Hidden Beauty in Murky Water

Originally posted in 2017. Currently (June 2024), the river is flowing too fast for snorkeling.

Text and photos by the Old Naturalist.

Minnehaha Creek  flows out of Lake Minnetonka and lot of fish go over the dam during the spring runoff. I love to snorkel here until the creek gets too polluted by all the human activity on the lake. Winter is blessing for Lake Minnetonka because it is able to heal from the summer boating season.


Brown bullheads are bottom dwellers and they usually skitter away when danger approaches. True, most people do not like bullheads.  But when you are swimming in their element, it is easy to appreciate their uniqueness.

largemouth bass

Eye to eye with a largemouth bass.
One of the little surprises that continually occur while snorkeling in the creek.


Crappies are like angels with fins instead of wings.
They are so gentle and have a quiet beauty.

Northern Pike

This young northern pike allowed me to get within a few feet of it. The beautiful camouflage pattern made it difficult to see.


Walleye are so mysterious. They lurk in the shadows.


Male bluegill in breeding colors. I have not seen bluegill nests in the creek. Probably because the river’s current would wash them out.

Bowfin or dogfish

Primitive, creepy and beautiful. Bottom feeder.
I only saw one bowfin this year. This photo is from 2016 when there were dozens of them.

Smallmouth Bass

The creativity of nature continually amazes me.
The subtle pattern of a smallmouth bass is food for the soul.


In this photo you get a hint of how the light dances off the fish and the plants.

Northern Pike

Nothing like seeing a large pike to make your heart stop.


Posted in Animals, Photography/Art, Summer | 7 Comments

The 17 year Cicada Miracle

adult 17 year cicada


The visit with our daughter, Alli, who lives in North Carolina, coincided with the emergence of the 17 year cicadas. It was magical experiencing a small part of a cicada’s life. 17 year cicadas have the longest known insect life cycle.





Amazingly, after 17 years the entire population (up to 1.5 million/acre) emerges all at once.

Holes where cicada’s emerged



The nymphs hatch from eggs in the trees after six weeks. The young crawl to the ground and dig up to 2 feet below the surface. During the 17 years, the nymphs molt five times and sustain themselves by feeding on the roots of trees.







When the nymphs emerge from the ground, they molt for the last time, and wait up to six days for their wings to harden.

The nymph emerges from the ground. Photo by Alli Platter.

The adult emerging from its nymph stage.
Photo by Alli Platter













Adult cicadas live only four to six more weeks—just long enough to mate, and lay eggs. One female will lay as many as 600 eggs dispersed in clutches of 20 throughout the forest.

Mating Cicadas


Why do Cicadas remain underground 17 years?

One theory is, they can protect their population by emerging in large numbers. Predators, like birds and raccoons will be able to stuff themselves, but there will still be a large number of cicadas that survive. Also, the 17 year cicadas appear so infrequently, that there aren’t any predators that can specialize on eating them.

Exoskeletons in the trees photo by Alli Platter

The males cluster in ‘chorus centers’ and call to attract females. Within six weeks of emerging from the ground the life cycle is complete and the adults die.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Insights Outside – Feel the Land

Artwork and Text by Linda Jensen

I want to show aesthetic beauty and the unnoticed, unusual stories that catch my eye and my imagination. I am concerned about human beings losing perspective in our forward momentum as we try to change our consumerist ways and learn to care for the Earth and all the life it supports. I hope to be a better human, to spend my days learning and effecting a smaller imprint. I don’t think my brain can quite comprehend the power of healing and life that is woven all around us.

Shamineau     (pastel)

Along the north shore between Lake Superior and the highway, are glacial potholes, an interesting geological feature, with varieties of trees in the woods. In this beautiful place I imagine stepping into my ancestors footprints, walking among the birches. 

Whose Woods Are These?
click on the painting to see it full size

A fresh winter blanket covers us with a warming chill. We survive & thrive winter partly by breathing it in and letting it refresh us from the inside out. Don’t extremes make us stronger?

Once Upon a Prairie

In 1981, while wandering around the prairie somewhere in South Dakota I came across this small abandoned house on the edge of a field. It was enticing to explore and to wonder what life was like for the folks who lived there.

Bittersweet Shadow
click on the painting to see it full size

A lace curtain casts a gossamer-like shadow in the room, displaying a filmy, fleeting layer under a gathering of bittersweet pinned to the wall, lasting only a few moments before the sun sets below the windowsill.

