Often I found myself expelling a quivering, involuntary “Whoa”

The trees are so big that it would be cowardly not to deal with their bigness head on. They are very, very big. You already knew this — they’re called “giant sequoias” — and I knew it, too. But in person, their bigness still feels unexpected, revelatory. And the delirium of their size is enhanced by their age, by the knowledge that some of the oldest sequoias predate our best tools for processing and communicating phenomena like sequoias, that the trees are older than the English language and most of the world’s major religions — older by centuries, easily, even millenniums. The physical appearance of a tree cannot be deafening, and yet with these trees, it is. Facing down a sequoia, the most grammatically scrambled thoughts wind up feeling right. Really, there’s only so much a person can do or say. Often I found myself expelling a quivering, involuntary Whoa. […]

Late one afternoon, I lay down in the snow at the base of one for a while, watching as the fog poured in through its crown, and I remembered how untroubled Riksheim sounded at the bar the previous evening when, lowering his voice, he mentioned that there was a particular sequoia near his house that he was keeping an eye on. He could wake up dead tomorrow, he said. “It’s just that flying, fickle finger of Fate. Every once in a while, it’s going to point at you.” Then he fluttered his long, bony index finger through the air and lowered it with a sudden whoosh. Out of nowhere: crash. And I realized that his experience of it — a feeling of forsakenness, of arbitrary cruelty — would be essentially the same as the tree’s.

Two days later, I was snowshoeing around alone when I discovered I was standing in front of the same sequoia I had lain under. There, in the sloping snow at its roots, I saw my imprint. My back and legs and arms were joined into a wispy column, with the perfectly ovular hood of my parka rounding off the top. It looked like a snow angel, but also like a mummy — an image of both levity and dolefulness, neither all good nor all bad. I took a picture of it: what little of myself was left after I’d gone. The figure looked smaller and more delicate than I thought it should, but the Giant Forest was so quiet that I couldn’t imagine who else it could be.


Photo: The General Sherman Sequoia Tree – 275 feet tall, 100 feet around. Sequoia National Park from the foothills of central California’s Sierra Nevada. “To a human being, a 2,000-year-old sequoia seems immortal.”  (David Benjamin Sherry)

Miracle. All of it.

baby-bath
I was born in the afternoon of March 14, when a fault opened deep below Bucharest. The inky tips of seismographic recording needles trembled as the tectonic blow rolled through the Carpathians toward Kiev and Moscow, gradually receding. The face of the world was distorted, as if in a fun-house mirror: avalanches fell from mountains, asphalt roads buckled, railroad tracks turned into snakes. Flags shook on flagpoles, automatic guns rang out in arsenals, barbed wire across state borders broke under the strain; chandeliers in apartments and frozen carcasses in meat processing plants swung like metronomes; furniture on upper floors swayed and scraped. The thousand-kilometer convulsion of the earth’s uterus gave a gentle push to the concrete capsules of missile silos, shook coal onto the heads of miners, and lifted trawlers and destroyers on a wave’s swell.

My mother was in the maternity ward, but her contractions had not started. The tectonic wave reached Moscow, shook the limestone bedrock of the capital, ran along the floating aquifers of rivers, gently grasped the foundations and pilings; an enormous invisible hand shook the skyscrapers, the Ostankino and Shukhov towers, water splashed against the gates of river locks; dishes rattled in hutches, window glass trembled. People called the police—“ our house is shaking”—some ran outside, others headed straight for the bomb shelters. Of course, there was no general panic, but this was the first time since the German bombing that Moscow reeled …

Mother worked at the Ministry of Geology and was part of a special commission that studied the causes and consequences of natural disasters…When the maternity ward was shaken by a gentle wave from the center of the earth, my mother was the only person to understand what was happening, and the unexpectedness of it, the fear that the earth’s tremor had pursued her and found her in the safety of Moscow and induced her into labor. The earthquake was my first impression of being: the world was revealed to me as instability, shakiness, the wobbliness of foundations. My father was a scholar, a specialist in catastrophe theory, and his child was born at the moment of the manifestation of forces that he studied, as he lived, without knowing it, in unison with the cycles of earth, water, wind, comets, eclipses, and solar flares, and I, his flesh and blood, appeared as the child of these cycles.

~ Sergei Lebedev, from Child of an Earthquake in “The Year of the Comet


Notes:

  • Photo: Caitie @ ktnewms  (via A Joyful Journey)
  • Post 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.”
  • Related Live & Learn Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Miracle. All of it.


