AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

28 November 2010

Happy Birthday, Blake.

Born on this date in 1757 ...

How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?


- William Blake

26 November 2010

Looking.


The inspiration behind the work has always been the same: the challenge of translating and externalizing an interior mental environment. Starting with abstract shapes and areas of color, and eventually incorporating information from memory and observation as I see things emerge, I'm able to develop a sense of that environment in ways that allow me to discover new things within it. It's a slow process - I spend many months to as much as a few years on a single painting, though I work on many pieces at once.

I don't strive to convey a particular message to the viewer - I'm looking for the message myself, and don't know what it is until I've had a chance to look at the finished work for a while. Even then it's seldom truly clear...or it may have implications I'd rather not go into. Writing about and/or trying to interpret the work has never been all that helpful to me.


Read the rest of an interview with artist Dozier Bell here.

Her site is here.

Pleasant.


There is no scent so pleasant to my nostrils as that faint, subtle reek which comes from an ancient book.

- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I sensed that this morning.

Nice View from here.

Wonderful.


Fishing is one of the most wonderful things that I do in my life, barring some equally delightful unmentionables, and not disregarding gluttony and booze, it's in the top five.

- Jim Harrison

Casablanca.

With the coming of the Second World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But, not everybody could get to Lisbon directly, and so a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up - Paris to Marseilles... across the Mediterranean to Oran... then by train, or auto, or foot across the rim of Africa, to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here, the fortunate ones through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon; and from Lisbon, to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca... and wait... and wait... and wait.

Casablanca premiered on this date in 1942.

Chance.


When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I may never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.


- John Keats

Abandoned.


More here.

Authentic.

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.
- Johann Sebastian Bach

A few of my favorite ensembles ... (yes, they are in order).

Il Giardino Armonico

Concerto Italiano

The Sixteen

The Academy of Ancient Music

Stimulant.

William Buckley and Malcolm Muggeridge, from Firing Line, September 6, 1980, "How Does One Find Faith?".



Thanks, KJH.

The Greatest.


"Rick Leach is the greatest football player I have ever been associated with."
- Bo Schembechler

One of the finest athletes in Michigan history, Rick Leach was named All-Big Ten quarterback three times and three times placed in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, finishing third as a senior when he was voted Michigan's and the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player. Named Player of the Year by several athletic clubs and television networks, he was co-most valuable player in the 1979 Rose Bowl and Hula Bowl. All Michigan's career passing, total offense and touchdown records were broken by the lefthander as well as the season record for touchdown passes (17). He set an NCAA record for most touchdowns accounted for (82) and broke Big Ten records for total offense (6,460) total plays (1,034) and touchdown passes (48). He won the Big Ten batting championship as a junior and became one of the few athletes in modern times to become All-American in both football and baseball. He was a first round draft selection by the Detroit Tigers of the American League.

CAREER STATISTICS

RUSHING

Games: 48
Attempts: 487
Yards: 2717
Net Gain: 2176
Avg. Gain: 4.5
Long: 48
TDs: 34

PASSING

Games: 48
Att: 537
Comp: 250
%: .47
Int: 35
Ttl Yds: 4284
Long: 83
TDs: 48

Watch a great tribute here.

More here.

Van Gogh, "Sunflowers"

25 November 2010

Yield.


Reluctance

Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last long aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question 'Whither?'

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

- Robert Frost

Edward Sheriff Curtis, "Three Horses"

George Winston, "Thanksgiving"

Giving thanks.


THANKSGIVING DAY, 1981
Proclamation 4883. November 12, 1981
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
A PROCLAMATION

America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this nation throughout its history. In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to god for all of His blessings.

On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were thankful not only for the material well-being of their harvest but for this abundance of goodwill as well.

In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understand that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 1981, we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do sass individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.

Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1981, as Thanksgiving Day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.

Lisa Hannigan, "I Don't Know"

24 November 2010

The Gourds, "All The Way To Jericho"

Lookin at the yellow moon-waitin for the northern star ...


