Soulful Uplifting People with Leslie Kolovich
A beautiful friend gifted me a incense box with a scent she said I must try. It’s called Nag Champa. I placed her gifts to me on my table as I was about to start my morning quiet time. I lit the incense turned away from it and was immediately called back to it through spirit. The smoke rising from it seemed to be little energy spirits that were so happy to be releasing into my space. I noticed my air-conditioning was not blowing at that time either, which is odd on these extremely hot summer days of late. It truly felt like the dance of the smoke was intentional. I captured just over a minute on video I’m sharing with you, then sat with it as the smoke rings played in the air before me. I sang with it a song that felt ancient, a song that was gifted to me for just that moment in time.
As we all go through this day, this moment on our timelines may we take time to connect to purpose, that which I believe is peace, love and kindness.
In gratitude for this communication and may it touch those who feel it’s call and may it reach those who have stone walls around their souls. May kindness, love and peace slip through into the cracks to soften where needed most.
Soulful Uplifting People with Nic Stoltzfus
Ocheesee Venture Part II: Ocheesee Creamery
Click HERE to read Part I: Ocheesee Pond.
After we got back from paddling at Ocheesee Pond, we changed out of our rain-soaked clothes and prepared subs for lunch.
We had quite the spread: thin-sliced deli meat from Winn Dixie, Amish cheddar cheese from Ohio, homemade pickled banana pepper rings that Joan brought. To drink we had hot coffee, chilled chocolate milk, and watermelon sangria that my mom made from a big melon I picked up in Cottondale the week prior.
For dessert we had homemade ice cream from Ocheesee Creamery. My cousins Mike & Heather moved down from Ohio to start an ice cream business using milk from the creamery. Some of their speciality flavors include Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cream, and Coffee. One of my friends shared that, “I normally only like vanilla, but I tried a bit of each flavor and they were ALL delicious!” I laughed and said that whatever flavor I’m eating at the time is usually my favorite.
Another commented on the taste: “It’s so rich!” I explained that the milk used to make this ice cream comes from Jersey cows, and that Jersey milk has the highest fat content of all the dairy cows and makes for particularly creamy milk and ice cream.
After we finished dessert, we loaded up our vehicles and drove a few miles to Ocheesee Creamery. It’s a special place for me: my grandparents moved there in the 1950s from Delaware to found the dairy, it was where my mom was born, and the farm is still in the family—my mom’s sister, Mary Lou, and her husband Paul run the business.
When we arrived my cousins greeted us. My one cousin had gotten a bunny for her birthday, and she wanted to show it to us. She held him out for me to hold. “His name’s Clover.” He had floppy ears and his down-soft fur was dappled black and white. I told her that he looked like a dalmatian and maybe a better name for him would be Pongo. She scowled at me. “Clover’s a bunny, NOT a dog.” I asked how she knew for sure. “Bunnies don’t bark, silly.”
We walked around the farm, looked at the cream-colored calves sitting under the shade of the pecan trees, watched clucking chickens peck at their feed, and arrived at the dairy barn in time for the afternoon milking.
My aunt Mary Lou shared with them the mechanics of dairy farming: she carefully explained how certain machines work, the process of how the cows get milked, and how they store and ship the milk. As I watched her impart the multi-faceted steps of her job to my friends, I realized that, not only is she a proficient farmer, she’s also a great teacher.
Her son Pierre and his wife Misty lead the cows from the field to the dairy barn. He walked behind them with a white stick, gently tapping them on their rumps, encouraging them to walk forward towards the barn.
After they cleaned the cows off, they began the milking process. We watched for awhile, then said goodbye, and came back home.
We washed our feet off and walked barefoot through the carpeted grass. We sat down on some picnic benches in the garden and chatted. A woodpecker called out overhead, hummingbirds zipped by, and blue jays swooped down to land on the feeders. Butterflies fluttered by and gently touched down on raging purple blossoms.
Buddy, our Australian shepherd, sat next to Karen, happy as she scratched his ears. Snugs the pug joined us outside, too, and wondered around sniffling at the flowers.
Everyone enjoyed the weather—a summer afternoon cooled by morning storms. Our conversation drifted to talk about our home here in Ocheesee.
“It’s so quiet here.”
“You have such lovely flowers!”
“With all this land and nature—what rich lives you have!”
My parents and I were flattered. By coming up here and seeing and taking notice of our world—what we see every day and, honestly, sometimes get bored with—they gave us wonder; their fresh perspective reinvigorated ours with a new appreciation for our home.
The sun began to fade in the sky and the shadows grew long. Leslie and the crew got ready to leave. We hugged them all goodbye and went inside with smiles on our faces grateful for good friends, laughter, and a place to call home.
