A coloured cloud

As I wash the dishes I am filled with an invigorating emptiness and amuse myself with the soap bubbles. The water comes out of the tap with a rhythm that demands music. I accompany it with bursts of whistling and a phrase from a nondescript popular song. I play with the lather, which is like a cloud in which seasonal colours gleam then fade. I grasp the cloud in my hand and distribute it over the plates, glasses, cups, spoons and knives. It inflates as drops of water run over it. I scoop it up and make it fly through the air and it laughs at me, and my sense of having time to spare increases. My mind is blank, as indifferent as the noonday heat. But images of memories descend from afar and land in the bowl of water, neutral memories, neither painful nor joyful, such as a walk in a pine forest, or waiting for a bus in the rain, and I wash them as intently as if l had a literary crystal vase in my hands. When I am sure they’re not broken, they return safely to where they came from in the pine forest, and I remain here. I play with the soapy lather and forget what is absent. I look contentedly at my mind, as clear as the kitchen glass, and at my heart, as free of stains as a carefully washed plate. When feel completely sated with invigorating emptiness, I fill it with words of interest to nobody but me: these words!

Mahmoud Darwish, “A coloured cloud” in “A River Dies of Thirst


Notes:

Yep.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Gull @ Daybreak. 42° F. 6:48 am. September 24, 2022. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here.
  • Quote Source: @jessecase (via Last Tambourine)

Lightly Child, Lightly.

The answers were nearly always – light.

Light.

There.

The quick glow of a fierce sensation.

— Maddie Mortimer, Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies (Picador; March 31, 2022)


Notes:

  • Photo by DK @ Daybreak. 5:45 a.m. 60° F. September 17, 2022. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  See 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.”

Nothing you ever understand will be sweeter, or more binding / Than this deepest affinity between your eyes and the world.


Notes:

  • Post Title: From Mary Oliver’s “Terns” (Thank you Make Believe Boutique)
  • DK Photos: 6:15 to 6:40. 60° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here.

alone at water, its open eye, without seeming to move

I am always watching
the single heron at its place
alone at water, its open eye…
without seeming to move…
The bird is more beautiful
than my hand, skin more graceful
than my foot, my own dark eye…

Linda Hogan, from “The Heron” in “Rounding the Human Corners”



DK Photo: Great Blue Heron. 6:15 a.m. this morning. 50° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here.

Why it was that the morning quietened so curiously this way?


Notes:

  • Post title by: Maddie Mortimer, Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies (Picador; March 31, 2022)
  • Photo by DK @ Daybreak. 6:45 a.m. 70° F. September 13, 2022. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  See more photos from this morning here.

Sunday Morning

 

Your dad, Lia asked, was he good?

He swallowed. Her eyes fixed on his Adam’s apple. It slid up his throat and back down as if propelling his answer out; Not really. Not for most of his life. I think he became good, though. Eventually…

So what changed? she asked.

On my eleventh birthday, he came into my room trembling.

Why?

He said he’d seen something, felt something. An experience.

Of what? Lia asked.

God.

Lia held her breath…

Have you had one? he asked. She wondered why this seemed suddenly like the most intimate question anyone had ever asked her. Why something was squirming and flipping and tangling within her like a silver fish caught slyly in the coarse nylon of a net. For she had hoped very privately all her life for a dazzling numinous moment – because how easy it would be to believe, she thought, when given a sign like that.

I don’t know, she said, honestly. Either I’ve had thousands or none…

There was a silence.

— Maddie Mortimer, Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies (Picador; March 31, 2022)


Notes:

  • Photo by DK @ Daybreak. 6:00 a.m. 68° F. September 11, 2022. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  See more photos from this morning where I’ve either had thousands or nonehere.

A lovely September Day — tender —

 


Notes:

  • Photos: DK @ Daybreak, Cove Island Park. 6:00-6:15 a.m. on September 10, 2022.  More photos from a glorious morning here.
  • Post Title: Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary (Mariner Books; March 31, 2003)

Feeding on all of Earth’s beauty, making everything of its light*


Notes:

  • Post Title from: Maddie Mortimer’s Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies (Picador; March 31, 2022). * Modified from the original “Feeding on all of Earth’s beauty, making nothing of its light.”
  • Other photos from this morning’s walk here.

Walking. With Ennui.

5:25 a.m. Here we go again. 849 consecutive (almost) days on my Daybreak walk at Cove Island Park. Like in a row.

