January 16, 2022. A single leaf brought me to a stand-still. I’d been out the night before observing the getting-full moon peeking through shifting clouds, all attention upward. Next morning I took the dogs out into bright sunlight – lighting up the sole leaf still clinging to the native Texas redbud tree I’d stood next to staring at the moon. The leaf swayed in a slight breeze. Would I see it separate, fall? No. Still dangling, modeling persistence.
January 6, 2022. The historic significance of January 6 is pervasive in the media and most of our minds today. In between resurgences of anger and angst, I find myself returning to a mindful session yesterday with a group of poets zoomed together to focus on pause and intention. That hour and a half was a pause – opportunity to focus on the temporariness of many things: my self, the Dracaena blooms on the back porch, the moth drawn to those blooms. I feel I was gifted my moment with the moth as a touchstone, to align my intentions with matters I can influence though many other matters vie for my attention. I share this poem from yesterday in hopes it might stir in others recall of a similar touchstone moment of pause. May pausing nurture growth of both acceptance and change.
The blooming of a plant is a progression through moments … as is the passage of time in any way one chooses to measure it … as is the life of a moth or a woman observing moth and plant. Impossible to pause the flow of such, but we can bring focus to specific points and hold those “paused” in our hearts. In a sense any point in time is both an end and a beginning – I’m tagging my moment with the moth as my YE2021.
Background image is today’s remains of December’s Dracaena blooms – moth inset was taken Christmas night, above blooms still not fully open.
December 19, 2021. Winter Solstice approaches – Moon was just full – I am feeling the energies. And writing. And learning to hold all plans as “tentative” … December hip replacement has been canceled while my aging heart steals focus. What next? Meanwhile, I hobble forward … happy to see my Dracaena put forth blooms a fourth time. We did not think this plant bloomed … until it did two years ago; twice since; and now again. (A night bloomer, best views after midnight – lights off, aim camera and hope flash and focus cooperate!)
November 29, 2021. Some travels prove to be temporary escapes from habitual patterns and problems. I’ve just returned from a very different jaunt. My daughter as constant witness was a blessing. And I sensed the tug of Minnesota my son summed up with “I’m through with Texas!” His ashes are now up there, spread ‘neath a beautiful blue sky in one of the natural areas he frequently hiked.
Spreading ashes is meditative. Perhaps chilly air contributed to vibrations running through me. After the ashes, a few miles away we stood to watch the Mississippi River flow around Nicollet Island (smack in the middle of the river and the Minneapolis/St.Paul metropolis). I’d never experienced such togetherness with All – feeling like just one tiny fleck, yet absolutely essential. Definitely grateful.
An incredible Thanksgiving!
November 8, 2021. Sitting outdoors in Autumn, leaves coming down, shifts my inner gears into nearly-neutral. I am paused. My surroundings are part real and part mirage. Camped last week at Palmetto State Park between Luling and Gonzales (central Texas) I got all caught up in a leaf spinning in the middle of “nowhere” – no longer connected to its branch, not yet part of the pile on the ground, kept mid-air by a very-thin spider web strand. Gusts dislodging both spider webs and leaves.
No camera angle could capture the entirety. The collage is my best shot at bringing into perspective the dangle between above and below. The video shows the motion!
Watching that leaf filled me with a sense of impermanence – but connection – somehow the motions of my son’s hands his last few days taking on new significance. Suddenly he was blowing, spinning that leaf, teasing me.
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 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.
February 2021 blooms – Mother Of Thousands
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).