Although I've been unable to find out more about the life history of W. Brugh Joy, my nearest astrological twin, I've been able to discover a little more about Germaine Greer, whose birthday is 2 days after mine, consequently many chart placements are closely similar.
In an excerpt on amazon.com from an unofficial biography of Germaine Greer written by Christine Wallace, titled "Germaine Greer Untamed Shrew", it is stated that when GG was born, her mother had a very difficult delivery. The baby was born bruised about the head and in a torrent of blood as the mother hemorrhaged. Germaine was an only child, mainly because of the difficult delivery. My own birth was spookily similar, my mother declined to have more children because she had been in danger of losing her life at my birth, which was followed by a serious hemorrhage.
The biography excerpt covers only GG's early childhood in a middle class family in Melbourne, Australia. Her father went to war in 1942 and returned much depleted in strength and attitude. This must have been very sad for the little girl to countenance. Her home was far from any danger from the war, however. She knew little of the war, other than visits of American servicemen to her home.
My own childhood environment doesn't follow the same pattern.
My father was a master baker, working as foreman in a large bakery in an English city port . Due to a minor health problem and the fact that he was in a "reserved occupation" he did not serve in the armed forces, only in the Home Guard. In the city where we lived , a big port on the east coast of England, the war was never far from our doorstep - literally. German bombs exploded all around our home regularly, our windows were shattered from the blasts and replaced by thick tar-paper. We narrowly escaped with our lives on more than one occasion. During the worst of this period I was sent to stay with my maternal grandparents in the country, in relative safety, some 20 miles distant. From the bedroom window there, at night we could see the fires in the city after bombing raids, never knowing whether my parents had remained safe. They did survive, and I rejoined them just before the war ended.
Whether these differing childhood experiences could account for anything, or nothing in our later lives, I know not. There is little or no similarity, later on in life, as far as I can gather, other than the fact that neither of us has ever borne a child.
Perhaps there is a very vague connection (at a stretch) regarding her obsession with feminist matters. I worked for 24 years in the UK civil service in the department which deals with employment law - The EmploymentTribunals. I was a manager on the administrative, rather than judicial side. Some of the tribunal hearings we dealt with concerned sex discrimination, sexual harrassment in the workplace, or equal pay.
I suppose I was helping, in some very small way, towards making sure that the rights of women in the workplace were not trampled underfoot. This is a far cry, though from GG's somewhat loud and exaggerated stance on feminist issues.
Is this the difference between a northern hemisphere Aquarian and a southern hemisphere Aquarian? The southern exaggeration, the loudness, the lack of any tact or diplomacy, the dogmatic droning on about men and their faults. It's almost as though northern Aquarian traits have come under a bright spotlight and magnifying glass.
I don't know. I need to look for more evidence.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Although I've been unable to find out more about the life history of W. Brugh Joy, my nearest astrological twin, I've been able to discover a little more about Germaine Greer, whose birthday is 2 days after mine, consequently many chart placements are closely similar.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
My astrological twin and me.
I have a more exact astrological twin than Germaine Greer. I discovered him via the Astrodienst website (www.astro.com) in the VIP Twins section.
W.Brugh Joy MD. Born 27 January 1939 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, at 3pm. About 30 minutes after my own birth time. Same ascendant, same Moon, same everything except degree of ascendant and cusps.
Here's a selection of comments about him:
"Brugh Joy MD - a distinguished and respected member of the Los Angeles medical community in 1974 when he experienced a life-threatening disease that led to a spiritual transformation and writing his best-selling book Joy's Way. Since then, he has continued his explorations into healing, meditation, dreams and their interpretation, and the influence of the unconscious. His last book Avalanche: Heretical Reflections on the Dark and Light tells how his once-revered values finally crumbled under an "avalanche" of new insight into the dark and disowned portions of the human psyche."
"For more than twenty years, Brugh Joy has been a teacher of Heart Centered Transformation and Spiritual Enlightenment. His courses deal with body energy fields, healing techniques using energy transferred through the hands, and Self-discovery. His teaching includes shadow work (seeking insight into an individual's unconscious side), understanding dreams and projections, and exploring high-intensity sound, rituals, collective energy dynamics, and intuitional states of consciousness."
"One of the foremost consciousness teachers of our time. Brugh is an author and leads seminars in personal and spiritual exploration ."
Hmmmmm - well ! Here's another Aquarian with much more academic and specialist training than yours truly. He is a physician as well as a writer and teacher. The subject matter of his books is beyond my understanding. I bought one of them a few years ago when I first discovered his data on-line. Yet his interests are a little nearer my own than could be said for Germaine Greer. He is drawn to mystical or metaphysical matters and has made a successful career involving these.
