Keen Eyes do Not a Keen Mind Make

For most of my life I’ve had outstanding vision. I had a little interlude in grade school and junior high school when I wore fairly weak glasses to correct my slight farsightedness, but it was indeed correctable, and after about three years I was once again glasses-free, and this state of uncorrected bliss lasted until I was a whole half-century old. During my external-lens-less heyday I could see all sorts of things with great crispness and clarity and in glorious detail. Unfortunately for you, this did not extend to my seeing the truth more clearly than others could or to my understanding anything more clearly than anyone else did.photoHaving sharp eyes doesn’t, it turns out, equal having a sharp intellect. Dang.

It’s as if the universe didn’t care whether I’m a blithering idiot, no matter how excellent my eyesight. Come to think of it, a convenient combination in a person wishing to be an artist and writer and having no particular need or wish to do so in a reality-based universe. So here I am, all of those years post-first-spectacles, once again enhanced in my ability to see things by artificial means, and yet no smarter or better able to clarify the meaning of existence or even an itty bitty little part of it than I was with no glasses near my peepers. Go figure.photoMy appreciation and admiration for genuine intelligence may have increased over the years, to be sure, but the need for such things seems, if anything, to decline steadily and in perhaps directly proportionate amounts. What this says about me I will leave to your imaginations. At the same time, I needn’t leave everything to your imaginations, because as my goofy insight into things utterly fictional remains entirely intact no matter what happens to my eyebulbs, I can assure you that I will continue to produce all sorts of whimsical, bizarre and deeply educational items for your perusal here at my blog. It’s what I do.

Hope, as Emily* has Said…

Welcome, 2014!

This may be the first time I’m posting anyone else’s writing on my blog, but don’t worry, I’ll start with my own poem. New Year’s Day is a good time to both do a new thing or two and affirm our traditions, so here goes. Happy New Year’s Day, all!photoOn Wide Wings

By the frigid light of morning, by the pale edge of the sky,

In the whispers of the gloaming waits a hawk that, by and by,

Stretches up his head and perches, keen eye searching on the lake,

Where the echo of the church’s bells call out: Awake! Awake!

Wings sweep wide, then, of a sudden, take him soaring to the heights

Where sunrise is turning golden, burnishing the hawk with lights

Bright as gilt, his feathers flashing as he darts across the chill-

Watered lake, and quickly splashing, snares a fish, and what was still,

Silent, peaceful, secret-keeping in the dark vault of the night,

All bursts from that quiet sleeping, with the hawk called by the light–

Now the day is fully opened, like a daffodil in spring,

Brought to bloom in joy and hope and shaded by the hawk’s wide wing–

As he soars and daylight blazes, my heart, too, begins to rise,

Knows how sweet this best of days is, that would raise me to the skies.digital artwork from a photo* Emily Dickinson:

Hope     

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

Way Out Back

The ever-marvelous Celi, she of the sustainably-farmed wonders at The Kitchens Garden, challenged all of us to share what we see from our back porch, patio, stoop, door, window or patch of land, and the images pouring in have been a delight. Each so different, each from some other far-flung locale around the globe–but each seen from the home turf of a person joined together in this fantastic community of blogging and readership that makes the otherwise disparate styles and locations seem we are all next door neighbors. What a superb thing, to shrink the world down to a size that can easily fit into a single embrace!photoSo I give you a glimpse of what I see behind my home, too. Our house is situated on a city lot (about the typical suburban US standard of 50 x 100 feet), but it feels both less like a suburban place and much bigger because it backs on an easement, a small ravine for rain run-off and city/county service access. The ravine’s seldom wet (this is, after all, Texas) or used for services, so it’s mainly a tree-filled wild spot and a refuge for local birds, flora, insects, and an assortment of critters that have at various times included not only squirrels and raccoons but also rabbits, opossums, armadillos, deer, foxes, coyotes and bobcats. There have certainly been, along with the delightful bluejays and cardinals and wrens and chickadees, doves, grackles, hummingbirds and killdeers and all of those sorts of small-to mid-sized birds, plenty of hawks and vultures and, I suspect (since I know others not so far from here who have had visits from them) wild turkeys, though I’ve not seen the latter.photoWhat I have seen recently that is infrequent if not rare, is some very welcome rain pouring down on us here, so I’m showing you slightly uncommon backyard views today. The second picture is taken from our raised patio, but the first is the view as I most commonly see it: through the kitchen window, where I can stand safely out of the lightning’s reach (as on the day shown) and more comfortably in air-conditioned splendor than in the 90-105ºF (32-40ºC) we experience so often here. Believe me when I tell you that the intense green of this scene as shown is rather unusual for this time of year, when we would more often have much more brown and bedraggled plants all around us. But we also have the luxury of a sprinkler system, so if the ravine begins to droop in dry hot weather, we’re generally protected from terrible fire danger and can still be an inviting spot for the local wildlife to take its ease. To that end, and because I generally prefer the beauties of the more native and wild kinds of landscapes to the glories of the manicured, I have my new wildflower swath in place and it’s just beginning to show a variety of the flowers and grasses I’ve planted there; seen to the left of the grey gravel path in the second picture, it stretches from the patio all the way back to the ravine.

White Velvet and 24 Karat Gold

Morning doesn’t always bring peace. Sorrow may linger, grief that is not wiped away by night or sleep or even tears.digitally doctored photo

Beauty, though, can help approximate the sense of peace, help me to recollect a meditative, even if it’s melancholy, calm. This, too, brings some small measure of what I remember as true peace, and lets me know that the capacity remains. In possibility is hope. In hope is rest. In rest, I can let go, if just for now, the troubles of the hour.

A cloudless dawn has its own quiet way of pouring out benevolence that, if not cure, brings respite of a kind and momentarily distracts the heart from its dull void. At the morning’s break, low-lying mist pools, thick and velvety, swirling so slowly in its densely silver gleam, it seems to be a lake–indeed, a mystic lake where it would be no great surprise to see that shimmering arm emerge that bears Excalibur.

Along the horizon creeps that cottony blue, transforming first to palest violet, then rose, then saturated orange, and finally, shooting sun-flares so bright and dazzling they blind when they reflect from glass sky scraper walls, pillars of wholly molten gold blazing beacon-sharp against the now bright-cobalt sky. Silhouetted there, a hawk perches on its lamppost throne, surveying all as if to say, I’m looking out for you. Let go of worry; I will see that all’s as it should be. And with a sweep of his unfolded wings, plunges off the lamp into the broader light of day.digitally doctored photo