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Posts Tagged ‘end of the year rituals’

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Gratitude, Mandala Series, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2016, photo © 2016 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

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DEC SHADE4

Say Goodbye To Tungsten Light, Golden Valley, Minnesota, December 2011, photo © 2011-2012. All rights reserved.


I burn the Christmas lights long after the day has passed. The soft warm glow of tungsten soothes me. I grew up on film photography, old school, and loathed florescent and LED. Say goodbye to tungsten; the last 100 watt bulb rolled off the DEC 2011-12-18 19.40.22assembly line in December 2011. We lost poet Ruth Stone in 2011 and singer-songwriter Phoebe Snow. They leave behind a rich legacy–their poetry. We lost Hope, the world’s most famous black bear, to the long arms of a Minnesota hunting season. Did they choose their lives, or did their lives choose them?

Goodbye December, January awaits. I look forward to the New Year. In setting goals for 2012, I can’t help but think of the things I will leave to 2011. I never heard back from my father, yet I feel glad I wrote the letter. It is one less thing I have to wonder about. Mr. Stripey Pants had surgery on Monday, December 12th. Bone rubbed on bone in his lower jaw when he chewed his food. We tried to be upbeat that morning, saying he was on his way to breakfast at Tiffany’s (the name of his surgeon). A few weeks later he is almost back to normal. The scar tissue that had formed around a puncture wound near a back tooth has been removed; it was not cancerous. I am grateful for good vet care and the resources to pay for it.

Minnesota leaves behind the 86 inches of snow from last Winter, an unfair trade for the tawny grasses and 50 degree days in the Twin Cities last week. I don’t miss the shoveling, but wonder how the Art Shanty Project will take place on Medicine Lake in January. Where is the frozen Minnesota tundra of 2011? I leave behind a broiling sweaty Summer where I did little gardening. The cedars look limp and brown. Fall 2011 was 1323477165415one of the driest on record. Rain, rain, come and play, don’t wait another day. I have grown to miss the rain.

I leave behind a year of no travel, unusual for me. My large extended family lives in Pennsylvania and Georgia, so I often plan vacations around flying back East. I missed visiting with them. In 2011, I attended no out of state writing workshops. I did not take a vacation outside of Minnesota. There was one trip to North Dakota, but not for pleasure (though it had its moments). I leave behind all the angst and sorrow created by the greed and selfishness of others. You sometimes learn the most about people when things go awry. It’s not over yet. The law requires patience, and the resources to carry through over the long haul.

Dear December, there were days you left me nostalgic and somber. But I vow to enter 2012 with optimism and gratitude. Long line for A Christmas Story at Riverview!I will long carry the joy of my brother’s visit to Minnesota the week before Thanksgiving. I carry two healthy cats, Kiev and Mr. Stripey Pants. I carry the love of a caring partner, close friends, and family. I carry excitement at the prospect of celebrating Liz’s birthday in January, and a trip to Wisconsin for a self-propelled writing retreat in February, what used to be the dead of Winter. I leave behind anger, resentment, regret; I release what is no longer helping me be the best person I can be. What people, places or things do you leave behind?

The pantry is stocked. The black-eyed peas soak in the pot, ready to bless the place I call home with good luck and cheer. I am grateful for those who stick with me in times of uncertainty. I am grateful for those who come to the aid of all HOLIDAYsentient beings in this world, not just humans. I am grateful that we do not inhabit this planet alone, that there are ancient burr oaks, Southern live oaks, slithering snakes, hairy spiders, playful black bears and white winter squirrels. I am grateful that the decisions that matter most are not left in the hands of humans.

December, I say goodbye to you tonight with gratitude and anticipation. I am thankful for your rituals. It’s the night before the New Year. What will my yearly practices be? It will be around the last fire of 2011 that I choose goals for 2012. Thank you, December, for having the courage to let go.