Taos Neighbor          (pastel)
click on the painting to see it full size


The adobe homes in New Mexico look like they grew right out of the ground. Respect and humility come to mind, observing the evidence that for many thousands of years, humans existed, using the resources from the earth with reverence and restraint, creating sacred spaces to survive, grow and thrive.

Oak by Walnut
Walnut Ink, quilt pen
click on the painting to see it full size

When squirrels have left the outer shells of black walnuts, the shells can be gathered and slow cooked in water for a day or so. This makes a beautiful warm brown ink. As in former times, we can still make many of the materials we use, and that in itself is an art.

Nesting Instinct
click on the painting to see it full size

While living in South Dakota, I explored empty wind worn homes that stood like a period at the end of an era. There was always a romanticized ‘Little House in the Prairie’ hangover from these discoveries, though I know it must have been a hard life, the etching of that life sat like a silent secret in chipped paint and weather worn wood-lap siding.

Although the home was abandoned by humans, a bird found a way to create a  home in the window sill.

French Laundry
click on the painting to see it full size

I visited an amazing woman named Mandy, who spent most of her life living on a yacht, tooling around the world. She had so many stories! She is now in her 70’s and lives in a country house in the Lot region of France. This image of her laundry line struck me as an element of a simple, functional life surrounded by unmanicured beauty of the country landscape.

click on the painting to see it full size

This scene is warm and worn, work and the land, basic as butter; icons of the Midwest landscape.

Winter hill
click on the painting to see it full size

The hill offers a high horizon line, setting a vantage point to observe trees and sumac silhouettes against the sky, highlighting seasonal changes.

Meet Alice

This little gal was so friendly and curious!

Dog Day
click on the painting to see it full size

An ode to Norman Rockwell, this was a compilation of several shots I took (illegally I’m sure) from the car driver’s seat. I think the image says it all: There is pure joy in smelling the air and letting your ears and lips flap in the breeze.

If you are interested in my work, you can contact me at:  insightarty@gmail.com

Linda Jensen

Posted in Photography/Art | 6 Comments

La Leyenda Maya de Quetzalcóatl The Mayan legend of the Feathered Serpent

Francisco Arizmendi


Contada por Francisco Arizmendi de Instituto de Jovel, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

As told by Francisco Arizmendi






Quetzalcóatl era el dios de la sabiduría, las artes y muchas otras cosas. Se pensaba que su cuerpo era un combinación de un verde quetzal pájaro y una serpiente. Por eso, Quetzalcóatl se llama ‘la serpiente emplumada’ en español.

Quetzalcoatl was a god of wisdom, the arts and many other things. It was thought that his body was a combination of a green quetzal bird and a serpent. For that reason, it is called the ‘feathered serpent’ in Spanish.

La serpiente emplumada o Quetzalcóatl es una dualidad. El pájaro simboliza el elemento aire. La serpiente representa el elemento tierra. En el mundo Maya y Azteca, el aire representa el Supramundo y la tierra representa la Inframundo. Los dos mundos son conectados en el dios Quetzalcóatl. ‘Cóatl’ en lengua náhuatl significa dos y  gemelos, por eso la serpiente tenía dos cabezas. La cabeza de la derecho significa el sol. La cabeza izquierda representa la noche. Las lenguas de las dos cabezas se tocaban y representan que todo está contectado. En otras palabras, todos somos un micro cosmos y un macro cosmos al mismo tiempo.

The feathered serpent or Quetzacoatl is a duality. The element of the bird symbolizes the air. The element of the serpent symbolizes the Earth. In the Mayan and Aztec world, the air represents the Supramundo and the land represents the inframundo The two worlds are connected in the god Quetzalcoatl. ‘Coatl’ in the náhuatl language means ‘two’ and ‘twins’. That is why the serpent had two heads. The head on the right signifies the sun. The head on the left represents the night. The tongues of the two heads are touching and represents that everything is connected. In other words, everybody is a micro and macrocosm.



El archivo más antigua de Quetzalcóatl data aproximadamente de novecientos BC. El dios Quetzalcóatl llegó al centro de México, durante la época Tolteca. Después de su llegada hubo muchos cambios en la tierra. Por ejemplo, habían mejorado la producción de maíz (con mazorcas del tamaño de un hombre); algodones de differente colores; había más prosperidad y el aparicíon de pájaros de hermoso plumaje.

