“When We Are Kind to Others, We are Happier” by Jill Suttle

Jill Suttie https://www.mindful.org/author/jill-suttie/

How Kindness Fits Into a Happy Life
A new analysis of decades of research shows that when we are kind to others, we are healthier and happier.


We all know that it’s good to be kind to others. Kindness is an important virtue for sustaining relationships, which helps to build a trusting and cooperative society.

You may have also heard that kindness makes you happier and healthier. But what does that mean for you? What acts of kindness will make us happiest, and who tends to benefit the most?
A newly published review of decades of kindness research provides some answers.

In this paper, researchers analyzed the results from 126 research articles looking at almost 200,000 participants from around the world. The studies they chose all had to meet certain criteria, such as including only adults and reporting good statistical data; some were experiments, where people did a kindness practice to observe its effects, while others just surveyed people about how kind and happy they were. The studies measured well-being in a variety of ways, including both mental and physical health.

As expected, people who were kind tended to have higher well-being. Lead researcher Bryant Hui was surprised the relationship was not stronger than it was, but he was still encouraged by the results.

“Although the overall relationship between prosocial (kind and helpful) behavior and well-being is weak, given that so many people around the world act prosocially, the modest effect can still have a significant impact at a societal level,” he says.
A small effect like this—an average of all the participants’ experiences—can sometimes hide other patterns going on below the surface. So, he and his colleagues considered when kindness might have a bigger impact on our well-being.

One thing they found was that people who performed random, informal acts of kindness, like bringing a meal to a grieving friend, tended to be happier than people who performed more formal acts of kindness, like volunteering in a soup kitchen. It’s possible that informal helping may fill our more basic psychological needs for autonomy and close relationships, which is why it could lead to greater happiness.

The researchers also found that people who were kind tended to be higher in “eudaimonic happiness” (a sense of meaning and purpose in life) more than “hedonic happiness” (a sense of pleasure and comfort). Perhaps this makes sense, given that being kind involves effort, which takes away from comfort but could make people feel better about themselves and their abilities, which would provide a sense of meaning.

Being kind came with greater eudaimonic happiness for women than for men, too. According to Hui, this could be because, in many cultures, women are expected to be kinder than men; so, they may have more to gain from it. And younger participants experienced more happiness when they were kind than older participants, perhaps for developmental reasons, he says. Younger adults are at a stage of life where they tend to be figuring out their identity and actively seeking the purpose and meaning in life that kindness can bring, less so than pleasure and comfort.

What other, specific benefits might kindness have? The researchers found that people who were kind tended to have higher self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy. To a lesser degree, they also experienced less depression and anxiety and improved physical health—with the links to health being strongest in older adults.
Hui doesn’t know for sure why acting kind might have these different effects on different groups, but he points to theories put forth by researcher Elizabeth Midlarsky: Being kind may make us feel better about ourselves as a person or about the meaning of our lives, confirm our self-competence, distract us from our own troubles and stressors, give us a warm-glow feeling, or help us be more socially connected with others. All of these could potentially improve our well-being—reducing our stress, improving our mood, or providing community—and they could hold more importance at different stages of life, too.

By understanding the connection between kindness and well-being, Hui thinks researchers can design better studies that take into account all of the relevant factors, and innovators could create more effective kindness practices. In the future, he hopes there will be kindness apps or online programs that could reach more people, generating a larger impact around the world.

In the meantime, Hui says, the biggest take-home from his research is something he heard the Dalai Lama say long ago: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

“Helping others is a universal virtue and a very affordable and economic way to benefit others’ and our own well-being,” he says. “As the saying goes, helping others is helping yourself.”

“Mindfulness Meditation Moments” by Steve Sparks
Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan.

Mr. Jay Stellers and Ms. Jaccy Jay… Pals in the Rain Forest of Little Whale Cove…

“Jay Stellers n Jaccy Jay”
“Mr. Jay Stellers”
“Jay” checkin’ things out…

I looked out the window next to the backyard like I do each morning while having my first cup of coffee. I always look for my wildlife friends, especially locals who come and go…

Suddenly, my pals “Jay Stellars” and Jaccy Jay showed up perched on the the lower branch in tall fir tree so I could see them.

