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

The Road Worrier

digital photoThere is this thing called ‘Playing Chicken‘ that crazy, thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie drivers do, where they drive directly toward each other at top speed and see who can swerve the latest (or not at all) and win over the Chicken that swerves first. To me, the only logical form of this would occur in the middle of a vast desert; everyone in and cheering on the race would crash into instant atomic smithereens and then be roasted to a nice medium-rare by the resultant fire, feeding any passing buzzards and desert rats before the remaining debris became a handy rusted shelter for them from the noonday sun.digital photo My personal version of Playing Chicken is simply the act of getting behind the wheel for any driving at all.digital photoWhen my anxiety was untreated and had free rein in my limbic system, this was effectively an internal game exclusively, but it convinced me that everything visible to me from my perch in the driver’s seat was aiming directly for me and moving at the speed of light. After some useful therapy and medication, I learned that my life as a free-range chicken didn’t have to be quite so dramatic, as my perception of danger changed to what I’m told is more Normal or at least more realistic.digital photoBeing healthier did not, however, make me give up every semblance of being Chicken Little. Recognizing that the sky was not falling helped me to focus more clearly on real dangers. There are still genuine potholes for me to avoid exploring too deeply, signs and speed limits to obey, idiot lights on the dash warning me of troubles inherent in the auto itself. And there are those cocky driving fools out there who don’t have any limbic inhibition or a concept of any limits on them or their privileged status as rulers of the road.digital photoAll of this in mind, you know just how meaningful it is to me that my spouse likes, is good at, and is willing to do almost all of our driving. He’s perfectly willing to be Driving Miss Lazy [or Crazy] 99% of the time. On our summer road trip, this meant that day and night, rain or shine, on the flats and through the mountains, my favorite chauffeur was at the wheel. Not only did this free me up to be the [so-so] navigator, the [marginally better] comic relief with my goofy car songs and pseudo-conversation, and the camera-in-hand travel documentarian, it made me able to stay closer to calm sanity whether we were on the beautiful Pacific Coast meanderings of old 101 or crossing the hypnotically still stretches of rural West Texas.digital photoThat makes me one happy traveling chick. With all of that safe and comfortable road behind me it did mean that on the last couple of lengthy days heading ‘back to the barn’ I could reasonably  put in a few hours as driver myself, even during blinding thunderstorms, and not fall apart at all. And now, back home, I’m free to look back on the whole cross-country venture as great fun rather than fearful, a golden egg in my memory’s treasury. Maybe I’m not such a dumb cluck.

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Hey! Turns out the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train coming at me head-on, after all.

Frozen Assets and Fallen Heroes

digital illustrationSad Story All Around

Sylvester from Sylvania, magnificent skier and scout,

Went off to explore the slopes one day, but the minute that he was out,

His girlfriend Sylvia opened the door to another particular friend,

And I needn’t tell you that soon enough, they all came to a tragic end,

For Sylvester’d forgotten it was late spring and roots sticking out of the snow

Tripped him at top speed; with a nasty fling he crashed to the gorge below;

Meanwhile, back home, Sylvia and Sid were having a high old time

‘Til Sydney’s wife showed up with a knife, and that’s the end of this rhyme.

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Naturally

Along with all of the other, perfectly legitimate and obvious, reasons that I celebrate every year when I am remembering the arrival of my next-younger sister on her birthday–the first one remembered mostly anecdotally given my tender years on the occasion, and all of the subsequent ones fitting days for delighting in the gifts with which her continued presence graces me and all of her circle of influence so consistently–I rejoice in the greater sense of appreciation for nature that she has given me.photoShe is something of a bouquet herself. Indeed, she is beautiful in the way of pretty things throughout nature, and also filled with liveliness and energy and purpose and growth that inspire me and amaze me regularly. I look on her as an enhancement of the world a little like a human bloom in its garden, unfolding each day and year with new surprises and joys that reinforce the very image of goodness in life.photoIn a more concrete way, with her love of the outdoors and its grand presents, pleasures and promises she has taught me and continues to teach me to appreciate the natural world as well. As much as our garden-genie mother shared her love of interacting with the created spaces in nature and even getting outdoors appreciatively on day hikes, in parks and on strolls wherever we could, the number-three sister in our quartet has given me yet greater love and sympathy for the breadth and depth of possibility in all those realms of nature and more. I will never keep up with my sister’s skill and prowess when it comes to being physically ‘outdoorsy’ as athlete, gardener or explorer, but every time I step out any door into the untrammeled world, I do and will see much of it as a living bouquet paying tribute in return to one of nature’s loveliest flowers.photoHappy birthday, my dear sister, and I send you these little pictures and words in token of my love that spans from your first blooming in the world to the end of my seasons.