The oldest record of Quetzalcoatl dates approximately to 900 BC. The god Quetzalcoatl arrived in central Mexico during the Toltec period. After he arrived there were many changes in the land. For example, there was improved production of corn (one cob can be the size of a man) cotton of different colors; there was more prosperity and the appearance of birds with beautiful plumage.

World History Encyclopedia

Quetzalcóatl enseñó a toda la gente a hacer joyas y alfarería. Todos  amaban a Quetzalcóatl, y pensaban que él era fantastico. Pero había Dioses que estaban celosos. Uno se llamaba Tezcatlipoca, que era el dios del ‘espejo humeante’ o uno que no era como aparentaba. Los Dioses hicieron una fiesta para el pueblo y ellos invitaron a Quetzalcóatl. Los Dioses dijeron a Quetzalcóatl, “Vamos a hacer una fiesta para que podamos estar todos juntos y estar bien”. Quetzalcóatl dije, “Claro, todo está bien”. Quetzalcóatl llegó y disfrutó la fiesta.

Tezcatlipoca Jean Vervelle jvervelle@gmail.com

Quetzalcoatl taught all of the people jewelry and potttery. All of the people loved Quetzalcoatl and thought he was fantastic. But there were gods who were jealous.

One called Tezcatlipoca, who was a god of ‘smoky mirrors’ or one who was not as he appeared. The gods created a fiesta for the town and they invited Quetzalcoatl. They said to Quetzalcoatl, “We are going to have a fiesta to be all together and to be fine. He said, “ Sure, all is fine.” Then Quetzalcoatl arrived and enjoyed the fiesta.






Durante la fiesta, Quetzalcóatl bebió chocolate, pero Tezcatlipoca había puesto pulque y el hechizo en su bebida de chocolate. Quetzalcóatl se puso muy borracho. El próximo día cuando Quetzalcóatl se despertó, se dio cuenta que cuando estaba borracho había hecho algo malo y estaba muy avergonzado. Así que salío del pueblo y caminó hacía el mar.

He drank chocolate, but Tezcatlipoca had put pulque and a spell in his chocolate drink. Quetzalcoatl became very drunk. The next day when Quetzalcoatl woke up, he realized that when he was drunk,  he had done something bad and was very ashamed. So he left the town and walked towards the sea.

Los estudiantes de Quetzalcóatl vieron que se había ido y caminaron atrás de él. Cuando Quetzalcóatl llegó al mar, veía que lo habían seguido. Los estudiantes le preguntaron a Quetzalcoatl, “A donde vas?”

Quetzalcoatl hizo una balsa de serpientes y subió la balsa y se fue al mar.
para Gilbert James

Él dijo, “Necesito irme ahora porque no merezco estar aqui, pero un día regresaré. Quetzalcóatl se quitó  los collares y se los puso a sus estudiantes para  les transmitirles su sabiduría a ellos. Después Quetzalcóatl hizo una balsa de serpientes y se subío sobre ella y se adentró al mar. En el  momento exacto que el desapreció en el horizonte, el planeto Venus aparecio,  volviéndose Quetzalcóatl el planeta Venus.

His students saw that he gone and walked behind him. The students said to Quetzalcoatl, “Where are you going?” He said, “I need to go because I don’t deserve to be here, and one day I will return.” Quetzalcoatl took his  necklaces off and put them on  his students and transmitted his wisdom to them. Then Quetzalcoatl made a raft of snakes,climbed on top of it and went into the sea. He disappeared in the horizon. At the moment he disappeared, the planet Venus appeared on the horizon, becoming Quetzalcoatl, the planet himself.

Quetzalcóatl se volvió el planeto Venus. Él es la estrella de la manaña y la estrella de la tarde. Para la cultura Azteca, para la cultura Tolteca, para la cultura Maya,  Quetzalcóatl es el hermano mayor del sol. Antes de amanecer, Venus (Quetzalcóatl) está ahí en el cielo del este. Después del atardecer, Venus es la estrella del atardecer en el cielo del oeste. Por eso Venus (Quetzalcóatl) es el hermano mayor del sol.

Quetzalcoatl became the planet Venus. He is the morning star and the evening star. For the Aztec culture, for the Toltec culture and for the Maya culture, Quetzalcoatl is the older brother of the sun. Before sunrise, Venus is there in the eastern sky, after sunset, Venus is the evening star to the West. For this, Venus (Quetzalcoatl) is the older brother of the sun.

Quetzalcóatl es la estrella de la manaña y la estrella del atardecer.