Jaccy looked at me first with a “shack-shack-shack-shack.” Then, Jay followed with a “chook-chook-chook.”

Both wanted me to chat with them, I just know. Jaccy screams like a hawk sometimes. Jay looked back at her screaming “chook-chook-chook.”

It takes me awhile to hear what Jay and Jaccy say to me. But if my soul is listening, I hear them clearly…

I hear Jay and Jaccy discussing with some concern about their newly built nest nearby. It sounds like their nest was being threatened by a Racoon…

Ohhh! I know, it’s my neighbor, Rocky Racoon. I see him now…

The nest is a bulky ragged cup of twigs, weeds, moss, dry leaves. It is cemented together with mud and lined with fine grass, rootlets, and pine needles making a strong home for little ones to thrive…

But Rocky Racoon had other plans. He wanted to have eggs for a snack. He loves yoke the most these days… His clan waited patiently below for a snack too…

Stellers males in courtship, feed the female. Adults are quiet and secretive while nesting, but become noisy and aggressive if the nest is threatened. So, this is what Jay and Jaccy were “shack-shack-shack-shacking” and “chook-chook-chooking” so loudly about.

Mr. Jay flew toward the nest first, then Jaccy followed. Rocky Raccoon was chased away with his tail between his legs..

I told Rocky Raccoon before not mess with Jay and Jaccy when they come back in the spring. But he will never listen to me… Do you know what I mean?

With a “shack-shack-shack-shack” and a “chook-chook-chook, Jay and Jaccy go about their day, while Rocky Racoon and his clan go find something else to do.

I love all my wildlife friends for all they do. For It is their love and kindness that moves my heart and soul…

Steve Sparks, Author,Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan…

‘A Soul Lost to War’…Vernon H Sparks US Navy 1936-1966

Research from Vernon H. Sparks Naval records 1936-1960 

September 2019 a working DRAFT

Department of the Navy, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington D.C. 

Vernon H. Sparks, BMC, 328 41 29, USNFR-F6, May 1, 1966…30 years of honorable service 

By Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate… 

This body of work is described as a deep dive chronology of my father’s service to America. He was among the “The Greatest Generation” of the men, women, and families who served in WWII and Korean War.

I received Dad’s military records, including medical, in February 2011 and used as a reference for writing my first book, Reconciliation a Son’s Story, published by Signalman Publishing in November 2011.

My goal is to accurately portray the trajectory of Dad’s Naval Service to show the tragic effects of too many years of hard combat deployments on this man, his family, and the intergeneration impact on all of us as a family.

There are too many stories from all wars just like Vernon’s, where the emotional damage of war comes home to the kitchen table.

Without adequate and consistent life-long treatment of symptoms of PTSD, including lingering and painful untreated depression, take a huge toll on the lives of so many military families over several generations until the cycle of pain ends.

In the Sparks family, we now heal as a family, the pain stops with us…no more! As a family legacy we desire that others benefit from the awareness that has provided a foundation for healing decades of emotional trauma and strife as a military family.

How did we survive and thrive growing up in a profoundly dysfunctional home and finally face our own mental health challenges and demons as kids and adults? 

Bos’n Sparks Ship Log 1936-1958, A Soul Lost to War… 

Click each photo to learn more… 

2 Vernon H. Sparks received a temporary appointment of Warrant Chief Boatswain’s Mate (BMC) in 1943 when the USS Belle Grove (LSD2) was commissioned on August 9, 1943 for duty in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. Dad loved to blow the Bos’n Whistle when we were kids in the 1950s to get us out of the rack early. Dad loved the Navy and serving America. He made Bos’n 1st Class in 1941 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. To begin this chronology, following is my father’s first account of his experience aboard the USS West Virginia (BB48) on that fateful day, December 7, 1941. Vernon was a highly decorated US Navy veteran. Vernon earned the following recognitions and medals shown above: 

WWII Victory, Philippine Liberation, Asiatic Pacific (with 1 silver star and 1 bronze star appurtenance), American Defense (with 1 bronze star appurtenance), American Campaign, Good Conduct (with 3 bronze star appurtenance), Korean Service, China Service, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation (Navy). 

