Wake, Awake!

Today, a nearly perfect day of blue and gold and bracing new-leafed green, demanded that it be enjoyed from outside the house. We, my darling chauffeur-companion-partner and I, obeyed. We went to the park.Photo: Pollinators at Work

Being in a massive park, but one zoned as a number of separate and more intimate places  devoted to strolling, picnics, camping, horseback riding, fishing, and the like, we found no shortage of pleasant places to revel in the marvels of a sweet north Texas spring day. Tiny, starlike rain lilies leaping up from the sleepy clay shine like miniature suns but are even more sweetly pretty, somehow, when they’re nestling little pollinator insects. The swell of tree fungus at the base of a stump is pierced by the skyward plunge of a dainty but strong sprout of new growth from the cut tree.Photo: Sprout & Fungus

And in the short, wooded path at the park’s entrance, where the last years’ drought has compromised the forested patch of this little zone to the point where a careless spark or a small lightning strike blackened the undergrowth and seared the feet of the pines, the leaf-mould blanketing the path is whispering with scurrying insects. Dragonflies zip, crickets hum, and a flurry of minute emerald beetles flashes across the shadows into the warm sunlight on the piney dirt in search of other green things to dedicate to the extension of their fleeting little lives.Photo: Shiny Green

Renewal and refreshment are all around at this time of year, even in those parts of the hemisphere not so visibly on the brink of bloom. The very knowledge that the season of change and growth is near gives us a little nudge, when we let it, to remember that we, too, might be capable of change and growth. We, too, might bloom, with just a touch of faith and effort.

For Guiding Us All

We learn how to live, in many ways, mostly by accident. But those of us who learn to live well, whether as better scholars, more skilled laborers or artisans, or simply as more loving and kind and generous and good-hearted people—that growth and knowledge is gained best of all through the care and guidance of those who serve as our teachers and mentors. Parents and relatives can do this, friends and neighbors and co-workers. We who are most fortunate of all have many such positive influences come into our lives and help to shape us and bring forth our best selves.

And those who are best at being this sort of careful, patient, challenging, and giving tutors in one other person’s life tend to be so naturally inclined to raise up the best in anyone within their reach that they serve as mentors to many, regardless of any plan or intention. We who have been the beneficiaries of this largesse owe a debt of gratitude, and perhaps too, our own best efforts to pass the gifts along to another circle of influence in the great, rippling pond of our connectedness, to a further acre or two of young and beautiful growth that waits between today and our own eventual horizons. Life is brief, and best enriched in its short seasons by propagating mutual help and guidance. I am thankful to have been gifted with a number of superb guides and examples, friends and mentors, in my own life. May you all be as well.Photo: A Dahlia for Neil

Bright Dahlias

The autumn came too soon, and left a pallor on the pretty paint

of those tall dahlias that you had nurtured faithfully, their saint;

It turned them into shadows of

themselves too soon, shadows of love…

Frost cut them down and took them in its bony hands to steal their dance

the graces you had tended there so tenderly, by circumstance,

From shoot to bud to blooming beds,

by stealthy ice that bowed their heads…

And you saw early autumn, too, too soon—were bit untimely by

the frost and plucked from gardening, the sun still in your sky-blue eye

Made winter’s sparkling snowy air

of beauties we were loath to spare…

Yet all this theft you had foreseen, and readied us to stay and tend

bright dahlias, each, our own; to go on gardening, and so amend

Our sorrows in your still-wide gaze

by passing on your gentle ways…

The rich inheritance you gave still grows like dahlias among

us all, your heirs, and in their turn, those we raise up as happy young

New imitators of your gift

for singing to give hearts a lift…

In loving memory of Neil Lieurance, and with deep and abiding gratitude for the treasure that is a true mentor in any life.

 

Through Winter’s Window, Dimly

Photo: Light Looks In

Change of Season

Between the rain spells, when the sun is glinting onto rose and road
The youthful smells of spring are hinting that ahead the broken code
Winter left in seed and scion will reveal its inner life,
Where what had appeared as dying wakes again with newness rife.
Open eyes and open windows! Let indoors the fresh new air,
Breathing in what melts the snows and pushes out all winter’s cares.
So renew the self and senses and embrace the growth and light
Breaking down all old defenses, setting earth again aright.

