If My Song could Last Forever

Photo: Well Seasoned 1Hours into Seasons

There’s a sweetness in the morning when the sun has yet to rise

And the blooms lie, still unopened, under sleeping butterflies;

When the stars still wink and glimmer, while the frogs yet softly sing—

There’s a sweetness in the morning that is like the breath of Spring.Photo: Well Seasoned 2

There’s a graciousness at midday when, amid the racing streams,

All arise and put in motion yesterday’s profoundest dreams;

When the past its chains has loosened on the race of all alive,

That in joyful forward motion we, like Summer, grow and thrive.Photo: Well Seasoned 3

There’s a calm amid the evening when the birds come to the trees’

Respite from the day of flying, echoed by our evening ease;

When the cares of noon have lessened as the dusk swept into place—

There’s a calm amid the evening, peaceful as the Autumn’s grace.Photo: Well Seasoned 4

There’s a beauty to the nighttime, glorious and peaceful bliss,

Treasured for the kind renewal of the souls that rest in this

Cradling darkness and this languor, in this place of mending rest

That, like Winter’s dormant healing, lets us wake refreshed and blessed.Photo: Well Seasoned 5

I would take these hours’ presents as my guide through seasons long,

Through a lifelong path that’s pleasant as a choir’s finest song;

I would be a seasoned traveler, happy above everything,

If my song could last forever,

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring.Photo: Well Seasoned 6

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.

Foodie Tuesday: Must be the Mermaid in Me

 

photoWhen I was growing up, I didn’t really have a sense of what a treat it was to eat fish. Mom prepared it beautifully, and it was special that most of our trout and salmon dinners were thanks to her father’s fishing skill and generosity, but the very fact that we got it for free must have seemed to my childish way of thinking simply an indicator that some money was being saved in the household grocery budget, surely a good thing but not a culinary indicator of quality per se. It didn’t take me awfully long, however, to realize that fish, especially salmon, was actually extremely tasty, versatile as an ingredient, and so enjoyable that its flavor significantly outweighed its (still unknown to me) mighty nutritional profile in making me seek it out for dinner, lunch, breakfast, snacks and more. Before I was in school I was a confirmed fan of salmon, that beautiful blushing fish, and had discovered a little something of how bountiful and lovely in general the larder of the sea really was.photoNowadays, I happily eat vast quantities of many kinds of seafood whenever I can lay hands and teeth on a fresh supply. Grilled salmon with (of course!) lashings of rich Hollandaise, salmon burgers, smoked salmon and cream cheese on thinly sliced pumpernickel, kulebiaka, hearty yet delicate salmon bouillabaisse, salmon and avocado salad: heaven. Crab quiche, grilled Tillamook cheddar sandwiches crammed with Dungeness crab, crab Louis, crab tacos, crab fried rice, fried soft-shell crabs? Divine. I moved up; I moved on. I never moved away again from loving rivers full, lakes full, an ocean-full, of good food. Calamari and 42nd Street Cafe’s clam chowder and chilled giant prawns with simple horseradish sauce (or just a squeeze of lemon). Slabs of roasted halibut, exquisitely artful sushi, sole Amandine, trout in browned butter, seared rare tuna, shrimp Toast Skagen, simple yet elegant sushi, and lobster bisque with cream and cognac.photoYou may think there’s something fishy about my obsession with all of this, but the truth is I just love good seafood. It doesn’t take a whale of an imagination to understand why.photo

Sorrow, Begone! Morning will Come Again

photo diptychTo Rest in Peace
The night is long and still I cannot sleep
For fear the dawn will steal what I would keep
When hope and restlessness have wrestled till
The willow near my bedroom windowsill
Bends nearer down to say she’ll weep with me,
One generation to the next, poor tree–
The night will surely pass, and so will sorrow,
Yes, just as death’s outlasted by tomorrow,
So let me sleep, O grief, or let me fly now,
Over the willow tree, rise up and die now–
For what’s this aching but forewarning cold
That what’s ahead is neither dross nor gold
Except it brings me closer by its cost
To endless morning, healed of what I’d lost.photoMy dear friends, this post was prepared some time ago because I knew it was going to be a busy day: a travel day for my husband and me on our return home from TMEA (the Texas Music Educators Association’s annual conference of well over 20,000 musicians, students and teachers). Not at all surprisingly, being surrounded by this musical ‘cloud of witnesses’ has made our thoughts turn to Eric Ericson and the many gifts he brought to the choral world over his long and storied career, and to my spouse’s and my lives as well, so we were talking about him as we walked home from a TMEA event late last night. So somehow, despite the sadness of it, it was not so shocking to waken this very morning to the news that he has died. He was, after all, 94 years old. But it seems to me that he was escorted out of this world on a wave of music, and that is only fitting for such a titan of choral culture. He will be missed by uncountable choirs of his musical offspring–and he left a song that will never stop resounding in our midst. Farewell and peace, Eric.

