there are glaring seasonal promotions of materialism rather than messages about the joyful meaning of Christ's birth.
Perhaps it's just me but at times the holidays seems so far removed from the joy. That's why some of us can use a reminder or a prompt that helps us to consciously return to it. The good news is that in the language of Nature's Voice sunlight (even when we can't see it) represents love. And love is something we can generate ourselves. Not love like the pitter patter, "Be still my heart" kind of love, but love that is of our nature, our essence, our ultimate joy.
Like a ray of sunlight encourages life on earth, pure love radiates from its source and nourishes humanity. This unconditional love supports life without reservation or hesitation. It ignores external stormy conditions. It rises above internal turbulence. The best news is that love is a choice that is always available and accessible.
So how do we choose and maintain loving energy when we're short tempered or we perceive trespasses against us? Easier said than done, right? Someone may move too slowly and impede our progress. Someone else may blame us for their misery and seek revenge. Another person may threaten to take our treasures. Believe me I know it's hard to decline participation in others' dramas. Human relationships are a challenge. For most of us it takes practice to consistently walk up the high road. But if we choose to take steps in the direction of understanding, compassion, and mercy we are more likely to approach gateways that lead us toward a very desirable destination.
Imagine being love that caresses the soul. Givers, recipients, and witnesses all benefit. It's like sunshine that warms our faces on a freezing day. It feels blissful. Still there are some folks who may feel the need for protection from such heated embraces. They are those who "sunscreen" themselves in an effort to be shielded from exposure and potential pain. What they don't know is no one gets burned when they experience this love. Some may thaw out a bit. No one has actually burst into flames that I'm aware of.
Sunrise - Behold the light. Bask in it. Be it.
Throughout the years to come, and especially during Christmas, we can learn how to contribute even more of our "sunny" nature on all that surrounds us. We, the readers of the Slo Coast Journal, can be the brightest of mentors.
Behold the light. Bask in it. Be it.
Banner Image by Fugle