Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel" "
       From [little tree]
        E.E. CUMMINGS
From my family to yours all the best for the holidays.
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
The Oxen
                       Thomas Hardy

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"I dream an inescapable dream
in which I take away from the country
the bridges and roads, the fences, the strung wires,
ourselves, all we have built and dug and hollowed out,
our flocks and herds, our droves of machines.

     I restore then the wide-branching trees.
I see growing over the land and shading it
the great trunks and crowns of the first forest.
I am aware of the rattling of their branches,
the lichened channels of their bark, the saps
of the ground flowing upward to their darkness.
Like the afterimage of a light that only by not
looking can be seen, I glimpse the country as it was.
All its beings belong wholly to it.  They flourish
in dying as in being born.  It is the life of its deaths."

                                                                              from The Dream

                                                                                    Wendell Berry

As often happens when bad weather and lassitude
combine to keep me in, I fall back on the denizens of 
my backyard feeders for my photographic subjects. 
The Downy woodpecker was a nice change as all to often
I am left with a few native birds and a host of introduced species.
I felt the poetry fragment from Berry and my own poem make
nice bookends for this themecontrast. While I would like to see the 
world of the Plains Grizzly, the vast herds of Bison and Pronghorn 
or even further back the Dire Wolf, Sabretooth and 
Short Faced Bear I am not sure that world would like me.

So sparrows it is.


Eye, Fly, Awry in this Landscape of Words,

They say don’t feed the birds, you encourage
dependence, promote non-native species.
who knew, it seemed such a harmless lark.

And what is the result of my two week vacation,
starvation throughout Brentwood stretching to
Dalhousie and Charlewood, or is it more widespread.

They do fly after all and we go through a lot of seed,
will they be dropping in Shanghai and Topeka,
and if not mass starvation, perhaps delinquency.

The whole of bird society breaking down, begging,
sexual license, belling cats, downing power lines
pushing each other into the air intakes of jets.

Or could it be positive, native species returning
Bluebirds, Martins sundry Warblers all jostling
wildly for the vacant nesting boxes and bird baths.

Maybe we should think big, Passenger Pigeons,
Carolina Parakeets, Labrador Ducks, who knows
what these misplaced Weaver Birds were up to.

Maybe we will see the great brown spurts of Bison
moving out of the river valleys with their attendant
packs of Grey Wolves and lumbering Plains Grizzlies.

And if I stop feeding the sleek Black Squirrels
that hang like misshapen fruit from my feeders,
what can I get for that?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"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."

                         from Beyond the Red River
                                      Thomas McGrath

We have had a cold week,  for much of the time the 
temperature was in the high minus 20 Celsius range 
with a wind chill some 10 degrees colder. As bit warmer 
today, but for most of the week the view out the window
showed puffed up birds and frost wrapped trees. I did put
up some Christmas lights today. The show must go on.

 "Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold."

                  from Winter Trees
                              William Carlos Williams

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"I thought of you in the sweet 
South; and the wind at the window was only
A warm breeze to melt the icicles of sleep."

from A Window on the North
R. A. D. Ford

Yesterday as expected we got our blizzard
not a huge amount of snow, but high wind 
chills with lots of drifting snow, mayhem 
and confusion. Today it was still cold -14 c 
at lunch with the sun showing blue and red 
thru a cloudy sky. I saw only one magpie and 
two jackrabbits that wanted no part of photos.

"Else winter reigns throughout the self
                            and we become
more barren than the nest
that sways within a winter wind."

from Winterkill
      D. G. Jones

Sunday, December 1, 2013

the day shut down like Napoleon
at Moscow
a day for art
the marvel of flight and of stillness
commotion and silence"

                                    War and Peace
                                                D. G. Jones

I have combined a bit of travel for work and the winter 
blahs as an excuse for no taking many photos or blogging.
We currently have a blizzard warning here so I thought
I would offer some photos of the flames of October and a 
poem I wrote some years ago while on a another work 
related bus trip through a winter landscape.

