Sanctuary 2.0: Re-Engaging the Senses

I recently starting rereading Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses, which I read for the first time approximately two years ago. The book is an exquisite and vivid journey through our five senses and how they guide and influence our interactions with the world around us. It’s a beautiful piece of writing that serves as a reminder of the importance of literally stopping to smell the roses. Today, I did that. IMG_6411After a morning session of restorative yoga in the planetarium that left me with an almost unbearable desire to pack up the car and drive straight to the Badlands or Moab to be alone with my senses, I settled for a three hour solo hike into the forest and canyons at the base of the Flatirons. The air, earth, and plants were still damp with the heavy spring rain that soaked the whole region on Friday. Such a rich humidity on a rainless day is rare treat in Boulder, as is the sound of rushing water and a nearly empty hiking trail only 15 minutes outside town. The luxury of the experience filled me with emotion and also got me to thinking about how my own senses have been heightened and tantalized since I removed myself from a relationship that was breaking my soul and forcing me to suppress a desire for rich experiences in order to simply get by from day to day. Restorative yoga helps you be present in your sense of self, but the other five senses are every bit as important. Here is what has been influencing mine lately. Continue reading →

68.29 Weeks in the Mountains: Channeling My Inner Jefferson

A common question teachers ask grade school students to write about is: If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why? For me, that answer has always been Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson and I have many things in common: a love of freedom and independence, a demand for personal responsibility, a craving for good wine and food, a sense of the importance of reading and correspondence, a respect for personal time and space, a desire for culture and lifelong education, a commitment to reason and science over religion, and a belief in taking care of one’s body through regular exercise. But a passion for gardening and living off the land is one area where we have always differed. Jefferson’s gardens, and his meticulous record-keeping about his gardens are well-known among Jefferson and gardening aficionados alike. I tried to make a small garden once, six years ago, but a spring hailstorm destroyed everything and I couldn’t be bothered to try again.

In the Denver/Boulder area, there’s definitely some pressure to have a garden, given the popularity of gardening and the emphasis here on fresh vegetables, farmers markets, and organic living. Many of my friends and neighbors have gardens and even work for community garden organizations. Despite my initial failed attempt and subsequent resignation, I have still wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And living at The Sanctuary, it seems a bit wasteful to not take advantage of the space and the sunshine. With an adobe-walled courtyard to keep the plants warm and sheltered, and keep the critters out, I already have a leg-up on other amateur horticulturists, so this past summer seemed like the perfect time to give it another go.  And if I was going to try, naturally I was going to be Jeffersonian about it. Continue reading →