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Increase your enjoyment of living


By Sharon Courmousis Sacred Rocks Reserve

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” ~ John Muir

April 6, 2010 -- Scroll down for the Purple Mountain Sage's essay, "Finding the Avatar Within" -- plus a delicious recipe for Moroccoan lentil soup!


Recipe: Moroccan Lentil Soup

2 onions, chopped, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, 6 cups water, 
1 cup red lentils, 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, 1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans, 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup diced carrots, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon olive oil


In large pot sauté: the onions, garlic, and ginger in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the water, lentils, chickpeas, white kidney beans, diced tomatoes, carrots, celery, garam masala, cardamom, cayenne pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil for a few minutes then simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or longer, until the lentils are soft. Puree half the soup in a food processor or blender. Return the pureed soup to the pot, stir and enjoy! (

Finding the Avatar Within

Even in the mountains at Sacred Rocks, we just had to see the movie. The story was the quintessential battle of good against evil. The characters, both heroes and villains, were strong and committed unto death. And the trees, flowers, wild animals, forest, mountains and air all were different than ours, yet, in many respects similar. The Avatar is defined as a human in an alien body. Kinda cool! What I like about the movie is the “tuning in” the human had to go through to see the beauty of the planet. The dangers and the benefits really required time to experience. And did you cry, like I did at the destruction of the home tree?


I ponder, is there a way for us as humans, to tune in to our Earth, in time to salvage and even regenerate before we destroy it? If so, how? How can we find out what we need to do? Can we start where we are with nature education plus experience for each of us individually? Could that equal shifting our planet in a different direction? I have discovered five ideas that could help us to explore and tune in:


• Spend time in nature. You do not have to haul your necessities up a difficult path, or barrel down dangerous slopes on a mountain bike, you do not have to sleep in a tent, you do not have to get filthy dirty, mosquito-bitten, and sunburned, you do not have to go hungry. There are a thousand gentle hikes in San Diego County alone. Armed with a bottle of water, trail mix, sunscreen, a good hat and hiking stick, and a camera if you love pictures, you can walk in nature for an hour, or two. And then go back home.

• Observe the INTERACTION of all living things. You do not have to become a biology or botany expert. You do not have to get up at the crack of dawn to add a bird to your life list. You do not have to sit through a single lecture. You can add to your store of knowledge a bit at a time. And NEVER stop learning. I am not a spring chick; yet, I am ever the curious child. For example, I recently learned about ‘michorriza’ and it changed me, forever. Michorizza is a kind of fungus that breaks down the nutrients in the fallen leaves that surround oak trees. The oak trees send tiny runners like yarn threads [seem familiar?] from the roots of the trees to capture the nutrients and, thus, remain healthy. We used to rake the leaves of the hundreds of oak trees in order to tidy campsites. Now, we prefer the natural beauty of the carpet of leaves. And we know that we are helping the oak trees to be healthy. You CAN add to your store of knowledge with programs about earth on television, with magazines (especially those with great photos), and by going to programs at visitors centers of parks, and by reading books.

• Encourage others to discover our marvelous planet. When you go out into nature, take people with you. What is really fun letting a child lead you. Yes, you follow the child. You will experience delight. The fascinating shiny rock with freckles, the squirrel who runs so fast you cannot catch it, the tiny, fairy pink flower low to the ground, the odd bird who drills holes in everything wooden and pokes acorns inside. You will run a while, then plop onto the ground feeling the warmth of the earth beneath you.

• Savor the wonder. No matter your age, or where you live, you can find a thing of nature to see. Even a walk in your neighborhood block looking at the blooming flowers and budding trees of spring can lift your spirits. Did you notice? No two flowers or trees or even lawns are alike. Each is unique, just like humans, just like you. It may be that art is our way of trying to capture that wonder. You might enjoy an art class or photography if you are so inclined. You might just want to be encouraged to find that child inside of you. Go for it!

• Invest in your belief. Once you focus on what you want to support, act on it. You could declare a moratorium on plastic water bottles and carry a thermos or BPA free bottle with you. You could go for the bamboo floor, instead of oak because of sustainability. You can visit an earth day celebration (Earth Day April 22, 2010) and support those who are working in this arena. You can use your retirement resources and invest in ‘green’ businesses. You can remodel, or buy or design using ‘green’ materials and ideas. The list is endless. You can volunteer for groups that are working in the direction that you want to go. Plant a garden and eat organic. Wear natural fabrics. Teach your children and grandchildren.


We must find and activate the avatar within us! If each of us, as individuals, as avatars, choose to fight for our beliefs, if we put our words, our actions, our money, and our art towards healthy life and healthy earth practices, then we will change our world.


The Purple Mountain Sage welcomes questions from readers! Write to us at: The Purple Mountain Sage is Sharon Courmousis, co-owner of Sacred Rocks Reserve and RV Park, a 163-acre wilderness preserve and campground in Boulevard, CA, which is also home to the Sacred Rocks Artists’ Colony. Sharon can be reached by calling: 619-766-4480. Visit the Sacred Rocks Reserve website at:

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This is a wonderful article. Nature holds the meaning of life - we really only have to take the time to look, don't we? Thank you and I love the recipe!