Photography by Joan Vienot
Video production by Leslie Kolovich
Ocheesee Venture Part I: Ocheesee Pond
By Nic Stoltzfus
Earlier this month, I invited a few of my friends from coastal Florida to come up and spend the day with us in the backcountry of Florida. I had invited seven of them–Leslie and Kent Kolovich; their daughter, Maddie; Joan Vienot; Karen Boudreaux; and Pat “Sheewho” Cummins–to paddle Ocheesee Pond and then go visit my aunt’s dairy farm, Ocheesee Creamery, in the afternoon.
Ocheesee Pond was recently added to the Florida Greenways and Trails as a paddling trail. However, calling it a pond is a bit of a misnomer–at around 2,000 acres, it’s more like a lake. It’s a beautiful paddle–the tea-colored pond is covered with cypress trees and, on previous paddles, my dad and I have seen all kinds of wildlife: osprey, owls, woodpeckers, turtles, to name a few.
My friends arrived around nine in the morning; a summer thunderstorm tailed them on their way from Panama City. My mom and dad suggested that we head over to the pond and begin paddling before the storm caught up with us. The ten of us quickly loaded up in our vehicles and made our way to the pond. When we arrived, the wind was whipping the water, and the sky was bruised black and grey. Thunder boomed and brackled, and the air was cool. My mom checked the radar on her phone and said that this band would soon pass. We stood on the edge of the ramp and waited.
There was a man sitting on the embankment beside the ramp with his feet and a fishing pole dipped into the water. I walked up to him and said hello. He eyed me suspiciously. “Y’all been here before?” I told him I was from Blountstown, and that I brought some friends from Panama City to paddle on the pond. We made small talk, and he told me that he caught a small three-foot gator while fishing off the side of the ramp. “He ate my cork,” he said in a syrupy accent. “There’s other gators further back, too. Big ‘uns.” I raised my eyebrows at that. “Might not wanna swim outchyonder.” I thanked him for his advice.
By that time, the blackened band of storm clouds had blown further east, so we pushed our kayaks and paddle boards into the water and began paddling. No one was in a hurry; the pace was nice and slow, everyone was enjoying the scenery. A gentle breeze blew through the Spanish moss draped over the cypress branches, and it was the coolest I had felt outside in months.
We paddled into a cypress dome, and it began to rain again. We sat there surrounded by the steady sound of rain and the sweet smell of blooming water lilies. The overhead storm cleared its throat and spat rain harder towards the ground. The falling liquid smacked the brims of our hats and the surface of the water. The wind picked up, and we shivered, drenched.
The rain finally lightened up and a few patches of blue sky appeared. When it stopped raining, my mom checked the radar again and said that another storm was coming through–this one more intense than the previous two.
We paddled back to the ramp, past wood duck holes and wasps’ nests, past cypress knees and and submerged stumps; we paddled, us adventurers ten, soaked with rain and joy and wonder.
Photography by Joan Vienot
Video Production by Leslie Kolovich
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
World Paddle for the Planet Day is coming up on July 25TH!…
We can do this, the operative word being WE! I AM ASKING FOR YOUR HELP! I AM ASKING YOU TO SHARE WORLD PADDLE FOR THE PLANET DAY WITH YOUR FAMILY, YOUR FRIENDS, YOUR NEIGHBORS, YOUR COWORKERS, YOUR COMMUNITY GROUP! I AM ASKING YOU TO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MEDIA AND LET THEM KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING! I AM ASKING YOU TO SHARE WPFTPDAY ON SOCIAL MEDIA! I AM ASKING YOU TO SHOUT FROM THE ROOF TOPS, “WE CAN TAKE CARE OF EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING ON THE PLANET”! I AM ASKING FOR YOUR HELP TO TAKE WORLD PADDLE FOR THE PLANET DAY VIRAL!…
I am asking you to “Pick a change you want to see in the World, paddle for it on July 25th, then commit to that change until it becomes reality”. Join me on the Shuwap River in Enderby, Beautiful British Columbia or wherever you live on the Planet and paddle starting at noon! Pick your own change, or hop on board with my change for this year, “Changing direction from harm to care”. Let’s join together in massive numbers to send a “Wave of Change” around the World!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, “WE CAN DO THIS”!…
My name is Bob Purdy, I am the Standup PaddleSurfing, Elder in Training from Paddle for the Planet. I have paddled every day since January 1, 2011 to “Change the Way we live on the Planet”.
