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elcome to the first issue of The Granary Tree ... a gathering of wonders found along my journeys through nature, creativity, and spirit. The universe seems to be sending us many trials and tribulations during this year that was supposed to be one of “perfect vision.” And yet, the world is still filled with amazing things to see and experience. Maybe we just have to look a little deeper and multiply our wonders by sharing. Granary trees are where woodpeckers store their acorn harvest (see page 10) and I’d like to hope that this granary tree is where we will find wonders that nourish us as we emerge from the pandemic and find ways to heal the divide that has torn the United States apart. My fondest wish is that this becomes a community of wonder seekers and wonder sharers. A Facebook page has been set up to facilitate that sharing, so please feel free to contribute anything that touches your mind, heart, or spirit. The current plan is to publish this magazine every other full moon. I would love to hear from you and will post a prompting question with each issue. Enjoy the beautiful full moon ... the one I call the acorn moon beecause I am surrounded by them ... and please stay safe and healthy. ... Joyce Wycoff

Cover art: Wisdom Moon, Joyce Wycoff

Wonders along the path

Strong Women

Life as a jigsaw puzzle

Dedicated to strong women: indigenous women pioneer women nurturing women trailblazing women mothers healers teachers artists scientists storytellers activists women who persist



Trust the journey 6-7

The wonders of the Granary Tree

Mountain Mahogany


Grow where you’re planted

Land of surprises 26-27

24-25 Notdoneyet Gang

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Joyce Wycoff, 2020 Created, written,photographed by Joyce Wycoff unless otherwise noted. Contact: jwycoff@me.com

20-21 Dying with grace

Gratitude and the pandemic 28-29

Sublime to ridiculous

Gifts of October

Cocoons of comfort 22-23

Magic of picnic tables 14-15



“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”



The rest of the story

We are nature 32

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.” — Chinese proverb

Life as a jigsaw puzzle ...


into place. I thought it would be a fun, learning adventure to write and photograph a wildflower book with a climate change angle. I jumped in with both feet, mapping it out, doing research, gathering resources and possible collaborators. And then, the book fell into my hands, already finished, gloriously beautiful and inspiring. Ten pounds of book on sale for $60, already winning awards and acclimations.

ometimes life seems like a thousandpiece jigsaw puzzle that someone dumped on a table and then threw the box away. You don’t know what the final image is but you’re confident, so you start looking for the straight edges and corner pieces. But there are no straight edges and apparently no corner pieces, so you start trying to organize them by color, or lines, or What now, fair child? some pattern that makes sense. Gradually, a cluster comes together and you start to A different book idea arose, got bigger, think, “Ahhh … that’s what it’s about.” Then got too big, collapsed, and morphed again. a few more pieces come together, forming More pieces kept falling a completely different into place, creating new, pattern, and you think, unexpected patterns. “No, this is what it’s Ideas rained, dried up, about.” and rained again. That’s how it goes 4 I wanted a project to and suddenly you find hold on to, make plans yourself 74 years-old, for, but all I had were still putting the pieces island cluster bits and together one at a time, pieces awash in a sea of still unsure of what the who-knows-what. The picture is supposed to only thing that held it be. together was California, I blame it on the all of California, 770 wildflowers. I thought miles north to south, 250 m they were calling to oks.co o miles east to west. b r e me: pieces were falling ildflow And, I was in Reno. www.w Yellow pond lily

Mountain Meadows Reservoir, Westwood, CA

And, I loved Reno I loved weekend outings with the kids, exploring and finding golden eagle nests, ghost towns, and bones and rocks that became jewelry in Annie’s studio. I loved spending time with my granddaughters and seeing them become fascinating young women. I loved the quirky artsiness of Reno, the murals and huge public art statues left over from Burning Man. Artown, the month-long celebration of art in July, had long been on my bucket list, and I never got tired of walking the ever-changing Truckee river. I loved Reno, but the pandemic came and took away a lot of the things I loved ... and then the whisperings began … California … come back … come back …


Trust the journey ...


n October 1st at 5:30 a.m., I left Reno to follow the merest wisp of a calling. Leading the way by about 45 minutes, Shannon McGraw towed my new home, a 37-foot 5th wheel packed with all my belongings. Ahead of us stretched a 537-mile journey to Pinezanita RV Park in the mountains of East San Diego County. Driving Hwy 395 was like meandering through a cloud of family memories while seeing the first colors of fall splashing yellow-gold across the Eastern Sierra.

