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If Wishes were Horses

The dried seed head of Allium cristophii is the size of a small cantaloupe. In bloom, the silvery violet florets create a globe atop a single stem that bears a strong resemblance to stars.  The common name of the bulb is Persian onion or “Star of Persia.”

Dried, the flowers that formed the sphere give way to a multitude of spokes, each ending in a star-shaped array that nestles a tiny niche of seeds within.

One such seed head resides in my office.  Dust is caught in its starry arms, even as its seeds quietly wait.

This seed head was once a magic wand in the hands of my youngest. I remember the last wish he conferred before he grew up and blew away in the autumn wind. That was years ago.

Only the wind can restore magic to this wand, and the seed wishes that remain. Stepping outside, leaves impatiently rustle under foot, the wind is high under a grey sky. I ruffle the seed head. The spokes break, the seeds are released from sleep to continue their long-lost journey, and the stem drops to decay.  Last wishes.

Killing Frost

It had to happen.

On this morning, the flowers are more brilliant than before.  Brittle frosted petals, leaves, buds. Deepened color in the autumn garden, a medieval sketch of high linear detail, a confection of final color — red, blue, yellow, green, orange. No feature missed. Paused in perfection, flowers held taut in icy fingers.

With the day, the frost relents, the flowers sag to brown mush. A slow exhalation of the garden into the coming season.  Until next year.

Autumn triptych

I

Bright burnt-orange and yellow leaves swirl off stories-high maple trees.

Some race upwards as others billow wide on a playful breeze.

Like children released at recess, the leaves seem set to begin a new journey. Summer days and nights in moonlit trees have passed.

Peerless blue sunny sky, the ephemera of autumn.

II

The sun has set but radiant light lingers about the tops of the trees.  Red-orange canopy doing a slow cha-cha in the evening breeze.

From my ground level office, I can see the changing garden.  No killing frost yet. Roots that steady and sink deep. Still-luminous Zinnias, gold and red.    

Agastache, licorice scented stems and leaves sag, laden with berry pink flowers.

A perfectly timed V-formation of geese passes through.

High in the sky, the maple dresses for autumn as the garden mellows into rich color.

As above, so below.

III

An afternoon walk in a suburban neighborhood.  Halloween bling every few houses.

A mild breeze, temps in the 70’s, and color on the trees the likes of which have not been seen for years.

Walking the dogs, we scuttle with dry but still colorful leaves down the street.

The perfection is timeless, seamlessness between self and sky that renders human transparent.

These are the moments for which we take on skin—to see and sense with no understanding, no cause or conclusion, nothing but the transitory joy that Is.

The airport. Untethered, reasons differing, luggage struggles, life-worn faces, regardless of age.

Sunrise behind stratocumulus cliffs over an ocean of clouds.

The pilot announces a two hour and 52-minute flight at 38,000 feet.  Plenty of height for perspective.

Excellent cloud day. Cotton soup with tiny towns below.  Cloud handshakes reach across the aisle and march on to the west.

Bejeweled circuit board subdivisions far below.

Hills and slopes stretch into prehistoric fossilized leaf prints.

Piano key agricultural strips.

Popcorn clouds dense, render deep and dappled shadows on a bone-dry landscape.

Souls aloft for this moment, in this lifetime, sustained by a metal can.  The illusion of earthbound.

Clouds changing and taking form.  Despite its seemed impermanence, water vapor is as close to immortal as anything on this planet.

Below, one cannot resist the thought, when looking at sprawling, spreading cities, that humans are an invasive species.

Modern agriculture:  Wind farm

The perfectly rendered eye of a hippopotamus in the landscape, then quickly covered by clouds.

Dense, vaporous clouds below the horizon, bright blue sky above.  Horizontal duality as far as the eye can see.

The broken routine—by travel, by incursion—specializes the moment outside of our routinized world.  Frees the mind to the new scope, what is arriving on the horizon.

If I had my way, I would traipse this firmament more often, exist outside the tunnel, work at seeing the invisible patterns to better describe what is visible to me.

Escarpments licking down plateaus, red orange against limestone yellow, grand anthropomorphic illustrations, courtesy of erosion.

Reverie concluded. The captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign to begin our descent.

The Spinner

About 4’ in height, the garden spinner has three wheels of descending size.  Polyester ribbons affixed to each wheel were once brightly colored.  The flag at the base of the spinner, a stitched red ladybug atop a green leaf, points to the direction of the wind.