I gather my camera gear, sleep walking through the ritual now. Insomnia rages, 6 days running. No, I haven’t taken your suggested witches’ potions — that is, banana before bed, tonic water, melatonin, magnesium, and all that other voodoo shit that I can’t seem to even try. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same shit over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, here we are. On the 5:30 am Insanity Bus to Cove Island Park.

I get out of the car. I reposition the pack on my back, then the camera, all of it, heavy, unsettled, unsettling.

I walk.

I’m woozy, stewing in a brew of vertigo and fatigue. Brew…Brew…feelings brewing. I’m at the opening of Maddie Mortimer’s Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies: “Feeling brews itself in different locations, depending on the body. A man’s most honest impulses may begin in his hands or his heart, his toes, throat, fingers or thighs. Lia felt most things first in her stomach.” There’s nothing spectacular going on in this body right now. Spent immediately comes to mind. I slow my pace to get a grip.

I walk.

Mortimer goes on to use the word “ennui“, a Lori-word. I had to look it up…a feeling of utter weariness and discontent…world-weary sensation…soul-destroying fiend.”

I walk.

Adding to the ennui is an “off day” for photo taking. We’ve got the 3 impeding elements: (1) No cloud cover of any type. (2) High tide and (3) Humans. With sun rising later, the tourists are out. In force.

I walk.

I turn off the shoreline, finding nothing enlightening, and move to the walk path.

Man, tourist, adult, not a regular at Cheers here on the Daybreak walks, approaches. He’s shouting into the speaker of his smartphone. He’s FaceTiming. The participant on the other side of the call shouts back. And the back and forth continues, shattering the silence of daybreak.

I move left on the path directly in his lane, thinking this may jog him in lifting the receiver to his ear, or better yet, ending the call. No such thing happens. He shifts to the other side of the path to avoid me. I glare at him, he smiles back and continues his conversation. Idiot, oblivious to the world around him.

My irritation bleeds off, and I walk.

[Read more…]

TGIF: the herons…; and the world I’ve known; all fading past me into peace.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK with Great Blue Heron @ Daybreak. 5:55 a.m. 70° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. Other photos from this morning’s walk here.
  • Post Title from Siegfried Sassoon’s poem titled: Falling Asleep

Walking. With Buechner.

5:10 a.m. No. I didn’t sleep in. And No, I didn’t take magnesium before bed. Or drink a cup of Tonic Water. Or eat a banana. Or take melatonin. Why? Who the Hell knows? Maybe it gives me something to bitch about.

I walk.

It been 837 consecutive (almost) days on this daybreak walk at Cove Island Park. That’s 2 years, 3 months, 15 days, like in a row.

There’s a thin sheen of cloud cover over the moon. Even God found at Ōita couldn’t get a clear shot at this. Elsewhere overhead, the cloud cover is heavy and near complete. It’s dark.

It feels like a “down” day. Too much cloud. Too many people. Too much high tide. Sigh. 837 days, and you’re going to have an off day. The odds are such.

I approach the location in the photograph up top. A scene that I, and you, have seen many times.

I can make out the fisherman’s silhouette, but nothing else. Something pulls me to lift the camera up and look through the viewfinder…WTH is that? I stare through the viewfinder, a Kaleidoscope.

I take the camera away and look out again. It’s dark. I see nothing of what I see in the viewfinder. I lift the camera, and do over. God, no. It can’t be my eyes deteriorating further.

I lift the camera again, and sure as sh*t, it’s there. God found at Ōita has returned. The pink hue watercolors are airbrushed on the water, the sky, the low hanging clouds and the horizon.

It’s dark, and yet it’s not. What I see. What I want to see. What I can see. What I don’t see. What I feel.

This string of babble pulls me back to my early morning papers.

Frederick Buechner died this week. David Brooks, in his must-read essay titled “The Man Who Found His Inner Depths” described Buechner’s faith as “personal, unpretentious and accessible. ‘Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward.’ It is sensing a presence, not buying an argument.”

I look over the Cove, it’s lighter out now, twilight is lifting. Now that I see, I believe.

But damn it if I’m not sensing Something out there.

Something ethereal, Lori’s magic word def. adj. //əˈTHirēəl/ extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world.

No, this brick-head isn’t buying ‘jack’ yet, but he’s out Shopping, and Something is there.

He can feel it.


DK Photo @ 5:30 a.m. August 20, 2022. 8-° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here.

God Found in Ōita!

2:30 a.m. Here we go again.

