Walking. And harvesting light.

69° F. 4:30 a.m. My daybreak walk @ Cove Island Park. 410 consecutive days. Like in a Row.

Dark Sky app: 93% cloud cover.

It’s a quiet morning.

A solo fisherman.

A runner. Male. Tights. Headband. Could pass for Richard Simmons. Smartphone strapped to his left arm. And white, wired earbuds. Does anyone use wired earbuds anymore?

And then a brisk walker with a Tuk pulled down over his ears, a North Face coat and gloves. (~70° F. Cancer?)

And me. Man-Child laboring under a massive backpack, containing more gear than you’ll find in stock at your local BestBuy, 98% of which will go unused on the morning walk. But it’s all gotta come, just-in-case.

My eye catches rapid movement, then color over the water. Ellen Meloy: “The complex human eye harvests light. It perceives seven to ten million colors through a synaptic flash: one-tenth of a second from retina to brain.” Lori shared this, and The Mind keeps returning to it in a loop.

Miracle, that my eye spotted this creature in twilight. I’m away at a distance, I quickly swap lenses, and then approach. She’s skittish, and one would wonder why. [Read more…]

Walking. Under the Red Maple.

Cove Island Park Walk. At Daybreak. 394 consecutive days. Like in a Row.

A handful of days after the long Memorial Day weekend. Reader: Hold that thought.

4:36 a.m. Dark Sky app is calling for 100% cloud cover, 50% chance of rain. Ugh.

I’m out the door.

I arrive at the park. Cloud cover ~60%. No rain. Not a hint of rain. Take that Dark Sky A.I.

Two loops around the park and I’m heading back to the car.

I’m 500 feet from the parking lot and I notice the tree.

Was this beautiful little tree here before? No chance. I would have seen it, for sure. Almost 400 consecutive days in a row, and I missed it?

Look at the fresh soil build up around the base. Could a tree this large have been transplanted?

What kind of tree it this? Red Maple? Could you possibly be this clueless? A Canadian who doesn’t know his trees?

I glance at my watch. Time to get home.

I quickly snap a shot of the tree and keep walking. And note that I couldn’t even get the entire tree within the frame. Really!?!

No.

I stop.

This tree is pulling me back.

I walk back. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Compared to the alternate realities that could have happened, how can I want for anything more in this one?

— Gina Frangello, Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason (Counterpoint, April 6, 2021)

 


Notes: NY Times Editor’s Choice 9 New Books We Recommend This Week (May 13, 2021)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

We ought to ask ourselves again and constantly: Why fill our lives with such effort and torment, when we know that we will be here only once and when we have such a brief and unrepeatable time in this indescribably beautiful world?

— Semezdin Mehmedinovic, My Heart: A Novel. (Catapult, March 9, 2021)


Notes:

Miracle. All of It.

Yes

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

— William Stafford, “Yes” in “The Way It Is


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:33 am, March 24, 2021. 39° F. Norwalk, CT
  • Post title 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.

Walking. With Toko-pa.

283 days. Consecutive. Cove Island Park morning walk.

14° F, feels like 5° F temp. What fresh hell is this? (Dorothy Parker)

I’m near the end of my loop.  Boots swish through the crusty snow. I’m making my way to Cove Island Point.

And there it was.

It pierced through my tuk…

and through the hoodie pulled over my tuk…

and somehow she pierced through the noise cancelling earbuds that were pumping Taylor Swift’s EvermoreAnd I was catching my breath / Barefoot in the wildest winter.

I snap a picture, that one above. And pause to watch.

The rustling of this single, dry leaf, clinging to the branch by its ever-so-thin stem, and shivering. How delicate. How fragile. How barefoot in the wildest winter.

The north wind gusts, she shudders, and I shudder along with her.

Toko-pa Turner: What is wild in us are the ways in which we meet something freshly and not by habit. Wild is to be full-body alive in response to the conversation life is having with us; the caress of the wind which cools your skin after the sun has penetrated it with warmth. The shadow cast by a soaring bird above. The unmediated glance, surprised by beauty.

The unmediated glance surprised by beauty.

And for that moment…full-body alive.


