Archive for the ‘Reflections on the everyday’ Category

On Saturday morning while running errands, I detoured through the local small town community park. Neatly maintained pickle ball courts and baseball fields, a well-appointed playground. Gazebos for picnicking, and a small amphitheater for outdoor concerts. Early enough that the baseball crowd had not yet arrived.

A van pulled in. What appeared to be a mom and her perhaps seven-year-old son exited the vehicle and headed to the playground.

Mom looked straight ahead, her posture tired, a chronic condition of parenthood. Walking a few feet away, the boy scampered excitedly, looking expectantly at mom.

A moment in time. The poignancy of older and younger.  One whose path has led them here, and one whose path is being formed in this moment.

Two sides of life, both ordinary and extraordinary, in an instant.

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The sun glistens on the catkins of Salix discolor—the pussy willow—shining as the overnight frost melts.

Soft, tactile, and strong, the catkins uniformly pack branches of a tree that rivals a nearby spruce in height. Years ago, I harvested its bouquets of catkin wands and gave them away at local schools during the early spring. Over time, I realized the catkins that remained turned brilliant gold as they fill with pollen, offering the first feast of spring to hundreds of beneficial insects.  I do not harvest the wands anymore.

Like so many, the pussy willow has its roots in memory.  This tree is an echo of one I sprouted from a wand and planted in my mother’s garden as a child. I have always felt her in the deep wood of this bush that resides in my garden. But no more.

My mother died in the winter of her life, in the season just passed.  I realized today that her presence has also exited the willow.

Far from empty, the willow is transforming again—from bare branch, to catkin, to flower, and eventually into summertime leaf. Willows are known for their vigorous roots and this bush is well planted.  The wood is no longer of memory, but of self-agency.  Pure life in its own right, unwound from story and seeking the sun and moon of its own journey.

I think my mother would have appreciated that.

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Weekend morning, quiet. Peerless blue sky as the rising sun stretches into my space.

The light illuminates the desert colors of this room, lingering longest on the desk at which I write.

The desk, a tiger oak C-curve roll top, is far older than me. I am a part of its life, which will continue when my journey is ended.  On days like this, the sun’s spotlight beckons. The wood glows with a patina gained only through quality craftsmanship and decades of use.  The gravity is inescapable.

During the Golden Hour, the busyness of life is clear and the profundities of the seasons of human life felt acutely. Reflection too, is inescapable.

My laptop rarely visits this desk. This is a handmade corner, where pens, pencils, and paper still hold sway.

Desks are uniquely human. They hold, motivate, and provide. Desks are made of wood, metal, plastic, and found objects. Rarely appreciated but faithful nonetheless, especially during the Golden Hour.

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It was cold today, 25F.  The clouds are closing the distance on the setting sun. Above the cloud deck, a patch of vibrant blue sky.

Chasing the sun down the vault of the heavens, a vibrant contrail shines in the bending light. A brilliant shooting star tracking toward the horizon before the clouds pull the curtain.

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Snowfall overnight.  Only the streetlamps are bright, cloudy with a few stars.

Walking in tire tracks, I turn the corner on an untrammeled snowy road.  Four inches of unbroken snow blankets door to door and down the street.  No tire tracks, human, or animal prints.

Walking down the middle of the street, the snow glistens. The impossibly unplanned sparkles that dazzle even in low light.  At street end, the tracks of a car leaving for work breaks the spell.

Behind me, a solitary braid of footprints leads from where I once was. A lifetime in a glance.

Footprints made of water last no longer than those held by tidal sand—a presence momentarily registered on an endlessly changing canvas.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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