Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday, Saying Yes to the World

Ultimately, to live an enchanted life is to pick up the pieces of our bruised and battered psyches, and to offer them the nourishment they long for. It is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary. Above all, to live an enchanted life is to fall in love with the world all over again. This is an active choice, a leap of faith which is necessary not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of the wide, wild Earth in whose being and becoming we are so profoundly and beautifully entangled.

Sharon Blackie, The Enchanted Life, Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Friday, September 24, 2021

Friday Ramble - Taking the Sky Road Home

Only in September and October do sunsets like this come along, ground mist creeping through fields and around trees, light and sky and clouds like something out of a Maxfield Parrish painting. The clouds look like trails one could walk along, and they remind me of the title I once gave a photo, "Taking the Sky Road Home".

Fog and ground mist are common entities at sunrise and nightfall here in autumn, gossamer mantles of condensed moisture created by the earth's slow breathing and floating along, just above the surface of field and fen. We humans (and our animal kin) are cloud-breathing dragons, generating mists and fogs as we take air into our lungs and let it out again; trees breathe in and out too. As above so below, earth, sky, trees and sentient beings breathing in and out together. It's a notion dear to this old heart.

We call visible murky stuff "fog" when it reduces visibility to less than 1,000 metres, and we call it "mist" when we can see further than 1,000 meters through it. One can make out farm buildings way in the distance in the second photo, so the stuff here is mist rather than fog, and a right fine mist it is, nebulous and smoky.

I might have been anywhere in the world, but I was leaning against a fence in the eastern Ontario highlands on a cool night in late September, the collar of my jacket turned up against the wind. Resting easy in the moment, I looked on as another day drew to a close, taking photo after photo and hoping that one or two would turn out. The clouds, the setting sun, the gauzy veils of condensation floating just above the earth, all were too beautiful for words, so why was I trying to describe them?

The sun slid below the horizon, another autumn day folded up like an umbrella, and the stars came out. A brief interval this, but perfect in every way...

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Thursday Poem - Assurance

You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or the silence after lightening before it says
its names—and then the clouds' wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles—you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head—
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.

William Stafford

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Monday, September 20, 2021

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sunday, Saying Yes to the World

Long before writing was invented, human beings read their world. They interpreted their dreams and the flights of birds. They read the intestines of sacrificial animals and the memories of their ancestors. They read the things that surprised them, or the things that reminded them of something else. Most of all, they read in the places where there were holes—spaces—gaps. They filled up the blanks of the universe, as though they were pages, with writing.  Leonardo advised aspiring artists to “discover” the pictures to be found in cracks on walls; Chinese sages were conceived as their mothers stepped into the footprints of unicorns; all of us make up our lives out of the cracks in the walls of our past memories and the unicorn prints of our futures. The making of a life is similar to the making of a text.  We live by reading our own stories.

Whatever we do in our lives, we make a text of our lives. Whether or not our stories belong to the shared patterns of the great, true stories—the myths—they are the texts from which we find out our relation to the divine, to one another and to the self.

Linda Sexson, Ordinarily Sacred

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Friday, September 17, 2021

Friday Ramble Before Mabon

It seems as though summer has just arrived, but here we are again, nearing the autumn equinox. Cooler mornings, light rains before sunrise, heavy dews and falling leaves after months of blistering heat and humidity, can it be?

The autumn equinox is often observed on September 21st, but the astronomical coordinate this time around is the following day, Wednesday (September 22nd). Whichever day we choose to observe it, the fall equinox is a pivotal cosmic hinge, and it has worn many names down the centuries: Mabon, Harvest Home, Second Harvest, the Feast of Ingathering and Alban Elfed, to name just a few. Mabon is the most common name of the bunch on this side of the Atlantic, perhaps rooted in the god's status as the male fertilizing principle in Welsh mythology. Ceres, Demeter, John Barleycorn, Lugh or Persephone are other contenders for a tutelary deity presiding over autumn harvest rites, but I am fond of the "Great Son" of the Mabinogion, sometimes thought to be a companion of Arthur's Round Table.