6 Above: Rabbit Bush on West Walker River, Hwy 395 Below: Old house on Hwy 395 near Bridgeport

Like all upheavals, this one was easier to track backward than to anticipate going forward. Change, especially deliberate change, is often like a thousand threads of past and present suddenly weave themselves into a bright, undeniable tapestry of possibility, making action mandatory. For me, one bright thread appeared when I decided to go camping at Lake Almanor in Northern California. Some forty years earlier, I had spent one night there and remembered it fondly. One Sunday I drove the two hours from Reno to see if it was like I remembered. It was. The beautiful clear water surrounded by ponderosa pines was as enchanting as ever. Three days later, after gathering all my camping gear, I was set up on a lakeside campsite with my lime-green kayak at the edge of the water and my new pop-up tent popped and ready for four days of kayaking, swimming, and walking in the forest. Somewhere during those four days, yearning set in, bringing a new question to contemplate: could I live here? Soon it became how could I live here? I started driving around the lake looking for an RV park where I could park a trailer. (Not that I owned one ... details.) On the east side of the lake, I pulled into the Vagabond Resort, where I found a cute trailer with a great deck and lake view, and, most importantly, a FOR SALE sign. My immediate reaction was that I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I called the number, but no one answered. On my way out of the park, I saw another trailer for sale … not as cute and no deck, but someone answered. My fears were confirmed: this whole idea was out of my budget range! (Not that I actually had a budget.)

Lake Almanor, CA

Driving back to Reno with all the wheels in my head spinning, I kept trying to put the idea away, but two days later I found myself dialing the phone number for that cute place with the deck. Bob answered. We chatted like old friends and, finally, timidly, I asked the price. It was still out of my budget but closer to possibility than the first place…. and the deck! Bob and I agreed to meet the next week and I began to weigh the finances against my yearning. Yearning won and two weeks later I moved into that cute trailer with the great deck and a delightful view of the lake … plus Bob and his wife Cleo live in the trailer next door … neighbors!


The Rest of the Story ...



thought that would be the end of the story: I would spend summers on the lake, an easy two-hour drive from Reno, and life would continue along its well-marked path. A near-calamity pushed me into a thinking about a different possibility. On a trip back to Reno, I discovered that my swamp cooler had stopped working and the house had overheated and buckled the floor. While the floor was actually fine when it cooled, it left me with worries about all the things that might go wrong while I was at the lake. The Reno house was becoming a worry rather than a refuge. Being at the lake had become a priority. I loved the peace of being there, exploring and adjusting to the pace of trees. I couldn’t live year-round at the lake because the park closes down in the winter … ten feet of snow a year has a tendency to do that. I thought about buying a house but the few places within my budget range didn’t excite me ... and that ten feet of snow! There was also the project. The more I experienced living in the midst of a forest, the more I wanted to write and make art about it. Project ideas began to tempt me, calling me to learn everything I could about the wildflowers, trees, lakes, and geology of the world around me.

One thought that kept repeating itself was: California. I had loved California from the moment I arrived as the 22-yearold bride of a Marine Corps Vietnam returnee. Now, I wanted to *know* it … top to bottom, from delicate wildflowers to the interaction of its tectonic plates, and allow art and writings to flow from whatever captured my attention and imagination. Since this undefined project dictated living in California, one of the least affordable housing markets in the US, I had to get creative. I wanted to continue to spend summers on the lake, but what would I do with the other seven months? When the idea of having a winter place in Southern California finally appeared, things began to drop into place as if it had been carefully planned. Within a month, I was here in the mountains east of San Diego, in a two-RV life, straddling California. And, the project that called me here began to take shape as The Granary Tree, a periodic, online magazine devoted to joyfully gathering the wonders of life.


The Wonders of a Granary Tree


nly mature oaks bear acorns and, thus, they have become symbols of accomplishment. Tree Spirit Wisdom* states, “Acorn signals a time of achievement. We have reached a point in our life where we can now appreciate the beauty and abundance that we have been nurturing.” Although I was familiar with this area, I really didn’t know what I would find when I embarked on this adventure in eastern San Diego County. While Pinezanita is the name of the RV park where I’ve landed, it’s actually an oak woodland, with all the things that come with that … acorns, blue jays, wood peckers, mistletoe, and rocky out crops. Almost immediately, a book appeared, 10 telling me stories about my new home.

