Saturday, January 30, 2016

Don't pick it up. It might be a snake.

Today, the first completely sunny comparatively warm day, my husband rode his bike through Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach Florida, while I walked the exercise course several times. I’d made a recent resolution to be attentive to my surroundings (actually I’ve made numerous such resolutions, this being the most recent) so as I traversed the park I focused on the cedar trail itself. Doesn’t sound very interesting does it? As I normally look everywhere but down while walking, looking down is a novel experience. An exercise my husband advises me to do each time I trip on a rock or branch.

Composed of cedar chips, the exercise course offers a huge variety of cedar chip shapes and sizes as well as the cones and needles that fall from surrounding pines. If these pose obstacles to walkers, I pick them up and toss them onto the side of the path. Encountering a beautifully shaped twig of some sort, I bent to pick it up to examine before tossing (maybe it would be something to collect) I noticed square markings down its length.  As it was less than a foot long, I didn’t think snake. But snake it was, making me very glad I was exercising attentiveness. I squatted down to observe it more carefully as it lay without moving on the cedars, determined to look up Florida snakes on the internet to determine its identity. The Florida Museum of Natural History offers an excellent guide to identifying snakes. A check the box kind of aid: “Is the snake banded?” “Is the snake blotched?” “Is the snake cross banded?” “Are its colors uniform?” and so on.

I learned my snake was a common brown water snake that fully grown averages between 25-60 inches. The snake I saw was less than a foot long, the size of a newborn which runs from 7-11 inches long with hatching season from June to October, but this is February. Then I read that though harmless, it is often killed because it resembles a Copperhead . . .?????

Friday, January 22, 2016

It's raining yet they're out there

Today, as huge snow storms hurtle toward the north eastern states, southern Florida is touched by the merest edge. It is even warm, 72 degrees, but we are told to expect high winds and rain, lots of it. I look out our kitchen window and see rain pelting off the tennis courts, but on the golf course greens elderly men swing their clubs and a condominium employee mows the lawn. Perhaps they've given up on the sun. Decided to make the best of what is. Meanwhile, my husband has pulled shut the hurricane shutters and darkened the apartment. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beryl's Winter 2016 Newsletter

I write this newsletter from Florida, where we’ve been enjoying a warmer and wetter winter than ever. I do think of you however, especially as my new smart phone keeps me updated on weather up north and across the nation and the news is not always good. Mother Nature seems to be in a punishing mode, her behavior more awesome, tumultuous and damaging than ever. I hope you’ve stayed safe, that you’ve weathered whatever drought, hurricane or blizzard has brought your way. Even more turbulent than Mother Nature’s actions is the angry divided condition our nation reflects.

Today, while perusing the work of Anthony de Mello, one of my favorite spiritual guides, one story struck me as applicable to our situation today.  A spiritual master once told a visiting bishop that religious people have a natural bent for cruelty. His disciples were embarrassed and asked why he’d made such a harsh analysis.  Because religious people all too easily sacrifice persons for the advancement of a purpose, the master replied. Isn’t this what we see happening in our nation as the lives of millions of innocent refugees are sacrificed to national security?  In his speech before Congress, Pope Francis offered a solution to the refugee crisis:  follow the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” words that earned him a standing ovation from Congress. Was anyone listening?

 Update on The Glass Chrysalis

“What happened to your newsletter?” is a question I hear almost as often as “When is your book coming out?” My apologies! This newsletter should answer the first question. The second is well on its way to being answered. You haven’t seen or heard much from me lately because I’ve focused on one thing only: the book. Having finished preparations for submission, a completed edited manuscript, a marketing analysis and comparative title analysis, The Glass Chrysalis will make its way into the world this coming week. I shall let you know when it’s found a home. Keep me in your prayers. I’ve done my best to weave a good book with the help of Jill Swenson, book developer. The rest is up to God.

Peace and all good to your inmost souls.

© Beryl Singleton Bissell 2016

The Minneapolis Star Tribune named Beryl as a "Best of 2006 Minnesota Authors." Her book The Scent of God  was a “Notable” Book Sense selection for April 2006. Her second book, A View of the Lake was released in May 2011 and named a best regional book by the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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