It felt like a bird when I held it: almost weightless…

When I first learned the age of the instrument (1721) I was filled with wonder that a delicate piece of craftsmanship could endure for centuries, that something so small and light could do so much, that an instrument made in the 18th century could have so much to say in the 21st. It felt like a messenger from the past and an emblem of the possible, a relic and a promise…

One evening not long ago, I went to see the San Francisco Symphony’s annual concert with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. The symphony musicians sat in a semicircle that began with violins and violas and ended with cellos and bass viols, and, thanks to the time I’d spent contemplating David Harrington’s violin, I saw it as a forest of wooden instruments. The gospel singers stood above them, and at one moment when I could see dozens of bows moving in unison in the dimness, see 50 mouths open in song, it felt like some kind of truce between our species and the trees had been struck.

Maybe that’s the promise David’s violin seemed to hold when I discovered how long it had been playing. At my request, he brought it over to my apartment and took it out of its case. I was a bit overawed and ready to spread a clean cloth to lay it on but he put it on my table without any fuss, and let me pick it up. It felt like a bird when I held it: almost weightless, incredibly powerful and extremely delicate. And then I saw Kronos perform one more time, and there it was, in David’s hands, making music as it had for three centuries, seeming strong enough to go on indefinitely.

— Rebecca Solnit, from “‘A truce with the trees’: Rebecca Solnit on the wonders of a 300-year old violin” (July 7, 2022, The Guardian)

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)

TGIF: Come Collect Me

I think the trees are firework taxidermy.
A steady reminder of celebration and light.
How quiet. I’m a collaps-
ing house. Come collect me.

—  Dalton Day, from “Stepping Out of Sorrow,” published in Souvenir: a Journal. Fall 2015


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 4:43 a.m. 68° F. June 17, 2022. Other pictures from this morning’s walk here.
  • Poem via The Vale of Soul-Making)

I’m going to remember this.

It all started with Thursday’s post, Lightly Child, Lightly. Where Cole Arthur Riley writes: “Have you ever stood in the presence of a tree and listened to the wind pass through its leaves? The roots and body stand defiant and unmoved. But listen. The branches stretch out their tongues and whisper shhhhh. Trees make symphonies without their trunks ever moving, almost as if the stillness of their centers amplifies their sound.” 

This post triggered a number of comments.

Beth, a school teacher, teaches me what that sound is: “I so love it too and there is a word for it: psithurism. These sounds of wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves have enchanted so many people over time that they invented a word to describe them: psithurism. Like many words that begin with “ps,” the “p” at the beginning of psithurism is silent, and the word is pronounced sith-err-iz-um.

Lori, follows by sharing: “I, too, am mesmerized by this sound (and now know what to call it…thank you, Beth!) This passage brought to mind Suzanne Simard’s book, ‘Finding the Mother Tree.’ So much happening below the surface

Mimi then shares: “The symphony of sound from the trees, sounds that change with the type of leaf that is singing – another gift from Mother Nature. The differences can be subtle, and demand your attention if you’re fortunate enough to stop and listen. Beth taught us both something today – never heard of the word, and I love the way it sounds – its pronunciation is perfect for its definition!”

Caitlin, here next door in NY State, furthers my education.  “My favorite sound — wind through pine trees — happy memories of Northern Ontario summer camp…The verb for the sound is soughing.”  I had to google it. A Verb: soughing (of the wind in trees, the sea, etc.) make a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound. ‘the soughing of the wind in the canopy of branches’.

Kevin, in Concord, CA, “likes sitting under an overhang and listening to rain (and wind) hitting the various leaves in my back garden. We also have a hammock for sitting between trees and watching the leaves rustle in the wind.”

Doug’s favorite soothing sound “is the sound of water in a stream burbling over rocks” and he wonders “if there is a specific word for that sound, too.”

Anneli has “stood under black cottonwoods in Montana and made a little video of the leaves whispering very loudly as the wind passed through the trees. A memorable experience.

Dale, once again, dropping 10-letter words requiring me to wear a dictionary on my hip to decipher: “I often stand amongst the trees and love the sound. Psithurism from marcescent leaves, particularly. Those leaves, usually oak, that remain on the trees in the winter have a particular sound.”

And for me, I’m with all of you.  Wind through the trees, branches, leaves. Listening to rain. Sitting in hammocks. Stream burbling over rocks.

And yet, there’s one other sound of notable mention. [Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly

I have a favorite sound.

To be precise, it’s not a singular sound but a multitude.

Have you ever stood in the presence of a tree and listened to the wind pass through its leaves? The roots and body stand defiant and unmoved. But listen. The branches stretch out their tongues and whisper shhhhh.

Trees make symphonies without their trunks ever moving, almost as if the stillness of their centers amplifies their sound. The tree may appear still, but if you look closer, you’ll see that each leaf flails with breath. The tree may seem alone, but plow deep and you’ll unearth its secret gnarled roots—the grotesque and the beautiful—creeping in the soil, reaching toward the ancestors.

Thomas Merton said, “No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.” I hold this close.


Notes:

  • Photo:  DK @ Daybreak 6:54 am August 29, 2021.
  • 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

What I meant was, some people stand in front of a tree and the first thing they notice is the trunk. These are the ones who prioritize order, safety, rules, continuity. Then there are those who pick out the branches before anything else. They yearn for change, a sense of freedom. And then there are those who are drawn to the roots, though concealed under the ground. They have a deep emotional attachment to their heritage, identity, traditions …’ ‘So which one are you?’

Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees: A Novel (Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st edition (November 2, 2021)


Notes:

No religion except…

…No religion except whatever Mary Oliver had going on.


