Monday, July 24, 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

Stars, too, were time travelers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries—but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.
Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Ramble - Sticky

Sticky is a fine word for late July and early August days, for late summer's puckish "toing and froing" between sunshine and rain, steamy heat and pleasantly cool temperatures, weather moderate and weather extreme. This summer is turning out to be a particularly unpredictable state of affairs, and it is a glue pot or  "sticky wicket" at the best of times.

This week’s mucilaginous word offering hails from the Old English stician  meaning “to pierce, stab, transfix”" as well as “to adhere, be embedded, stay fixed or be fastened”. Then there are the Proto-Germanic stik, Old Saxon stekan, Dutch stecken, Old High German stehhan and German stechen all meaning much the same thing.  Most of this week's word kin are rooted in the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) form steig meaning "to affix, point or be pointed".  The Latin instigare (to goad) and stinguere (to incite or impel), the Greek stizein (to prick or puncture) and Old Persian tigra (sharp or pointed) are cognates, and for some strange reason, so is the Russian stegati (to quilt).

Mornings here are cool and shady, and they are lovely times for walks or hanging out in the garden.  By ten, we three (Himself, Beau and I) are happy to be indoors and looking out, rather than actually being out. At twilight, off we go again, and we potter around the village, peering into trees for little green acorns, ripening plums and flowers blooming unseen in leafy depths like late summer jewels.

On early walks, hedgerows are festooned with spider webs, and the strands of silk are strung with beads of pearly dew, looking for all the world like fabulous neck ornaments. Summer webs here are, for the most part, the work of the orb weaver known as the writing spider, corn spider or common garden spider (Argiope aurantia). Artfully spun from twig to twig, the spider's creations are sublime.  No two are the same, and they are often several feet from one edge to the other.

As I peered at a web one morning this week, I remembered the friend (now moved away) who used to "do" web walks with me and occasionally rang the doorbell at sunrise when she discovered a real whopper and just had to share it. I thought too of the metaphor of Indra's jeweled web and how we are all connected in the greater scheme of things. Emaho! Sticky or not, it's all good.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday Poem - Epiphany

Lynn Schmidt says
     she saw You once as prairie grass,
     Nebraska prairie grass,

she climbed out of her car on a hot highway,
leaned her butt on the nose of her car,
looked out over one great flowing field,
stretching beyond her sight until the horizon came:
vastness, she says,
responsive to the slightest shift of wind,
          full of infinite change,
          all One.

She says when she can't pray
She calls up Prairie Grass.

Pem Kremer

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Monarch on the Trail

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
There have not been many Monarch butterflies about this year so far, and I did a spirited, wobbly dance on the weekend when a single glorious specimen flew past my freckled nose and alighted in a stand of late blooming milkweed near the trail into the woods - in my excitement, I almost dropped the camera.

A few minutes later, a single cicada started to broadcast its call for a mate from somewhere higher on the ridge, then another and another and another. Again and again, their tymbal muscles contracted and relaxed, the vibrations resulting in what is, to me anyway, summer's most resonant and engaging musical score.  Time stood still as I listened to that poignant and hopeful chorus.

There are moments one remembers in the depths of winter, and this was one of them.  How sweet it was to listen to cicadas rumble and rasp in the trees over my head, to watch a small, wonder flutter and swoop through fields of waving milkweed on stained glass wings. Life simply doesn't get any better than this, and it doesn't get any wilder either.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

I breathe in the soft, saturated exhalations of cedar trees and salmonberry bushes, fireweed and wood fern, marsh hawks and meadow voles, marten and harbor seal and blacktail deer. I breathe in the same particles of air that made songs in the throats of hermit thrushes and gave voices to humpback whales, the same particles of air that lifted the wings of bald eagles and buzzed in the flight of hummingbirds, the same particles of air that rushed over the sea in storms, whirled in high mountain snows, whistled across the poles, and whispered through lush equatorial gardens…air that has passed continually through life on earth. I breathe it in, pass it on, share it in equal measure with billions of other living things, endlessly, infinitely.
Richard Nelson, The Island Within

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Ramble - Collide/Collision

The word collision comes from the Latin collisio, collidere meaning "to dash or strike together, a compound of com meaning together and lædere meaning to strike". For some reason, my mind connects to the unrelated but similar sounding Latin laetare, the singular imperative form of laetari meaning "to be joyful".