National Park Service 

Survivor Questionnaire – Persons Present December 7, 1941, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii 

Vernon H. Sparks, US Navy, Battleship USS West Virginia, Coxswain 

Hometown: St. Paul, Mn 

Brief Account of What Happened to You Before, During, & After the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. 

I was on the 3rd deck heading for the anchor windless room when the first torpedo hit the USS West Virginia. From there, more bombing and torpedoes- when all hell broke loose. Men in the brig were screaming for help. I could not respond, there was no time…to check where the Marine guard was with the keys to the cells. Evidently, he had already been hit. The men in the brig were engulfed in water and perished. I worked my way up to the 2nd deck with water up to my waist. By this time, I came to a hatch with the manhole still open leading to the main deck. I barely made it out of the escape hatch and was 

3 ordered by Lt. Stark to close that hatch. The men were still down there but it was too late for them. That was the first time I heard that the Japs were attacking our fleet…and the whole island. I watched one of my best shipmates get himself killed-Roy Powers. He stuck his head out the portside close to the ship-fitters shop; and about that time another torpedo hit, and the concussion blew his head off. His body fell back on deck headless. After that it was a matter of surviving. There was no defense, the ship was already listing to port at about 35 degrees angle. I worked myself up further on the deck and observed the Commanding Officer, Captain Mervyn S. Bennion heading for the bridge. The strafing and bombing were still on. When I arrived on the main deck going forward to the number one turret…strafing still going on…I dived under the overhang of the turret. Communications was out, so by word of mouth heard the order, “all hands abandon ship.” Note: Capt. Bennion was lying on the wing of the bridge mortally wounded…He asked the doc, “What kind of chance he had?” And was told, “Not much Captain.” Then, Captain Bennion said, “Leave me on the bridge and this is my last order, ALL HANDS ABANDON SHIP!” He died right after that order… After that order I jumped over the side to starboard and swam to Ford Island…Us guys that made it were standing on the beach watching the USS Arizona blow up sky high…what a helpless feeling. I had torn my white uniform up to use as emergency treatment bandages for the wounded. Anyway, to make a long story short, we dashed across the field under strafing conditions to shelter. In the BOQ, we were able shower in there and salvage clothes from the lockers and helped organize the Harbor Patrol. And was with that duty for a few months – then assigned to new construction with the 5th Amphibious Force hitting the beaches of the South Pacific, all the way, then finally Iwo Jima, & Okinawa until the Peace Treaty was signed aboard the USS Missouri in Toyko, Japan. People like myself could go on & on…but that would take a book… 

Vernon H. Sparks, December 7, 1941, Battleship USS West Virginia 

From Ship’s Crew Muster: 

Sparks, Vernon H. 328-41-29 Cox. 13 Jan. 36 10/12/39 

4 In the 3 photos above… Vernon with friends, and fellow shipmates at the Owl Bar, Manila; on island patrols 600 miles south of Manila c1938-39…Vernon, as a coxswain on the tiller. Vernon’s first shipboard duty 1936, full steam ahead USS Tennessee, click photo for more. 

Vernon was born in Eldred, Mn on December 10, 1918. He spent his childhood growing up in St. Paul, Mn.

Following a challenging time growing up during the Great Depression, he joined the Navy in December 1935 at age 17. Dad wanted to “join the Navy and see the world” as did countless men from that time before WWII.

He graduated from Naval Training Center, Bootcamp, USNTC, San Diego, Ca on June 6, 1936. Vernon’s first duty station was the USS Tennessee (BB43) in March, 1937.

This was the beginning of a story of one man’s journey of honor and duty to country and family. But this is also an all American story of a lifetime of emotional pain. Too many years of sea duty and hard combat changed his life forever, especially decades of painful family dynamics caused by the trauma of war.

The Tennessee sailed to the South Pacific from Bremerton, Wa in March 1937. Vernon became a larger than life coxswain during those early years of fighting in the South China Sea leading up to WWII and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Vernon, according to his medical records, served a total of “66 months” of combat duty for 22 year US Navy career. 

5 Abstract of Service by Ship and Station: 

USNTC San Diego January 13, 1936 recruit training. Vernon lived at 581 Selby Ave., St. Paul, Mn before joining the Navy. Click here… 

USS Tennessee (BB43), June 6, 1936 to March 16, 1937. Vernon dislocated his shoulder on the get go the first time in July 1936 while carrying a box of spuds aboard ship. He lived for most of his adult life with shoulder challenges. Vernon loved basketball and swimming. 

