Saturday Morning

Had he remained standing there too briefly, chances are he would not have let the place get to him and consequently decided to devote his life to it. A few minutes, maybe. Long enough to hear the wind in the already wind-bent pines, the wind in his ears, the wind in his trouser legs, the pebbles under the soles of his shoes, his hand fiddling with coins in the pocket of his leather jacket, the oystercatcher’s shrill, Morse-like biik-biik-biik-biik. I picture my father turning to the cinematographer and saying: Listen to how quiet this place is.

Linn Ullmann, ”Unquiet: A Novel


Photo Credit

Miracle. All of it.

The Great Cold Snap of 2019 has given us a ton of terms we didn’t know we needed: Frost quakes. Snow squalls. Steam fog. Now we can add another one to the list: ghost apples.  Andrew Sietsema was pruning apple trees in an icy orchard in western Michigan when he came across some.  “I guess it was just cold enough that the ice covering the apple hadn’t melted yet, but it was warm enough that the apple inside turned to complete mush (apples have a lower freezing point than water),” Sietsema told CNN.  “And when I pruned a tree it would be shaken in the process, and the mush would slip out of the bottom of the ‘ghost apple.'”…

~ Doug Criss & Gianluca Mezzofiore, Another byproduct of this extreme cold: ghost apples (CNN, February 8, 2019)


  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: 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.”

Morning Light


Stephen Howard, Morning Light (Tree Island Series), Oil on Board, 800 x 800 mm. (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

“Born in Masterton, Stephen Howard lived in Christchurch, New Zealand for several years before relocating to Auckland.  Howard paints New Zealand architecture and landscape, but manipulates the subject matter to give an atmospheric sense of strangeness. Contrasts are his thing – a tree against the repetitive patterns of an apartment block, a pale concrete building with a dark doorway and rust over the door. Howard seldom depicts a single place. He takes buildings out of their original context and re-imagines them in a way that questions reality, rather than reflecting it. His work is contradictory in that the organic forms of his colour field works are achieved by calculated attention to detail and the building up of many layers of paint. Howard has been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland since 1978.”

See more of his incredible art here: Parnell Gallery.

Lightly Child, Lightly

But mostly I live here in the capricious present
Writing down one thing, then the next.
Autumn passes like empty freight cars—

Some doors open, some doors closed—
Light flickers and flashes through the cracks.
The trees are a thousand species of fires.

Eric Pankey, from “Southern Elegy,” Trace: Poems


Notes:

Riding I-95 South. With Cuts.

I’m crossing the I-95 overpass, aiming to circle back and slide down the ramp into the pack – the morning rush is backed up for miles.

I wait at the stoplight.

Four girls, 7-8 years old, blue skirts, sweaters, hair pulled back, backpacks bouncing on their backs…hustle across the crosswalk, all four with iPhones cradled in both hands. Texting. Surfing. Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat.  Hands, eyes, fingers, all blind to the onset of autumn in the trees overhead, and the yellowing leaves which quiver from the gentle breeze easing in from the North. The light turns, I see them in the rear view mirror, heads down. And likely still down at this moment. The scene replays in a loop. Something Large, is irretrievably Lost.

I inch down 95.

Something Large, is irretrievable Lost.  A 1/2 mile stretch on my right, formerly lined with thick, lush trees, the same trees that separated the commuter train lines from the suburbs, the same trees offering a moment’s sanctuary from Work-to-Come or Work-Behind-Us, these same Giant trees, thick with foliage…are Gone.

A giant yellow earthmover hulks along the highway, resting from the mayhem it delivered overnight. Creating What? Room for a second lane exiting into Greenwich? Another rail line? Tree-free space to stand-up cinder block distribution warehouses for Amazon, that stretch for acres, offering convenient access to I-95?

I pass the clear cut, the traffic eases and it’s all behind me. Or so I think. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning

I find myself walking softly on the rich undergrowth beneath the trees, not wanting to crack a twig, to crush or disturb anything in the least — for there is such a sense of stillness and peace that the wrong sort of movement, even one’s very presence, might be felt as an intrusion… The beauty of the forest is extraordinary — but “beauty” is too simple a word, for being here is not just an esthetic experience, but one steeped with mystery, and awe… Standing here…I feel part of a larger, calmer identity; I feel a profound sense of being at home, a sort of companionship with the earth.

~ Oliver SacksThe Island of the Colorblind


Notes:

  • Quote Source: Brainpickings
  • Photo: Pine trees stand forming a forest near Briesen, Germany, on Thursday. Brandenburg’s forests produce sustainable wood resources of roughly a million cubic meters. (Patrick Pleul, wsj.com, January 11, 2018)

Lightly Child, Lightly

“Living in the forest, I feel the presence of many ‘treasures’ breathing quietly in nature. I call this presence ‘Shizuka.‘ ‘Shizuka‘ means cleansed, pure, clear, and untainted. I walk around the forest and harvest my ‘Shizuka’ treasures from soil. I try to catch the faint light radiated by these treasures with both my eyes and my camera.