All the way to Jericho in a rusted automobile
If you could only find out anyway you oughta feel
All the way to Jericho in a rusted auto
Lookin at the yellow moon-waitin for the northern star

All the way to Jericho it doesn't even seem that real
Knowin' that the time is gone-nuthin' left to save or steal
All the way to Jericho all the while singin' low
Wishin for a passenger-waiting for that northern star

All the way to Jericho in a rusted automobile
Mighta missed a sign you saw farm road-corn field
Say goodbye to Jericho, lookin at the book of dreams
How to get to Bethlehem-time to get some gasoline

And when you see that starry night
Or a cross up on a hill
Then you wait for early light
To take yer hands off the wheel
when you see that starry night

Ghosts.


Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the Creator, I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of me. Do not misunderstand me, but understand fully with reference to my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I choose. The one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who has created it. I claim a right to live on my land and accord you the privilege to return to yours.

Brother, we have listened to your talk coming from the father in Washington, and my people have called upon me to reply to you. And in the winds which pass through these aged pines we hear the moaning of their departed ghosts. And if the voices of our people could have been heard, that act would never have been done. But alas, though they stood around, they could neither be seen nor heard. Their tears fell like drops of rain. I hear my voice in the depths of the forest, but no answering voice comes back to me. All is silent around me. My words must therefore be few. I can say no more. He is silent, for he has nothing to answer when the sun goes down.


- Chief Joseph

Seasonal reading.


When the pilgrims, as the Plymouth settlers are called by their descendants, first took refuge on the shores of the New World, from the religious persecutions of the Old, their situation was to the last degree gloomy and disheartening. Few in number, and that number rapidly perishing away through sickness and hardships; surrounded by a howling wilderness and savage tribes; exposed to the rigors of an almost arctic winter, and the vicissitudes of an ever-shifting climate; their minds were filled with doleful forebodings, and nothing preserved them from sinking into despondency but the strong excitement of religious enthusiasm. In this forlorn situation they were visited by Massasoit, chief Sagamore of the Wampanoags, a powerful chief, who reigned over a great extent of country. Instead of taking advantage of the scanty number of the strangers, and expelling them from his territories, into which they had intruded, he seemed at once to conceive for them a generous friendship, and extended towards them the rites of primitive hospitality. He came early in the spring to their settlement of New Plymouth, attended by a mere handful of followers, entered into a solemn league of peace and amity; sold them a portion of the soil, and promised to secure for them the good-will of his savage allies. Whatever may be said of Indian perfidy, it is certain that the integrity and good faith of Massasoit have never been impeached. He continued a firm and magnanimous friend of the white men; suffering them to extend their possessions, and to strengthen themselves in the land; and betraying no jealousy of their increasing power and prosperity.

Read the rest of Washington Irving's Philip of Pokanoket here.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Meadow of the night.



The light from a star reveals many things, but most directly the stars’ surface temperatures. The yellowish color of Capella indicates a mid-range surface temperature, much like our sun. The red of Aldebaran is typical of the lower surface temperature of an older star, whereas the blue of the Pleiades reveals their high surface temperature and young age.

Read the rest here.

Shine.


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson

Daniel Lanois, Shine

In the end the thing that keeps me walking is your shine
Your shine in transmissions, your shine in decisions,
Your shine when I labor to the new day,
It's your shine, your shine, your shine, shine, shine on




Thanks, Abigail.

23 November 2010

Echo.


The fourth Brandenburg Concerto is scored for violin, 2 flutes, strings, and continuo. Bach’s Previewscore calls the flutes “fiauti d’echo,” an unusual term which probably indicates that a recorder in F was intended. But does “d’echo” mean more than simply specifying which recorders were to be used? If indeed recorders, rather than the transverse flute, then one might presume that the softer sound of the recorder is intended as a sort of echo—except for the fact that the flutes appear from the start of the Fourth Brandenburg, even without the solo violin, and while they occasionally double the solo violin, they are rarely used in an echo function. They do occasionally “echo” each other, especially in the second movement, but one wonders whether Bach really thought of these repeated “echoes” as softer echoes, or merely as imitative passages, which we find so often in Baroque music.

