Mau and Nacho’s poem

Mau and Nacho spent an entire night in the forest canopy and wanted to share their poem here:

Lying down, with the sky resting on us
The black guan decides to depart
Towards the endless risk
As soon as he lifts his claws, our ground tumbles as if god himslef shivered
Nature’s orchestra invades the atmosphere
With its neverending, beautiful tunes
Cicadas begin with their Mambo Number 5
While frogs are the first to invite their partners to dance
The distance to the ground is an endless fall
With the wind is pulling us away, while raindrops in our faces
We get ready to enter pure nature
While the sun glimpses at us with reproach, and goes to rest

Photo credit: Niko Walker/Jackson Sales

 

7th and 8th graders rise with ropes and jumars

Note: photos are from the 7th and 8th grade tree sit.

I first learned about Monteverde twelve years ago when I showed a video in my Chicago classroom about a woman scientist who examined the variety of life high up in trees. The scientist was Nalini Nadkarni and she was conducting research in Monteverde, Costa Rica. She taught the show host, a young girl named Carla, how to ascend a rope high into the cloud forest canopy. Nalini found a perfectly camouflaged walking stick living amongst the epiphytes that hang on to this massive and predacious strangler fig tree and introduced us to the hooting growl of howler monkeys. I was very intrigued and learned about a Spanish language school in Monteverde from my friend Sharmilla, so I signed up for a Spanish class here. In the Cloud Forest Reserve, I met a tree scientist, Bob Laughton, who gave me Nalini’s email off the top of his head. The next month I joined Nalini in Washington state for a climb into a pacific coast tree canopy.

 

Over the years, I have vividly recalled the exhilaration of ascending the rope, the macabre life of the strangler fig, the crazy variety of insects and the thick green growth up on the ‘green mountain.’  I have also thought much about Monteverde’s integrated community, the Quaker story here and the simple way of life.

Well, as life often circles, I now find myself cheering on my 7/8 grade students as they ascend a rope high into a strangler fig tree. It is a moment to be cherished as they experience the exhilaration of the climb, the lush green of the canopy, the sheer wonderment of standing on a epiphyte laden tree limb 20 meters above the cloud forest floor, and the satisfaction of doing something exciting. Their CCVs (climbing curriculum vitaes) ranged from some experience to none. I am impressed by their maturity and confidence to attempt and tackle this physical and mental challenge with nary a word of fear. I am impressed by the flexibility and efforts of former MFS students and local residents that make this adventure possible.

I hope something about this experience will vividly remain in the minds of the kids. I wonder how calm Huayra would remain if a column of army ants marched up her leg as she was attaching a repelling device to her harness. Would Eric respond in like kind if a troop of territorial howlers threw their scat at him? In the unlikely encounter with a snake, would Ale casually escort it down with a flick of her rope?  How loud would Esteisy laugh if we had a sudden afternoon downpour?

 

I think about the opportunities children here have to live with a high degree of interdependence and adventure. The outdoor hands-on lifestyle builds practical life skills and a keen awareness of the systems and cycles that make human living possible. I think about the welcoming and supportive community here and almost any gathering, like this one, involves all ages.

I now spend much of my time teaching science at the Monteverde Friends School. Two years ago my wife and I moved from Chicago with our two young boys because we desired to experience a more simple, natural and different way of living. Like many families here, we walk to school, climb trees together, and are continually thankful for life’s beauty.

Mike Schaefer

Fix carbon, preserve wildlife and educate children with one donation!

Ocotea whitei sembrado en 2007

Growing trees and educating children both require plenty of tender loving care over many years.  For each $5 that you give to  “Nurturing Trees and Kids”,  $1 will pay for a tree seedling native to Monteverde, ready to be planted and $4 will go to scholarships for  Monteverde Friends School and MFUS University scholarship students.  Parents, students and others in the Monteverde community will take good care of these trees so that  they will grow to fix carbon, provide wildlife habitat and make our planet a more beautiful, healthy place.

For how to donate, click on “donate” on the menu bar. Be sure you specify “Trees and Kids” with your contribution.  Thank you!