I’m up. Three days, back to back to back, at this God-awful hour. Three days, standing in bare feet on cool grass, with my camera pointed up, trying to still my hands, trying to still my arms, just trying Still everything damn it, from the shakes — and then, if that’s not enough — my eyes are tracking the moon, aka a bright, yellow blob that is spastically jumping up and down in my viewfinder. So, now I have the shakes and vertigo.  Has to be the lack of sleep. Has to be.

Rattled, I walk to the driveway, slowly, feeling my way through the dark, with jagged stones piercing the souls of my feet. Need to resurface this damn driveway. 

I lay my arms on the roof of the car, and point upward. Why 2:30 a.m., and not 1:30, or 3:30, or even 5 am, like at least 10% of Humans? God, again, only knows, if there is a God. And I’m thinking maybe there is a God, because Someone wants me up to see Something at this hour.

I look back into the viewfinder. Sh*t. This isn’t working.

I place the camera down on the roof of the car, and let my arms rest.  Sky is clear. No risk of missing the shot with cloud cover. Take a minute, re-group and go at it again.

I look up and down the street.  No one else is out in their Jockey sleep shorts, their short-sleeved, white V-Neck, lurking around in bare feet waiting for their hands to stop trembling like a frightened kitten.

I lift my palms and look. Everything appears to be normal, on the surface.

I take a moment to re-check camera settings. Then I move to the lens settings. And here I find that I somehow turned off the automatic image stabilizer. Ha! It’s not me. I just knew it couldn’t have been me.

I snug up tight to the car, the smooth steel, cool against my chest. With the ship now anchored, I lift the camera and point.  And, there, there She is, in all of her Glory.

So there is a God.

Just has to be.

Sitting @ Canon in Ōita, Japan.


Photo – Waning Gibbous Moon (57%). 2:38 a.m. August 19, 2022. 63° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here.

this is a moment to remember

The older we get, the more rapidly time seems to move. This phenomenon has been well documented by psychologists and average humans alike, but it was only a couple of years ago that we had a physical explanation for our changing perception of time. In 2019, mechanical engineering professor Adrian Bejan presented a peer-reviewed argument based on the physics of neural signal processing. Bejan hypothesized that, over time, the rate at which we process visual information slows down, which makes time seem to speed up as we age.

This tracks. Time feels especially slippery for me lately. Days with a toddler are simultaneously long and short. And the weeks, months, and years of pandemic life have been increasingly hard to wrap my head around. As writer Christine Speer Lejune described it, “Some memories from these pandemic years are sharply vivid; others feel as hazy as an old film reel, more like impressions of having done things than memories of actually doing them. Almost all of them are untethered from anything like chronology, just bobbing around together in a two-year-old pandemic stew.”

Time passes. Things happen. Days drag on and weeks zoom past. Before I know it, six weeks have gone by, and I’m left wondering what I did with all that time.

Thankfully, I have photos to rely on. Even if no one else sees them but me, my family, and a few random friends. My phone is full of big and small moments, captured so I don’t forget them.

The vast majority of the photos I take these days are of my daughter. I document her dutifully for a multitude of reasons: because she’s cute, because she grows so quickly, and because I know she’ll have few, if any, memories from this time.

I also take photos of her because she loves seeing them. “Pick-urs?” she asks, pointing to my phone. “Yes, we can look at pictures,” I reply.

She snuggles up in the crook of my arm as we scroll through the same old set of images. “Paint!” she shouts, seeing herself trying out watercolors for the first time. “Mama!” she says, pointing to a photo of me posing for the camera. “Beep beep!” she cheers, pushing her hand against an imaginary wheel, as she spots an image of herself in the grocery cart that’s shaped like a car.

She’s seen these photos a hundred times, and still, they bring joy.

These photos bring me joy, too. As counterintuitive as it may seem, taking photos helps me to stay in the present—signaling that this is a moment to remember. (Turns out, science backs this up.) Afterwards, looking through those photographs reminds me how beautiful everyday life can be…

Katie Hawkins-Gaar, from “I Want to Remember” (My Sweet Dumb Brain, August 16, 2022.) A newsletter about facing life’s ups and downs, all while being kind to yourself. Katie Hawkins-Gaar was 31 when her husband, Jamie, collapsed while running a half-marathon and died in 2017. A year-and-a-half after Jamie’s death, Katie launched her newsletter, My Sweet Dumb Brain, all about the ups and downs of grief.)

Pure Solitude and Tranquility


Notes:

  • DK Photo: Sturgeon Supermoon. The last Supermoon of 2022. 1:55 a.m. 66° F. August 13, 2022. Darien, CT
  • Post Title: Haruki Murakami from 1Q84: “He could well imagine what the Moon had given her: pure solitude and tranquility. That was the best thing the Moon could give a person.”

