Burn, Baby, Burn!

Over the course of our rough winter, the towering grasses on the prairie have been blown over. They now lay atop of last year’s fallen flowers and grasses, as the new growth on the prairie works to emerge from this layer of fallen vegetation. Amidst this dense carpeting, industrious squirrels and birds have been busily adding trees, shrubberies and other woody vegetation. To maintain this important ecosystem, it is necessary to remove these woody plants.

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Prairies were once maintained by grazing bisons and naturally occurring fires. To remove these unwanted plant varieties from our prairie now, TWC staff perform a prescribed burn. When weather conditions are just right – humidity, temperature, wind direction and speed – careful application of fire will remove these encroaching species and provide vital nutrients to encourage healthy growth. As the Foxfield prairie continues to become more established, our hope is that burns will only become necessary every 3-5 years.

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This year’s burn took place on our lower prairie. It was incredibly successful, and all thanks goes to the TWC burn crew. Though the ground looks blackened and charred now, it won’t take long for that to change. We can’t wait to share photos in the coming weeks as the prairie begins to flourish! Stop by and watch nature’s amazing progress.

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Earth Day – Give Back

This year, because of the way Easter falls on the calendar, the Wilderness Center will be celebrating Earth Day on April 12. In the spirit of education, outreach and activism in which the event was founded in 1970, TWC events will cover a wide variety of topics to inform visitors and encourage them to embrace and protect our natural world. The line-up looks pretty exciting!

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We’ll learn about the wildlife around us during a bird walk to kick off the day, and by going on naturalist lead walks throughout the day to look for turtles, snakes and salamanders. Kids (and their parents) will have the chance to take part in an interactive story walk winding along the trail to the Wilderness Lake. The Backpackers and Hikers Club will be providing demonstrations to encourage us to join them in exploring the natural world. The Nature Photo Club will be displaying the beautiful entries in their annual Foto Fest contest – and you don’t want to miss your chance to vote for your favorites!

Earth Day clean-up crews will be busy throughout the day doing their part to remove litter and invasive species from TWC’s grounds. This year awareness of invasive species will also take a delicious turn with a garlic mustard cook-off. Hey, maybe we’ll beat ‘em by eating ‘em! I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the recipes that folks come up with!

Gary eats Garlic Mustard

(They’re sure to be tastier than Gary’s!)

In the midst of all these events celebrating our world, we’ll be offering a presentation on the ultimate way to give back to the earth – natural burial. We’ll have a presentation on natural burial and then go tour the Foxfield Preserve.

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It should be an amazing day! See you there!

Exciting news!

We are so excited and proud to be community partner for the 2014 Cleveland International Film Festival screenings of the documentary A Will for the Woods! This is such a beautiful and moving film, and we’re thrilled it will be presented in Cleveland. Showings will be held on March 25 at 2:35 p.m. and March 26 at 9:15 p.m. at Tower City Cinemas – and you know I’ll be there with bells on!

Green Burial Feature DocumentaryIf you haven’t already heard about this film, A Will for the Woods is an immersive, life-affirming depiction of people coming to terms with mortality by embracing their connection to timeless natural cycles. Musician, folk dancer, and psychiatrist Clark Wang battles lymphoma and faces a potentially imminent need for funeral plans. Determined that his last act will not harm the environment and may even help protect it, Clark discovers the natural burial movement and endeavors to bring the alternative to his community.

While the description alone is very moving, the beautiful trailer ought to convince anyone interested in natural burial that this film is a must-see:

We highly recommend this beautiful and uplifting film! Tickets go on sale March 7th. Those interested in attending should visit clevelandfilm.org and use the promo code FOX to receive a $2 discount on tickets to all films at the CIFF.

Great Big Home & Garden Show

This weekend kicks off the 2014 Great Big Home & Garden Show at the I-X Center in Cleveland. Attendees will stroll through aisles of home renovation ideas and landscaping and gardening services. They will watch demonstrations by television personalities from design and renovation shows. They’ll meander through this year’s “dream home.” And many will be introduced to the Foxfield Preserve for the first time.

Thanks to the talent of TWC naturalist Carrie Elvey, we will be bringing a piece of the Preserve with us to this year’s Home & Garden Show. After several weeks of work, Carrie was able to construct a reproduction of a burial site at Foxfield for display.

IMGP1228 (3)We hope that this beautiful display will encourage the curiosity of many visitors to stop and learn more about natural burial. With any luck, many of those wandering the aisles of the lawn and garden section will leave with a new awareness of their burial options.