Tarjetas de Joan Martha a subastar

8 Tarjetas hecha por Joan Martha, mostradas aqui en la dirreción de las manillas del reloj: "In the Bullpen, Monteverde", "Rio Shanti", "El Bosque Monteverde", "Cielo Azul". Tenemos 3 juegos de 8 tarjetas. Precio base para cada juego: ¢5000. Las tres ofertas más altas las van a ganar.

Monteverde Emotions at Twilight

If you ask my sons, my daughter, & my husband what my favorite thing is in Monteverde, they would say “the sunset”.  Where I live, I see the most ominous views of the burning, molten-hot, orange-red sun as it bids adieu until the next morning, the sure sign that the day has ended and the night is taking a deep breath to begin its daily journey.  What I love most about the sunset is its aftermath; the streams of red and purple ribbons almost like fireworks that make no sounds, lovely gifts of color to take in and express gratitude for.  This is my favorite THING that is seen by the human eye.
Now, take a minute with me and delve a little deeper….  If you ask my soul what is my favorite thing in Monteverde, it would tell you something far more than an element of nature, a tree to climb to enjoy or a vista that stirs the imagination.  My favorite, most endeared thing is not even a thing.  It’s nothing you can truly touch, taste, smell or hear and yet, its influences it can be.  It is more of a feeling.  What I appreciate most about Monteverde is its spirit.  Somehow, it seems that the waterfalls, wind, leaves, and creatures hairy and sleek, all work together to inspire every being here to take a little extra care and time to love each other.  Here, like no other place I have ever lived, rests the spirit of kinship.  It is very overwhelming and so spellbinding yet, for those who live here, it is second nature and oh so wonderful.  I will forever love Monteverde for all the whispers that the woods speak, the reminders that the morphos give me as they fly nearby, and the raw, natural experience it is to see howler monkeys climbing and barking above me.  But most of all, please know that the human experience of Monteverde is the greatest treasure of all.

-Lynore Soffer

What a great weekend!

I am happy to be a part of this project! I am so excited to know the funds raised thus far are above $23k!!! This weekend for our family was full of so much fun! It began with a Thursday evening sit on the Joyce Platform with Liam- and wow- my son Liam, is a manifestor! As he drew a laughing Puma at the base of the tree, he was distracted by the presence of a Jaguarundi behind him up on the trail. He was rather shaken as he left his artwork on the ground to ascend the ladder up to where I was. He said he was happy and lucky to see it as it turned and ran down the ridge’s edge but he was also very afraid to remain on the ground. Wow, Katy what a wonderful feeling it must be to live emersed in the cloud forest with such beautiful creatures around you. Liam keeps describing the long black tail and comparing its size to our biggest dog,Amazing. Liam returned again to the platform Saturday Morning to be of support to his most recent friend, Marcus, a student of the Creativa. Amidst the family moving our earthly belongings over here to Bajo de Tigre, we ended our move with a family sit at the Bajo de Tigre platform.  Siena and I wrote a little diddy song together, based on the original song by Otis Redding- Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, which we will share on the blog afterschool today. We had a sunset dinner of Chili while we watched stickbugs land on us. We  made wishes on the first star that appeared in the sky and then identified the constellation of Orion, Our oldest son,Grant’s, middle name. We felt Like our missing link, Grant, was with us in spirit. (he is completing his senior year at American International school (in San Jose) & attending Drexel University in the fall)  What a lovely memory to start our new homestead experience in Bajo del  Tigre!!!

-Lynore Soffer

Kay and Mary’s story

Kay and Mary

Morning is starting to lighten the eastern sky. It has been a starry starry night – each time I opened my eyes, there seemed to be another layer of stars sprinkled across the top of the world. All last evening, the fireflies that played throughout the valley below seemed like playful reflections of the stellar ceiling, and sometimes it was unclear if I had seen a shooting star or if it was just one of the more adventurous fireflies traveling at the top of its range. The branches above us, bobbing in the constant breeze, kept distorting the pattern of the heavens – was that star moving or is it a satellite or a plane or am I dreaming? On our platform in the tree up on the ridge, we were under the influence of a nocturnal mirage.