His "life-threatening disease" episode in 1974 does not coincide with anything similar in my own life, though the next year, 1975, was a turning point for me career-wise - as it probably was for him.
His quote (below) from his own website indicates that he is not unlike me in nature. I have tried in the past to find out more about the pattern of his life, but I was unsuccessful, apart from being told that he has a biological twin, who might possibly be more of a match to myself than he is. I then drew a blank.
Quote from BJ:
"Avoiding dinner parties always seemed essential to me, but my dear friends Eileen and Dick Poole assured me that only eight people would be at this very casual affair. I arrived promptly, my escape preplanned, timed so I could catch a science fiction film in Hollywood before returning to the desert and the reclusive lifestyle I preferred. Seven of us sat down to wine, a London broil, and salmon - Dick's specialties. One chair was empty. "A possible surprise," Elieen said.
I was eyeing my watch when I heard the door chime and Eileen's intimate greeting to "Carlos," the tardy mystery guest. Little did I realize who Carlos was until, at the dining room threshold, Eileen introduced Carlos Castaneda"
Not much to go on, but enough for me to recognise that Mr Joy is more astrologically akin to me than Ms Greer.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
An astrological shock - and a little enlightenment:
Whilst researching the net on another issue, I noticed that Germaine Greer and I share a similar birth chart.
She was born 2 days after me in the same year - but in Australia, of course.
Germaine Greer born 29 January 1939 Melbourne, Australia 6am
Me born 27 January 1939, Hull, England. 2.27pm
I found it a little disconcerting looking at someone else's chart in which most of the planets are within a degree or so of my own. Her ascendant and Moon are different. Her ascendant is Aquarius, her Moon is Taurus. My ascendant is Cancer, Moon Aries. This, of course, sends her planets into different houses from my own.
I Googled on, in order to read a little more about this woman, of whom all I knew was that she is a feminist and has written books on the topic. The more I read the more I disliked her. I do not recognise anything from what is written about her or from her own words, as being in any way similar to me.
Using what little astrological knowledge I have, I studied both charts to see why we have developed into two such different characters. You'd think there'd be some broad similarities!
Her Aquarian ascendant, importantly, accounts for her more avant garde approach to the world in general. My own Cancer ascendant inclines me to a softer, and I hope more compassionate approach. This is one big difference.
I read that Greer married in 1968, but the marriage lasted only 3 weeks. This doesn't coincide with my own experience. I first married in 1962, that marriage failed after a couple of years. There is no corresponding experience in 1968 for me, 1970 was the next time I linked with a partner, with whom I was to stay for over 30 years until his death, then married again in 2004. Greer has remained single, I understand. I have no children - I think the same applies to Greer.
Greer's attitude to the opposite sex, and her way of expressing herself are alien to me. I find her attitudes in general quite incompatible with my own. She is undoubtedly a highly intelligent woman, however, far more so than me. She has been highly educated, I wanted to be released from full-time education as quickly as possible. although I had no difficulties learning and was a bright student, I found school environment very difficult to take - too restrictive. Greer obviously did not have this difficulty.
So, what is the main astrological reason for our differences? Ascendant and midheaven and houses - her time of birth ?.
Background, environment? Perhaps the fact that she grew up in Australia, and I in a war-torn England might have some bearing on our differences ?
Germain Greer is, in one way, more stereotypical of Sun Aquarius than I am. Perhaps all the essence of her Sun is allowed freely into the outer world via her ascendant. Since moving to live in the USA my own ascendant has moved into Aquarius, yet I do not find myself in more agreement with Ms Greer because of it. I'm convinced that we are two people of entirely different natures.
Perhaps the few degrees difference in our planetary placements makes a big difference - aspects might be more or less close as a result. We are both in the same decanate of Aquarius, the first.
Could the fact that she was born in the southern hemisphere account for what I see as an enormous difference in our personalities?
There is an article here:
in which it is proposed that the zodiac signs should be inverted for births in the southern hemisphere - that is, an Aquarius Sun would be a Leo Sun, a Capricorn would be Cancer - complete opposite of our usual understanding.
Using this theory Greer would be Leo Sun and Leo ascendant, which might account for her fame/notoriety, but would not account for her stance on the matters she writes about, which, to me seems exaggeratedly Aquarian.
Her Moon/Uranus would be Scorpio instead of Taurus - this fits!
The inversion theory might fit Germaine Greer very well, but does it fit everybody born in the southern hemisphere I wonder ? Why isn't this theory more widely known? Why don't astrologers use it?
Yet another article here:
This has a different version. The author proposes that in the southern hemisphere the zodiac signs retain the qualities of their archetype, but express it in slightly different ways from their counterparts in the north. A southern Aquarian might be more of an ideas person than a team player, according to this article. If the Sun sign is expressed in a subtly different way, then so perhaps is the whole chart ?
