Saturday, November 28, 2015

"When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, 
striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through 
space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, 
the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty"

                  from Travels in Alaska
                       by John Muir

" I reached Cold Mountain and all cares stopped
no idle thoughts remained in my head
nothing to do I write poems on rocks
and trust the current like an unmoored boat"

from the Collected Songs of Cold Mountain

Sunday, November 22, 2015

" Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?"

from Some Questions You Might Ask
by Mary Oliver

" But in memory, the safe places never fall into themselves. They 
remain warmly lit by lantern. Burlap bags always full of potatoes, 
 damp wooden shelves jewelled with jars of preserves." 

from Winter Morning Walks, february 24
 by Ted Kooser

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Most people are on the world, not in it -- have no conscious 
sympathy or relationship to anything about them -- undiffused,
 separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone,
 touching but separate."

from John of the Mountains: 
The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

We were lucky enough to catch the glacier calving.

"As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.
I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the
avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, 
and get as near the heart of the world as I can." 

                                                                                  Journals of John Muir

Monday, November 9, 2015

"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into 
the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and 
baggage and chatter."

from Life and Letters of John Muir

I will be using some quotes from John Muir for a series of posts. This Sept. my wife, my mother-in-law and I took a cruise to Alaska. We saw the mountains and glaciers so beloved of John Muir and in Ketchikan my wife bought me two books, John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire by Kim Heacox, and Alaska Days with John Muir by Samuel Hall Young. I had not realized that Muir visited Alaska and certainly not that his experiences there were so central to his work promoting  the formation of the US National Parks system.  Muir's writings about Alaska spurred a tourist rush to see the Alaskan glaciers even in his day and I can only image, given the quote above what he would have thought of the great progression of cruise ship/hotels that venture north every  summer to retrace his trips to the area that is now Glacier Bay National Park. I do wish I had done a little more research/reading before the trip, that might be the old librarian surfacing.

Things that struck me about the glaciers, how blue they were and the great black striations indicating that they are old enough to be geology rather than mere ice, 

and their size, the folks below are included for scale, the deck that are standing
on is five decks above water level,

for scale again, at the base of the glacier I saw want I assume are sea lions 
they were barely visible with my 100-400 mm lens.


Once you folded entire continents, oceans rose and fell, lived, died at your whim
you coughed up boulders big as houses, pulled vast sheets of rocks across
thousands of miles, as effortlessly as a child with a blankie.

No one stood against you not man, not mammoth not muskox well maybe muskox
but mostly you came out on top, your gallstones ground a world to stretch marks and 
your cousins rolled through space with a heedlessness that made dinosaurs tremble.

Now it's all downhill, you clutch little boys tongues, nip their noses, lurk
in the mouths of alleys to attack someone home from the shops with a bag of apples 
and today you tripped a small white dog in red boots who bumped his chin on the curb.

Despite a short lived triumph as the screaming eagle centrepiece in a buffet
your future is mostly ice hockey, curlers in loud sweaters, and bobbing 
around an unfriendly world in a gaudy pink drink with a paper umbrella.

So there!

by Me

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"I was so busy rushing headlong into the future, loving libraries and
books and authors with all my heart and soul, was so consumed
with becoming myself that I simply didn't notice that I was short,
homely and untalented."

     From the introduction to Bradbury Stories ( William Morrow publ.)
                             by Ray Bradbury

Since retiring in May this is the first time I have the luxury of  
sitting down at home and fiddling with my books. It seems to 
be a time to read, think and look, both forward and backward.
My books; mirrors to the reflections, loves, lives of so many 
others, both real and imagined, help as well.

"We live forward, but understand backwards'

                       from Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity
by Prue Shaw

Sunday, October 11, 2015

" we are asleep over charts at running windows
we are asleep with compasses in our hands
and at the bow of the stone boat
the wave from the ends of the earth keeps breaking"

from The Estuary
by W.S. Merwin

I have been out of circulation for awhile, we went on
an Alaskan cruise with no internet access we cared to
pay for and then I had a cold and sat around feeling sorry
for myself. Now recovered and with lots of photos from
both the cruise and the summer at the cabin I will try to
post more often. I am not sure if the subject of Merwin
poems exactly matches the photos but they often mirror
my feelings, while observing and experiencing the world
with all it's history, complexity, colour and movement.

" I am the child who plans the Ark
back of the house while there is still 
time and rides bareback on the dark
horse through the summer night until
day finds us on the leafless hill
who stands at evening by the lake
looking out on it as I will
as long as I am here awake. "

    from Testimony
        by W.S. Merlin

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"These are the stories the dogs tell, when the fire
burns high and the wind is from the north"

from City
by Clifford Simak  

A quick stop in Vancouver, which means the Sylvia Hotel on 
English Bay, and dogs on the seawall, 

and gulls on rocks 

rocks without gulls,  

and sea
washed pebbles,

the mysteries of the deep, Cthulhu?  

the last flowers of summer 

Favorite eateries 

and funky boutiques.

"There is mystery here, but a soft, sure mystery that is 

understood and only remains a mystery because I want
it so. The mystery of the nighthawk against a darkening sky, 
the puzzle of the firefly along the lilac hedge."

from Time and Again
by Clifford Simak