In the old Teutonic calendar, the autumn equinox marked the beginning of the Winter Finding, a ceremonial interval lasting until Winter Night on October 15, also the date of the old Norse New Year. For moderns, the date marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. In Christian tradition, the day is associated with St. Michael the Archangel—his feast takes place a few days from now on September 25 and is known (for obvious reasons) as Michaelmas. The autumn blooming Michaelmas daisy with its purple petals and golden heart is one of my favorite wildflowers. South of the equator, seasonal cycles are reversed, and the vernal equinox is approaching (Ostara).

The autumn equinox is about abundance and harvest, but most of all, it is about balance and equilibrium—it is one of two astronomical coordinates in the whole year when day and night are perfectly balanced in length for a brief interval. Like all the old festivals dedicated to Mother Earth, it is a liminal or threshold time, for we are poised between two seasons, summer and autumn.

One holds out hopeful thoughts for the autumn equinox, that skies overhead will be brilliantly blue and full of singing geese by day, that trees and vines and creepers will be arrayed in crimson and cinnamon and burnished bronze, that a splendid golden moon will be visible against a blanket of stars by night.

An autumn wreath graces our door, and pots of chrysanthemums grace the threshold. Sometimes the pots are adorned by leaves falling from the old oak nearby. The tree is our guardian, the wreath and "mums" a nod to the season and a tribute of sorts. Oak, fallen leaves, wreath and blooms are cheerful things, conveying a benediction on anyone who knocks at the door or passes by in the street.

Autumn images tug at my heart, and I always sort through sheaves and reams of archived images looking for just the right one for today, am never sure I have found it. Leaves, puddles, clouds, sunlight, geese, herons??? Whatever I choose, it's always about the light, and autumn light is fabulous.

However, and whenever you choose to celebrate the occasion, a very happy Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, or Mabon. May good things come to you.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Thursday Poem - Mabon, The Autumn Equinox

Ephemeral truce.
The dark begins
its long winning streak.
But for now
in this disheveled garden
a riot of blowsy flowers
hangs on like a chorus
of aging show girls
still with a few good kicks.
The air is ripe
with seedy perfume
and pleasant lies,
the pomegranate shared
between two mouths.
This is our second harvest,
the corn, the squash,
the reconstructed
memories of summer.
Ceres, comfort us with apples,
with grapes and the wine of grapes.
Wheaten breads are baked
in the shape of the sun.
We savor them
with honey.
It will be a long time
before this golden
moment comes again.

Dolores Stewart Riccio

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

For Every Mighty Oak...

There was once an acorn that held its ground. 

It's autumn, and every jacket, vest, sweater and pair of trousers in my closet has acorns in its pockets, seasonal offerings from the magnificent oaks of the eastern Ontario Highlands, from red oaks and white oaks and burr oaks. There are other species of oak in the province of course, but these are the oaks of my native place.

Towering mother oak trees are magnificent beings, and after many years of rambling through their leafy cathedrals, they have become sisters and old friends. On sunny September days, I find a comfortable seat (or pew) among my tree sisters, and we have some of the most comforting, thoughtful and enlightening conversations ever.

Pockets without acorns rattling around in their depths enshrine other offerings, pine and spruce cones, black walnuts, butternuts, beech nuts, bitternut and shagbark hickory nuts. I can never resist gathering acorns, seeds, cones and nuts when I am in the woods, adore their shapes, their colors, their textures, their fragrance, the ambience of their fruiting. This is the season of entelechy, of once and future trees. 

Turning my pockets inside out this week before chucking everything into the washing machine, I realized that there has been a whole forest riding around with me for days, and it made me grin from ear to ear. No need to pine for my tree sisters when I am away from the woods - they are right here with me.


Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sunday, Saying Yes to the World

One human life is deeper than the ocean. Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mighty plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits. The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls. There are dolphins, plants that dream, magic birds inside us. The sky is inside us. The earth is in us.