For the last 20 years, the spinner has held court in the corner of the summer vegetable garden using the breeze, or the winds blustering through, to proclaim its presence. A gentle breeze moves the largest of the wheels first.  A thunderstorm madly propels all three. 

The spinner delighted young children playing in their sandbox or tending the garden. It gaily provided ornamentation at their high school Open House celebrations.  And it stands now, bereft of color, but still fit, in its garden corner.

The spinner has welcomed and harvested the winds of two decades.  It awakens in the Spring, grows quiet as Summer goes to ground in Autumn, and dreams away the Winter in the garage.

At first glance, it is now a tired old spinner whose day has passed.  Is it an artifact too long held for its memory?  While it enjoyed its sunny days, the bluster that overtook this place blew away its color and its more nimble nature.  Visiting this summer, my oldest remarked on its longevity and rightful place in the garden.  Just now, a puff of air moved its wobbly wheels, as it easily pivoted to reveal the direction of the unseen quality that powers it.

The spinner remains.  As stalwart as the day I assembled its plastic and polyester pieces, it fulfills its purpose to translate what is unseen to the visible world.  Not as pretty, but still a structural, kinetic marvel that defies a date with the landfill.

Things change, and sometimes, things remain.

If you really look…

A half sunflower seed shell appears as a carved-out canoe.

A platform of fallen bark shards accompanied by curling and broken twigs as sturdy as old fallen logs.

The soil, so solid from above, is strewn with composite pieces, glittering jewels, colored, clear, dark, and stacked deep.

Stray autumn milkweed fluff tucks in under the creamy yellow petal of a spring crocus.

The lilliputian delights of the soil become visible when a photograph is repurposed as a computer background.

And So We go

Leaving this place today.

Leaving is always bittersweet to me.  A feeling I should not go, this is home, a wild desperate thought of stopping in my tracks to stay.

Time turned, the deep life and memory of this place lifted and wafted away on every summer day since I left. Nothing remains but the energy carried by me as memory.

Artifacts beckon, touchstones where I grew up, what I thought. Yet, like the faded memory of my mother, all that remains is the essence I confer.  This place no longer reflects me.

The lives of others are lived here now. Their time, like mine, just passing through.

Life is an extraordinary experience, each day its own hello and goodbye. And today, to this place, I say goodbye for now.

Background processes

Have you ever had your screen and programs freeze up for no apparent reason – only to find a dialog box in the background is waiting for action?

Life is a like that sometimes. Without attending to the background, sometimes you just can’t get anywhere.

From the Window Seat

Flying through the sky I saw the distant shadow of this airplane against the clouds.  The shade tracked us into the distance and disappeared. I began to look closer and I saw…

A flock of cirrus clouds plying their way eastward beneath us

Endless rows of expressionless houses far below

The next state over, expansive tracts bisected by lonely roads

Still further, the checkerboard irrigation patterns of farming

A small town, a cluttered magnet from above

Wind turbines dotting in distant rows

Passing over the marshmallow fluff of a beautiful cloud deck

Wrinkles in the landscape below, a tribute to old elementary school salt dough maps

A jet passes us with ease at a lower altitude

The wrinkles pile up, then spread into flatlands

Small mountains look like exposed fossils of dinosaurs that once traipsed there

Arid, rolling brown land

Strips of brown and green soil, like a long row of exotic piano keys

Building clouds mirror mountains below

Another jet, passing through

The confused noodle of a dry streambed

Wheeling over mountains, the palette of the place I called Home. It’s spaciousness and tendency of quiet in magnificent wild spaces always present, even if I am not

The sun tracks across the lake, a blazing comet beneath me

New subdivisions, identical monopoly pieces

Old subdivisions, all colors, shapes, and conditions

Scrapyard, trucks and cars piled and peaceful in their final resting place

Rail yard, parallel lines stretch toward distant destinations

Rubber hits the road, touchdown.

Troubled Minds

Long before dawn, walking in a sleeping neighborhood.

Heavy thoughts match heavy cloud cover.

On the last circuit, a single twinkle overhead, then two.  Above, the cloud’s part, creating a long, cloud-lined corridor. Passage to a starlit sky, infinite with possibility.  Ease to the troubled mind.