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Archive for the ‘Reflections on the everyday’ Category

I have a little Blue Dot
that goes in and out with me
and what can be the use of him
is as far as the eye can see–

He’s very very like me from the left and from the right,
And I see him walk along with me
down the street, or out at night.

The funniest thing about him
is the way he likes to go–
Keeping time and pace with me,
the Blue Dot is always in the know.

As I gaze down upon him
on the device within my hand,
I feel a friendly gratitude for his help upon the land–
or on the sea, or wherever on this broad broad earth
that I might happen just to be.

Guided by the ether, the Blue Dot never strays,
a solid sense of position is provided every day.
No time is ever needed to reckon out the map
And only loss of cell reception offers him a nap.

I have a little Blue Dot,
that is helpful as can be-
And what can be the use of him
is as far as my eye can see.

 

*The blue dot familiar to users of Google Maps owes it invention to the Space Race and the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS) by the US government.

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Finally sitting in the garden.  Sun still high, but evening breezes push shadows along.  Monarch butterflies caper together as hummingbirds zip dutifully among nodding flowers.

I rarely sit in the garden in which I labor so intensely.  I am not sure why.  But I am tonight.  As I always hope, it is timeless.  Changed by the years and neglect, but rebounding more strongly than my mortal frame ever will.

There are two chairs in the front of my garden.

Two is civil.  My children once sat here with me, they are grown.  Long gone, the Confused Soul refused to sit here, afraid of dirtying his clothes.

The other chair may remain empty, but that is okay too.  Between the past, present, future, and all that lives in this garden and passes through it, there is plenty of company to go around.

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On walkabout with the moon riding high
Northbound, my shadow leads the way
Southbound, I follow the moon
Isn’t it so.

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On a train trip not so long ago, I saw…

  • Cars stopped for the train
  • A small poodle-mix dog, pawing at a gate in a wet backyard full of abandoned equipment.  Children on the outside of the gate board a school bus.
  • Quiet understory trees, evenly spaced, waiting for a sunny break
  • Fields of wet and muck
  • Remnant tracks and trails
  • The regular, but not unwelcome, call of the train
  • Trees in various phases of dress, from bare to almost fully leafed
  • Christmas lights, strung and lit
  • Ditches, makeshift bridges
  • Fields of logged trees, massive trunks, cut, piled and strewn like a child’s Lincoln Logs
  • Sleeping blueberry fields
  • Crop fields yet unplanted, with irrigation laid
  • A coal train, its cars full and uncovered, moving quickly in the opposite direction, seemingly feet from my viewing window
  • Leafless hybrid apple trees clutching their trellis with arms akimbo
  • A toppled creche, half the holy family bleached by sun lying face down in spring mud
  • Prefabricated greenhouse, lit from within by a pink-red glow
  • Topless storage tanks, in various moods, from full to empty. Piping, planks, tires and RV parts that have seen better days.
  • A leggy black dog with awhite-tipped tail nosing grass
  • Through a window, a woman lies abed in an Urgent Care facility, waiting attention
  • Canada goose, slowly rippling across an otherwise still pond
  • Fallow fields of chaff
  • A courageous patch of volunteer daffodils thriving at the edge of an industrial debris pile
  • Red-winged blackbird clinging to a reed, swaying with the wind
  • Cement pad, maybe once a parking lot, almost entirely reclaimed by grass
  • A male mallard duck navigating water under a trestle bridge
  • Jittery seated train passenger, knees ceaselessly moving, eyes closed, head turning to run his mouth rhythmically along a finger held horizontally to his closely cropped beard
  • Hills, shorn of shrubs, eroding downward
  • Two turkeys in a field
  • A weathered plastic high chair decaying in a ditch miles from anywhere
  • In a lot, semi-trucks, lined up like teeth
  • Rusted swings aside a rusted backhoe, near a rusting gate
  • Post-holiday, Easter rabbit cutouts fill every empty space of an impressively bedecked yard
  • Endless industrial sheds, rust swarming the siding and coloring the surrounding concrete pads
  • Algae blooms in drainage ditches
  • Startled white-tail deer
  • Flare stacks flame skyward on a dystopian landscape littered with piles of tailings and pipe fittings.  The sky is choked with smokestacks and silos.
  • Rounded colorful graffiti on rail cars, surprisingly similar wherever it is found
  • Sets of high voltage towers stretch into the distance
  • Low hanging clouds with only a bird now and then to punctuate the weight
  • High top coal cars open to the sky, parked and piled full
  • Aged, black and rust, steaming industrial silos, lifeless but for the pollution spilling skyward, coal piles, girdles of pipes, smokestacks, and gas flares
  • The Golden Arches soaring above a freeway exit
  • Peeling cement silos standing mid-river, topped with iron bridgework and a multi-lane freeway

