TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Posts tagged “Landscape Photography

Winter Doldrums


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It is frigid outside and has been for a few days now.  It is frigid in many parts of the country.  The holidays have come and gone. Now begins the nitty gritty of hard winter work.  I find myself listless and not wanting to go out or exercise or paint or take pictures or do much of anything I usually love to do.  I have a cold but that does not excuse this lassitude and when I go to my favorite deli, I find that Terry is in the same mood.  “I was ready to go home the moment I came in,” she said.  And I wondered.  My husband was dour and I was sour.  What is this?  Could it be some vestigial remnants of human hibernation?  Maybe we should hibernate for awhile each winter.  We binge on food and drink over the holidays.  Perhaps we should be sleeping off the extra pounds.

I who love winter and live for Fall each summer find myself longing to hear the music of the spring peepers.  It is months away– well, about a month and a half away.  They are the first harbingers of new life for me.  Terry, who also loves winter, tells me today she is sick of winter.  Perhaps it is this string of Arctic air and grey days and icy road conditions.  Perhaps it is the human condition to always be dissatisfied with something or other.

I miss the squirrels.  It has been so cold they seem to be laying low in their nests.  Judging from the tracks in the back yard the only animals on the move are the deer.  And as much as I love the silence of winter, I find myself longing for the sweet dulcet music of birdsong at mating season in spring. 

We bought this calendar that has a celestial map of the sky for each month so you can find the constellations in the night sky.  But it has been too overcast or too cold or too something.  We have yet to go out with flashlights and match the map with the canopy of stars.  But I am still humbled in a dazzled psyche over the view of the stars through the stripped down trees that we see out our window from bed every night.

Then again maybe it is laziness.  Too many sugar highs in December have led to a deep low in February.  And with a tease of spring one day in which the temperature reached almost 50 degrees maybe we were let down even further.  Not liking being unproductive I think I can overcome this– but maybe the thing is to go with the flow and allow a period of inactivity, let the land lay fallow, so that an increase in productivity may eventually result.

Maybe the thing to do is not to panic.  Spring will come.  Hopefully, if man has not destroyed all the vernal pools, the spring peepers will return and, if pesticides have not destroyed all the birds, sweet mating songs will be sung and bees and other insects will buzz.  And if the weather turns more clement, our spirits will once again soar and we will be busy buzzing with the business of living.

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JOY * PEACE * LOVE


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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


The Edge of Winter


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It is an overcast day.  Brightly colored birds stand out like jewels in the greyness.  The winter birds– jays and cardinals, juncos, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers flock to the bird feeder and it has to be filled up almost every day.  The red berries on the bushes are nearly all gone and the feeder is becoming a matter of survival.  On our walks we see empty nests held in the bare arms of winter trees.  An empty robin’s nest is filled with snow– the hatchlings and the mother long gone to fairer climes.  The trees are stripped down to their souls.  With ice storms they become tinkling chandeliers.  In the rain the few remaining dead leaves drip icy tear drops.

Occasionally a dove visits the feeder.  The chipmunk, who gathered scattered seeds under the feeder all fall, is not to be seen.  He must be in torpor in his den.  According to Bernd Heinrich in: The Winter World: the Ingenuity of Animal Survival, the eastern chipmunk builds a twelve foot storage system with a nest chamber some three feet down and a tunnel system which includes a food storage chamber.  Heinrich says chipmunks go in and out of torpor.  He reasons that they would not gather food if they were to be in torpor all winter long.  We will probably not see our chipmunk for the rest of the winter for, in his stuporous state, he would be easy prey.  However he can be roused to eat and venture outdoors if need be, especially in March when there still may be snow on the ground but mating season begins.

The grey squirrels are busy clearing snow from branches as they run along tree limbs.  On the ground they dig through the snow for the walnuts we watched them bury in the ground with their noses this fall.  They do not need to hibernate for they have food stores which they built up in the autumn and leafy, well-insulated nests.  The red squirrels survive winter by putting on a thick, insulating fur.

The back yard is a maze of tunnels.  We think they are deer mouse tunnels as many have tunneled their way into our house.  But they must get by the feral cat who sometimes waits out a snow storm under our deck.  In the woods, the occasional deer waits out the same storm under a squat fir tree.   The tracks in the snow tell the story of how they weathered a Nor’Easter.

Beneath the tracks in the snow, in the frozen leaf litter, the insect world is dormant.  Some hibernate.  Others fill their bodies with antifreeze, glycerol, to stay alive.  Heinrich talks about  woolly bears hibernating but they are also capable of freezing solid and surviving, coming to life again as they thaw in the spring.  The pupae, however, don’t survive being frozen. 

