Clouds are flowing in the river, waves are flying in the sky.
Life is laughing in a pebble. Does a pebble every die?
Flowers grow out of the garbage, such a miracle to see.
What seems dead and what seems dying makes for butterflies
Life is laughing in a pebble, flowers bathe in morning dew.
Dust is dancing in my footsteps and I wonder who is who.
Clouds are flowing in the river, clouds are drifting in my tea,
On a never-ending journey, what a miracle to be!
May 23, 2013
May 21, 2013
Nights have been cool here, and dragonflies were a little late in appearing, but they are here at last, and in legions. At some time during the last few days, the dragonflies of the Lanark highlands began to emerge, and the first of the season were out and about during our pottering last weekend.
In darkness, the naiads (nymphs) climbed out of streams and ponds and affixed themselves to nearby saplings and twigs. Clinging to their airy perches, they breathed in and out in the evening air, and their transformation into adults began. Existing exoskeletons opened under the sustained pressure of heightened blood pressure and a deep resonant breathing rather like meditating. Newly fledged dragonflies climbed out of the outgrown skins and up into the night like fragile wraiths.
The emerged adults (or tenerals) clung to chosen twigs as their soft new exoskeletons and legs firmed up and took on characteristic species markings and colors. Their untried wings were folded meditatively together, becoming glossy and iridescent and strong enough for flying - toward the end of the metamorphosis, the wings opened and moved outward into the classic extended dragonfly posture that distinguishes dragonflies from their exquisite damselfly kin. As the sun climbed above the horizon, the newborn dragonflies arose in glistening clouds and launched themselves skyward on their maiden flight.
It's an event to be treasured, this hopeful uprising of newborn dragonflies at sunrise - it's a moment of elemental grace in a world that often seems to have lost its way and gone mad in its wanderings. It's a reminder, and I need such reminders often.
This dear little wonder is (I think) is a male Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura). There was a brisk wind on the western hill, so the photos are not nearly as clear as I would like them to be, but here is one of the first dragons of the season for all that.
May 19, 2013
Dryad's Saddle or Pheasant's Back Mushroom
One goes off to the forest in May in search of early orchids and encounters these fetching fungi instead. It's always a treat to find such arty structures, and they pop out of the woodwork around the same time as morels do, sometimes growing quite large - well over a foot across. This one was growing out of an elm stump along the trail into the deep woods, and it could be seen from quite a distance because of its tawny ochre coloring.
The mushrooms are a species of bracket fungus, and their common name derives from European mythological tradition which held that the fey woodland beings called dryads found the growths comfortable and liked to ride them. Do the saddles develop legs and canter off with their tiny riders when nobody is looking? As for the second name, they do look rather like the mottled feathering on a pheasant's back.
Tough in their maturity (rather like me, I suppose), the "saddles" are deliciously edible when young and tender, and they smell somewhat like watermelons, apparently taste like them too when raw. I haven't done it, but apparently one can make a lovely stiff creamy thick paper out of the fibres. Since all the specimens I have located so far are old and stringy, I haven't tried eating them - simply like them for their shape (kind of like the starship Enterprise), their vivid earthy hues, and the fact that they show up like technicolor balloons on stumps and among fallen trees.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
To trace the history of a river, or a raindrop, as John Muir would have done, is also to trace the history of the soul, the history of the mind descending and arising in the body. In both we constantly seek and stumble on divinity, which, like the cornice feeding the lake and the spring becoming a waterfall, feeds, spills, falls, and feeds itself over and over again.
Gretel Ehrlich, Sisters of the Earth
The ancient Irish bards knew the Salmon of Knowledge as the giver of all life's wisdom. In the salmon's leap of understanding like a leap of faith, we can see ourselves "in our element," immersed in the river of life. The cycle of the salmon's journey reminds us that all rivers flow to the same sea.
Lynn Noel, Voyages: Canada's Heritage Rivers
I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.
The word river comes to us through the good offices of the Middle English and Anglo-Norman rivere and the Vulgar Latin riparia, thence the proper Latin riparius and ripa all meaning "of a bank" or simply "bank". The word's closest kin is the adjective riparian, and we use it to describe the verdant lands along natural waterways and those who live there too. To be a riparian is a fine thing.
How can one not think of rivers on a day in springtime when the sky is blue overhead, and the rivers of the Lanark Highlands are running free and singing again? In their remote cedared coves and the quiet fields of their beginning places, a thousand and one northern waterways have been liberated from the long white season and are lifting their wild voices in the sunlight.
The awakened waters sparkle like sapphires in the cool morning light, reflections of blue sky and golden clouds filling every pool and eddy; lambent moons round and perfect as they pour their light across quiet rivers in hidden highland places after dark. Lone voices and choirs, ballads, symphonies and oratorios, there is greening and rebirth in every note being sung, and what a metaphor for life and journeying! If I had been given the privilege of granting my own name, that name would probably have been "River".
Think of life and the cosmos as a great river flowing on and on: clouds and stars streaming over our heads on winter nights, concealed waters flowing along right underneath our feet, rain, ice and snow in season, the tides and currents of the oceans, the salty life-giving rivers of blood singing through our veins, Mother Earth in her perfect effortless ebb and flow.
No matter where we land up living out our days, we are never far from rivers, and they are the perfect motif for this earthbound journey we are all on together. They run right through our lives, and if we are fortunate, we will come to know many in a single lifetime: to understand their ancient language and cadence, sense their ebb and flow, plumb the mysteries of their currents and eddies and learn their rumbling chants and fluid harmonies — when we are so blessed, the canticles of the great rivers become the music of our journey.
May 16, 2013
Like wind - In it, with it, of it.
Of it just like a sail, so light and strong
that, even when it is bent flat,
it gathers all the power of the wind
without hampering its course.
Like light - In light, lit through by light,
transformed into light.
Like the lens which disappears
into the light it focuses.
Like wind. Like light.
Just this - on these expanses,
on these heights.
Just this - on these expanses,
on these heights.
from Vägmärken (Markings)
resting easy in poetry