Read the rest here.

Because it features the recorder and the fiddle, the fourth concerto of Bach's Brandenburgs has always been my favorite. Being a huge fan of early music has caused me to have a love-hate relationship with Baroque music ... it's the incessant banging and clanging of the harpsichord (sorry, WFB).

In their treatment of the piece, Rinaldo Allessandrini and Concerto Italiano the problem is quietly solved. This is fantastic.

22 November 2010

Fiddle file found.


Two previously unknown violin sonatas by Antonio Vivaldi have been uncovered after lying hidden in a collection of manuscripts for 270 years.

Read the rest here.

GO BLUE!


The Poet Laureate, Ufer, provides some inspiring verse to mark the occasion of the 107th contest in this rivalry with Round-On-The-Ends-And-Hi-In-The-Middle.

21 November 2010

Moonlight.

Russell Chatham, Full Moon Rising

As a pale phantom with a lamp
Ascends some ruin's haunted stair,
So glides the moon along the damp
Mysterious chambers of the air.

Now hidden in cloud, and now revealed,
As if this phantom, full of pain,
Were by the crumbling walls concealed,
And at the windows seen again.

Until at last, serene and proud
In all the splendor of her light,
She walks the terraces of cloud,
Supreme as Empress of the Night.

I look, but recognize no more
Objects familiar to my view;
The very pathway to my door
Is an enchanted avenue.

All things are changed. One mass of shade,
The elm-trees drop their curtains down;
By palace, park, and colonnade
I walk as in a foreign town.

The very ground beneath my feet
Is clothed with a diviner air;
While marble paves the silent street
And glimmers in the empty square.

Illusion! Underneath there lies
The common life of every day;
Only the spirit glorifies
With its own tints the sober gray.

In vain we look, in vain uplift
Our eyes to heaven, if we are blind;
We see but what we have the gift
Of seeing; what we bring we find.


- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Blue Moon.

The name Blue Moon has two meanings. A Blue Moon can be the second full moon in a calendar month. Or it can be the third of four full moons in a single season. The November 21, 2010 Blue Moon is the third of four full moons between the September 2010 equinox and December 2010 solstice.

Get your knowledge here.



Good livin'.

Head in the clouds.


Lone tree.

Wandering.

Sunrise on Dry Creek and Welsh Hills Roads ...



Barn.

Vivaldi, "Gloria"

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi composed this Gloria in Venice, probably in 1715, for the choir of the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for girls (or more probably a home, generously endowed by the girls' "anonymous" fathers, for the illegitimate daughters of Venetian noblemen and their mistresses). The Ospedale prided itself on the quality of its musical education and the excellence of its choir and orchestra. Vivaldi, a priest, music teacher and virtuoso violinist, composed many sacred works for the Ospedale, where he spent most of his career, as well as hundreds of instrumental concertos to be played by the girls’ orchestra. This, his most famous choral piece, presents the traditional Gloria from the Latin Mass in twelve varied cantata-like sections.

Today Vivaldi is one of the most popular of all composers, who during his lifetime enjoyed considerable success and fortune, which he squandered through extravagance, and when he died in Vienna he was buried in a pauper’s grave. For two centuries after his death, the Gloria lay undiscovered until the late 1920s, when it was found buried among a pile of forgotten Vivaldi manuscripts. However, it was not performed until September 1939 in Siena in an edition by the composer Alfredo Casella. This was by no means an authentic edition (he described it as an "elaborazione”), as he embellished the original orchestration of trumpet, oboe, strings, and continuo, while reducing the role of the continuo, and cut sections from three movements. It was not until 1957 that the now familiar original version was published and given its first performance at the First Festival of Baroque Choral Music at Brooklyn College, NY.


Read the rest of the program notes here.

Vivaldi.

Concerto Italiano.

Rinaldo Alessandrini.

Sara Mingardo.

Gloria, indeed.


Et in terra pax ominibus











Thanks, Kurt.

In praise of stillness.


An insightful Cultural Offering.

Gratitude.