Montezuma encontre Cortes

Cuando se fue, Quetzalcóatl dijo que un día  regresaría. Desafortunadamente, cuando los espanoles llegaron en 1519, Montezuma II, el gobernante de los Aztecas, invitó Cortés, el conquistador español a la cuidad porque él pensó que Cortés era Quetzalcóatl y había regresado. Esto comenzó trescientos años de ocupación de México por los españoles.


When he left, Quetzalcoatl said that one day he would return. Unfortunately, when the Spanish arrived, Montezuma II, the Aztec king, invited Cortes, the Spanish conqueror into the city, because he thought Cortés was Quetzalcoat y he had returned. This began three hundred years of  occupation of Mexico by the Spanish.


Posted in Spanish | 2 Comments

La Gente de las Nubes – The Cloud People

Editado por Luz Toledo y de Instituto de Jovel, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Hace cinco años, tuve el honor de visitar el taller de Jacoba y Mária Ángeles, de San Martín Tilcajete, un pueblito en el estado de Oaxaca, Mexico.

Son artistas que tallan y pintan alebrijes, criaturas mágicas de madera. Para las artistas, que pasaba tanto tiempo creando las piezas, las criaturas tienen un espiritu dentro de ellos.

Five years ago, I had the honor to visit the  workshop of Jacobo and María Ángeles, from San Martin Tilcajete a pueblo in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

They are artists who carve and paint alebrijes, magical wooden creatures. To the artists, who spend so much time creating the pieces, the creatures have a spirit inside them.

La cultura zapoteca data de antes de Cristo. Los antepasados zapotecas eran artistas, granjeros, guerreros y constructores de pirámides.

En el siglo xvi, los zapotecas fueron conquistados por los aztecas. Después, los españoles invadieron y oprimieron a los zapotecas. Sin embargo, la resistencia y la belleza de la cultura zapoteca es evidente hoy en su arte.

The Zapotec culture dates before Christ. The Zapotec ancestors were artists, farmers, warriors and builders of pyramids.

In the 16th century, the Zapotecs were conquered by the Mexicas or Aztecs. Afterwards, the Spanish invaded and oppressed the Zapotecs.. However, the resilience and beauty of the Zapotec culture is evident today in their art.

The Zapotec believed that bats or murcielago were the keepers of the Underworld.



De acuerdo con las leyendas zapotecas, algunos de sus antepasados se originaron en las cuevas y otros de los árboles, y de los jaguares.

Tambíen, otros se creyeron ser descendientes de seres sobrenaturales que vivían en las nubes. Por esto se llamaron : Be’ena’Za’a” or “la gente de las nubes”.

According to Zapotec legends, some of their ancestors originated in caves, and others came from trees or jaguars.

Still others are believed to be descended from supernatural beings who lived in the clouds. That is why they are called “Be’ena’Za’a” – “The cloud people.”







El perro sagrado del zapoteco, “Xoloitzcuintl” o Xolo, simboliza la importancia de la familia, del liderazgo positivo y del poder espiritual.

The sacred dog of the Zapotec, Xoloitzcuintli or “Xolo” symbolizes the importance of  family, positive leadership and spiritual power.

El tlacuache – possum

photo by Jacobo and Mária Ángeles

En el taller hay ochenta artistas y una escuela donde enseñan a los pasantes quien viven en la comunidad. El taller está dedicado a mantener viva su cultura zapoteca.

In the workshop there are eighty artists, also, a school where they teach interns who live in the community. The workshop is dedicated to keeping their Zapotec culture alive.

El caracol simboliza el valor de contribuir a la comunidad. Este símbolo está usado en los diseños de los alebrijes. Otros animales honrados en sus diseños son las hormigas (trabajadores) y los peces (tranquilos). De esta manera, los artistas guardan su cultura llena de vida y honran a la naturaleza.

The snail symbolizes the value of contributing to the community. This symbol is used in the designs of the alebrijes. Other animals honored in their designs are ants (hardworking) and fish (calm). In this way, the artists keep their culture full of life and honor nature.


Zapotecs believed that iguanas represented creativity and sensitivity.


Photo by Jacobo Ángeles

La mayoría de los alebrijes están tallado del Copal. Es el árbol sagrado de la cultura zapoteca. Antes de empezar a trabajar, quemaron la resina del copal para ayudar a limpiar sus energía y conectado con sus antepasados. Mária Ángeles es la mujer en la imagen de la derecha. La mujer a la izquierda tiene diseñas caracol en su brazo.

