Celebrate! Life & Times at Loon Lake: The Gift of Clean Air

Please enjoy my column for the May-June 2018 Edition of the Loon Lake Times

Copyright ©2018, ElizaBeth Coira

The sun has finally returned to brighten our days. The swallows sing and swoop overhead. The coots have taken over the lake, though the heron still finds there’s plenty of space. It’s spring—really SPRING—at last here at Loon Lake! The warmer temperatures invite back more neighbors and friends. And at last I can rejoice in opening the windows—life just feels better when it’s all aired out!

Once upon a time, living in cities, I had to be more careful about opening my windows. The pollution of traffic, cigarette smoke, and a hazy industrial grime threatened my joy, health, and love of life in the fresh, clean air. Though many find it hard to understand the allure of a more rural, quiet existence; the clean air, serenity, and gift of relative silence have all done wonders for my state of being. But I wonder, do we realize, even appreciate Mother Nature’s inherent gifts like the fresh air we depend on essentially to be? It’s a gift that so many in the cities long for, and many will unfortunately never know. It’s the type of gift we must honor and treasure, respect, protect, and preserve for all.

Among the benefits of airing out our homes is the insurance of greatly improved indoor air quality, not only a health enhancer, but in some cases a life saver. Moving to this region, I was surprised to discover that both Stevens and Spokane counties are among the “hottest regions” in the nation for radon gas. Radon gas is invisible, odorless, tasteless, and naturally occurring; it comes from the breakdown of uranium in the earth. This gas, however, can become trapped and build up over time in our closed-up houses, especially after a long winter. Long-term exposure to this radioactive gas has been directly linked to lung cancer and certain types of sarcomas (cancerous tumors). You can check your indoor air quality, and specifically radon levels, with testing kits available from most hardware stores. And some in this region have found it necessary to install ventilation systems. But one of the easiest, cheapest ways to improve your indoor air quality, at least in this area, is to simply open your windows. Other sources of indoor air pollution with links to various cancers include a buildup of gasses from cleaning products, pesticides, herbicides, and also from clothing that’s been treated with dry-cleaning chemicals. Carbon monoxide and dioxide, nitrogen oxides, dust, and mold can also cause serious, life-threatening effects. When in doubt, air it out!

Of course opening you windows is all contingent upon whether you or your neighbors are burning anything. According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the following list of items are banned from being burned, at all times, in all places, due to public health and safety concerns:  Continue reading

Walk A While With Me Friend ~ We Can No Longer Remain Silent

Please enjoy my article for the March/April 2018 edition of the Loon Lake Times

Walk A While With Me Friend – We Can No Longer Remain Silent
Reflections from the 2018 Women’s Marches in Eastern Washington
Copyright ©2018, ElizaBeth Coira

  • Compassion. Common Sense. Humanity. Love. Equality and Equity. For All.
  • The Earth. The Water. Scientific Research. Human Rights, regardless of race, size, shape, identity, disability, affiliation, or sexual orientation.

  • Bodily Autonomy. Healthcare and Access. Family Planning, Birth Control, Reproductive Rights. For our Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Cousins, Friends, Neighbors, Ourselves.
  • Legal Protections and Recognitions. In the Workplace, in the Home, in Public, in our Neighborhoods, Schools, and Community Streets. To Keep Us Safe from harassment, assault, rape, abduction, gunning down, and systematic economic discrimination.

  • Build Bridges Not Walls. What about the real-life humans, critically contributing to our communities and economies. They immigrated simply trying to survive and perhaps even make a better life. Their aspirations may not be so different from yours or mine. Are we comfortable with relying on them to pick our fruits, clean our offices, slaughter our meats; only to shout “Shut Up, and Get Out”? As we gorge ourselves on cheap hamburgers, pesticide-laced apples, and twisted up versions of the “American dream”. And their children who arrived at young and tender ages, sharing classrooms, sports fields, and school lunches with our children for most of their lives; shall we shout “Get Out Too,” as we show them the door, with a steel-toed boot and baton in hand?

  • Safety in Schools for our Children and Educators, from the tyranny of violent threat and chaos. Investment in Public Education Funding, for the infrastructure, supplies, teachers, and counselors guiding and shaping young minds—Our Future.
  • Legal Protections for all from military grade weapons built for rapid, automated modes of nothing more than mass destruction. How many stacks of slaughtered, innocent civilians will it take, as politicians and lobbyists watch from ivory towers and yachts, golf clubs and private jets? Our “all or nothing” public dialogue about guns must seem so pathetically simple, amusing, and profitable to them.

