When April's full moon comes calling and lights up the night, there is (or ought to be) tiny new grasses underfoot, the astringent scent of life-giving sap flowing through twigs and branches as the earth undertakes her reckless prodigal flaring into spring. This northern part of the world awakens slowly, and in April we northerners tend to go a little mad, cavorting like perfect ecstatic fools on the cusp between winter and spring as we wait for temperatures to rise and the landscape to come to life. In her resemblance to a great cosmic egg or seed, this month's full moon expresses the greening to come and the new life quickening in the earth far below her light.
A puckish and unpredictable thing is life in the great round and what I like to call "the matter of moons". One goes out faithfully with tripod and camera month after month, and she is always hoping to see the moon on her special night but can never really be sure - especially in springtime when the lady is concealed by rain clouds for days at a time. Last evening, Spencer and I were fortunate, and skies were clear for a brief interval - a little before nine, Luna rose over the bare trees, and we were both there to watch her climb. We had not been so fortunate in the wee hours of the morning. Before two o'clock, we wrapped up warmly and went outside to observe the lunar eclipse, but the skies were covered from horizon to horizon with storm clouds, and there was no moon to be seen, no spangly stars and no sign of the eclipse at all.
Around this moon time every year, I find myself all wrapped up in vague longings that evade description, wandering for hours in the woods and by local waters and reaching for something that can't be articulated in words or captured on a memory card. Some of the restlessness can be attributed to my being here all winter while family members, neighbors and friends rambled away to warmer climes, but the simple truth is that I too long to sprout leaves and burst into shaggy riotous bloom. The moon in her radiant fullness has a way of quieting my nebulous springtime longings, and sometimes old stones lull them too, as do little garden jungles of rain dappled leaves and flocks of Canada geese passing overhead on their way to the river. There's a gentle kind of wabi sabi melancholy in such yearnings that becomes stronger and more compelling with every passing year.
We also know this restless yearning moon as the: Ashes Moon, Big Spring Moon, Broken Snowshoe Moon, Budding Trees Moon, Bullhead Moon, Cherry Blossom Moon, Daisy Moon, Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Flower Moon, Fourth Moon, Frog Moon, Glittering Snow on Lake Moon, Grass Moon, Gray Goose Moon, Great Sand Storm Moon, Green Grass Moon, Growing Moon, Half Spring Moon, Hare Moon, Ice Breaking in the River Moon, Leaf Split Moon, Loon Moon, Maple Sap Boiling Moon, Moon of Greening Grass, Moon of Red Grass Appearing, Moon of the Big Leaves, Moon of the Red Grass Appearing, Moon of Windbreak, Moon When Geese Return in Scattered Formation, Moon When Nothing Happens, Moon When the Geese Lay Eggs, Moon When They Set Indian Corn, Moon, Pink Moon, Planter's Moon, Planting Corn Moon, Planting Moon, Poinciana Moon, Red Grass Appearing Moon, Ring Finger Moon, Snowdrop Moon, Snowshoe Breaking Moon, Spring Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Strawberry Moon, Strong Moon, Sugar Moon
As names go, I am rather fond of "Cherry Blossom Moon" and "Sugar Moon".
April 16, 2014
April 14, 2014
From our perch by a beaver pond on the Two Hundred Acre Wood, the two floating tumps way off in the distance looked like melting ice in the low light, but something about the scene and the two snowy white shapes didn't seem right. When one fluffy tump righted itself and looked over at us with a gimlet eye, we were delighted.
Holarctic swans occasionally put in an appearance in our part of the world, but it doesn't happen often, and we had never seen them in the highlands with our own eyes. The yellow eye lores (or patches) at the base of the bills were not visible in twilight, but these beautiful birds were "whistlers", and not members of the smaller Bewick's Swan tribe. Our moment by the pond was definitely what I like to call a "hallelujah moment".
The captured images would have been much clearer if I could have gotten closer to the swans or had a much longer lens, so after some thought, I have decided to find and put aside the lucre for a longer telephoto, one veritable cannon of a lens. There is a Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 super-telephoto in my future, and I could dance (or rather lurch about) just thinking about it. Who needs new spring clothes anyway?
April 13, 2014
April 11, 2014
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things.
Wendell Berry wrote of the indwelling balance, harmony and grandeur of the natural order as being "the grace of the world", and there is grace in every word he writes, a veritable cornucopia of it in his "Jayber Crow", a novel I am rereading at the moment and loving as much as I did in earlier readings.
Another of my favorite authors, Charles deLint, once described the great mystery at the heart of existence simply as "the Grace". No other word can even begin to approach the the wonder of the perfect round world in which we breathe and dwell and wander all our days — the wonder of the good dark earth under our feet, the water, rocks and trees all around us, the moon and stars overhead on clear nights and the clouds on overcast ones — books and music and magic and innumerable cups of tea, the company of good companions along the journey.
Alas, there is no poetry in motion here when it comes to the doddering scribe and photographer who inhabits this little corner of the blogging realm. Hiking boots, runners, sandals, "wellies" and bare feet are more my style than ballet shoes, and laying claim to any grace of movement at all (however brief) would be embroidering things beyond the fabric of belief and well into the realms of the fantastic and fabulous. Nevertheless, there is grace in this old life and all around it, a boundless grace of the wildest and most natural kind, and perhaps the one at the heart of existence of which Wendell Berry, Charles de Lint and others have written so eloquently now and again.
What I seek in my wanderings through spring rainstorms and power failures, across sunlit hills and in quiet moments by the beaver pond, is a whisper, a soupçon, a mere hint of the world's own indwelling grace, a fleeting poignant glimpse into the perfect untroubled heart of things. That grace is always out there somewhere waiting for me, and when I stumble into it, I too rest in the grace of the world, and am free. Oh, that I could express it as Wendell does..
April 10, 2014
And the long, low dingles that hide in the hills,
Where the ancient beeches are moist with buds
Over the pools and the whimpering rills;
And with her the mists, like dryads that creep
From their oaks, or the spirits of pine-hid springs,
Who hold, while the eyes of the world are asleep,
With the wind on the hills their gay revellings.
Down on the marshlands with flicker and glow
Wanders Will-o'-the-Wisp through the night,
Seeking for witch-gold lost long ago
By the glimmer of goblin lantern-light.
The night is a sorceress, dusk-eyed and dear,
Akin to all eerie and elfin things,
Who weaves about us in meadow and mere
The spell of a hundred vanished Springs.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
April 8, 2014
Rain, wet and fog, oilskins and shiny rubber boots and vibrant umbrellas blooming like peonies in the still darkened street, tall trees floating into view like the masts of wooden sailing ships and then disappearing again in the mist, the swish of early commuters wading through lovely deep puddles when they think nobody is looking, the soft growl of motor vehicles heading uptown for the day's toilings...
There's the smell of rain and wet earth through the kitchen window as I sip my mug of green tea this morning, the sound of branches in the garden shedding their cloaks of wetness, a choir of jubilant robins in the still bare overstory singing down more life giving precipitation. They have been back for a few days now, and nothing ever seems to bother them, even the snow blanketing everything when they arrived.
If I could climb the old maple, I would be perched right up there with the robins, trilling for a whole day like these fine soggy hours just unfolding.