Ben Okri, The Famished Road

Friday, September 10, 2021

Friday Ramble, Drifting

The village is a mysterious place on September mornings. The earth is often warmer than the air above it, the meeting of the two elements turning otherwise mundane landscape features into otherworldly entities, fey and luminous. Autumn moves among us, comfortable in her tenure of mist, rain, wind and madcap tumbling leaves.

There is nothing like a good fog, and September dishes up some splendid atmospheric murks. Mist swirls around everything, draping the whiskery trees, smoothing hard edges and rounding the contours of house and street. The north wind scours leaves from the old trees near home, and they rustle underfoot as Beau and I go along on our early walks. Irv loved this time of the year, and he is always with us. If we listen carefully, we can sometimes hear Cassie and Spencer pottering along beside us too, their happy feet doing a kind of scuffling dance through the fallen treasure.

Out of the pearly gray and sepia come sounds now and again. Birds converse in hedgerows and geese move unseen among the clouds, singing as they pass over our heads. Doors open and close as sleepy residents collect their morning papers. There is the soft growling of automobiles and the rumble of buses, the muffled cadence of joggers gliding through the park, the footsteps of commuters heading downtown to work. Once in a while, there is the whistle of a faraway train, just a faint echoing in the air. 

This is the first week of school, and children are on their w
ay to class, walked there by parents, siblings and (often) the family dog. The kids chatter like young birds, as brightly plumed as finches in their leggings and anoraks, carrying umbrellas and backpacks almost as big as they are. Near home, raindrops beat a staccato rhythm on roofs, and little rivers sing through the eaves. All together, it is symphonic.  

On such mornings, the world seems boundless, brimming with lucent, floating Zen possibility, soil and trees and sky and mist giving tongue in a language that is wild and compelling.  Part of me is curled up in a slow breathing meditation, counting my breaths, in and out, in and out. Other parts are out there drifting along in the fog with my companions and happy to be doing so. I love September, and it's all good.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Thursday Poem - Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Mary Oliver, from American Primitive

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Monday, September 06, 2021

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Sunday, Saying Yes to the World

You really don't have to lose everything and travel to a remote valley to discover that the world is always rushing forward to teach us, and that the greatest thing we can do is stand there, open and available, and be taught by it. There is no limit to what this cracked and broken and achingly beautiful world can offer, and there is equally no limit to our ability to meet it.

Each day, the sun rises and we get out of bed. Another day has begun and bravely, almost recklessly, we stagger into it not knowing what it will bring to us. How will we meet this unpredictable, untamable human life? How will we answer its many questions and challenges and delights? What will we do when we find ourselves, stumble over ourselves, encounter ourselves, once again, in the kitchen?

Dana Velden, Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations
and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Friday, September 03, 2021

Friday Ramble - Demeter At the Gate

A single burnished leaf from the oak in the front yard floats down and comes to rest in a pot of bronzey chrysanthemums on the threshold of the little blue house in the village. The deep scarlet in the center of the "mums" matches the vibrant color of the front door, a cheerful thing and very welcoming. Days are still very warm here for the most part, but nights are starting to cool down, and it won't be long until we have to carry the pot indoors every evening as darkness falls and the wind comes out of the river.

As the oak leaf makes itself comfortable among the flowers on the threshold, a long v-shaped skein of geese passes overhead. A scrap of waning moon floats high in the blue sky, above and slightly to the left of the joyously honking flock who are on their way out to farm fields to feed. They will return at sunset and spend the night on the river.

Lady Moon will be full again on Monday, September 20th, and I am counting the days until she is. Here comes another glorious Harvest Moon in all her auriferous splendor. A dear friend once enthusiastically described September's full moon as a "big ass yaller moon". Am I going to be out in the garden with camera and tripod that evening? You bet. Please mama, no clouds that night.

