Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

I would describe it as gnarly. It has been split by ice, dried by drought and trimmed cruelly by storm winds. It sheds not only leaves in the summer and fall but branches and long dry sticks during the winter. Squarely sawed stubs of once strong branches protrude from its trunk. The wounds were undeserved and now are only slightly healed with a green rounded rim. The constant and predominate southern winds have trained our willow’s branches to spread reaching northward, permanently posed in a windswept profile even on the few calm days of summer. But despite its rough life, its trunk grows thicker and it gains a few feet of height each year.

The globe willow, even growing untended in the wild, is a most beautiful tree. As its name implies, its branches will naturally form a very rounded shape as if from a Grant Wood painting. That is what drew my first attention. It has rough thick bark and in its mature form casts a very thick cool shadow. But the species is known for its poor disease and insect resistance, which I found out only after choosing to plant it. My tree chose to ignore the rounded branches shape genetic characteristics, instead grows weak branches and retained its poor health reputation. It has survived many doses of insecticides and antibacterial sprays. Until now, I was unaware that a tree could unwind its own DNA helix.

Today I read of the Oriental bonsai tree. As I write this I realize that I may now better understand my 18 year old globe willow. The bonsai trees are grown in a small pot or tray. Through careful pruning and training, the tree is caused to flourish in a stunted growth state. Wire is used to bind the branches and trunks to force it to grow in whatever way the “gardener” prefers. They are an amazing and beautiful addition to a home. Imagine having a whispering pine tree growing in your home that is smaller than the average table lamp. But there is something more intangible and harder to explain about these miniature trees. Growing a bonsai requires a meditative state and the cutting and pruning should be approached with a Zen-like state of mind. It is all about harmony, peace and balance. Only with harmony between nature, man and soul will the tree flourish.

But I’ve read that most of the bonsai tree inter-meaning and Zen has been lost to the general public in the last few years. Westerners look at this tree as only decoration and added atmosphere to their homes. The trees are losing popularity because the Zen is lost. Maybe this too for my globe willow.

Oh it started off in Zen, I planted my little globe willow exactly on my birthday just 18 years ago. How much closer to harmony between nature, man and soul can you get. With the help of two steel posts, wire and rubber hose to cushion the bark, I braced my new tiny 2 inch in diameter tree so it would remain straight for its first couple of formative years until it was strong enough to stand against the wind on its own. But I didn’t think of meditating about it either before or after. Just a few years later when aphids invaded, as I sprayed the insecticidal soap, gently washing each branch and leaf, no prayers, meditation or aaahummmms were uttered. The tree grew at the mercy of the winds, being pruned violently during each storm. Not the required Zen-like state of mind to promote flourished growth, but admittedly done with a closeness to nature. The wire of the wind has formed it branches to lean and flow northward instead of the familiar globe shape of its brothers. No thought was given this, the gradual change was hardly noticed.

With all of this, the tree lives on, though gnarly, leaning, battle scarred and robbed of its intended form and handsomeness. It is still able to cast a cool shade, protect my home by breaking the wind and ice and growing steadfastly adding character to our yard. Perhaps there has been a speechless connection with man all along. The two share the same traits, the same scars, the same stubbornness for life. Perhaps a cosmic connection was made at the time of the first turn of the spade to prepare for its planting. Much like the man that shares its birthday it grows old. Perhaps there has been a harmony between nature, man and soul and both have flourished from it, although awkwardly, surviving and growing despite the forces. Bonsai, the western world’s largest bonsai may be growing in my front yard.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s a Zen thing.

DSS

Yesterday I watched a mother robin that was feeding her young offspring that had just taken flight from its nest and fallen near our old pear tree. It made me think of this post that was written a few years ago. Perhaps one of my favorites.

Flight On Top

I am thinking of the bird’s nest built on the spring season wreath that was hanging on my front porch at home this summer. I thought the eggs would surely be hatched by the time I returned. Perhaps then the young birds, mouth wide open, would still be begging a meal from mother robin and stealing a bug or two from their nest mates. Or maybe if I was long coming  home, they would have flown the nest, placing their trust in the thin air as I am today traveling far from my home.

It is always sunny here on top, above the clouds. As the wisps of mist turn to thin clean air, we break into a hidden world above the cloudy day. Towering columns reach high but try as they may they still are beneath us. Our earth thousands of feet below is now only white vapor and rain and clouds covered by sunshine.

