Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BSA Troop 514 fun in the snow

We took the Scouts up to Little Alps, the old ski area that nearby Anthony Lakes replaced.  We practiced winter skills such as fire starting, snow shelter construction, travel, and clothing.  And, most importantly, the Scouts enjoyed the great fun of coming down the old rope tow hill in sleds and an inner tube, hitting a bump, and then sailing into space.  Great fun was had by all!!

BSA_Troop_514, Anthony_Lake, Union_County

BSA_Troop_514, Anthony_Lake, Union_Count

BSA_Troop_514, Anthony_Lake, Union_Count

BSA_Troop_514, Anthony_Lake, Union_Count

BSA_Troop_514, Anthony_Lake, Union_Count

BSA_Troop_514, Anthony_Lake, Union_Count

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"…what finally matters is that our hearts become like quiet cells where God can dwell, wherever we go and whatever we do."  Henri Nouwen

When indeed I can quiet myself that deeply, somehow, from somewhere, peace sings and I can feel a deep love for all of Creation.

amaya_family_cabins, osa_peninsula, Costa_Rica_beaches

amaya_family_cabins,  corcovado_national_park

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Evocare--coffee with Eulogio

In the Monte Verde, Santa Elena area, we stayed at a wonderful family lodge, Vista Verde, owned by Eulogio and Sheli Jimenez. They are a wonderful outgoing and helpful couple, who prepared excellent breakfasts and dinners for us, as well as helped us find the best places to see in the area.

vista_verde, evocare, monte_vista, santa_elana

They own their own coffee acreage, and morning coffee was a genuine treat, the best coffee I have ever enjoyed. Their brand name is "Evocare", and indeed the smell and flavor of their coffee was evocative and memorable.  Even Michael and Sara, who are not coffee drinkers, brought back packages of coffee beans for themselves and their friends.

Eulogio gave us a tour of his coffee farm.  The coffee "cherries" come to fruit in December, after three or four years of plant growth. Picking the cherries is labor intensive, and many school children earn money harvesting them during their Christmas vacation. Eulogio explained the importance of coffee picking, because ripe beans provide the highest quality coffee. Green beans produce a bitter taste, whereas the red beans have a higher aromatic oil and lower acid content. Thus, the ripe beans produce a fragrant, smooth and mellow coffee.   

The fruit covering the beans is removed before they are dried. Eulogio dries his coffee beans in the sun to reduce the water content to 10%.  It is first dried on the ground and then placed on raised tables where it is turned by hand to allow the air to circulate around the beans to promote a more even drying process.

Finally Eulogio roasts the coffee. Roasting brings out the flavor and aroma locked in the green beans. Numerous chemical changes occur in the beans as they are roasted.  Various temperatures and various times create the range from light through medium to dark.

Eulogio is a master of this art. His generous, genuine spirit did indeed create evocative memories for us.  Here is the hperlink to his lodging: 


costa_rica_coffeem vista_verde, evocare

monte_verde, coffee_bean_cherries

coffee_beans, transparent_butterfly

vista_verde, evocare

monte_verde_coffee, evocare
vista_verde, evocare
evocare, vista_verde

Saturday, January 18, 2014

His Mystery

It has taken me many, many decades, but I have finally recognized several important calls in my relationship to God: if God is not in the everyday events of life, He is not God; if I don't want to be changed and transformed, there is little substance to my relationship to Him; and if I only get morality out of my  relationship to God, I have completely missed His call to the mystery of Divine Life.

Amaya_Family_Cabins, Corcovado_National_Park

Amaya_Family_Cabins, Corcovado_National_Park

Thursday, January 16, 2014


As Meg and I,  Michael and Sara enjoyed the rainforest of Corcovado National Park and the cloud forest of Curi Cancha and Selvatura in the Monte Verde area, the birds of Costa Rica never ceased to astound and amaze us.  This quotation from Dag Hammarskjold, UN Secretary General during the turbulent Cold War years of the late fifties, came to my mind:

"God does not die on the day we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason."  Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

Scarlet_macaw, Corcovado_National_Park, Amaya_Family_cabins

Corcovado_National_Park, Amaya_Family_cabins

Corcovado_National_Park, Amaya_Family_cabins

curi_cancha, Monte_Verde

curi_cancha, Monte_Verde

curi_cancha, Monte_Verde

blurred flight of a Quetzal, Monte_Verde, Selvatura

Monte_Verde, Selvatura

Toucan, Corcovado_National_Park, Amaya_Family_cabins

Corcovado_National_Park, Amaya_Family_cabins

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Finding Koky, and other joys

Although we had found fine guides during our Costa Rican birding time, near the end of our stay we still lacked an experience with the classic guide who can spot every bird, identify their calls, and also imitate them. Our first day in the Monte Verde cloud forest had fallen short of expectations, and a guide recommended by our lodging host was unavailable. So, when we arrived at Curi Cancha, a private reserve in the cloud forest, our expectations of finding the uncommon, beautiful Quetzal were low. After paying our entrance fee, we spotted a parrot, and listened to the bird songs around us.  A man with a Curi Cancha birding vest and a spotting scope came over and began sharing what we were seeing and hearing. After listening to him for a short while, we recognized his skills and asked him if we could hire him to guide us. He said his party had cancelled on short notice, and he had just come up to have coffee with Mauricio, the manager, and to see if maybe a party might need a guide.  To our great fortune, we were that party!

