28 November, 2014

Friday Ramble - In the Blue

On late November walks in the village or the woods, simple truth sometimes comes flooding into one's senses like the wild north wind skirling through telephone wires or a river singing under its comforter of ice. Even the sleeping trees seem to echo that truth as we look up at their bare arches against the sky. However one feels about the long white season, being here and truly present in it is something vast and humbling, all at the same time.

When it falls, early snow is like popcorn, intensely blue and spangled like stardust, moist and coming to earth in clouds of huge fluffy flakes.  It fills the garden in its whirling dance and seems to give off its own clear and elemental light.  Snow and blustering go together hand in hand, and the north wind plays its own blithe games with the white stuff, sculpting artful drifts and rippled slopes and even a spiral or two, here and there.

It's the light that grabs us every time and in every season. No two snowflakes are alike of course, but who knew that they are filled with light?  The thousand-and-one shades of blue on offer among our native hills are intoxicating, and the taste of fresh snow on the tongue is something to sing about.
The two cannot be seen, but the scribe and her canine companion are present in the morning's image - two thoughtful entities wandering along in the blue and watching the day unfold. This week, they have much to be thoughtful about, for the person they love most in the whole wide world will be undergoing cancer surgery in a few weeks, and their loving thoughts are wrapped around him.

27 November, 2014

Thursday Poem - Thanksgiving

I have been trying to read
the script cut in these hills—
a language carved in the shimmer of stubble
and the solid lines of soil, spoken
in the thud of apples falling
and the rasp of corn stalks finally bare.

The pheasants shout it with a rusty creak
as they gather in the fallen grain,
the blackbirds sing it
over their shoulders in parting,
and gold leaf illuminates the manuscript
where it is written in the trees.

Transcribed onto my human tongue
I believe it might sound like a lullaby,
or the simplest grace at table.
Across the gathering stillness
simply this: "For all that we have received,
dear God, make us truly grateful."

Lynn Ungar (from Blessing the Bread)

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 November, 2014

Pools of Morning Light

The morning sun sparks pale gold in a pewter sky, shining through the spruce grove where I am standing and shivering.  There is hoarfrost on the trees over my head, a thin skim of glassy ice on the puddle in front of my wandering feet.  Sunlight claims the ice crystals on the surface, making them twinkle and glitter and flash by turns.  The chancy meeting of the elements forges a fine clear abstract painting, but everything else is muted and hazy this morning.  The damp cold goes right through to the bones.

November finds a northern dweller perched like an indomitable bird, perhaps a nuthatch, between Samhain (or Halloween) and the frantic scurryings of Yuletide. Migratory birds are long gone for the most part, although a few geese remain in the fields and will be here for some time yet. The landscape is a pallid sepia study carpeted with crunchy field grasses and crowned from here to there with skeletal whiskery trees..

An excoriating north wind roars across the hills and whips through the hollows, scouring the earth, driving fallen leaves, pebbles and twigs before it.  Rocks at the bottom of the gorge are lashed with torrents of water a few degrees above freezing, the granite lavishly coated, shiny and sporting the season's first slick shards of lacy ice. Winter weather is raw and wild, and it's exhilarating "stuff" when one is in the right frame of mind and wearing the right gear for rambling about.

Here we go again, another long white season in which the artist dresses up in every warm garment she possesses, slings a camera around her neck, fills her pockets with peripheral devices and notebooks, then goes off to plumb the mysteries of winter.  She can do this, and really, she is looking forward to it, at least for now. When she returns home later, she will regretfully move autumn's vibrant images from her computer onto an archival DVD, and she will create a new folder called "Winter".

24 November, 2014

23 November, 2014

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

Wherever you are is always the right place. There is never a need to fix anything, to hitch up the bootstraps of the soul and start at some higher place. Start right where you are.
Julia Cameron

22 November, 2014

21 November, 2014

Friday Ramble - Dazzled at Sundown

Falling snow, then rain and freezing rain, then snow again... At sunset, the world is rendered in dusky blues and taupes with flashes of deep red, burgundy and stormy purple. The setting sun is so bright it hurts the eyes. Sketches and paintings executed in such light look like photos; photos captured in the same light look like sketches and paintings.  One could be standing almost anywhere, but whoever she is, and wherever she happens to be, she is dancing in liminal light, and she knows it.

What is odd on our winter rambles, pleasing and enchanting too, are the elements that don't invite a thoughtful glance at other times and in other seasons: fence posts leaning their way along the hill and wandering away into the distance, the cedar they are made of, its lichens, weathered texture and dry fragrance. Furrows in the enclosed fields are as hard as iron under our boots.  Dried mulleins, milkweeds and grasses blow to and fro in the north wind, and they crackle in their oscillation.

Bare trees along the trail into the deep woods arch overhead and flash silver as we trudge into the forest with toboggans to fill wild bird feeders and leave apples for the deer. Sometimes the frozen trees and their dangling icicles ring like bells; at other times, they clatter like cymbals as we go along.

Something wonderful is present and waiting patiently to be known, but whatever that something is, it has yet to reveal itself in the dazzling sundown light. Perhaps the truth is that we simply don't have the eyes to see it or the wits to comprehend what is right in front of us and being held out in offering.

Standing here at sunset, we are all wrapped up in wonder, marveling at the falling sun, the noctilucent clouds and sky overhead, the earth under our wandering feet, everything around us. It is bitterly cold and windy on the trailing edges of a winter day, but the feelings of delight prevail, and they go right to our hearts and lungs, our blood and bones.  Everything is real, and everything is connected, and everything is plain old absolutely gorgeous.  Wow...

20 November, 2014

Thursday Poem - Sometimes I Am Startled Out of Myself

like this morning, when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling,
the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place.
Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold
for a brief while, then lose it all each November.
Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst
weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves
come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields,
land on the pond with its sedges and reeds.
You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find
shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks.
All we do is pass through here, the best way we can.
They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again.

Barbara Crooker
(from Radiance)