The Seasonless Sea

Photo: The Seasonless SeaOpen water. The image in my mind is rarely of swimming there; growing up on a northern section of the Pacific Ocean’s edge, I knew of the sea as a place for wading and the rare venture to splash in a bit farther than ankle-deep, but also as bitingly cold, rocky, and full of sharp shells and ethereal but menacing jellyfish. A lake, while it might be at least marginally warmer, held in my mind multitudes of the same creatures that live in children’s closets and under their beds, but wetter and slimier and without a single door or mattress to deter their finding and nastily clinging to every immersed cell of my body. Rivers were icy highways relentlessly pulling me into the thick of their mad traffic unless I had oars with which to do battle against the current. Open water was, for me, always best admired and appreciated from docks and bridges, boats and beaches.

But, as my mind has always been willing to venture into places my body had no intention of visiting, I also know oceans and lakes, rivers and streams, as realms of inviting mystery and magical adventure. Under the surface of every body of water, there are endless natural beauties and curiosities of wildly diverse sea creatures and aquatic gardens, landscapes of great magnitude and delicate detail, and biological wonders that rival the most fantastic notions of primordial soup. There are also, for me, equally magnificent and splendid worlds of the fantastic. I see, in my mind’s eye, tremendous tales of adventure and romance and daring and delight all over in the rippling, dappled light below the surface. Every sighting of a coelacanth, of gulper eels and viperfishes, confirms my belief in the literally outlandish contents of the oceans’ depths.

I understand that from a climatic and biological viewpoint, open water is of course affected by and dependent upon seasonal changes. It’s perfectly logical that, metaphorically, a sea change should refer to a significant transformation or metamorphosis. That the seas themselves undergo tremendous changes as the weather and tides and time pass over them has potent enough impact on the realities of this world; what the seas do, in turn, to anything while it is immersed in them adds to that alchemical appearance. Ariel’s song reminds us that what is embraced by the ocean’s depths becomes one with the ocean in profound ways. The possible applications of such a metaphor are so numerous and so thought-provoking that I could probably write a thousand posts about those alone, but the effects of existing immersed in open water are the ones that lap up against my attention and flow through my imaginings the most often, so it is on those shores I will continue to do my wandering and beachcombing.

Best place to find mer-people and coelacanths: open water. In the seas of my fantasies, there are no seasons. I will always be able to dive deeply among mysterious and wonderful events and creatures in my dreams.

To My Mother on Her Birthday

Photo: Under the Willow Tree 1Under the Willow Tree

Under the willow tree, her shade my calm,

I see so bent by storms her trunk, how far

The winds have twisted every limb, each scar

Where lightning struck; yet there’s a quiet psalm

Of gratitude that whispers in her leaves

Each time another rainfall comes to spend

Its quenching kindness on her and to send

New hope down deep—for anyone who grieves

Or wonders how to pass through life’s travail

Finds shelter in her shadow—knows the limbs

That seem to weep are only singing hymns,

Embracing in their gentle sway the frail.

                    So one fine sapling, tended with such care,

                    Becomes the home for all who shelter there.

And now her roots are deep, her branches wide

Enough to draw more birds to them to nest,

Assured, secure and loved, and full at rest,

No matter what the world is like outside—

Just as I am, beneath the willow’s arm

Of graceful comfort, grateful for her wise,

Kind lesson to look upward to the skies

For blessed rain, and sun to keep us warm,

For sweet reminders of the Gardener

Who made the willow grow, and gave her strength

To nurture others in her shade, at length,

Upon the graces planted there in her:

                    So one fine sapling, tended with such care,

                    Becomes the home for all who shelter there.

Photo: Under the Willow Tree 2Thank you, Mom, for the nurturing, the love, and the will to live as an example of bending but not breaking in the storms. Happy 80th Birthday!

Just a Different Stripe, or a Horse of a Different Color Altogether?

Does it really matter whether our differences make us varied members of the same family or citizens of separate countries entirely? At the bottom of it all, we remain genetically bound to each other as disparate parts of the same species. What we choose to do with and in response to that simple truth is what really defines us as individuals and as parts of the human family, not how different we are from one another.

Working for respect, kindness and peace toward and among all the people whose paths cross mine in life seem to me like perfectly viable ways to respond. That’s the choice I’m going with, and I hope that it will be seen as defining my true colors always.

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Our differences may be subtle or they may be tremendous, but they’re still contained in remarkably similar packages.

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It’s a gift and a privilege to see the beauty in those of a different stripe than ourselves.

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What, are you really so concerned about the cut of my hair or the color of my hide?

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I should always try to get a leg up on what challenges my expectations, whether it’s my nearest neighbor or someone from worlds away.

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After all, some of my best friends are zorses….

Closed/Open

Windows and doors

Are metaphors—

But also real

Gateways.

So: are Yours?photoHow open to change?

How closed in fear?

Do you throw them wide

When a friend

Comes near?photoYou can bar the way

And lock out

All storms—

But have you

Barred Chance in all

Its forms?photoAre your windows sealed

To stop the rain

So tightly that

No light can gainphotoEntry anymore?

Is your door of steel

Holding off

New joys

For fear you’d feel?photoThrow open the sash!

Swing wide the door!

Adventure is what

This life is for.photo