Sit down. Shut up. Pay attention. Repeat, hundreds of times over.

I found that trees are full of sound. Wind reveals the architecture of branches and leaves, and every tree has its own wind sound, emerging from the particularities of its physiology. For example, the Ponderosa pine trees in Colorado sound different from the same species in California. Each has needles adapted to the local environment, so each sounds different when the wind blows. Broad-leaves trees are likewise diverse in their voices. City trees have rumbles of buses and trains running through them, changing the form of their wood. Birds sing from branches and insects gnaw on inner wood. Then there are tree sounds that are too high for our ears, but by listening with sensitive microphones I heard water pulsing through branches and ultrasonic clicks of distress in drought-stricken twigs. These sounds combined with the voices of market vendors working in the trees’ shade, birds singing amid traffic noise, and surf sucking at palm roots on an eroding beach. Sound is a great way into tree lives: it passes around and through solid barriers, revealing what our eyes cannot see.

~ David George Haskell, in an interview by Caspar Henderson titled: David George Haskell recommends the best books on Trees (fivebooks.com, July 13, 2017)


Notes:

  • Other notable statements in this interview by David George Haskell: “Smelling the soil, talking to other people, holding an acorn in your hand, coming to know the sounds of birds and trees: these have great power once we wake to them, partly because they are such multi-sensory activities, engaging mind and emotion… (Yet) Our modern dependence on trees is mostly hidden from our senses. We don’t hear the rain passing through forest canopies on its way to the reservoir. We don’t smell the wood pellets and coal chunks that power our computers and homes. The wood that frames our houses, holds up our furniture, and gives us paper arrives with signs of its ecological history purged. So we imagine that we’ve transcended our ancestors’ close relationship with trees. But this is illusion. There is no good future for Homo sapiens without forests. Yet forests are in crisis. We live in an age of great diminishment. In just the first dozen years of this millennium, 2.3 million square kilometres of forest were lost – cut, burned, drowned, desertified – yet only 0.8 million regrew or were replanted.
  • Photo: François Vigneron with Four in a Square (via Newthom)

 

Are you listening?

Sad, sobering but beautiful.  “The photographer and filmmaker Katy Grannan travels around America to capture the nation’s mood in 2016.”

Riding Metro North. With My Schwinn

image

5:40 am train to Grand Central.
50º F. Top coat-free morning.
Warm.

Morning papers.

Photo of the Day: Jogger in Beijing. Eyes visible. Face covered with a mask. Street flooded with smog. Mile 1 of apocalypse?

Climate change.
Trump
Fear.
Guns.
Grim.

Hoo-Ah!
Lt. Col. Frank Slade (aka Al Pacino) in Scent of a Woman: “there isn’t nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit.

Bend it. Bend it back.

Mid-summer. 1970’s. Billy’s out front. Brother Rich and cousin Jim tail far behind.  The fishing pole is in my right hand and bending in the wind. I’m griping the handle bars and pumpin’ my legs.  Up down. Up down.  We reach the final leg, a steep decline.  Heads are tucked down and in over the handle bars. The Schwinn accelerates.  We lean into the slow turn right. And then into the slow turn left. The white birches lining the road are a blur.

Metro North makes its first stop and rolls on.  I turn my gaze to the window.  Lights from lamp posts, street lights and apartments illuminate the darkness and whiz by.

I turn my right shoulder ever so slightly to cock the rod.  Out of my right eye are lush forests.  I cast. The floater and lead are suspended in the air. The worm is tucked in tightly on the hook. Towering above, the Cascade Mountains watch over. And the cloudless blue skies watch over all of us.  The Kootenay River, clear, clean and lined with moss covered stones, meanders down stream.

The train pulls into Grand Central. We spill out.

The floater, red and striped, is suspended.  Hanging, frozen in time.

Hold it.

Stop right there.

Don’t let me go.


Notes:

Riding Metro North. Floating above it all.

art-light-gabriel-dawe

I’m walking across town on 47th street to catch Metro North.  Times Square bursts to illuminate the light drizzle falling between the skyscrapers.  It’s 48° F, cool, but comfortable for the first day of December. There’s plenty of time to catch the evening train. I’m a victim of a poor night’s sleep and a long day but I float above it all – above fatigue, above the snarled commuter traffic and I welcome the soft, evening rain. This day is done. This tank is empty. There’s nothing left to do but let it fall.

Fragments from my morning reading of Clarice Lispector’s book parachute in…now the rain has stopped. It’s just cold and feels good…The days melt into one another, merge to form one whole block, a big anchor. Her gaze starts evoking a deep well. Dark and silent water…

I take my seat. Rain drops bead on my shoes and mar the morning shine. Floating, watching it from above, the rain water slides down the side of my shoe. [Read more…]

There is no mind on the other side of the wall

Tony Harratt, black and white,photography

It was one of the most emailed and shared NY Times articles this month. It has set off a frenzy of opposing responses from religious groups and from folks who believe in life on other planets – – along with others who are in violent agreement. I read it the day it was published (May 2nd).  I found it interesting that for a man clutching the fence (The Believer of Convenience), it has been looming in my consciousness since then. And, like Lightman, it frightened me too.

The Op-Ed piece is written by Alan Lightman, a physicist from M.I.T. and author of “The Accidental Universe.  It is titled: “Our Lonely Home in Nature“.  A few excerpts:

The tornadoes that have been devastating parts of the South and Midwest, just weeks after a deadly mudslide in Washington, demonstrate once again the unimaginable power of nature…

…Aren’t we a part of nature, born in nature, sustained by the food brought forth by nature, warmed by the natural sun? Don’t we have a deep spiritual connection with the wind and the water and the land that Emerson and Wordsworth so lovingly described, that Turner and Constable painted in scenes of serenity and grandeur? How could Mother Nature do this to us, her children?

