A Lone Bird

Photo: A Lone BirdSolitude is not always lonesome; it can be a deeply joyful place of peace and calm. It can be an inward-looking, melancholic sweetness tinged with nostalgia or the cosmic silence in which every breath becomes a prayer. To be alone in the worldly sense never denies the possibility of a welcome, comforting Other presence, or the awesome sweep of knowing that reassures, despite all challenges, that one has a place in the universe, however small.

Formless in the mist, obliterated by dark and storm, or shut from sight by suffering or fear, the things that ordinarily create a sense of normalcy or rootedness may not be gone, but in the state of being all alone, anyone can become convinced she is alone, and that solitude is a burden or a punishment. But in the stillness, too, is the possibility of deeper thought, of slipping into a state where the good and the powerful and the blessed things that fill the spirit—when there are fewer distractions of person-place-or-thing to prevent it—well up and are renewed.

In an Evergreen State

Photo montage: Evergreen 1Visiting the region of my birthplace is a grace and a privilege in many ways. This past July’s visit was typically so; being around the Pacific Northwest, particularly in Washington, whose nickname is The Evergreen State (and despite the unusually dry year, still an entirely fitting name in more ways that one) renews and refreshes my spirits. Its seemingly limitless variety of tones, shades, and hues of green never fails to bring about a sort of awakening response in my heart, a deeper sense of belonging and of potentiality, something almost inevitable and just-about-to-happen, that makes me quietly giddy. Being enveloped in the green liveliness that is a northwest forest, ankle-deep in slopes of bursting greenery spangled with wildflowers, and looking over the green-tinged waterfalls and shallows of the mountain and coastal waters there are an elixir, a potion that surpasses the most wild and sprightly of sparkling wines and tinged with a faint zing of adrenaline.Photo montage: Evergreen 2

So when I go Home I am remade into a newer, shinier version of myself. This happens in other, similarly intensely green places, as I’ve learned, other places where by virtue of this quixotic and quintessentially pure life’s-blood of mine I find myself at home in the verdant glories: Scandinavia, the British Isles. While the turf from which I sprang will always be beloved in a unique way, home remains portable as well, so long as I’m immersed in the loves of person and place that shape and color its vital character.Photo montage: Evergreen 3

All the same, every one of these photos is from this summer’s visit to Washington. The Evergreen State that always puts me in an evergreen state of my own.Photo montage: Evergreen 4

Reverence for Beauty

Photo: Blissful NothingnessThe whole of nature has its ways of reflecting perfection, when we take that momentary pause in which we can step back to appreciate such things. Even, as I posted yesterday, in death there is room for new life; out of captivity, freedom. In silence, I come to better appreciate the small and unobtrusive ways, not just the large, noticeable ones, in which sound enriches my world: water burbling down a ditch, breeze-stirred grasses, bees that sing soft love songs to their golden pollen treasures. In stillness, I relish each breath and every tentative movement as the wind kicks up a little and sets the empty park swings in motion again. Out of wintry darkness and overcast days, I more consciously embrace a bright afternoon and its combed, silky clouds.

In a moment of quiet reverence, I, too, can reflect such perfection better and am made more whole and beautiful.Photo: A Brilliant Day

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.

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.

Seeking Sabbatical

Everybody needs a break. Not everyone gets one or is in the position to take advantage of it, but when the opportune moment arises, it’s a gift that should be savored. After all, it gives us far more energy for going forward with style.Digital illustration from photos + text: Recess

Gently into the Night

digital illustration from a photograph

Reparations

While the quiet of the evening draws its curtain on the noise

Day had clamored ’til its leaving, I will lie in calm and poise,

Gently as a bed of lilies bends in summer’s kindest breeze,

As the cat turns, curling, ’til he’s found his pose of greatest ease;

While the dusk falls, silent, deeper into night, my eyelids close

Heavily…I’m soon a sleeper in the stillest of repose…

Midnight finds me softly dreaming, all the day’s loud clatter gone,

‘Til birds chatter at the streaming light of the approaching dawn

While I lie in silent dozing where no sound comes breaking through,

All that shouted ceases, closing restive lips—and spirits, too,

Slip like shades and never flutter more than deepest sleeping sends

To the surface from the utter place of healing and amends;

I will rest here in the solace and the silence so supreme

It can quiet every call as I lie still and, gently, dream…digital illustration from a photograph