Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Walk in the Research Park

"This Time
Which carries us away
Far from hours
And from things
Towards places
Without matter
Toward the simple

To Each of the Dead
         Andree Chedid

"Momentarily alone, within an ordinary setting-
Disenchanted and alone, but also strangely free,
And suddenly relieved to find a vast inhuman
World, completely independent of our lives
And yet behind them all, still there."

                   Songs My Mother Taught Me
                      John Koethe

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The other day I finished reading Jonathan Carroll’s the The Ghost in Love a book
I have had for some time but had not read. I am not sure why, Jonathan Carroll
is a very important writer for me and I have as far as I know, all his books including
a few rarer things like the Weird Tales special Jonathan Carroll issue from 1990/1
and a limited edition copy of the Heidelberg Cylinder but I had been saving
Ghost possibly I feared disappointment, I am not sure, I wasn’t disappointed
it was wonderful. Hopefully this will explain why I have been thinking about and
quoting him for the last couple of days.  I also visited his website and read
a number of the stories there, in one story “Home on the Rain”
which I quite enjoyed, I found the following quote which appears to be
a paraphrase of a quote translated many different ways
on the internet by Rabbi Tarfon or Tarphon I like Carroll’s version.
“ The world is not yours to finish
but neither are you free to take no part in it”

"I entrench myself  in my books, equally
against sorrow and the weather.”
                      Leigh Hunt The Literary Examiner : My Books
                      Quoted in The Friendship of Books
                              Edited with an introduction by Temple Scott
                                The Macmillan Company 1911

Friday, January 27, 2012

"The wind is gusting, the dog runs full speed
towards nothing but happiness,"
Waiting to Wave
            Jonathan Carroll


“Dogs are minor angels, and I don't mean that facetiously.
They love unconditionally, forgive immediately, are the truest
of friends, willing to do anything that makes us happy, etcetera.
If we attributed some of those qualities to a person we would say
they are special. If they had ALL of them, we would call them
angelic. But because it's "only" a dog, we dismiss them as
sweet or funny but little more. However when you think about it,
what are the things that we most like in another human being?
Many times those qualities are seen in our dogs every single day--
we're just so used to them that we pay no attention.”
Jonathan Carroll

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came."

How To Be a Poet
            Wendell Berry

Friday, January 20, 2012

My wife sent me the following link. It concerns a number of
mysterious paper sculptures that appeared around the city of
Edinburgh’s literary sites and libraries. These are wonderful
creations and I encourage anyone that stops by to spend
some time and enjoy them.

After looking at the sculptures I began rereading Wendell Berry's
The Long-Legged House and found the following passage.

"I sat in the open doorway there one afternoon, a rich plot of sunlight
on the  floor around me, Curran quietly at work in the room at my back:
I looked up at the ridge beyond the town, the open still sunlit country
of the summer afternoon, and felt a happiness I will never forget"

I have felt that feeling and I have those memories that come welcome
but unbidden, often at the strangest times. And I started to wonder is
that what the person who left the sculptures wanted to capture
or recreate that moment of joy or peace or belonging or rightness
that returns to us through the years.

I thought since there were a number of nests among the
sculptures in Edinburgh that I would include a photo
of a precious find of mine. I found this nest at the base of a spruce
in the mountains some years ago. There was a large flock of
crossbills in the trees so I have assumed this in a crossbill nest.

" For we are green and ever falling from high nests of
wind, the secret houses of the sky, into the jaws of
gorgeous cats and flowers

          Not to worry but be handsome and heed these"

                              Not to Worry
                                   Gwendolyn MacEwen

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Today it remains stupid cold -24 C at present
which is actually a slightly warmer temperature compared
to the last couple of days. So I decided to see what I could
find among the photos from the trip to DC we took in
Oct. My wife had a symposium to attend on this morning
so I went out to take some pictures. There was a gentle
rain off and on but nothing too bad.

I was fascinated by this collection of bottles which
made me think of the H.P. Lovecraft story
The Terrible Old Man.

"These folk say that on a table in a bare room on the ground floor
are many peculiar bottles, in each a small piece of lead suspended
pendulum-wise from a string. And they say that the Terrible
Old Man talks to these bottles, addressing them by such names
as Jack, Scar-Face, Long Tom, Spanish Joe, Peters, and Mate Ellis,
and that whenever he speaks to a bottle the little lead
pendulum within makes certain definite vibrations as if in answer.
Those who have watched the tall, lean, Terrible Old Man in these
peculiar conversations, do not watch him again."

I may do this at the cabin.

A bit further on I encountered a beautiful set
of stone steps that lead from one street to another.
There was a lovely fountain at the top.

At the top of the stairs I found a number of
building which I think were embassies. There was
also a lovely park were a number of birds were

I saw a number of Northern Cardinals 
busy despite the rain.

And of course roses.