You will say Fake! I will say No!


DK Photo: Flying to the Moon. 5:36 a.m. 71° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More luna pictures here.

Lightly Child, Lightly

In the midst of financial news that seems to get grimmer by the day, one story of a man trying to escape caught my eye. Andrew Formica, the 51-year-old CEO of a $68 billion investment firm, abruptly quit his job. He did not have another job waiting—or anything else, it seems. When pressed about his plans, he said, “I just want to go sit at the beach and do nothing.”

Easy, right? Not for a lot of us, it isn’t. Besides the fact that you need to have a good deal of financial security to quit working, “it is awfully hard work doing nothing,” as Algernon said in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. I can relate to this. I work long hours and have sometimes planned to go away and do nothing just for a week or two. But when I try, I find I am utterly incompetent: Idle chitchat drives me crazy; I get the jimmy legs 30 minutes into a movie; sitting on a beach is a form of torture. Whenever I make an effort to rest, my mind always wanders back to the work I am fleeing.

As difficult as it may be, Formica has the right idea. For the sake of happiness, strivers and hard-driving work machines of any income level need to learn to stop. If you are in this category, nothing should be high on your to-do list

Choose soft fascination.

During your unstructured vacation, choose activities that can gently hold your attention while also leaving you plenty of bandwidth to mentally meander. This is what three University of Michigan psychologists call “soft fascination,” and you might find it by walking in nature, or watching the waves. In contrast, “hard fascination” (found by, say, watching television) occupies attention and rules out mind-wandering. Research has found that soft fascination is more restorative than hard fascination. For example, in a 2018 study, survey respondents said that walking in nature was 15 percent more effective at helping them “get away from it all” than watching television…

If scheduling leisure seems unnatural to you, consider the way good health requires you to schedule your meals and exercise at more or less a certain time each day for a particular amount of time. Schedule “white space” in your day, and keep it off-limits from the tyrannical urgencies of your work (as well as from eating and exercise). If your guilt creeps in, or if you’re worried that “wasting” this time will somehow make you poorer, try to remember the words of the Welsh poet William Henry Davies: “A poor life this if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare.”

— Arthur C. Brooks, from “How to Embrace Doing Nothing” (The Atlantic, August 4, 2022)


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:51 a.m. May 8, 2022. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • 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.”

If I held out an arm, eventually one would land on it and petal me into stillness

It was high summer and there were hundreds of butterflies in there. I had stood and watched them gather, like living jewels, around a table of fruits, amazed at the way the tiny croziers of their tongues would uncurl and drink from the nectar of the oranges. The air was thick with them, spiraling as though played by little flurries of wind. If I held out an arm, eventually one would land on it and petal me into stillness. I loved to see how they mimicked the forms of the world on their wings – an ocellus, or the pattern of snake-print, all their gorgeous subterfuge. I had always wanted to be decorated like that, to hold out an arm and to have all the beauty of the world land on it, and make me beautiful, too.

—  Seán Hewitt, All Down Darkness Wide: A Memoir (Penguin Publishing, July 12, 2022)


Photo: DK – Monarch Butterfly. July 31, 2022. Backyard.

Sunday Morning

and I shall have some peace there,

for peace comes dropping slow

— Naomi Shihab Nye, from “The Words Under the Words,” Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.


Notes:

  • Photos: Daybreak. 5:11 to 6:00 pm, August 7, 2022. 80° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here (landscape) and here (birds).
  • Poem via The Vale of Soul-Making

Walking. With Birdie.

4:55 a.m. 823 consecutive (almost) days on my daybreak walk at Cove Island Park. 823 days, like in a row.

I walk.

It’s hot. Like 76° F and it’s not even 5 am yet.  It was Eugenides who said: “It was one of those humid days when the atmosphere gets confused…you could feel it: the air wishing it was water.”

Yet, there was zero confusion here. I’m wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt — because, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be scratching myself for the next two days from gnat bites. I would rather suffer through the heat, and b*tch about it, than let those pesky SOBs feast on me. DK 1, Gnats, no bloody chance.

But, it’s hot. On top of the long pants, long shirt, and the white, just-under-the-knee sweat socks, I’m dragging this backpack around, just in case some miracle of a bird sighting will require a long zoom lens. Take 1 day off, you obsessive, compulsive, maniacal idiot, or is it manic?… and leave the bag in the car.

I loosen the straps on the backpack, and shift the load a bit to rebalance, thinking this will help. It doesn’t.  Why is it so bloody heavy? [Read more…]

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