Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where the Heart Opens

This is how a human being can change:

There's a worm addicted to eating grape leaves.
Suddenly he wakes up,
call it grace, whatever, something
wakes him up, and he's no longer a worm. 

He's the entire vineyard, 
and the orchard too,
the fruit, the trunks,
a growing wisdom and joy
that doesn't need to devour.

This is how you change
when you go to the orchard
where the heart opens:


The photographs are mine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree

There were a few possible titles for this post. The question pertaining to what a bear does in the woods, as opposed to under my apple tree, came to mind, but I decided on the Andrews Sisters,  "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree,"  instead. No extra letters. Just a little information, lest anyone might be tempted to think about sitting under the apple tree.

It seems the scat I found under the tree belongs to a bear, a black bear, more than likely, not known for being aggressive. Although, it looks to be two bears, a mama and her cub, two things you do not want to get between. I had suspected as much. I've seen deer in the yard, so it seemed like a fit, especially with their love of apples, but I've also seen deer droppings. And that didn't fit. The neighbor, Barb, who has some knowledge of these things, has confirmed my suspicions. And, much of it is fresh. Today fresh. I will not supply the photographic evidence, but replace it with yet another photo of my flowers instead.

When I first arrived here, I felt the presence of a bear. I just knew, on some deeper level of knowing, that one was present, as though I had something strong and capable sharing the land with me. Perhaps even watching over me. And, so it is. It feels good.

Tomorrow, I pick apples. They are ripe and ready. They are not the kind to wait for first frost. A stepladder will be needed, so I'm trusting the bears to hold off from visiting while I'm picking. There will be apple crisp. There will be applesauce. And, at Ms. Sparrow's suggestion, given the yumminess factor, apple butter. There will be apples for a very long time.

I also have a grape arbor update.

There will be wine.

While I was photographing the arbor, shortly after the rain stopped this evening, I heard a low, gruff snort just off to my left in the trees. I've heard deer snort. It didn't sound like a deer. I held my ground for the last two shots, then repaired to my kitchen.

Now, it's night as I sit here, and I can't stop smiling from the pure pleasure of knowing that somewhere there is a bear, breathing deeply in the woods, as I write this.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~Wendell Berry

The photographs are mine.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Moon of the Green Apples

Full moons always seem so benevolent, as though they are reminding us, in some cozy, long familiar fashion, that all is right with the world. There's one rising over the old chicken coop as I write this.

Sometimes, when I'm outside at night and look up at the moon, I am awed by the thought that it's the same moon that's been seen by everyone who has ever lived in this world, from Lao Tzu and Marcus Aurelius to Galileo and Henry David Thoreau, and of course, Vincent van Gogh. There's something about these celestial events that, no matter how many times I've viewed them in my life, I never grow tired of them. Forty-one years ago tonight, we were probably still reeling from that remarkable and life-altering event of a few days earlier, man walking on the moon.

Late this afternoon, I pushed the wheelbarrow, loaded with debris from time spent cutting back flowers long past their bloom, to a spot near the woods that I've been using for this purpose. For the first time, I really looked around at the trees there. There are two apple trees, previously unknown to me, that have been quietly putting on fruit. Some are already turning red and  a few have either fallen on their own, or been prodded into it by whatever animal is leaving scat under the trees. In copious amounts. It appears to have become a regular hang-out for these apple-loving critters. Deer, I suspect, but am not certain. Thankfully, they aren't able to reach too far up into the branches.

I also have a mini-orchard of four apple trees over by the cabin. Their apples are still quite green, but it seems there will be a bumper crop this year. I took some photos from under the canopy of leaves and with the sun shining through, it created a nice spot to spend a few minutes with my camera.

It was a raggedy little day. I had trouble getting going, followed by trouble keeping any momentum. It was a bit of this and a bit of that. I never got to the greenhouse, which I've been threatening to clean up for the past two days, to no avail. Just before dark, I walked outside as that full moon rose over the trees and watched as it rose higher in the growing night sky. What a beautiful way to close the day.

