August 6, 2019. After a long trip comes an indefinite period of prowling through camera images and phrases noted in journals, piecing together highlights of experiences to be savored (likely not repeated). In June we camped several days in the National Forest up above Cloudcroft NM, where we frequent in August for the annual Gathering Of Circles. This year our mountain time had to be earlier, as Gary’s school year shifted earlier. Tonight the Gathering begins; but yesterday teachers were already back at Stony Point High School. Since I cannot be at the Gathering, I am instead immersed in photos and memories of June’s mountain bliss. Wild irises were in bloom – something I’d never seen before, as they finish their cycle well before August. I found this haiku in my journal.
December 5, 2018. Once upon a time, when younger and more flexible, I would lay out a labyrinth on the mountain up above Cloudcroft NM each summer. In a national forest, one “leaves nothing and takes only pictures” – hence no permanent stone-lined labyrinth. My challenge included: repeatable installs, rain proof, cattle proof, materials must fit in the back of an already-crammed car.
Each summer, I would spend a spiritually connected day creating the labyrinth before the group arrived, and a frenzied couple of hours at close of the gathering – pulling up anchored straps and packing materials snugly back into their container.
Near the labyrinth center, I placed a bowl of polished gemstone fragments – and encouraged walkers to stir the collective energy as they passed.
This collage puts a smaller capture of the bowl near center over a larger capture of stones within the bowl
November 4, 2018. From summer’s week on the mountain above Cloudcroft NM, this image keeps returning to my thoughts. A picture of destruction, yet incredibly beautiful in its hues and textures. Perhaps perceived destruction is merely acceleration of a natural transition.
This tree became my place of meditation, pulling my thoughts into its cylindrical hull, resembling more and more a castle tower for forest spirits.
The image is a collage – the tiny flower magnified.
August 11, 2018. Yesterday’s post from Robert Okaji set me to wondering what Hokusai would think of the modern prevalence of companion animals, and if he would have noted such an animal’s response to natural wonders. Reading about being above the storm, looking down, likely in solitude, stirred up an urge to contrast an experience last week near Cloudcroft NM. Different mountain. Different positioning of viewer to storm. Group of humans plus one exuberant Labrador. Admittedly, I was not thinking of Hokusai at the time – preoccupied with concern the hail might get bigger, become destructive. (Wish I had caught Buttercup’s romp with camera – this collage reflects both hail and happy dog.)
Hindsight? CONstructive: moistened dry earth, entertained dog, seeded poem.
Okaji’s “Thunderstorm Below The Mountain”: https://robertokaji.com/2018/08/11/thunderstorm-below-the-mountain-3/
March 10, 2018. I spent February studying Zen poetry – reading many of the classics and writing to suggested prompts. Lorraine “Bird” Mejia is a skilled online teacher and manages to pull things from me I did not expect. True with the Zen writing, for sure. But one of the exercises took me a bit off-prompt, smack dab back to the New Mexico mountain where we camp every August – specifically, back to the “snag” (a tree dead but standing, top broken off) where I sit in solitude. I posted about that snag in 2015, and here I repeat that earlier poem followed by my “Zenish” perception. One snag, two takes.
Who knows? There could be more snag poems to emerge …
August 26, 2016. One more post stemming from recent camping in the Lincoln National Forest above Cloudcroft NM – as I continue to process the many photos, I relive memorable moments – some flowing into poems.
This magnificent hawk settled into his surveying roost on our first evening, when we were the only campers. We hoped he would return as this seemed likely one of his regular hunting grounds. But next day additional campers arrived, then more and more as the Gathering of Circles crowd rolled in from all over. No surprise the hawk chose to hunt elsewhere for awhile. Likely the many little underground burrowers needed a few days’ reprieve. Our hour of binocular hawk watching was a gift, one of a kind. The image below is from the camera of Gary Kendrick – he has the lens that can span a meadow!
August 14, 2016. Recently returned from our annual Gathering Of Circles excursion, I have been reliving magic moments while processing photos. Some of the best moments were spent tip-toeing around on the mountain photographing horned toads – watching to be sure no toads were underfoot. They were incredibly well camouflaged. We were following a little toad’s maneuvers when suddenly aware of a very large toad a foot away, staring at us. What must toads think of humans lurking around? Likely we represented an unwelcome deterrent to ant-eating. They surely had no clue how we admired them, that they made our day. Hats off to Lanson Moles for his keen eye! And to Gary Kendrick whose ground pose conveys the mood of mindful enthusiasm.
The Gathering of Circles is an annual August event in the Lincoln National Forest above Cloudcroft NM. Elevation 9500. Temperatures ranging from 50’s to high 70’s. The Gathering consists of people from multiple states of mind and geography coming together for camping, ceremony, and workshops. For more information, see GatheringOfCircles on FaceBook.