A Park, a Pond, at Peace

photoNow that the temperatures are gradually sliding into what I consider survivable territory, it’s a lovely opportunity to go outdoors and simply take a leisurely stroll again. I was reminded of this on our little jaunt out to the west coast over Thanksgiving, when even though it was clammy and overcast and somewhat rainy it was a welcome thing to be able to step out the door and not be pushed back in by the blast furnace of the perpetual sun. I love sunshine, really I do, and I’m not sorry to live where I do just now, but it’s a delight to be able to get out and stretch my legs in the neighborhood without any necessity to dash for cover lest I turn instantly into cracklins.

This week, a walk through the surrounding neighborhood, exploring a few streets and walkways and pockets of this town that we’ve not seen before, was the perfect soother on a Saturday afternoon, and a rare treat at that. And it makes me plot further to spend some quality time over the brief winter cooling period just getting out to soak up the happy and calming atmosphere of our more tree-dense areas, our parks and lakes and ponds and the wonderful wild grasses and prairie native plants that make this such a good place to be. To simply step out on the patio from time to time and absorb the rustling leaf sounds of the backyard greenbelt and the obbligato of the birds whistling therein. To hike over to the university campus instead of having to take the shuttle just to survive the three and a half or so miles, and then once there not to need to tear indoors instantly.

I’m only too glad to have the opportunity to recall what is actually so great about the great outdoors and to relish the enchantments of a lightly ruffled pond or the distant competitive singing of a yard full of hounds or even, should I be outdoors and doing the right thing in the right spot at the perfectly right moment, to feel that exceedingly sharp joy found only when one is not enclosed by walls and roof. What a fine joy that can be indeed.photo

Ten Thousand Kinds of Green

 

photoIt takes very little time upon returning to the Pacific Northwest for me to be reminded of one of its central characteristics that became so imprinted on my heart and mindset through my many years of dwelling there as to be interchangeable with my entire concept of wholeness and well-being: the color green. The millions of colors that can be called Green, to be more precise. Having been born in the Emerald City of the Evergreen State, I can confirm that they have earned their titles both the hard way (rain–sometimes seemingly endless–rain–oh, and snowpack and glacier runoff in the spring) and entirely honestly. The city and the state are genuinely, deeply, exquisitely green.photoOther places may be green with envy. Yes, there are certainly other spectacularly green places on earth, some of which I have visited, among them to wit: Ireland, Allgäu, and the jungle that straddles the Panamanian border with Costa Rica (a tropical cloud forest) all rife with verdure and also with all of those forms of watery nourishment that bring about such burgeoning beauties in their respectively green-glorious regions. Each green place is unique in the character and flavor of its glowing, growing vegetation, and each gains its place in my heart as much through its variations of verdancy as by any other means.photoWhat it all comes down to is that these things grow on me as much as on the face of the earth, filling my senses and my emotional center in ways that few other things can. This recent return to my mossy, leafy, grassy, graceful green roots merely reminds me of what lies deep within me all of the time. The west coast is so rich in tints and hues and tones and shades and variations of green that I cannot imagine an existence without them and know that green will always be the color against which completeness and contentment and ecstasy are best measured.photophotophotophotophotophotophotoMourn the tiresome persistence of the rain at times, if you must, but once you have been drawn into the corridors of the green world you will likely find it irresistible, too. It bursts with the presence of renewal and strength, lures you with the dappled dream-world light that only a leafy and towering tunnel of trees can create, and makes the heart ache with that yearning form of delight best found in things that sing of secrets, promises and hope.

Blueprints for the Romance of Place

digital artwork + textBuilding Strong Bones

In the lovely resonant

shadowed hollow of

an architectural ruin,

the beauties of

its skeleton become

more than engineering,

more than a means

of shelter or a clever

way to shut people

in or out–

What happens is

life becomes caught

in the interstices of

a building’s bones–

vitality drawn off

from all the smaller lives

that have come through;

in the humming open space

of a lovely

building in ruin,

mortality is kept

as though in a jewel-case

or a body quite perfectly made

for being loveddigital painting

North

 

The depth of the lake cannot be guessed

 

Its shimmering silicate glacial glow

 

With turquoise mask screens what’s below

 

In filtered glimmer, thought at best

 

To be just deep enough to hold

 

Beneath the frigid upper glass

 

Down in its centermost crevasse

 

Something mysterious, so old

 

It’s passed from memory and ken

 

And only surfaces when stars

 

Come showering down as red as Mars

 

To call it upward once again

 

Communing with its antique kin

 

For roaring moments in the night

 

Before the day dawns turquoise bright

 

And glassy water closes in

 

Once more its inexpressive glow

 

A wall of silence ageless, stern

 

And secretive, where none can learn

 

What lives those fathoms down below