This theory may be more widely acceptable, but it's not well known as far as I'm aware.
There are more questions than answers in astrology!
Monday, September 25, 2006
In any natal chart, because Mercury and Venus are so close to the Sun, Mercury is always either in the same zodiac sign as the Sun, or no more than one sign away before or after (28 degrees). Venus can be in the same sign as the Sun or no more than 2 signs away (47 degrees). There could be rare instances where these rules appear not to apply, but they must be few and far between.
So....for example, in my own chart Sun is in Aquarius, Mercury is in Capricorn and Venus is in Sagittarius. In my husband's Sun is Aries, Mercury Pisces, Venus in Taurus. Some of my husband's immediate family have Sun, Mercury and Venus all in the same sign.
So what do I find so significant about this? I suppose it's that quite a large part of anyone's personality is defined by this mix of up to 3 consecutive zodiac signs.
One quarter of the zodiac. This must produce defineable groups. One could look on each group's similarities as the melody being played, whilst the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn play their own solo improvisations.
Uranus, Neptune and Pluto being the bass beat, the generational flavour. The melody, though, is most memorable for listeners and to the player, and therefore very important.
I am not sufficiently mathematically adept to be able to calculate how many variations (groups) of Sun/Mercury/Venus there can be. It would be interesting to study examples of each type, ignoring all other components of the charts.
Some astrologers find significance in what order the Sun, Mercury and Venus rise. I do not find their theories on this too persuasive, however - but it does relate back to my own thoughts in one way.
Would an Aquarius Sun with Mercury and Venus both in Aquarius be more Aquarian than me - yes, of course! Most cook-book interpretations of an Aquarian would be likely to apply to that person. Would an Aquarian with both Mercury and Venus in Capricorn be less adventurous, restless, or prone to travel than me? Probably. How about an Aquarian with Mercury and Venus in Pisces ? A different animal altogether - more overtly mystic and dreamy, less organised. There must be dozens of combinations of just these 3 components, with their related elements and modalities.
Complexity upon complexity - and that's a VERY basic beginning.
Friday, September 22, 2006
I have read that some astrologers are of the view that at some point in the future, maybe the far future (if man survives), through advanced computer technology and the cooperation of scientists, it will become clear that astrology and the "mechanism" behind it is far more complex than anyone can currently envisage. Astrology is VERY complex now, so the mind boggles at the thought that this is but the tip of an iceberg.
I've chewed on this idea, and amalgamated it with an idea of my own which has formed after many years of interest in astrology.
When, at last, astrologers and/or scientists are able to pinpoint the "mechanism" by which the planets can affect humans and their personality, I believe that it will prove simpler, not more complex than we think. Any complexity will be due to what happens when "whatever" is mixed with the multiplicity of inherited family traits we all carry in billions and billions of combinations and proportions.
Astrologers will then need to be psychologists, biologists, and perhaps physicists too.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I still have a bee in my bonnet about Eris.
Having searched through message boards and websites, I've found that astrologers and astrology fans/students all seem to be agreeing that "strife and discord" is the meaning to be attributed to Eris.
I am probably more astrologically challenged than many of those making the above proposals, yet I am entitled to my own opinion on the matter. I think that astrology is something that people can sense or not sense - rather like being tone deaf or able to carry a tune. I suspect that I am one who can sense astrology, whilst I am challenged when trying to carry a tune.
Eris now lies in the zodiac sign of Aries. Aries is traditionally ruled by Mars.
From time immemorial Mars has been associated with war, aggression, and things of that nature. Astrologers have found this resonance to work well over many centuries. Any planet lying within a zodiacal sign is said to be influenced by the properties of that sign and its ruler. Eris has been in Aries for longer than most people living, and will not move into Taurus until after 2050.
Eris might have a specific connection with discord, independent of Aries, but how can anyone be sure until she moves out of that sphere of influence ?
Sunday, September 17, 2006
So......what DO I choose to believe from the complicated and multi-faceted subject astrology has become ?
I believe that there is some connection between the position of celestial bodies in relation to to Earth, and human behaviour or personality traits. That is all.
The meanings allocated to zodiacal signs and visible planets by ancient astrologers have been tried and tested for many centuries, and still seem to resonate today to some extent.
Something IS going on, I'm sure of it, but I believe that too much has been attributed to this phenomenon by successive generations of astrologers. It is quite understandable how this has come about. Astrologers have to make a living. They have done this by drawing up horoscopes, writing books, newspaper columns, advising clients, and teaching. Each generation demands "something new" or "better", astrologers have tried to supply it. The internet has widened the audience available to astrologers, who must now vie for attention, and business. This is the way of the world.