Mary Newswanger and I were excited to spend a night together on the Joyce platform which sits about six meters up a tree – but that tree sits on a steep ridge hundreds of meters up from the deep dark valley floor. The total effect is one of being securely suspended over top of a verdant abyss. We volunteered for our time on this platform, following those other tree sitters who have joined in this unique fundraising effort for the Monteverde Friends School. We listened to all those who climbed before us – expect it to get a little freaky when the wind blows, prepare ourselves for a cold night. Mary insisted that we haul her heavy thick sleeping bags – the kind used for camping in a previous century, the ones that roll up into something almost the size of round muffety hay bales (hey, those Muffets are Quakers too!) – so we lugged them down the narrow ridge path and up the ladder to the platform. Thanks to Mary, we’ve both been warm and comfortable all night.

The wooden platform feels like a raft being manipulated by a current, but the force providing the push isn’t water, it is wind. Here on my back, looking up at those stars, I can imagine our raft floating lazily down an airy stream until it hits the turbulent white rapids of wind. We are pushed into an eddy where we are held against our will for a few moments, threatening to be tossed, until we are released again and resume our tranquil floating. During the first hour or two of darkness, as can only happen in cloud forests such as Monteverde, or when you are on a river or sea, a spray of mist kept our faces moist and added to the watery effect, yet there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. Considering that in our aerie we seem closer to the sky than the land, I’m sure we would notice if a cloud was lurking above us.

I fell asleep as Mary was telling me stories of her experiences with the Peace Pilgrim and her hopes and dreams for the future. I realized I was asleep when I felt her crawling into her sleeping bag, no doubt noticing that she had lost her audience to slumber. I slept quite well through the night but woke from time to time and watched the heavens, once listening to a creature of some kind passing on the ridge below. I didn’t have a flashlight to check it out without waking Mary, so I will just think of it as the jaguarondi that Liam spotted here the other day and be pleased with the possibility.

As we passed our peaceful night, I thought about the many tree sitters who used this type of action as one of protest to draw attention to specific forests under threat of destruction by logging companies. They placed themselves physically between the harvesting machines and the remaining Abuelas, those large redwoods or pines or hardwoods that had survived all the natural forces for centuries only to be cut down in a matter of hours for lumber.

Forests and trees have been saved and others not, but tree sitting is an effective and non-violent means of civil disobedience. Perhaps it started in the Pureora Forest Park of New Zealand in the 1970s – which was saved by peaceful protest in the treetops. Famously, in northern California, Julia Butterfly Hill stayed for two years in the late 1990s in her arboreal home “Luna” – a tall redwood that is still standing amidst the ravages of a barren deforested hillside in Humboldt County. In central Los Angeles, in 2006, Julia Butterfly, actress Darryl Hannah, Joan Baez and others sat in trees in what was then a large fourteen acre urban organic community garden. They were there to draw attention to the injustice that was unfolding as a company refused to allow the neighborhood to continue growing food on this plot of inner city land – even though the community came up with the same amount of money to purchase the land as it was being sold to a developer for. In the end, the garden was moved out of the city core.

Back in 1989, in Temagami, Ontario, Canada, I was one of a group who supported our friend Maryka (the same woman who later introduced me to Monteverde), who lived in a tall ancient pine for nine cold, almost wintery days and nights. The action was part of a two month non-violent protest to prevent the continued construction of a logging road through one of the last remaining old growth pine forests of Ontario. We were successful in stopping the road, and for the most part saved the forest, but weren’t able to stop the chopping of that stately old tree.

In true Quaker fashion, this tree sitting exercise in Monteverde is neither illegal nor in protest, but a joyful display of a community working together, communing with nature, bringing attention to their school and hoping to raise funds from their many supporters around the world through the use of the internet. I doubt that there is a school in North America who would condone such an adventurous fundraising plan – it wouldn’t make it past the discussion of liability at the board meeting. Just the fact that the Monteverde Friends School and the Monteverde community are taking part in this month long tree sit is an expression of the kind of freedom and originality that is very much a part of life at MFS.