Turns out, there was more than one happy surprise to this day, there were several, and I'll be turning in tonight filled with gratitude for friends and family, the moon, and little green apples.

The photographs are mine.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shoes, Optional

In the long ago, before every store started hanging signs warning, "No shirt, no shoes, no service," I thought of shoes as optional. I spent every summer running around barefoot. The soles of my feet must have been tough as nails, not to mention wide.

That's my older sister, Chris, and me, trying to get a new perspective on life. I never did master handstands, not much better luck with cartwheels.

One Sunday, when I was about four, maybe five, I hopped into the back seat of the car all ready to go to church. Half way there I realized I'd forgotten to put on my shoes. I momentarily thought about whether or not  it was necessary to tell. I didn't think Jesus would mind, but the minister might, possibly my parents and siblings. So I fessed up, everybody groaned, I was accused once again of being the cow's tail while Dad turned the car around and back we went to get some shoes on my feet. We made it to church just in time.

Once again, I've been spending a lot of time sans shoes. Pretty much every morning and every evening I walk around my yard barefoot. Sometimes, I stop to do some weeding in  the perennial gardens or walk over to the cabin. I love the soft coolness of the grass beneath my feet. It seems to ground me ...

This afternoon, I decided to drive to town and get an iced coffee at the new cafe/coffee shop. I got halfway to the car before I realized I didn't have any shoes on.

Some things never change.

Here I am, all spiffed up. Shoes and all.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

See You In My Dreams

This past Sunday night, I went to see the movie, "Inception."  Besides liking the actors involved, particularly Leonardo DiCaprio, I thought it looked visually interesting and that I'd like the theme, dreams vs. reality. It's a notion I've looked at with some regularity, the true nature of reality. Having just bought a piece of land and working it every day, to a greater or lesser extent, I've been amping up my listening, and amping down, if I may use that term, my questioning. I try not to over-think anything anymore, because, in the past, I did so with less-than-stellar results. It is a great worm can opener.

The movie involves the characters taking the viewer into different levels of their dream state in order to extract information from whomever they think they need to extract information, with a nefarious motive, of course. They decide to take the concept a bit further and infuse a little information. And, that's where it gets a bit troublesome, to the characters, and interesting, movie-wise. The whole thing is shaky ground, ethically speaking, but it does create some fun-to-look-at questions.

Everyone looks at life with their own perspective, so I can't say whether you'd like it or not. I did. Even the rather abrupt ending scene was okay with me, as that's the nature of dreaming. You wake up. And sometimes are left with lingering feelings that can't be compartmentalized, or explained....

Ellen Page didn't seem to fit, maybe because I'm still having trouble seeing her as anything but Juno, which is so unfair to this good little actress. I loved that movie, but she needs those of us who did, to move along with her. I'll keep trying.

Michael Caine is always a cool dude. Name drop alert! When I worked in the gallery in Santa Fe, he came in with his wife, Shakira, who is as beautiful in person as her photographs. They were quiet, but very nice. His intelligence always comes through, even when he's Batman's wing man  (I can hear you groaning). His line in the movie,  "The Cider House Rules,"  from John Irving's book, remains one of my favorites:  "Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England."  Not many chances to use it, but I try. What a kind, good thing to say to those boys.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a terrific actor, always good, but it's hard to tell, 'cause he does it so well. I still laugh when I watch re-runs of Third Rock From the Sun. He was good there, too. Ken Watanabe, always a pleasure to watch. And, I want to be Marion Cotillard in my next life. If nothing else, I want to talk like her. Love that French accent.

There were some quiet, but seriously funny lines in the movie, too. Most were delivered by Tom Hardy. As usual, I'm doing my guffawing, while everyone else just sits there. One man quietly snickered. I think laughing should be done out loud. Makes it more fun. Not obnoxiously. I don't want to be the one in the theater someone has to tell to be quiet,  "You're laughing too loud."  I have a friend who said he recently re-watched Woody Allen's "Bananas," which we saw in the theater together, lo, those many years ago, and he had to admit I was right to laugh out loud. A lot. That is some funny stuff.