On a Bus Headed North

20 below, everything fades to white,
fields stretch to a white horizon
each tree, woodlot is rimmed in frost
and the white non-light still holds
against an unseen dawn.
On the snow mantled farm the
red buildings bleed to rose,
the yard light shines like a grounded star,
and if I could stop and walk
up the long path, pass the granaries,
the black on white piano key
repetition of fence posts,
would I be a mysterious guest
a magi, or merely home?

But we continue north to a grey,
shuttered city, waiting for spring to come
and open it like a can.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Life is a long walk forward through the crowded cars 
of a passenger train, the bright world racing past beyond 
the windows, people on either side of the aisle, strangers 
whose stories we never learn, dear friends whose names 
we long remember and passing acquaintances whose
names and faces we take in like a breath and soon
breathe away."

from Local Wonders
Ted Kooser

When I decided to use the Kooser quote above I had intended
to end with another quote from one of his poems. However while
flipping through the The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English
Verse Chosen by Philip Larkin I found The Ice by Gibson and loved 
the  poem so much I decided to use it instead. Kooser's strength is 
always metaphor and the image of life as a walk through the cars of a 
moving train really spoke to me. I could not resist complimenting it
with Gibson's poems dealing with the stages of life where the elderly
women has attained the wisdom to ignore the jeers of others and 
experience the pure joy of childhood. I love the ability of literature to
allow us to share the experience of others or view the world from a 
different perspective. We all use a variety of sources and mechanisms
to guide our lives and make sense of the world whether it is personal 
experience,  family, community, religion, political ideology, science or 
art etc. I really enjoy using science, nature, literature and paintings 
to inform my world view and colour my experience. And of course
pets and science fiction.

In winter we tend to hibernate here we are going for it.

Saturday I had hoped to go to an Ivan Eyre show but the 
weather took a real turn for the worse so I took some photos
of the usual suspects enjoying the heated bird bath. Today
we started with -20 celsius and have warmed up to -11 so
I am watching the CFL playoffs and thinking about vacuuming. 

"HER day out from the workhouse-ward, she stands,
A grey-haired woman, decent and precise,
With prim black bonnet and neat paisley shawl,
Among the other children by the stall;
And with grave relish eats a penny ice.
To wizened toothless gums, with quaking hands
She holds it, shuddering with deliscious cold;
Nor heeds the jeering laughter of young men --
The happiest, in her innocense, of all:
For, while their insolent youth must soon grow old,
She, who's been old, is now a child again."

The Ice
Wilfred Gibson

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You are here, alive in this place,
touching with sight
things that are smoke tomorrow

from Alive in the World
John Haines

I could not capture the motion but all day the vent on 
the neighbors garage has spun round beneath its little
cap of snow.

Two days of snow and the feeders and heated  bird bath
have been the centre of attention in a cold and windy world.
And for me this is always a welcome site seeing that they
are here and things are, in this moment as they should be.

So the song is becoming as the world
becomes, and it can never leave us;
 because we are the notice in its passages,

from Song of the Ocean of the World Becoming
Pattiann Rogers

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Throughout this long flow of the seasons,
life in an infinite variety of forms. life dormant in bur
and bud, in burrow and pupa-case, life biding its time,
would respond to the increasing warmth."

Wandering Through Winter
Edwin Way Teale

But today our winter chapter begins.

"Now as I stand 
Before the the window and attend
The sailing, flurrying flakes, the whitening land
I seek again in vain some clue or key
To liberate the guarded mystery.

This much, no more I know:
That science,  fixed to finite laws
Is helpless to unveil 
The supervening cause
And so, once more, I fail.

Now in my eighth decade, no wiser now 
Than the spellbound child
who first beheld beguiled, 
Long seventy years ago
Enchanted snow."

                                               Enchanted Snow 
                                          Melville Cane