Closer to the earth, the swallows of summer are packing their flight bags and making ready to depart, their places on telephone wires to be taken by flutters of sparrows and constellations of noisy starlings who are putting on winter stars and flashy yellow beaks. The Monarch butterfly migration has begun, and I have not seen one in days. My garden seems a tad forlorn without them.

Frantic squirrels everywhere are filling their larders, and I have surrendered to the little blighters in the matter of geraniums - there does not seem to be much I can do to prevent the flowers from being unceremoniously tossed out of their pots and replaced with buried acorns, berries, crabapples and walnuts. For some reason, the squirrels leave our chrysanthemums alone. The scent perhaps?

Early Macintosh apples are starting to appear at farm markets, and several “Macs” rest flushed and rosy in a bowl on the kitchen counter.  We carried a lovely big brown paper bag of apples home from a local orchard a few days ago, along with the first cider of the season.  Most of the apples are destined for eating, but there will be applesauce and pies, perhaps a few jars of apple butter. Mugs of Yorkshire tea with pumpernickel toast and apple butter are in the cards.

When I awakened this morning a little before five and went outside, a thin crescent of waning moon was rising in the east, and the mighty hunter Orion strode the southern sky, club held high and sword belt twinkling. Fall is on its way for sure.

Above us, autumn stars twinkle in the darkness. Here on earth, apples, corn, pumpkins and hay are being gathered in. There is no doubt about it—Demeter is at the gate, and She is rattling its rusty latch with vigor. This is my favorite time of the year. Lady Harvest knows the ancient cantrip that grants her entrance to these smoky northern hills, and she knows the key in which it is to be sung.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Thursday Poem - September Mosaic

Before we come with rakes and crackling
energy to clean it up,
the back yard is precisely
as the dog prefers it -- left alone,
a natural selection
of leaf, stick, bone, pod, seed, and stone.

But we are cosmic instruments of music and disturbance, only
animals by half,
and will not let the season bleed
its shifting earth designs
of stone, bone, leaf, stick, pod, and seed.

Some earthscapes rearranged
are gardens, or hillsides
shorn to make a path for wired poles
or graveyards stiff with grief
or clearcut forests. Let me take care
of seed, stone, pod, bone, stick, and leaf.

Let me recall the universe
is breathing in my breath, it plays
its tune in me, it dreams my being --
an unnamed, unrecorded god
becoming conscious as I am
of leaf, seed, stick, stone, bone, and pod.

I am a painting made of sand and pollen.
Structure and spirit
are my codes. Nothing of life
is random or a trick
I draw myself a part of all
with pod, leaf, bone, seed, stone, and stick

The circle of the seasons turns
and never comes back quite the same.
Fertile impulses in time
will overgrow the patterns I have sown,
return to animal wilderness
of stick, pod, stone, leaf, seed and bone.

Let me be glad
new seasons bud from stick and leaf,
new forces split a pod and spill the seed,
new rhythms rise from stone and bone.

Dolores Stewart, (from Doors to the Universe)
Bellowing Ark Press, 2008

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sunday, Saying Yes to the World

Magic doesn't sweep you away; it gathers you up into the body of the present moment so thoroughly that all your explanations fall away: the ordinary, in all its plain and simple outrageousness, begins to shine -- to become luminously, impossibly so. Every facet of the world is awake, and you within it.

David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Friday, August 27, 2021

Friday Ramble - Following the Sun

Young sunflowers start their day facing east and turn west as the day warms up, following the sun around the sky until sunset at which time they are facing east again. When mature, the flowerheads are no longer able to pirouette in what is (to me anyway) summer's most engaging dance, and they face east. When I drove by a field of sunflowers a few days ago and found they had turned their backs to the road and were all looking east, I tried not to take it personally, but part of me was wistful and a tad melancholy. The kids were all grown up and ready to leave home.

