Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

                        From A Visit from St. Nicholas
                        by  Clement Clarke Moore

Monday, December 21, 2015

"We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every particle is equally related; the eternal ONE."

                                                                         by Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Now during the cold winter days I have begun to edit the pictures from our summer at the cabin. One advantage to spending the entire summer at the cabin is watching the birds from mating through nesting and the first flights of the young. So here in June we see the Brown Headed Cowbird scoping out the territory and then in late August the White Throated Sparrow feeding the Cowbird chick.

"Perhaps you have noticed that even in the slightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree; this we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit, for not only men, but all things and all beings pray to Him continually in different ways."

                                                                        by Black Elk

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Parked in my spot again, eh!

Just let out some air.

And my work here is done.

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Vast and majestic, mountains embrace your shadow;
broad and deep, rivers harbour your voice."

                T'ao Ch'ien

"I look south to Deer-Gate Mountain. haze
lavish, as if some fragrance remained.

but his old mountain home is lost there:
mist thick and forests all silvered azure."

from Hsiang Travels: Thinking of Meng Hao-jan
by Po Chu-i

Saturday, November 28, 2015

"When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, 
striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through 
space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, 
the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty"

                  from Travels in Alaska
                       by John Muir

" I reached Cold Mountain and all cares stopped
no idle thoughts remained in my head
nothing to do I write poems on rocks
and trust the current like an unmoored boat"

from the Collected Songs of Cold Mountain

Sunday, November 22, 2015

" Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?"

from Some Questions You Might Ask
by Mary Oliver

" But in memory, the safe places never fall into themselves. They 
remain warmly lit by lantern. Burlap bags always full of potatoes, 
 damp wooden shelves jewelled with jars of preserves." 

from Winter Morning Walks, february 24
 by Ted Kooser

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Most people are on the world, not in it -- have no conscious 
sympathy or relationship to anything about them -- undiffused,
 separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone,
 touching but separate."

from John of the Mountains: 
The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

We were lucky enough to catch the glacier calving.

"As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.
I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the
avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, 
and get as near the heart of the world as I can." 

                                                                                  Journals of John Muir

Monday, November 9, 2015

"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into 
the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and 
baggage and chatter."

from Life and Letters of John Muir

I will be using some quotes from John Muir for a series of posts. This Sept. my wife, my mother-in-law and I took a cruise to Alaska. We saw the mountains and glaciers so beloved of John Muir and in Ketchikan my wife bought me two books, John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire by Kim Heacox, and Alaska Days with John Muir by Samuel Hall Young. I had not realized that Muir visited Alaska and certainly not that his experiences there were so central to his work promoting  the formation of the US National Parks system.  Muir's writings about Alaska spurred a tourist rush to see the Alaskan glaciers even in his day and I can only image, given the quote above what he would have thought of the great progression of cruise ship/hotels that venture north every  summer to retrace his trips to the area that is now Glacier Bay National Park. I do wish I had done a little more research/reading before the trip, that might be the old librarian surfacing.

Things that struck me about the glaciers, how blue they were and the great black striations indicating that they are old enough to be geology rather than mere ice, 

and their size, the folks below are included for scale, the deck that are standing
on is five decks above water level,

for scale again, at the base of the glacier I saw want I assume are sea lions 
they were barely visible with my 100-400 mm lens.


Once you folded entire continents, oceans rose and fell, lived, died at your whim
you coughed up boulders big as houses, pulled vast sheets of rocks across
thousands of miles, as effortlessly as a child with a blankie.

No one stood against you not man, not mammoth not muskox well maybe muskox
but mostly you came out on top, your gallstones ground a world to stretch marks and 
your cousins rolled through space with a heedlessness that made dinosaurs tremble.

Now it's all downhill, you clutch little boys tongues, nip their noses, lurk
in the mouths of alleys to attack someone home from the shops with a bag of apples 
and today you tripped a small white dog in red boots who bumped his chin on the curb.

Despite a short lived triumph as the screaming eagle centrepiece in a buffet
your future is mostly ice hockey, curlers in loud sweaters, and bobbing 
around an unfriendly world in a gaudy pink drink with a paper umbrella.

So there!

by Me

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"I was so busy rushing headlong into the future, loving libraries and
books and authors with all my heart and soul, was so consumed
with becoming myself that I simply didn't notice that I was short,
homely and untalented."

     From the introduction to Bradbury Stories ( William Morrow publ.)
                             by Ray Bradbury

Since retiring in May this is the first time I have the luxury of  
sitting down at home and fiddling with my books. It seems to 
be a time to read, think and look, both forward and backward.
My books; mirrors to the reflections, loves, lives of so many 
others, both real and imagined, help as well.

"We live forward, but understand backwards'

                       from Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity
by Prue Shaw

Sunday, October 11, 2015

" we are asleep over charts at running windows
we are asleep with compasses in our hands
and at the bow of the stone boat
the wave from the ends of the earth keeps breaking"

from The Estuary
by W.S. Merwin

I have been out of circulation for awhile, we went on
an Alaskan cruise with no internet access we cared to
pay for and then I had a cold and sat around feeling sorry
for myself. Now recovered and with lots of photos from
both the cruise and the summer at the cabin I will try to
post more often. I am not sure if the subject of Merwin
poems exactly matches the photos but they often mirror
my feelings, while observing and experiencing the world
with all it's history, complexity, colour and movement.