Notes:

Sunday Morning

[…] Perhaps you feel it, too, as this long, hard year draws to a close — a newfound tenderness for even the smallest, most familiar sounds and sights and textures of a day, along with a heightened awareness of just how fragile and precious each moment really is. Whether or not we have lost loved ones, jobs, routines, or even faith, none of us are who we were a year ago. We’ve been remade, invisibly yet irrevocably, both by our collective grief and by our dawning recognition of the truth of who we are – connected, interdependent, vulnerable, mortal. And, just perhaps, if we’re lucky, we’ve also been altered by wonder.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned about myself during these many months of being home and being quiet. And surely the most profound lesson has been that, in spite of everything, there is beauty and meaning to be found in life as it is, right here, right now. It’s become my daily challenge, and my daily choice, to find it. As British botanist Kathleen Basford observed, “It is when we are confronted with poignant reminders of mortality that we become most aware of the strangeness and wonder of our brief life on Earth.”

If this time is our only time, and it is, then surely we do owe it to ourselves, and to each other, to pay attention, to look deeply, to listen closely, and to respond to all of it, somehow, with love and gratitude. […]

In her memoir “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed recalls her beloved mother’s parting advice to her, before her too-early death from cancer. “There is always a sunrise and always a sunset,” she told her daughter. “And it’s up to you to choose to be there for it. Put yourself in the way of beauty.”

“Put yourself in the way of beauty.” It’s such a simple instruction. And yet, what a powerful and useful reminder this is as we cross the threshold into an even more challenging time. A reminder that we do have a choice to make each day, no matter how dark and difficult the path may be. We can choose where we put our attention, what we share, what we bow to, what we love – not in spite of what else is going on around us, but because of it. […]

—  Katrina Kenison, from “choosing beauty” @ katrinakenison.com, December 31, 2020


Notes:

  • Putting myself in the way of beauty again this morning.  DK @ Daybreak. Jan 4, 2021. 6:30 to 7am. 30° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

How much space for remembering is there in a day? How much should there be? I think about this in my poetry. I don’t want to be a nostalgist. Yet I feed on memory, need it to make poems, the art that is made of the stuff I have: my life and the world around me. I am grateful for the tug of the day that gets us out of bed and propels us into our lives and responsibilities; memory can be a weight on that. And yet, in it floods, brought willfully, or brought on by a glimpse, a glance, a scent, a sound.

Elizabeth Alexander, “The Light of the World: A Memoir.

 

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

Remember when you would have been over-the-moon thrilled to have just a fraction of your life as it is now?

Look around you: it is enough.

KEEP MOVING

Maggie Smith, Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change (Atria/One Signal Publishers, October 6, 2020)


Photo: Daybreak. December 15, 2020. 6:39 to 7:09 am. 29° F. Feels like 23° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT

I’m only now starting to fully understand is that this is an inside job. It only works if I believe.

But what I’m only now starting to fully understand is that this is an inside job. It only works if I believe. I’ve always been confident, positive, doggedly determined; but doubt is beginning to mitigate my conviction. Who am I to think I can accomplish this, when so many have struggled with similar setbacks; some with Parkinson’s, some with the aftermath of spinal surgery? I may be the only one who has taken on this particular two-headed beast…

I have to learn to walk again; to reclaim my mobility, remaster my motion. I consider this fundamental to my therapy —  for me, it all starts and ends with walking. And I understand that it’s more complicated than that. So many tiny disciplines have to be observed, and neglected muscles and ligaments need to be restored. I’m exhausted by the effort I’ve already put in at Johns Hopkins, and daunted by how much work I still have to do. It’s like being nibbled to death by ducks.

Back in the days of carefree ambling, I would have considered the topic of walking to be rather pedestrian. Now the acts of stepping, strolling, hiking, and perambulating have become an obsession. I watch Esmé gliding through the kitchen, grabbing an apple while opening the fridge door for a coconut water, closing it with a quick shift of her hip and pirouetting out the swinging door at the other end of the room. Down in the lobby, my neighbor and her daughter are quickstepping to catch a taxi. I spy on a man walking with a slight limp, which he counterbalances with a bag of groceries. I secretly watch the way they all move. Easy, breezy, catlike, or with a limp, every one of them is far better at it than me. It may be that the most difficult, miraculous thing we do, physically, is to walk…

It’s tough. With PD and the aftermath of the surgery, something as simple as remaining upright is often sabotaged by a rogue army of misfiring neurons. I try to stay organized. I have memorized a litany of admonitions, not unlike my golfer’s list of swing thoughts: Keep my head centered over my hips; hips over my knees; no hyperextending; stay in line with my feet; eyes forward; shoulders back; chest out; lead with the pelvis. All of this kinetic vigilance can dissolve in a nanosecond of panic, or come apart with some other distraction. A tiny nervous jolt or spasm, and like a house of cards in a sudden gust of wind, the only messages that make it through the debris are: Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall

—  Michael J. Fox, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality (Flatiron Books, November 17, 2020)

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