Unless science uncovers some unknown element which might account for the mysterious way celestial bodies seem to affect human life, astrologers will continue to assume, embroider, modify, and generally mess with what must be a basic principle of interconnectedness.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
It appears that I'm not the only fan of the subject to harbour doubts about some areas of astrology (I never expected to be!)
Here's an extract from an article (link follows) by an Australian astrologer, Candy
".........In the face of such gargantuan claims to be able to answer life's big and little questions, to be able to tell us the why, who, what, where and even when of life, many of us can forget the need to question, to inquire, to investigate, to think for ourselves, to examine and ultimately to doubt. The 'd' word is clearly a dirty word for many astrologers. In the presence of doubt we can find ourselves in a highly uncertain and formless place, bereft of answers, shorn of predictability, and of course we all know that astrologers need answers and thrive on certainty. After all, predictability is our greatest claim to fame. Without that, perhaps we may cease to exist!
But what this questionless state of affairs really engenders is little more than a fundamentalist belief system with all the hallmarks of a somewhat rabid religion. Those few who do dare to ask the difficult questions are more often than not marginalized as heretics to the true cause of astrology, for it seems apparent that astrologers are threatened by too many questions. Yet it is my belief that the discipline and practice of astrology could only benefit from some serious questioning, investigation and ultimately deconstruction. It is important to note that deconstruction is a dismantling process: it is not a destruction as many believe, and its purpose is to find the source of meaning which lies at the core of any system or set of beliefs. As a fellow colleague so eloquently put it: …"if you accept that a construct is an amalgam of meaning(s) produced in and through ideological means, the construct(ed) meaning must be deconstructed in order to reach its source. It's like a forensic scientist or medical coroner examining the innards of the body. Deconstruction leads to a more real, de-politicized understanding of the thing, upon which truth, not ideology, can be built." 
All of this may indeed threaten the foundations of our tightly held and secure astro-belief system, but as Dane Rudhyar wrote: "The crisis all human beings face is a crisis of belief".  And surely, that is as it should be!
Friday, September 15, 2006
I feel in need of venting my frustration this morning:
If some astrologers do not become a tad more rational I shall be tempted to send all of my astrology books, software and magazines to the charity shop and take up crochet or crossword puzzles. "Off you go, then !" I hear the cry. ;-)
What has brought on this simmering dissatisfaction?
Yet another mythological character enters the arena. Eris. "Xena" was a bit of fun - Eris is official. So everyone jumps on the bandwagon of Greek/Roman mythology......again!
"Chaos, strife, discord" everyone cries! " How appropriate that Eris should be named NOW - look around at the world!!!"
Give me a break ! Chaos, discord and strife have been with us since Adam was a lad. Why is it significant that a group of astronomers (who deride astrology) should choose this name at this point in history? It isn't. In my humble opinion, which is as good as anybody else's, because nobody REALLY knows the answers.
How can a body whose orbit is 555 years affect anything knowable by humans whose lifespan has not yet reached 100 years (or only in exceptional cases) ?
Astrologers, new agers, esoteric beings, metaphysicists, synchronicity fans, all have their own ideas about Eris and what astrology "is" in general. They are IDEAS. They are not facts.
In my own lifetime, Eris has moved only about 18 degrees in Aries. Eris has been in Aries for the lifetime of most people currently on Planet Earth . Yes, within that span war and chaos have played centre stage - WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Falklands War, Iraq.....(and other smaller conflicts). So far, so good. But chaos and discord reigned long before that also, they have always been there.
Until Eris moves out of Aries, and that's a long time into the future - into Taurus around 2055, I think, for several decades after that, it will not be clear whether or not this celestial body has any significance on Earth, or not. For instance, if, around 2055 global warming has reached a point where Earth (Taurus) is seriously affected to the point of causing chaos - THEN we could, perhaps, say that chaos and strife is the true meaning of Eris the dwarf planet.
There might be some other meaning to be attributed to Eris, though. Some other message trying to get through to us. We shall not see it if we are blinded by mythology, synchronicity and new-age clap-trap.
I ought to add that I do believe the original planets, Mercury to Saturn, Sun and Moon have connection to their archetypes from myth because these were attached AFTER observation, in order for people to understand their meaning more clearly. A bit like the parables of Jesus, or Aesop's fables. Proof of this is probably not available, because astrology's history reaches further back than we know. In any case, astronomy and astology were linked in ancient times - it was completely different from present circumstances.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The Rocky Mountains have faded into a pleasant memory - so back to astrology then!
This morning we read that the IAU has replaced the nickname "Xena", for celestial body UB 2003 313, with the official name "ERIS".