Everyone who has suffered some major calamity, be it illness, loss, or some sudden reversal of fortune, feels, on pulling through, a great surge of gratitude. And gratitude comes in two forms. First, you are grateful for pulling through -- you are still alive, still functioning, still able to love. Secondly, you are grateful for the experience itself. Here again the religious person would be disposed to speak of the workings of Grace. You can be grateful for something bad: grateful for the affliction that awoke you to the truth about yourself, that enabled you to confront it, to overcome it, to understand. You are grateful to have learned that life is a gift, and that to receive it fully you must give in turn. As William Law expressed the point, in his A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, "whatever seeming calamity befalls you, if you can thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing."

Read the rest here.

20 November 2010

Michi-gami.

Recent autumn storm footage from Empire Beach, south of Sleeping Bear Dunes ... one of my favorite sailing areas when I was a kid.

Stillness.


Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.
- Hermann Hesse

In stillness the world is restored.
- Lao Tzu

Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.
- Eckhart Tolle

Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.
- Amy Carmichael

Uncontrolled, the hunger and thirst after God may become an obstacle, cutting off the soul from what it desires. If a man would travel far along the mystic road, he must learn to desire God intensely but in stillness, passively and yet with all his heart and mind and strength.
- Aldous Huxley

One of my greatest joys comes during the times when I am able to be still. I enjoy this because it allows for conscious breathing to occur, thoughts can be organized, and blessings appreciated.

In my classroom I try teach my students to understand and apply the benefits of stillness. As we do this (yes, I do it with them; modeling being a great teacher) pencils and paper are stowed, lights are dimmed, sonatas are played, students find "their spot" in the room, and reflection begins. We use this as a prelude to journaling, as a method of preparing ourselves for hard work, or anytime we need to just to gather ourselves.

It works. But, as with any skill, the benefits of stillness are only achieved when practiced. At the beginning of each year I receive many raised eyebrows when I ask the students to, "Be still and think about what you're thinking about." This time of the year is when growth begins to manifest itself. Students' hands aren't raised immediately. There is contemplation of the questions asked and thoughtful responses are formulated. Journals are taken to recess. Quotes written on 3x5 cards are left on my desk. We are thinking. Even our most reluctant reflectors have suggested stillness when we begin brainstorming for writing pieces.

In our culture of pace, movement, and change, an appreciation for the wonder of simply being can be lost. Reflection can draw us back from the fray. Quiet contemplation of what's ahead and what has been completed can afford us a more fully realized effort.

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.
- Peter Drucker

Put the biscuit in the basket.


He’s having success because he’s playing hard, first, and secondly, the puck’s going in so he’s shooting the puck more than he normally would, and it goes in,” Babcock said. “Now, there must be a message in that – the guys who score the most goals every year shoot the puck the most. So you’d think everyone would shoot the puck more, but that’s not how it works. When you don’t score, you don’t shoot the puck – that doesn’t make any sense to me.
- Wings coach, Mike Babcock

Read the rest here.

Medicine.

A major difference between Native-American and conventional medicine concerns the role of spirit and connection. Although spirituality has been a key component of healing through most of mankind’s history, modern medicine eschews it, embracing a mechanistic view of the body fixable pursuant to physical laws of science.

In contrast, Native-American medicine considers spirit, whose life-force manifestation in humans is called, "ni" by the Lakota and "nilch’i" by the Navajo, an inseparable element of healing. Not only is the patient’s spirit important but the spirit of the healer, the patient’s family, community, and environment, and the medicine, itself. More importantly, healing must take in account the dynamics between these spiritual forces as a part of the universal spirit.

Instead of modern medicine’s view of separation that focuses on fixing unique body parts in distinct individuals separate from each other and the environment, Native Americans believe we are all synergistically part of a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts; healing must be consider within this context. Specifically, we are all connected at some level to each other, Mother Earth (i.e., nature), Father Sky, and all of life through the Creator (Iroquois), Great Spirit (Lakota), Great Mystery (Ojibway), or Maker of All Things Above (Crow).