Most of the alebrijes are carved from copal. It is the sacred tree of the Zapotec culture. Before starting to work, they burn the resin of the copal to help cleanse their energy and connect to their ancestors. Mária Ángeles is the woman in the image on the right. The woman on the left has caracol designs on her arm.

All of the work is done by hand using primitive tools: machetes, knives, and chisels. Photo by Jacobo and Mária Ángeles

Cuando un tallador comienza un proyecto, necesita estudiar la madera para encontrar el espíritu o “nahual” escondido dentro de la madera. Mientras se talla la madera, las artistas utilizan su imaginación y su habilidad con un machete.

When a carver starts a project, it is necessary to study the wood to find the spirit o nahual hidden inside the wood. While carving the wood, the artistas use their imagination and their skill with a machete.

An unfinished jaguar that our guide, Elias, was working on. The entire body will be covered with Zapotec symbols. The jaguar is the protector and signifies leadership.

Nuestra guia, Elias, ha estado pintando alebrijes por veinticinco años. Él y otros artistas solo usan  pigmentos natural: corteza de copal (el negro); bichos cochinillas ( el rojo); el piel de la granada (el amarillo), flores y otro materiales.

Our guide, Elias, has been painting alebrijes for 25 years. He and other artists only use natural pigments: copal bark (black), cochineal bugs (red), the skin of the pomegranate (yellow), flowers and other materials.


Los artistas pintan los diseños sin siguiente un estampado,  usando su creatividad innata. Elias dijo que pintando los diseños zapoteca todo el día puede ser una experiencia meditativa.

The artists paint the designs without following a pattern, using their innate creativity.  Elias said that painting the Zapotec symbols all day long can be a meditative experience.

A large piece may take 1.5 years to complete from start to finish and 10 weeks to paint. Elias and a team of other artists worked together on this lion project.

Copal Tree
photo by Jacobo y Mária Ángeles.

La resina del árbol de copal ha estado usada para incienso por más de setecientos años. Desafortunadamente, demasiados copales han sido cortados. Para garantizar la sobrevivencia de copal, el taller ha estado cultivando plántulas copales en sus viveros. Cada año, plantan tres mil plántulas en las montañas. Los árboles van a estar maduros en cuarenta años. Su visión a largo plazo garantiza que su negocio va a ser sostenible en el futuro. También, ellos estan regresando lo que tomaron de la Tierra.

The resin of the copal tree has been used for incense for more than seven hundred years. Unfortunately, too much copal has been cut. To guarantee the survival of copal, the workshop has been cultivating copal seedlings in their greenhouses. Each year, they plant three thousand seedlings in the mountains. The trees will be mature in forty years. Their long-term vision guarantees that their business will be sustainable in the future. Also, they are giving back what they took from the Earth.

The row on the right are one year old cutting grafts. The row on the left are seedlings planted from Copal seed.

8 year old Copal Tree

Los árboles serán cosechados después de cuarenta años. En ese momento, el tronco tendrá un metro de diámetro.

The trees will be harvested after 40 years. At that time the trunk will be a meter in diameter.

Yearly planting project that involves the entire community. photo by Jacobo y Mária Ángeles.

El taller de Jacoba y Mária Ángeles es un ejemplo positivo de qué pasa cuando los humanos siguen sus sueños y sus valores, entonces trabajan para lograrlos.

The workshop of Jacoba y Mária Ángeles is a positive example of what happens when humans follow their dreams and their values, then work to achieve them.

photo by Jacobo y Mária Ángeles.

Reader Jessica Blum shared the book, Dream Carver or El Tallador de Sueños para Amy Cordova


Posted in Connecting to Nature, Spanish | 9 Comments

La Historia de la Creación Maya / Mayan Creation Story

Contada por Francisco Arizmendi y editado por Luz  Toledo y de Instituto de Jovel, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.
As told by Francisco Arizmendi and edited by Luz Toledo y de Instituto de Jovel, San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico.


Popol Vuh es el libro sagrado para los Mayas y cuenta la creación de los seres humanos. También es un libro de consejos.