Notes:

  • Quote: Monkcore.
  • T-Shirt: Online Ceramics
  • Inspired by: “Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these— the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?” —  Mary Oliver, from “Mindful” in “Why I Wake Early” (via Alive on All Channels)

Walking. And Ranting.

5:35 a.m. Clear. Cool. 39° F. I open the door, step out onto the front porch, and look out at the skyline. It’s as fresh as if it occurred 5 minutes ago, triggering disbelief and racing its way on to fury.

Yes, it could have been any number of topics that I came across in this morning’s paper. “When do we get to use guns?…How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?” Or, “…refusal to provide information to the House Committee investigating the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol. Or, “What abortion access looks like in Mississippi.” Or, “Rep Congressman shared a threatening voicemail he received following his vote to pass the $1.2T infrastructure bills…’I hope your f—- family dies…you f— piece of f—- s—. Traitor.”

This all would have been adequate kindling to light a raging fire. But, no. As worthy as these subjects are, they did not. Not at that moment.

And what’s the line from Tip O’Neil? ‘All Politics is local.”

No, this has nothing to do with politics. And everything to do with local. Like the neighborhood.

[Read more…]

Saturday Morning

If you will grant me one vivid morning, I can chain it to me for fifty years.

— William Stafford, from Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms and Poems


Notes:

Trees and water. Simple and beautiful. Beautiful and simple.

The water had been so cold. Its coldness seemed to spread not only from my throat and into my thorax, but also from the cavity of my mouth and into my head. But it was a different coldness than was in the air. This one was pleasant, as if smoothing and enfolding. And what was inside me became clearer to me, too. My heart beating with such simple beauty. The blood streaming to every part of my body. Yes, the blood streaming, the heart beating, and the emotions too, likewise of such simple beauty, diffusing in a different way from the blood, moving more like shadows on the ground when the sun passed behind a cloud, suddenly to re-emerge, flooding everything, first in one way, which was joy, then in another, which was sadness. And all as the heart beat and beat. And the trees grew, the water ran, the moon shone, the sun burned. The heart and the blood. Joy and sadness. Trees and water. Simple and beautiful. Beautiful and simple.

Karl Ove Knausgaard, The Morning Star: A Novel. (Martin Aitken, Translator.) (Penguin Press, September 28, 2021)


Notes:

Sunday Morning


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 7:33 to 7:55 am, March 21, 2021. 35° F. Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, CTNotes:
  • Inspired by:
    • As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.” (Ralph Waldon Emerson, 1803-1882)
    • We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.” (Kahlil Gibran, 1883 – 1931)

 

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:

Daybreak. The Day After…


Photo: DK. Daybreak. Light Rain. 6:15 am. to 7:00 am, February 2, 2021. 33° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Photos: DK @ Daybreak. Snow flurries. 6:05 am. to 6:28 am, February 1, 2021.  26° F, feels like 11° F, wind gusts up to 44 mph. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

Three of my best friends

Having just read “The Overstory,” by Richard Powers, I was delighted to learn more about Suzanne Simard, an inspiration for Patricia Westerford, who despite derision and opposition, proved trees communicate among themselves. When I was a child growing up in Marblehead, Mass., three of my best friends were trees: two oaks and a white pine. I named them, climbed them and talked to them knowing they recognized me and enjoyed my company. Now, at 88, all my two-legged friends are gone, but my tree friends are still standing. I visited them last summer, glad to see them tall, strong and healthy.

—  Cynthia Baketel Systrom, Stuart, FL in a reader’s letter to the editor in response to Ferris Jabr’s “The Social Life of Forests in the NY Times Magazine 12/6/20 issue (New York Times Magazine, Dec 20, 2020)


Photo: DK’s 3 Sisters. Cove Island Park. 6:56 am. January 6, 2021.

Sunday Morning


Photo: DK, 6:30, 6:35 and 7:12 a.m., Sunday, Nov 29, 2020, 33° F.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home — not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light.

Ellen Meloy, The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky (Vintage; July 8, 2003)


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
    Photo: DK @Daybreak. November 27, 2020. 7:05 am. 45° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT
  • 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

You wander in and out of rain.
The city encloses you. You feel
the darkening of its metals, above ground
and below. Every night
you touch a boundary you don’t understand.
Even asleep you crave sleep,
you hold the moving hours like water.
Rickety dreams, a high feeling of poplars
at the far edge of two fields. Motors
carry you, or your feet pull you forward
in cool dispersals of color.
What happens each day to you
is delicate craft and commerce, each promising
everything, promising
nothing. You are close…

Your weightlessness
is that of summer trees
and seaside towns…

—  Joanna Klink, from “Portrait In Summer” in “The Nightfields

 


Notes:

  • Photo: jasonjko (Honolulu, Hawaii) Quote: adrasteiax
  • 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.”

Sunday Morning

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle…
After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

~ Wendell Berry, from “I Go Among Trees and Sit Still” in Sabbaths


Notes:

Poem: Thank you The Hammock Papers. Photo: “Sit a While” by Erik Witsoe (Poznan, Poland, Park Solacki)

Sunday Morning

“I’ve been meaning to tell you,” Blake said, his voice serious and quiet. “It isn’t just the yew. Have you noticed the Douglas fir by the science building? Or the blue spruce by the auditorium?” I shook my head. He said recent measurements indicated those trees, too, were growing much faster than they should have been. Blake had talked with several people at the U.S. Forest Service about what he was noticing on campus and they told him recent measurements from around the world showed mature evergreens of all species now regularly exceeding previously recorded height records by twenty to thirty feet. “Why?” I asked. Blake settled a little coral impatiens bursting with buds into the soil. “Global warming,” he said. “I think they’re trying to save us.”

~ Jessica Francis Kane, Rules for Visiting 


Photo: 123RF

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