Above are just some of the issues that mobilized over 4.2 million Americans at Women’s Marches across the country, the weekend of January 20th – 21st, in what some are tallying to be the largest demonstration in US history. Here in eastern Washington friends and neighbors also gathered, united in protest: 6,000+ strong in Spokane, 100+ strong in Chewelah. Our neighbors and friends, families and colleagues showed up, spoke out, refusing to be silenced by the unfortunate attempts of cowardly online bullies, drive-by verbal attacks, and even familial and workplace intimidation. So many of us in eastern Washington are no longer content to look the other way when misogyny, racism, unchecked greed, and power grabs of various sorts threaten our lives and our American democracy.  Continue reading

Celebrate! Life & Times at Loon Lake, WA: Thankful for the New Year

~ Please enjoy my column for the Loon Lake Times – January/February 2018 Edition ~
Copyright ©2018, ElizaBeth Coira

Until I saw the sunset that evening, I had nearly forgotten how to be thankful. I had nearly forgotten the sun had even been shining, a rare and special gift indeed on a chilly, wintery day. I had nearly missed the beauty of the mother white-tailed deer, staring wide-eyed and cautiously curious from the frost-bitten field; as her furry, soft twins scampered silently off to a safer place to graze and wait. I had nearly missed the chance to breathe in the brisk, crisp, deliciously fresh air, wafting off the glimmering lake, a still, icy, foggy mirror. I was too lost in the stressful haze hanging over me from the holidays and finances; and wading too deeply into the dark pool of some of life’s bigger questions. Who am I? What am I really doing here? What is my greater purpose? And just where the heck is my path?

I love to hike, to feel the earth under my feet. I love to wander the woods, marveling at the smallest of wild flowers that vibrantly smile up at me from the good, green earth. I love to stand and stare into the vastness of landscapes, mountain peaks stretching as far as the mind and eye can reach. I love to rest under a thick canopy of trees, wrapped in the soothing, brownish-purple peace of their filtered light, inhaling the earthy purity they miraculously exude. And in the course of my wanderings, I often find that I rarely really know where I’m going; after all, these are frequently new-to-me paths. All I do know, however, is that I must go.

Have you ever been on trails, so overgrown, that you simply cannot see the way ahead? How many of you have occasionally panicked, as I have a time or two? But before the fear fully takes over, above the sound of your pounding heart, a voice advises sagely, wisely, “Take the next right step.” And you do. And suddenly you can see the next step on that faint, nearly forgotten path. Or perhaps you simply create your own new way. And soon another step appears, and so on, and so forth. Before you know it, you’ve just had the most marvelous adventure, while somehow managing to find your way too; whether it’s out of the woods, to the main road, to a parking lot, or eventually home.

As I wandered in the vague direction of home that evening, my head full of a million worries, I was halted in my tracks by the most gloriously expansive, bursting brush strokes of reds, oranges, pinks, and purples stretching out on the horizon before me. A gentle and loving hand seemed to raise my eyes to the sky; and suddenly the glow of gratitude ignited in my heart, radiating out to warm every fiber of my being. And for the first time in a long time, I felt at peace, suspended in a state of love and belonging, embraced by that exquisite sunset.

This winter, I’m wishing you the warmth, comfort, and glow of home…whatever home means to you. And may we all recall something to be thankful for; for I’m beginning to suspect that gratitude has a funny way of illuminating our paths…to Home…to Love…to Peace. Cheers to a bright new year!

ElizaBeth Coira is a writer, poet, consultant, and Loon Lake neighbor. You can enjoy more of her work at ElizaBethCoira.com or HomeGrownSojourner.com.

Check out my newest column for the Loon Lake Times, Getting Wild at Loon Lake – Fun Facts & Tips for Engaging with Nature & Wildlife. Visit LoonLakeTimes.com to find out how you can pick  up a copy today!

Celebrate! Life & Times at Loon Lake: Summer’s Light

~ Please enjoy my column for the Loon Lake Times – July/August 2017 Edition ~
Copyright ©2017, ElizaBeth Coira

Summer has come at last to Loon Lake! The sunshine is here to warm our hearts, cheer up our spirits, invite us out; to wander this beautiful, wide, green world. What a wonderful time for personal renewal, and reconnection with family and friends; a blooming and blossoming in so many ways. All feels at ease, even at peace, at least for a moment in summer’s embrace.

