Shadowcliff’s 2014 season has been underway for nearly a month now. In May, we also had the privilege of hosting a very special event: the dedication of our Laws of Nature Interpretive Trail in honor of our former directors Bob Mann and Judith Christy. Beyond being a beautiful day and successful event, I was overwhelmed by the multitude of personal and ecological narratives that were woven together in front of my eyes throughout the afternoon.
Nature Rewards Cooperation…
Gathering with a group of about 40 Shadowcliff friends and family at the trail head, board chair Lance Woodbury kicked off the event with some opening remarks and recognitions. As Lance, and then Bob and Judith, spoke, it dawned on me that almost every person in attendance was being acknowledged and applauded for some part in the day’s festivities. This was a great illustration of the generous collaboration that is a common reoccurring theme at Shadowcliff.
Everything in Nature is Connected…
After opening remarks, guided trail walks were led by Bob and Judith and Rick Robson, board member and construction coordinator for the trail. I joined a group of about 15 others who walked with Bob and Judith to each of the 5 stations along the trail. Each station has a sign which lists two laws of nature. The station’s also have benches to allow time for reflection and a nice quiet place. At each stop, Bob gave a little talk about the corresponding “law”, its meaning and its significance to that particular place. Often during these comments, Bob would point to someone in our group who was part of a memory that involved that spot. At Nature curbs excess from within, Bob and his daughter Dori shared a laugh as they explained to us how they had spent several exhausting days at the start of the pine beetle infestation trying in vain to extract individual pine beetles from the ailing trees! Bob’s testimonies almost always included the experiences of others, as well.
Judith added fascinating stories and information about the flora and fauna evidenced at each trail station. The ecology of the place was yet another narrative to add to the mix — and the oldest one, at that.
Nature Rewards Adaptation…
As we continued along the trail, I turned to Michael Dorosch — board member and visionary of the Laws of Nature Trail — and asked him how he came up with the idea for the trail. We had just passed Station #3, which marks the spot where Michael had first conceived the idea of the trail. I expected some fairly short explanation from him of something about the view that had inspired him. Instead, Michael relayed to me a whole history of how Shadowcliff had transitioned from Warren and Pat Rempel to Bob and Judith’s care and how the place had evolved to what it was on that very day. As you can imagine, this story took some time to tell. So, Michael told me a little bit more every time the group walked to the next trail station, and then he paused whenever Bob started talking. Picking up again as we continued along the path, Michael finally caught me up to present day Shadowcliff at Station #5 with the adirondack chairs.
Speaking of these adirondack chairs, I learned from other guests in the trail group led by Rick that these pieces of furniture have an incredible story all their own, which involves a tearful exchange of heartfelt testimonies with inmates in a Kansas prison….Wow! The incredible stories just don’t stop.
Nature Acts Locally with Rippling Effects….
But the point of this post today is not to retell every story that surfaced during the trail dedication. That would take far too long, and would not, I think, do the stories justice. I wanted, instead, to merely highlight the incredible community that is Shadowcliff, which was laid out so plainly before me that day.
There are a number of us here at Shadowcliff that do, however, have a drive to trying and do these stories justice. It’s our intention to develop a resource for preserving and sharing as many of these special narratives as possible. I feel that my experiences of that special day compel me to respond, and I know that I’m not alone.
If you have memories from Bob and Judith’s Trail Dedication or if you have special comments/stories for Bob and Judith, please feel free to share them in the comments below this post. I can’t wait to learn more about the people and places that make up the ongoing Shadowcliff story!