Nick Kontostavlakis: Μy last trip to Norway during February, 2017. The Lofoten Archipelago is spread on the northwest side of Norway, very close to the borders of the Arctic Circle. It is a cluster of small fishing villages and is often called “the Foot of the lynx” because of its shape. The islands are full of legends, maybe because of their natural beauty and their mysterious landscapes, or maybe because there the Sun either never rises or never sets. The only thing you can hear is the thousand voices of birds, the wind and the sound of the sea. That combination of the landscape which comes into view every morning and the sounds of nature is a priceless experience that fills you with energy and inspiration for the whole day, no matter what you have to face.


Notes:

  • Post 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.”
  • Related Live & Learn Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Miracle. All of it.

lava

Mount Etna on Sicily spews lava as it erupts on March 1, 2017.

(Inspired by:

God, that old furnace, keeps talking
with his mouth of teeth,
a beard stained at feasts, and his breath
of gasoline, airplane, human ash.
His love for me feels like fire,
feels like doves, feels like river-water.

Li-Young Lee, from “This Hour and What Is Dead,” The City In Which I Love You)

 


Notes:

  • Photograph: Antonio Parrinello, Reuters, March, 1, 2017, wsj.com
  • 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.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Saturday Morning

western-grebe-jpg

But we had long ago shed our busyness. The basic measure of time, the tempo around which we arranged ourselves, the water lapping, the sky slowly changing from paper white to cobalt blue, was the tempo of boating retirees. Or maybe it was the tempo of firebrand revolutionaries on a wildcat strike against industry. Either way, we were Not Working. We had desynchronized from productive time frames. My chronic sense of being late for some appointment dissolved. I heard the clicking of the musician’s shutter and looked up to see the western grebe stretching and spreading its wings. Then the western grebe retracted its wings and went back to floating.

~ Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation 


Notes:

Just for the joy of it

bird-chicadee-branch-jpg

What is worth singing about? What if the song is too small? Books will tell you that birds sing for a number of reasons— to call to each other, to warn of predators, to navigate, to attract mates. But I wasn’t so much interested in what the books believed. I wanted to know what the musician believed. “Why do birds sing?” So, at the end of our first bird walk together, I asked. I wanted him to say they sing because they have to, because they must, because it is part of their very essence, an irrepressible need. […]

Slowly the musician nodded his head. Finally, he said, “Okay. It’s possible that birds may sing just for the joy of it.” I don’t know why his response made me so happy but it did.

~ Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation 

 


Notes:

Miracle. All of it.

turtle-eggs

 An olive ridley turtle lays her eggs in the sand at Rushikulya Beach, nearly 100 miles southwest of Bhubaneswar, on Thursday. Thousands of olive ridley sea turtles started to come ashore in the past few days from the Bay of Bengal to lay their eggs on the beach, which is one of the turtles’ three mass nesting sites in the Indian coastal state of Orissa. (Asit Kumar, Agence France Presse, via wsj.com)

And don’t miss one of the 2017 Underwater photographs of the Year:

[Read more…]

Miracle. All of it.

apple-fall-night

1.

Through the night
the apples
outside my window
one by one let go
their branches and
drop to the lawn.
I can’t see, but hear
the stem-snap, the plummet
through leaves, then
the final thump against the ground.
Sometimes two at once, or one
right after another.
During long moments of silence
I wait
and wonder about the bruised bodies,
the terror of diving through air, and
think I’ll go tomorrow
to find the newly fallen, but they
all look alike lying there
dewsoaked, disappearing before me.

2.
I lie beneath my window listening
to the sound of apples dropping in
the yard, a syncopated code I long to know,
which continues even as I sleep, and dream I know
the meaning of what I hear, each dull
thud of unseen apple-
body, the earth
falling to earth
once and forever, over
and over.

~ Li-Young Lee, “Falling: The Code” from Rose


Notes:

  • Source: Photo: MilaMai Photography – Why do stars and apples fall?  Li-Young Lee Poem: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels.
  • 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.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

cascadia-cody-cobb

Dawn is like dumping milk into an inkwell.
First, there are erratic curdles of white, then streamers.
Shade the bottle for a gray colloid, then watch it whiten a little more.
All of a sudden you’ve got day.
Then start heating the mixture.

~ Roger Zelazny, from The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth

 


Notes: Quote – Memory’s Landscape. Photo: Cody Cobb with Cascadia

the experience altered him

bird-in-hand

The musician became a bird lover at the aviary. He tells a story of holding a dying finch one day and feeling overwhelmed by its tiny heartbeat. He had never studied a bird so closely before, never observed its delicate and immaculate plumage, and the experience altered him.

~ Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation 

 


Notes:

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