Around the lake swallows dance, robins gobble, butterflies float, my neighbors call. Friends come to visit this gorgeous little corner of the planet…our very own piece of peace in paradise. The ducks take a rest in late afternoon’s lull. The turtles sun themselves lazily, clustered on logs. The osprey soar, swoop for a fish; followed by a bald eagle hunting, perhaps for her babes. The heron gazes silently into the watery depths, still as a statue, hungry yet patient.

And I…I am thankful to witness it all, sheltered in the friendship of ever-green trees. They’ve shed old needles and pollen for the most part; I can keep my windows open, without too much cleanup. Meanwhile red-winged blackbirds discover a neighbor’s new feeder, then hurry back to their watchtowers–swaying cattails protruding from high wetland grasses. As I kayak near, shrill calls sound the alert to nesting kin resting, hidden below. There are so many wonders to behold at the lake; an abundance of life bustling in this more loving climate. Luckily none of us are too busy to pause and be beckoned, for a bit of a rest in summer’s sweet sun.

I’m wishing you a season of joy, peace, renewal, reconnection, and so much more! Cheers to the sights and sounds of summer that we’re all lucky to share in here at Loon Lake.

~ Summer’s Light ~

May the light of friendship
Smile on my face
May the glow of kindness
Lighten the load

May the song of possibility
Open our hearts
May Love
Interconnection
Bloom in us all

May the waters of Life
Source and sustainer
Flow forth a reminder
Of all gifts of Life

Creepers, crawlers
Swimmers, stingers
Climbers, howlers
Silent green reachers

Walkers, runners
Resters, givers
Takers, sharers
Survivors, thrivers

All of us here
Could it be for a purpose
Why judge
Take a Life
Do you yet know your own

Love thyself
To know thyself

ElizaBeth Coira is a writer, poet, life skills consultant, and Loon Lake neighbor. Learn more about her creativity, visioning, and goal-planning workshops ~Loving You, Loving Life – Tapping the Well Within~ at HomeGrownSojourner.com/the-Well-Within-Workshop today!

Celebrate! Life & Times at Loon Lake, WA – By ElizaBeth Coira – March/April 2017 Edition

~ Please enjoy my column for the Mar/Apr 2017 edition of the Loon Lake Times newspaper ~

The snows followed us late into February. Who knows what March and April will hold. Will Spring come to visit Loon Lake once more? I gaze out at the wild turkey and wonder what they know. I confess that while many I’ve met around the lake aren’t quite as enthused by their presence, the wild turkey to me are the true embodiment of the spirit of wild survival. I’ve watched a flock all winter long, wander the streets of my neighborhood; seeking out even the smallest morsel of nourishment, even seemingly where there is none. I say a prayer for all, but especially the smallest. I hope they will live to see a new day, to wander the path I’ve dug from street to door. It makes slightly easier going for their sweet, strong feet; and slightly easier foraging, to the fledgling grass below. I don’t mind that my path is littered with their “mines.” I’d much rather see that than no traces at all of their existence…their lovely little lives. It makes no difference to me whether they are “good eating” or not.

Why should I care so much for the turkey? Just as I treasure the towering trees? Why am I thankful for the later, longer snows this year? Perhaps I simply love what is. Perhaps my faith rests in all forms of life. Perhaps I trust that Nature knows more. Perhaps I have chosen to be thankful for all the experiences that define Loon Lake life.

Whatever it is, I still yearn for Spring; though I know she will come in her own time. As we enjoy these waning chilly days, and anxiously await sunnier, warmer ones; I’ll leave you with a poem of the sights, sounds, and season we all long for. May we all indeed bloom, once again, with Spring.

Lake Melt

Click
      Click
            Clack

Shiver
      Ripple
            Fizzle

The fish are waking
To swim once again

The water preparing
To make amends with sun
And run so far
From the icy grip of Winter

The pebbles are yearning
To sparkle and shine

The birds hungry
To dip their feet in time

The deer so thirsty
For their own reflection

And I am longing
To bloom again with Spring

ElizaBeth Coira is a writer, poet, consultant, facilitator, and Loon Lake neighbor. You can enjoy more of her poetry and photography at ElizaBethCoira.com or HomeGrownSojourner.com.