Change, Love, Outdoors, Poetry, Relationships, spirit

Canopy Bed

hidden-life-of-trees-and-rainbows-daliana-pacuraru

Down here, sand slips free from the shape
it took since last rain,
a low creek creeping up the bank
sloughing away any illusion of permanence.
The soft, fat hide of the earth glistens, catching the stray glint
and tossing it back, wild and wide.

Something buried in the thawing deep
scratches away at its carapace.
I press my spine against the old skin
willing it to split even though it is early still,
even though it will leave me raw,
Another frost sure to come.

Continue reading “Canopy Bed”

body, growth, Outdoors, spirit

The Digger’s Mirth

moss woman

There is no end to pleasure. Our flesh, how its tastes change.

You barely pause to wonder how we end up in the garden. Crepe-skinned crones in sun hats, we busy ourselves with one of the few benign industries left to us in our diminished worlds. We cannot captain the ships, you reason. Cannot write the laws. We must see life backward now as our children and their children take the keys and set the route.

In your haste to cover the stretch of highway still spooling out ahead, you don’t waste attention on what occupies the roadside. We bend there, indistinguishable from scarecrows. From garden gnomes. It stands to reason (if anyone were to ask) that we surrender to these tiny corners of the world. Our puttering a last gasp at creation. Bygone artists, barren makers. Do you see us deflating into bodies long past their use-by date? Do you see us at all?

Invisibility is a curse for certain, though one we have a hand in casting.

Continue reading “The Digger’s Mirth”

Adventure, Living in the Moment, Outdoors

Water Born

sand dollar 1

Popham Beach, Maine

These feet mapped in silver. My weight displacing stars.

We are chasing the tide even before we begin, trying to outrun the sea. The sun follows us, staying at our backs for five miles across moonscape and dune. Wind has carved ridges like Atlantis exposed.

Here is where my friend comes now. Every week, a pilgrimage of sorts. She has recast herself a collector of sand dollars, displaying them in gleaming mason jars around her house. She’s brought me along this time and I don’t have questions at first. Now, the stretch of land and water before us is framed by a giant question mark. “Where is it we are going?” It must be the third time I’ve asked, and we’re barely out of the parking lot. She gestures vaguely forward. At the end of a dark ridge, the shore curves then disappears around black tip of land. It is forever away.

She’s checked the tidal charts. She sets a brisk pace.

Continue reading “Water Born”

body, Living in the Moment, Love, Outdoors

Desire Path

MacDonald Frances Desire Path

Then and this. Now and here.

A pause.

Cool air shivers skin. The bus engine grumbles below plastic seats molded to cup a human’s soft places. Thighs of meat padding bone. Outside, women in a pack bustle down the sidewalk in jeans stretched taut.

The days grow shorter.

Even so, I forget. Forget to stop and touch the zinnia with its five shades of orange tethered to a center like chocolate. Forget to let the crepe myrtle dip across my cheek. Barely notice a fat bee chugging past me towards what bursts from the hedges. A body that should be too weighty for the tissue of wings somehow stays airborne.

I forget that eventually, everything falls. I forget to catch drift.

Continue reading “Desire Path”

Music, Outdoors

Echo Location

She scrapes bow across strings whose low moan rises to a shriek.  Her elbow a piston, it turns the wrist in a blurred ellipse that frees a cry, a frenzy.  Two boys appear from behind the stage, leaping sideways across the brush that separates this place from the garden plots where an old woman in a headscarf shambles between rows watering broad petals of cabbage.  One of the children waves a stick like a flag.  His face is a wide grin that says, see me, see me.

Another boy in a man’s body perches on the edge of a chair on this portable stage.  Shaggy hair falls across his forehead as he leans into the music.  He is from Ireland and lives in Portland where he has his pick of women.  He does to the accordion what Kobe Bryant does to a ball.  We call this thing “playing,” this version of play unlike anything the rest of us will ever experience.

Bent at the waist ever so slightly, he gazes far off towards what must be the west where a weary August sun peels back the day’s skin and exposes the pink, swollen flesh of dusk.  The grown boy’s fingers are dervishes in harmonious riot, balletic and blind, somehow whirling an unbroken ensemble piece on that tiny stage of keys.  I look where he is looking — in the direction at least because what he sees is all his own.  I want to imagine his eyes fixed on a montage of hills, rain, soil-scarred hands lifting open a latch and reaching for him.  Just as likely, behind his eyes growls a gauntlet of fractured traffic between the airport and the next gig.  Or a dim wash of notes.  When I look that way, I see only the deep outline of trees against a sky now a garnet throb.

