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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.

Putin, Trump, and my Ex

Common factor? Narcissism.

Trendy title these days. The infamous tendency to destroy a sphere of influence in dysfunctional pursuit of a delusional personal vision.

Globally, nationally, and domestically, the perp is identified by the debris field that follows them. A blight on any human community.

Oh Ye Cynic

Most people have an opinion on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you find it a commercial opportunity that pushes merch, candy, and expensive meals.  Or perhaps to you, it is a heartfelt and warm occasion, a day to remember those we love—be it friend, lover, or family.

The name “Valentine” is likely a do-over by the Christian church to take advantage of a much older pagan holiday, the Roman festival Lupercalia.  Itself, Lupercalia descends from fertility and ritual cleansing festivals that populated the ancient world in the months between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.

Lupercalia, on February 15, carried and celebrated the concerns of people of the day.  Following the sacrifice of a male goat, near-naked young men ran the bounds of the city or village, ritualistically sweeping bloody strips of the hide of the sacrificial animal over willing women and girls. The touch of the sanctified skin was believed to promote pregnancy, ease childbirth, and purify the community.

Lupercalia—and our Valentine’s Day—are among the festivals that signal the coming of spring.  Imbolg, Candlemas, Groundhog Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter all find their roots in the vernal equinox, a solar moment that translates to the emergence of the growing year, hope for fertile fields, and the greening of the earth in this hemisphere.

In this day, a semi-nude man swinging a shaggy hide around the city limits would result in more than one call to local law enforcement. Yet then, as now, internal strife and pestilence rend community and country. The events of the last two years remind us of our interdependence—of what we can do by working together, and how we will die to hold fast to our ignorance.

Valentine’s Day and its cohort speak to deeper tides than candy hearts and spring cleaning. While death is never far, we have these years been challenged for our survival. Whatever your take on “Valentine’s Day,” it is not a bad idea to consider each other with gratitude for what remains and for the seasons ahead.

The Snow Blankets

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. 

The Wind

From dawn to dusk, strong winds and fleets of rain.

At sunset, the instability blew off. The sky is bright on the western horizon, clouds lit with rusty pink ageing to pewter grey.

On a walk with the dogs, the streets are empty, the very air animated.

The wind is playing where children usually do, rolling balls down the street, pushing over trash cans.

Passing a swing set, the single swing flies high back and forth, ghostly in its trajectory, as if weighted by a child.

I swung a small child in such a swing once.  The child and that swing have long blown away.  The wind is like that.

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.

Shadows

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.

Looking Up

When glancing skyward at night, have you ever noticed the stars that form the constellation of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) resemble a question mark, when viewed at the proper angle?

Body Mechanics

Have you noticed?  You are getting older.  So am I.

At my annual physical recently – a systems check of moving parts. cardiac, respiratory, gastrointestinal, musculature, neurological, and dermatological.  Blood pressure — the force at which blood courses through veins to keep major organs fit.  Blood pressure is a Goldilocks statistic — neither high nor low is just right.

In concert, these systems create the song that is you. Regardless of age, the collaboration of those systems, and that song, is changing, even now. The breath and thought of today cannot be the same tomorrow.

The pithy slogan “Change Happens,” reminds those with concretized views that change comes to each life.  The deeper truth is we are change, conditioned upon those beautiful physiologic systems and the environments in which we find ourselves.

Sudden or chronic illness, or accident, drives home the message. If lucky, we are allowed to live within the one body granted us until it ages out of the game. Generation after generation until humans are no more.

Life is anguish for some, joy for others, maybe most of the time somewhere in between. Bridging the space between sky and earth, our bodies are the gift that allow us to feel, express, reflect, participate. They ferry us where we want to go on the planet, in its waters, and above.

Experience is the natural and sometimes hard-won aim of biological life.  When systems fail and the body slumps, the kernel that is us trills on, star stuff once again. The drama, accomplishments, losses, and possessions mean naught but as the memories of others that will fade in time.

At dawn, noon, or dusk, mind the blood, mind the body, and enjoy your glorious time while it lasts.

Push-Me-Pull-You

Some are pushed by the past onto the road of their lives.

Still others drawn forward by a subtle half-light image.

The aims of each will be different.

One pulled by the future, one pushed by the past.

Which, I wonder.