Headwaters Newsletter 2019
This was a Wow year. I’ll start today, November 1st, 2019. I’m sitting in my house recovering from heart surgery. My mitral valve, which allows blood to pump into my heart, was damaged. My heart wasn’t pumping enough blood to my body as it was backflowing. I’ve known about this problem for a few years, but my doctor let me know this year that it needed to repaired as soon as possible because it wasn’t good. I decided to wait until our season was over in October as it is a long recovery time. I noticed throughout the summer my energy was down 75% so I knew it needed to happen.
The months, weeks and days leading up to the surgery I found myself experiencing a range of emotions with the predominate one being fear. Fear of dying on the operating table with so much life left to live. I know I have a lot left to do in this life. I also fell into a lot of sadness. Over and over I looked over my life and evaluated if I had lived well. If I’d made a difference. If I’d lived my life as sacred, as precious and in beauty.
You all know me and my love for Headwaters. I would walk the land in deep gratitude and appreciation, so deep that many times I would drift into other dimensions of the land. The Earth Keeper would stay with me much of the time, just sharing space. Few words or thoughts shared other than the wonder of being together. The gift of life shared.
This pre-surgery period took me much deeper into the love of this land and the memories in the land from our school. I learned love is boundless, which I knew, but that knowledge found more space to live inside me, becoming even more beautiful and inspiring in me. I felt at times like I became love itself. What’s amazing about this is that love is what our school is all about. Even more amazing is that love had guided my life always first. I know I would not have done what I have without love as my guide. My mother and our precious Earth have shown me love’s path.
Now here I sit recovering from heart surgery on the place on Earth I love the most, surrounded and supported by the people and community I love the most, and of course my dogs, nothing but love. It’s been all about the heart. I’ve grown to believe that this path of heart living, love, is the best a human can be. It’s thought that through the heart all of life’s questions show up. It’s this love that will guide us through these ever turbulent times. The true love of our Earth will manifest into right action and we humans will find our way. It’s simple, love of Earth, love of life will equal a oneness that will show the way. Commitment and hard work will show up and our journey will begin.
This time we are entering is a time a of courage, bravery and right action. The hero in you that has been knocking at your door, their time has come. Open the door and get out of the way. In the journey you will find yourself. Then enjoy the ride. What a ride it will be. Our Earth needs us now to become Earth Caretakers, to own our destiny, now is the defining moment in Human/Earth relationship.
As I write this newsletter, I’m already looking to 2020. I know 2020 will be a good year for our Earth and a defining year for our school. This work on my heart will show up in many beautiful ways. I hope 2020 brings back many past students and new ones as well. We’ll celebrate the true gift of being Earth Keepers together.
A lot of growing older is about learning to gracefully accept changes. This is true for any age and it peaks as one gets older. Since I first started Headwaters and created it into what it is now it has become a living Being, it is personal to me. In our 28 years we’ve had many changes. This year we held our final Winter Class. I’m proud to say that our Winter Class was the best and there was no other like it, and I’ll miss that special time, but it’s time to move on and allow for something else to emerge. I truly hope that some of the apprentices will carry on winter trips and get people together and just go do it. Remember in traditional ways winter is a time of deep reflection about life and the art of living. Our ancestors called it the time of death and rebirth, which springs new life and new ways. The Medicine our Winter Class brought to our school, the memories, the stories will always live within our land and the Mountain.
Early in the year we lost our beloved Great Horned Owl, Luna. We took care of Luna for 15 years. Luna came from Santa Cruz Native Animal Rescue, which I had helped to co-found in 1980. I received many birds over the years and started the education program, often using injured birds of prey to inspire people to help wildlife. I had to let that go when I moved to Mt. Shasta, but I received a call from the director that they had this owl they loved that wasn’t able to be released back into the wild and was scheduled to be put down. She asked if I would be willing to give her a good home and allow her to be an educational bird for Headwaters. So Luna became an ambassador for all wildlife. She had been hit by a car and wasn’t able to fully fly, but she had healed and lived a long, wonderful life with us. She passed of old age. Blessings to Luna! We love you and thank you for your service. Countless people that came to Headwaters were touched by her. Life and death, and what that means is a true gift from nature and often one of life’s most challenging.
