October 24, 2021– Reflecting on a memorable stretch of New Mexico mountain/forest visited last month: Camped near the lower end of the road up to Magdalena Ridge Observatory, we opted for the thrill of a four-wheel-drive adventure, headed up to 10,000 feet elevation. Our campsite at 6800 feet meant a steep 8-mile ascent. And steep was not all! We never met another vehicle, a blessing since stretches of the road were very narrow. One or the other vehicle would have to back up (yikes!) to a wider, safer stretch. Oh, but the scenery! Magnificent!
On the rise, I was startled when three large figures seemed to rise toward me from the slope below passenger window. My husband, driving, had his eyes on the twisting road and by the time I caught my breath to mention the figures? No longer visible. And when we later came back down that road, though I scanned continually, the figures never appeared. That night, sleepless, I wrote this poem.
Next morning, I pleaded Take me back so I can know what I saw! The image is from the second drive. We stopped, got out, took photos, and my knowledgeable geography-teacher husband explained about “dikes” formed by magma rising through cracks in the terrain, the terrain later eroding away, leaving solidified ridges. Good to know all that, though for me those formations appearing, vanishing as they did seems a spirit greeting. I felt kinship, solidarity. I’m still pondering interpretation of the pause-here-now imperative.
October 9, 2021. Another extended boon-docking adventure has wound up back in Austin, Airstream in the driveway until we finish cleanup, 3 days thus far of sorting mail, paying bills, and checking for oddities in the yardscape. Enough. Time to indulge, share one of the many poems that emerged during these recent travels.
I’ve long had a thing for ravens. Their “black” includes blue highlights when the sun shines on them just so, and they are full of antics that capture my fancy. The part of New Mexico we just visited is home to many ravens, seen in small groups of 3 or 4 as well as solo – their silhouettes punctuating roadway skylines and their quirky calls penetrating forested mountains. Difficult birds to photograph! Especially in flight. But I got lucky enough to make do. This image is a composite of bluffs in the El Malpais National Conservation Area plus cooperative ravens from the next day (far more “accurate” than failed attempts to capture both at once!)
The poem began as a haiku, then grew into a series, composed in the passenger seat as we rolled along the Continental Divide in New Mexico.
September 16, 2021. We’re packing to travel again, returning about a week into October, so I’m in a swirl of preparations for cat-sitters and packing and all those essential tasks that precede rolling out onto the road, headed for Nature’s tranquility.
Before I go, I want to share this poem. A more enjoyable sort of swirl. It felt good in the writing and I continue enjoying the visual I’ve created. Where might one find an actual paisley dance floor? Why not on the moon – so that’s where I’ve imagined (and collaged) it. Turn on or imagine your own music and enjoy visualizing your own feet swirling across paisley “up there” where you’re aware of no one but yourself. Trust me, it feels good!
2021-09-11. Today is notable as 20th anniversary of the terror of 9/11/01 attacks. The aftermath has changed perspectives worldwide. So solemn seems appropriate, in spite of a sunny Saturday with no commitments.
I’d offered “Perpetuity” thinking of global concerns about humanity, planet, etc.; when Bob scheduled my sponsored poem for today, I anticipated something related to 9/11. What a lovely surprise to read his applicable-any-day poem concluding with Wisdom/Owl hugging with feathered wings our deepest dreams.
I got lost, immersed in online imagery of owls, especially wings. If you too need to get lost, try this — the abundant variety is startling. And if that doesn’t break a solemn mood, send someone out to bring back home-made tamales!
This post is a thank-you to Robert Okaji and a miss-you to my son, gone just over a year now. (I talked myself out of ordering an owl-wing-print shawl though I sensed my son giving a thumbs-up as I perused options.)
September 6, 2021 – New Moon. Today is Labor Day, but likely the New Moon is a bigger influence on my inner focus – responding to surrounding ruckus impossible to escape or ignore. Even (maybe especially?) for an Enneagram Nine (aka Peacemaker). This year is not over, and I’m braced for more challenges coming ’round the bend. A new moon (dark moon) suggests pausing, summoning from within courage and inventiveness to cope, to keep going.
I’ve included both before and after images, in reverse order as focus is on current conditions: messy. We have an amazing succulent in a pot on our back porch: Mother Of Thousands. Prolific bloomer from early Spring well into June. We went traveling in July and August, leaving the succulent on its own (they really don’t need much water, and I figured this one might prefer fewer camera invasions) – but a sad sight greeted us on return. Yet, a closer look offered a whole new perspective on renewal in spite of circumstances. Hence this plant becomes my model for coping with a world gone wonky in too many ways this year.