For anyone attending the Home & Garden Show – make sure to stop by booth 533 (by the ferris wheel) and say hello! We’ll have discount offers available.

Preserve & Protect at the Botanical Gardens

Do you have big plans for this Saturday? Well if you are interested in preservation, the hot place to be is the Cleveland Botanical Gardens for their 2014 Sustainability Symposium. (And seriously, with weather like this, who wouldn’t like to warm up in their Glasshouse while watching the butterflies and dreaming of summer?!)
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This year’s Symposium topic is “Preserve & Protect,” and will investigate a variety of wonderful preservation efforts across northeast Ohio. I’ll be hanging out with a booth, talking about the unique approach to preservation that we are taking with the Foxfield Preserve. There will also be a wonderful selection of guest lecturers covering topics from utilizing urban vacant lots, efforts surrounding the chestnuts trees of Ohio, revitalizing meadows with burn techniques, and urban watershed restoration. We’ll discuss topics for the large scale and backyard preservationist alike.

If you’re interested in going, get signed up in advance through the CBG website. And make sure to stop by and say “hello!”

NEO Sportsman Show

I’ve been heating up the printer here at work over the past couple of days, as I’m getting excited to head out to the Northeast Ohio Sportsman Show at the Buckeye Event Center in Dalton this weekend. TWC Consulting Forester, Adam Beichler, and I will be sharing a booth to chat with attendees and answer any questions they may have about our services.

This will be my first time at the Sportsman Show. It sounds like lots of fun, especially if most of your hobbies take you outdoors. The website boasts that the Show offers “everything of interest to today’s Hunter, Angler, Trapper, Archer, Boater and Hiker.” With seminars and vendors out the wahzoo, it doesn’t sound like that is much of a stretch!

The Sportsman Show will be running Friday from 9-8 and Saturday from 9-6. Admission is $10 for adults and kids 12 and under are free. If you’re going to be heading out, make sure you swing by and say “hello!”

 

New Year’s resolutions

As we celebrate the passing of another year, remembering what has come and gone and looking forward to the year to come, many of us will be making New Year’s resolutions. For lots of us those resolutions are pretty generic – eat better, lose weight, try to find more time for healthy hobbies. And if you’re anything like me, many of those resolutions will be forgotten by the time February rolls around.

Well this year, I’d like to encourage you to consider a different approach to your New Year’s resolution. Make a resolution for the ones you love. The ones you will, one day, leave behind.

In my work here at the Foxfield Preserve, I’ve seen people stunned by sudden loss. The greatest denial within our culture is the belief that we will always have more time. More time to make plans. More time to share with our families. More time to say what we need to say. It always seems like there will be more time – until there isn’t.

MoreTimeSo this year I encourage you to resolve to take hold of your time. Don’t hold back from those you love. Be open and honest. Be certain that if your time together were to end tomorrow there would be nothing left unsaid. Make plans for the day when your time will stop. Get your will, advance directives and end-of-life plans in place – no matter your age or the state of your health. Relieving your family of the responsibility of these arrangements frees them to deal with their grief during a time of loss – it is one of the greatest gifts you can give to those you love. There is a great website that offers free instructions to help you get started down this path of preparation. They even offer a monthly email to help you take on this task a little bit at a time.

A resolution to plan proactively and make the most of your time here may seem daunting. But it will provide you with more satisfaction than any other resolution you may make this year. And, unlike that gym membership, you won’t be regretting the decision in February.

 

Leaving a mark

One recent afternoon I enjoyed a quiet walk through the Preserve. Following a recent snowfall, there was a blanket of fresh snow covering everything. As I crunched along the trails, it seemed a shame to disrupt the sparkling beauty with my footprints.

Deer tracksAs I looked around, though, it became clear that I was not the only one leaving my mark here. A pair of deer had been snacking on some flowers left by mourners following a recent burial. The tracks of a rabbit meandered near the edges of the tall grasses on the prairie. A solitary set of footprints had been left by a visitor, along with the brush strokes where they cleared snow from the stone marker of a loved one.

It occurred to me as I walked, that we all left our mark as we passed through. The impressions that we leave behind tell a story. They can describe who we were and what we cared for.

It is impossible to move through this life without leaving a mark behind you; in the people you meet, in the choices you make, in all of your actions. These impressions you leave behind you will add to your story. As we all walk through the beautiful wilderness of our lives, my greatest hope is that we may all strive to leave marks behind that speak of our values and add to the beauty of this life.