Just recently, a week before my surgery, our wonderful white Labrador, Benny, passed away from old age as well. Dogs are a big part of Headwaters. They are not here just by accident. I consider them as a part of our staff. They have a key role they play here. I believe they open the hearts of our students and then Headwater’s magic can get in and of course nature’s teachings and gifts can be received. Ben was a master at opening hearts. Ben was the last of our original pack we had here in the early days. For Jean, Julie and I it was a beautiful ride with him in the end. It was often very difficult as he became blind and lost most of his hearing and balance. His back legs betrayed his intentions of running down to camp. But his nose was his guidance as well as his great appetite. His will to live as a happy, engaged boy was inspiring. I learned a lot of life’s gifts from Ben. He passed in a good way and was held in love. We will miss you Benny. Always you will be loved and your Medicine will forever live on in our land and the hearts of all of the students you touched. My most sacred time with you was on our long hikes on the land, just you, me and the pack wandering wild and free. Happy trails my friend, thanks for those special times.
Some of the best memories: In 2019 we were blessed with full classes and a full apprentice roster. We participated in countless, life changing sweat lodges. I experienced more sacred moments in nature than I even thought possible. We had Pine Martins move onto the land, which is a great sign of nature healing. Water flowed and flowed all year thanks to a wet winter. Thankfully no forest fires in our area this year. My heart goes out to those in California this year that weren’t so lucky and to the animals and plants who those fires affected. Our land this year was blessed with an abundance of wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and birds. Our nesting boxes have been full. Eight deer took up residency in our camp, challenging our dogs to be good hosts.
We had a lone wolf visit us and howl for a mate. Wolves returning after being killed off so many years ago by fearful humans is another sign of healing land. The primal call of the wolf completely touches your soul and brings back memories of another time, and fills a space one doesn’t even know was empty until touched.
This Headwaters land is a true gift of place. As this land’s Earth Caretaker I am deeply humbled and profoundly thankful. My life’s purpose has been filled by our land, and thankfully I have so much life left to live!
This year was the last year that we will hold our Nature Awareness Class in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make. I believe in the power of pure wilderness as a teacher of nature. I’ve been going into the Marble Mountains for over 40 years and I’ve been taking Headwater’s classes there for 28 years. Good news is we will still teach our Nature Awareness Class, as it is one of our foundational teachings, but this class will be held on and around our land in Mt. Shasta. This is one of our most popular classes and we have had to turn people away the past few years due to the participation limits and logistics of the location. Because I believe in this class as a basic, vital teaching we will run this class on our land and it will be as amazing as ever. This class is about touching the very soul of our Earth, as a friend and teacher. On our land we will be able to include sweat lodge as part of our week and work with the Earth Keeper. Changes often can be challenging, and yet new doors open to greater worlds. Had I not allowed for change throughout the life of Headwaters we wouldn’t be where we are today thriving with so many sacred experiences.
Some exciting news along these lines is that we are now adding an Advanced Nature Awareness Class in the Marble Mountain Wilderness for those who have previously participated in Nature Awareness. This will be a backpacking trip where students will be traveling to various locations in the Marbles to experience different terrains and elements. This advanced class will be lead by Elliot, and I promise he will lead an adventure to be remembered. This will be a small group so sign up early. We will definitely stick to our class limit, including our apprentices, no exceptions.
For my past students I am strongly reminding you to go out into wilderness areas. Go on your own or get a group together and have your adventures. Make it so! In the near future we will have a reunion in the Marble Mountains. I promise. Until then, get off your butt and get out in the woods on your own! Ho! to the Marble Mountains! Ho! to the wilderness! Ho! to the visionary people like Aldo Leopold, who envisioned our wilderness lands protected and made it so!