USS Henderson (DD785), April 23, 1937 to September 3, 1937, then back to USS Tennessee 

USS Blackhawk (AD9), October 29, 1937 to July 1938 (Vernon made Seaman 1st Class Feb 16, 1938). He was instructed in the use of Gas Mask and put through Gas Chamber a Navy Yard, Cavite, P.I. Dec20 1937. 

Naval Hospital, Puget Sound Washington, March 16, 1937 to April 23, 1937 

USS Sacramento (PG-19), July 18, 1938 to December 14, 1938 

USS Augusta (CA-31), December 1938 

US Naval Hospital, Canacao, P. I. for treatment January 16, 1939 (6/5/39 on sick list due to own misconduct.) 

USS West Virginia (BB48), October 12, 1939 to December 7, 1941 (one offense of AOL from 0730 on 10/23/39 until 0815 on 10/24/39, confined for 8 days, and loss of pay one month $14. Addresses for family during this surreal and painful period 1941 to 1945; 1351 Lime Ave., Long Beach, Ca; 1501 Scott St., San Francisco, Ca from the left; Jerry, Mom Marcella, Steve as baby, Dad Vernon summer 1946. 

USS Relief (AH1), December 11, 1939 to December 29, 1939 for medical treatment. Vernon was injured in an altercation on his birthday, December 10th while on liberty from the USS West Virginia. He was apparently clubbed in the head, sustained a serious head wound. 

Section Base, Bishop Point, Harbor Patrol, 14th Naval District, Pearl Harbor, Oahu December 30, 1941 to April 6, 1943. AWOL from 2000, 2 July 1942 to 0600, 3 July 1942, 10 hours. Tried on July 6, 1942 and confined for a period of twenty (20) days and $20/month loss of pay for a period of four (4) months per Deck Court- Martial. On April 2, 1943, he was appointed BM1st class. On September 30, 1942, JAG remitted entirely that part of the sentence involving confinement because he “PARTICIPATED IN THE BATTLE OF PEARL HARBOR ON DECEMBER 7, 1941.” 

USS Belle Grove (LSD2), August 9, 1943 to June 2, 1945 Crossed the 180th Meridian with permission of the Golden Dragon Lat. 14 degrees 10’ N., on 20 January 1944. August 9, 1943 recommended for appointment as Warrant Boatswain (temporary). He Participated in the bombardment and capture of Iwo Jima Island March 20, 1945. He was authorized to wear the 

Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two Bronze Stars ICW ALNAV 64-45. 

On May 9, 1945, Vernon was recommended for appointment to 

rank of Warrant Boatswain. 

US Naval Hospital, Shoemaker, Ca July 23, 1945 to September 4, 1945, post WWII “battle fatigue” (PTSD) treatment and recovery, convalescence. KoreanWar period…The Sparks Clan; from the left, Uncle Ronnie, Vernon, Grandma Mildred, Grandpa Art, Aunt Juneth, & Aunt Dolly. Sparks home St Paul 50s…1608 Van Buren Ave, St Paul, MN 55104 

7 USN Cargo Handling Group No. 1 Oakland, Ca Sept 17, 1945 to November 28, 1945 

USNH Treasure Island, December 10, 1946 for treatment. 

USS Topeka (CL-67), June 17, 1947 

US Naval Hospital, Long Beach Ca July 1947 to Sept 1947, recurring “battle fatigue” symptoms. 

USS Astoria (CA-73) November 6, 1947 (less than month) 

USS St. Paul (CA-73), December 8, 1947 

USNTC San Diego February 25, 1948 to August 24, 1951, recruit training, bootcamp commander 

company 255. 6605 Kelly St, San Diego, CA 92111 

USS Weiss (APB-135) September 7, 1951 to August 16, 1952 (transferred to US Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan for treatment) 

US Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan September 17, 1952 

8 USS Skagit (AKA105), September 30, 1952 to March 19, 1953 

USS LSM(R)-401 March 29, 1953 to June 22, 1953 

USS Andromeda (AK-15), June 22, 1953 to January 25, 1954… 

Dan helped me remember this apparently fun Sunday event of dinner on the ship as a family and hanging out, learning…2804 Gearing Dr, San Diego, CA; 4632 Hawley Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116; 6605 Kelly St, San Diego, CA 92111 

US Naval Hospital San Diego, February 24, 1954 to April 21, 1954 (84 days in hospital) 

In transit status, April 21 to April 28, 1954 

Conus/Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB1) June 30, 1954 to August 2, 1954 

USNTC Great Lakes, September 30, 1954 to June 23, 1955. Vernon re-enlisted for the last time on June 16, 1955. Sister Laura born March 1955 in photo with Marcella and Vernon. 2621 Iroquois Rd, Waukegan, IL 60087 

For the record, his tattoos were noted as the following. 

“Tattoo’s Eagle “USN, USS Tennessee 1935” right forearm, “Honolulu, Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Yokohama” right inner forearm, Girl “USS Sacramento, Asiatic Station 1937-1939 left inner forearm. Sister Laura was born on March 10, 1955.” 

USS Chowanoc (ATF100) Oct 23, 1957 (less than 90 days) 

Construction Battalion #1 

Released from active duty on November 5, 1957. Placed on the retired list of the US Navy from the Fleet Reserve effective October 1, 1965. 

Family home addresses post Navy; 18228 Mettler Ave, Carson, CA 90746; 1249 W Anaheim St, Harbor City, CA 90710 

9 Notes: 

1. Vernon’s final Navy performance rating was 3.980/4.0. Dad was an outstanding 

professional! BMC to BMGC (master chief?) promotion in 1957. 2. Awarded High School GED by St. Paul Public Schools, December 28, 1953 3. Final post retirement medical treatment at US Naval Hospital, Long Beach, Ca. It appears Vernon was under great stress and pain during this time. He was never free from anxiety and depression from PTSD that lingered for a lifetime. He also cut a tendon in “right ring finger” and knee sprain from an accident at home. We lived at 22907 Meyler St., Torrance, Ca. As a family. I recall much chaos and strife at that time on our family as a whole. It was an unmitigated disaster, a completely broken family dynamic. No family should ever live this way, ever…never…no way!

There were absolutely no behavioral health care services for combat veterans except a short stay in Naval hospitals to detox, often for months before returning to duty. Dad knew he had to stay in the Navy to receive the health care he needed desparately when he fell off the wagon. Dad needed a ‘continuum of care’ that only existed in the safety of a US Naval hospital anywhere on the planet. The Navy was Dad’s rock. He struggled so much and none of us knew it. The typical response was, “we don’t talk about stuff like that.” Vernon survived and thrived with serious mental illness and addiction without any clue of how to effectively manage or mitigate his serious mental health problems. Our mother, Marcella, was very sick too, and suffered from acute depression all of her life as well. The post WWII Sparks family was only one example of 1000’s of families during that fateful period that took the war home to the kitchen table. The war never ended in June of 1945 when he came home, it was never over in his mind.


5. Vernon joined the Federal Bureau of Prisons when he retired from the US Navy and stayed for 18 years, finally retiring again. But he worked as a consultant for faith community half-way houses in Tacoma, Wa for several years until retiring for good. Vernon served America for more than 40 years!

6. A sign of the times…Vernon completed a radiological training course.

“Gritz” The Intrepid Eagle of Little Whale Cove…

“Gritz” The Intrepid Eagle…
“Gritz” On The Move…

Matt n Mattie, my Canadian Honker friends with a new nest in the Cove, seemed in despair the last day. Both were honking their heads off looking up at the sky…

I looked up and knew why right away. “Gritz” The Intrepid Eagle, was looking for bacon n eggs for breakfast or anytime of the night or day…

Matt n Mattie raced across the pond to the north end of the Cove. I knew there was a nest over there, but couldn’t see…

I knew the eggs were not yet in the nest. Otherwise, Mattie would be there sitting warmly on the little Goslings waiting for them soon to hatch…

While Matt n Mattie continued to go honkers n bonkers, Gritz patrolled the sky high above the Cove. He flew in circles, diving down to the water to get a closer look.