Eris in mythology was goddess of chaos, strife, discord and suchlike.
ERIS in modern times also stands for:
Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS) is a leading provider of specialist electoral and democratisation assistance.
ERIS provides support to emerging democracies for the further consolidation of democracy and good governance around the world, with a particular emphasis on the conduct of credible and transparent elections.
Is this coincidence ?
Must we really adhere to the custom of attributing meaning to celestial bodies based on names allocated by astronomers who deride astrology? Makes no sense to me at all.
There is chaos and discord on Earth now, but it has been around from the year dot. Nothing new there. We already have Uranus and Mars who are quite capable of stirring up chaos with no help from far-distant celestial cousins.
I think that true meanings of all newly discovered bodies will not become clear for decades or even centuries. But - what do I know?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Continuing our journey homeward, we made a point of travelling north at first, to avoid large metropolitan areas. We drove through Poudre Canyon on to Breckenridge. The scenery always breathtakingly lovely. We crossed the Continental Divide on this stage of the trip - the point at which streams on one side of the Divide flow to the Pacific, and on the other side, streams flow to the Atlantic..
Breckenridge appeared to be an over-manicured, over-priced, touristy type of town, which we decided should be avoided and continued on through Freemont Pass, to a height of over 11,000 feet, with more winding hairpin bends. We eventually dropped down into South Park and Fairplay to spend the night.
South Park proved to be more interesting than at first imagined. It had been the site of an old mining town. From what we could glean reading a potted history of the town, it had been "wild" as any part of the wild west.
While in South Fork and Fairplay Isabella Bird met up with an English "gentleman" who caused her to write as follows
"This gentleman was lording it in a true caricature of fashion, with a Lord Dundreary drawl and a general execration of everything; while I sat in the chimney corner, speculating on the reason why many of the upper class of my countrymen - "High Toners" as they are called out here - make themselves so ludicrously absurd. They neither know how to hold their tongues, or to carry their personal pretensions. An American is nationally assumptive, an Englishman personally so." (Tee-hee!!)
Parts of the town have been lovingly restored. A couple of old hotels remain in business and look much as they must have done 100 years ago. We had breakfast in one of these - The Fairplay Hotel. Breakfast was set out in English country house buffet style. The food, sadly, was not quite up to the standard which I suspect prevailed in an English Country House. Grits, congealed scrambled egg, biscuits and gravy would not have featured highly on the menu.
Next on our proposed itinerary was Canyon City - properly spelt Canon City, with an accent over the "n". We hoped to see the Royal Gorge and suspension bridge located there, and much advertised in tourist literature.
Before we had a chance to view the gorge, I spotted a turn-off to "Skyline Drive". I had read that this road was built by prisoners from local jails in 1903. It climbs 800 feet above the surrounding valley. A dinosaur trackway was discovered along its length in 1999. The guide book states "The trackway may be viewed by parking in the first pull-off then walking a short distance back down the road". Our reaction to this, when on-site, was "Huh????"
This drive was the single most frightening experience I have had since arriving in America. Had I realised how narrow was the single-lane roadway, and that nothing exists on either side of it for most of its length, I should never have suggested that we embark upon it. Having started, though, it was impossible to do anything but continue on to the end. A hell-bent motorcyclist was the only other occupane of the road that morning, he passed us at speed, almost tipping over the edge of the road. Speed limit was, I think, 10 miles an hour - he was driving at least 30 mph ! Fred remained admirably calm throughout - I squeezed a bunch of Kleenex in my perspiring palms and hardly dared say a word, nor did I look often at the vista spread out below. Dinosaur tracks held no temptation for us in these circumstances. Skyline Drive is but 2 and a half miles long, but seemed like 50 miles. Not recommended for the faint of heart !
After that escapade neither of us could face looking at Royal Gorge nor the suspension bridge. We decided to drive on a little way to Florence, a small town said to house many interesting antique stores.
We stayed the night in Florence, against advice from fellow shoppers who warned that "There's a prison nearby, there have been several escapees in the area around the motel recently, it would be wise to return to Canyon City for the night".We felt that any escaped prisoners were quite unlikely to approach the Super 8 Motel, and decided to book in. After all, we had survived Skyline Drive - what could go wrong?
That night was mercifully free of prison escapees. In the morning, 7 September,
we drove into Main Street to partake of breakfast at a well-recommended cafe "Main Street Grille". We both agreed that breakfast here was the best we'd had this trip. Beautiful linen tablecloths and napkins, nice crockery and silverware.
Varied menu, yet no pretentious service - just simple friendly helfulness. Fred ate huevos rancheros (his favourite). I had eggs over easy with a deliciously flavoured potato cake and large pieces of rustic style homemade bread. Our plates were imaginatively garnished with lettuce and grapes, sliced finely - an unexpectedly good combination with the breakfast food.