One story haunted me ... granary trees, where woodpeckers store their acorns. Oaks are keystone species that produce the acorns that feed the neighborhood. Woodpeckers create store houses for the acorns … communal store houses … a granary in a tree, which may hold 50,000 acorns and take eight years to build. Woodpeckers don’t “own” their store houses. Other woodpeckers eat freely from them, and, because the acorns shrink as they dry, squirrels, blue jays and other forest dwellers help themselves to the bounty. However, to outwit the thieves, woodpeckers move as many as five hundred acorns every week! Because they have a steady source of food, woodpeckers don’t migrate.

When I started walking through the woods in my new home, I thought “wouldn’t it be nice if I could actually see a granary tree?” * https://treespiritwisdom.com/


Almost immediately I found a granary in a huge Ponderosa pine, which is apparently one of their favorites. Within a couple of weeks I had found three more inside the park where I live and touched acorns packed into the holes; some are loose enough that I could pull them out; some so tight I would need pliers to remove them. Granary trees are a wonder as baffling to me as the great pyramids. They are unique in the animal world and require an enormous amount of work … drilling the holes, gathering the acorns one acorn at a time from surrounding trees, and then pounding them into the holes.

Piece of a downed granary log and acorns.

Stored acorn. A different granary tree … As I was thinking about beginning this project of making an oinline magazine, it occurred to me that I was creating a different kind of granary tree … instead of storing acorns, I was storing memories, ideas, stories, and inspiration, creating a place to store wonders, feeding myself and others, even in the darkest winters. Wondering: • How did they get started on this journey, replacing migration impulses with a stay-at-home plan? • How many woodpeckers work on creating a granary tree? • How do they get the acorns out of the storage locker? Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy provides more information about acorn woodpeckers and granary trees in this delightful 3-minute video.*

* https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/storing-food-the-granaries-of-acorn-woodpeckers/


Mountain Mohogany



cousin to rose

Magic of picnic tables


his is where I would expect to meet Charles de Lint, sitting on a picnic table, draped in leaves, red and gold, nibbling on a live oak acorn, snatched from the gray squirrel who stole his raisins. We’d sit and chat, spooling stories like flaxen thread into the chilly air and stuff them into empty holes in the granary tree where they will wait for the magical child who will carry them home and wrap them in sweet dreams. I live in an RV park with a picnic table in every site. As the season ends and quiet settles over the park, I can almost hear the tables calling their gossip back and forth, laughing at the games of children, giggling as the squirrels feast on the crumbs left behind, settling finally into a long winter nap, waiting for spring and the return of joyful families.


“I want to be magic. I want to touch the heart of the world and make it smile. I want to be a friend of elves and live in a tree. Or under a hill. I want to marry a moonbeam and hear the stars sing. I don’t want to pretend at magic anymore. I want to be magic.” ― Charles de Lint

Lake Almanor, California

Pinezanita RV Park Julian, California


Grow where you’re planted


any years ago, while kayaking on an Eastern Sierra lake and contemplating a twisted juniper seemingly growing out of solid rock, I received a cryptic message: grow where you’re planted. I’ve moved frequently throughout my life, so I wondered if that message was a sign that I should stay planted in the small town of Bishop, California, where my husband and I had semi-retired. We loved the area, so it was a pleasant thought. However, the Universe had other plans. Only a few months later, cancer came to my husband and we began a three-year odyssey through the health-care system. After his death, my life became untethered, subject to the winds of whim and fortune. Within the despair of loss and grief, I felt 16 an undertow tugging at me. Some new seed was struggling to live. A small fishing village in Mexico gifted me with art and a new way of seeing the world. Days of kayaking with a friend in the crystalline sea surrounding an isolated island off the coast of Belize watered my spirit, and I began to sprout, tendrils breaking through hard packed ground, seeking light. Another ten years were spent searching for home and purpose: Arkansas, Colorado, back to California, Mexico, Reno, and now back to California. I sometimes wonder how often I can be planted, uprooted, planted again, and still grow. Understanding may be a fragile, flickering candle; however, it seems now a bit steadier and brighter. Within me is the place I’ve been looking for. I can grow wherever I find fertile ground and beauty to feed my spirit.