Longing for Home

photoMany years have passed since I first had reason to recognize that Home was not a built structure or even a location but a state of mind, a condition of the heart. It becomes associated with places by virtue of the happiness that embraces us there and also to the degree of intensity with which we are cared for and loved by the people of that place. The beauty of this characteristic is that Home can become portable when we are able to revisit those people or that contentment and security, belonging and joy, wherever they go, even in memory at times.photo

The complication therein is that the more places become Home, the more ways I can feel Homesick.

I will never complain of this any more than I would of any other pleasure or privilege, even when they fill me to the point of bursting–can anyone ever truly be surfeited with happiness? But there are times, perhaps those happy times most of all, when my reverie strays down all the pretty paths that lead to those many beloved locales and times where and when I’ve felt most accepted, at ease, at peace. My heart follows, soaring over all the lands and seas and resting where it will: in the arms of loving and hospitable friends and towns and favored hideaways and palaces I’m privileged to know as Home. It’s not that I can’t be contented where I am, it’s that the well of contentment runs so deep that every aquifer offshoot of it eventually leads my thought and memory back to other greatly loved locales. photo

It can happen at the edge of the crashing January ocean, beside a crackling fire, on an island-hopping ferry-boat, in the midst of sweeping farmland fields, or in the center of some sizzling, jazzy, noisy city. When I feel it, my breathing speeds up just a little and my heart’s singular syncopation becomes more pronounced and I might feel just the slightest sting of salt cutting at the corners of my eyes. Suddenly there is that tingling, that sub-sonic hum, that says I am at Home–and this is how I can invoke a rooted joy that echoes back to me with whispers of welcome in so many marvelous parts of the world.

I have been genuinely at home in the immensity of an ancient forest and on the flanks of a gleaming mountain; under the Gothic vaults of a cathedral, the low roof of a cozy suburban home, or under the spangled starry night-bold sky; among humble strangers whose language is worlds away from mine and in the arms of my dearest, closest and longest-known loved ones. Home, whatever and wherever it may be, is precious beyond words and missed in every atom of its forms at any moment when it is not near or I’m not in it.photo

What I could not imagine, all those years ago, was that I would find myself at home as well in a construct as much as in a constructed place. Yet here I am, posting letters daily to a family of people I may never even meet, and feeling as though I am in a kindly, hospitable place of heart and mind that tells me once again that I am Home. May you, too, who are reading this, always find–or make–yourself good homes in all the places that you can, whether in a graciously appointed house or in a soul-filling hermitage of your choosing; whether surrounded by the comforting presence of people who fill your days with delight or in the quiet retreat of your own contemplative corner–or right here, where you are always welcome to come and sit for a little while and chat and go by the name of Friend.photo

Dream a Little Dream . . . But How to Choose?

photo-collage + textI never tire of fantasizing and imagining my ideal. But some days it’s really hard to decide what would be better. To be slung sidelong over a rocking chair in the wash of yellow afternoon, watching the lift and ruffle of wisteria where it is teased by currents chasing around me on the old screen porch, drinking Blackberry Acid and reading Evelyn Waugh while the sound of Gershwin laughs its way out the door to shake the sleepy cat into a semblance of watchfulness? Or perhaps I should the rather be curled in a high-backed leather wing chair with Zola, maybe Garcia Marquez, a faint dark stain of Verdi’s Requiem insinuating its way slowly through my brain, the lamp turned barely high enough to read so that it doesn’t fade the firelight or those lights fourteen stories down where the city shimmers below, and with the scent of Boeuf Bourguignon drifting into the paneled room from where it’s simmering down the hall?photo-collage

Yes, I say, sometimes it’s hard, so hard to choose which I should prefer. Would it be finer to be wandering up a quiet path in checkered green light, perfumed with the heady incense of cedar and douglas fir, emerging from their shadows into meadows lapping with avalanche lilies and paintbrush and gentians at my feet as I climb up higher, drowsy with the sun and hypnotized by the river crashing away, just out of sight, to my right, and stopping at last to rest on the stony shore of a glassy lake and slake my thirst, assuage my hunger, with a crisp sweet apple and some salty well-aged cheese? Or should I better like to stride out through wildly waving waist-high grass onto the dunes just as the lowering sky with its mass of high black clouds starts spitting a sand-fine mist of icy rain, but bundled so warmly to the eyes that only my cheekbones feel the chill, and watching the storm blow up a wave so high it seems to engulf the top of the sky before it shatters to smithereens on the bouldered bulkhead there–and just as that cloudbank starts to split to disgorge its mighty gout of rain, tearing up the beach to the safety of the white-painted cottage, where I peel off the layers of storm-proofing down to my jeans, drag the little table to the window to watch the show, cracking the Dungeness crab that I bought at the shop today, to drown it in butter while watching the shoreline also drown, and eat crab sweetness messily to the tune of pelting rain and smashing sea?photo

I suppose if all else fails I could simply ask my butler to make the selection, you see. No, this one I know: I’d rather ask my love, since whichever it is, it’ll be that much better a dream if he will only share it with me.