-posted on red Ravine, New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2011

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Celebrate The Moon, on the way home, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, December 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Snow is falling on red Ravine, and the temperature rises from zero to 25 degrees under the morning’s totally eclipsed Moon. It’s Saturday, December 10th and the total Lunar eclipse was exact at 6:36 am Pacific time. Last year the eclipse occurred right on Solstice (for more about the meaning of the Lunar Eclipse see Winter Solstice — Total Eclipse Of The Moon). According to Celestial Timings, one of the features of a total Lunar Eclipse is how it squeezes the 28 to 30 day Moon Phase into three to five hours. Time appears to speed up, accelerating the manifestation of the intentions we hold.

Tonight, we will attend an early Winter Solstice celebration with friends. By a blazing fire sparked by last year’s Yule tree, I will let go of what is no longer working and set new intentions that I hope to move from the dark of Winter into the light of Spring.

What are your intentions for the New Year? I seek more clarity with my creative goals. I have built a good practical infrastructure around my creative life, but the dream feels muddled. It will be good to redefine what is important to me and let the future unfold. In the silent spaces, I can let go of trying to control.

Coinciding with the Lunar Eclipse (and a subtle reminder that we are not in control), Mercury is in retrograde which I associate with breakdowns in interpersonal communication and technology. Here is an article that flips that notion on its head, redefining Mercury Retrograde as a time of increased right brain creative activity. It’s refreshing to view Mercury Retro with a positive spin!

Though my Cancer Sun sign keeps me tightly tethered to a love of history and the past, Winter Solstice is the time of year when I set strong intentions for the future. I look forward to the quiet hibernation of Winter, and the introspection of Bear. Happy Winter!


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, December 10th, 2011

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Summer Tea Rose, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Summer Tea Rose, from our summer garden, forms a perfect natural mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I try to end the year with a Gratitude List. I find it a good practice to honor having lived another year. And to equally honor the people, places, and sentient beings who make life rich and worth living.

Last year, I used the ABC’s as a format for a 2007 Gratitude List and liked that structure, so I’m going to continue with it this year. I kept it simple, and I’m sure have only touched the surface. If I’ve forgotten anything or anyone, please know you are in my heart.

What are you grateful for? For many, 2008 was a hard year financially, emotionally, and physically. I find that a belief in something bigger than me, and faith, keep me going in the down times. I want to try to remember to live one day at a time.

On the 2nd day of 2009, it is sunny, blue, clear, and I woke up to exactly 0 degree temperatures, a perfect circle — the best of winter in Minnesota. Winter is all whites, blacks, blues and grays and makes me feel alive. And, for some reason, Winter always reminds me of the color of Spring.



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A – Afterglow – making Art, making love, walking in the sun, glistening humidity on the face of a July Savannah day


B – Building & Blooming – a writing life, a life together, a community, a garden, a studio space, a spiritual foundation


C – Chaco, Cravings, Creating – creating anything: a photograph, a piece of writing, a mandala, a clay set of Runes, a painting, a community, a blog. Chaco — I’m so grateful he is alive to take us into the New Year, our little miracle. Cravings – what do you crave? That’s where your passions lie.


D – Death & Dying – the threat of death wakes us up; the death of dry summer flowers makes way for next year’s Spring blooms; the death of one career makes space for the life of another; the death of a loved one or pet leaves us grieving, sad, yet appreciative at the miracle of one more day.


E – Eating! – food, food, food, all kinds of food. Don’t like to cook but love to try new foods and savor the old Family Recipes.


F – Friends & Family & Fathers – circles of closeness, moving out from center. Different levels of intimacy, all important to a thriving life. It would be lonely without family and friends. Fathers — I have had quite a few. I’m thankful for what they have each brought to my life, and the chance to rebuild broken bridges.


G – Gratitude – humble gratitude for others, those who came before us, those who run parallel, the children of the future, all teach me perspective


H – Humility & Home – it’s a gift to be alive. Humility helps me remember — Do not waste this precious life. Home is the place that holds history, the place I feel safe.


I – Introspection — most comfortable in the cave of Bear, what I learn there can make me a wiser, better person when I go back out into the world


J – J. & January – I’m grateful my brother walks with us into another year after spending time last summer in the ICU. It’s always scary when family members are gravely ill. January offers the promise of a New Year.


K – Kindred Spirits – those who travel beside us. They change faces from time to time, but that is to be expected. Endings lead to new beginnings.


