Monday, March 30, 2009

Shadow Embrace

I like the way these elongated shadows embrace the tree like needy hooks or fantastic thorns. Aren't there great patterns and textures in the bark? Such an invitation to fingertips. And that March washed-blue sky shining in the background.

There is a blind niche in the azure:
in each blessed noon
one fateful star trembles,
hinting at the depth of night.
-- Osip Mandelstam, tr. by Clarence Brown & W.S. Merwin

Mandelstam wrote a poem (#133) containing this deep and piercing stanza in 1922. It became part of Poems, published in 1928. I found it in The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam, translated from the Russian by Brown and Merwin, New York Review Books, 2004, translation copyright 1973. (See page 43, third stanza.)

Mandelstam was arrested and exiled in 1934, after he read a work denouncing Stalin. I found it fascinating that his wife, Nadezhda, memorized his writing, so that it would be preserved even if his papers were lost or destroyed. When his exile ended in 1937, he returned to Moscow, but was arrested again and sentenced to hard labor in Siberia. According to the book notes, he was "last seen in a transit camp near Vladivostok."

Here is Mandelstam's belief about the necessity of poetry:

The people need poetry that will be their own secret
to keep them awake forever,
and bathe them in the bright-haired wave of its breathing.
-- Osip Mandelstam, tr. by Clarence Brown & W.S. Merwin

(From the introduction, p. xiii.)

The photograph was taken on my hill, just the other afternoon. Click on image to enlarge.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Upside-Down Trees

This afternoon the southern edge of the pond held clusters of frog eggs. They nestled like black-eyed jewels in the rippling branches of upside-down trees.

Click on image to enlarge. If you look closely, you'll see the black dots inside the eggs, just below the surface of the water (lower left).

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Just now, walking up past the pond at dusk, we heard the wood frogs calling. We followed the chorus in. Silence. Then, here and there, the song began again. Overnight, the last of the ice melted, and the frogs are mating. Tomorrow: spring.

The photograph of fungi was taken up at the pond. Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cloud Between Two Worlds

Yesterday there was still ice on the pond up the hill, floating like a cloud between two worlds, like a veil between the shifting seasons. Not a wood frog to be found. Only the silent guardian rock, beached like a sailboat at the edge.

Click on image to enlarge.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Light

I found this intriguing passage, discussing ways to heighten creativity, in a yellowed paperback, Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society:

When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied, "Only stand out of my light."

The photograph was taken in my yard a few days ago. (Click on image to enlarge.) The quote was found on page 42. The March light is glorious. Stand back.