It looked like a reconnaissance mission to me.. Mama Gritz waited with anticipation back at the Eagles nest, high up in the well protected old spruce overlooking the Cove…

A family of Canada geese walk across a lawn.

In the meantime, Matt n Mattie returned to protect the nest. Mattie is very close to giving birth to baby Goslings.

I wish to help Matt n Mattie protect their eggs. I hate when five little Goslings are born and only two make it to swim the first time in the Cove…

Some years like last, Matt n Mattie left alone, just the two of them. They flew back to their winter home without a single youngster with them to grow up during the long winter in the far north…

It is this journey of love that Matt n Mattie make each year. It is Little Whale Cove that begs their return to bring new little Goslings into the world of this beautiful Cove…

We are so lucky to be loved by Matt n Mattie. They return each year to build a new nest hidden in the rocks close to the shore of the Cove…

Meanwhile, “Gritz” will be waiting above in the Eagles nest, high above. I see him perched on the old spruce in the rain forest surrounding the Cove…

I returned to my chat with Matt n Mattie after that. I dream of new Goslings to love again this year, just like every year…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan.

Lonely, Lovable Furry Friend Stuck in Florence, Oregon… Needs Loving Home…

“Found this doggie at 37th street laundromat, 37th and #101. Florence, Or. Nobody has come forward so we’re going to get him healthy and find a good home. He is so sweet and gentle. He’s tired, and his leg is messed up but he has a good place to heal.”

Please help him find a loving home with a good and decent family. If you love him, he’ll

Linda Wilcox-541-999-0877

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan

My Brain is Okay, But My Mind Feels Like A Dumpster…

“Sam” The Old Dog of Wisdom


The Biochemistry of the Mind-Body Connection

While we still don’t understand everything about the mind-body connection, scientists are discovering some of the ways in which communication occurs. Dr. Jennifer Weinberg, MD, MPH, MBE, a preventive and lifestyle medicine physician, describes the brain as “the hardware” that allows us to experience the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions that we collectively call the “mind.”

“My brain is okay, but my mind feels like a dumpster.” Sam told me so the other day when we walked by the neighborhood dumpster…

“Why did you not empty the trash, Sam? I asked him, again, that day… “Because I did not know how,” he said while looking up at me with truth in his eyes…

Sam, is “The Old Dog of Wisdom,” I thought. Then, I wondered, if he put wisdom in the dumpster…

Sometimes when the mind hurts the brain stops, they say. Maybe, I can help Sam empty the dumpster. Then, maybe Sam won’t hurt anymore…

“How can I get help to empty the trash in my mind? Sam asked with tears in his eyes…

“I do not know, Sam. But let’s go together and find out together. I’ll hold your hand and help you, Sam.”

We are pals, Sam and me. I will see my friend through this. Because I need to empty my dumpster too…

We can heal together, Sam and me… For we both are “Old Dogs of Wisdom…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate… and aspiring artisan.

Jason Evans on The Pacific Crest Trail…

Jason Evans on The Pacific Crest Trail…



The trail in Washington yesterday reminded me of a mid-morning of memories that will stay with me longer than most. It was the Alpine Wilderness, in the Klamath National Forest of Northern California.

The Pacific Crest Trail cast along a wending, near horizontal path through a rough and steep scree slope.

I came around a bend, and saw grazing, at a rare tuft of verdant scruff, a young buck – a black-tail deer. His nascent antlers downy.

I said aloud “You’re beautiful,” surprised at the sound of my own voice, which I hadn’t heard in at least a day. Pausing in admiration I rested on my trekking poles, and considered our situation.

It was at least a quarter mile south to a spot where the deer or I might safely step off trail. And I knew, the chance the deer would follow me south to do so, was slim.

Certainly the deer wouldn’t brush shoulders with me while I passed. I had no idea what to expect from the trail ahead. And either of us breaking a leg to go around was my utmost concern.

So after a while I stepped forward and paused, and then again … and it seemed like Buck got the idea, and he turned from me to meander up trail.

I followed. Neither of us rushed. For almost a mile we hiked together as such, he always 60 feet ahead, every now and then glancing back to be sure I hadn’t broken our agreement.

He bounded from the trail where we came over a saddle, but as I came up he still stood, facing me from a mossy clearing 20 feet away.