We'd reached the penultimate lap of our homeward journey now. Driving through Rocky Ford, La Junta, Las Animas and Lamar, to make our last overnight stop in Springfield. We had intended to visit Bent's Fort near La Junta, but on reading a notice close to the driveway which warned that West Nile Virus had been found in the area, around the Arkansas River, and seeing much stagnant water nearby, we decided that discretion is the better part of valour and drove on. Bent's Fort was originally conceived simply as a trading post for mountain trappers' beaver furs and Indians' buffalo robes, but soon became the point of supply, the social center, the place of refuge and safety, the rest and relaxation point for every white man and many Indians on the plains and in the mountains. It was almost a second home to many of the West's most famous mountain men, scouts, and Indian fighters, including the illustrious Kit Carson. The Fort has been reconstructed to its original form - we saw it only from a distance.
Springfield is one of the last towns in Colorado before crossing into the Oklahoma panhandle. There is little of note here. Three independently-run motels, a steak house and a large truck-stop cafe. We sampled both cafes - one for dinner one for breakfast. Truck-stop cafes are a special source of interest to me. The trucking fraternity is a group unto itself in the USA. I'm in awe of the driving skills of these individuals. Some of the trucks are gargantuan.
As Fred explained, these are not rough and tumble biker-types. They are often loners, serious personalities, hardworking and dedicated to their solitary way of life, and to the relative freedom it brings.
We arrived back home at around 7.30pm on Friday.
This trip has been a wonderful experience. Once over an initial short period of what Isabella Bird called "saroche or mountain sickness" we thoroughly enjoyed the clear crisp air and cooler temperatures in the mountains. Rocky Mountain scenery can surely not be surpassed anywhere on the planet.
A last quote from Isabella Bird:
"This is surely one of the most entrancing spots on earth. Oh, that I could paint with pen or brush! "(She can....listen to this) ......"I couldn't go on writing for the glory of the sunset, but went out and sat on a rock to see the deepening blue in the dark canyons, and the peaks becoming rose coloured one by one, then fading into sudden ghastliness, the awe inspiring heights of Long's Peak fading fast. Then came the glories of the afterglow, when the orange and lemon of the east faded into gray, and then gradually the gray for some distance above the horizon brightened into a cold blue, and above the blue into a broad band of rich, warm red, with an upper band of rose colour; above it hung a big cold moon. This is the daily miracle of evening........it has an intense fascination."
More photographs at : http://www.flickr.com/photos/49024304@N00/sets/72157594288461935/
There are a couple of interesting villages a short and scenic drive from Estes Park: Lyons and Glen Haven.
Glen Haven is reached via Devil's Gulch - an exciting drive through aptly-named terrain, a real twster of a road full of hairpin bends! Having reached the tiny village, who whould have expected to see an old London taxi parked outside an antique shop there ? We were told that the co-owner of the well-known Inn of Glen Haven is an Englishwoman. The menu posted outside the Inn looked rather rich for our tastes ("Black and Blue Loin of Elk, Steak Escoffier, Escargot de Cafe Paris") so we passed on .
A quote from Isabella Bird's Fifth Letter springs to mind:
"An English physician is settled about half a mile from here, over a hill. He is spoken of as holding "very extreme opinions". Chalmers rails at him for being "a thick-skulled Englishman", for being "fine, polished" etc. To say a man is polished here is to give him a very bad name. He accuses him of holding views subversive of all morality. In spite of all this, I thought he might possess a map"(Isabella slyly remarks).
The other nearby small town, Lyons, sports several interesting antique and art stores, one of which had me searching for my credit card !
A refreshing aspect of Estes Park and these two small towns is that chain restaurants and eateries are not present here. Apart from "Subway" which IS in evidence, all eating places seem to be independently owned and run in this area. This, of course, does not guarantee good quality, but it does give the feeling of not knowing what exactly to expect, which is absent in American chain restaurants. We enjoyed many good meals, I especially remember the home-made soups and breads, which reminded me of days gone by. Eating out in America can be very enlightening to a foreigner like myself - I enjoy the atmosphere, surroundings and watching other diners, much more than the food itself.
After the rush of traffic following Labor Day had subsided we commenced our journey home, Tuesday morning, 5th September. We heard from an early TV programme the sad news that Steve Irwin had died. In the same broadcast it was also reported that a mountain climber had fallen 800feet to his death not far away from where we sat. It crossed my mind to wonder whether planetary influence was at work here - two people doing what they loved best - both cut down in the midst of it.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Herds of elk and deer are a common sight in the National Park, especially early in the mornings and in the evening before sunset.