Back to Leo. And dreaming.

I like watching movies that draw me in and keep me there for awhile, even after I've exited the theater. I felt like I was in almost a dream-like state myself as I drove home. No, it did not impair my driving, but it did leave me feeling a bit unhinged, as though I couldn't quite get all the way back to reality, as we think we know it. See what I mean? Can't shake it completely. Good thing I have my gardens, so I don't get too caught up in La-La Land. Nice place to visit. Wouldn't want to live there. Yet.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is It Raining At Your House: Remembering Hank Cochran

Saturday night, as darkness came on, I heard what I thought was thunder off  in the distance, only to look out and discover that fireworks were bursting just over the treetops to the east. I walked outside to get a better look. From the back yard, I could see the colors light up the night sky out beyond my garden. Not the best seat in the house, but not bad.

My guess is, they were the Hay Lake Fireworks, a summertime gift from the residents of that lake. You can get there by boat, of course, or just park your car in the grass on the roadside near the lake and throw a blanket on the ground. Or, watch through the trees from the back porch of your house. A light rain was falling, as I watched from under the eaves, the fireworks glinting off the tin roof of the old chicken coop.

And as I watched, I thought about Hank Cochran, who passed on last Thursday. He was one of the finest songwriters in country music. You probably know some of them, maybe even grew up listening to them, as I did: "I Fall to Pieces" and "She's Got You," by Patsy Cline. "Make the World Go Away," by Ray Price, and many more he either wrote or co-wrote, including some for George Strait and Vern Gosdin, whose voice still makes me want to weep every time I hear it. Soulful, is the only way to describe it.

Behind every great singer, there's an equally great songwriter helping to make it all happen. Here's Vern, singing my favorite Hank Cochran song (Hank shared songwriting credit with Vern and Dean Dillon on this one): "Is It Raining At Your House?"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground

The hummingbirds are bellying up to the nectar bar. Again. They've been at it since early this morning, barely a break between sip-fests. For over a week now a pair have been visiting regularly, taking turns on the perches. Yesterday afternoon another female showed up. At first the Mrs. seemed territorial and a bit agitated (hard to tell when a hummingbird is agitated, so perhaps I'm projecting). She chased her off and claimed her place on the perch.

This morning it appeared the ladies had arrived at a place of peace. They were seen sipping together, side-by-side on their perches, occasionally turning towards each other as though in conversation. I thought maybe they'd formed a somewhat tentative menage a trois. You know, three to a household, ala Tilda Swinton. I tried to take their picture but they were having none of it. Probably no one likes to have their picture taken at a bar.

Then, this afternoon, another male showed up. He did a little wrangling for position, gave a quick glance at the other guy who'd arrived just moments earlier, then went to sipping. Or slurping. Those little rednecks seemed to be fine, having quickly accepted each other's presence. There are, apparently, two pairs. Which is good, because there's a reason, "Two's company, three's a crowd," became a cliche. Have you seen the Woody Allen film, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona?"  That lays it all out, rather picturesquely.

Anyway, I really wanted to tell you about my cabin today. I walked over to it intending to take a few photographs and then come in to tell you about it. While I was out there a storm hit, hard and fast, bringing with it marble-sized hail that was actually bouncing on the grass as I watched from the porch of the cabin. It felt so good, so calming, like I was exactly where I should be in the universe at that moment in time.

When the hail subsided I went into the cabin and started to pick up and discard those things left behind by the former owner and not of any particular use. There were a few things left behind that could be very useful. Four fishing poles, one made for fly fishing, were left standing alongside the fridge, and a tackle box, complete with tackle inside, close-by. A badminton set and lawn cricket, or something using colorful plastic wickets, hang from a beam.

I don't intend to tussle with any bees, but a beekeeper's hat rests on a shelf along with a box of mosquito coils, the kind we used to buy at the drive-in theater and burn in the back window while we steamed up the windows in front.

I had to wonder how a Mexican sombrero had found its way to the cabin, as though it had been hanging there ever since Pancho and Lefty made their getaway from the Federales.

