Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The photo of the little robot holding a black-eyed Susan was taken this afternoon out in my yard. Click on image to enlarge.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
True. Everything is opening, closing, blossoming, withering … being carried away in a beak or jaw. The wind twists the petals of sunstruck flowers, weaves and unweaves the grass in watery patterns. Creamy cumulus clouds comb themselves into mare’s tail wisps. The human eye darts here and there, hungrily taking in all the movement, marveling at the constant, rippling change.
As I walk on my road, I sample the variety of August perfumes shifting on the warm and humid breeze. Cut grass, sunlight on damp earth -- even, on occasion, the faint skunky scent of fox at the top of the hill. Every night before I give up for the day, I stand in front of the screen doors and sniff. I take a deep breath of night air, inhaling the loose and floating molecules of the world. I imagine the nocturnal creatures digging, soaring and scurrying. (Maybe later, reading in bed, I’ll hear them moving through the woods, cracking twigs and rustling leaves.) Sometimes I step outside one more time, to see if the moon is up, to check on the constellations silently inching across the darkness. My last downstairs act is to slide the glass doors shut. I like the finality of that rolling noise, followed by the emphatic click of the latch. I can still taste the swirling night.
The photographs were taken this afternoon at Silamar Farm in
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Since the initial days, the blog has evolved into…well, I’m not quite sure what. Essentially, I’ve let it just happen. I don’t want to build a fence around it. I've let it sprawl. To answer my own question why, I’ve come up with the following thoughts:
- It places me more fully in my life.
- It marks passage through time, engraving mile markers along the route.
- It clarifies nebulous thoughts.
- It’s a commitment to writing and art.
- It’s an openness to the possibilities of art/creativity in the world, a reaching out to reel in those possibilities, to anchor and join them in a specific place.
- It’s an exercise in synthesis, a weaving together of threads from reading, poetry , the visual arts, nature, culture, all fleeting experience.
- It’s an exploration of both reality and dreams.
- It keeps me looking, thinking, witnessing, reading and rereading, listening, feeling and creating – cinching the ragged edges of the universe a bit closer.
- I like the casual, rambling style of “essay” (lyric essay?) that I feel free to write here. I like that relaxed autonomy. It lets me experiment with form, with hybrid writing, which I love.
- I enjoy the communication, the sharing of ideas and information. I love hearing from those who visit the blog, who have other thoughts to add, who make additional connections, who offer suggestions and expand the posts. I like the idea of a network of blogs.
- And, hey, I like the rare free stuff! Recently, after a brief post about Matsuo Basho, I received an e-mail from the publishers of a new collection of his work, Basho: The Complete Haiku, translated by Jane Reichhold, asking if I’d like a copy. Yes. I now have the lovely hardcover, and will focus on it soon. John Glick of Plumtree Pottery also mailed me a surprise: a beautiful, swirling universe of a ceramic tile. Thanks.
- Along the same theme, I’ve enjoyed receiving invitations to submit work, or requests to reprint writing and photographs from the blog.
- I get a thrill out of taking those photographs, then finding the right words to go with them. I like setting up little scenes, going off on tangents, letting inspiration unspool. This is serious fun.
- Okay, and I savor the “search for the sublime.” Those are the insightful words of Annie Dillard, writing about polar explorers: “They went, I say, partly in search of the sublime, and they found it the only way it can be found, here or there – around the edges, tucked into the corners of the days.” (Teaching a Stone to Talk, p. 41)
After a year, I’m setting no limits on the blog. I’m allowing it an amoeboid existence, the freedom to expand and contract. I’m here, waiting, meandering, open to the unfurling possibilities. I’ll end here with more of Dillard’s wisdom:
“Wherever we go, there can be only one business at hand – that of finding workable compromises between the sublimity of our ideas and the absurdity of the fact of us.”
The final quote is again from Teaching a Stone to Talk, p. 42. The photo of the colorful maple leaf (already?!) was taken –literally – on my road on
Friday, August 15, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
If you fully live there, you believe everything the characters say. Including their lies. You have to. After all, you invited them there, offered them pieces of your flaws and joys, fed them facets of your own beauty and ugliness. Some seem nothing like you, but they are. They’re human.
Sometimes you become the watcher in the story, silently observing that world, but you’re still there. When you fully inhabit the words, your characters inhabit your body in return, each with a little bit of you nested inside of them. Your body is crowded with stories and poems. They expand your life. You inhabit yourself more fully having written the words.
Charles Baudelaire wrote a prose poem called “Crowds” that touches on the same theme. Here’s an excerpt:
The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege that he can, at will, be either himself or another. Like those wandering spirits that seek a body, he enters, when he likes, into the person of any man. For him alone all is vacant; and if certain places seem to be closed to him, it is that, to his eyes, they are not worth the trouble of being visited.
(From Twenty Prose Poems, translated by Michael Hamburger)
The photo was taken 7/26/08. Click on image to enlarge.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Rilke wrote a poem called "Water Lily" (translated here by A. Poulin) that ends with these mind-shivering lines: "...into my body at the bottom of the water / I attract the beyonds of mirrors..."
The photograph was taken 5/11/08 at The New York Botanical Garden. Click on image to enlarge.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge.
These are Rainer Maria Rilke’s words from Letters to a Young Poet, a slender but powerful book that I just reread early this morning. Beyond the deep words, an incident sticks in my mind. In his introduction, Stephen Mitchell wrote that “I once showed a psychic friend of mine a late photo of Rilke, and it took her three hours to recover from the glance." I like that.
This photo of a lichen was taken at the top of my hill, at the end of June. I love looking at the details of lichens, at the strange shapes and textures. Wondering what this one was called, I discovered it was difficult to determine. In a search, I came across a fascinating Web site, Lichens of North America. I was sidetracked into a whole other gorgeous and colorful world. Dr. Irwin M. Brodo, lichenologist, and photographers Sylvia Duran Sharnoff and Stephen Sharnoff also created a beautiful, comprehensive book by the same title, Lichens of North America.
I decided to contact Dr. Brodo at the
Well, if it's really gray, it may be Myelochroa aurulenta (Powdery axil-bristle lichen). The medulla of that species is pale yellow. If the lichen is yellowish green (or "green" according to some people), it may be Flavoparmelia caperata (Greenshield lichen). The latter is much more common on trees along city streets (with clean air). Or, it could be something entirely different.Thanks, Dr. Brodo. I’m thinking it’s Greenshield lichen, but I’m not sure. Whatever it’s called, it’s beautiful.
The photo was taken 6/29/08. Click on the picture to enlarge the image.