Somehow, my journey reminds me of David Wagoner’s powerful poem, “Lost” which begins: Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known.

I think I’m ready to stand still … or at least my two RV-life version of stillness. Reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants, and then listening to and reading it again created a longing within me to connect in a deeper way to the living world around me. Whatever David Wagoner’s “Here” is, I want to treat it as a powerful stranger and get to know it, which brings me to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s thoughts about the “honorable harvest.” Robin describes the plant world as “generous beings, sovereign beings, who give us all we need for life. She states, “Every breath you take is a breath that was made for you by plants.” She believes we owe them our attention and respect and we should care for them. “At the very minimum, we should know their names,” she insists. While the protocols for the honorable harvest aren’t written down, the video below describes them in more detail. Kimmerer calls it “a covenant of reciprocity between humans and the living world, a very sophisticated, ethical protocol.”

Protocols of the Honorable Harvest

Respecting plants enough to learn their names is part of the indigenous teachings called the “honorable harvest.”

“Never take the first plant you see, and that means you’ll never take the last one.” Always ask permission. “I’ve always been taught to address that plant; introduce myself and tell it what it is I have come for. In our way, this is just good manners.” “If you’re going to ask, you have to listen for the answer. And, if the answer is no, you go home. We have to remember that the plants don’t belong to us and taking without permission is also known as stealing.” When gathering plants, take them in a way that does the least harm and also benefits the growth of the plant. “Use everything you take. It’s disrespectful of the life that has been given to waste it.” “Share what is taken with others. The earth has shared generously with us, so 17 we have to model that behavior in return. A culture of sharing is a culture of resilience.” I am a photographer, so I don’t gather plants except in photos, but I want to be respectful and grateful by trying to follow these protocols, learning the names of the trees, wildflowers, all the plants I’m photographing, being grateful for their gifts, slowing down and paying attention to them. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.


* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEm7gbIax0o

The Gifts of October “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” — L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


ere in the Cuyamaca Mountains, October stretches into November and gladdens my eyes and spirit. This is the time, as Winnie the Pooh says, “for hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!”

Julian 18

Pine Hills Rd

Pin Oak

In this autumnal time, I feel a special connection to Lucy Maud Montgomery. We were both deprived of an important “e” and she made me aware of its absence. Would her life have been different had she been Lucy Maude with an “e”; would I have been a different person had I been Joyce Ann(e)? Montgomery’s mother died of tuberculosis three months before Lucy Maud was two, and her grief-stricken father left her with her grandparents. During solitary walks through the peaceful Prince Edward Island countryside, Montgomery started to experience what she called “the flash” – a moment of tranquility and clarity when she felt an emotional ecstasy, and was inspired by the awareness of a higher spiritual power running through nature. (Wikipedia) 19

Maple The amazing nature artist Andy Goldsworthy says: “We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” Smoke Bush

In these October-glorious mountains, I feel that I am refinding my connection to nature/self and opening up to the “flash.”

From the sublime to the ridiculous: black water tanks and propane evaporation


eather is a chatty companion when you live in an RV. Several days ago, I noticed that we were in for a week of wind, rain, and freezing temperatures; so I started making plans. You know what they say about plans. Here’s a short recap of three days of listening to God laugh. Day 1: I decided to wind-stabilize the RV with a tripod stabilizer and to wrap my water hose to prevent freezing. Buying and installing the stabilizer was easy. Wrapping my 100’ of hose was simple but time consuming. Two jobs well done and satisfying. Day 2: Since the night temps were touching freezing, I started thinking about my furnace and the propane tanks that keep 20 the warm air flowing. A friend suggested they might need insulating. Sounded reasonable, so I was off to YouTube (the repository for multiple answers to all questions, some actually helpful.) After several videos by guys who all want to be my new best friend, the answer to why you should NOT insulate propane tanks began to make sense … boils down to: they work better when full and insulation hinders the evaporation (you have to watch the videos yourself if you want to know why that’s important.) Anyway, scratch “insulate the propane tanks” off my growing to do list.  However, the idea that they work better when full started a troublesome line of thinking. Are my tanks full? Who knows? Back to YouTube. Apparently, “How full is my propane tank?” is one of the mysteries of the Universe. Some guys thump ‘em, some pour

