Winter Saunter

Thankfully, I’m not easily intimidated by winter weather driving – I mean really, I have a Subaru for goodness sake, this is, in part, what they’re made for. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when it would be ill-advised to venture out, but I did not deem today to be one of those days.

Instead, I labeled today’s blustery conditions and smoke-machine-esque ice-marbled roads as a prime time to uphold my self-proclaimed status as a gal who enjoys pushing against the commonly held feminine norms, such as exists around: traveling solo, driving in inclement weather on sketchy roads, and eating out in public with only the company of a good book and writing supplies.

After an hour spent at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, I landed at the Dixon Mercantile, a place so delightfully quaint that I instantly felt right at home.

There’s something extremely satisfying and life-affirming in skirting collective modes of operation, such as heading north on a solo saunter on Sunday February 3rd in near white-out conditions, and living to tell the tale.

P.S If you live in the area or are ever in the area of western Montana, the Dixon Mercantile (in Dixon, MT) is only 40 miles from Missoula and they are almost solely only open on Sundays from 9-2 for brunch. The owner Laura is super great, the food was really good, and they make homemade fresh bread and pastries. Need I say more?

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Yesterday, I spent 5 uninterrupted hours writing, pretty well glued in the same spot the whole time with only the occasional tea making and bio break to incite bodily movement away from my keyboard. It was glorious.

Today, I road on up north, as any asphalt adventurer knows, it’s unwise to disobey the call of the open road when it summons thee. I followed tire tracks instead of painted lines and in an area thick with mountains, I managed to see none all the way to Arlee and then Dixon.

To be fair, I did consider not heading out on my drive-about prior to leaving the house, once I was confronted with the state of weather happening outside. But it was only about 2% of me that sat in question; the other 98% urged me eagerly onward ho.

Besides, I DID go to all the trouble of running a brush through my hair like two times before putting a winter hat on AND putting on cold-hardy clothes over the top of my pajamas. I was also well equipped with the essentials of winter travel: a fresh Contigo full of tea, my camera, writing supplies, a Subaru, and a good attitude.

And, I figured, one never grows familiar and accustomed to a thing, if said thing is never done.

Sometimes, what’s called for is to foster connection with members of my beloved tribe of humans, as I did last weekend. And sometimes, what’s called for is to bolster the relationship I have with myself, as I’ve been doing this weekend.

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Beyond Words

I regard my spoken word show and album release – having taken place on Friday night – not as my own but as a collective endeavor of all those who offered their love, support, time, and encouragement from near and far away; all who influenced me along the way; and every life experience I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to have thus far in my 38-years of living.

It’s hard to put certain things into words – which is really saying something when you’re a writer.

But any good writer knows that you can’t capture the feelings invoked by watching a sunset in the limiting net of words scribed on paper.

Any good writer knows that you can’t fully describe the sumptuous taste of chocolate; or the depth of ease felt after taking a walk in the woods or a dip in the river; or the warmth of spirit generated from being surrounded by the very best people.

My gratitude and love for all the people I have the distinct pleasure of knowing is vast, like the expanse of ocean, sky, and stretching of the universe that weaves us all together in its grace.

With all the heart that I can muster,
Nicole

pic taken yesterday at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana

 

Buddha Garden

 

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Yesterday my stepson Jaden and I went to visit the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT on our way up north to spend the day in Polson on the Flathead Lake.  So, I thought I’d share some pics from the garden.  It’s such a lovely spot.  And the mixture of colors yesterday, from the white dusting of snow, greening valley fields, and gray-blue skies, were just wonderful.

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Buddha Garden

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT

 

Yesterday I stopped by the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, in Arlee Montana, for a brief visit.  It has been a while since last I’d been there and as the garden is an ongoing and unfolding project every visit yields new developments.  If you are interested in the garden please go to: http://www.ewambuddhagarden.org/

 

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee,  Montana

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana

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Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

One of the One Thousand Buddhas

The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT is beautifully surrounded by mountain ranges and big skies – and many many buddha statues.  I had the opportunity to visit the garden a few days ago in the morning, a time of day I’ve never experienced there before.  It was about 25 degrees outside and the statues were thinly coated with a dusting of frost.  The garden is the unfolding vision of EWAM, practicing the teachings of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism (to learn more about EWAM and the garden go to http://www.ewam.org).  According to their website: the purpose of the garden is to to bring about positive transformation within those who visit, in response to the negativity that abounds in the world today.

What I most appreciate about the garden is the location.  Traveling through the tribal lands of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation you turn on White Coyote Road after passing through the small town of Alree.  With a population of 636 and local store Hummingbird Toys & Treats, who’s sign tells passersby about their 57 varieties of black licorice, one would not expect that just a few short minutes down the road. past a few hay barns, horse corrals and farmsteads that a large, ornate and delicately painted statue of the Great Mother Yum Chenmo would rise from the fields.

Yum Chenmo

All one thousand buddha statues were hand-cast and are currently being placed on the 8 spokes of the dharma wheel surrounding Yum Chenmo.  The wall lining the outer circle is topped with one thousand stupas, representations of the enlightened mind, each enshrining an image of the female deity,Tara.  Coming from a Zen based tradition I have different practices than Tibetan teachings, so while I may not understand all of the various meanings of the garden I can connect on the level of peace and compassion that is being cultivated there.  The garden has a lot of good medicine to offer.

The other morning myself and some friends did some silent walking meditation around the garden.  Each of us took our own path and mine led me to discovering how wonderfully the morning sun shone differently on each row of buddha statues.  When my eyes lowered to meet the flower and plant beds I was captivated by the particles of frost that danced over the leaves and petals still holding onto their stems.

The bright blue skies, crisp chill of the autumn morning, white beaming statues of the buddha and magnificent covering of frost more than made up for my reluctancy to get out of bed at 7:00am :)

(Click to enlarge)