This has been the year of caretaking our land. So many students, visitors, alumni and staff participated in the upkeep of the land and bringing out the natural beauty into the forefront and opening up access to more sacred spaces. Three overgrown springs and creeks were cleaned up. Each “new” space is simply breathtaking. Every area of the land is remarkable. By looking deeper you’ll find the land has secrets to tell or show or both. The Earth Philosophy Class created a sculpture within the Memorial Garden to honor animals that have been unconsciously killed by humans such as in car accidents. It is a space to stop and think about our impact on our fellow animal friends that we share the Earth with. At our Annual BBQ Work Weekend in April we focused on woods clearing for fire safety. There is always so much to do in this area it can be overwhelming, but with our friend’s help we make a big difference in the quality and safety of the camp.
This next year’s BBQ Work Weekend Reunion is April 9th-12th, 2020. Put it on your calendars and show up! More details will be posted on our Headwaters Facebook Group Page as the date gets closer. We are really hoping for a great turn out and fun reunion of past and current students, staff and families and friends.
The biggest project that we undertook this year was putting up a 24’ yurt and creating that space for our Headwaters Library and my photography and art gallery. Tom Kray, our resident elder and good friend, made this happen. Work took place from Spring until Fall. I thank Tom from the depths of my newly repaired heart, to help make one of my dreams come true. Tom built the deck, put up the yurt, built the book shelves and the custom cedar table from one of our elder trees that died a couple of years ago. The carpentry is stunning. My only regret is that I didn’t put up this yurt many years ago. So this coming year make sure you come and enjoy our profound nature based library and photo enlargements of the Mt. Shasta area on display from my archives over the past 20 years. This space and the art within it will make you lose yourself in the beauty. Come back to what you already know and Read A Book! A big thanks to Jean and Julie for creating the comforting space inside.
Jean gifted our garden with a new arbor so we can sit and enjoy the garden, watch the plants grow, observe the animal and honey bee life and listen to Vegas, the rooster, sing his crazy song. He’s still as wild as ever. I love his spirit and wake up calls all day long. Twenty plus years ago Jean started our Walker/Hupp Fund, which is our scholarship fund to help students attend our school. Each year we give away about $15,000 in financial aid. What a huge gift and give back and what a great success this scholarship fund has been. Thank you Jean for your vision and your annual support.
I want to give thanks to our gifted staff. Some come to help for one week, some come for many weeks year after year. By our teachers being so committed and so good at what they do they give me the space and freedom to do what I do, which is to create countless Earth Keepers. Also, a big thank you to our kitchen crew who work mostly behind the scenes taking care of the camp, working in the gardens and the kitchen to take care of and feed our students and staff. They are truly people of service to the land and our community.
I want to give thanks to Julie who caretakes the land, manages much of our school, mentors our students, and of course cooks our meals and runs our kitchen, which is the heart of our school. Julie is also an accomplished artist of many mediums. Look for her work in the new gallery and on the land.
Our sweat lodge is always a sacred experience and the space it holds and where it is located is living beauty. Mt. Shasta to the East and Dale Creek running behind in the West, surrounded by our elder trees is our humble Home. Much gratitude to all who participated in these life enhancing ceremonies.
Our gardens burst full of flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit. This year gave us such an abundance of apples, pears, peaches, cherries, grapes, plums and berries we couldn’t eat or even process it all. My dream came true of losing my mind in peaches. Ended up having to freeze the excess peaches and juice the apples, which we will enjoy throughout the Winter.
I want to thank John Brennan specifically, and all the people that have various skills that on a moment’s notice show up and keep our land and camp up and running. From gardening to computer work to building, to fixing machines, tools and vehicles, to plumbing and everything else that needs a hand, thank you for your service and dedication to keeping our school in balance. Everyone has an important role and place in our community.