hot water down the side and wait for a frost line, some buy a profusion of gauges which half the reviewers swear didn’t work. I’ve been here six weeks and had to assume that it was likely that my tank was empty. Well, that and the fact that my furnace didn’t seem to do much other than keep the frost out of the air. So I’m off to take my tank to the park office where they fill them … after watching several videos about just how to take them out of their compartments, of course. I have a “split-bottle” system with an “automatic changeover.” That’s good because the law of propane tanks is that they run out at 2 am. (Of course, none of that was spelled out in the large stack of manuals I inherited with this RV.) Do remember that propane is dangerous … one wrong move and I could blow up half the county. My imagination painted graphic pictures as I tried to figure out simple things like how to turn the tanks off and take them out of their cabinets.  Just as panic was reaching full bloom, my neighbor and his wife pulled into their space. I almost gave him time to get out of his truck before groveling at his feet, begging him for help. Being a nice man, he gently took me over to my unit and revealed the mysterious workings of propane tanks.   Things were looking up as we got the tanks to the car. My neighbor made me promise I’d let him help me reload them when I got back. I demurred for half a second; I am trying to be self-reliant, surely I could do this myself.  Not a chance. Google tells me that a 30#

What I was taking photos of so I could ask someone what to do.

But, I wanted to take more like this...

tank weighs 55#!? So, after a humble “pretty please,” my neighbor soon had the tanks in place and my furnace was running at a near-toasty level. Another check mark on my to do list. Day 3: Began well: nothing froze, water is still running. Suddenly I wondered how long those propane tanks would last. Google proceeded to tell me that one full 30# propane tank should keep a furnace running consistently for 25 hours.Two tanks: 50 hours of furnace time ... but I had already used 12 hours! Not a good sign for a long winter.  I was heading off to buy another space heater when I decided to dump the tanks: black water and gray water.  Easy-peasy, I thought. Just pull a knob and a valve opens and lets all the icky stuff from the black tank run into the septic system. Close that valve and open the gray water valve and it further cleans the line. Close that valve and you’re basically done. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. It didn’t.  After dumping the black water tank, it wouldn’t close all the way, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much WD-40 I sprayed on it, no matter how much I begged Ganesha. Back to YouTube and I now know more than I ever wanted to know about waste systems, paper clogs, and poop pyramids.  There’s more to the story, more Googling, more YouTubing, more crying on a friend’s shoulder, and one trip to the hardware store to buy tools that I don’t know how to use to try to fix something I can’t see. Bottomline: nothing worked and I now have two toilet snakes (the first wasn’t long enough), new adjustable vice grips and a destroyed garden hose that I hacked off the connection when the vice grips didn’t work.  So, here I sit, writing in a frosty room

because I’m not about to use that precious propane, hoping I never have to go to the bathroom again, and wondering if I will ever feel competent and truly self-reliant. The upside though is that on the way to the hardware store, I saw buffalo and a barn quilt. That almost makes up for all of these challenges. Plus, Barn Quilt while researching the barn quilt, I found a whole trail of them that I can follow, assuming I somehow adequately please the gods of propane and black water tanks. 21

Cocoons of Comfort: being toasty-warm isn’t the point ... just ask Georgia!


:15 a.m. Chilly. I turn up the small, ceramic space heater in my bedroom. Nothing. No power. I crawl back under the covers and try to go back to sleep, but my mind goes walkabout.

In an interview with the elderly Georgia O’Keefe, a young interviewer asks about painting in the New Mexico desert. “Wasn’t it hot?” O’Keefe, lean, dressed in black, laughs, “Of course it was!” She explains that sometimes she had to get under her car for 22 shade. But, the point of Georgia’s life was not comfort; it was painting the beauty, the nature, she found around her. A sacrifice of comfort was the price she paid for the gift of doing what she was called to do. Thinking about Georgia made me wonder how much I haven’t done in my life because it might have been too hot, too cold, too windy, or I might have been too tired, too hungry, too thirsty. The search for comfort is a siren song and this venture into the east San Diego mountains seems to be trying to break the hold comfort has on me. In the two months I’ve been here, almost everything has gone wrong: electricity, plumbing, and heating as winter approaches.