In Winter: an Ecological Handbook, authors, James C. Halfpenny, Elizabeth Besiot and Roy Douglas Ozonne, tell us that the reptiles and amphibians pick out a “microclimate for hibernation that does not freeze” for their winter, such as the “bottoms of ponds, streams, or deep in the ground.”

Our stream flows out back in the marsh under ice and snow and one can see the elongated bubbles of running water.  In the pond next door the turtles lay beneath the ice in their hibernacula.  At the end of the book, The Year of the Turtle, David M. Carroll, the naturalist, author and artist, has his watercolor of a spotted turtle hibernating.  This picture is hypnotic and in its spell, I think of all the animals hibernating beneath our feet in lugubrious gloom.  It reminds me of the penguins in the film, The March of the Penguins, in the dead of an Antarctic winter, huddled together for warmth in the harsh, strong winds and snow, taking turns being on the outside of the huddle.  Winter can be magnificent in its transformations yet tragic in its harshness: hibernating animals who freeze to death and deer starving to death in the snow among the victims of its violence.

Carroll’s drawing shows the turtle all alone, withdrawn into its shell under less than two feet of water lodged firmly in the mud under ice under snow in a sunny winter’s day, a far better clime than the penguin’s–  and yet it evokes a certain sadness for this little creature all alone beneath the snow, in a torpid state.  The turtle is missing out on a sunny day, sleeping a deep sleep in a “half year of stillness.”

Carroll’s writing is sheer poetry as he describes the turtle’s hibernation: “Mounting layers of snow silently cover the ice.  Night after night in the harshest depth of winter, as Orion and the Pleiades burn distant and brilliant in the black sky and strong winds howl off the mountain to the northwest, the turtles rest beneath the ice.  With the life in them nearly suspended, reduced to its most tenuous hold, all but extinct in the vast, inhospitable regime that reaches above them to the limits of the universe, they lie within their shells, waiting for the earth to make its required turnings and return them to the sun that will awaken them to another season.” 

I think of the turtles below, along with all the other beautiful creatures.   I wish them a kind sleep from which they will safely stir with the life force surging through their veins as the sun brings them to the fullness of life again.  The death of some, and the half life of so many, proffers the poignancy of winter.

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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


The Trees of Late Fall & the Promise of Winter


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Bontecou Lake Swamp, Millbrook, New York

Every year what budded in autumn blossoms full blown in the weeks before official winter– my love affair with trees. Trees that were drop-dead gorgeous in their fall colors are now bare, with the exception of evergreens and a few stray deciduous trees that refuse to relinquish their leaves. Now the trees are stripped down to their souls and their souls sing a siren song to the universe.

The tops of trees lift my spirit; brushlike they paint the sky the baby pinks and blues of mornings, and the majestic magentas and violets of day’s end. Each tree has its signature shape against the sky, like a fingerprint or a snowflake, similar yet each unique. Some treetops in their bare state are shaped like a fancy coiffure; others look like wrought iron filigree. On distant mountains, against the snowy ground, some look like stubble on an old man’s unshaven face.

It is the cold, colorful pre-winter sky showing through, and showing off, the bare branches that woos me. The bare curvaceous branches are stark, dark lines against the bright of day and the inky sky of night. These resplendent creatures are living lines that explode. Branches tangle like the lines in a Jackson Pollock painting. Others curve in the sensuous lines of a Brancusi sculpture. Buxom tree trunks stand strong surrounded by their colorful, dead blossoms amid the ground cover and their burgeoning berries, the offspring of a Renaissance Madonna. In truth these trees are not like art at all. Rather art imitates them– their beauty provides the timeless inspiration for artists, writers and poets of all ages and styles.

Trees not only inspire, they themselves are paragons of diversity. One look out of a car window while driving on the Taconic and one can see squat pines alongside towering majestic firs, birches interspersed with maple and oak. And together the different brown and tan barks interspersed with evergreens create not only a mosaic of contrasting colors, but display an example to inspire humans to live together in peaceful unity.

These beneficent beings carry the heavy, dark grey clouds of winter. When it snows the tree trunks become canvases for the abstract patterns of windblown-snow, while the serpentine branches are outlined in white. In ice storms their branches become chandeliers, each enveloped in glassine ice. While in the melancholy of a winter rain, the branches become oiled skins of snakes weeping to the ground below. And finally, in the night sky, the branches hold the stars in their arms, those with leaves holding them in their hands, as they nurse the moon.

All trees, no matter what their species, age or height, stand tall in proud humility, their arms reaching up to the Heavens to our Creator in prayer– soft-spoken beings of peace and tranquility towering over us, while we wee, little creatures race around distractedly below.