August 31, 2021. I gave myself the month of August “off” from blogging, though not from writing. Journaling and writing poems are essential no matter what else is swirling around me. I chose this poem to share as descriptive of this August’s outer adventures (New Mexico) and inner reflections. Last August my son Tom died the day after his 46th birthday. It happened rapidly, and I was with him his last two months. This past year hence, I’ve had countless questions arise that I wish I’d asked! Stirred together in my thoughts were the questions along with comments from others missing him – when a blue speck sparked a numerology review.
The John Dunn Bridge outside Taos NM is a beautiful spot to get into the Rio Grande River for a swim (or let your dogs do that while you watch!) We went back earlier this month while visiting Taos. First splash in the Rio Grande for our young Labrador Ramble. And a photo opportunity for me. What caught my eye as a pink bloom proves with research to be the seed head of a white bloom on the xeric shrub Apache Plume.
That plant had drawn another closer in days prior. My find near plant base was almost buried in the sand, only one surface visible.
July 27, 2021. Traveling again. Collectively adapting to togetherness in limited space of the Airstream. Patterns that worked in the past require adaptation with addition of a 2nd Labrador – doubling obstacles in hallway and accumulation of fur thus increasing our desire to all get outside! Of course, periodically we have to maneuver around dogs and each other to clean house. Usually this realization sends both humans and Labs into a tizzy. After recent sweeping up of fur and frustrations, I was struck with the absurdity of it all … and how I thoroughly enjoy indulgence in travel, complete with challenges and chores. A togetherness bonding experience! Affections in all directions growing steadily.
July 7, 2021. Between adventures in our Airstream lifestyle, I play catch-up at my desktop prowling through many, many photos to determine keepers (still “many” though I do discard duplicates and fuzzies) and pair photos with poems written along the way. Some poems call for collaging multiple photos to reflect what I “saw” while writing. We’re packing now for the next jaunt, so high time I finish my “work” from prior jaunt. We went in June to South Llano River State Park, where we’ve been many times. This time in a site new to us, seeing things not previously apparent. Like the mesquite tree with twisted limbs forming a beautiful heart for viewing from the picnic table. We arrived on my 75th birthday and one of the best gifts ever was an hour of solitude at dusk while my generous husband took both Labradors for a long walk. Headed out, he handed me an ale which paired nicely with the view and triggered this poem. (Later the moon rose a bit to the right of the mesquite heart.)
June 10, 2021. Today brought closure to stress related to our 500-year-old live oak – steadily declining the past ten years in spite of treatment for oak wilt disease. The crew came Tuesday, again Wednesday, again this morning to bring down the last of the five trunks growing from a common base. Agile men scrambled up, up into the branches with chain saws and ropes. Sections of limbs were lassoed, then cut free to swing downward at calculated angles that precluded damage to yaupons growing up and through live oak, as well as fence and crew members. An amazing display of skills and teamwork!
They arrived this morning just as I began a zoom session focused on becoming a peace agent, letting the St. Francis Prayer guide current life – my current thoughts dominated by chain saws. Just as the zoom concluded, the crew pulled away, leaving only the stump and my swirl of memories of the former tree: first glimpse in 1986 while shopping for a house in this area; my teenage son casually perched on one of the overhanging limbs calling down “Hey, Mom!”; prolific bird visitations (even one raven); cat chasing squirrel among the branches (squirrel retreating on underside of branch beneath confused cat); and many private conversations between me and tree.
Relieved that the inevitable is now behind us – tomorrow we begin restoring yard art and flowerpots moved out of the crew’s way – including statues of Buddha and St. Francis. A few flower pots will be placed on trunk pedestals – still huggable.
May 14, 2021. I have no photograph of my beloved manual rotary lawnmower. My bond with that machine went way beyond yard aesthetics. I brought it with me to Texas when I left Florida in 1986, before I was into photography, before I was into writing about my obsessions. This mower was an obsession, a very therapeutic one.
Today I read a fantastic post from Bill Pearse Promenade in green that set my mind whirling, regretting having ever relinquished that old mower. It deserves a memorial poem. Even if I have to use a contrived image (though backdrop is an actual old photograph of the Florida backyard).