I find myself worrying a lot about the basics of comfort. Living in an RV isn’t like sitting toasty-warm in front of a roaring fireplace. Right now, I have no toilet. That problem should be resolved in the next few days, but in the meantime, I’m using the portable facilities scattered throughout the park. Think cold. I thought this was a hardship until the first morning when I stepped out of the coach into the crisp morning sunlight and breathed air so fresh it made my eyes water. Now I wonder if this morning ritual should become a habit even when my in-house toilet becomes functional again. There is no furnace in my day-to-day existence because the challenges of keeping propane tanks filled is more than I know how to deal with. However, in such a tiny home, small space heaters produce a tolerable mid-60s environment … at least in these pre-winter days and nights. Of course, those tiny miracles of heat also come with their own issues. Unless I carefully monitor which electric gadgets I’m using and when, I blow my 30 amp allowance. When I whine and think about my lost cocoons of comfort, I remember the indigenous peoples who lived in these mountains for thousands of years without electricity, without running water, hot or cold, without sanitary facilities that whisk away body waste to places we can’t see as if it had never existed. These place-ancestors whisper to me that there are other ways of living

in the world … ways to reduce at least some of the pyramids of plastic and technology built up between me and the natural world around me. I still don’t know if I have the fortitude to follow this path, so I think about Georgia with her large canvases and paints stuffed into her car, gazing at the multi-colored hills around her, calling her to face the heat, cold, and wind in order to capture beauty. People often talk about Georgia’s paintings of bones being about death. Georgia insisted they were simply shapes that pleased her. I know that’s the key … I have to keep finding things that please me so much that comforts like being toasty-warm don’t compare. And, with that, it’s time to open the door to that sparkling sunlight and walk into a new day. (P.S. The power is back on.) 23

Recommended article: The wild beauty of Georgia O’Keeffe* O’Keeffe’s paintings are often seen as displays of flamboyant female sexuality. But a broader reading of her art suggests that it came from the life of a new kind of woman ... one who inspires me with this quote:

“I’ve always been absolutely terrified every single moment of my life, and I’ve never let it stop me from doing

a single thing I wanted to do.”

*The Guardian

Dying with grace and generosity ...

Recently, I’ve been learning from the trees. It takes approximately as long for a tree to decompose as it took for it to live. And, it doesn’t just turn into forest litter, its generosity goes on giving food and shelter. In ecology-speak, the ecological value of a dead tree continues long after the last leaf falls. The Cavity Conservation Initiative (yes, there really is such a thing) says, “Dead trees represent one of the finest examples of reciprocity with the environment.”


here is a scene in the movie Jeremiah Johnson where Johnson comes across Hatchet Jack, frozen, but still holding the rifle 24 “what kilt the bear that kilt” him. That scene haunted me and made me wonder how I wanted to die. Not frozen to death, of course, that’s probably not a comfortable way to go, but sitting with my back to a tree, looking out over a long view and gifting all that I have left to the living world. Most of us fortunate enough to walk the earth for seven or eight decades think at least occasionally about how we would like to transition to whatever comes next. It’s a rather fruitless exercise since we have little control over how or when it will happen, but we like the idea of control, so we buy our burial plots or urns for our ashes, create sometimes elaborate directions for what music we want played at our celebration of life, and write long lists of which deserving descendent gets which priceless piece of memorabilia.  I’ve spent way too many hours figuring out how I could find my perfect tree with that perfect view and simply expire, leaving my body as food for the small animals and insects. It wouldn’t work of course. Well-meaning people would come looking for my missing-personself and then have to cart away my carcass, most likely decayed and messy. I don’t want to be a bother; so I’ve put away that particular death fantasy. Maybe burial at sea. Fish food.

Dead trees are food-filled (insects) apartment complexes for blue birds, woodpeckers, and a myriad of small animals, snakes, and frogs. Fungi and lichen flourish on the bones of downed trees, which also collect leaf litter, shelter seeds, and prevent erosion while slowly returning their essence to the vast subterranean mycorrhizal network constantly feeding the entire woodland. In a charming article about the busy world of dead trees, Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener, describes many of the ways dying trees support entire habitats.