This sense of wholeness and connection is implied by the concluding phrase of healing prayers and chants “All my Relations,” which dedicates these invocations to all physical and spiritual relations that are a part of the Great Spirit. To metaphorically describe our universal connection, the Lakota use the phrase mitakuye oyasin – “We are all related,” while Southwest pueblo tribes, who consider corn as a life symbol, state “We are all kernels on the same corncob.”


Read the rest here.

Some healing from The Medicine Man, Daniel Lanois ...

Oh, oh deep water
Black, and cold like the night
I stand with arms wide open
I've run a twisted mile
I'm a stranger
In the eyes of The Maker

I could not see
For fog in my eyes
I could not feel
For the fear in my life
From across the great divide
In the distance I saw a light
Jean-Baptiste
Walking to me with The Maker

My body is bent and broken
By long and dangerous sleep
I can work the fields of Abraham
And turn my head away
I'm not a stranger
In the eyes of The Maker

Brother John
Have you seen the homeless daughters
Standing there
With broken dreams
I have seen the flaming swords
There over east of Eden
Burning in the eyes of The Maker


Oh river rise from your sleep....


Soar.


The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one's self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Heaven-born, the soul a heavenward course must hold; beyond the world she soars; the wise man, I affirm, can find no rest in that which perishes, nor will he lend his heart to ought that doth time depend.

Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.


- Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

"Never the same."

The poet, David Francey ...

When you hear a sound like broken glass
That's my heart every time that girl walks past
When you hear a sound like the rush of wind
It's just me catching my breath again


Broken Glass

Active.


Being the first generation, the evidence of the scorching is right there front and center and the solarized image becomes a positive. The gelatin in the paper gets cooked and leaves wonderful colors of orange and red, with ash that ranges from a glossy black to an iridescent metallic surface. Becoming more of a collaboration between artist and subject, in the resulting image the sun has become an active participant in part of the printmaking.

Read the rest here.

More here.

Thanks, Jess.

17 November 2010

Happy Birthday, O'Keeffe.

Born November 15, 1887.

...Well, I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower - and I don't.
- Georgia O'Keeffe

14 November 2010

Desirous.


The only people for me are the mad ones,

the ones who are mad to live,

mad to talk,

mad to be saved,

desirous of everything at the same time,

the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing,

but burn,

burn,

burn,

like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars ...


- Jack Kerouac

11 November 2010

Light.


My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends It gives a lovely light!
- Edna St. Vincent Milay

10 November 2010

Loss.

Thirty-five years ago tonight, at 7:15 p.m., the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a storm on Lake Superior. All 29 hands were lost.

The storm that brought "Fitz" down contained sustained winds of nearly 70 miles per hour, producing 25 foot waves.

There are many theories about what caused her loss. Mine is that, taking on water, she sat dangerously low in the water, and buried her nose in the trough of a 25 footer, disappearing quickly in 500 feet of Superior, her mighty engines driving her down. She's in two pieces at the bottom.

This is the last known photgraph of the ship, taken two weeks before her sinking.


The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum provides a fitting tribute here.

The Detroit News' account is found here.

The Freep is here.

Drink your glasses empty ... rest in peace, boys.

Happy Birthday, Luther.


95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.

The German theologian and professor, Martin Luther, was born on this day in 1483.

More here and here.

Today's morning music.

08 November 2010

What if?


Think.
Ask yourself, "What if?"
What if doubts were erased?
What if obstacles were removed?
What if a downfall resulted in unforeseen reward?
What if you were what you really are?
What if you took that first step toward ...?
Dare.

"Come and find out."

Nikolaus Harnoncourt on education ...

Deliverance.


The Golden Window

By accident my heart lifted with a rush.
Gone for weeks, finally home on a darkish day
of blustery wind, napped, waking in a few minutes
and the sun had come clean and crept around the house,
this light from one of trillions of stars
falling through the window skeined
by the willow’s greenish bright yellow leaves
so that my half-asleep head opened wide
for the first time in many months, a cold sunstroke,
so yellow-gold, so gold-yellow, yellow-gold,
this eye beyond age bathed in yellow light.