I  had the best time inside the cabin while a downpour occurred outside. The sound on the tin roof made me happy. I took several photographs, appreciating its aging windowsills ...

the antique light fixtures ...

and the old Hotpoint refrigerator, circa early 1960's, I believe, which still works very well. 

I wandered into the addition where the walls are lined with shelving and hooks hang from the ceiling. They look to have been used for drying something at one time. I speculated. Can't know for sure. There's also an old brick fireplace. A bit larger than the one in the original cabin.

I found a box of  rag balls, the kind used to create rag rugs. All of denim, about a dozen. They warranted a few photographs. They would make good cloth ties for whatever a person might want to tie. Or bundle.

Perhaps I should move on.

There are angels flying up near the beams. The former owner's deceased husband was a folk artist who made a lot of wooden ornaments and such but was also quite well-known in the area for creating wooden fish decoys.

Inside the cabin, there's a wooden sign, hand-written in pencil, which states:  This vertical log cabin was built in 1911 about 4 miles southwest of here. It was the Sarkio home until WWII. I traded 3 sheep for it from Don Witt. It was moved here and reassembled in 1972. Add on is from various sources.    
 ~ Otis, 1987

I must say, the energy inside the addition is very warm and inviting. It was a great way to spend time, the perfect shelter from the storm.

Now, it's evening, another storm is brewing. The hummingbirds? Still makin' the rounds. They're showing some serious signs of addiction.

The photographs are mine.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Everything's Coming Up Hollyhocks

The hollyhocks have arrived in full regalia, showing off in a variety of colors. Despite the deer having nipped off some of the young buds earlier in the summer, they survived and are thriving.

I have since discovered Liquid Fence, which has a pretty powerful odor upon application and then dissipates for humans, remaining potent enough to repel the deer and rabbits. I recently failed, however, to re-apply after a particularly heavy rain and so, two mornings ago, they helped themselves to my barely-budding cosmos, as well.

I love seeing the pair as they feast in the field just down the road, where they spend most of their evenings. Recently, after a storm blew through, as Coleman and Britta drove away, they report that the female paused to check them out, not too far from their open car window. They took a couple of pictures with their phone camera and sent them to me. She had stepped closer, curiously turned her head a little bit sideways, as though engaging in some after-the-storm camaraderie. 

I spent a couple of hours in my veggie garden this morning, trying to gain the upper hand over the weeds, who seem to be vying for control. The Johnny Jump Ups I've managed to work around, for the most part, not really qualifying as a weed, but then what does? I'm working on not being overly sentimental about these plants, but also recognize and honor their place in the world, and in my garden. The day I was giving serious thought to how I might deal with them, as I listened for what the best course of action would be, a lone bumblebee came into the garden and pushed his nose deep into the face of one. It was as if the bee and the flower were showing me how it works, their working together for good. I simply could not go forward with my plan of decimation.

The following day, my neighbor came by and we walked out to the garden together. The JJU's were in full array, covering about a fourth of my garden, the part that had not been planted this year. He remarked how beautiful they were and we agreed the scene had an almost Monet-like quality to it. I was tempted to get my camera, but some moments are best savored in the moment, no record except that which remains in memory.

I have several hollyhocks lining the perimeter of the vegetable garden, just inside the fence. My weeding has been focusing on the veggies, so I'm grateful these girls don't seem to mind sharing their space with a few weeds. I talk to them as I work, expressing gratitude for their beauty, talk about how to share the space, not leaving any to feel ostracized by the group. They have their own personalities and are so pretty.

When I was a child, my grandmother had several lining her porch.  My cousins played with them as if they were small dolls. Upside down they created rather nice gowns. I thought at the time it was pretty stupid. Couldn't see it. They were just hollyhocks to me. Nice to look at, but not dolls. Now, I understand it a bit more. They do make rather nice companions.

I'm afraid I got a bit camera happy, but they all deserve attention, so here are a few more I'd like to share:

They seem to be getting along well with the cabbages.