Monday, October 12, 2015

Thanksgiving On the Trail

It is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada, and a leisurely ramble in the woods is a long standing tradition in our house.  Happy Thanksgiving from the three of us, and our heartfelt thanks for walking these paths with us.  Many sunlit (and leaf strewn) autumn trails to you and your own hallowed clan.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

There is no mystery in this association of woods and otherworlds, for as anyone who has walked the woods knows, they are places of correspondence, of call and answer. Visual affinities of color, relief and texture abound. A fallen branch echoes the deltoid form of a streambed into which it has come to rest. Chrome yellow autumn elm leaves find their color rhyme in the eye-ring of the blackbird. Different aspects of the forest link unexpectedly with each other, and so it is that within the stories, different times and worlds can be joined.
Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Friday, October 09, 2015

Friday Ramble - Oscillation

This week's word doesn't turn up often in conversation, but I like the sound of it, and it has an interesting history, possibly going back to the Latin oscillum, meaning "small mouth".  In Georgics, Virgil used the Latin oscillum to describe a mask of the god Dionysus/Bacchus dangling in a sacred grove and dancing about in the wind.  From the original Latin noun  came a verb in the same language describing something moving back and forth like a pendulum, a set of wind chimes or a child's swing. Then along came the verb scillti to describe the action of rotating from side to side. At the end of our wordy exploration lies this morning's noun (first seen in 1658) and its verb form oscillate, both connoting swinging movement of some kind.

Here is a gathering of vowels and consonants with a fabulous trail and origins both mythic and intriguing.  Encountering the word in print or hearing it spoken aloud, my thoughts do a bunk and wander away from the present book or conversation and off to the ancient Roman countryside,  Who would ever have guessed that vineyards and grapey Bacchanalian doings are associated with the simple act of something swinging to and fro in the breeze?

The weather here has been erratic in the last week or so, swinging (er oscillating) wildly between blue skies and rain, deliciously mild temperatures and icy cold, brilliant sunlight and whole days of murky twilight. As I tap away here, it is raining, and beyond the windows are heaps of sodden leaves, sodden artifacts from last night's wild "toing and froing" from one end of the weather pendulum's arc (or oscillation) to the other. We call such a sweep its "amplitude", arising from the Latin amplitudo (or amplus), meaning large. Thus there is largeness, breadth and fullness at work here and not just mindless flapping (or oscillating) about with boots and umbrella.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Thursday Poem - This Time of Year

when the light leaves early, sun slipping down
behind the beech trees as easily as a spoon
of cherry cough syrup, four deer step delicately
up our path, just at the moment when the colors
shift, to eat fallen apples in the tall grass.
Great grey ghosts.  If we steal outside in the dark,
we can hear them chew.  A sudden movement,
they're gone, the whiteness of their tails
a burning afterimage.  A hollow pumpkin moon rises,
turns the dried corn to chiaroscuro, shape and shadow;
the breath of the wind draws the leaves and stalks
like melancholy cellos.  These days are songs, noon air
that flows like warm honey, the maple trees' glissando
of fat buttery leaves.  The sun goes straight to the gut
like a slug of brandy, an eau-de-vie.  Ochre October:
the sky, a blue dazzle, the grand finale of trees,
this spontaneous applause; when darkness falls
like a curtain, the last act, the passage of time,
that blue current; October, and the light leaves early,
our radiant hungers, all these golden losses.

Barbara Crooker, from Radiance

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Of Small and Hopeful Things

How do they do it, I wonder. . . There is brilliant warming sunlight now and then, but October is gray and chilly for the most part, heavy cloud over everything, rain lasting for days at a time, cold inky nights from here to there.

The north wind sweeps through the village touching everything with its icy fingers, but somehow or other, our roses carry on blooming, and they paint our fading garden with their delicately tinted complexions. The place feels like a cloister or a monastery enclosure, even in late autumn.

Mirabile dictu, I counted eleven rosebuds in our garden yesterday afternoon. October's roses are not (of course) as large or as fragrant as their summer sisters, but the small and hopeful forms are marvels, and they are flawless in their own perfectly natural way.  They are potent reminders that there is wild and elemental grace in every season, that one can carry on and bloom wherever, whenever and however she is planted, whether she remembers it or not.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and to be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim. We all start out as pilgrims, wanting to journey and hoping to be transformed by the journey. But, just as it is impossible when listening to an orchestra to hear the whole of the symphony for very long before we are drawn to hear only the piano or the violin, in just this way, our attention to life slips and we experience people and places without being affected by their wholeness. And sometimes, feeling isolated and unsure, we change or hide what lives within in order to please or avoid others. The value of this insight is not to use it to judge or berate ourselves, but to help one another see that integrity is an unending process of letting our inner experience and our outer experience complete each other, in spite of our very human lapses. I understand these things so well, because I violate them so often. Yet I, as you, consider myself a pilgrim of the deepest kind, journeying beyond any one creed or tradition, into the compelling, recurring space in which we know the moment and are changed by it. Mysteriously, as elusive as it is, this moment—where the eye is what it sees, where the heart is what it feels—this moment shows us that what is real is sacred.
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening