Squirrel Meditation

Our campsite on the Flathead Lake

This past weekend (Aug 2-5) we had our sangha summer campout with our meditation community Be Here Now – it was our 6th annual! We’ve been using the same campground each summer: Big Arm State Park on the Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana. For the past 3 years, we’ve been managing to reserve their one and only group site, which wonderfully allows us to be all together in one spot AND right on the water! So great!!

Each campout is a nice social/community building/relaxing hang-time on the lake opportunity for our sangha. It allows us to be joyfuly together, whilst revelling in the lake, each others company, and the practice of having nowhere to go and nothing to do. We spend our time: reading, floating/paddling/swimming, conversing, laughing, playing games, drinking tea/coffee, sharing community meals, napping, and hanging out around the fire at night. Given that we had a smaller group than usual, and Saturday afternoon was a bit blustery, we even took a field trip this year during our campout: cherry picking!

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Cherries!

Flathead Lake Cherry Orchard, Montana

Flathead Lake Cherry Orchard, Montana

On Tuesday I took a drive up north with my mom, stepson, and friend to the Flathead Lake area in order to do some cherry picking.  We were gifted with an invitation from a friend of mine, a local orchard worker, to come up and pick as many cherries as we wanted.  Around here many folks wait for the Flathead Cherry season to come into full swing.  They are a local delicacy, and for good reason!

Similar to gardening cherry picking is a naturally mindful activity.  It’s hard to pick cherries and not be fully present with the process.  The four of us spent 2 hours picking and collected around 100 pounds of cherries!  We had to pull ourselves away from the trees – it was just so easy and enjoyable picking away.  The trees were chock full!

OK – so now we had 100 pounds of cherries right?  Now what?  Well, I got to work washing, de-stemming, and pitting cherries :)

cherries2

After some great help from a couple of friends we have about 10 gallon sized ziplock bags full of pitted cherries in the freezer.  There are a few bags we didn’t pit and the rest have either being given to friends, are in the dehydrator, have been juiced, frozen into popsicles, or turned into the delicious pies that my mom and I made last night using a crust recipe from my great grandmother.  I think I’ve had more cherries in the past two days then I’ve had in my entire life!  I’ve drank cherry juice, eaten fresh cherries, had cherry pie, and last night I had a cherry popsicle from fresh cherry juice. There are cherries all over the house :)

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