He leaned forward and tapped a front hoof and shook his head at me when I paused again, like he was hooking into a scrum.

I nodded, and continued my journey, leaving him to his.

Jason Evans on The Pacific Crest Trail

“Scooter” The Surf Duude…

“Surf scoter ‘Melanitta perspicillata’ There were at least a dozen of them fishing yesterday. Yaquina Bay Estuary by the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport Oregon” Cecelia E Kennedy


“Scooter” loves to dive deep and fast. He is propelled by perfectly shaped feet, made for diving and foraging favorite treats…

Scooter’s wings, half-opened, push his body very fast and deep like surfers do. He sees his favorite mollusks, crustaceans, insects, small fishes, and worms served up to his delight…

Scooter eats salad first. Pondweeds, sedges, and crowberries are prepared in advance and served up on a shell…

Scooter’s little ones follow close by while mom watches from above. The little ones make for a perfect snack if they stray…

Scooters little ones leave the nest and go surfing soon. Water draws them shortly after hatching by the shore…

Mom’s nest is some distance away from water, on the ground, well hidden under low tree branches or in dense grass clump. She builds her nest in a shallow depression lined with down…

Little ones are tended by mom, but feed themselves. Their first flight is known only to them…

Scooter finds his mate on the winter range. While pushing back his daring male friends, his bride awaits with wings of love…

Scooter’s male friends swim back and forth rapidly with neck stretched upward, exaggerated bowing, and short display flights; He pursues his bride fast and deep to take her for his own….

Scooter migrates with his flock like families do. When migrating overland to coastal wintering areas, he flies high. Stopovers on lakes inland are mostly for resting, not for feeding, though…

I watch “Scooter” each Spring fly high and dive and surf deep into the sea. He is such a beautiful sight to see…

I love “Scooter” The Surf Dude! Especially, when he flys high and dives deep into the sea just like surfers do…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate…and aspiring artisan.

“Michael Meerkat n Snoopy” The Mongoose Scouts…

“Snoopy” The Mangoose Scout…
“Michael” The Bread Winner…
“Snoopy” Snoopin’ for Michael…


Michael and Snoopy are besties in the Desert Badlands of Africa near Botswana. Both watch as guardians of the Mongoose clan…

Michael waits behind a rock or desert bush. He watches for Snoopy’s sign all is clear to hunt for the the Mongoose clan…

Predators love to munch on the Meerkat, breakfast, lunch, and dinner too.. Snoopy’s watchful eyes and high stature keeps the Mongoose clan safe, mostly…

Michael Meerkat and Snoopy are partners forever. Both love each other and have each other’s backs like true Mongoose warriors in the desert badlands near Botswana…

Most days, Micheal Meerkat and Snoopy never miss a beat. Both are warriors caring and protecting loved ones far back from danger safe in the desert mudholes…

One day out in the desert badlands not far from Botswana, Michael Meerkat, did not respond when Snoopy called. “Michael was in danger of being killed by Jackals,” he thought with great trepidation and fear…

When Snoopy gave the signal for Michael to meet him for the gathering of food for the clan, he was not to be found… “Where are you, Michael Meerkat, where did you go!” Snoopy cried with fear for his partner’s safety…

Snoopy, found Michael Meerkat some distance from his usual spot. He cried and cried to find him barely alive after a Jackal struck him down…

Michael Meerkat and Snoopy hugged each other and said goodbye for the last time. Both loved each other as partners in the desert near Botswana for so many beautiful years…

Snoopy took Michael Meerkat back to the Mongoose clan to honor his life as a warrior. The Mongoose clan surrounded Snoopy with love and helped him heal in time…

So, it is always in love and kindness we thrive. It is in sadness and in happiness with one another, and in harmony with the clan, that keeps us whole…

Snoopy went on to greatness as a warrior after that, and found love again. For it is love that always wins in the end…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate,..and aspiring artisan.

Rattlesnakes Make Great Friends On The Trail…

Jason Evans on his spiritual journey…
Jason Evans, back home among the rest of us…

I’m so delighted to introduce my friend and soul brother, Jason Evans. A man who lives his life from his heart and soul. He is daring, loves nature and wildlife. This is sacred to Jason. He lives with God and Rattlesnakes too. He loves, with empathy and kindness in his heart. We are kindred spirits, Jason and me… Steve Sparks



Rattlesnakes didn’t scare me. I hiked past dozens. Found them respectful in their warning rattle, regal as they surrendered the trail.