Popol Vuh is a sacred book of the Mayans and describes the creation of human beings. It is also a book of advise.

un ejemplo de escritura maya. www.manzanillosun.com

Antes de los seres humanos, no existía nada en el universo. Sólo había agua y todo estaba muy tranquilo. Entonces los dioses se reunieron, y ellos decidieron crear al ser humano. La primera creación, fue un hombre de madera, pero el humano de madera no era capaz de hablar, ni era capaz de reproducirse. Un tiempo después, se olvidó a los dioses. Esta creación no sirvió para los dios, asi que los dioses enviaron una “lluvia de fuego”. Por lo tanto, los humanos de madera fueren quemados y ya no existieron más.

un lluvia de fuego.  www.freeimages.com


Before human beings, the only thing that existed in the universe was water and everything was very peaceful. Then the Gods met and they decided to create a human. The first creation was a human of wood, but the wooden human wasn’t able speak and was not able to reproduce. A while later, this wooden human forgot about the Gods. This creation was of no use to the Gods, so they sent a “rain of fire”. Therefore, the wooden humans were burned and no longer existed.



La segunda creación fueron los humanos de barro. Ellos hablaban y se reproducían, pero ellos, también, olvidaron a los dioses. Un tiempo después, los dioses enviaron una lluvia muy grande. Con esta lluvia, los humanos de barro desaparecieron.

The second creation were clay humans. They spoke, reproduced, but they, also, forgot the Gods. A while later, the gods sent a great rain. With this rain, the clay humans disappeared.

el humano de barro
Clay humans


un humano de maiz Gabriela Moreira, Instagram

En la tercera creación los dioses dijeron       “No vamos a usar madera, ni barro, ahora vamos a usar maíz”.  Los dioses hicieron al humano de maíz.

Nosotros somos de maíz. Comemos tortillas, tacos, tamales, y atole. Nuestro olor es maíz.

Hay cuatro colores de maíz: rojo, blanco, amarillo y negro. Los cuatro colores de maíz y los cuatro colores de la piel de los humanos significan que todo de los razas de los humanos son de maíz.




In the third creation, the Gods said, “We are not going to use wood, not clay, now we are going to use corn. The Gods made a human from corn.

We are made of corn. We eat tortillas, tacos, tamales, y atole; our smell is corn. Then we are from corn.

There are four colors of corn: rojo, blanco, amarillo and black. The four colors of corn and the four colors of the human skin signifies that the races of men are from corn.

Mis maestros: Luz Toledo/Francisco Arizmendi


Posted in Spanish | 2 Comments



Hace un año, tuve el placer de visitar un árbol, se llama, “ahuehuete”  en Nahuatl (a-way-way-tay) o en español, “El Tule”. Ahuehuete crece en el valle de Oaxaca, Mexico. Había muchas turistas mexicanos caminado alredador ahuehuete. Los jardines cerca del árbol eran magnificos con muchas flores, una fuente y árboles esculpidos con figuras diferentes. Los jardineros son artistas de la tierra.

A year ago, I had the pleasure to visit a tree called, “Ahuehuete” in Nahuatl (a-way-way-tay) or in Spanish, “El Tule”.  Ahuehuete grows in the Oaxaca Valley, Mexico. There were many Mexican tourists walking around Ahuehuete. The gardens near the tree were magnificent with many flowers, a fountain and scultpted trees with different figures. The gardeners are artists of the land.

Ahuehuete es gigantesco y el árbol tenía ya un mil quinientos años cuando los españoles invadieron México in 1519. También, el ahuehuete tiene uno de los más grandes truncos del mundo. Este tipo de árbol es de la misma familia botánica de las secuoyas en California del Norte. Las secuoyas son los árboles más alto de la Tierra.

En Nahuatl, “ahuehuete” significa “agua profundo”.  Este tierra solía un pantano, pero ahora, la tierra es seca. Los granjeros y los constructores habían drenado el agua y esto ha estresado El Ahuehuete.

Ahuehuete is gigantic and the tree was already fifteen hundred years old when the Spaniards invaded Mexico in 1519. Also, Ahuehuete has one of the largest trunks on Earth. This type of tree is in the same botanical family as the sequoias in Northern California. The sequoias are the tallest trees on Earth.

In Nahuatl, “ahuehuete’ means “deep water”. This ground used to be a swamp, but today the earth is dry. Farmers and builders have drained the water and this has stressed Ahuehuete.

Un nudo en Ahuehuete

Por una hora, caminé alredador del ahuehuete y cada vista fue única. El árbol tiene una presencia que me sentí desde la distancia. ¡Tantas personas disfrutaban el ahuehuete de su propia manera! Yo vi a familias tomando fotos juntos; algunas mujeres jóvenes estaban posando por el árbol; los amantes estaban besándose y abrazándose. Me parece que el ahuehuete los miraba y disfrutaba de la conexión con los humanos.

