Friday, February 24, 2017
She is a little weary of deep snow and icy cold, and at times, she is even a little tired of the color blue, no matter how intensely blue the blue happens to be.
It is at such times that something curved or fragile or delicately robed in snow shows up and begs rapt and focused attention, glossy bubbles suspended in the ice of the frozen creek, snow crystals frosting the evergreens over her head, an oak leaf in the trail at her feet, pine cones casting vivid shadows in pools of early morning sunlight.
Just when she decides that she will not sketch another icicle or take another photo of such things, another eloquent winter tableau presents itself to the eye. Small and perfect, complete within itself, it conveys an elemental peace and balance, lowers the blood pressure and stills the breathing, returns her eyes and focus to simplicity and grace and assent.
For a minute or two, her pain subsides into the background, and balance returns. It is a miracle that she is standing here at all, and her fleeting interval on the edge of the woods has to be enough. It is enough and more.
There are worlds great and small everywhere, worlds within and worlds without, and every one is a wonder to behold and remember and love with her eyes. Surely, she can do this for a little while longer.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
Margaret Atwood, The Moment
from Morning in the Burned House
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
A vaguely restless time, these last weeks of February. At night, there are dreams of wild orchids, trout lilies and columbines, sunlight filtering through the trees and songbirds caroling in the leafy canopy. In the wee hours of the morning, I wander the leafy understory, follow clouds across the western field, harken to bullfrogs in the beaver pond, bees in the wild apple trees by the fence.
By day, I measure icicles dangling from the roof, assess the strength of returning sunlight and the length of shadows in the landscape, watch as snowdrifts recede from favorite trails through the woods, leaving puffs of snow like cotton wool and a fine lacy fretwork behind as they go. Moving along, I find myself listening for the telltale sound of maple sap dripping sotto voce down tree trunks.
... and the birds. That gentle hoot is the unforgettable call of a Great Horned Owl (bubo virginianis) communicating with her mate - he is sitting on their nest in the old oak as she hunts nearby. Other monotonous (and repetitive) notes are the swooping courtship ballad of the Saw-Whet Owl (aegolius acadicus), that fierce little harbinger of the approaching maple sugaring season.
It is a few minutes before two in the morning as I tap this paragraph out. The waning crescent moon will not make its appearance for another hour or so, but there are other wonders to be viewed through the kitchen window as I hang out there with a mug of herbal tea. Planet Jupiter is high in the inkiness of the southern sky, and Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, dances almost directly below it along the ecliptic. The panorama is dazzling, and I forget the pain that woke me up an hour ago. The thought makes me smile.
Rambles are brief by necessity this winter, but I take them whenever I can. Snowy trees, tiny red buds and artfully frosted grasses beckon as I lurch about with field notebook and camera; light flickers through the bare trees and slants across my path. All my restlessness vanishes like smoke, and I rest easy in the moment, content just to be here and watching the day unfold. The particular feeling is a late winter Zen thing, and it is always an honored guest on the threshold.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
We are of the animal world. We are part of the cycles of growth and decay. Even having tried so hard to see ourselves apart, and so often without a love for even our own biology, we are in relationship with the rest of the planet, and that connectedness tells us we must reconsider the way we see ourselves and the rest of nature.
A change is required of us, a healing of the betrayed trust between humans and earth. Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time, and perhaps that stewardship is finally our place in the web of life, our work, our solution to the mystery of what we are.
Linda Hogan, from Dwelling: A Spiritual History of the Living World
Friday, February 17, 2017
Beyond the window is an ocean of deep, pillowy white that goes on forever and ever. Weary of ice and snow, she longs to have her morning tea on the veranda, but she knows that she will not be doing that for months. Given the snowfall this winter, we may not see the garden until the end of April. A little bright color right about now would be grand, and it would vastly appreciated too.
While pottering about in a local organic market, a tin bucket of tulips catches her eye, and she scoops up a large bunch in assorted colors, carrying them home in her arthritic paws as tenderly as if they were fledgling birds. The pinks, purples and yellows are fine stuff, but the scarlets are nothing short of amazing - they are attention grabbers of the first order.
Arrayed in an old glass vase (a flea market find from last summer), the glossy blooms and bright green leaves don't just light up the day - they light up just about everything else too. A single bloom would be enough, but a whole bouquet is almost indecently sumptuous.
She resolves to keep a cauldron, a pot, a tin, a bucket, a tankard or a vase of something flowering near the southern window. She thinks about how beautiful a single rose will look there come summer, and it seems to her that this is not just about a vase of tulips or a single rose, but about all the boundless gardens of the earth coming into riotous intoxicating bloom.