L – Love & Liz – sappy, I know, but love is a wondrous thing. It heals many wounds. Was it in Bucket List where the narrator said, “We are not the things that love us; we are the things we love.” Giving is better than receiving.  Love lost brings the opportunity to love again. You never know when you will fall in love.


M – Mothers & Grandmothers – mothers continue to provide much of the nurturing in this world. My mother is my biggest fan and offers loving support to me in this crazy writing life. Thanks for traveling with me and continuing to answer my endless questions about family history. Thanks for believing in me. And for instilling into your children permission to follow their dreams. Thanks to my Grandmothers who walk with me every day.


N – Noses – medium, broad, ski-jump, upturned, and small. Noses hold glasses close to the eyes. Smells are the best connectors to memories. Think of your favorite smells. A keen sense of smell leads to a keen sense of detail.


O – Optimism – I tend to see the glass half-full. I am of the belief that setting positive intention creates cairns that guide through the tough times. Right or wrong, it helps me through sadness and grief and is the philosophy I live by.


P – Passion & Peace – do they go hand in hand? Maybe not. It’s hard to believe the things people do to each other out of passion. It makes it hard to keep the peace. Still, I believe it is possible.


Q – Quagmire – one of my favorite words. noun:  a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot. What would life be without the uncertainty of sinking quagmires that eventually lead back to solid ground.


R – red Ravine – so grateful for the community who visits here. And for the creative practice that has developed around red Ravine. Every day offers new surprises. Thanks for dropping by, for what you have given to creating this space.


S – Summer — the longer I live in a Winter climate, the more I appreciate Summer and the Southern roots I grew up with. When I lived there as a child (and now when I visit) I never stop sweating!


T – Teachers & Time – the gift of time. Every moment is a gift. The next could be our last breath. Or something could happen that changes our lives forever. There is no way to prepare except to honor each moment. Teachers, mentors who are wiser than I am. If only I would remember to keep listening.


U – Underwear – it’s a simple thing, isn’t it, underwear? Some people don’t wear it but I can’t imagine not having it. Cotton, all cotton, please, and I only wear Jockeys For Her. More expensive but they last longer. So worth it!


V – Vacations – oh, how I long for another vacation where I sit on a beach somewhere and do nothing. No writing, no thinking, no work, no nothing. Simply being still and silent and listening to the ocean, Zen heartbeat of the Universe.


W – Writing & Art Buddies – they take many forms. Writing Practice groups, community on red Ravine, writing retreat friends, local writers, regional writers, artists who inspire, writers and poets who have written books that changed the world. It’s too lonely to try to do this alone.


X – X-Treme Living – life goes on with or without us. It can be an extreme act of grace to make it through another day.


Y – ybonesy – I couldn’t do this without her. The creative collaboration of red Ravine has led down many fruitful, winding roads. And it all started that day in Taos after a writing retreat with Natalie Goldberg. I have so much gratitude for Natalie who taught me about the practice of writing and helped me believe in myself.


Z – Zest for Life – passion and doing what we love keep us from becoming complacent. Please, don’t let me take life for granted. (Plus, Zest is a fun word to say!)




Raindrops On Roses, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved   Rose Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Rose Mandala, Raindrops On Roses, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, January 2nd, 2009

-related posts and to read more about the practice of Gratitude:  Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List, The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, I Am Grateful For The Alphabet 😉

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Bear At Sunset, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Got Your Back, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Circling, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Burning The Yule, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Fire & Snow, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Shadow Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






Bear circles Yule fire
drumming sunrise to sunset
gift of tobacco



cool blue snow cave hides
monks of the animal world
heartbeat disappears



long sleep of Winter
cubs born in hibernation
lean fat of the land



Winter Solstice past
contemplative Void lingers
the promise of Spring






American Spirit, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Bear Meat In Ritual, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Cool Drums, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Cool Drums, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter Solstice, December 21st 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Promise Of Spring

New Year’s Eve approaches. Black-eyed peas are soaking in a pot on the stove, awaiting the bone of ham. Taking a much needed rest, I’m reminded of the hibernation of Bear. We learned on a wind chilled, -18 degree Winter Solstice that bear cubs are born during hibernation in the black cold of January.