Except for one juvenile, basking in the sun, laid out like an arrow. He didn’t warn me. Yet I stopped short, eventually clacking my poles. Still he didn’t so much as shudder.


I reached out a pole and gently nudged him. Pliable like a bean bag. After a little pole pounding and stomping from a safe distance, and absolutely no recognition, I reached again with a pole to nudge him; wondering finally if he was dead.

Snapping, in an instant he twisted and struck – fangs tinking and dripping against the pole. He glared at me in a snakey sort of way and slithered off; I thought a little haughtily.

Later some old-timers told me the juveniles are most dangerous, because they are more likely than their judicious elders, to “blow their wad,” every time they strike.

It was a little disconcerting, cowboy camping in the desert one night, when I heard, nearby, a jackrabbit scream while ripped apart by coyotes. It wasn’t quick.

A swarm of angry bees was like a spun oblong tornado 4 feet tall, that I heard from a ways off hovering 30 feet above the chaparral, and equidistant to me. Looking back and forth on the steep and rugged trail, I realized if I was blamed for disturbing them, I had nowhere to go.

Dawn wolves howling on a nearby peak south of Crater Lake were awesome.

The cougar I saw in Southern California, at dusk, slunk up the side of the hill after I hissed at her. Super goosebumps though. I saw their tracks many times.

Bears were generally bounding off through the berries – myself made known – day or night, and so I rarely got a good look.

My only scary animal experience involved a herd of cattle.

I’ve worked with grass fed cattle on a small sustainable farm and think myself good with them.

In an open field I can move amidst the herd and walk out a particular cow if I want. I’ve been close enough to lend a good welcomed scratch from time to time. Cows don’t generally like to be petted.

I was hiking in middle California one night, near the timberline, above some steep grassy rangeland. The trail was overgrown; tall shrubs on both sides were thick and my headlamp didn’t illuminate but a few feet beyond the fringe.

I saw reflections in the eyes of a couple cows standing just off trail, chewing their cud. They spooked and started crashing – presumably blindly – through the brush.

Within moments another dozen cows, unseen, were to their feet and crashing too. They didn’t run away, but swarmed me in their confusion, sometimes checking each other in their mad scramble.

All of it I could hear, but all I saw were the flashing of their eyes and an occasional profile begin to form and then fade away. Several flashed across the trail before and behind.

There was nothing I could do but dim my headlamp and hike fast – sure I would be trampled any moment.

Eventually they were all behind me. I had run the gauntlet. I was shaking.

Most moving were the antics of spirited lizards, marmots with immense character and woodpeckers tapping trees in the near distance.

There was a mid-morning of memories that will stay with me longer than most. It was the Alpine Wilderness, in the Klamath National Forest of Northern California.

The Pacific Crest Trail cast along a wending, near horizontal path through a rough and steep scree slope.

I came around a bend, and saw grazing, at a rare tuft of verdant scruff, a young buck – a black-tail deer. His nascent antlers downy.

I said aloud “You’re beautiful,” surprised at the sound of my own voice, which I hadn’t heard in at least a day. Pausing in admiration I rested on my trekking poles, and considered our situation.

It was at least a quarter mile south to a spot where the deer or me might safely step off trail. And I knew, the chance the deer would follow me south to do so, was slim.

Certainly the deer wouldn’t brush shoulders with me while I passed. I had no idea what to expect from the trail ahead. And either of us breaking a leg to go around was my utmost concern.

So after a while I stepped forward and paused, and then again … and it seemed like Buck got the idea and he turned from me to meander up trail. I followed.

Neither of us rushed. For almost a mile we hiked together as such, he always 60 feet ahead, every now and then glancing back to be sure I hadn’t broken our agreement.

He bounded from the trail where we came over a saddle, but as I came up he still stood, facing me from a mossy clearing 20 feet away.

He leaned forward and tapped a front hoof and shook his head at me when I paused again, like he was hooking into a scrum.

I nodded, and continued my journey, leaving him to his. Jason Evans