T.G.I.F. Now. And Now. And Now.

Stony silence as we cross the bridge into Manhattan [Cove Island Park] and the streets [paths] begin slipping past. Every moment of your life brings you to the moment you’re experiencing now. And now. And now. I’ve never have been on the streets [paths] this early [many times], predawn, and the driver [DK] agrees that it’s eerie and perfect.

Jo Ann Beard, Festival Days (Little, Brown & Company, March 16, 2021) (DK-EDITED)


Photos: DK @ Daybreak. 5:04 & 5:15 am, August 5, 2022. 76° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. Other photos from this morning here (landscape) and here (swans).

 

 

33 years in prison. 2 decades in solitary. 1st day out.

After nearly 33 years in prison — and over two decades in solitary confinement — Jack Powers
embarks on the first day of his new life.  13 min video. But worth your time.

Link to NY Times video here.

Moved…


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

“Why can’t people see the good things in front of them?”

“They think they have time for it later.”

List (2011) (via CinemaBravo)

Lightly Child, Lightly


The hen flings a single pebble aside
with her yellow, reptilian foot.
Never in eternity the same sound—
a small stone falling on a red leaf.

The juncture of twig and branch,
scarred with lichen, is a gate
we might enter, singing.

The mouse pulls batting
from a hundred-year-old quilt.
She chewed a hole in a blue star
to get it, and now she thrives. …
Now is her time to thrive.

Things: simply lasting, then
failing to last: water, a blue heron’s
eye, and the light passing
between them: into light all things
must fall, glad at last to have fallen.

—  Jane Kenyon, “Things” in “The Best Poems of Jane Kenyon: Poems


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 5 am. May 16, 2022. 61° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from that morning here.
  • Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

I thank you for the smallest sound…I thank you, light, again…To know that I am here.

 

David Whyte’s “Blessing” poems are interpreted through a visual journey across the Irish landscape in this short film by Emmy-winning filmmaker Andrew Hinton. Musician and composer Owen Ó Súilleabháin, who has collaborated with David Whyte for over a decade, offers a reflection on the music that inspired the creation of this short film. (via Gratefulness.org)

BLESSING FOR SOUND
from The Bell and the Blackbird by David Whyte

I thank you,
for the smallest sound,
for the way my ears open
even before my eyes,
as if to remember
the way everything began
with an original, vibrant, note,
and I thank you for this
everyday original music,
always being rehearsed,
always being played,
always being remembered
as something new
and arriving, a tram line
below in the city street,
gull cries, or a ship’s horn
in the distant harbour,
so that in waking I hear voices
even where there is no voice
and invitations where
there is no invitation
so that I can wake with you
by the ocean, in summer
or in the deepest seemingly
quietest winter,
and be with you
so that I can hear you
even with my eyes closed,
even with my heart closed,
even before I fully wake.

BLESSING FOR THE LIGHT
from The Bell and the Blackbird by David Whyte

I thank you, light, again,
for helping me to find
the outline of my daughter’s face,
I thank you light,
for the subtle way
your merest touch gives shape
to such things I could
only learn to love
through your delicate instruction,
and I thank you, this morning
waking again,
most intimately and secretly
for your visible invisibility,
the way you make me look
at the face of the world
so that everything becomes
an eye to everything else
and so that strangely,
I also see myself being seen,
so that I can be born again
in that sight, so that
I can have this one other way
along with every other way,
to know that I am here.


Thank you Lori for sharing. Moved.

Walking. In Twilight.

Twilight.
Both ends in the last 24 hours.
9:04 pm last night. (Top photo.)
5:34 am this morning. (Bottom photo.)

This is our neighbor’s Oak tree. I wrote about it in “Walking. And Ranting.” Let’s say it’s ~200 years old. This tree has seen 146,000 evening and morning twilights. Now, That’s Something.

I’ve been in search of a quote, in search for 6 months now. Something I recall reading but can’t find. I’ve been scouring my archives. My old posts. Trying various word combos in sweeping, google searches. OCD, much? Haven’t been able to find it. Words shared by a famous author who doesn’t need to travel the world to find beauty, as he finds a new world each morning, in a five mile radius around his house.

His words float to the surface this morning as I pull into the driveway returning from my morning walk. And there she stands, peacefully, witnessing yet another quiet, twilight morning.

This scene right outside our front door.

A wind rose, quickening; it invaded my nostrils, vibrated my gut. I stirred and lifted my head. No, I’ve gone through this a million times, beauty is not a hoax… Beauty is real. I would never deny it; the appalling thing is that I forget it. ~ Annie Dillard

We have nowhere else to go…This is all we have.” — Margaret Mead.

I stare up at her giant limbs.