" I am the child who plans the Ark
back of the house while there is still 
time and rides bareback on the dark
horse through the summer night until
day finds us on the leafless hill
who stands at evening by the lake
looking out on it as I will
as long as I am here awake. "

    from Testimony
        by W.S. Merlin

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"These are the stories the dogs tell, when the fire
burns high and the wind is from the north"

from City
by Clifford Simak  

A quick stop in Vancouver, which means the Sylvia Hotel on 
English Bay, and dogs on the seawall, 

and gulls on rocks 

rocks without gulls,  

and sea
washed pebbles,

the mysteries of the deep, Cthulhu?  

the last flowers of summer 

Favorite eateries 

and funky boutiques.

"There is mystery here, but a soft, sure mystery that is 

understood and only remains a mystery because I want
it so. The mystery of the nighthawk against a darkening sky, 
the puzzle of the firefly along the lilac hedge."

from Time and Again
by Clifford Simak

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Recall, reader if ever in the mountains 
a mist has caught you, through which you could not 
see except as moles do through the skin
how when the moist vapours began to dissipate,
the sphere of the sun enters freely through them ,
and your imagination will quickly see how, at first 
I saw the sun again, which is now at its setting"

from Purgatory X11, 1-9
by Dante translator Charles S. Singleton

One morning at the cabin I looked out so see a stream of
fog running thru a low spot where the land dips between the
 ridge where the cabin sits before it rises again, slightly to form 
a finger like peninsula jutting into the slough. The fog moved out
through the brush along the edge of the slough becoming a water
fall of mist pouring down the bank to the water and eventually 
dancing like the narrows before burning off in the morning sun.
Fog is the stuff of magic and mystery.

"In the morning, mist comes up from the sea by the cliffs 
beyond Kingsport. White and feathery it comes from the deep 
to its brothers the clouds, full of dreams of dank pastures 
and caves of leviathan. And later, in still summer rains on the 
steep roofs of poets, the clouds scatter bits of those dreams,
that men shall not live without rumor of old strange secrets, 
and wonders that planets tell planets alone in the night. 
When tales fly thick in the grottoes of tritons, and conchs in 
seaweed cities blow wild tunes learned from the Elder Ones, 
then great eager mists flock to heaven laden with lore, and 
oceanward eyes on tile rocks see only a mystic whiteness, 
as if the cliff's rim were the rim of all earth, and 
the solemn bells of buoys tolled free in the aether of faery. "

from The Strange High House in the Mist
by H.P. Lovecraft

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Mine are the night and morning, 
The pits of air, the gulf of space, 
The sportive sun, the gibbous moon, 
The innumerable days."

from Song of Nature
by Emerson

On today's canoe trip eagle or osprey we are not sure?

It was big. Very Big. Roc?

"Our paddles keen and bright, 
Flashing like silver; 
Swift as the wild goose flight, 
Dip, dip, and swing.

Dip, dip, and swing them back, 
Flashing like silver; 
Swift as the wild goose flight, 
Dip, dip and swing."

The Paddle Song

Monday, August 17, 2015

" Fields around are yellowing into harvest
nestlings and fingerlings are sky and water borne"

from Wilderness Gothic
by Al Purdy

Some recent highlights.

The swallow chicks from the nests by the living room eaves
left the nest a couple weeks ago and were feed in the trees by 
the porch. You could really see the dominance of the larger

Also shot for the living room window, a White-Throated Sparrow
feeds a Brown Headed Cowbird chick. The White-Throated 
Sparrow is considered a rare cowbird host according to The 
Birders Handbook by Enrlich et al.

A young coyote approaches us on our walk. The parents 
apparently stash them somewhere while they go to hunt. Like
teenagers everywhere they then unlock the door and go to the 
mall. A couple of rocks in its direction convinced it that people
and their dogs are not something to approach. 

This summer we went on four studio trails, where you drive thru 
the country and artists welcome you into their homes and studios
to share their work. It give you wonderful insight in how creative
people can be. We bought painting, pottery and quilts as well,
but we really likes these wooden items by three different artists.
I have long wanted to carve birds so I love the Wren I bought, now
I have to get busy.

Finally the local lake in the evening, my wife and her
family fished here on Sundays so it is a special place
for her.

"This is, I think,
what holiness is:
the natural world,
where every moment is full

of the passion to keep moving.
Inside every mind
there's a hermit's cave
full of light,

full of snow,
full of concentration.
I've knelt there,
and so have you,

hanging on
to what you love,
to what is lovely.
The lake's

shining sheets
don't make a ripple now,
and the stars
are going off to their blue sleep,

but the words are in place --
and the fish leaps, and leaps again
from the black plush of the poem,
that breathless space."

               from At The Lake
                by Mary Oliver