Happy Sounds Video, New Zealand Redwoods and Corrugated Pets by da-AL

Turn your sound up high to listen to the ASMR happy sounds of redwood trees creaking in the wind, sounding like old-fashioned rocking chairs…

Most people know of the redwoods of California, where trees are so awe-inspiring that they’ve got names and their Avenue of the Giants. But did you know that New Zealand has its own redwood forest? For our New Zealand vacation, we’d seen a bit of Auckland, then Rotorua, later Huka Falls and Craters of the Moon and Waitomo Glowworms Caves, then Taupo and Pirongia and Hamilton Gardens. Later in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited family and birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2, and then we marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach, saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, had fun with Rita Rigby, met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there, and enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

Now we got out of our car and hiked up, up, up…

da-AL strolls up to New Zealand’s redwood forest.

Back in the early 1900s, New Zealand officials admired our redwoods — and then planted some of their own! — resulting in the Redwoods Forest of Whakarewarewa. New Zealand soil is so dense with nutrients that the trees grew faster there than they do in the U.S. Like California’s, New Zealand’s big trees provide homes to an abundance of wildlife, including endangered creatures.

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Trees actually talk to each other, creating an ecosystem among themselves that feeds everything from below their roots to far into the air! Redwoods can live for thousands of years — unless humans cut them down or pollute them to death. Alas, the largest was felled around 1945. The most massive tree on earth now is the General Sherman, at 83.8 meters (275 ft) high by 7.7 m (25 ft) wide. The world’s oldest tree lives in California too — a bristlecone pine that’s 5,068 years old. Let’s hope we don’t kill them or their kin.

A little further along, we stopped to pet corrugated animals in the city of Tirau!…

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What’s the biggest tree you’ve ever seen?

Guest Blog Post: “Nature Cure by Richard Mabey: Overcoming depression through a love of nature,” a book review in Denzil Walton’s exact words

"Nature Cure," by Richard MabeyThe healing properties and potential of nature have always been known, but are finding a “comeback” these days, with hip terms like forest bathing now being recommended from psychiatrists’ couches. The book “Nature Cure” presents a personal re-discovery of the benefits of nature.

Richard Mabey is one of the UK’s finest nature writers. The first of his 32 books was Food for Free (1972), and his latest is The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination (2016).

Unfortunately, between 2000 and 2002, Mabey suffered a severe depression. We find him at the start of the book in bed, blankly gazing at the wall. But encouraged by friends and realizing the need for a change of air, he uproots himself from the family house in the Chilterns where he and his sister have lived for 110 years between them, and heads off to East Anglia to live in a room in a farmhouse. His room is “like a small forest” with “more oak inside it than out.” And here he strings up a series of low-energy lamps and makes his nest, amazingly not with a computer but two manual typewriters.

Throughout, Mabey describes his breakdown and steady recovery with his characteristic laid-back style, like your favourite uncle relating exploits from a distant past. We get a glimpse of what may have caused his freefall into depression when he describes what it takes to be a full-time writer: “doggedness to be alone in a room for a very long time.”

His honesty is admirable. Owning up to depression is never easy, even these days, perhaps especially for a successful writer at the pinnacle of his career (he had just completed the epic and lauded Flora Britannica). Even more difficult was when depression robbed him of his desire to write: “it made me lose that reflex, it was like losing the instinct to put one foot in front of the other.” But obviously Mabey regained that reflex, and how he did is very touching – and through writing he began to unlock “pieces of me that had been dormant for years.”

His style is warmly conversational, making the book easy and pleasurable to read, despite the subject matter. He gently leads you from subject to subject, so that you forget where the conversation started. One moment he is describing wild horses on Redgrove Fen, and his musings about their origins leads to cave paintings in France and then to local Stone Age flint mines in Norfolk, and somehow to Virginia Woolf and moats. Is this what he refers to later as “free-range reading?”

Nature Cure is definitely a recommended read, for anyone interested in good writing about nature, and the cure he describes might well be of benefit to others suffering from depression too.

Denzil Walton writes two blogs: Discovering Belgium and Life Sentences.

Guest Blog Post: “Heaven on Earth for a Book Lover…” in Parul Joshi’s exact words

Private Library in the WoodsI thought a public library was heaven on earth until fellow blogger Parul Joshi posted this. Check out her post that follows, and then here for more how it was built …

Eternally Elite...

          Have you ever felt like going to a secluded place far away from the usual raucous and monotony of your life? Have you ever wanted oh so desperately to have a place somewhere in the lap of nature where you could engulf yourself in the refreshing aura of what the nature has to offer? Have you ever wanted to close your eyes only to open them to find yourself in a room full of books stacked all over?

       Well, there is one such place on our planet earth. Yes it is true that we have our own heaven on earth beckoning us; waiting to wrap its cool soothing arms around our withering souls. And yes this place is indeed in the very depths of the nature.

          It is Hemmelig Rom or “secret room”, a secluded private library in upstate…

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Costa Rica: Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna, Plus Videos by da-AL

Volcanos, waterfalls, and sheer fun abound in Costa Rica.

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

Hum a little tune as you watch these fast motion photos.

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.

Costa Rica animals, food, money, and plants. Some videos too by da-AL

A mere 0.1% of Earth’s landmass, Costa Rica harbors 5% of Earth’s biodiversity. Environmental protection is Costa Rica’s middle name. Ecotourism rewards Ticos (Costa Ricans) with jobs and commerce. Other countries take note: caring for Mother Nature pays off in $mucho$ $dinero$.

25% of its land is nationally protected. Compare that to the developing world’s average of 13% and the developed world’s average of 8%. Each Costa Rican drains the Earth a third less than each North American does.

Crops include coffee and sugar cane.

Tap or hover over photos for captions and to enlarge them.

What do you think about when you think of butterflies?

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.

Costa Rica: Jungle Hiking, Indigenous Abodes, and Rafting the Pacuare River by da-AL

A popular medical tourism destination, Costa Ricans live longer than Northern Americans. How? Thanks to their socialized medicine system, strict anti-smoking laws, overall healthy focus, and low sugar consumption in.

Hover or click images for more info and to enlarge.

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.

I Love Costa Rica: Ziplining and Tarzan Swing Videos by da-AL

My beloved and I have yet to come down from the serious high of the Costa Rica vacation we took some months ago.

Here we are, hanging out in the rainforest of Monte Verde, in the northern part of Costa Rica.

Stay tuned for more Costa Rica posts.

Learn more about Costa Rica here and here.