And to brighten a dreary day who better that the man
 my grade 13 English text  (which I still have of course)
described as probably the most romantic figure
in English Literature.
"Thus richer than untempted kings are we,
   That, asking nothing, nothing need:
Though lords of all what seas embrace, yet he
   That wants himself is poor indeed."
                                  The Grasshopper, Ode.
        To My Noble Friend, Mr Charles Cotton
                            Richard Lovelace (Cavalier Poet)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

We have had little snow and unseasonably warm temperatures
for most of this winter so when it threatened to get cold weather
warning were issued. At present it is -18 C / which I believe is - 4 F
nothing to get worked up about. I did notice that the house sparrows
were huddled at the base of the honeysuckle next to the feeder. And
every one I ran into, house sparrows, magpies and squirrels had set
their outfits to extra fluffy.

Almost looks stuffed doesn't he, and he seems  to be working on it.

I did notice that most of the wildlife I ran into today are
often considered pests the House Sparrows and Eastern Grey
Squirrels because they are non native and the native Magpies
because of the high concentrations in the city. I realize
that all can take a toll on other species, just as the vast roosts
of wintering starling can be a disaster if you live nearby.
However I do think there is some truth to the quote below, I
have noticed that people who really don't care about a native
species if it interferes with the placement of a mini mall
are all to happy to decry the presence of pest species.
Possibly many of us just don't like to share.

"Perhaps we project on to starlings that which we deplore in
ourselves: our numbers, our aggression, our greed, and our
cruelty. Like starlings, we are taking over the world."

Terry Tempest Williams

But I also noticed on my walk that the snow had worked it
usual magic and even the ordinary has been subtlety
changed and lifted up and merited notice once again. And
over it all were woven the winter songs Chicka-dee-dee-dee-dee;
fee-beee and how can you not like them?

"Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark."
                                                         Beyond the Red River
                                                                Thomas McGrath

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Red Squirrel was also a fan of the feeders on the
farm. To get to them it often traveled along the sill of
the picture window that runs the length of the living room.
On one trip I watched it stop to survey a blooming orchid
on another trip it exchanged looks with the family dog.

"When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

                        The Peace of Wild Things
                           Wendell Berry

Saturday, January 7, 2012

At the farm the feeders are close to the windows and the view
is great if I did this at home I would have a window full of
House Sparrows, on the farm you are rewarded with visits from
that charming little favorite the Black-capped Chickadee.

I found a lovely old collection of poems
about Chickadees at

“Were it not for me”,
Said a chickadee,
“Not a single flower on earth would be;
For under the ground they soundly sleep,
And never venture an upward peep,
Till they hear from me,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I wrote the following as a comment to a post on the blog http://wildramblings.com/ 
a wonderful blog that always encourages me to think. Bill was discussing
the trouble we have remembering names. I however was struck more by
how transitory names can be and the futility of thinking that they matter 
on a planet 4 plus billion years old in a universe some 13 plus billion
years old. I notice I have quoted a number of poets lately on the very
human impulse to name things and the equally human impulse
to complain about it. I did edit the comments below to provide
more information.

"As I survey the puncture mark in my jacket; we were visiting our cabin and the
barbed wire gate is a work in progress, I was struck by your problem with
remembering which wall represented which neighbour. Land does often have, at
least today, a designation based on names/ownership. Our 80 acres originally
belonged, I believe to a family named Dall I am not sure if they homesteaded
the 160 acres (quarter section which we subdivided) under the Dominion Lands
Act or if they came later, then the land passed to my wife's family and now to us.
In the future their name will disappear along with the few stones that are
left of their foundation. How long our land will be associated with us
I cannot say. But as long as the land itself is crossed with tracks in the winter
and shadowed by the dance of leaves in summer I guess I can be content.
                Maybe the name does not matter."                                                          


" Only on me, the lonely one,
The unending stars of the night shine,
The stone fountain whispers its magic song.
To me alone, to me the lonely one
The colourful shadows of the wandering clouds
Move like dreams over the open countryside.
Neither house nor farmland,
either forest nor hunting privelege is given to me,
What is mine belongs to no one,
The plungeing brook behind the veil of the woods,"

The Poet
Hermann Hesse
translated by James Wright

Monday, January 2, 2012

No trip to the farm would be complete without
a visit to our cabin. After all our 80 acres is
just down the road. Our visits were brief, the cabin
is not winterized and we had lots of Christmas
activities to get to. There was not much snow,
the slough was frozen and crisscrossed with lots
of tracks but not a creature was stirring while we
were there.

Above: if you squint you can see a
beaver lodge.

This last photo shows that our resident
population of beavers has been busy. As
this point of land is between two arms of the
slough it seems to get very heavily harvetsed.

" a single beaver can cut down up to 1700
trees each year to ensure its survival."

                        Mammals of Alberta
                                 Pattie and Fisher

" Do not touch words to what has no name
or feel the place of wandering stones with eyes
the beast we hunt must not be said
its smell rides under the wind
its face remembers our faces."

                            Glacier Spell
                               Al Purdy