After the Winter cave of silent dreams, we move into 2009 with the promise of rebirth — Spring.



The Bear Facts

To learn more about the winter habits of Bears and other hibernating animals such as squirrels, groundhogs, chipmunks, bats, rattlesnakes, and hedgehogs, visit these links:


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, December 30th, 2008, with gratitude to my friends Carol, Susan, and Gail

-related to post:  haiku (one-a-day)

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Antique Lights, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Antique Lights, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve. Our cat Chaco, who we discovered last week is chronically ill, is resting comfortably in the bedroom. He spent Winter Solstice in the emergency hospital. We brought him home from the vet yesterday along with three prescription medications and a bag of fluids we’ll be administering subcutaneously over the next few days. Dr. Blackburn says he’s a fighter; he’s walking better, eating more regularly, and his little Spirit has more life than it did last week.

We’ll take him back on Saturday to see how his vitals look. In the meantime, we are learning to care for a chronically ill cat. It goes without saying, Liz and I haven’t been getting much sleep. So the energy for posting has flagged. But then I ran across this inspirational poem by Russell Libby.

Described by kindle, site of the Northern New England Bioneers, as “a farmer, a selectman, an economist, a poet, and a visionary builder of local, organic food systems in Maine and beyond,” he seems like a man close to the Earth. Since 1983 he and his family have grown organic food for friends and family at Three Sisters Farm in Mount Vernon, and his Maine roots date back to 1635, when his forebears settled in the colony.

His poem reminded me of all the trees that lose their lives this time of year (31 million Christmas trees last year in the U.S. alone). Many Christmas trees come from tree farms these days (500 Minnesota tree farmers expect to harvest 500,000 trees this year), though I have been known to go out and cut my own from the forest of a friend’s ancestral lands. Fresh pine is the smell of Christmas for me. And I love sitting in the dark and staring at the lights on the tree.


Time For Your Close-Up!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Time For Your Close-Up!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Time For Your Close-Up!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Time For Your Close-Up!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Since we haven’t had time to put a tree up this year, I thought I’d post these photographs of the antique Christmas lights mentioned in The Poet’s Letter — Robert Bly. It was at Poetry Group that night that our friend Teri shared a story about how her family discovered the lights hidden on top of a rainwater cistern in the basement of a Minnesota farmhouse that has been in her family for generations.

Trees provide balance and structure for the thousands of lights that burn brightly this time of year. I am grateful for the untouched land, places preserved for old growth forests, trees with skins that will never be touched by an ax or saw.

Here’s one last quote for the trees I found in an Alice Walker book, Anything We Love Can Be Saved — A Writer’s Activism. It’s printed below a black and white photograph of a man with his arms stretched wide around a tree. It’s a good time of year to remember what is worth putting our arms around.


This photograph of an Indian man hugging a tree has been attached to my typing stand for years. Each day it reminds me that people everywhere know how to love. It gives me hope that when the time comes, each of us will know just exactly what is worth putting our arms around.

   -Robert A. Hutchison

 


Holding The Light, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Holding The Light, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Holding The Light, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Holding The Light, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Holding The Light, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




American Life in Poetry: Column 194

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006


Father and child doing a little math homework together; it’s an everyday occurrence, but here, Russell Libby, a poet who writes from Three Sisters Farm in central Maine, presents it in a way that makes it feel deep and magical.



Applied Geometry


Applied geometry,
measuring the height
of a pine from
like triangles,
Rosa’s shadow stretches
seven paces in
low-slanting light of
late Christmas afternoon.
One hundred thirty nine steps
up the hill until the sun is
finally caught at the top of the tree,
let’s see,
twenty to one,
one hundred feet plus a few to adjust
for climbing uphill,
and her hands barely reach mine
as we encircle the trunk,
almost eleven feet around.
Back to the lumber tables.
That one tree might make
three thousand feet of boards
if our hearts could stand
the sound of its fall.



American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2007 by Russell Libby, whose most recent book is “Balance: A Late Pastoral,” Blackberry Press, 2007.

