Smell the earth

Starting a novel is opening a door on a misty landscape;

you can still see very little but you can smell the earth

and feel the wind blowing.

~ Iris Murdoch, from her debut novel: Under the Net


Notes: Quote via punlovsinPhoto by Arend Ruizendaal with Reading.

 

Sunday Morning

the mist
moved slowly across
the field held down
by stones, stitch of trees
what colour was the mist
x-ray grey
how still was it
the iv drip before it falls…

I stopped the car to watch it cross the field
black earth breathing its winter breath…

the field disappeared in the mist
still the bison stood

life can become so still

the iv drip
before it falls

earth of the body
where a life grows

the stillness between silence
and muteness…

– Anne Michaels, from “Bison” in All We Saw: Poems


Notes: Poem from Whiskey River. Photo: Winter Morning Mist by Sébastien Mamy

Miracle. All of it. (This Year on Earth)

In 2018,

  • Earth picked up about 40,000 metric tons of interplanetary material, mostly dust, much of it from comets.
  • Earth lost around 96,250 metric tons of hydrogen and helium, the lightest elements, which escaped to outer space.
  • Roughly 505,000 cubic kilometers of water fell on Earth’s surface as rain, snow, or other types of precipitation.
  • Bristlecone pines, which can live for millennia, each gained perhaps a hundredth of an inch in diameter.
  • Countless mayflies came and went.
  • More than one hundred thirty-six million people were born in 2018, and more than fifty-seven million died.
  • Tidal interactions are very slowly increasing the distance between Earth and the moon, which ended 2018 about 3.8 centimeters further apart than they were at the beginning. As a consequence, Earth is now rotating slightly more slowly; the day is a tiny fraction of a second longer.
  • Earth and the sun are also creeping apart, by around 1.5 centimeters per year. Most of the change is due to changes in the sun’s gravitational pull as it converts some of its mass into energy by nuclear fusion.
  • The entire solar system traveled roughly 7.25 billion kilometers in its orbit about the center of the Milky Way. This vast distance, however, is only about 1/230,000,000th of the entire orbit.
  • There were two lunar eclipses and three partial solar eclipses, each a step in the long gravitational dance making up the roughly 18-year saros cycle. During one saros cycle, eclipses with particular characteristics (partial, total, annular) and a specific Earth–Moon–Sun geometry occur in a predictable sequence; at the end, the whole thing starts again. This pattern has been repeating for much longer than humans have been around to see it.

I like knowing these bits of cosmic context because they link me to a larger world. I can echo the words of Ptolemy: “Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth.”

Mary Hrovat, from “This Year on Earth” (3 Quarks Daily, December 24, 2018)

Don’t miss the rest of her essay here: This Year on Earth


Notes:

  • Photo: Phys.org.
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Miracle. All of it.

Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and beauty of the world.  And it’s breathtaking…

Ever since we discovered that Earth is round and turns like a mad spinning-top, we have understood that reality is not as it appears to us…

We are made up of the same atoms and the same light signals as are exchanged between pine trees in the mountains and stars in the galaxies…

What are we, in this boundless and glowing world?

We have a hundred billion neurons in our brains, as many as there are stars in a galaxy, with an even more astronomical number of links and potential combinations through which they can interact. We are not conscious of all of this. “We” are the process formed by this entire intricacy, not just by the little of it of which we are conscious…

Lucretius expresses this, wonderfully: . . . we are all born from the same celestial seed; all of us have the same father, from which the earth, the mother who feeds us, receives clear drops of rain, producing from them bright wheat and lush trees, and the human race, and the species of beasts, offering up the foods with which all bodies are nourished, to lead a sweet life and generate offspring . . .

Life is precious to us because it is ephemeral…

~ Carlo Rovelli, excertps from Seven Brief Lessons on Physics


Notes:

  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Sunday Morning

I find myself walking softly on the rich undergrowth beneath the trees, not wanting to crack a twig, to crush or disturb anything in the least — for there is such a sense of stillness and peace that the wrong sort of movement, even one’s very presence, might be felt as an intrusion… The beauty of the forest is extraordinary — but “beauty” is too simple a word, for being here is not just an esthetic experience, but one steeped with mystery, and awe… Standing here…I feel part of a larger, calmer identity; I feel a profound sense of being at home, a sort of companionship with the earth.

~ Oliver SacksThe Island of the Colorblind


Notes:

  • Quote Source: Brainpickings
  • Photo: Pine trees stand forming a forest near Briesen, Germany, on Thursday. Brandenburg’s forests produce sustainable wood resources of roughly a million cubic meters. (Patrick Pleul, wsj.com, January 11, 2018)

Driving I-95 S. With Plastic or Planet.

It’s Friday morning, I’m in traffic heading south on I-95.  It’s Susan’s car, the change unsettling. Her car is new, power steering is sensitive, dials not where they should be. Both hands grip the steering wheel, fingers caress the soft cowhide leather – – Humpty Dumpty is not all back together again, still jumpy from trees falling out of the sky from the long day, longer.  A call earlier in the morning from Allstate offered a status update on my car: $9,600 for repair; no estimate as to completion.

I pass Exit 7 near Stamford.  A few feet in front is the driver of a late model Toyota Camry. She lowers her window and dumps her ashtray, the cigarette butts skip on the highway, gum wrappers follow. Wow.

Wednesday evening it was Planet or Plastic? An image so jarring, so scarring, and impossible to shake.

Tuesday, on Metro North, a Suit sipping his coffee, sets the cup on the floor between his feet while he surfs on his smartphone. He bumps his cup, the coffee leaks under the seat into the middle of the aisle.  He grabs his brief case, looks down at the cup, looks around to see if anyone is looking, and exits the train. The train empty, the cup and the spill left behind.

It’s Monday morning. I write down a few To Do’s, decide they weren’t in priority order, then toss the note in the trash can. I start my list again, forget two critical items, toss it away again. The lettering on the trash can: “Paper only. Save our Planet.” Trees falling all over.

It’s late last night. I’m drawn to NatGeo’s feature essay on Planet or Plastic.  The loggerhead turtle is caught in a discarded fishing net, it struggles desperately, gnawing at the industrial strength webbing trying to escape to the surface to breathe.

Boris Pasternak, in a letter to his cousin Olga Freidenberg in May 1929, said “The greatest things in the world clothe themselves in boundless tranquillity.”

Where’s the greatness DK? Where?


Photo: National Geographic, June, 2018. An old plastic fishing net snares a loggerhead turtle in the Mediterranean off Spain. The turtle could stretch its neck above water to breathe but would have died had the photographer not freed it. “Ghost fishing” by derelict gear is a big threat to sea turtles. (Photo by Jordi Chias)

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands to claim this world,
blue vapor without end.

~ Lisel Mueller, from “Monet Refuses the Operation” in Second Language


Notes: Photo: Blue Ridge Mountains by Richard Terpolilli.  Poem: Poetry Foundation

Hope. And Hopeless.

Hope…and,

[Read more…]

I walked slowly, and listened

After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.
It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy.
I walked slowly, and listened

to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.

~Mary Oliver, from “Sometimes” in Red Bird: Poems


Notes:

Blue Planet II: Take a Deep Breath.

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