We had not been with him for too long before we realized how exceptionally serendipitous this chance encounter really was. Koky Porras spoke excellent English learned over the years in Costa Rica. He knew multiple bird calls and their variations, instantly recognized the birds he saw, and could whistle their calls, from the tip of his lips through many tongue positions, to the back of his throat. Plus, he knew the symbiotic relationships of the forest to the birds, to other wildlife, and to the plants themselves. He explained that when he was young, he carried his sling shot into the forest and shot the birds.  Now, he brings elementary school students into the reserve and teaches the importance of protecting and preserving the wildlife and the forest. He is deeply committed to the future of the Costa Rican environment, and educating the younger generation to its wonders and powers.

The guides in this reserve are not competitive or secretive.  Soon, Koky's cell phone rang.  He smiled and told us that a male and female Quetzal were up ahead. When we reached their tree, he set up his spotting scope and we enjoyed sharp views of these magnificent birds. Michael, with his steadier hands and better eyes, took my camera and obtained some outstanding images.  And Koky took our iPhones and held them up to the spotting scope for some very fine pictures as well. Elation and exuberance and gratefulness filled us.  Wanting to extend our time with Koky, we invited him to lunch.

We returned to the car and removed our gear. As Meg was entering the car, she looked down at her ring finger. Her engagement ring was gone.  We looked all over in the parking lot and found nothing.  Koky called Mauricio, the manager, and told him of Meg's loss.  Then we gathered at a nearby restaurant for a late lunch. The restaurant has set out bird feeders, and we spotted several new species. However, the loss of Meg's ring overshadowed any deep pleasure in what we were seeing.

After we had all ordered lunch, Koky's phone rang, and he left the table.  We had assumed maybe his wife had called him.  About ten minutes later, he returned.  As he sat down, this most wonderful smile spread across his face as he held up his little finger.  There, sparkling in the light, was Meg's engagement ring!  Mauricio had called to say he had spotted the ring and retrieved it.  So Koky, instead of simply telling us it was found,  drove back to Curi Cancha and picked it up and brought it personally to Meg.  The memory of the ring on Koky's finger, his joyful smile, his kindness, compassion, knowledge and humanity will remain with us each day of our lives.

Loly_Porras, Quetzal, Curi_Cancha, Monte_Verde

Curi_Cancha, Quetzal, Koky_Porras, Monte_Verde, 

 Curi_Cancha, Monte_Verde

Koky_Porras, Curi_Cancha, Monte_Verde
curi_cncha, quetzal_monte_verde, vista_verde, Koky_Porras

photographing the vine snake, Koky_Porras, Curi_Cancha, Monte_Verde

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Where do we find the meaning in life?

Sing a new song to the Lord!
    Sing his praises from the ends of the earth!
Sing, all you who sail the seas,
    all you who live in distant coastlands.

Isaiah 42:10

Amaya, Osa_Peninsula

"It is no use being too clever about life. Only so far as we find God in it, do we find any meaning in it.  Without Him, it is a tissue of fugitive and untrustworthy pleasures, conflicts, ambitions, desires, frustrations, frequent pain."  Evelyn Underhill

Amaya, Osa_Peninsula

God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out.
    He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
    life to everyone who walks the earth.

Isaiah 42:5

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Birding with Michael and Sara

Meg and I spent twelve days in Costa Rica this Christmas.  We took our New Hampshire family--son Michael and daughter in law, Sara--with us.  The basic purpose of the trip was birding. However, knowing that our style of at age seventy would be far different from theirs, we asked them to plan the venues, the activities, the adventures. The places we stayed were not as basic as how we lived in a our Peace Corps days. However, they  were not the sipping of drinks on a well appointed porch looking out at the ocean of the Osa Peninsula on the Pacific ocean or at the cloud forest of Monte Verde.

So, here is a vignette that encapsulate this time together:


"OK, Sara, I have it spotted--black and blue head, blue and black by eye, sharp pointed beak, reddish breast"

As Michael--who had an uncanny ability to spot birds in the thick tropical forest and get his binoculars up on them--rattled off these characteristics, Sara was paging through their Costa Rican bird book coming up with birds that matched Michael's description.

He would continue to add to the description, and if Sara did not find a match, she followed Michael's directions on where to find the bird with her binoculars ("see that white spot on the dead part of the limb about one hundred feet away.  Follow that branch up about ten feet to where it branches to the left, and then find the horizontal dark branch that goes out about ten feet"  "OK, Michael, I've got it.  I also see blue on its tail")  Meanwhile, Meg and I are putzing around hoping maybe the bird will fly again so that we can spot its movement and maybe see it ourselves.

Much more important than seeing birds, what Meg and I enjoyed most was watching Michael and Sara share, collaborate, discuss what they were seeing and finding. Their cooperation/collaboration, their give and take, their patience with each other is the heart and soul of a good marriage.

Orange throated parakeet, Amaya

Birding_Costa_Rica, Amaya

Black_throated_trogan, Corcovado


Birding_Costa_Rica, Amaya

Laughing_falcon, Corcovado

Blue_crowned_motmot, Curi_Cancha

Red_Crowned_woodpecker, Amaya, Corcovado

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In love, in awe, in worship

For Epiphany--the arrival of the Magi--the British writer, Evelyn Underhill (  wrote this simple yet profound prayer:

"Draw us, O Holy One, as you drew the Magi, to those places and experiences in which we have not known you before, and open our eyes to see you and respond to you in love, in awe, and in worship."

Drake_Bau_Costa_Rica, Amaya_Family_Cabins

Meg and I are just returned from 12 days in Costa Rica.  We took Michael and Sara for intensive birding and other activities on the southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica close to Drake Bay and the Corcovado National Park, as well as the cloud forest of Monte Verde. The days were full and it was fun to be "off the grid" for awhile :)

Drake_Bau_Costa_Rica, Corcovado_National_Park