#6 December, 2018 Gratitude for an unending series of learning experiences*

Death Day and Love Letters to My Life “In death, plants and animals return more to the earth than they ever take” -- James Nardi, Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners Nardi makes me makes me wonder how I could be more useful and generous in my own demise … how could I give more than I have taken? Somewhere around 65, I thought, “I’m going to die.” “Seriously,” I said to myself “I’m closer to the end than the beginning. I need to start thinking about getting my affairs in order.” I started writing my will, making lists of people to contact when the time came, significantly downsizing my stuff. However, I found that this impulse came and went, easily blown away by the winds of everyday living. So, I established my “death day.” Although we know the day of our birth and can celebrate it, we don’t know the day of our death, so we have no periodic reminder. I changed that by establishing my death day as June 17, mid-way between my birth days. That worked for awhile and then, almost three years ago, I felt like I needed more, so I set the 17th as my monthly death day with the intention of honoring and celebrating my life by remembering that I can’t count on forever … or even the next moment.  To make these monthly reminders more of a positive celebration, I started using them to write love letters to my life. I remember wondering as I blogged Love Letter #1, just how many I would have the privilege of writing. So far: 29, which focused on The Granary Tree (page 10 - 11) and how these letters were a different way of storing nourishment for the future days.

#20 February, 2020 Grow where you’re planted*

Follow your own path



Photo: www.ila



A land of surprises James Hubbell, a well-known artist who liked to build, along with his actively involved wife Anne and their ready-labor-force of four boys, spent sixty years turning ten acres of east San Diego County hill country into an organically inspired home and work of art. Colorful mosaics, paintings and stained glass flow through each room and building, mixing and mingling with the trees, wildflowers and endless views of the Volcan Mountains. Almost forty years ago, they created a foundation as an art education and nature center and named it Ilan-Lael, which comes from Hebrew meaning, “a tree that unites the physical and the spiritual.” What a delightful surprise to discover this unique environment so close to my new home and have a chance to experience it with one of my dear friends.

Land of Surprises James Hubbell, a well-known artist who liked to build, along with his actively involved wife Anne and their ready labor force of four boys, spent sixty years turning ten acres of east San Diego County hill country into an organically inspired home and work of art. Colorful mosaics, paintings and stained glass flow through each room and building, mixing and mingling with the trees, wildflowers and endless views of the Volcan Mountains. Almost forty years ago, they created a foundation as an art education and nature center and named it Ilan-Lael, which comes from Hebrew meaning, “a tree that unites the physical and the spiritual.” What a delightful surprise to discover this unique environment and have a chance to experience it with a dear friend.

“Within this park, these trees, hills and chaparral is a story, a pattern, a song of how life works and moves. It is nature’s song, but it is your song, too.” -- James Hubbell


Gratitude and the pandemic ...


y forever friend Barbara GaughenMuller, a peace educator, advocate and podcaster, called me recently and started reading from Gratitude Miracles, the 5-minute journal that could change everything! … a book I wrote because I wanted to regularly practice gratitude and couldn’t find a journal that appealed to both mind and heart. Barbara is one of those people who makes you feel smarter and more alive whenever she talks to you and I’ve often told her she should charge people just to talk 28 to them on the phone because she’s such a mood booster. “Listen to this,” she said, “it’s from page 161.” Robert Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude says that, in troubling times, “not only will a grateful attitude help — it is essential. In fact, it is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.” Without missing a beat, she asked, “What are you doing to get this book out there … people need to be using your journal … especially now during this pandemic.” Fortunately, I was able to remind her that it was on amazon. “Well, make sure you also put it in your new magazine!”  After we got off the phone, I wondered what benefit page 161 related to and found it is part of the cycle on Resilience. The journal is organized into 13 cycles, each focused on a specific benefit of

practicing gratitude, with weekly pages for writing 3-5 reasons you are grateful for a particular aspect of your life. Some people advocate writing 3 gratitudes everyday. I prefer this process which takes you deeper into why your grateful for one thing that day. It’s not right or wrong, just what works better for you. Between the pandemic and my abrupt change in life I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and realized that Resilience would be a great place to start a third year focused on practicing gratitude journal. As always, thanks Barbara!

And, speaking of the pandemic … When I flew to Florida to visit a friend in the last week of February, 2020, I’d heard about the new virus, but it was “over there” and didn’t seem related to me or my life. When I flew back a week later, my mind had changed enough that I decided to self-quarantine. During those fourteen days, I read more about the virus and Now available here.* what was happening around the world and started writing and making art about it. Soon, that turned into an ongoing project of capturing the changing world in art, poetry and stories. At first, this was just something to share on Facebook, then it became a way to document history in the making, in order to remember how rapidly the world was changing and the unfolding of new questions. After five months, I realized this could go on for a long time and the project could turn turn into a tome. The day I wrote “Kumbaya 2020,” I realized my heart was broken open and I didn’t know if my rose-colored glasses, Pollyanna-self would ever return. It was time to find a stopping place, synthesize some of the lessons learned, and turn it into a book.