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Hammond Road, Millbrook, NY


Realism and Abstraction no.2


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Autumn in the Quarry in Millbrook, NY


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Autumn Next Door in Millbrook, NY

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Autumn in our Front Yard, Millbrook, NY

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Millbrook in Autumn– from Realism to Abstraction


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Bontecou Lake in Autumn


Millbrook, New York

This landscape no longer exists. Cut down for hunters. 😢


Autumn Memories


Millbrook, NY “Cool Change” by Little River Band

Que Bella



Starlight, Starbright


Another reblog…

MOONSIDE

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Starlight through the skylight
Moonlight just above the roof
Fireflies flickering flames
Random to our eyes
In a dizzying mercurial display
Flitting to the tune
Of trilling frogs
And the flutter of batwings
I see goblins in the windows
Alone would be terrified
With you here beatified
By the beauty of the silence
Punctuated by the frogs
Spotlighted by the moon
And the sparkling stars
Whose dust makes up
These rented bodies we carry
While inside heartbeats
Tick away our lives
To the beat of a flashing firefly
Or a flickering star.

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My Cathedral


Another reblog…

MOONSIDE

The wilderness
is my cathedral
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The sky
my steeple
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The trees
my buttresses
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Hay bales
my statuary
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Flowers
my stained glass
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A babbling brook
my organ
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Frogs and toads
my choir
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Fields of wildflowers
my incense
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Thunder storms
my high mass
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A very diverse congregation…

From cows

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to snails and turtles

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to gazillions
of insects

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Deer sometimes come round

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Butterflies abound

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Moths, too

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Birds of every hue

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All that’s missing is you

but you worship your own way

doing charity every day

more than I can say

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Informal art show


An informal art show of photographs and photographs of original paintings before they go as a donation hopefully.


The Spirit of Snow


The Spirit of snow

highlights the love of line

the loving grace of trees in winter

bare and spiritual

the horses a gift of color

in otherwise black and white


The Breath of Love


 

Until I can connect with my Muse again and develop a New York City aesthetic that connects with Spirit I rely on revising old writing and photographs…

I awaken to moonlight– it is at that particular slant that lights up the front yard at 3 AM.  What really has awakened me is my husband’s breathing.  It is labored like he has just run up a flight of stairs.  At times I awaken because I do not hear his breath and some alarm goes off in my head to check him.  And if I can not hear him breathing I put my hand lightly on his chest so as not to wake him to see if I can feel the his heart beating.  Feeling it pulsing in my hand I am reassured once more.  I am not alone in this.  My sister-in-law confides in me that she wakes up at night to listen to my brother to see if he is still breathing.  My first-grade friend says much the same.  She does a breathing check on her husband.  Our husbands are relatively well.  They have diabetes, heavy smoking and drinking, a delicate frame among them, but they are not on death’s door so far as we know.  And yet we are plagued by morbid fears.

In the wee hours of morning fears loom large.  My husband’s heartbeat, a mere flutter, seems so delicate.  I am reassured that it is beating just as I am reassured that he is breathing.  But the breath itself is so fragile.  It scares me awe-fully– the fragility of the breath, the fine line between breathing and cessation of breath.

I prowl the house.  Through the skylight the stars beam brightly along with a shining half moon.  A clear day tomorrow.  But it is already tomorrow.  It is so still my ears hum.  My husband, who knows so many interesting things, tells me the humming I hear is the sound of the nervous system.  Our bodies hold such mystery.

I look out the window, now hearing my neighbor’s dogs barking quietly.  I look for coyote thinking that is what they are barking at, but see nothing.  The moonlit grass on the lawn is whitish silver, looking almost as if it had snowed, and the water in the marsh sparkles in the moonlight.  The deep woods behind are pitch dark, the home of many a creature. Nothing stirs.  It is too early for the birds.  The house across the way is always dark; it is up for sale.  And in the other direction, at this hour, no lights shine in the driveway of the house down the road.

I am reminded of a line from a poem by Tagore “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”  I am at my most faithless at 3 AM.

Along with the supreme beauty of Tagore’s thoughts, a frivolous line from an old song runs through my head: “There ought to be a moonlight savings time…” and the line continues so there would be more time for loving.  But moonlight in the middle of the night also brings with it intense dreads.

Now chilled I finally go back to bed. An owl hoots in the distance– a reassuring sound.  My husband is breathing freely now.  His body is warm in the bed and I am filled with love for him as he lays in a heap, so trustingly in the arms of sleep.  Our marriage a wonder.  Unexpected.  An endless source of ever increasing love brimming not only with joy but also the dread of loss.  Perhaps all wives check their husbands for breathing.  Perhaps there is an army of women out there prowling the wee hours of the night, at times by moonlight, checking on their husbands, their children, their animals to see that they all have that breath of life flowing.

“There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.”  Rumi said that.  And it is breath of love that I must master.