We think of collisions as violent interactions, but it is not always so. The gentle chatter of wind chimes, the  striking of a clapper against the wall of its bell, the creak of an old mill wheel as water, wood and stone converse within its slow, ceaseless and seemingly effortless rounding, the joyous meeting of rocks and falling water in a waterfall, willows on a ridge in flowing Tai Chi movement as they talk with the wind on a summer day - all are collisions of a sort, but interactions (or contentions) without violence for the most part.

Wind horses (prayer flags) once graced our garden, and I am remembering them this morning as I tap away here. It is most likely the lingering legacy (or residue, another fine word) of many years spent toiling away in the entrails of large urban corporations, but I still have to remind myself at times to treat life's encounters as opportunities for listening, flowing and peaceful connection rather than endless tourneys of collision, contention and at times, blazing fireworks. The prayer flags were excellent reminders until they came apart, and it will not be long until another set flutter from the eaves behind the little blue house in the village.

The task is surrendering to life and the wind and learning how to ride them, how to bend and flow like wind horses, bamboo or willows rather than treating everything as occasions for shouting, head banging and collision. Bamboo doesn't grow this far north, but my short mantra for the ongoing exercise is "bamboo". Between health issues and the other "big life stuff" of the last year or two, there have been many times when I trotted out the mantra and used it - ardently.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Poem -Treading the Gate

Approach the gate as a pilgrim, a seeker,
wear sturdy boots for walking,
go cloaked and hooded against the wind,
blackthorn staff and lantern in hand,
an abundance of candles in your pack
for the long journey ahead.

Bring gifts and votive offerings for those who
dwell beyond the ancient gate, bundles
of sage, clear water, kindling, earth and salt,
bring flasks of tea, incense and bread,
tales and laughter to share around the fire
with those you will meet along the way.

Travel light and make your journey by the moon,
taking the owls, true kindred, as your fierce
and tender companions, feel their breath
along your own wings, share in their dark
and mindful wisdom as you flow.

Let the song you sing as you are questing
be your own sweet music, and the stories
you spin by the fire in the nights ahead be the
narratives of your own wild and shining life, this
journey you are making into an unknown land.

Listen to the night and be content, for you are not alone —
around you is a vast and singing throng,
the very stars are singing with you as you go.


This was written at the gate of a year long past, the words emerging from my sconce
almost entirely as they appear here.  They are good words for journeying, and
I am surprised I have not posted them here in the last year or two.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lilies of the Day

Day Lilies (Hemerocallis spp.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Thunder Moon of July

Shaggy gardens and hedgerows of maturing rosehips, fields of hay and ripening orchards, bees humming in the clover, the daisies and the goldenrod.

July's full moon is the second of the four "gathering" moons that grace the interval between June and September. The Summer Solstice has passed and daylight hours north of the equator are already waning.  It is still summer by any definition we can come up with, and it's a festive time - skies (hopefully) vividly blue and flooded with sunshine by day, deep violet and star spangled by night. This is turning out to be a wet summer, and every smudge of azure, cobalt or cerulean over our heads is something to crow about.

Images captured on full moon nights sometimes resemble paintings when they are uploaded into the computer, and no matter how often that happens, it always comes as a surprise.  There is something about the velvety dome of a fine summer night that lends itself to lofty thoughts of journeying and exploration, to broad and sweeping brush strokes, to sky sailing galleons, airborne dragon boats and hot air balloons.  Being out under a summer moon conveys a sense of wonder, grandeur and connection with the universe that is hard to describe in words - as the late Carl Sagan wrote so eloquently:

"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Not long ago, I scribbled a note to myself, a sticky mauve reminder to remember Carl Sagan's words and the star stuff within.  They are comforting on days when health concerns seize the upper hand and leave me feeling somewhat fragile, crotchety and despondent.  The other uplifting thing to do (of course) is to mount a macro lens on the camera, grab notebook and pencil and go out to the woods. Cassie and Spencer are still with us in spirit, but now it is Beau who is rambling along with us and learning to love the Two Hundred Acre Wood.