In Tao Te Ching , an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu wrote, ‘A great presence is hard to see. A great sound is hard to hear. A great figure has no form.’ What he means is that the world is full of noises that we humans are not capable of hearing. For example, we cannot hear the noises created by the movement of the universe. Although these sounds exist, we ignore them altogether and act as if only what we can hear exists. Lao-tzu teaches us to humbly accept that we only play a small part in the grand scheme of the universe.

I feel connected to his words. I have always sensed that there is something precious in nature. I have an impression that something very vague and large might exist beyond the small things I can feel. This is why I started collecting ‘Shizuka’ treasures. ‘Shizuka’ transmits itself through the delicate movement of air, the smell of the earth, the faint noises of the environment, and rays of light. ‘Shizuka‘ sends messages to all five of my senses.

Capturing light is the essence of photography. I am convinced more than ever that photography was created when humans wished to capture light.”

~ Masao Yamamoto, “Shizuka (Cleanse)


Notes:

  • Masao Yamamoto (61), is a Japanese freelance photographer, who blurs the border between painting and photography, by experimenting with printing surfaces. He dyes, tones (with tea), paints on, and tears his photographs. His subjects include still-lives, nudes, and landscapes. He also makes installation art with his small photographs to show how each print is part of a larger reality.
  • Photographs by Masao Yamamoto with “unknown” and “untitled” via the Artstack.com
  • Quote via Memorylandscape
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect 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.”

Miracle. All of it.

“We’ll keep the tub moist and free of weeds for the next six years. When you turn sweet sixteen, we’ll weigh the tree and the soil again.” She hears him (her Father), and understands…

In the summer of her eighteenth year, preparing to head to Eastern Kentucky to study botany, she remembers the beech growing in its tub of soil, out by the barn. Shame rushes through her: How could she have forgotten the experiment? She has missed her promise to her father (who has since passed away) by two years. Skipped sweet sixteen altogether. She spends an entire July afternoon freeing the tree from the soil and crumbling every thimble of dirt from its roots. Then she weighs both the plant and the earth it fed on. The fraction of an ounce of beechnut now weighs more than she does. But the soil weighs just what it did, minus an ounce or two.

There’s no other explanation: almost all the tree’s mass has come from the very air.

Her father knew this. Now she does, too.

~ Richard Powers, The Overstory: A Novel


Notes

  • Photograph: Elena Shen with “Shades of Green” (Beech Tree)
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: 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.”

She addresses the cedar

She addresses the cedar, using words of the forest’s first humans. “Long Life Maker. I’m here. Down here.” She feels foolish, at first. But each word is a little easier than the next. “Thank you for the baskets and the boxes. Thank you for the capes and hats and skirts. Thank you for the cradles. The beds. The diapers. Canoes. Paddles, harpoons, and nets. Poles, logs, posts. The rot-proof shakes and shingles. The kindling that will always light.” Each new item is release and relief. Finding no good reason to quit now, she lets the gratitude spill out. “Thank you for the tools. The chests. The decking. The clothes closets. The paneling. I forget. . . . Thank you,” she says, following the ancient formula. “For all these gifts that you have given.” And still not knowing how to stop, she adds, “We’re sorry. We didn’t know how hard it is for you to grow back.”

~ Richard Powers, from “Patricia Westerford” in The Overstory: A Novel (April 3, 2018)


Notes:

Aspens alone quake when all others stand in dead calm

She gets out of the car and walks up into the trees on the crest west of the road. Aspens stand in the afternoon sun, spreading along the ridge out of sight. Populus tremuloides. Clouds of gold leaf glint on thin trunks tinted the palest green. The air is still, but the aspens shake as if in a wind. Aspens alone quake when all others stand in dead calm. Long flattened leafstalks twist at the slightest gust, and all around her, a million two-toned cadmium mirrors flicker against righteous blue.

The oracle leaves turn the wind audible. They filter the dry light and fill it with expectation. Trunks run straight and bare, roughed with age at the bottom, then smooth and whitening up to the first branches. Circles of pale green lichen palette-spatter them. She stands inside this white-gray room, a pillared foyer to the afterlife. The air shivers in gold, and the ground is littered with windfall and dead ramets. The ridge smells wide open and sere. The whole atmosphere is as good as a running mountain stream…

This, the most widely distributed tree in North America with close kin on three continents, all at once feels unbearably rare. She has hiked through aspens far north into Canada, the lone hardwood holdout in a latitude monotonous with conifer. Has sketched their pale summer shades throughout New England and the Upper Midwest. Has camped among them on hot, dry outcrops above gushing streams of snowmelt, in the Rockies. Has found them etched with knowledge-encoded native arborglyphs. Has lain on her back with her eyes closed, in far southwestern mountains, memorizing the tone of that restless shudder. Picking her way across these fallen branches, she hears it again. No other tree makes this sound. The aspens wave in their undetectable breeze, and she begins to see hidden things.

~ Richard Powers, from “Patricia Westerford” in The Overstory: A Novel (April 3, 2018)


Notes:

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