We need to ask for your help in keeping this community strong and giving back to others so that they have the opportunity to experience this amazing school and land. Please give donations to our Walker/Hupp Fund so we can reach out to more students. The world needs what we have to teach and offer here, but we need your help with those who need some financial assistance. For those of you who have benefitted from our scholarship fund in the past my hope is that you are now in the position to be able to give back to the fund to keep it going full circle. For those of you who have a little more to share we would appreciate your help so we don’t have to turn anyone away. We personally, Jean, Julie and I, donate thousands of dollars ourselves to help people out, but we cannot stay a strong business if we are doing this alone. The Walker/Hupp Fund is tax deductible and you know from your own experience how beneficial Headwaters Outdoor School is. This is another chance for you to be a hero for nature and the world.
Fundraising is not my strong point and I wish I could give away these classes because EVERYONE needs to wake back up and connect or reconnect with our birthright of being in nature and feeling our Earth as our Home. Many people have forgotten what we already know and need to be reminded. As is obvious in our so called leaders, many people have not consciously been mentored and have no honor. Imagine if the people who are supposed to be leading our country in a good way had gone through their own Rite of Passage and created their own Code of Honor and were held accountable to it? Imagine if our so called leaders took responsibility for their actions and held each decision with the utmost respect for all who it will affect, knowing that each action affects every Being on this planet? Through hands on experience immersing people in nature with teachings to assist in this, we are making a difference and can make a bigger difference with everyone’s help. Just one of these kids can change the world. That is not an over statement. It only takes one committed person to make a change.
VERY rarely do people give back to our program financially. It’s usually the same few generous people, thankfully, who give back to our program and keep the scholarship going. This year one of our past apprentices, who is neck deep in college loans and student expenses, sent a donation in direct proportion to what he could afford because he felt Headwaters has been that important in shaping his life. Just that stretch gave my heart a surge of hope and love for the young men and women who are making a difference in our world. It matters. Each give back matters, not just to me, but to the one person who needs this place more than anything at this time in their life. It matters. So thank you ahead of time for being a part of positive change.
I believe 2020 will be the best year at our school. My heart will be even more committed to making this an amazing year as I will be working at 100% healthy! Our Gallery and Library will be open. The Earth Keeper Movement will be birthed. Our classes will continue to be unique, life changing experiences. We are always adding new elements to Headwaters to keep it growing and in balance.
This coming year we will be offering our Girl’s Rite of Passage again after a long break. We have been offering Rite of Passages for young women throughout the years, but we are now officially scheduling it for a week in June 2020. This class will be lead by Jean and Rosie Hope. We are excited to assist these young women into their powerful place in the world.
We now will have our Advanced Nature Awareness Backpacking Trip in the Marble Mountain Wilderness and we will still offer our Primitive Living Backpacking Class in the Eddies Mountain Range behind our land. I believe backpacking is the foundation to all nature teaching and deep connection. Backpacking shaped my life. Our backpacking trips are unique, full of adventure, nature appreciation and just absolute fun.
If you are interested in going much deeper into what we have to offer here at Headwaters then I highly recommend signing up as an apprentice this summer. Kids and adults participate in this immersion of nature and live for an extended period of time in this amazing teaching environment. There is absolutely no other apprenticeship like ours. It is an unforgettable experience. Apprenticeships are for 4-7 weeks. Apprentices take every class they are here for as well as receive extra mentorship during their time here with a focus on whatever their main interests are. They help run the camp behind the scenes as well and learn about the gardens, the camp kitchen and forestry. I’m only touching on a brief description of this life changing opportunity so if you are interested please call me and I can answer any questions you may have.
We have been creating space for private adult groups to come in and share our land. These groups sometimes are here just using the land and doing their own curriculum, and others work together with myself to create a custom class and experience. If this is something you would be interested in creating for your own group please contact me as soon as possible to see if we can find some room on the schedule for you. In general, the beginning of Fall is the best time and weather for these groups, but every once in a while we have a weekend open in the spring. As of now 2020 spring is full but there is still room in September 2020.
So join us this coming year, the magic awaits. I just feel it is going to be a wonderful year and we want you to be a part of it! As always sign up early to make sure you reserve your place in the class or classes you would like to take. Go right now to our website registration page and get signed up! Our 2020 Class schedule is posted on the website so plan your time here now. Welcome back Home! www.hwos.com
See you out in the woods! –Tim