Monday, January 28, 2013

Compassion, noticing, being noticed

Seth Godin. Work to notice.

Also, found from the OnBeing (Krista Tippett) website:
"William Maxwell treats his personal material as if it were history. It is one part memory, one part research and one part hearsay but one hundred percent compassion. Compassion in my mind is an admixture of feeling and sustained attention with regard to others. Compassion is the absence of cruelty. Compassion is steady and relaxed—allowing patience where we may not have any for ourselves. Compassion is acceptance of what you didn’t realize or can’t understand. Compassion is not attainable without process—going through the various methods of drafting. Each one provides you with another perspective, another point of focus. Each method provides more ingredients to the approach that helps the content to stand on its own so that the writer can leave it behind them."
—Nancy Beckett

Sunday, January 27, 2013

the smell of winter air

We have so few specific nouns or even adjectives for what we smell, and it is the sense most directly connected to the brain. Yesterday afternoon, in crisp, cold sunshine, I noticed the pungent scent of white pine by the mailbox and the slightly sweet scent of dried tall grasses at the corner where they grew last summer.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hauling wood, tending fire, attending...

Gray sky yesterday, then afternoon snow and into evening, and then the sky cleared. Tonight is full moon. Oh, the light. "The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow / gave a luster of midday to objects below."

My friend Dana Knighten writes: "Out my office windows, I can see the serge blue light of the moon on the scrim of snow that lies over these rounded hills.  Lights twinkle from a few new houses recently built on the old farmland across the road, lights and signs of human habitation where, only a few months ago, there were none.  Snow like cotton batting blankets the slant of the angled glass windows over my office window seat, and the thermometer reads 10 degrees.  The woodstove has been going nonstop now for a week.  In it burns wood from one of our own oaks, a big one that stood at the southern edge of our yard, which some fungus killed a few years ago.  The tree fell in one of last fall's storms, and Dave sawed it into sections and split it back in November.  Daily, I have been hauling wood, keeping the brick floor swept of all the crumblies that fall off the rotten chunks, tending the fire."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Patterns of light at the bridge.

This morning I stood on the south bank of Deer Creek looking at the waterside bridge abutment opposite me. Full morning sunshine from behind my right shoulder lit the cement in three triangles: one bright in direct shine; one of shine reflected from the rippling water and ice; one in full shade from the bridge deck. 

The bridge marks the turn around point of my daily walk, and I have stopped there for years of collected days, now, to simply observe and notice. The size and arrangement of triangles under that bridge varies by hour of  day, by season, by cloud cover. Yet the underlying physical intricacies that create that pattern remain predictable, steady and reliable. 

I think the light pattern under that bridge is a quilt block pattern waiting for me to create in echo. I have been experiencing, absorbing, collecting the design day by day. Now I can echo it, and I have an idea of how.

There is no story there for me, no drama or comedy, no metaphor. It is just an experience of the moment. The pattern of light just is. As I notice, it invites me to just be. There, in the moment of noticing this morning, I felt happy.

I came home to find this quote on today's Writer's Almanac: Edith Wharton said, "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it."

It's been more than a week since I wrote here? Yes, but all "the boys" and their families were here on Saturday, and I fell into first preparation, then the experience of the hour, and then a glorious exhaustion from which I am now recovering.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In relationship

Bald eagles flew about the valley yesterday, so bold and screechy-voiced, so intensely colored dark and white, so full bodied and broad of wing. Then as I walked along Deer Creek I thought of the slender heron, and how I hadn't seen one since perhaps Thanksgiving. I realized I didn't know if they winter here.

I wished I might soon see a heron again. Sure enough, as I approached the bridge where I turn around, there on a rock stood Mr. Heron. He was beautiful, of course, tall and slim and remarkable in his rich but subtle colors. Out of respect, I stopped and did not stare. I saw him, and he saw me, too. I thought his rights to feel safe took precedence over my desire to look at him long.

In the past week the local deer herd has twice taken a time of  afternoon rest in the woods near the back of my house. The first time I saw them there, I had just come home from grocery shopping and did an initial double take, all those big rocks where there had been no rocks. They focused on me, ears and faces, long enough to decide I was no threat. Then, as I moved window to window and looked, I identified seven of them, two with their heads down and eyes closed, the others calmly chewing cud, black trimmed ears twitching here and there, relaxed in the deep layer of leaves. Two youngsters, fawns this past spring, were up and prancing or standing close to their chosen adult.

I am part of a circle of friends, a large extended family, a close and beloved nuclear family. I stand in relationship to many individuals of the human world, yes. Those are not my only relationships, though.

As I experience my place in the natural world, I am conscious of how I stand in relationship to the birds and the deer, the earth worm and wasp, the trees and rocks. If we limit our imaginations to mere human relationship terms, we-- well, limit ourselves. 

The challenge, it seems to me, is to live densely surrounded by the pressing and immediate human world and yet to recognize a deeper, wider, interdependent existence as well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let's read!

Titus Atkins, a high school student in Brooklyn, says that reading Captain Underpants led him, when he was in second grade, to reading The Chronicles of Narnia. His mom told him they were kind of the same. (Reported this morning on NPR's "Morning Edition." A new Captain Underpants story is being released today.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Makes me laugh

from Jessica Custér Bindel:

haikus are easy
but sometimes they don't make sense

Friday, January 11, 2013

Spinning days of January

I am already able to notice that the days are lengthening, and I am thankful for the sureness that they will continue to do so. As reliable as the lengthening of time the sun shows at our particular latitude, all variety of change is utterly true and reliable.

It has also dawned on me and shone bright as a clear, January noon that for all our cultural "Think Positive" sermons, no atom is whole without its electrons. Perhaps life could be better if we each grow to be aware of and honor our negative parts, incorporate instead of suppress them, in order to experience wholeness, whole-hearted-ness?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trash, imagining, trust.

The natural world does not create trash, it creates food, and death is our word for a specific moment of change. We humans, at the top of the food chain, imagining ourselves so powerful (and not imagining how powerful we, in congregate, really might be) have repositioned molecular structures to create Styrofoam and other plastics, medicines that we expel unprocessed, nuclear waste. A multitude of trash for land-air-water that Mother Earth didn't naturally create and cannot easily use as food. While doing this we seem to have forgotten that we, also, eat and drink and have our life breath from constant change, from the recycled Mother Earth. 

I wonder: how long can we create trash before Mother can no longer bear our burdens? What must we grow to understand?  What in our social structure must die? What in our political world can we change to diminish the multitudes of varieties of trash we create? Why, we even label some people as trash. Just imagine.

I love the mystical underpinnings of the world that I observe every waking moment. I trust nature. I also happen to love some engineers and scientists, and I trust their imaginations and their practical ways of doing. And I trust that if we must continue to destroy our home planet, it will be an easy path.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My life in retirement has much space for things that are important but not urgent.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A flock of blue birds often flutters around in the branches as I walk near Deer Creek, the male's colors so intense, blue with rosy breasts, the females more subtle and equally beautiful. A little way down the road a male pileated woodpecker occasionally works a tree trunk, so dressy in his polished black with white trim and his fancy red hat. He's so much bigger than the blue birds. Simultaneously sharing the same sky space are bald eagles, down from the Susquehanna, feeding on fresh meat put out for them in the field.

Such a size range. Just like humans. And who is to say which is more valuable?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been." Rainer Maria Rilke