Corona Wisdom is a book of reflections about the beginnings of a pandemic, collecting some of the amazing stories and questions we had in those early days. Kumbaya 2020 I want my rose-colored glasses back. I want to stand in a circle and sing kumbaya. I want to sit on the lap of the kindly grandfather god I once believed in. I want to look at the people around me and not wonder which is a pustule ready to burst. I want to behold our forefathers with reverence and gratitude and not see the long shadow trailing behind them. I want to believe in the truth-telling of doctors, lawyers, ministers, and politicians, 29 I want the dodo birds to waddle back to a green earth. I want to drink tea unmasked with my pollyanna sisterhood. I want to see a beating heart on every sleeve. I want to hear the peaceful ripple of an untamed stream. I want discussions of color to be about lavender and rose. I want superglue for all the broken places. I want a world without children in cages. I want full bellies, warm hugs, and a belief in tomorrow. I want what I thought we had but, somehow, let slip away. Oh Lord, Kumbaya!

The project left me

with more questions than answers.

*Bookbaby.com Store

Community Page for the these folks range in age from their 40s to th “For while purpose has to be found in solitude, it has to be lived in community.” -- Dawna Markova

Lynne Snead recently did a two-part podcast on leadership, coaching and being your best self on Al Martin’s “Making Data Simple” podcast. Apparently they liked the first two parts so much, they’re having her back for a third part. Don’t miss any of them.See more about Lynne here.*

Dee Anne Dinelli entered her photo series, “Art on the Body” in the curated exhibition “Women in 2021” with South x 30 SouthEast Photo Magazine See more about Dee at ShadowDancePhotography.com

Louise Gallagher journeyed through her grief at the loss of her 97-yearold mother by completing an altered book art journal based on the prayer cards her mother used to guide her nightly prayers throughout her life. Find on Blurb.ca.

Barbara Gaughen-Muller, international peace pollinator and podcaster, has launched a community peace magazine as a free offering for all peace lovers and activists. Don’t miss her conversations with the bright luminaries of peace. Subscribe on the home page of Peace Podcast.org where you can access all the episodes of her podcast. *www.TalentEvolutionSystems.com

e Not-done-yet Gang … heir 80s and they definitely aren’t done yet! Bob Jenkins is launching his new book: Leatherfoot, Daughters of the Kali Yuga Book 3, and looking for advance reviews Azriel is a Heroine to Root For! Available from amazon ... Kindle special: $2.99. Bob Branstom, retired senior research analyst, is looking forward to beginning his new career of service as a city councilman for Grass Valley, CA. Annie Tennyson, launched a new jewelry site on Etsy featuring rocks and bones she and her family collect in the Nevada desert. See more at Etsy BonesandStonesNV.

Michael Costa, photographer/ artist, launched a new community art gallery in Los Osos, CA. See more on Facebook. “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go. -- Rebecca Solnit

Anita PerezFerguson has launched her first book Twisted Cross, Adventure to the New World (Book 1 of the Mission Bells trilogy.) Learn more about Anita and her young adventurer who tangles with padres and pirates as he discovers the New World & himself on Facebook.

Send us snippets of your news … projects, ideas, dreams, inspirations. Photos welcome. Send to jwycoff@me.com.


NEXT ISSUE: Monsters of the Desert

Nature We are nature. We are nature seeing nature. -Susan


Cypress Bark

The intent is for The Granary Tree to always be FREE. However, if you are particularly touched by something here and want to make a contribution, it’s easy through PayPal (jwycoff@me.com) or checks sent to Joyce Wycoff, PO Box 292, Julian, CA 92036 would be lovely. Thanks!



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The Granary Tree  

Wandering through a world of wonders ... collecting beauty, poetry and stories about nature, creativity, and spirit into an online magazine.

The Granary Tree  

Wandering through a world of wonders ... collecting beauty, poetry and stories about nature, creativity, and spirit into an online magazine.