Adolescents drink the sun's warmth to fuel their journey to adulthood, turning their heads to follow its path across the sky. As they grow, they take in more light, heating up early in the day and releasing a heady fragrance that attracts legions of pollinating insects like butterflies and bees and ensures future generations of sunflowers.  Mature blooms have fulfilled their prime motivation (dynamic purpose) and attained their highest and most complete expression. They have done what they were put here on earth to do, and they no longer need to follow the sun.

It has to do with circadian rhythms (also called the circadian clock), the internal 24 hour cycle that regulates our gnarly metabolisms and keeps us in tune with the natural world, according to the hours of light and darkness in our environment. The word circadian hails from the Latin circa (about) plus diem (a day), and most living things conduct themselves according to Circadian rhythms. Nature's clock tells us when we should sleep, prompts bears, bats and squirrels to go into hibernation, counsels trees to lose their leaves and withdraw into themselves for the winter, advises birds and butterflies that it is time to migrate. It instructs sunflowers to follow the sun, and sunflowers do just that. The science of circadian rhythms is called chronobiology, and it is lovely stuff indeed. 

Members of the helianthus family are amazing. What seems at first glance to be a single sunflower is actually a whole community of flowers, more than a thousand tiny blooms arranged in a perfect spiraling sequence. Each bloom is inclined toward the next bloom by approximately 137.5°, a measurement known in mathematics as the Golden Angle. The arrangement creates an elegant series of interconnecting spirals in which the number of left oriented spirals and the number of right oriented spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. It's arty, scientific and just plain beautiful, stunning in fact.

Long an admirer of spirals, golden angles and Fibonacci sequences, I'm always delighted to come across another one in my rambles.  Encountering sunflowers in someone's garden is a happy thing, and discovering a whole field of them along a quiet country road is astonishing. It boggles my mind to think that such splendid creatures are blooming gloriously without anyone around to admire them.

In autumn, faded sunflowers are wondrous in their height, earthy coloration, spikiness and sculptural complexity. Determined to engender legions of progeny and perpetuate their particular genetic brew, they birth thousands of seeds every autumn, mothering whole dynasties of towering stalks, fuzzy leaves and beaming golden faces that will appear when summer rolls around next time. Sunflower seeds provide food for wild creatures as summer food supplies dwindle, and many a starving songbird has been saved by the nourishing oil sunflower seeds in winter feeders.

In the depths of winter, it is comforting to remember that legions of tiny, unborn sunflowers are asleep and dreaming under Himalayan heaps of snow. In "Enriching the Earth", Wendell Berry describes the earth's cycling as "slowly falling into the fund of things", and I am fond of the notion. Going to seed is a good thing, a fine thing, a natural and necessary thing. Every coin in nature's wild unruly banking is kin, whatever its size, shape or denomination.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Thursday Poem - Enriching the Earth

To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass
to grow and die. I have plowed in the seed
of winter grains and of various legumes,
their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
I have stirred into the ground the offal
and the decay of the growth of past seasons
and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
All this serves the dark. I am slowly falling
into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
and a delight to the air, and my days
do not wholly pass. It is the mind's service,
for when the will fails so do the hands
and one lives at the expense of life.
After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.

Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Sunday, Saying Yes to the World

No culture has yet solved the dilemma each has faced with the growth of a conscious mind: how to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in all life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s own culture but within oneself. If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of a leaning into the light.

Barry López, from Arctic Dreams

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Friday, August 20, 2021

Friday Ramble - Consider

The annual Perseid meteor shower is in progress, and it is almost over, ending in a few days around August 23rd. I just have to write something about these late summer nights and the dazzling streams of comet debris that turn these pre-dawn August hours into the greatest show on earth. Until October and the Orionids that is.

Throwaway children of the Swift-Tuttle comet, the Perseids began in mid July and peaked last Friday, August 13th. The shower takes its name from Perseus, the constellation in the northern sky from which it appears to (but does not really) originate. Who knows, some of the particles that have been rocketing around up there in the last week or two may be kin to my own star stuff. Awesome doings for sure. Did I mention that "cosmic" is one of my favorite adjectives? 