One hundred and five minutes, that’s how long it will take to travel what would take my four-wheeled conveyance eleven and a half hours. I’m traveling seven times faster but there is no breeze to my face or rumble at my feet. And as far as I know, no one on my bumper, to the left or right of my lane or rambling too slow ahead of us. How can others sleep while I am wide-eyed. I have traveled 12700 miles by air this year so far. I have never kept track of the miles in earlier years. Tell me, how many miles does it take until a guy is able to read a newspaper, play a computer game or sleep while being 35000 feet in the air and traveling 535 miles an hour? How many miles until you are deadened to the marvel of it all? Keep the orange juice, forget the pretzels or peanuts, don’t bother me, I’m looking out the window and wishing I was up front.

Nothing better than being on the way home. Check your bags, who cares if you’ll never see them again. No reason to drag your dirty laundry with you in the tightly packed, neatly tagged and tiny wheeled canvas Samsonite. Sure, keep the computer and camera but pack the little black bag so you are traveling lightly. You need at least one hand to drink the Tim Hortons or Starbucks. Worry about balancing the coffee and watching the scenery, not balancing two bags and keeping sight of your replaceable possessions. Don’t waste your time and energy protecting your “stuff”. You are miles from home and seeing things that you may never have the chance to see again, even if it is just a pretty girl or a set of 4-year-old twins each carrying a complete boxed set of Matchbox cars that Dad gave them on his way to war.

DSS

( From 4 years ago )

I know, I know, December is the month of only Christmas expectations. But as we travel about from mall to store to online shopping literally and figuratively pushing our rattling, child pissed on, flat sided squeaking swivel wheeled shopping carts, we really need to pause and put life a little more into proper perspective.

Not only have there been “big deals” at Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy and Amazon, there have been Real Big Deals that happened in the world between December 15th and December 25th in history that most forget about and fail to pay proper December homage to.

So put away the wallet, the credit card, Amazon Prime login password, your and your children’s selfish shopping list and pause a couple of minutes to remember what other things happened on these ten days approaching this holiday of whatever religious Christmas you celebrate. These are real human events, nothing mystical about them. Please just pause for a few minutes.

Remember:

December 15, 1791 – The Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution) became effective following ratification by Virginia.

December 16, 1944 – During World War II in Europe, the Battle of the Bulge began as the Germans launched a big counter-offensive in the Ardennes Forest along a 75-mile front, taking American troops by surprise. There were an estimated 77,000 Allied and 130,000 German casualties.

December 17, 1903 – After many years of experimentation, Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved the first powered, controlled airplane flights. They made four flights near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the longest lasting about a minute.

December 18, 1916 – During World War I, the Battle of Verdun concluded after ten months of fighting in which 543,000 French and 434,000 German soldiers were killed.

December 19, 1946 – War broke out in French Indochina as Ho Chi Minh attacked the French seeking to oust them from Vietnam. This marked the beginning of a thirty-year conflict which eventually led to heavy U.S. involvement and ended with a Communist victory in April 1975 after U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam.

December 20, 1956 – The Montgomery bus boycott ended after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling integrating the Montgomery bus system was implemented. The boycott by African Americans had begun on December 5, 1955, after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white man.

December 21st – Winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere today is the beginning of summer.

December 21, 1846 – Anesthesia was used for the first time in Britain during an operation at University College Hospital in London performed by Robert Liston who amputated the leg of a servant.

December 22, 1783 – Following a triumphant journey from New York to Annapolis, Maryland, George Washington, victorious Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolutionary Army, appeared before Congress and voluntarily resigned his commission.

December 23, 1888 – Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh cut off his left ear during a fit of depression.

December 23, 1947 – The transistor was invented at Bell Laboratories by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley, who shared the Nobel Prize for their invention which sparked a worldwide revolution in electronics.

December 23, 1987 – Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager set a new world record of 216 hours of continuous flight around the world without refueling. Their aircraft Voyager traveled 24,986 miles at a speed of about 115 miles per hour. They were in the air without landing for nine days of these ten days before Xmas.

December 24, 1968 – Astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr., and William A. Anders orbited the moon during the Apollo 8 mission, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed 10 orbits, and the live TV broadcast became one of the most-watched programs in history.

Now do ya get it?

E.

( Merry Christmas from all the Gang, even E.  He sometimes slumps to a seasonal low this time of year.  John )

For E’s last year’s post.

 

The Sun peeks above the horizon, hesitates as an orange half round orb, allowing a loitering hawk to pass in front, and then slowly continues it purpose of dawn.  Another new day is being created.

A few light layered clouds seem to dodge the Sun’s rise and heat, not ready to let loose their mist, not yet, but for just another few short moments to cast their long transparent shadows on the lakes and ponds and fields and fall leaves below. An autumn Thursday begins.

DSS

Today reminds me of this line.

The Sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older.
Pink Floyd’s “Time” 

 

This leather couch
I have sat in this leather couch
nearly 10 years
Is there anything more comfortable
than a leather couch
You don’t sit here
you sink in and lounge
Your butt becomes lower
than your knees
You must rest your feet
on the old coffee table
The hollow of your back is filled
by the generous cushion stuffing
The narrow gap of space
between the soft armrest
and the cushion allows
potato chips and pencils
and quarters to easily pass through
to the floor.
This leather couch.
It is for grandsons and old men
to fall asleep on.

DSS

How can I not sing about rain
It is April
If only for a few more days
Cloudy skies
wet sidewalks, soaking grass
raise me.
Pull me up  from the trenches
Tickle my face and back of my neck
It may be the end of drought
the rising of small creeks
the flooding of rivers
The joy of the flight of birds
Roofs playing the rhythm and rhyme
of rain drops
Down spouts trickling maple seeds
Stay my April rain
If only for a few more days.

DSS

 

As the street lights hum to life
roads reflect with orange flavored sheen
car lights bright of red and white
leave trails behind the wiper blades
Mercury vapor parking lots,
piled high with snows remains,
white hot stains of rocker salt
are washed away by the winter rain

many nights of snow and skidding ice
with no hope of warmer days
we bundled up in down feather coats
and followed the orange plowers sand and blade.
we slowly walked in our winter boots
our minds wandered to nicer days
when winds would change from north to south
and blow in the warm winter rain.

DSS

 

Today is a rewind to dust off something that DSS likes. He is thinking of those back east this week.

Captain! Sometimes the most important person is you!
You!….. you dizzled drapes dropper
You! …. you measly mound of moose melt
Get up and fight the sons of bitches!
Hit ’em in the face!
Kick ’em in the balls!
Fuck’em up!

Now wait a minute……..
Think about this
The last skull you cracked still isn’t healed.
And you lost your Secret Society of Greenwich Ring.
Oh! Those were the days!
There was beer, blood and Brylcreem
smeared all over everything.
Royal Fly-boys!…. the Bastards!

Wake Up!!

Whew! That reoccurring WWI dream again!
What time is it?
6 O’clock already!

I HATE Daylight Saving Time!!!

OC

(DST has that affect on some people. This is OC’s  twice annually modified rant about it. Brylcreem??  John   )

The New Year is approaching. Damn, I’m glad I’ve almost made it another 366 days. Some days went quickly, some days dragged by. Time, a very relative thing. I wonder if time would even exist if there was no life in the universe. Time may only be a remnant of life itself. What difference does time make to a rock or gas or liquid? Life is the only thing that has an expiring life span. Whether made intelligent and conscious or only a one-celled microscopic plant or bug. Life is born and soon dies.

What difference does time make to a rock, it doesn’t give a shit how long it takes for it to be first spewed from the center of the earth until it is blown to hell and gone as a speck of sand. A billion, 2 billions years? So what, it’s just a fricking rock. I have, maybe if I’m lucky, 77.6 years. Then I’ll be blown to hell and gone as a speck of the star-dust that I was made from. Time is a very precious thing to me. I have a few short years, then I won’t care what fucking time it is either. And in maybe another billion years some of my atoms may also end up nothing more than a particle in some boulder stuck out in the middle of Utah somewhere. You’ve seen them, a big fucking rock balanced on the edge of a cliff, not giving a shit whether it will fall or not. That will be part me and you, out in the middle of a desert in Numbfrickin, Utah.

And we won’t care if it’s January, February, March or time for supper. Because our life will have gone by just a shade under 300,000,000 meters per second.

Happy New Year!

E.

(Again, I apologize for E’s frankness. He very seldom has an optimistic or even a poetic view of getting another year older.    John)

Summer in December

What’s that feeling you get
hearing that voice or song or music
remembering
who you were with, the thing you were doing
the time, the song,
the black and white picture in your mind
the favorite shirt, the wild hair.
What is that feeling
The down deep feeling
sort of good but empty, sort of sad,
how many years and how many are gone
Getting what we need,
But so many left behind
Listening under the near full moon
The words, the notes,
with that dusty woman.
The hair scent and the feel of goose bumped skin.
Feeling summer in December

DSS

It is -9 F here this morning, I’m OK, the pipes aren’t frozen, the snow was only a skiff, and I have no place I need to go. We are stocked up on bread, milk and batteries, our survival is assured, now if we only had a couple of boxes of Girl Scout cookies, I’ve heard stories of old couples surviving for 8 or 10 days in their snow-covered cars with only a blanket, a bottle of Aquafina and two boxes of Thin Mints,  An amazing story, somewhere out in northwestern Kansas if I remember right. This kind of weather makes you want to think of more pleasant seasons.

Here’s a poem I wrote in December three years ago, just to get winter off my mind. I’m getting that feeling again.

First Posted: December 15, 2013

DSS