. . . I don't know what gladness is or where it comes from, this splitting open of the self. It takes me by surprise. Not an awareness of beauty and mystery, but beauty and mystery themselves, flooding into a mind suddenly without boundaries. Can this be gladness, to be lifted by that flood?
This is something that needs explaining, how light emerges from darkness, how comfort wells up from sorrow. The Earth holds every possibility inside it, and the mystery of transformation, one thing into another. This is the wildest comfort.
Kathleen Dean Moore, Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Frost and rain are in the forecast for today and they are certainly not unusual guests in late October, but there are also rumors of the first snowfall.
This would be a good day for staying warm and indoors: a fire in the fireplace downstairs, a good book, Bach or Mozart on the CD player and several pots of tea, a comfortable chair and Spencer napping on the rug nearby.
We can do this, and we should, but there is something grand and luminous about a Lanark field clad in the first snow of the season, and we long to see it. Boots and parka are waiting by the door, and my camera is anxious to be off. Big life stuff, or no big life stuff, it wlll be difficult to stay in.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Ah, sweet stillness... it's an old word dating from before 900CE, and it comes to us through the Middle English stilnesse and the Old English stilnes, both describing a state in which one is quiet, peaceful, balanced and motionless. There is also the Old Saxon and Old High German stilli, the Dutch stollen meaning "to curdle", and Sanskrit sthānús meaning "immobile".
It's difficult not to think about stillness at a time of year when wild cousins are heading south or finding nice warm caves and planning to sleep until springtime rolls around again. Birds such as geese, loons and the great herons fly south for the winter. Bears, frogs, hedgerows and old trees hibernate and dream their way through the long white season.
Implicit in this week's word are notions of tranquility, rest and connection, an inclusive flowing that takes in our befuddled human selves and the cosmos all around us. The late John Daido Loori wrote that every creature on the face of the earth seemed to know how to be quiet and still, but that humans seemed to have lost the ability to "be quiet, to simply be present in the stillness that is the basis of our existence." The mundane world is one (by and large) of noise, haste and stress, and we need stillness if we are to complete our journey, creatively, fruitfully, and without going completely bonkers.
If this place is about anything at all, it is about stillness. Woodland wanderings, sheaves of mediocre photos, written meanderings in the wee hours of the morning, all are merely shaky efforts to be still and be present, located in every breath I take and rooted in the world where I was planted this time around. Geri Larkin calls the process "stumbling toward enlightenment" and that is what it is—a slow lurch toward a place of joyous being that evades description and feels just like home. She also wrote that it is our job in life to dance, to dance with our whole breath, our whole body, the whole world, the whole universe. Though this part of the journey be rough going, there is joy around here, and there is a fair bit of dancing (sometimes just lurching about) too.
Once in a while, something luminous shows itself in a few bars of music, through a cluster of trees or as a dancing presence between one raindrop and the next. Call it kensho or momentary enlightenment—there's elemental magic at work at such times. It's being in tune with clouds and water and hillsides strewn with rainbow-colored leaves. It's Vivaldi's The Four Seasons or Bach's Cello Suite No.1 on the CD player as the day begins and amber cups of Darjeeling at sundown. It's the blue pottery bowl of Macintosh apples on the sideboard, rosy and fragrant and a perfect expression of autumn in all her glory. I can almost hear the little dears singing, and I am certain they dance when I am not looking.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
Pesha Joyce Gertler
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Drifting veils of mist, frosted reeds rustling in the shallows and maple trees turning red along the shore, all of it reflected in the still water below. What more does one need on the trailing edge of day?
A solitary loon calls somewhere in the murky distance, and the three watchers turn to follow its voice. The great northern diver is invisible in the fog, but its haunting cry across the lake is sweet music in their ears. They will carry the song home with them in their pockets, remember it note for note and revisit it in their dreams all winter long.
A heron or three in the shallows would be grand, but that is all. Everything else is already here. Everything is liminal and magical and perfect, just as it is.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
In October, Lady Moon is often veiled by drifting clouds, and sometimes we don't see her for several nights in a row. If Luna seems spooky at this time of year, it is not surprising, given the inky darkness into which she rises, and the fact that Samhain (or Halloween) is only two weeks away. Although this month's full moon is no brighter than the other moons in a calendar year, she seems so because of the position of the ecliptic in the sky in late autumn.
This is a splendid month for moonhearts, stargazers and backyard astronomers, for we are entering the fabulous region of the winter stars. There is more darkness in which to engage in sky watching, and if one doesn't mind staying up all night or rising early, there are wonders to be seen from one horizon to the other. I can't begin to catalogue them all, but I just have to mention the annual Orionid meteor showers. Throwaway children of Halley's comet, the Orionids have already begun, but they won't peak until October 22 when the earth moves directly into the densest region of the comet's ancient particle field. There is still time to observe the grandest light show of them all, a shower of falling stars in the dark hours before dawn.
For the ancient Celts, the last day of October signified summer's end and the onset of long nights and deep cold. As Himself, Spencer and I shivered in the garden last evening there were no two ways about it - summer has crept away, late autumn has settled in, and winter is not far off. Oh, there are splendid sunny days now and then, but nights are chilly, and the wind has icy fingers after dark. Falling leaves and bare branches form an austere architectural backdrop for the moon in her rising and setting.
Lady Moon is a prominent motif in Halloween folklore, and I'm always on the lookout for new appearances. Witches on broomsticks, bats, dancing skeletons, jack-o'-lanterns, ghosts, spectral owls and crooked trees - all make their appearances silhouetted against ghostly moons and deep darkness. The queen of night will be waning when Halloween arrives this year. She will be two weeks past full and heading for the fruitful darkness where she rests before journeying back to radiant completeness in the great cauldron of night.
We also know this moon as the: Acorns Cached Moon, Banksia Moon, Bare Branches Moon, Big Chestnut Moon, Big Wind Moon, Blackberry Moon, Blood Moon, Chrysanthemum Moon, Corn Ripening Moon, Drying Grass Moon, Falling Leaves Moon, Frosty Moon, Hallows Moon, Joins Both Sides Moon, Kantlos Moon, Kindly Moon, Leaf Falling Moon, Leaf Dance Moon, Leaves Change Color Moon, Maple Moon, Michaelmas Daisy Moon, Middle-finger Moon, Migration Moon, Moon When Birds Fly South, Moon of Poverty, Moon When Geese Leave, Moon of Changing Seasons, Moon of Harvesting, Moon When Deer Rut, Moon of Acorn Gathering, Moon When Corn Is Taken In, Moon of Falling Leaves, Moon That Turns the Leaves White, Moon of First Frost, Moon When They Store Food in Caches, Moon of Long Hair, Moon When Quilling and Beading Are Done, Moon When the Water Begins to Freeze on the Edge of Streams, Nut Moon, Pekelanew Moon, Raking Moon, Samhain Moon, Shedding Moon, Small Trees Freeze Moon, Song Moon, Striped Gopher Looks Back Moon, Strong Moon, Ten Colds Moon, Travel in Canoes Moon, Trees Felled by Fire at Butt Moon, Trout Moon, Turkey Moon, Vintage Moon, White Frost on Grass Ground Moon, Wild Turkeys Moon, Wilted Moon, Wine Moon, Winter Coming Moon.