We ventured into the National Park one morning just after 5am. Ice had formed on the car's windshield overnight - it was THAT cold - after spending weeks in triple digit temperatures in Oklahoma, this came as a severe shock.
The Rocky Mountains National Park was the highlight of our trip, of course. The mountain scenery and wildlife are breathtaking, and never twice the same. Time of day, amount of cloud cover, angle of sunlight or moonlight are all responsible for changing vistas which one might expect to remain always similar.
There are scenic lakes and many hiking trails for the more adventurous. We managed one uphill hike from Bear Lake to Nymph Lake, said to be no more than half a mile, but which seemed like 10 miles! On the way we encountered several chipmunks and squirrels hoarding their winter food, not afraid of us at all.
The name Estes Park brings to mind the modern definition of "park", but in this case that definition is inaccurate. "Park" in this area, in times when mountainmen, pioneers and explorers first arrived here, was given to mean "valley" - between mountains. As well as Estes Park (named for one of its earliest discoverers, Joel Estes, a hunter, there are Middle Park, North Park and South Park and many others, probably still un-named. Meadows within the valleys have always been feeding grounds for the abundant wildlife, and latterly in the case of Estes Park, the site for a small town.
Isabella Bird, upon arriving in Estes Park, when no town of that name then existed, wrote to her sister thus:
"Estes Park !!! I wish I could let those three notes of admiration go to you instead of a letter.They mean everything that is rapturous and delightful - grandeur, cheerfulness, health, enjoyment, novelty, freedom, etc. etc. I have just dropped into the very place I have been seeking, but in everything it excels all my dreams. There is health in every breath of air......the scenery is the most glorious I have ever seen and is above us, around us, and up to the very door.....this is perfection, and all the requisites for health are present, including plenty of horses and grass to ride on. It is not easy to sit down to write after ten hours of hard riding......."
(I should say NOT!!!)
The Rocky Mountain National Park did not, of course, exist in 1873. National Park status was designated in 1915. The area now covers 415 square miles of natural beauty, including a paved road called Trail Ridge which ascends to 12, 183 feet above sea level - the highest continuous highway in North America - 46 miles long. We followed Trail Ridge one afternoon, to almost the highest point.One of the regular afternoon storms was brewing up ahead, so we decided to re-trace our route rather than travel on into the storm - I guess that Isabella Bird would not have approved our somewhat limp behaviour ! Her courage is obvious throughout her book, in spite of her protestations, after climbing Longs Peak with a wild mountain man known as "Mountain Jim "
".....had I known that the ascent was a real mountaineering feat I should not have felt the slightest ambition to perform it. As it is, I am only humiliated by my success, for "Jim" dragged me up, like a bale of goods, by sheer force of muscle".
As her letters proceed, it becomes quite obvious (to an other woman, at least) that she had developed an affection for Mountain Jim, verging on an almost surreal love affair. Her description of him on their first encounter:
"....a broad thickset man about the middle height with an old cap on his head and wearing a grey hunting suit much the worse for wear (almost falling to pieces in fact), a digger's scarf knotted around his waist, a knife in his belt, and a "bosom friend", a revolver sticking out of the breast pocket of his coat; his feet, which were very small, were bare, except for some dilapidated moccasins made of horse hide. The marvel was how his clothing hung together, and on him. The scarf around his waist must have had something to do with it. His face was remarkable.
He is a man of around fortyfive, and must have been strikingly handsome. He has large grey-blue eyes, deeply set, with well-marked eyebrows, a handsome aquiline nose and a very handsome mouth. His face was smooth shaven except for a dense mustache and imperial. Tawny hair in thin uncared- for curls, fell from under his hunter's cap and over his collar. One eye was entirely gone, and the loss made the one side of his face repulsive, while the other might have been modelled in marble. "Desperado" was written in large letters all over him. I almost repented of having sought his acquaintance."
(It turned out that "Jim" lost his eye in a recent encounter with a grizzly bear. He, also, was English by birth!)
Monday, September 11, 2006
The drive from Loveland to Estes Park gave us a preview of what was to come. Wonderful scenery through Big Thompson Canyon. Big Thompson is a river, not so big nowadays, not deep, but crystal clear water tumbles over stones and rocks, flowing noisily and rapidly.
On a whim, we booked into American Wilderness Lodge, the last lodging place in Estes Park which seemed to be in a convenient location for the town, a restaurant close by, and just 4 miles to the Rocky Mountains National Park. Accommodation was basic, but adequate. A plus factor - a small stream gushed on by the back entrance and small verandah of our lodge apartment.
On one of several forays into the Rocky Mountains National Park we saw a plaque, positioned in a viewing area of surrounding terrain. The plaque contained a quotation from one Isabella Bird, an English visitor to the region in 1873.