Reprinted from “HeartLodge,” Vol. III, Summer 2007, by permission of Russell Libby. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.


-posted on red Ravine, Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

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Splash Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Splash Fire (Dreamscape), Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Winter Solstice is peaking in the Great White North. The darkness of winter reflects off the cold blue snow. Yesterday we had blizzard conditions and the cottage sits behind a wall of white. I wanted to get up and write in the shadows, calling upon dreams I wish to bring into the light.

Mr. StripeyPants sits beside me on the couch, trying to keep warm. Kiev and Liz are still asleep. Chaco, bless his heart, is spending the weekend in an animal hospital. He declined quickly this week and, after two visits to our vet, we had to make the hard decision to put him in emergency care over the weekend.

The doctor called last night to say he is steadily improving. At 12 years old, he is experiencing the beginnings of kidney failure. We are not sure how long we’ll have with him. Quite a few tears were shed this week. Into the fire it all goes. I can release the grief and pain. I don’t have to carry the burden.

Winter Solstice in Minnesota hit her highpoint around 6 a.m CST. From that moment on, each day takes us more into the light. The Universal Time for Winter Solstice in 2008 is 12 21 12:03:34 UT. In the Midwest, we have to subtract 6 hours to arrive at the accurate time zone. (To learn more about Solstices and how to translate time for your part of the world visit the links and comments in Solstice Fire In Winter or Winter Solstice — Making Light Of The Dark.)

Around Noon we will head over to our friends’ home for a Winter Solstice celebration. They usually use the dried and cut Yule tree from last year’s season as kindling to start the fire. On the longest night of the year, we’ll draw on the cave-like energy of Bear, Spirit Guardian of the North.



Bear is feminine reflective energy. She is known across many cultures as a symbol for divinity and healing, and a powerful totem. According to the Animal Spirits cards, illustrated by Susan Seddon Boulet, the Ainu people of the northern islands of Japan believed the Bear was a mountain god. In India, bears are believed to prevent disease and the cave symbolizes the cave of  Brahma. And among the Finno-Ugric peoples, the bear was the god of heaven.

Many Native American peoples regard Bear as a Spirit helper. Here is an excerpt from the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson:


The strength of Bear medicine is the power of introspection. It lies in the West on the great Medicine Wheel of Life. Bear seeks honey, or the sweetness of truth, within the hollow of an old tree. In the winter, when the Ice Queen reigns and the face of death is upon the Earth, Bear enters the womb-cave to hibernate, to digest the year’s experience. It is said that our goals reside in the West also. To accomplish the goals and dreams that we carry, the art of introspection is necessary.

To become like Bear and enter the safety of the womb-like cave, we must attune ourselves to the energies of the Eternal Mother, and receive nourishment from the placenta of the Great Void. The Great Void is the place where all solutions and answers live in harmony with the questions that fill our realities. If we choose to believe that there are many questions to life, we must also believe that the answers to these questions reside within us. Each and every being has the capacity to quiet the mind, enter the silence, and know.

     -from the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson

 

Bear is the West, the intuitive side, the right brain. Bear invites us to calm the chatter and enter the silence. To hibernate, Bear travels to the Cave, seeks answers while dreaming, and is reborn in the Spring. In the Dream World, our Ancestors sit in council and advise us about alternative pathways leading to our goals. They open doors to inner-knowing where “the death of the illusion of physical reality overlays the expansiveness of Eternity.”

My Grandmother Elise’s birthday is on Winter Solstice. And I often think of her this time of year and call her Spirit into the Circle; I can feel her looking down on us. Solstice is a time of release, a time to consider what to leave behind in the dark, what seeds we wish to plant that may mature with the light of Spring.


Happy Winter Solstice to all. The dark New Moon signifies the beginning of a new cycle that will come to fruition at the next Full Moon. May you celebrate with open hearts. Merry meet, Merry part, and Merry meet again.




     Bear Breathing Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Bear Breathing Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Bear Breathing Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Winter Solstice, Sunday, December 21st, 2008

-related to posts: 8 Minutes, and 10 Things I Learned Last Weekend (Solstice x Number)

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