Tuesday, May 23, 2017

On the Edge, Precariously

Hoping for a little sunlight and thinking wistfully about blooming waterlilies, she lays hands on her hip waders and her canvas helmet with its arty mosquito netting, then dons her tatty old photographer's vest.

Feeling (albeit briefly) like a hero in an old African movie, perhaps Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen, she potters hopefully off to the beaver pond with a camera slung around her neck and her pockets full of lenses and filters.  Spencer, ever a fan of ponds, shorelines, reeds and lovely, dark, squishy mud, potters along at her side.  Did I mention that one pocket in the vest is full of doggy biscuits? Shhhhhhhh, she is not supposed to be wobbling precariously about on such an uneven shoreline.  She is not supposed to be carrying a camera. Come to think of it, she is not supposed to be here at all. Losing her balance and falling (most inelegantly) right into the pond is a definite possibility.

There is no sunshine in her favorite place, just veils of drifting fog, a web of dreaming trees on the far shore, gently rustling reeds and quiet ripples around the toes of my rubber footwear. A single heron stands at the far end of the pond like a statue, and we can see it vaguely, but the great bird declines to be recorded on a memory card and floats majestically off into the mist.  Occasionally, there is the quacking of unseen ducks, the slow lap of beavers swimming somewhere nearby, a sonorous chorus of horn-throated frogs improvising melodies among the reeds, bulrushes, and other watery grasses.

The place is nebulous and ethereal and perfect in every way.  Who needs sunlight and waterlilies on such a morning as this? Ponderings about health issues, the meaning of life and my relevance in the greater scheme of things simply seem to fall away.  Weeks or months or years from now, I will look at the morning's photos and (hopefully) remember how magical this soggy, foggy May morning was.

quiet pond
dog jumps in

(with apologies to Matsuo Basho)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

Ten times a day something happens to me like this - some strengthening throb of amazement - some good empathic ping and swell.

This is the first, the wildest and wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.

Mary Oliver

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Greater Woodland Whites

Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Ramble - Aestival

This week's word is one of my favorites, hailing from French, thence the Late Latin aestīvālis and earlier Latin aestās meaning summer or summery.  Both forms are cognate with the Sanskrit इन्द्धे (inddhé) meaning to light or set on fire. At the root of our wordy explorations  is the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) form h₂eydʰ- meaning heat, fire or to burn.

In the science of zoology, aestival refers to the tendency of all living creatures to be somewhat sleepy and slow moving in the heat of summer, and botanists use the word to describe the arrangement of organs or components in a flower bud.

I once thought that the word siesta (referring to a leisurely nap after lunch) was kin, but I discovered a year or two ago that its roots are in the Latin sexta meaning the sixth hour of the day (midday).  The two words sound similar, but as far as I know, they are not related in any way.

June is not far off, and this week's word is one of my favorites for the green and gold season at the heart of the calendar year.  Of course, summer is a fine word too, but somehow or other, it doesn't hold a candle or even a tiny wooden match to the frothy perfumed magnificence of the golden season that reigns so briefly here in the sub-Arctic climes of Canada. Aestival says it all, and I love the shape of the word on my tongue.

I say "aestival" and its sibilance summons up images of outdoor festivals and al fresco celebrations, shaggy gardens of scarlet poppies and towering purple lupins, trees filled with singing birds, bees in the orchard, roses sweeter than any vineyard potion, perfect sunsets across the lake shared with stately herons.  It's all gold, and it's all good. Here comes June in all her glory, and I am ready.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Poem - Questions Before Dark

Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun's midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?

Jeanne Lohmann
(from The Light of Invisible Bodies)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Froth and Fragrance

Suddenly, the whole village is in bloom, and after a long hard winter, we are all overjoyed. I have to wait an hour or two in the morning though, wait for the right light in which capture the fragrant, frothy magnificence of the crabapple blooms with my macro lens and share it here.

It isn't warm enough for honey bees and bumble girls yet, but it will be warmer later in the week, and I am looking forward to seeing them. The bumble girls won't be the only ones dancing when the time comes, and they will be happy. I am planting them a fabulous garden this year.

Monday, May 15, 2017