Saturday, August 20, 2016

Appearance: Revisting Estivation

With the repeated comment by individuals coming in contact with Shasta for the first time identifying her as a “Golden Retriever,” I am struck by how inaccurate a human’s “first impression” can be and how it can be influenced by what that person wants to see (point of view). As some of you know, when we adopted Shasta from the Novato Humane Society we were told she was a mix of Golden Retriever and Spaniel. After a few days of her coming to MuRefuge it was clear from her behavior that she was neither. Wisdom Panel performed a DNA assay on her saliva verifying she is not a Golden Retriever:
  • Great Grandparents, Grandparents and Parents on one side Bearded Collie (Shasta’s      disposition of sweetness and exuberance)
  • On the other side Collie, the Lassie type, (Shasta’s “tail feathers”) and Pointer (Shasta’s white with lemon/orange fur color, and she does "point")
Then other ancestors (in descending order)
  • Chihuahua (Shasta’s front teeth and muzzle configuration when she barks)
  • Lhasa Apso (Shasta’s tail)

  • Curly-coated Retriever ( Shasta's soft, silky fur)
  • Bulldog (Shasta’s scissors bite)
  • German Shepherd
MuRefuge's 25 year old California
Buckeye tree (Aesculus californica) in estivation.
Some of you might recall a picture of the blooming in May?
Applying the “point of view” assessment of humans who have specific views of what plants should look like to the landscape here in Northern California at this time in the year’s cycle often indicates the deficit to that way of thinking. Often individuals talk about how their plants are dying when in reality the plants are just dormant. Dormancy is usually spoken about in relationship to Winter, while here in Northern California it happens in the “Fifth Season,” aka “Indian Summer.” 

Ocean Spray or Cream Bush (Holodiscus discolor) along MuRefuge's South fence
The plants are shedding their leaves and drawing down the sap flow to the roots to conserve their life force and longevity. The plants are not dead but in estivation aka dormancy. This way of BEing has evolved over the millennia in this part of the globe where it has been in the past dry in the Summer and wet in the Winter. The plants and other BEings of the soil and air are in rhythm with this way of BEing. Although, I want to add here that all BEings are affected by the erratic and not typical weather brought on by climate change.

Western Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
Watering these plants during estivation often shortens their life span which has not evolved to BE green all year round nor look like it is alive to humans with a certain point of view or experience of living elsewhere in this country where green indicates Summer and brown indicates Winter. The appearance of native plants can be deceiving to those not in tune with the seasonal cycles here in Northern California just like those not connected to Shasta think she is a Golden Retriever.

BEing with the flow of cycles has the added benefit of connecting ourselves with the natural process in the place we are rooting. This process of connection supports our well BEing on so many levels and allows us to step outside of our limiting “personality” which includes not only learned childhood behaviors but the physical body with its genetic DNA, and experience expansive “essence,” aka soul/spirit, which includes the surrounding energy fields as well.

Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica)
with her droopy, drying leaves.
The bright shiny leaves in the upper left and towards to upper right corner
 Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica) bushes now laden with dark almost black fruit.
Shasta is uniquely herself with a unique personality and DNA mix. She is also much more when her essence is included. Her sweetness that everyone comments on who spends any time with her is clearly a reflection of so much more than just her DNA.

Shasta, in her slimmed down body of around 55#,
bemoaning, "They don't feed me enough" with a smile.
The native plants here provide a similar opportunity to step outside of humanness (point of view of uniqueness and separateness) and experience the connection to the entire energetic web not only here at MuRefuge. Of course, as one expands his or her point of view or awareness one can feel how essence connects any/everywhere to all sentient BEings.

May we let go of our small idea of self and embrace a much larger one as we 


  1. From our niece at Lake Tahoe: "Hi Cathie,
    Shasta has an interesting pedigreeJ It is amazing how diverse most dogs backgrounds are. I hope that Dwight and Shasta are both healing well and that everyone is getting healthy. We did miss all of you at the family reunion.Take care, Michele"

  2. From Palm Springs: "Cathie... great pics of Shasta! Except for the jumping.... i miss her!
    Perception is a very interesting phenomenon.....good blog.
    Have a good sunday!