Water Babies Athirst

There was a whopper of a rainstorm in Dallas recently. We were at our friends’ home, enjoying a little birthday party, and heard a few low growls of thunder in pauses between the chatting and laughter but had no great confidence rain would follow. It’s been overcast or cloudy often enough lately without granting so much of the hoped-for watering as it seems to promise, so we never take it as a given that we’ll be watered nicely. Not, in this instance at least, until the front door smashed open under the force of sideways gales and blasts of firehose rain. Bashed open once, and closed; then, a second time. And latched tight; the neighborhood was pelted well and truly until just a little before we left for home.
Photo: Drinking-Fountain Fountain

At home, it appears, no rain had come at all. Our gardens and spirits remained thirsty. I’m quite certain that a coastal-born person of my Washington upbringing and Scandinavian roots is a little more water-conscious, if not obsessed, than average. But the hints of rain that do arrive here, whether in sky-splitting gouts that last but an afternoon or in a steady series of lightly sprinkling days as we are sometimes blessed to see, are a fairly universally admired gift. And I find that north Texas is hardly alone in this.
Photo: Swan Like

The traveling we did this summer in Europe had very few rainy days among the many sun-soaked ones, and while we neither regretted the warmth and light of the sunshine nor bemoaned the drizzling times, we saw plenty of people in Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Stockholm, Port Angeles and Seattle who relished their rain-baths and their waterfront or fountain-side relaxation every bit as much as we did. Even the swans, geese, ducks and waterfowl seemed all the more pleased with their daily peregrinations on the days of and after the rains.
Digital illustration from a photo: Falling, Falling

I think that there might be in all of us a certain kind of thirst that mere water only reinforces and reminds us is different from the sense of desire and hope that can fill our spirits. River or fountain, a strong and cleansing rain, ocean or streaming tears of joy, the only water that can quite slake our longing for wholeness and growth and hope is the remembrance that we are primarily made of water ourselves, and as such, will always seek a way to the well or the shore that reassures us we belong.

Beginning with the Very First Night

Digital illustration from a photo: Slide into NightFrom Darkness to Stars

Those distant notes of smoky, sighing dusk

That underlay and raise the early moon

Draw mystery from earth, as if its musk

Were growing far too fecund, far too soon,

To lie a moment longer there in wait

And hide the heart of what was made for strength,

The time when reinvention is so great

It imitates Creation, and at length,

Renews its potent primacy and grows,

Becomes, designs, accelerates, empow’rs

All who would build, each being here that knows,

The inspiration of the nighttime hours—

So break the stars of newness in the night

To bring from utter darkness brilliant light!Digital illustration from a photo: From Darkness to Stars

If You’re Not Growing, You’re Disintegrating

Decrepit Like Everybody Else

I ought to get my rear in gear; encroaching entropy

Challenges my mere existence, yes, the being-ness of me—

photo

Why, I’ll be disappearing soon, with chaos on the rise—

Order is losing ground to it, and much to my surprise,

Growth falls to dissolution at a speed I comprehend

Is likely to outlast me, too, as I fade to my end—
photo

And now I am unraveling, unwinding, getting old

And obsolete, for that’s the end of every tale that’s told.

Goodbye to all you younger things: relish your hour of youth—

You’ll all join me, and soon enough, and that’s the simple truth.

I am a Three-Year-Old

Digital illustration: Coloring Book/Stained GlassHave I matured as much in three years of daily blogging as a toddler does in her first three years of life? Highly unlikely. I was, after all, already a half century old and probably set in many of my ways to a degree that could forestall any large amount of progress toward real change, or at least drag it by the ankles dramatically.

Chances are, I haven’t made a huge number of changes as a person in general during the last three years. But I can lay claim to some growth, after all.

Moving to the wholly new world of life here in Texas in 2009 certainly necessitated some change. My aging corpus may not have made the transition perfectly: being over-endowed with the internal furnace function of middle-aged hormonal fun isn’t entirely compatible with the outdoor temperature norms here, and like many transplanted citizens I’ve done some battle with the local slate of allergens new to my system.

On the positive side, what I’ve found as a blogger echoes the best of what I found in migrating from my longtime home in the Pacific Northwest to the new-to-me frontier of North Texas, an entirely different sort of northern-ness. Entering new territories, both the real and the online ones, presented the possibility of encountering insurmountable tasks and challenges, or worse yet, unfriendly natives. Of course, my being still in Texas after five years and still blogging after three tells you that none of those fears proved true. Quite the reverse, in fact, considering that I’ve had some lovely experiences in both worlds during my brief tenure here, and I’ve garnered a whole cadre of wonderful friends in both, as well.

In short, I would amend my initial statement so far as to say that anything leading to such an exponential increase in the size and variety and quality of my circle of compatriots seems to me the very best kind of growth possible. Happy blogiversary to me this week—and more importantly, from me to all of you, who have made the journey so worthwhile and still so inviting. Who knows where the next three years may take us all!