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!
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.
March 09, 2021. For several years, our yard has been graced by a delightful pink flamingo patiently staying wherever last placed, yet seldom immobile – true to her design, she swirled left, right with even minute breeze and somehow that triggered the bobbing of head which always seemed to me a nod of acceptance. I took that as a model. And thus in February this poem wrote itself in my head while I stood transfixed by the rhythmic-yet-unpredictable sways.
I’m posting today to honor the flamingo, who sadly had a different sort of appeal to our new dog Ramble, still puppy-enough to want to chew just about anything. Ramble is forgiven. Flamingo is missed. I’ve collaged seasonal views of the flamingo – last spring amid the pond irises and a couple of weeks ago in the snow.
February 14, 2021. Central Texas is experiencing a much-colder-than-usual February. Hasn’t been icy cold like this since 1989! It’s impossible to console the cats and the Labrador: They want to be outdoors frisking around … well, until they’ve been out there for a very few minutes. Restless myself, I tried to take our dog for a walk around noon, knowing sleet and snow were coming but not realizing sidewalks were already slick in places. It was a short walk. Came back and settled into writing this poem and then collaging icy images to capture the out-there essence: frozen (Look close and you’ll see St. Francis sporting a chin icicle.)
January 24, 2021. Took a walk this afternoon with my aging and declining Labrador Buttercup. Walking with her is a great opportunity to reflect on recent triggers, and today I paused half-way to jot down the gist of this poem. I was triggered by today’s post from Ken Gierke whose poem Now was triggered by today’s post of Memorial by Ron. Lavalette. My thanks to both.
January 16, 2021. Today has been quiet, reflective on the home front. I indulged – creating a photo collage of magnolia blossoms (from Austin’s Natural Gardener in 2016) to illustrate a poem written a short while back about an encounter from a long, long while back (eight grade!) At the time I was living with my aunt in the country 20 miles from Cuero TX – her front yard filled with a large, spreading magnolia tree. I still recall the elation high in the limbs surrounded by blooms … and moving toward one “just over there” …
December 12, 2020. In the mood for something other than pandemic and politics, I’ve been out in the sunshine pondering many curiosities. One that came (back) to mind was my not-quite encounter with a raven on the mountain above Cloudcroft NM. Back in October. Enjoy.
November 13, 2020. Scenes of burned forest embody both horror and hope … and present an apt metaphor for the current political scene in the U.S. Imagery here is from New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness which includes forest land that burned several years ago and promises to evolve eventually into renewed (albeit different) beauty. While there in September, many days the sky was darkened by smoke from active Arizona fires. And the news was full of Colorado and West Coast fires. Reminders that the devastation in front of us was not a one-time freak occurrence.
What can I contribute toward healing either former forest or former democracy? I offer imagery to promote hope.