For an hour I walked around Ahuehuete and each view was unique. The tree has a presence that I could feel at a distance. So many people were enjoying Ahuehuete in their own way! I saw families taking photos together; some young women were posing for the tree; lovers were kissing and hugging. It seemed to me that Ahuehuete was watching them and enjoyed the connection with humans.

Note: to watch the video, Do not Click on the Red Triangle – Click on “Watch on Youtube”


Posted in Spanish | 5 Comments

Los Ojos de la Naturaleza The Eyes of Wildness

Editado por Alli Redfield Platter y Luz Toledo de Instituto Jovel, San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico

Observar la naturaleza es un proceso de descubrimiento,
De encontrar la cuenta detrás de lo que se ve,
Entender más y ser tejido en la cuenta también.

Observing nature is a process of discovery,
Of finding the story behind what you are seeing,
of seeing more and being woven into the story as well.

Búhito cornudo
Horned owlets

Hace cinco inviernos, yo estaba siguienendo el crecimiento de dos búhitos cornudos. Salieron del nido, pero no podían volar bien y los depredadores lo estaban buscando.

Five winters ago, I was following the growth of two horned owlets. They left the nest, but weren’t able to fly well and the predators were looking for them.

Un día, cuando salí mi coche, oí los llamados de los cuervos en el bosque. Del sonido,  conocía los cuervos estaban hostigando un búho que estaba cerca. Inmediatamente, vi un búho adulto que llevaba un conejo en su garras y los cuervos estaban persiguiendolo detrás.

One day, when I got out of my car, I heard the calling of the crows in the forest. From the sound, I knew the crows were harassing an owl that was near. Immediately, I saw an adult owl carrying a rabbit in its claws and the crows were pursuing it from behind.

Otro día vi las huellas de un zorro y encontré un mapache muerto. Los depredadores estaban merodeando, buscando los búhitos.

Another day, I saw the tracks of  a fox and a dead raccoon. The predators were prowling, looking for the owlets.


La proxima vez estaba buscando para los búhitos pero encontré solo uno. El otro búhito no estaba por ningún lado. Me preguntaba si había matado para los depredadores.

The next time I was looking for the owlets, but found only one. The other owlet was no where to be found. I wondered if it was killed by predators.

la huella de un búho     Owl track



Bolitos de un Búho. Vomitan el pelo y los huesos de su presa. Owl pellet. They cough up the fur and bones of their prey

Dos semanas después, estaba preocupado del búhito desaparecido y subí una colina y desde allí tenía una amplia vista del bosque. Los búhitos no estaban en ninguna parte de la vista.

Two weeks later, I was worried about the missing owlet and climbed a hill and from there had  a wide view of the forest. The owlets were nowhere in sight.

Ví algunas huellas de un búho y encontraba dos bolitas de un búho. En ese momento, me di cuenta de que fui parte de la sagrada red de la vida.

 I saw some tracks from an owl and found two owl pellets. In that moment, I realized that I was part of the sacred web of life.

búhito cornudo
horned owlet

Yo caminaba más lejos y esperaba en silencio. Sentí que algo estaba viendome. Finalemente, me di la vuelta y vi los dos búhitos sólo cinco metros de distancía. Me enconté ver los búhitos y sentí su lucha por la supervivencia.

I walked further away and waited in silence. I felt that something was watching me. Finally, I turned around and saw both owlets only five meters away. I loved seeing the owlets and felt their fight for survival.

Búho Cornudo adulto
Adult Great Horned Owl

Uno de los búhos adulto empecía llamada de grande roblé a cien metros de distancia. Me pregunté si estaba tratando de alejadame de su búhitos? Entonces, los cuervos empezaban hostigando el adulto y el búho volaba más profundo en el bosque.

Esta experiencia abrigó mi corazón.

One of the adult owls started calling from a large oak 100 yards away. Was the adult trying to move me away from its owlets? Then the crows started harassing the adult and the owl flew deeper into the woods.

This experience warmed my heart.


Posted in Connecting to Nature, Nature Notes, Photography/Art, Spanish | 8 Comments

Nuestro Viaje a El Chiflón

Editado por Luz Toledo de Instituto Jovel, San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico

Nuestro Colectivo

Estaba muy emocianado de visitar la cascada El Chiflón que está cerca de la cuidad de Comitán en el estado de Chiapas, Mexico. Tomamos un collectivo de San Cristobal a Comitán. No estoy acostumbrado a ver tanto vehiculos se rebasaron en la carretara. Había muchas veces que estuve seguro de que moriría de un choque.

