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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A jet climbs the vault of the sky, streaming a hot pink contrail just above bright Venus at sunrise.

Bare trees silhouetted against deep pink clouds. The earth gracefully turns toward its guiding star.

Birds cleave the sky far below the air traffic—a cacophony of song not present even two days ago.

The airplane passes overhead and beyond, disappearing in the western sky leaving a pink track parallel to an aircraft that passed not long before.

The day has begun.

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Glistening clouds of snow blanket the ground, the roof, the roads.

You may know these mornings.  Quiet, a dog barking in the distance, conifers silhouette a deep blue sky brightening before an orange-stroked sunrise.

Winter storms pass, leaving moments of unsullied stillness. Beneath the blanket and cold, some things sleep, some perish, some wait – much like memory. Other than the energy of our blood and bones we are only memory. Some memories finally pass, others will only pass when we do.

The sun will soon dazzle the landscape with its untrammeled brilliance, blinding thought to anything but glory. Then the blankets will fray to fluid and reveal again what lies there. 

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Wintry Mix

It started as pelting sleet, cold thoughts melting on arrival.

Gaining fortitude, graupel fell, bouncing with more intention.  Then snow, thick, real, and complex, making a statement.

But not for long. Unfavorable conditions, the parties withdrew.  Nobody noticed.

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The shadows of bush branches outside the window fall on the sunlit wall by my table. 

The wind waves and they dance on the wall and along the tabletop.

Life is in those shadows.  Seasons pass, decades, and the shadows send a signal of what is present somewhere, but not within my reach.

Their impression, more fluid than their being, is energy just passing through of the solid object upon which we are more inclined to focus.

Shadows can traverse time, forward and backward, infinite. While the object that opens that door is even now withering to autumn.

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