I’m neither a Quaker nor a teacher nor a parent, but I was raised to live carefully on the earth and I have enough love of life and love for this precious planet to hope that we will continue to survive here. The only way I truly see that happening is for children to be taught to walk softly on the earth, to respect all the living creatures as well as the inanimate ones, to make decisions based on sustainable and ecological reasoning, to learn how to solve conflicts in a peaceful non-violent way, and to be cooperative and kind. The Monteverde Friends School is a place where all these values and many more are not only taught, but expressed in a myriad of ways by both young and old, teachers and students, past and present. I am happy to support their efforts in any way that I can, but the truth is that coming up this tree and spending the night, surrounded by the treasures of the cloud forest, with my friend Mary, under a blanket of stars – well, I would do it for no reason at all.

As I write, dark feathery clouds are gathering above the eastern ridge. As they shift and move in the wind, a brilliant light peeks through, the size of five of the night time stars joined together – it must be Venus, that planet of rising love. It reminds me of last November when we were caring for our ailing friend Wolf on the Guindon farm. We would awaken in the very early morning hours to the love light shining down on the family home. It doesn’t surprise me that we are seeing that messenger of love glowing over Monteverde again this morning, perched here in our nest. For Mary, who can see her home just across the valley, where her husband and sons are probably still asleep, the light of love is very clearly rising over the eastern ridge and shining down on the house that Elias built.

Now that the sky has lightened into blue and Venus is almost faded away, it is time to close this, have some breakfast, and await the moment the sun comes over the ridge. (As it turned out, we couldn’t get ourselves out of that tree till 10:30 a.m. and even then, we went reluctantly.) I sincerely thank everyone for the opportunity to spend these seventeen hours up this tree, especially the Joyce/Van Dusen household who are our “hosts”. Thanks to the MFS fundraising committee who facilitated the opportunities for each of us to climb various trees and continue to keep us all connected and inspired through their website.

Mary told me that it was Jude Gladstone, a dedicated woman who has worked hard on many committees helping the community, who brought the idea to the table. Searching for an effective way to raise much needed money for the scholarship fund that assists students at the school as well as those who go on to higher education, Jude suggested they create an event, something that people can join in whether here in Monteverde, or from afar via the internet. It needed to be something exciting that would catch people’s imaginations, like Julia Butterfly Hill living high up in that redwood. Katy Van Dusen, thinking about her family’s platform in this tree on the ridge, took the idea and climbed higher. Good thinking Katy! Great idea Jude! And thanks Mary – too bad we have to go down.

PS It has taken a couple of days to get this writing to the website and the weather has changed. Mary and I may have had one of the last nights of clear weather in Monteverde as the rainy season begins and replenishes the thirsty earth. Hopefully others will still have the opportunity for a beautiful dry night during the last two weeks of the campaign, but we were definitely blessed.

Three new paintings up for auction

One given by Roberto Wesson:

untitled, Roberto Wesson, oil on canvas, base price $60

and two from Meg Wallace:

Will be named once it is id'd, Meg Wallace, watercolor on canvas, 36 x 45 cm, includes frame, base price $60

Red tropicbird, Meg Wallace, 2006, watercolor on canvas, 27 x 41, framed, base price $60.

Place your bids on the art auction page!

Photos for remembering

MFS faculty and staff, 1998.

Maypole celebration, 2002.

Jones Franzel, Jenn Bildersee, and Chad Wilsey after the production of "You can't take it with you," 2002.

MFS production of "You can't take it with you". Clara Rowe, Elena Arguedas, Lazer Friedman, Marco Vargas, Helen Joyce, Daniel Vargas, Silvio Curtis, and Carlos Wolff, 2002.

2nd/3rd grade trip to the Nicaraguan border, 1998.

Paul Englander, Tim Curtis, Suzanne Weil, and Wendy Wadsworth.

 

Judy Neuhauser with students in the Caminata, 2002.

If you have photos that you would like to share, please email them to friendsinthecanopy@gmail.com.

 

Playing-field progress!

The drainage system has been set up, the topsoil is back in place, and grass will be planted shortly!