Seventy days on the river with a confusion between
river turbulence and human tribulation. We are here
to be curious not consoled. The gift of the gods
is consciousness not my forlorn bleating prayers
for equilibrium, the self dog-paddling in circles
on its own alga-lidded pond. Emily Walter wrote:
“We are given rivers so we know our hearts
can break, but still keep us breathing.”

When you run through the woods blindfolded
you’re liable to collide with trees, I thought
one hot afternoon on the river. You can’t drown yourself
if you swim well. We saw some plovers
and then a few yellow legs with their peculiar cries,
and I remembered a very cold, windy September day
with Matthiessen and Danny when the birds lifted
me far out of myself. It was so cold and blustery the avian
world descended into the river valley and while fishing
we saw a golden eagle, two immature and two adult
bald eagles, two prairie falcons, two peregrines, Cooper’s
hawks, two Swainson’s, a sharp-shinned,
a rough-legged, a harrier, five turkey vultures,
three ospreys, and also saw buffleheads, widgeon,
teal, mallards, morning doves, kingfishers,
ring-billed gulls, killdeer, spotted plovers,
sandpipers and sandhill cranes.
They also saw us. If a peregrine sees fifty times better
than we, what do we look like to them?
Unanswerable.

Nearing seventy there is a tinge of the usually
unseen miraculous when you wake up alive
from a night’s sleep or a nap. We always rise in the terrifying
posture of the living. Some days the river is incomprehensible.
No, not the posture, but that a terrifying beauty
is born within us. I think of the 20-acre thicket
my mother planted after the deaths 40 years ago,
the thicket now nearly impenetrable as its own beauty.
Across the small pond the green heron looked at me quizzically—
who is this? I said I wasn’t sure at that moment
wondering if the green heron could be Mother.

Now back in the Absarokas I’m awake
to these diffuse corridors of light. The grizzlies
have buried themselves below that light cast down
across the mountain meadow, following a canyon
to the valley floor where the rattlesnakes will also sleep
until mid-April. Meanwhile we’ll travel toward the border
with the birds. The moon is swollen tonight
and the mountain this summer I saw bathed
in a thunderstorm now bathes itself in a mist of snow.

Rushing, turbulent water and light, convinced by animals
and rivers that nature only leads us to herself,
so openly female through the window of my single eye.
For half a year my alphabet blinded me to beauty,
forgetting my nature which came from the boy lost
comfortably in the woods, how and why he suspected home,
this overmade world where old paths are submerged
in metal and cement.

This morning in the first clear sunlight making its way
over the mountains, the earth covered with crunchy frost,
I walked the dogs past Weber’s sheep pasture
where a ram was covering a ewe who continued eating,
a wise and experienced woman. I headed due west
up the slope toward Antelope Butte in the delicious
cold still air, turning at the irrigation ditch hearing
the staccato howl of sandhill cranes behind me,
a couple of hundred rising a mile away from Cargill’s
alfalfa, floating up into the white mist rising
from the frost, and moving north in what I judge
is the wrong direction for this weather. Birds make mistakes,
so many dying against windows and phone wires.
I continued west toward the snake den to try to catch
the spirit of the place when it’s asleep, the sheer otherness
of hundreds of rattlesnakes sleeping in a big ball
deep in the rocky earth beneath my feet. The dogs,
having been snake trained, are frightened of this place.
So am I. So much protective malevolence. I fled.
Back home in the studio, a man-made wonder. We planted
a chokecherry tree near the window and now through cream-
colored blinds the precise silhouette of the bare branches,
gently but firmly lifting my head, a Chinese screen
that no one made which I accept from the nature of light.


- Jim Harrison

07 November 2010

Unfolding.


All our progress is an unfolding, like a vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Frank Sinatra, "Night & Day"

The genius of Cole Porter ...

Circling skies.


More amazement from Tom Lowe here.

06 November 2010

Silvery powder.

Frost on the picnic table this morning.


For Drew and Zuzu ...

Jack Frost

Look out! Look out!
Jack Frost is about!|
He's after our fingers and toes;
And all through the night,
The gay little sprite
Is working where nobody knows.