Our wordy offering hails from around 1350 CE, tracing its origins through the Middle English word consideren and the Latin considerare, both meaning "in the company of the stars", thence the Latin sidus/sideris meaning a star or cluster of stars. At the beginning of it all is the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root form *sweid meaning to shine. Other English words like constellation and sidereal are kin, the first describing a group of stars, and the latter meaning simply "starry" and by extension, celestial or heavenly.

Small wonder that we are given to considering, at least in the original sense of the word. Spun from the dust of ancient stars, we are probably never more true to ourselves than when we are engaging in the liminal act of considering something.  In doing so, we move away from the mundane and profane and intuitively toward a bone deep and authentic connection with the dimension from which we emerged, and of which we are such miniscule elements. Dancing motes in the eye of the infinite are we.

Clear summer nights are perfect times for stargazing, and so are cold clear nights when one can almost reach up and touch the stars. On late summer and early autumn nights, the sky is often filled with clouds from here to there, and one can hardly see eye or lens, let alone the wonders above us. Who doesn't love a good haze or fog though, and weather on the cusp of the seasons dishes up some splendid, atmospheric murks. Even when we can't see them, our starry kin are right up there over our heads and shining down on us. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote: 

"We find lingering evidence of archetype in the images and symbols found in stories, literature, poetry, painting, and religion. It would appear that its glow, its voice, and its fragrance are meant to cause us to be raised up from contemplating the shit on our tails to occasionally traveling in the company of the stars."

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Thursday Poem - Unchurched

It’s Earth that breathes around us,
so perilous in its comforts,
so perfect in impermanence.

Autumnal sun streams through
these yellow maple leaves
translucent as stained glass.

The ground beneath my feet
is strewn with pine cones, acorns.
The random pattern of continuance.

Etched columns of pine and oak.
Incense of resin and fungi.
Great glacial stones for altars.

High winds and choirs of
minor breezes, the whispering hush.
It is the Sabbath. It is enough.

Dolores Stewart (Riccio), from The Nature of Things

This morning's poem is printed here with the kind permission of the late poet. Dolores was my friend, and I miss her.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Wordless Wednesday - Fruiting

Mountain Ash (or Rowan)

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Smaller Worlds Within

On a fine morning in August's middling pages, a weathered stump along the trail wears a carpet of haircap moss (Polytrichum commune). The delicate wonders emerging from the thatch are dancing sporophytes, fragile strands topped by seed capsules wearing raindrops and filaments of spider silk. Beyond the right edge of the photo, a crab spider is waiting for something tasty to appear and is poised for ambush.

How often does one wander along a trail and not notice such wonders? I suspect the answer is, most of the time, for this old hen anyway.

My moss colony is a tiny jeweled world, complete within itself, and its swaying raindrops hold the whole sunlit forest in their depths, upside down of course. For the life of me, I can't come up with the right words to describe it. A tiny cosmos, teeming with life. Its own history. Its own traditions. Its own stories. Astonishing. Breathtaking. Radiant. Perfect.

Hanging out with the fabulous forest mosses is a soggy business, and g
etting back on my feet is not as easy as it used to be, but oh, the colors...

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sunday, Saying Yes to the World

Human spirit is one of the most striking realizations of wildness.  It is as eccentrically beautiful as an ice crystal, as liquidly life-generous as water, as inspired as air.  Kerneled up within us all, an intimate wildness, sweet as a nut.  To the rebel soul in everyone, then, the right to wear feathers, drink  stars and ask for the moon.  For us all, the growl of the primal salute.  For us all, for Scaramouche and Feste, for the scamp, tramp and artist, for the furious adolescent, the traveling player and the pissed-off gypsy, for the bleeding woman, and for the man in a suit, his eyes kind and tired, gazing with sad envy at the hippie chick with the rucksack.  For us all, every dawn, the lucky skies and the pipes.  Anyone can hear them if they listen: our ears are sharp enough to it.  Our strings are tuned to the same pitch as the Earth, our rhythms are as graceful and ineluctable as the four quartets of the moon. We are—every one of us—a force of nature, though sometimes it is necessary to relearn consciously what we have never forgotten; the truant art, the nomad heart.  Choose your instrument, asking only: can you play it while walking?