[I was very excited to visit the city of Comitán in the state of Chiapas. We took a public van from San Cristobal to Comitán. I am not accustomed to see so many vehicles passing on the highway. There were many times that I was sure that I would die from a crash]

Llegamos vivos a Comitán y la plaza fue decorada para la navidad. La plaza estaba tranquila, pero me gustó mejor el mercado local y las calles lejos de la plaza. Había muchas personas de la comunidad y menos turistas. Compré muchas cosas incluyendo: las frutas, los cacahuetes, y  las botanas para nuestra excursión el día siguiente a la cascada El Chiflón.

[We arrived alive in Comitán and the plaza was decorated for Christmas. The plaza was peaceful, but I liked the local market and the streets far from the plaza. There was more people from the community and less tourists. I bought a lot of things including fruits, peanuts, and snacks for our trip the following day to the waterfall, El Chiflón.]

Un adorno en la plaza de Comítan.

En la noche, fuimos a la plaza donde había esculturas con luces. Algunos de las esculturas incluyendo: un oso, unos venados, un regalo, unos adornos con colores diferente. Había familias caminando juntos y tomando fotos. !Era maravilloso¡

[In the night, we went to the plaza where there were sculptures with lights. Some of the sculptures included: a bear, some deer, a present, different colored ornaments. There were families walking together and taking photos. It was wonderful!]

El Sábado, nosotros tuvimos nuestra aventura a la cascada El Chiflón. Nuestro colectivo estaba lleno de gente, flores cortadas, paquetes, y sacos llenos de papas, pero no gallinas. Después de llegar a la entrada del Chiflón, tomamos un moto taxi al sendero de las casadas del Chiflón.

[Saturday, we had our adventure to the waterfall, El Chiflón. Our colectivo was filled with people, cut flowers, potato sacks, and packages, but no chickens. After arriving a the entrance to Chiflón, we took a moto-taxi to the trailhead of the waterfalls of Chiflón.]

Los escalones a El Chiflón

El comienzo del sendero subía gradualmente y entonces se hizo inclinado. De hecho, había un mil escalones hasta el fin del sendero. Había un letrero que decía, “Personas con problemas del corazón pueden tener dificultad.”

[The beginning of the trail climbed gradually and then became steeper. In fact, there were one thousand steps until the end of the trail. There was a sign that said, “Persons with heart problems may have difficulty.]



Una cascada lo largo del sendero. [A waterfall along the trail]

La caminata era difícile, pero el sonido del rio estuvo impactantes y su color verde era asombroso. Mientras caminaba veía muchas tipos de mariposas incluyendo el enorme azul morpho.

Había una familia con tres generaciones que seguimos a lo largo del sendero. El nieto ayudaba a la abuela a subir los escalones. Cuando el hijo menor se le cayó su juguete cuesta abajo, su hermano mayor fue a encontrarlo.

Azul Morpho
Photograph by Andrei Sourakov

[The hike was difficult, but the sound of the river was impressive and its green color was amazing. While I walked, I saw many types of butterflies, including the enormous blue morpho. There was a family with three generations that we followed along the trail. The grandson helped the grandmother up the stairs. When the youngest son dropped his toy downhill, his older brother went to find it.]

En la cima, estuvimos directamente en frente de la cascada. Había un arco iris, y la neblina de la cascada tocaba mi cara. La cascada estaba tan fuerte que creyó su propia brisa. Para mi, el Chiflón se sentía como si era vivo. Por un rato, yo salí del mundo de los humanos y recibí la bendición del Chiflón.

[At the summit we were directly in front of the waterfall. There was a rainbow and the mist from the waterfall touched my face and body. The waterfall was so strong that it created its own breeze. For me, El Chiflon felt as if it was alive. For awhile, I left the world of humans and received the blessing from El Chiflon.]

Posted in Spanish | Tagged | 3 Comments

A Patch of Prairie

Jerrold Gershone and Heather Holm, from Habitat Makers, share a 6 minute video of a prairie that I have been working at for more than two decades. Jerrold has several videos of other individuals who are dedicated to caring for the Earth. We are honored to share our project with you.

To see the video go to:

To see all of the Habitat Makers videos go to:




Posted in Nature Guardians | 2 Comments