Thank God I have nowhere else to go.


Notes:

  • Update since posting: Valerie pointed me to Thoreau. She was right! (again) “Wanderlust: A History of Walking” by Rebecca Solnit – “Henry David Thoreau, who walked more vigorously than me on the other side of the continent, wrote of the local, “An absolutely new prospect is a great happiness, and I can still get this any afternoon. Two or three hours’ walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect ever to see. A single farmhouse which I had not seen before is sometimes as good as the dominions of the King of Dahomey. There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you.””
  • More photos from this morning’s Daybreak walk here and here.
  • Annie Dillard Quote: “The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New (Ecco, March 15, 2016)” (Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels)

She’s Back…and replies…

My Dear virtual Friend David,

Thank you for this warm welcome. You took me by surprise with your She’s Back post.

Live & Learn has been home since day 1, since November 16, 2014, since Gate A-4.

I never stopped following you, Dale, Louise, or Karen, to name a few. The notification you received was me following you by email from a different email address, just putting my affairs in order.

I stayed in touch one way or another with everyone. And I am sorry if I left anyone wondering.

I am well. And as Valerie said in her comment, the past two years were full of Life and Vitality. And if that is not a blessing, I don’t know what is.

I am unsure if I am up to sharing why I left and why I chose to stop being an active participant on social media, everywhere on social media.

Days felt longer again. And there was no more scrolling.

I missed Dale in the evening. And I would pour myself a cup of tea and sit with her. I’ll read her most recent blog posts, go to her Instagram to see what she made for dinner for inspiration, and check out her Wordless Wednesday Photo. Dale, the Roses in the rain are Blog-post worthy. Dale and I texted frequently. I have to call Dale now and then, but we laugh so much that we seldom hear what the other is saying. Love you, Dale.

You are The King of the early hours of every day. My morning is planned around your Blog post and then your Day Break photos a couple of hours later—you threw me off when you posted nothing for over a week. But I reached out to our friend Dale, and she ensured you were okay.

If I were to answer your question again since the Proust Questionnaire,

Why do you keep coming back to this Blog?

I keep coming back because it is fertile ground for inspiration and because in a mad world, it is a safe place, High ground in flood.

With endless gratitude,

Sawsan


Guest Post by Sawsan, in response yesterday’s post titled “She’s Back“. Welcome back Sawsan. You were missed.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

It’s impossible to be lonely
when you’re zesting an orange.
Scrape the soft rind once
and the whole room
fills with fruit.
Look around: you have
more than enough. Always have.
You just didn’t notice
until now.

— Amy Schmidt, Abundance (in memory of Mary Oliver) (Rattle.com, January 20, 2019)


Notes

Walking. For A Thousand Years.

Here we go again. Daybreak walk at Cove Island Park. 760 consecutive (almost) days.  Like in a row.

The narrator @ Audible is pumping “Independent People” into my head, a novel that won the 1955 Nobel Prize for Halldór Laxness.  Not sure what’s up with my fixation on Iceland and Icelanders: Laxness, Ólafur Arnalds, Of Monsters and Men. Something going on here…  Something.

So, I’m walking, and listening to Laxness…

Had the brook lost its charm, then? No, far from it. Clear and joyful it flowed over the shining sand and pebbles, between its banks white with withered grass, its joy eternally new every spring for a thousand years; and it told little stories, in its own little tongue, its own little inflections, while the boy sat on the bank and listened for a thousand years. The boy and eternity, two friends, the sky cloudless and unending.”

Thousand years the brook flowed.  Thousand years, the tide I’m staring out at, receded, and then rolled back in again. Thousand years of nights, twilights, and sunrises…

Laxness continues: “Nothing in life is so beautiful as the night before what is yet to be, the night and its dew.”

I walk.

It’s 5:01 a.m., twilight (aka near dark), and I notice the tracks. Tracks running from the shoreline to the top of beach. WTH is that?  I walk to the top, wary of what I’ll find; God knows, it could be a badger from New Hampshire that lost its way — hiding behind the bushes waiting for its next victim. [Read more…]

Walking. With My Oystercatcher.

She was alone. Some form of birdsong, but at a high (very) pitch.  It’s the long beak that caught my attention. What is it? No clue.

It’s tough to get close in the mucky, low tide. Tough to focus in pre-twilight. I take the half-a**ed shot from way back, wary that if I get another 5 yards closer, she’s gone.

I approach.

Today, 757 consecutive (almost) days on my morning walk at Cove Island Park. Like in a row. And I’m clopping in angle deep mud, hoping that I don’t sink to my knees. Don’t you dare bolt on me.