He'll climb each tree,
So nimble is he,
His silvery powder he'll shake.
To windows he'll creep
And while we're asleep
Such wonderful pictures he'll make.

Across the grass
He'll merrily pass,
And change all its greenness to white.
Then home he will go
And laugh ho, ho ho!
What fun I have had in the night.

- C.E. Pike

NOAA says there will be a high of 39 today ... YES!!!

Passing.

Edward Sheriff Curtis, The Vanishing Race

The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other...consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time.
- Edward Sheriff Curtis

In Mr. Curtis we have both an artist and a trained observer, whose pictures are pictures, not merely photographs; whose work has far more than mere accuracy, because it is truthful.…Mr. Curtis, because of the singular combination of qualities with which he has been blest, and because of his extraordinary success in making and using his opportunities, has been able to do what no other man ever has done; what, as far as we can see, no other man could do. He is an artist who works out of doors and not in the closet.…He has lived on intimate terms with many different tribes of the mountains and the plains. He knows them as they hunt, as they travel, as they go about their various avocations on the March and in the camp. He knows their medicine men and sorcerers, their chiefs and warriors, their young men and maidens…
- Theodore Roosevelt

A tribal-categorization of the Edward Sheriff Curtis portfolio can be found here.

05 November 2010

"It's good for you."


Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person. A hunt based only on trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be . . . time to commune with your inner soul as you share the outdoors with the birds, animals, and fish that live there.

The very remoteness kindles the imagination of the adventurous hunter. From the top of any mountain the challenge extends far and wide, until the mountains meet the sky.

I have always tempered my killing with respect for the game pursued. I see the animal not only as a target but as a living creature with more freedom than I will ever have. I take that life if I can, with regret as well as joy, and with the sure knowledge that nature's ways of fang and claw or exposure and starvation are a far crueler fate than I bestow.

Life in the open is one of my finest rewards. I enjoy and become completely immersed in the high challenge and increased opportunity to become for a time a part of nature. Deer hunting is a classical exercise in freedom. It is a return to fundamentals that I instinctively feel are basic and right.

I hunt deer because I love the entire process; the preparation, the excitement, and sustained suspense of trying to match my woods-lore against the finely honed instincts of these creatures.

I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything; it has to do with how the day was spent.

Not only is bowhunting fun and a real challenge, but its good for you. The exercise in the fresh air, the chance to get away from everyday pressures and problems, a return to the basic relationships between man and his environment.

- Fred Bear

I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.
- Isna-la-wic

Let the wind do the talkin'.
- Kevin Frazier

Thanks, buddy.

Beyond.


I want to describe that world beyond the window, even though I know that it cannot be described but only revealed. I am not alone in thinking that world to be real and important. But there are many who dismiss it as an unscientific fiction. And people of this scientistic cast of mind are disagreeable to me. Their nerdish conviction that facts alone can signify, and that the “transcendental” and the eternal are nothing but words, mark them out as incomplete. There is an aspect of the human condition that is denied to them.

Professor Scruton preaches on here.

Grace.


Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.
-Frederick Buechner

Thanks, Abigail.

03 November 2010

Still.


Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.
- Hermann Hesse

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank.
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.

- William Shakespeare

Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.
- Amy Carmichael

02 November 2010

Buika.


We singing from the same places," she says. "We talking about the same needs. And we're talking about the same hopes. And what I feel like when I'm singing, we don't need the hope anymore. Hope is for people who wait. And I don't want to wait no more. I'm not scared anymore. I'm not scared of myself. Of my things. Of my fear. Of absolutely nothing. And that's music.

More here and here.

The Medicine Man, Daniel Lanois

Last night I walked out into the middle of a recently-harvested bean field.

The sky was gin-clear, the stars were overwhelming in both their numbers and brilliance, and there was nothing around me but bare ground for a quarter mile in every direction.

I was listening to this ...

World-wide.

Mum's talents are far-reaching ... an artist, musician, and writer.

I believe she is at her best in the kitchen.

And, finally, thanks to Cultural Offering, she's gone global.