Holiday distractions

It is so easy to get caught up in the details – especially at the holidays. So easy to let little, insignificant things take up more importance and attention than they should.

I have a particularly hard time with this, allowing small concerns to cloud my mind. Did I get my in-laws the right gift? Who did I forget to send a holiday card – and will they be offended? It won’t be the holidays without my grandma’s wonderful fudge – but when will I have time to make it? Sure, all these little things add to our holiday spirit. But they can also distract us from the bigger picture.

fudgeWith my head full of little distractions, I recently headed up to the Preserve to prepare for a burial. A light December snow floated around me on the chilly breeze as I worked to clear the undergrowth on this particular plot. A few unseen birds were giving off busy little chirps to accompany my solitary work, though their chatter was muted by the falling snow. As time passed in this peaceful stillness, my own frivolous distractions faded from my mind. They were replaced with thoughts of the family who would soon be making use of this plot to bid farewell to a loved one.

In viewing the losses of the families I serve, I am always reminded to be more grateful for every moment we have together. These burial preparations, as we approach the holiday season, reminded me that the time we have together is what should be cherished most this time of year. This holiday season, I must make sure to tell everyone how much I care – and I encourage you all to do the same. I urge you to reflect on your blessings, and all that you have to be thankful for. I am grateful to be able to serve all of our Foxfield families, and for this wonderful understanding they have imparted in me.

Comforting the grieving during the holidays

In our most recent posting, Not-So-Happy Holidays, we offered tips for those struggling with grief during the holiday season. One of the best ways to help someone struggling with grief, however, is to provide them with a supportive network of friends and family to help them through this difficult time. However, many of us struggle to find ways to support a grieving friend or loved one during this time of year.

imagesCAPA1R30You may feel that anything you can do or say will be inadequate to comfort them during this difficult time. In fear of saying the wrong thing, many people choose to be silent and avoid mentioning the loss and the loved one who is not there. But this is probably the worst thing we can do for someone who is grieving.

To help you show your consideration and care for your grieving loved one during this holiday season – and through all seasons – the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has published these wonderful tips.

  • Be supportive if the person wants to break tradition and do things differently this year. Decorating the tree alone, or sorting through memory-laden minefields may be too much for them to handle. In fact, they may not be able to face many of their normal holiday traditions this year. Offer your support and understanding for any deviations that they feel are necessary this year. Some of these traditions may be resumed in years to come.
  • imagesCADWN1FTOffer to help with baking or cleaning. These tasks can often seem overwhelming. Having someone take over some regular chores, or holiday work, may give them the relief they need from some stress.
  • Ask if you can lend a hand with seasonal decorating – if your loved one even wants to decorate this year.
  • Volunteer to help with holiday shopping. Offer to pick-up a few of their holiday gifts during your shopping outings. Or offer catalogs and suggestions of online shopping sites to ease some of their burden.
  • Invite the person to attend a religious service with you. Even your friend who does not attend services regularly may find comfort in attending with you.
  • Extend an invitation to your home during the holidays. Your loved one may not feel equipped to accept your invitation, or may not be able to stay long. However, the invitation will mean the world to them.
  • Help prepare and mail holiday cards. One bereaved woman has shared that “signing one less name on a holiday card was more than could be managed.” Be aware that what may seem simple to you may be filled with meaning for those dealing with recent grief.
  • Ask the person if he or she is interested in volunteering with you. Doing something for someone else may help the person feel better. And opportunities for giving are abundant this time of year.
  • Make a donation in memory of the person who died. A symbol that their loved one is not forgotten is incredibly important to someone who is grieving. Here at the Wilderness Center, we see an increase in Tree of Life donations at this time of year.
  • Never tell someone to “get over it.” There is no timeline for grief. Everyone must go through it at their own pace. Instead of pushing your loved one into false merriment, give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.
  • If your friend wants to talk about their feelings or the person who died, be comfortable listening. Your loved one may be inundated with memories that they need to share, or in need of a compassionate shoulder to lean on during this time. Active listening from friends is an important step for healing.
  • Remind the person that you are thinking of him or her – and the loved one who died. Simply keeping them in your thoughts and showing your concern can mean a great deal.

In general, the best way to help those who are grieving is to let them know you care! Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing – just say something.

All hospice bereavement programs offer grief support service to the community, regardless of whether their loved one was cared for by hospice or not. For more information about dealing with grief, visit NHPCO’s Caring Connections website at www.caringinfo.org or call their HelpLine at 800-658-8898.