Untold Stories

Upstairs in my studio is a jumble of old photographs and boxes of slides from my youth in shoe boxes beneath a work table.  Those of you from the “pre-digital” age might relate to this. When my son was born over thirty years ago I changed my ways and carefully IMG_0067documented his life and our life as a family in tidy photo albums- until he left home.  Currently, my photos are all on my cell phone or floating in “The Cloud.”  Now and again I think that I should go through and sort out my old photos into albums.  But then I ask “Why?” I’m not famous.  I have no grandchildren.

They have no meaning other to myself and will mostly be recycled as with my physical body.  Maybe if I’m lucky some will wind up in some artist’s collage.

Shoe Boxes

When I die he will find them

Decades of my life

Stored in shoe boxes upstairs

Hundreds of captionless photos tucked in envelopes

Slides stacked neatly in folding Kodak boxes

Captured by a cheap camera

In eager hands

They illustrate the stories

That have largely gone untold

The forces of my life

That sanded me smooth on the inside,

Carved on the surface

Experiences of a young woman

Seeking adventure

And a place at the world’s table

When he finds them

He will see a younger me

With unnamed friends and unnamed lovers

Unnamed mountains

Unnamed rivers

Smiling

He will see walruses basking on rocks,

But not hear their music

Cabins, but not feel their warmth

Trails, but not know their destinations

My stories will die with me

Melding into the ethos

He will never know my joy

My youthful dreams

My pain and disappointments

The person before Mother

The me before you

Celebrating Winter Solstice 2017

sunrise-1756274_1920Here we are, December 21, 2017, the shortest day of the year or the longest night depending on how you look at it.  For centuries ancient peoples have celebrated this event.  It is a time of reflection and hope.  The light will be returning again.  It is no accident that Roman Emperor Constantine in 336 AD chose Christ’s birth to be celebrated around this event.  Before this date, there was no history of Christmas being celebrated, but there were festivals around the Winter Solstice. (For an interesting history of Christmas click here).

My long-time women friends and I had our annual gathering yesterday.  We shared a meal, poetry, and stories together.  As usual, it was lovely.  Here is a poem I wrote for the event…

THE LONGEST NIGHT

The pages turned

one by one

and we’ve arrived at the end again

to the longest night, the chill of December

finding its way through our thick clothing

 

It is in these darkest days

we find each other

gathered in the warmth of our homes

sitting around cheery tables and sparkling trees

enjoying the warmth of the hearth

leaving what we cannot control to its fate.

 

Revel in the music

Enjoy the fruits of the kitchen

Marvel in the twinkle of the colored lights

Rest

For the flowers lay sleeping

beneath their earthen quilts

waiting to be tended

when the light finally returns

again.

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by Alanna Pass

 

 

There is No Magic

fairy-2573105_1280During a little informal open studio I had last weekend at my home I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the accolades some wonderful friends were heaping upon me.   “You’re so creative!”  “I could never do that”.  or “I’m not creative at all.”    There was no large boulder I could crawl under so I found myself getting increasingly self-deprecating to deflect the praise.  Granted, it’s lovely to be recognized, but this is just what I do.  Everyone is creative.  You just need to pay attention to your muse.  Here is my advice to the self-described “non-artist”…

THERE IS NO MAGIC

I just said

YES

Wild hairs sprouted

I chose to tend them

Now I have flowers.

Be still

Listen

Say

YES

and you will have flowers

too.

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When Great Trees Fall…..

tree-1689092_1920When researching quotes for “Memories of Trees,” my last post, I came upon this poem by Maya Angelou, one of my favorite poets. Her words contain such strength, power, & truth.  When reading this, I thought about this same tree in my poem and my father who past away this last May.

WHEN GREAT TREES FALL

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of
dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
― Maya Angelou

The Memories of Trees

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“Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.”  Henry Ford

We burn wood for heat during the chilly months in Oregon.  There is a shiny red wood stove in the middle of our kitchen that, as I write, has a fire that is burning bright, warming our home.  Stacks of cordwood are out by the barn,  Some wood we cut and split ourselves, other we have delivered.

During my years in Alaska, I developed an appreciation of firewood.  I loved the fall ritual of taking the truck out on frosty days with chainsaw and axe.  Having stacks of wood in the yard is a bank account of sorts.  I feel secure when there is at least 2 cords for the winter in the yard

A couple of years ago we noticed that the old walnut trees on our property were showing signs of rot and becoming a hazard.  I mourned when they were taken down.  Onewood-1246276_1920 especially held many memories. The tree was a shady oasis that was we enjoyed in the hot summer months.  It was, split, stacked and became cordwood that kept us warm for two winters- its second gift to us.

This poem is for that tree…

 

A TREE MEMORY

The fire burned hot

the memories of the stately tree wafting skyward

up through the chimney

to eternity

A century of shade and thousands of nuts

gathered by humans, squirrels & birds

is no longer

 

Farmers planted the tree

an English walnut grafted onto black walnut rootstock

finally yielded to its dark cousin

It stood the comings and goings

of several families

including my own

 

On lazy summer afternoons

my little boy would swing on a tire

suspended on a rope from a thick limb,

or splash in a blue plastic wading pool

Under its drooping canopy

 

Its fate?

the rot of aging

turned asset to hazard

The tree tumbled earthward to the whine of a chainsaw

 

What remained?

A huge stump and stacks of firewood

waiting to feed the woodstove

 

After two years my sorrow has dissipated

Two young saplings replaced the tree

Light fills the spot where it once stood

I stand close to the fire on cold winter days

reveling in its warmth

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In the Bite of an Apple

Apple season is almost over with only our late bearers are still covered with fruit.  It was an exceptionally  sweet year for some varieties.  Within their crisp bodies lie memories.

APPLE

I bit into the apple

A burst of spring rain

and an explosion of blossoms

filled my mouth

I tasted the footprints of honeybees

long summer days

and the brightness of the autumn sun

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Robin

robin-2506274_1920I had to let him go

Like the mother robin

Crowded with her noisy young

In the disheveled nest of twigs overhanging the patio door

Whose scruffy chicks were there one day

Then gone the next

Never to return

Continue reading “Robin”