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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For Those That Travel the Creative Path

I came across this lovely prose by Charlotte Eriksson as I perused the Goodreads website today. There is no title and is probably an excerpt from an essay. It is so appropriate for any one who is traveling the creative path…..

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“… so this is for us.
This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love
and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know
because the beauty is in the act of doing it.
Not what it can lead to.
This is for the times I lose myself while writing, singing, playing
and no one is around and they will never know
but I will forever remember
and that shines brighter than any praise or fame or glory I will ever have,
and this is for you who write or play or read or sing
by yourself with the light off and door closed
when the world is asleep and the stars are aligned
and maybe no one will ever hear it
or read your words
or know your thoughts
but it doesn’t make it less glorious.
It makes it ethereal. Mysterious.
Infinite.
For it belongs to you and whatever God or spirit you believe in
and only you can decide how much it meant
and means
and will forever mean
and other people will experience it too
through you.
Through your spirit. Through the way you talk.
Through the way you walk and love and laugh and care
and I never meant to write this long
but what I want to say is:
Don’t try to present your art by making other people read or hear or see or touch it; make them feel it. Wear your art like your heart on your sleeve and keep it alive by making people feel a little better. Feel a little lighter. Create art in order for yourself to become yourself
and let your very existence be your song, your poem, your story.
Let your very identity be your book.
Let the way people say your name sound like the sweetest melody.

So go create. Take photographs in the wood, run alone in the rain and sing your heart out high up on a mountain
where no one will ever hear
and your very existence will be the most hypnotising scar.
Make your life be your art
and you will never be forgotten.”

― Charlotte Eriksson

In the Company of an Old Dog

Dougie & A on porchDougan was adopted into our household when he was 8 months old.  He was a hyper golden retriever – too much dog for a professional woman and her 10-year-old daughter that owned him before.  There was no fenced yard at their house so he spent his days in a travel kennel waiting for his people to return from work and school.

Dogs raised like this are typically neurotic as adults dougie young and new kittieand can never get enough attention and affection.  I know because I have had them before. They live good lives out in my fenced yard in the country with plenty of attention.  He has been kept company by Bandit, an adorable 9 year old Red Heeler that also has had a questionable past.  We are kindred spirits as I too had some rough years in my youth.

Dougie & Bandit on porch VegiesDougie is now over 12, old for a golden retriever.  A few weeks ago I thought he was failing as he was refusing food and limping badly.  I thought it was the  end.  Luckily the vet just pulled a few bad teeth and gave him meds his joints and for an injured ligament.   We are happy he is back being his silly self.  I see myself mirrored in him as I age.

 

OLD DOG

Twelve years of observation

and you know my moods and intentions

without a word being spoken

 

It’s the landscape of the body

And of the eyes

And maybe a bit of telepathy

You and I intertwined in a cross species dance

 

You are bound to me like the moon to the earth

And I to you like a tree to a limb

Four legs to two legs

Fur to furless

 

As your face whitens with age

And your eyes hollow

I know we have measured time

But for now

 

Walk with me on these country roads

Let me feel your warm presence

By my side

My steady companion

In this tenuous world
Dougie at Beach

 

 

 

 

 

Temporary- A Veteran Remembered

Dad Air Force
Bruce Pass, US Air Force circa 1943

I never thought too much about Veteran’s Day until this year in the aftermath of my father’s passing.  Dad was a proud WW ll veteran.  He would usually leave the house wearing his Air Force commemorative cap with lots of shiny pins on it.  How temporary life is.

This one’s for you, Dad….

Dad, Air Force Squadron
Bruce Pass (far left) with B-52 squadron

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Veteran Remembered

What was it like?

I should have asked

You tucked in the tail of a B-24 bomber

A machine gun your only company

Flying in formation at night

Above the restless waters of the Pacific

And foreign lands

Not knowing what the dark skies would bring

Continue reading “Temporary- A Veteran Remembered”

There is No Word For Art in Their Language

IMG_1344-001When I was in Juneau, Alaska last summer I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful exhibit of native masks in the Sealaska Native Corporation Gallery.  As I perused this captivating collection, I stopped and read an informational plaque on the wall.  I was struck while reading it that the SE Alaskan native cultures do not have the word “art” in their language.

When I returned home I researched further and found that many native cultures worldwide do not have the word “art” in their language.  In Bali the word for artist and human being are the same.  According to Aviva Gold on her blog “Painting from the Source”

……if we are all art makers by virtue of being human, why would we need a special word for art maker? And if “Art” is not a thing, but rather a natural way of life, connection with nature, daily worship, breathing, just being in the moment, then what use is there for the word “Art”? Art and living are the same. Art is complete living.

What a contrast to our modern culture where most are spectators to the arts.  We go hear music rather than play, go to art exhibits & revere artists as some kind of alchemists that should be worshipped.    We have been removed from our tribal nature, sectioned off into individuals on our own devices, so connected, yet so separated.

 

There is No Word for Art

There is no word for art in their language

It is infused in the fabric of their culture

Adorning their bodies and homes

With sacred symbols

On baskets, clothing, totems, rocks

 

It is the voice of spirit expressing

Woven within The Peoples’ memory

Through legends

Passed down through generations

 

Around fires on cold winter nights

The People share their stories in the singing of songs,

And in the dancing of dances

While the drums beat

The children watching intently

 

There is no word for art in their culture

Here everyday items, masterpieces

By everyday people

Not gods

For they are all artists

They know no other way

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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”