Then the breath, the snared half-second of surprise when bow and key and string and drum, all stop —

it’s only a pulse of the heart yet it stretches, stretches like the still air across embouchure, its reverberation through a valley of brass.  It stretches like a quantum measure that is neither real nor measurable.  Swelling up into that pause (which may be the end of all history and also may not contain a single new beginning) surges the cry of cicadas thick in the shadowed branches.  Through the crack too flaps the leather wing of one bat dipping for a moth then careening off, this also in the direction our accordion boy looks but doesn’t see.  Not what I see see anyway, and certainly not what the bat sees, though his vision may be closer to that of his chiropteran brother, a sightless echoing that delineates a terrain through sound, through a chorus of shape and motion.  Maybe he draws a whole universe like this, one round, rapid beat after another firing across a field of night.


 

Adventure, community, Outdoors

Think Global, Hike Local

CCT

You have no engagements, commitments, obligations, or duties; no special ambitions and only the smallest, least complicated of wants; you exist in a tranquil tedium, serenely beyond the reach of exasperation, “far removed from the seats of strife,” as the early explorer and botanist William Bartram put it. All that is required of you is a willingness to trudge.


– Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods

With a little vacation away from work and my kiddo off canoeing at day camp, it’s time for a fix of woods.  I pull up Hiking Upward to find something near enough to hit in a few hours but far enough for solitude.

This is the goal: solitude.  And its accompanying quiet.

Humans are social creatures, sure, and we need to be in proximity to people as much for a sense of connection as for all the stuff — the supermarket and hospital, the auto mechanic and school.  To survive, we need to be in community.  Even so, too much proximity to too many others can take its toll.  The buzz of engines and clang of machines, the soundtrack of urban and suburban life, can jam the signals.  When I start to notice myself too focused on the clock and task list, too alert, too aware of every demand and every passing vehicle, I know it’s time to seek out a forest. Continue reading “Think Global, Hike Local”

Letting Go, Outdoors, Poetry

The First Walk After Goodbye

pregnant_lightning_bug

The trees are stage set,
a Las Vegas cabaret
on this suburban strip.
Lightning bugs in their drunken throb
dip and tumble
loose as the purple rope
of night falls
open. They couldn’t care less
who lurks here gaping
at their naked hunger.

Oblivious to the shape of you
emptying out of me,
they fill it the way they do
every hollow place, the way light
always does
but for just that blink
no matter how long we want it
bright and no matter how tight
we seal the lid. It goes out
again, a strobe
pulse, a chemical
flash burning to photon
guttering to black
before we can pin it in place
on this map of shadows.

Somehow the flicker
is enough, more
than enough, each firefly’s rutting
insistence a fizz that tickles full
the belly like sky
even with all that air
between each burst of light.


Image: Wolfepaw, “Pregnant Lightning Bug” at Deviant Art

Living in the Moment, Outdoors, Poetry

Counting Country

blackberry farm

2 hawks burst from the upper branches

1 doe steps, pauses, steps again into the brush

1 neon-green bug skitters under the cover of a fallen leaf

On its back, 1 tiny frog pinwheels its legs until I toe it upright and it springs into the weeds

3 patches of vines curl around their stash of not-yet-ripe raspberries

5 fingers of thorns twist across the frothy pink blush of not-yet-ripe blackberries

1 pond plucks and echoes with the calls of rubber-band frogs

2 tractors packed with children and parents wave and rumble and sway and wave some more

12 rows of new corn cascade up and out, as high as a goat’s belly

1 creek warbles along its stone bank, becomes another as it bends into shadow, another as it reappears in a cut of morning light

100 blades of grass tickle four bare calves

1 lone cow glances up and continues to chew, 1 ear flicking at a half dozen flies

1 roller truck with 2 steel wheels makes 6, 7, 8 passes over the gravel lot pressing its noise over every other word

3 children sit in 3 patches of shade eating 3 mounds of shaved ice in 3 meting stripes of flavor

4 children in helmets lead 4 stoic horses into a barn

8 children with bare heads ride 8 plastic horses in lazy circles

2 women step between damp sponges of earth into the cascading chiaroscuro of leaf and web and wing


Image: Walt Curlee, “Appalachian Blackberry Patch Farm” from Walt Curlee Art

 

 

 

Family, Home, neighborhood, Outdoors

Settle In

Durrie Winter Scene

The first flakes are dusting the sidewalk. My son and his little buddy are engaged in a take-no-prisoners Pokemon battle in the living room. They munch on microwave popcorn and negotiate rules while I re-pot the frozen rosemary rescued from the balcony. Beans for soup are soaking on the kitchen counter. Next to them, a bowl of sourdough rises under a cloth.  Continue reading “Settle In”