 

 



It’s been a long, hard time since I wrote.  But unlike the bird above I was not alone, thank the Lord. Beloved husband was at my side.  I have thought of many of you and wondered how you’re doing, if you’re still blogging.  Kit, Running Elk, Bert, Paul, Michael, Sue, Palestine Rose, Joshi, Ashley, Didi, Val and so many others.  I check my hundreds of blog emails unread and see you are.  Have not only not been blogging but not reading the blogs either.  Been sick, selling our barn, moving and withdrawing from a major benzodiazepine, Klonopin, a “benzo” as they are called.  My doctor got me addicted to it.  And, while selling the house I took extra because it was so stressful and I had to function no matter how sick I was.  Now I am paying the price.  Withdrawal is at a snail’s pace and fraught with physical and psychological symptoms.  It seems futile to be angry with my doctor.  He didn’t force it down my throat but he did dispense a very dangerous drug.  This is one of the seldom talked about pitfalls of being mentally ill.

The house is finally sold and all the headaches with it.  We will miss the nature and our home in the depths of it.  I have lost my inspiration.  My muse.  Pictures were everywhere.  Now in New York City there is so much stimulation I cannot even see images to capture.  But in many ways it is  good to be here.  Although I remain sick and sick at heart with what is happening to our country, even so, my husband and I are blessed to have each other.  But today, with the March for Our Lives, I finally have new hope.  Perhaps the new generation can succeed at peace where we have failed.  Perhaps the world can stop destroying itself.

And finally now, at last, I can find time now to look within.  I continue to follow Sadhguru and his Inner Engineering.  That is my priority now.  So I don’t know if I can go back to blogging as I used to.  Inspiration is at zero.  But at least I hope to visit sites now and again. Let me take this opportunity to say hello and happy Spring to all of you!


From Death to Life


Another rebirth


Whispers of Spring


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Spring green and faint yellow

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Sap flowing amid stone and evergreens

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A burst of red

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Cows heading past lone bare tree

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The hide-out of the Spring Peepers

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Layers of Spring texture

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Greening grass at end of day


Dying, Lying Croci


This year the Croci

may die cause they told a lie

saying it was Spring

what they said don’t mean a thing

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for Spring arrives on Friday

and what the weathermen say

this year the winter just won’t go

and they’re forecasting snow

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Phantasmagoric Love


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Out your mouth
come butterflies
fluttering all around the flowers
in the sunlight
Out of your nose
arises the scent of roses
a narcotic to the senses
And your embrace
exudes the air
of a crisp Spring day
with its smell of fresh earth
to be sown
Whilst stars fly
from your eyes
piercing mine
down to my soul
Your hair
the silky fur
of rabbit
against my skin
As your heart
beats out
a symphony
enveloped in
the aura of
scintillating sunlight
on a calm sparkling lake
I surrender to
your arms
in an eternal embrace
I am yours
in the land of forever


The Magic of Moonlight


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I miss the soft siren call

of the slinky moonlight,

the velvety voice of the moon

as she beckons to me

in the middle of the night

with her hypnotic magic

wielded in the wee hours.

I miss her enticing ways

calling forth

the howling of coyotes

echoing over the hills.

I miss the shadows

of the moonlight

as she luminates

the dark and empty road

and leaves behind a trail of shadows.

Cooped up in the city

nothing calls to me at 3AM

save little lights on

in the cubby holes

of the apartment house

across the street.

No slinky siren song sings

nor misty magic.

No coyotes howling here,

just the loud voices of drunks

stumbling home

in the harsh glare of streetlights.

“In the Hebrides of Scotland, it was common practice well into the nineteenth century for men to take off their caps to greet the morning sun and for women to bend their knee in reverence to the moon at night.  These were the lights of God.  They moved in an ancient harmony that spoke of the relationship of all things.  And they witnessed also to the eternal rhythm between the masculine energies and the feminine energies that commingle deep in the body of the universe.  The Celts were familiar also with the practice of being guided by the creatures.  The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the animals of the earth had not lost their senses.  They were viewed as still being alive to the deepest rhythms of  creation and to the interrelationship between all things.”  (“Christ of the Celts” by J. Philip Newell)


 


Being in Winter


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How higher they be
than me
for they know how
to just Be

always

in the present
in the Silence
so profound in winter
but in the forever now

I look fearfully ahead
towards a future of endings
and losses
of attachments
acquired over the years
none more strong
than our love

I used to know

how to just be
like a tree
spontaneously
when very young
now I seek to Be
as I was in youth

in rapture
not just in nature
but always
as the sheep
in the deep
of winter.


Follow the Yellow-Lined Road


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My husband recounts a story of being a little boy riding in the backseat of his parents car and blowing kisses to the telephone polls because they looked so lonely.


Distressed Beauty


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