Flashing by, each scene holds a place in the arc of a narrative whose endpoints I cannot see. Homeopathic doses of a bigger world only guessed at.

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Standing midway between two opposing elevator banks.

One soul on the 9th of 17 floors.  Humans on the level, humans on the rise, and fall.  The breathwork of buildings.

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I dreamt of forest fires and woke to the sound of rain against the window.

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Rounding a street corner on Walkabout, I heard the first frogs of spring at 4:43 AM several weeks ago.  We call them “spring peepers.”

As the weather swung between warm spells and cold snaps, the song of those solitary individuals, and eventually quartets, came and went as they somehow detected me on the street some distance from their marshy greenbelt.

At about the same time, two early birds, robins in this case, took up the traditional roosting spots where I find them year after year.  For anyone interested, that would be a particular mailbox post and a tree down the block.

Nowadays, spring is in full swing.  Forsythia bush and magnolia trees are blooming and the 5:00 AM robins quickly give way to a delightfully discordant mashup of birdsong—an audio veil that transports any common morning into something more exotic.

And the peepers?  It is prime time.  Early spring rehearsals have led to a tightly interwoven tapestry of sound, a background thrum that is both impenetrable mystery and a well-remembered song of childhood.  Eternity calls nightly—and in those early morning hours, along the greenbelt in an unremarkable neighborhood that could just as easily be yours.

 

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Age bequeaths change.

Change gives us life and flesh. In turn, change leads us to shed those gifts, eventually.

I am older than I was, and hopefully younger than I will be. It is the same with you.

White, brown, black, pale, dark, yellow, poor, comfortable, avaricious

Genetically conferred containers, in the flesh, while we are.

Take a moment, take a lifetime, soul etches experience from the inside out

You see my face, I see yours, a book and its cover

Scramble for status, to have and to get—does it really matter?

Horseman, pass by.

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The smartphone delivered fine pictures of my brother and my mother celebrating her 90th birthday.

There is genuine happiness there, and it has to do with more than the fabulous frosting on the cake.  Even at a distance, I am forever affected by the radiance of my mother’s smile.  It has always been that way.

My mother has a gift for displacing the unpleasantries of life. They can be stored high in a garage, manicured into a garden, or at this stage of life, simply forgotten.

When I was young, and the household occasionally knee-deep in dysfunction, the direction from my mother was to “sit under the linden tree and think kind thoughts.”  Despite the bench my father built under that tree in our back yard, I feel few kind or unkind thoughts were ever deposited there.

But my mother, even now, is a prodigious, sure-footed gardener and her choice of a linden, esteemed in mythology and folklore, was undoubtedly well-intentioned.

Hers is a smile without guile.  It hides and deceives nothing. There is an innocence to it that is crushing. It can split any moment because darkness simply does not exist for its bearer. Dismay cannot get traction in such a setting.

I have only ever seen my mother’s smile elsewhere once.  Decades ago, the sports page of the local newspaper featured a 10-year old boy, hoisting a first catch, a beauty of a rainbow trout. The beaming smile on his face, for that frozen moment, was just like hers.

Somewhere, I still have that folded yellowed clipping. Smiles are so transient, guarded, or spare, it is good to have a few keepers.  And for now, that includes my mother.  Her smile is her greatest gift to me. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

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A grey dun flock spirals upward in the spotlight of a towering freeway fixture in an early morning downtown snowstorm.  Schooling fish of the air, the birds, transcendent, wheel high above massive dark overpasses and funneling commuter traffic.

Amid the metal and cavern of a high concrete parking garage, I watch.

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