Sunday, July 3, 2016

My Intell Story Published July 1


Posted: Friday, July 1, 2016 12:15 am | Updated: 12:28 am, Fri Jul 1, 2016.
“I felt like summer had taken me over.” — Junot Diaz, author.
Let it! Many of us wait all year long for the 93 days of summer.

Here in the Philadelphia area, you can sip on iced tea or lemonade at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s array of talent will feature the ageless Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and puppet shows for the young ones.

Culture, such as we find at the Mann, or listening to jazz at the Kimmel Center, or an oldies show at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, is an enriching experience that stays with us the rest of our lives. Music or dramas found at the free Shakespeare in the Park in West Philadelphia — view — connect us to the wide world of cultural diversity. Writes the late poet Maya Angelou: “The variety of our skin tones / can confuse, bemuse, delight / brown and pink and beige and purple / tan and blue and white.”

Our minds are expanded as we venture forth from our own homes to sample worlds yet unknown that become a part of us.

The support group I founded 26 years ago, New Directions — for people with depression, bipolar disorder and their loved ones — recently hosted the yoga practitioner Jennifer Bullock. To gentle music, she led our group — men and women of all ages — through postures guaranteed to stretch our limbs and calm our minds. “Breathe in and out,” she would say. Bullock, of Jenkintown, uses her yoga as a therapy technique to help heal her patients. Talk therapy is one avenue, but the body has feelings of its own that respond well to movement.

In fact, one of the best things about summer is rediscovering our bodies. Have you visited the new Pennypack Trail that spans from Montgomery County to Philadelphia? You can pick up the trail at the Bryn Athyn Post Office, where a commuter train once ran. Under the massive program “Rails to Trails,” unused railroad rights of way, with rusting tracks and filled with weeds, were transformed into 14-mile-long trails. From dawn until dusk the wide trails, easy on the feet, are visited by bike riders, joggers, walkers (some with dogs or pushing baby carriages) or folks simply out for a leisurely stroll. The views on both sides of the trail following the Pennypack Creek are simply spectacular.

Speaking of Pennypack Creek — “Pennicpacka” in the language of the Lenape Native Americans — it meanders along with unforgettable views of mallards skimming the surface and diving for fish and yummy insects. Birds of every variety serenade the visitors, especially in the early morning and at twilight, when you’ll also see small herds of deer gather at the edge of the creek to quench their thirst.
What better way to teach our children about the importance of keeping our environment clean? At Pennypack Trust in Huntingdon Valley, a man-made pond delights youngsters with dragonflies fluttering across the water and the belch-like croak of the male bullfrog searching for the perfect mate.

The famous naturalist Henry David Thoreau, author of "Walden Pond," liked nothing better than solitude, to sit in the woods in quiet contemplation and simply reflect about this grand planet of ours and its 3 million species of life and plant life.

I like to sit on my screened-in back porch and watch the fireflies. They hide in the grass during the day, then pop out at night with their rhythmic mating calls to catch the female of their dreams.
Sadly, it’s not your imagination that the firefly population is considerably diminished.

As biologist Beatriz Moisset of Willow Grove writes on Facebook, many bees and bumblebees and also fireflies are experiencing a considerable drop in their numbers due to loss of habitat and the wide use of pesticides.

Fortunately, humankind has not yet tampered with the sun, the moon and the stars. Peace Valley Nature Center in Chalfont offers a “Full Moon Walk” guaranteed to inspire awe in the families who walk the trails. View the center's website at

A nature walk offers incredible health benefits. Lower stress and more positive thinking were discussed in a recent column in the New York Times. So what are you waiting for? As for me, I’m gonna put on sunscreen, a baseball cap, tie my sneakers and let my feet lead the way to my next summer excursion.

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