Tag Archives: Skalitude Retreat

North Cascade Institute at Skalitude

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis past week the lodge and land were filled with the vibrant, vivacious energy of the North Cascade Institute graduate students, led by program director Joshua Porter.  The group made Skalitude their home-base for a week-long winter program here in the Methow Valley. The students explored the diverse arena of winter skills and knowledge – tracking, shelter building, avalanche safety, just to name a few – all the while enjoying amazing spring skiing right here in the hills flanking Skalitude’s meadow. With sunny warm days and frigid clear nights, the snow pack is still very present, offering a soft top layer for excellent day-time Nordic and alpine touring conditions. With fingers crossed, we hope to see this last as we head into March!

Thursday night we had a special visit from Methow Valley astronomer David Ward. He shared his comic wisdom with us and the NCI students – pointing out constellations, nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, and the glowing light of Jupiter as it rose in the Eastern sky. Those utilizing the spotting scope were lucky enough to view one of Jupiter’s moons.

Friday night was dinner at the snow-camp; the students built many different shelters, as well as a beautiful outdoor kitchen compete with sculptures and a center island for food prep, all out of snow. Dinner and fellowship were shared under the stars, and while we headed back to the cabin and a warm bed, everyone else snuggled into their sleeping bags for a restful night inside their hand-built abodes.


At their departure this morning, we feel we have made wonderful new friends, and are left with fond memories and the echoes of laughter in the meadow.  Thank you Joshua and all the North Cascade Institute grad students!  We look forward to seeing you again!

Snow-bundance and the Gifts of Winter

Winter morningWe are blessed this winter with an abundance of snow!

Mother nature has graciously been giving us lots of precipitation in the form of white fluffy shimmering snowflakes – and plenty of opportunity for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, scouting animal tracks, and enjoying the quietude of the blanketed forest and hills.

Night walks are especially magical this time of year, when the light of the moon is reflected in the snow-crystals; on clear nights, the ground becomes a galaxy of shining stars, mirroring the twinkling celestial lights above.

Winter is foremost a time of inward turning, and the signs of wintertide’s purpose are ever present.  The landscape sleeps with all potential that spring promises fomenting in the deep winter dream-time.  From the smallest plants to the most ancient trees, the forest enters a state of deep quiescence, as the green energy gathers in the roots.  Tiny animals snuggled in their nests relax their incessant warm-weather activity, and gently release into the embrace of colder days and nights.  Somewhere in the hills, the black bear enters its own kind of dream-time within a patient and nourishing sleep.

Snowy Lodge

Sometimes it is hard to slow down.  For us humans, our wit and intellect has given us technology that allows daily life to continue in a steady routine, regardless of the weather or time of year.  Sometimes this can be a blessing.  However, many times we forget (or I sure do), that slowing down, turning inward, and taking time is part of the same cycle that gives us the seed bursting into new life, abundant growth, and the ripened fruit.  For some seeds, it is the darkness and profound cold that enables them to awaken victorious come the spring, bearing all the gifts that nature intends.

Thus, it is with gratitude and purpose that we welcome the silence of deep winter into our hearts, allowing the gifts of this cold and quiet time to permeate our daily life.  The friendly crackle of the wood-stove as we warm ourselves, the cloooking call of the raven flying through brilliant blue sky, the winter moon shining bright and unimpeded – all timely messengers bringing us back to the simplicity and beauty of being.

We call you by the winter winds that chill our bones

And awaken our minds.

We call you by the warmth of the hearth fire

That gathers and comforts.

We call you by still waters, whose mirror leads us to inner journeys.

We call you by the quiet earth that waits and dreams.

We call you by the visions we make and love we share.

Great Goddess, who contains all things, bless our rite

As we celebrate the rebirth of spirit.  Blessed be!¹

juniper root crystal moon


¹ Barrett, Ruth: Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries: “Invocation for the Winter Solstice”