Monday, December 27, 2010

Frosted flakes and dental hygiene

Our first snow storm of the season arrived today.  We have just about 12 inches after 12 hours of snow!  The forest is crystal magic in sparkling deep whiteness.  We only ventured out today to gather kindling in the forest and take fire wood for the stove from our porch supply.  The wind batters the trees outside our window, howling through the branches.

Rimbaud is like a proud pony prancing and dancing, jumping and diving in the snow.  We throw a snow ball, he leaps into the air to catch it.  Bewildered when it lands in the snow and he can't find it, he nuzzles the snow on the ground, buries his face in deep,  and comes up with a  snout of powder. It as if we have laid out a white carpet of frosted flakes just for his pleasure.  He is in love with this winter wonder and one can't help but laugh to watch him make a fool of himself.  Dogs are so pure in their joy & wilderness enthusiasm.  We can learn from them, and their sense of play, can't we?  We can be reminded, again, that the world offers us so many natural toys!
Michael and Rimbaud romping
Rimbaud thinks the sticks are for him!
Nice Catch!
Frolicking in the Forest Frost
Gathering kindling for the fire

I have almost finished packing save for a few summery cotton items that are now getting another go-around in the washer.  It took a little extra effort to extricate the flip fops and bathing suit from the depths of my disorganized closet.  I checked the weather in Bangalore: sunny, clear blue skies, 79 degrees.  I need to run to Rite-Aid tomorrow (we didn't want to risk the snowy roads today) to see if they have any sun tan lotion for sale in the midst of the bleak dark winter.  As requested, I'm trying to buy only all natural, organic products  for Sadhana Forest but I'm not sure if Americans even make 'non toxic' sun block!?  A few other organic products like Burt's Bees chap-stick and Tom's of Maine toothpaste will accompany me into the woods, too.  Alas, I could not find an environmentally friendly formula of DEEP WOODS OFF so I am breaking the rules and bringing the full anti-malarial protection of Deet.  I feel guilty about this and am using this blog as a confessional space to assuage my pangs of ecological malpractice.  It isn't working... 

Once we arrive at the ashram we can purchase ecologically harmless, biodegradable toiletries: soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, and shampoo for 120 Rupees (or $3) but some other creature comforts are good to bring along (sun block, chap-stick, bug spray, etc).  When I visited the ashram last year I purchased one of these great packs and made good use of it.  All of it, that is, EXCEPT the tooth powder.  I just simply couldn't stomach the all-natural home-made ashram tooth cleaning powder made from Neem leaf, much to my shame.  It was just too terribly bitter. Nevertheless,  Neem has its miracle qualities.  I should acknowledge them here, since it is a tree (and a sacred tree!) and it is an AMAZINGLY useful tree, to boot.  

Azadirachta indica (வேம்பு - Vembu in Tamil, Neem in Hindi) is actually a member of the Mahogany family and indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. It has been praised for millennia for its medicinal usage.  And each morning, upon waking up to greet the day, Indians have been chawing on Neem branches for generations to keep their mouths clean, healthy & happy.

In India, neem is sacred.  The tree is called 'nature's pharmacy' because it is said to be antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral, among other things.  It also grows in drought prone areas and needs barely a trickle of moisture to thrive.  Impressive.  Some even claim neem has powers as a sedative and contraceptive! No wonder Tamils worship it.  During special village festivals they offer the leaves and flowers of the neem tree to the Goddess Mariamma (the goddes of small pox and rashes) -- for the cream of neem is said to heal these skin blights, too!  At weddings, people decorate with neem leaves to ward off disease and evil spirits, as well.  

Maybe I need to rethink my relationship with neem?  Hmmm...  well, for now, Tom's of Maine will offer me the low-guilt dental hygiene and sweetness I seek.  It is also all natural!

The fire is roaring, the Christmas tree is a dazzle, and the wind bursts around us in tormented gusts as we sit under a blanket on this cozy couch.  Hard to believe this is my last night of winter before departing for the tropics tomorrow.  The dryer is about to buzz and alert me to the fact that I must finish up my packing, and Joni Mitchell sings "CALIFORNIA" on Pandora radio:

"Still a lot of lands to see
But I wouldn't want to stay here
It's too old and cold and settled in it's ways here...

Oh will you take me as l am?
Will you take me as l am?
Will you?"

Goodbye snow! (New Hampshire, December 27, 2010)


  1. Safe and peaceful travels. Lovely blog. Hope there will be postings from the woods afar.

    After Thoreau left the woods (as deliberately as he went into them) (did he mean "words"? "Worlds"? Woods/Words/Worlds?) He travelled in what I think is most beautiful passage he ever wrote:

    I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear, that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.

  2. Allan, thanks for your wonderful comments. I had never read these thoughts by Thoreau and they encourage me greatly. I suppose I am before the mast now and on the deck of the world! How wonderful.

    I am looking forward to heading to Sadhana Forest in 3 days times and will be blogging from the woods. Luckily, Sadhana has a solar powered WiFi hut so we can all participate in the fun.

    Thanks for reading my blog!