Later that day, we stopped at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, watched a film about the geological formation, wildlife, flora and fauna, and history of the area. I noticed copies of a book by Isabella Bird on sale there - already intriqued by her adventurous nature, this was a "must buy" for us - "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains"
At this juncture I shall introduce Isabella Lucy Bird. Born in Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, England, in 1831.
Back to astrology for a moment: after erecting a birth chart from the information available (no birth time) it appears that Isabella had Sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars all close together in Libra, with Moon, Jupiter and Uranus in Aquarius. Saturn in Virgo. I'd been expecting to see heavy Sagittarius influence in her chart, but unless her ascendant was in Sagittarius, or perhaps Libra or Aquarius was on the cusp of the 9th house, putting several planets there, I would be disappointed. I've seen one or two comments in her book which are clearly Aquarian - more on this later.
Isabella was a sickly child, but it has been said that whenever she was doing what she loved most, her health was excellent. What she loved to do most was to travel. She travelled widely, helping to finance her journeys by writing books about her trips. After a visit to Hawaii (then called The Sandwich Islands) she travelled back to the US mainland in 1873, and across to the newest state, Colorado. She had heard that the air there was excellent for the infirm. Dressed practically and riding not side saddle but frontwards like a man (though she threatened to sue the Times for saying she dressed like one) she covered over 800 miles in the Rocky Mountains. Her letters back to Henny( her sister Henrietta) in Scotland, comprised her third and perhaps most famous book," A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains".
Isabella writes beautifully. Her descriptions and impressions of this region mirror ours very well.
The name Estes Park brings to mind the modern definition of "park", but in this case that definition is inaccurate. "Park" in this area, in times when woodsmen, pioneers and explorers first arrived here, was given to mean "valley" - between mountains. As well as Estes Park (named for one of its earliest discoverers, Joel Estes, a hunter, there are Middle Park, North Park and South Park and many others, probably still un-named. Meadows within the valleys have always been feeding grounds for the abundant wildlife, and latterly in the case of Estes Park, the site for a small town.
Taking a breather from astrology for now - we returned on Friday night from a 12 day trip to northern Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.
Here are a few extracts from my journal, and my husband's photographs.
Episode One coming up:
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE
"Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
Sail o'er the canyons and up to the stars
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future
And all that we can be and not what we are"
After spending time among the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado, it was easy to understand how the area had so deeply inspired John Denver, and, as we shall see later, Isabella Lucy Bird, an English woman (and fellow Yorkshirewoman.) Isabella Bird travelled this area as long ago as 1873 - on horseback!
But that is jumping ahead.
Our journey began with a less than inspiring overnight stay in Oklahoma City, 27/28 August, in order that I should keep an appointment with the dreaded Department of Homeland Security. I had been summoned for the capture of biometrics in preparation for the updating of my "greencard". After I had duly given fingerprint, photograph and signature at the appointed time, we were off - north and westward towards Kansas.
Getting lost in Kansas is a disconcerting experience. We experienced this, in spite of my husband's assertions, "Don't worry, dear, you're with an old Kansan you know!" Driving along rough dirt roads no wider than the car, tall crops on both sides, we persisted, mile after mile, for what seemed like hours. No human in sight, only bugs, decorating the front of the car and the windshield. Eventually we reached an intersecting paved road, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Onward to Dodge City, for the next overnighter.
There was much to see in Dodge City. Famous Boot Hill and its cemetery, a nightly performance by a talented bunch of locals (see photo above) depicting a wild west brawl and shoot-out. There were many inserts along the sidewalks - Hollywood-type brass star plaques in honour of well remembered actors from "Gunsmoke", the TV series, and other western favourites.
Next day, on reaching the northwestern corner of Kansas we entered Mountain Time zone, adjusted our watches, and relived the past hour all over again. Crossing the Colorado state line, travelling through Arapaho, Burlington, Wray and Otis, we decided that our next stop should be in Sterling where we arrived around 4.30pm and immediately got lost again. Sterling is a very difficult town - a railroad traverses diagonally through its centre, this apparently causes disorientation in strangers. By the time a motel was located we were so confused that we managed to book ourselves into "a superior room" complete with a hot tub, as well as the usual bath tub. How the other half live?
On the motel receptionist's recommendation we ate that evening at an oddly titled cafe "T.J. Bummer's Family Restaurant". Nice eating place, good food , with antiques decorating every corner of the room.
Wednesday morning, 30 August, dawned. Breakfast at Village Inn in Sterling, and I had my first taste of Blintzes with strawberries - delicious!.
The route now led us through Windsor , Fort Collins and Loveland to our destination, Estes Park.
To be continued.....