S: “So when did you become a Birder?” That was Wednesday, several days ago —  and it’s like cupping your hands to your mouth and yelling: So when did you become a Birder?…Birder…Birder…Birder….Birder…on repeat, the echoing Upstairs.

What she didn’t say, but it was back there: “So how long is this NEW obsession going to last.”  After 38 odd years, you sort of have each other figured out. 10 years ago, I would counterpunched: “Be nice if you found any sort of obsession to lock onto.” Instead, I smile, all grown up now. It’s really a strange feeling, this controlling yourself thing.  Destabilizing, really, this letting things go. Come on. Not really letting go. Just setting it in short term parking, and waiting, when the pressure is unbearable, and then release. And carnage. [Read more…]

Walking. In a Flash of White.

Walking.  @ Daybreak.  Cove Island Park.  746 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row.

Fog. Dense Fog.  (Square alignment with mental state on 4.5 hours of sleep. Yes, we’re back b*tching about insomnia. And we were doing so good.)

No mystical Deer stepping out of the shadows. No Atlantic Gants preening. No Swans-A-Swimming. No Humans. And one Human rapidly losing enthusiasm here.  I adjust the backpack, strap on left shoulder biting. Damn, why so heavy today.

I walk.

The shoreline is layered in fog so dense, air brushes my face with infinitesimal droplets of rain.

My footfall sinks an inch or two into the beach sand.

I walk.

There’s a white flash.  It’s moving too quickly. Auto focus can’t lock in on her, can’t get a clear shot of her in the fog soup.

An Egret.  Legs tucked together tightly, platform diver, wings flapping ever so slowly, all of it keeping her airborne.  Miracle. All of it.

And White. Oh, so white.  Snow white against the all-world gray morning.  A palette no computer can replicate.

Why this white? This so white.

Why not black, or green or fuchsia? Why just egrets this white.  Why not all Birds-of-a-Feather be this white?

And who decided?

And I stand watching. Standing in the same fog. With the same heavy backpack. Yet, all of it is lighter.  Clearer.

Delia Ephron, in her “Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life“: “Out of this convoluted, mixed-up thinking, I manage to spin a little hope…I do feel that I was thrust into darkness and given back light. And it opened me up to feeling part of a larger world, I’m not sure why…Like everyone else, I have a time here and it will be over…This gift could be snuffed out at any moment.” 

The image persists… an old black and white photo decaying on its edges…the egret wing flaps…her legs elegantly tucked tight behind her, she flies. Lightly, child. Lightly.

This gift could be snuffed out at any moment.


Note:

  • Photo: Egret, this morning. 5:08 a.m.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  More Photos from this morning here.
  • Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.
  • Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Walking. Could it be this moment…Could it be…?

55° F.

Soft breeze, a kiss on the cheek. Clouds heavy, but quiet.

Here we are (again), on our daybreak walk at Cove Island Park.  722 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row.

We’re semi-functioning on 4 hours sleep, maxI can’t sleep.  Near-Dead Man Walking.

I’m at the highest point on the Island, overlooking the expanse of the Sound.

And there it was.

Lori’s Large word: ethereal…So delicate. So light. Lightly Child, Lightly.

“…a light that could be a feeling…”

And the beat of those wings, thrumming inside of me.

“…a sound could be a color”

I’m frozen, eyes locked on the wings…Get the damn camera up Man, get it up!

“…and that heaven could be…this moment…”

Now!

You’re going to remember this…


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Cove Island Park, 5:42 a.m. May 12, 2022. More photos from this morning here.
  • Quote: “I hadn’t known that a light could be a feeling and a sound could be a color and a kiss could be both a question and an answer. And that heaven could be the ocean or a person or this moment or something else entirely.” —  Megan MirandaFracture. (Walker Childrens; January 17, 2012) 

Lightly Child, Lightly


I hadn’t known that a light could be a feeling and a sound could be a color and a kiss could be both a question and an answer.

And that heaven could be the ocean or a person or this moment or something else entirely.

—  Megan Miranda, Fracture. (Walker Childrens; January 17, 2012) 


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you The Vale of Soul-Making)
  • Photo: DK, Cove Island Park, May 6, 2022 @ Twilight. 5:19 am.  More photos from that morning here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly

The wonder of a moment in which there is nothing but an upwelling of simple happiness is utterly awesome. Gratitude is so close to the bone of life, pure and true, that it instantly stops the rational mind, and all its planning and plotting. That kind of let go is fiercely threatening. I mean, where might such gratitude end?