Environmentally “Climate Change” is a hot topic, no pun intended. There is not a part of the Planet that has not seen extreme weather events, droughts, floods, storms, short intense weather events, some kind of abnormal activity. We humans continue to promote environmental harm by our refusal to take responsibility for our part in these weather events and other activities like resource extraction, deforesting, overfishing, pollution and more. We humans continue to promote social harm by our active or passive participation in wars, poverty, hunger, abuse, racism, addiction and more. We humans continue to promote economic harm with our belief and support of a capitalistic system of control that is out of control and borders on the psychopathic.
By far the number one comment I get from People everywhere I go is “I am only one person, what can I possibly do to make a difference”? What I have learned that I as one person can do can be summed up in two words, “Take Care”! Every single person on the Planet has the ability, the responsibility and the need to make decisions. Every single one of us makes a host of decisions during the course of a day. Here is what one person can do. Every time you make a decision ask yourself this question, “Is what I am about to do, the decision I am about to make, going to promote harm or care”. That’s it!
Does buying that bottled water promote harm or care? Does gossip promote harm or care? Are your relationships promoting harm or care? Are you taking care of yourself or promoting harm? Etc. Etc. Etc.
I am a fairly simplistic person, to me harm is bad, care is good! I don’t know too many people who prefer harm over care. Harm feels bad, care feels good. In my simplistic way of thinking and being the path seems obvious, find the harm in the challenges we are facing and replace the harm with decisions and actions that promote care!
That is what World Paddle for the Planet Day is all about. We live in a time and place where instant change can and does happen. All it takes is all of us! Can you imagine how much we can change if we all get on board and promote care over harm? I can, it’s what drives me to paddle every day to “Change the Way we live on the Planet”.
The Paddler’s Planet with Christian Wagley
Listen to the podcast now:
It’s a hot Sunday afternoon on the summer solstice, and with the sun at its highest in the sky above I take a ride to a rural swimming hole on the Perdido River along the border between Florida and Alabama. Parked cars line both sides of the road leading down to the water, hinting at the scene ahead.
The descending road levels out on a flat floodplain along the River’s banks, and the view before me makes my eyes grow wide. It’s a beehive of activity, as a couple of hundred people are in the River and along its banks–swimming, fishing, picnicking, lounging—enjoying a Father’s Day afternoon.
Young children wade gingerly through the shallows as parents hold their tiny hands. Older kids leap into the River from the sandy banks and bob their heads beneath the water, always coming-up with smiles on their faces. Grandparents sit in folding chairs beneath the shade of trees, watching over it all.
The shallow River flows clean, tinted brown by the natural tannins that seep from vegetation as rain drains through hundreds of square miles of mostly forested land upstream. While I doubt that anyone enjoying the cool water is thinking about it at this moment, there’s a beautiful relationship between the River and the surrounding forests that makes this entire scene possible.
The warm moist air rising from the Gulf of Mexico helps to fuel over 60” of rainfall per year along our coast, making it one of the wettest areas of the country. When storm clouds drop their load over a native forest, so begins a series of amazing interactions between rain, forest, land, and river.
The falling rain first strikes the leaves and branches in the tree canopy, which can be 100’ in the air among the oldest of the longleaf pine trees that once dominated the coastal plain. Depending on the intensity of the storm and density of the canopy, around one-quarter of the rain can be absorbed by the forest canopy where it then evaporates back into the sky.
What does move through the canopy has been softened, falling more gently toward the ground. On its way to the forest floor the rain reaches an understory of small trees, shrubs, and grasses that further absorb the flow.
The remaining rain finally reaches the forest floor, where a dense carpet of leaves, pine needles, plants, and decaying organic matter soak-up the water and hold it like a sponge. The upper layers of soil and leaf litter teem with a rich diversity of microbes, fungi, and other life that cleanse the water of pollutants like sediment and nutrients, before it filters slowly into the ground where it flows underground into nearby rivers and streams.
Looking out on the river that day, I watched people frolic in water that had fallen as rain weeks and even months ago, slowly delivered to the River clear and clean by the undeveloped forest upstream. In using the river they were most certainly embracing the wonderful natural system that ensures that waters run pure.
Wherever we live, the waters we love to paddle depend on what’s upstream. Healthy waterways can only stay healthy by keeping most of their watershed intact, in its natural state of forest or grassland. The more we understand and embrace this, the more we can work toward preserving the large areas of land that must stay undeveloped to protect these waters.
As paddlers that means looking many miles upstream and advocating to preserve lands in parks, private preserves, and well-managed timber and grazing lands. And to steer new housing and development into already developed areas and more compact patterns that use less land—urban areas where we can leave the car behind and do a lot more daily travel by bike, on foot, and with transit. It’s the big-picture approach we have to follow in order to save every favorite little swimming hole and stretch of waterway all across the land.