Posts Tagged ‘life’

Earth, my dearest, I will. Oh believe me, you no longer need your springtimes to win me over – one of them, ah, even one, is already too much for my blood. Unspeakably, I have belonged to you, from the first.
~  Rainer Maria Rilke

The Earth doesn’t care about age or wrinkles.  What’s a decade or two when you’re a billion years old and a few cracks when you’re scarred regularly by earthquakes? 

And what does the Earth care about how often the floor is swept? It considers last autumn’s litter simply next year’s humus.

And so what does the Earth value?  Could the persistence of grass be a clue?

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
~ Kahlil Gibran

New life amid the forest debris

Where man finds dissatisfaction, the Earth finds promise and the potential for renewal. Fallen trees and fallen leaves are all cherished for what they can offer now, not just the strength and beauty they possessed in days gone by.

Male woodpecker clinging to the underside of a fallen birch tree

Spring is in the air and it’s Earth Day.   Get outdoors and let yourself fall in love.

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snowshoe hare

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.
Down to the stream where the king-cups grow —
Up on the hill where the pine-trees blow —
Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You’d lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You’d say to the wind when it took you away:
“That’s where I wanted to go today!”

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow —
Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

~  Excerpted from A. A. Milne’s poem ‘Spring Morning’

Arnold Schwartzenegger read this poem as he put his class down for a nap in the movie Kindergarden Cop.  Putting children down for a nap is seldom easy, but these words are so soothing, they might even put an adult to rest… especially if they were read by Arnold’s strong yet gentle voice.

Milne, who became known for his stories  of Winnie the Pooh, wrote another poem ‘Puppy and I’ which has a similar theme.  In it he asked rabbits he had met on the road where they were going in their brown fur coats, which made me think of the hare I saw along the trail this morning. 

In trying so hard to figure out where we’re going, sometimes we miss the wonders of the world around us, where we are, right now.  Sometimes it’s just enough to go… outdoors.

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Have you seen the Green Man? His tracks are everywhere these days…  in the yard, in the woods and around the salt marsh.  He’s been busy engaged in activities that are too often attributed to Mother Nature.

From the trail I can see where he’s been doing his business in the woods, carpeting the forest floor.

Even areas with standing dead wood seem to come to life with him around.

The Green Man has been laboring in secret for thousands of years.  Besides greenery, his signature work includes flowers like forget-me-nots that are frequently found growing out of bounds.

Through the ages, he’s been known by many titles, among them Pan, Silvanus, the Wild Man, Skanda and the Green Knight.  But Mystery’s always his middle name.  He’s busy wherever it’s spring and summer on the planet, spreading his seed and encouraging unbridled growth.  His drawn, painted, or  sculptured image is found worldwide in various cultures dating back to ancient times.  His face is often covered with leaves.

Though you may not get to see him in person, you’re probably familiar with his work.  It speaks to all of us who are looking for a rebirth of the spirit (and the garden) at this time of year.

For more information about the Green Man, see Wikipedia’s entry.

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What if you woke up one morning and your vision wasn’t the same?  How would you adjust your day, your work and your attitude?

Last week I crossed paths with a small garter snake that had only one eye.  Even though snakes rely on vibration and scent to track their prey, I wondered how it would manage.  Coincidentally, the next day, an eye infection left me with no vision in one eye and blurred sight in the other.  

Many wild creatures, such as the ospreys above, rely on good vision in both their eyes to make the fine judgements in distance required to capture prey.  Others rely on both their eyes to avert becoming prey themselves.  Humans who have lost sight in one eye quickly adapt to any loss in depth perception by moving their heads slightly in order to make a more accurate judgement of distances involved.  In humans at least, it would seem that the greatest benefit to having two eyes is simply in having a spare.  

 Blurred vision is another problem.  It can make a familiar walk in the woods an intimidating experience unless a much slower pace than usual is adopted.   Many of the beautiful details in nature are also lost when vision is blurred.   

However, when vision is impaired, sounds and textures can become a source of both information and pleasure.  The sound of rain falling, the soft texture of spring grass underfoot and the warmth of a spring breeze on your face can be soothing and refreshing in ways that may have been overlooked before.

Those things that nature denied to human sight, she revealed to the eyes of the soul.
~ Ovid

Our immediate surroundings become more important when our eyesight is  impaired.  Unable to look clearly into the distance or quickly shift our gaze from one focal point to another, we’re also more compelled to focus on just one thing at a time.  Since everything seems to take more time to execute, there is a greater need to simplify and prioritize activities.   Fortunately, once limitations are accepted, the transition becomes easier, bringing with it a more peaceful existence. 

As my normal vision returns, I wonder if something that was found this past week will be lost again.  I’ll have to wait and see.

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… here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart).
~ ee cummings

The world has many secrets. Some are ancient but new ones are made (and revealed) daily.  This one is probably the most wonderful.  It’s what allows people to go on and remain connected to one another, despite the suffering brought on by separation, either through death or some other circumstance. 

Someone might read Cumming’s poem and think of romantic love, another the love between a parent or grandparent and a child, the love between siblings or friends or the love of God.  Regardless of how many hearts we hold within our hearts, somehow, they are always large enough to hold these all in.  And that, in itself, is a wonder.

This morning’s clear November sky allowed me to find these images: the root in an upturned tree (the negative image is shown), the bud in one of next year’s frosted Rhododendron buds, and a spruce tree at sunrise along the salt marsh trail.  Birch and maple leaves provided the background for the shape of the heart within a heart.

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A native love story set in North America provided the inspiration for this painting by the French artist Girodet. The Entombment of Atala had a profound effect on me when I first saw it as a teenager in the Louvre Museum.

atala inscriptionI was especially moved by the inscription on the wall of the cave which is easily discernible in the large painting, but barely visible in most reproductions.

J’ai passé comme la fleur.
J’ai seché comme l’herbe des champs.

Translated, it means ‘I have withered like the flower.  I have dried up like the grass of the fields.’

The ephemeral connection between humans and grass blew me away.

grass in woods

Especially when we’re young, we have a tendency to think that we will live forever.   As we age, we begin to take more notice of the change of the seasons and realize that old age and death eventually come to us all.

foxtail barleyThe bloom of spring becomes synonymous with the bloom of youth.  By the time we hit middle age, it becomes quite apparent that we are in the late summer of life, and that we too will eventually dry up and wither like the grass in the fields.

Yet every season in both nature and life offers a beauty of its own.  August days reveal the simple elegance of grasses on the landscape.

The Foxtail Barley shown at left is one that I find especially pretty.  However, it can be deadly if it finds its way into the hay meant for farm animals, as its tiny barbs are known to cause respiratory and digestive problems.


Despite its beauty when in bloom, grass serves its greatest purpose once it begins to dry and  go to seed.  It’s a comforting message of hope for those of us who wonder at times if the best of life might already be passed.

All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.
~ Isaiah 40:6

For more information on Chateaubriand’s early 19th century story of Atala and Chactas, see the Wikipedia post on Atala.

For more information about the painting, see The Entombment of Atala at the Louvre Museum.

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