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels)
  • Photo: Debby Hudson @ Fort Lauderdale, FL. (via unsplash)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Sometimes I don’t know how any of us go on. Sometimes I fear there’s no way our species will survive our own self-destructive choices. Sometimes I feel so I gut punched by the backward deal of the universe — that if you’re really lucky, you get people in your life to love, and then, over time, they will all either leave you or die — that I am angry at life. Actually, not sometimes. Always. I always feel that way. I don’t always actively think about it, but it’s in there.

At the same time, I am always looking for some gratitude, warmth, or hope. I often have to really search for it, but when I see something that makes me feel joy — even just a tiny odd hardly anything — you’re damn right I applaud it. Way to go, adorable cat on a leash! Thank you, server who brought my hot pizza! Kudos, writers of a TV show that made me laugh! Hallelujah, sunshine after a week of storms! Yay for good hair day, yippee for hot coffee, huzzah for an outfit that puts bounce in my step.

If I can scrape up some evidence of a thing made beautifully or a gesture made kindly, then can believe, for a few seconds, that this world is careful and kind. And if I can believe that, I can believe it is safe to let the people I love walk around out there. It’s my own attempt at foresparkling, seeking out hints of good, even planting them myself, so I can believe there’s more good to come. It might all be superstition, just mental magic, but why not try?

So I say yes for things that offer some pleasure. Yes for people who choose to be friendly. Yes for any glimmer of light through all the darkness. I mean that yes. I need it. Seriously.

Mary Laura Philpott, Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives (Atria Books, April 12, 2022)


Notes: Book Review NY Times: Is it Possible to Body-Block Our Loved Ones from Pain? Alas, No.  The Washington Post: Worry much? You’ll relate to Mary Laura Philpott’s book.

Walking. With a Trifecta.

718 days. Almost consecutive. Like in a row.  Morning walk @ Cove Island Park @ Daybreak.

Ritual is all we have. It’s what keeps us from the abyss.”  It’s Jillian Horton’s thought from “We Are All Perfectly Fine,” and there’s zero doubt that she wrote it thinking of me.

Perfectly Fine? Definitely not.

I round the turn into the parking lot. It’s empty. I mean Empty. Not a single parked car. Not a single soul lurking around.

My park. My time. Mine.

I walk.

45° F with 10 mph winds blowing from the NW, keeping this Spring’s Here thing real.

Inhale.

Blossoms.

“…as if a rose were flung into the room, all hue and scent” (Szymborska).

And then, came the Trifecta.

(The first being here, alive, standing in this spot, at this moment.)

The second, Luna peaks out from behind the clouds.  And drops her beam down on Long Island Sound.

And the third, at this exact moment, turning up randomly on my iTunes playlist of 3000+ odd tunes —  My Anthem. Van Morrison, So Quiet in Here.

Where we can be what we want to be
Oh this must be what paradise is like
This must be what paradise is like
Baby it’s so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, you can hear, it’s so quiet

I raise my camera, focus on the train of her gown, and take the shot.

I’m going to remember this.


Notes:

  • DK Photo. Moonlight @ Daybreak. 5:15 am, April 23, 2022. 45° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  More photos from this morning here.

Walking. With a sound we do not hear that lifts the birds off the water.

I know it’s them. It has to be them. They’re back. The geese that I followed last year.  The Female that nested on the dock. The Male the hovered nearby offering ongoing protection.

I scan through old posts to find that it’s been almost one year to the day, April 11, 2021: “Nest. Where you make it.”

I pull into the park, my eyes hungrily seek them again. It’s been a week now since I’ve spotted them. There’s no nest on the platform. But they swim, quietly, alone, together.  Waiting, I would guess, for the Moment.

Their Moment. Bigger than the madness in Ukraine. Or the toxicity of Washington. Or the gang shootings in Sacramento.

And it’s Ilya Kaminsky from “That Map of Bone and Opened Valves” that seemed to capture how I felt as I stared down at them:

It’s the air.
Something in the air wants us too much.
The earth is still…
On the fourth day I touch the walls,
feel the pulse of the house and I
stare up wordless and do not know why I am alive…
a sound we do not hear
lifts the birds off the water.


Notes:

T.G.I.F: a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.  It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:52 am, April 1, 2022. 54° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  More photos from this morning here.
  • Quote from Steve Layman

do not walk by without pausing to attend to this rather ridiculous performance

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
melodiously
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

—  Mary Oliver, “Invitation” in  A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).


Photo by Joshua J. Cotten of male goldfinch, Backyard, Cordova, TN, USA in October 2021 via unsplash

Saturday Morning

Other times when I hear the wind blow

I feel that just hearing the wind blow makes it worth being born.

—  Fernando Pessoa, The Collected Poems of Alberto Caeiro

 


Notes: Photo – DK @ Cove Island Park.  Poem: Thank you The Vale of Soul Making

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