…Yet despite our strongly felt kinship and oneness with nature, all the evidence suggests that nature doesn’t care one whit about us. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happen without the slightest consideration for human inhabitants…Our comfort with nature is an illusion.

…In the other direction, nature is constantly given human qualities. Wordsworth wrote that “nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Mother Nature has comforted us in every culture on earth.

…I would argue that we have been fooling ourselves. Nature, in fact, is mindless. Nature is neither friend nor foe, neither malevolent nor benevolent.

…Nature is purposeless. Nature simply is. We may find nature beautiful or terrible, but those feelings are human constructions. Such utter and complete mindlessness is hard for us to accept. We feel such a strong connection to nature. But the relationship between nature and us is one-sided. There is no reciprocity. There is no mind on the other side of the wall. That absence of mind, coupled with so much power, is what so frightened me on the sailboat in Greece.

…we should not be concerned about protecting our planet. Nature can survive far more than what we can do to it and is totally oblivious to whether homo sapiens lives or dies in the next hundred years. Our concern should be about protecting ourselves — because we have only ourselves to protect us.

Read entire article: Our Lonely Home in Nature


Notes:

  • Image Credit: Tony Harratt Photography. Storm in Liverpool Bay.
  • Related Quote: “The universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other.”  ~ David Levithan

 

Sheryl goes home. Buys a church on the Internet.

Sheryl-Crow

“Sheryl Crow, 51, has sold over 50 million pop and rock albums.  She moved across the country from Los Angeles to Nashville, a place that, according to the title of her new album, “Feel’s Like Home.”…Today, Ms. Crow’s own home consists of a spacious stone mansion, a two-story barn and a church that she bought online for $5,000…

…Ms. Crow’s new songs reveal the singer’s search for a home of her own. “When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was kind of a soul-searching time for me, and I realized the one thing that I didn’t have in my life was roots.”…For the past seven years Ms. Crow has been in Nashville, where she says there are no paparazzi. Her two adopted sons, Levi and Wyatt, aged 3 and 6, can finally go to school without being photographed.

….Her parents, who have been married for nearly 60 years, raised her in a small town of “churchgoing, hardworking people.” Ms. Crow considers herself a Christian, but she doesn’t subscribe to specific religious rules. That didn’t stop her from buying a dilapidated church on the Internet, which she had shipped to her house and restored near the stables on her property, for her personal use. “Since I was 21, I’ve always had a strong relationship and an everyday, ongoing dialogue with a higher power,” she says. “He or She seems to be most evident in nature, which I guess is why I’m so environmentally driven to preserve what we have around here…”

~ Sheryl Crow.  Read full interview in wsj.com: Sheryl Crow Goes Country


Image Credit; Sheryl Crow’s new album “Feel’s Like Home” can be found here.


Our Home

This short trailer opens with a quote by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

“…And till my ghastly tale is told, this heart within me burns.”

It’s set in Midway Atoll, North Pacific Ocean, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

The images are burned into my consciousness.

Those that follow this blog, know about birds and me.  No more words required.  Take a few minutes and watch.  See what we’re doing to our planet.


Thank you Olga for sharing.

Sleep. China. Leisure. Marx. Judging.

senior woman in black and white

Potpourri of articles that have lingered with me…and have fired up the thinking gene:

1) Extend our conscious life span by 150%.  The End of Sleep. (Aeon Magazine)
(DK: I need to get some of this “medicine.” Or, maybe not.)

2) Not Doing Better Than Our Parents. And Loving It. (The Umlaut.com)
(DK: Just what my kids need to read.  I can hear it already.  “See Dad. You have it all backwards.”)

3) Choking on China.  The Superpower That is Poisoning the World. (Foreign Affairs)
(DK: I’m not Mr. Green.  But, this.  This is frightening.)

4) A Man of His Times (Karl Marx). (NY Times)
(DK: Hard left. Hard Right. We’re all human. )
“He is an intensely loving father, playing energetically with his children and later grandchildren, but also suffering what would now be diagnosed as a two-year depression following the death of his 8-year-old son Edgar.”)

5) Change Your Thoughts About People For a Better Life. (Steve Aitchison)
(DK: I set a modest goal after reading this post.  No judging for 1 day.  Outcome: Fail. I’m workin’ it. First step in recovery is recognizing…you know the line…I’m on step 2.)

6) The Happiest People Pursue the Most Difficult Problems. (Rosabeth Moss Kanter @ HBR Blog Network)
(DK: “It is hard to feel alone, or to whine about small things, when faced with really big matters..” YES.  Period.)


Image Source: GagaBoss Studio

We Say Everything Comes Back

waves, dark, blue, shoreline, beach, rock

“We say you cannot divert the river from the river bed. We say that everything is moving, and we are a part of this motion. That the soil is moving. That the water is moving. We say that the earth draws water to her from the clouds. We say the rainfall parts on each side of the mountain, like the parting of our hair, and that the shape of the mountain tells where the water has passed. We say this water washes the soil from the hillsides, that the rivers carry sediment, that rain when it splashes carries small particles, that the soil itself flows with water in streams underground. We say that water is taken up into roots of plants, into stems, that it washes down hills into rivers, that these rivers flow to the sea, that from the sea, in the sunlight, this water rises to the sky, that this water is carried in clouds, and comes back as rain, comes back as fog, back as dew, as wetness in the air.

We say everything comes back.”

Susan Griffin


Source: moody blues by Andy Kennelly on Flickr via Sundaug.

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