Jay Griffiths, Wild: An Elemental Journey

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Friday, August 13, 2021

Friday Ramble - August Musics

I am trying to describe something in the great wide world that is quite beyond description, and I know that it is so, but I carry on anyway, and I make a complete shambles of the exercise. This morning's sumptuous sky has no need of a old hen with her camera and notebook, but I just have to say something. To let such a dazzling moment pass without saying or writing a word about it would be criminal.

Northern skies on August mornings are intense happenings, early sunlight burnishing clouds into brilliance and lighting up contrails against skies that often as not have a touch of violet in them.  Sometimes, everything up there looks like stained glass.  There are high fluffy streaks from horizon to horizon, strands of light touching everything with copper and oro pallido, the pale lustrous gold that only visits the world at the beginning of day (although Tuscan skies sometimes held such wonders in late afternoon when I was a student there many years ago).

One needs a large brush to paint such sweeping confetti colored expanses, lenses that can take in the great wide world from here to there.  My camera carrying exercises are brief at the moment, but I am already thinking of acquiring another lens or two, more tubes of  scarlet, gold and indigo for my paint box.

What a show the cosmos puts on when Beau and I go out to greet these August mornings together. Barefoot, I sip my tea and try to capture a few images. My companion looks up at the sky and all around, his eyes round in wonder and his expressive tail waving like a metronome.  Flocks of Canada geese are flying up from a night on the river and out into farm fields to feed; there is wave upon wave of happy honking as they pass over our heads. Their joyous, almost symphonic presence among the clouds is a clear indication that summer is waning. For all that, there is magic everywhere, and there is music.

Late summer mornings are full of light and texture and color and sound. This is the traditional music of August, "the music of what happens" as the season draws to a slow and honeyed close. How amazing it all is, how full of wonder, and how fleeting. My image and little net of words are shamefully lacking, but they have to do.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Thursday Poem - August

Summer sings its long song, and all the notes are green.
But there’s a click, somewhere in the middle
of the month, as we reach the turning point, the apex,
a Ferris wheel, cars tilting and tipping over the top,
and we see September up ahead, school and schedules
returning. And there’s the first night you step outside
and hear the katydids arguing, six more weeks
to frost, and you know you can make it through to fall.
Dark now at eight, nights finally cooling off for sleep,
no more twisting in damp sheets, hearing mosquitoes'
thirsty whines. Lakes of chicory and Queen Anne’s lace
mirror the sky’s high cirrus. Evenings grow chilly,
time for old sweaters and sweatpants, lying in the
hammock squinting to read in the quick-coming dusk.
A few fireflies punctuate the night’s black text,
and the moonlight is so thick, you could swim in it
until you reach the other side.

Barbara Crooker

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Monday, August 09, 2021


Sorry to whine a bit this morning, but the last few days have been unsettling and traumatic too. Sequestered??? Oh yes, sequestered and then some.

On the weekend, my trusty old computer processor failed, and the hard drive, companionable beast that it is, started to expire too, unleashing a veritable rain of unreadable files and the dreaded blue BIOS screen of no return. A whole pile of photography and graphic design embraced the void (or at least cannot be accessed), and to say I was a tad upset is something of an understatement.

Another computer has already made an appearance, and the new child does not even have a DVD drive. However, it is a lot faster than the old girl was, and it comes with a lot of shimmering rainbow-colored lights. Why couldn't I just have something a little more Zen, a simple CPU with a decent DVD drive/burner and fewer swirling lights?

My old hard drive has been liberated from its moorings and is going off to a friend who will try to recover the photos, documents and spreadsheets on it. I am thinking good thoughts and ordering a portable external DVD drive. Wish us luck!