We also know this magical moon as the: Blackberry Moon, Blessing Moon, Blueberry Moon, Buck Moon, Claim Song Moon, Corn Moon, Crane Moon, Daisy Moon, Fallow Moon, Feather Moulting Moon, Flying Moon, Grass Cutter Moon, Ground Burning Moon, Hay Moon, Heat Moon, Horse Moon, Humpback Salmon Return to Earth Moon, Hungry Ghost Moon, Index Finger Moon, Larkspur Moon, Lightning Moon, Little Harvest Moon, Little Moon of Deer Horns Dropping off, Little Ripening Moon, Lotus Flower Moon, Meadow Moon, Manzanita Ripens Moon, Mead Moon, Midsummer Moon, Middle Moon, Middle of Summer Moon, Moon of Claiming, Moon of the Young Corn, Moon of Fledgling Hawk, Moon of Much Ripening, Moon of the Home Dance, Moon of the Middle Summer, Moon of Ripeness, Moon When Cherries Are Ripe, Moon When the Buffalo Bellow, Moon When People Move Camp Together, Moon When Limbs of Are Trees Broken by Fruit, Moon When Squash Are Ripe and Indian Beans Begin to Be Edible, Moon When Ducks Begin to Malt, Mountain Clover Moon, Peaches Moon, Raspberry Moon, Red Berries Moon, Red looming Lilies Moon, Return from Harvest Moon, Ripe Corn Moon, Ripening Moon, Rose Moon, Salmon Go up the Rivers in a Group Moon, Seventh Moon, Smokey Moon, Strong Sun Moon, Summer Moon, Sun House Moon, Warming Sun Moon, Water Lily Moon, Wattle Moon, Wort Moon.

As names go, I am fond of Blessing Moon, Blackberry Moon and Meadow Moon, but with all the storms this summer, the name Thunder Moon says it best.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

The bigness of the world is redemption. Despair compresses you into a small space, and a depression is literally a hollow in the ground. To dig deeper into the self, to go underground, is sometimes necessary, but so is the other route of getting out of yourself, into the larger world, into the openness in which you need not clutch your story and your troubles so tightly to your chest. Being able to travel in both ways matters, and sometimes the way back into the heart of the question begins by going outward and beyond. This is the expansiveness that comes literally in a landscape or that tugs you out of yourself in a story.

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Friday, July 07, 2017

Friday Ramble - Entelechy

This week's word is entelechy, and a lovely summery word it is. Word and concept were coined by Aristotle, springing from the Late Latin entelecheia, thence the Greek entélos meaning "complete, finished, perfect”, and télos meaning end, fruition, accomplishment, plus ékhō meaning simply "to have".

Aristotle defined entelechy as "having one's end within", and he used the word to describe conditions and processes by which all things attain their highest and most complete expression. French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest as well as a renowned paleontologist, geologist and physicist, described entelechy as "something inside you like a butterfly is inside the caterpillar".

Think of entelechy as the prime motivation or dynamic purpose within something, the potential within a nut or acorn to grow into a tree (have always had a "thing" about acorns and oak trees), the directive within a bulb to sprout after a long cold winter and burst into flower, the desire within a lotus seed sleeping in the silty depths of a pond to awaken and make its way to the surface, blooming when it comes into the presence of light.  It is the possibility encoded in each of us at birth to become fully and completely ourselves and reach enlightenment, whatever form that enlightenment might take for us as individuals. In my own mind, I think of entelechy as the instruction to "go forth and bloom".

OK, the enlightenment may not come in this lifetime, and some of us have a long way to go (thinking of myself here), but we are on our way, and along the winding trail before us are nuggets of wisdom, wild knowing and shy discernment. To use the words of Emily Dickinson, we "dwell in Possibility", although we manage to forget it most of the time. Here is another one of those seeds of truth about which I need reminding now and again. My forgetfulness and constant need for reminders makes me crotchety and impatient sometimes, but that is part of the process too.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Thursday Poem - Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Mary Oliver from Thirst

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Sweet July

Ah, sweet July, great rounds of baled hay in the eastern Ontario highlands, deer and wild turkeys feeding under the trees at dawn and dusk, shadows stretching long skinny fingers across farm fields at the end of the day, the setting sun viewed through strands of ripening timothy, alfalfa and tall white bush clover...

The shadows slanting across pastures grow longer as days grow shorter, and as if to compensate for waning daylight hours, northern sunsets turn intense: fiery gold, inky blue and purple skies, perfect molten light and technicolor clouds. The evening sun flames amazement as it drops below the horizon.

I lean against a fence at sunset, and my camera and lens can scarcely take in all the riches on offer.  Every sunrise and every sunset dazzles the eyes, and the rising moon is as lustrous as a radiant pearl, seems lit from within.  I know the moon has no light of her own and borrows it from the sun, but it always seems otherwise at this time of the year. Health stuff or no health stuff, just how lucky can one old hen be? This fabulous light is enough to make one swoon in delight.

A very happy Fourth of July to everyone!