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A planetary merry-go-round

19 Aug

It is already 95 degrees F and about 85% humidity. Rain fell just 400 feet from the window where I sit with a cold ice tea.

I just read an article taking readers back in time to the supercontinent Rodinia, then the big (and my favorite) supercontinent Pangea. Then the epoch of volcanoes, and rapidly forward to the apes walking upright on the savannahs.

And I get a feeling that I’m riding a rocking horse through time, whizzing through the birth and growth of this merry-go-round.

I’m like an alien kid, loving the ride, and hugging the realization that we humans are a speck on a golf ball whirling around a lightbulb in a giant arena of wonder.

And I feel fine.

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Taos, New Mexico

14 Oct

Tonight, live from Taos, it’s blues night on the air. The coyotes add their chorus, the moon sneaks a peek as a curved sliver, and stars twinkle their approval. Streets are quiet and ghosts from muddy plaster slither out to reenact their stories. The mountains hum and golden aspen leaves quake to the slow rhythm and moan of a blues guitar and voice. While the heat recedes and the cool air slides down in its place.

Yeah, this is the place. My place to be.

Urn in shadows and four centuries of adobe.

Urn in shadows and four centuries of adobe.

Choices

23 May

It was my free choice to release all the stuff and trappings in life and live simply where I want. Poor, yet very happy in the natural world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

 

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Solitude

23 May

As a Song Dog wails and yips outside
I answered.

WB quote

Seeing the Landscapes

25 Jul

“It’s why those of us who write about landscape are so interested in science, too. It’s not in order to categorize the wildflowers, to make lists of things, but to make our vision…go deeper and deeper. The more I learn, the more I see. And the more I see, the more I learn.” –Gretel Ehrlich,  Words from the Land: Encounters with Natural History Writing. Trimble S, Ed. 1988.

Home

19 Mar

Home is a place that settles the whirling dust inside you in the midst of a sandstorm. That wraps you in tranquility to the point your body and mind expand and relax to the gentle movement of the circling planet. Home melts the walls erected by others and yourself, allowing the exterior place and the interior landscape of your mind to meld and become one. It is where you feel safe even while staring at the mirror of uncertainty. And here you can gather strength while embracing your weaknesses. It is here where our past and future fuse into the present, to be accepted without question, without doubt and without expectations. Here we are as tiny as the molecules clashing and changing inside us, and as large as the timeless mountains and the atmosphere that circles the globe. We are nothing and everything, full and empty, all simultaneously.

Home is where we are what we are. It is just ‘is’.

Home.

Fire in a desert sky

5 Dec

From the desert I come to thee,
On a stallion shod with fire;
And the winds are left behind,
In the speed of my desire.

– Bayard Taylor

Sunset over Reed Plateau near Terlingua. X-mas Day, 2009

Buried, but still beating

23 Nov

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“You can never go Home again.”

Sometimes places where we plant our heart are lost to us. We plant our feet, hang our hats, and embed our souls in a place. Then sometimes we have to walk away and let it go. But we never do let go completely. Pieces of us remain, parts of our heart or soul may be buried there, and all we take with us are the memories. Yet those buried hearts still beat. And pump that which connected us to those places through our veins. We still carry them with us.

This is the place where part of my heart still lies. Buried now. But still beats quietly. And sometimes I find myself back there in spirit. If not in person. Just like other places before this, and those places that have yet to receive my beating heart. Funny how we scatter ourselves and leave pieces behind.

Morning has broken like the first morning.....

Morning has broken like the first morning…..

Where is your child?

11 Nov

Somewhere, at some time, you might find a glimpse of a fleeting reality where every triviality, all the daily complexities and demands dissipate into the air. The old rocks welcome you and remind you that you are small. Trees and plants of all sizes and colors invite you to look closely, touch and share their space. You can’t see the animals who call this place their home, but their tracks and sign let you know they play hide and seek.

The child inside that we have too often discarded, or buried in our own personal dungeons, surfaces and is delighted. And like a mother wrapping all her children in her big comforting arms, the wild outside us merges with the innocence of our inner child and the cautious adult armor we sometimes bear like a cross.

We become whole.

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Letter to a tree

9 Nov

Dear Tree,

I want to thank you for guiding me along the path I have followed for nearly six decades. More accurately, the many paths I have taken. Consequently, this letter is to all of you; all the trees. Because I have met many of you since I was but a sapling myself. And I know that many, perhaps millions of you, most I have never seen or touched, have also guided me along, and still do.

Although my six decades are but a blink in time compared to the decades, even centuries, that many of you have lived, you might remember me. Possibly as a toddler hugging your rough bark. Maybe as an adolescent climbing up into your arms, sometimes sitting in your embrace for hours at a time while watching life below and the skies above. Perhaps as a young adult when I built a small cabin of your wood amidst a northeastern forest of you all, both those that hold on to your leaves all year and those that hibernate in the winter.

It was during those years, a span of a decade or more, in that cold but beautiful area, that you and I became close. I would sit on your feet that were buried under the soil and listen to your stories. I watched closely all the insects, birds and animals that lived in and around you, as you fed and housed them, just like you did me. And it was then that I fell in love with the marriage between the ephemeral but cyclic nature of things. It all became a process within processes; never-ending cycles that overlap with others. Which evolve into a constant turning and churning of systems and context. In which we all live and die on this planet.

I watched and learned without trying to ascribe a name to everything I was aware of. Names weren’t necessary. Until I discovered that trying to communicate my observations and your stories to other people was unsuccessful. Humans like names so that everything has a label and can be categorized. And while I understand that now, I didn’t back then. Mainly because it seemed that once it was named, when the name was learned, everything else lost its importance. Especially that which was named. And to me, that seemed wrong.

But I decided to play the game and enroll in university to learn the names, and learn about the names that were attached to all the trees. Then possibly I could impart a sense of knowing about all of you that was greater and deeper than the names they gave you. And perhaps the more they got to know you, the more they would care about you. All of you. So I began my university studies in Forestry, which is the science of trees.

But that was fraught with issues, too, as I later discovered. The primary focus in my studies was not how trees take care of themselves and interact with their environment, but how people should take care of them so they can get the most out of them as fast as possible. Yet, I did find a few people who sincerely cared about you. They studied how you grow, what makes you sick, how we can help you avoid diseases and assist you in achieving and maintaining a healthy environment for yourselves and all the other creatures that share it. Including us humans. I followed them and learned much. Such as preventing overcrowding so that you can all share the same resources, reducing disease, and encouraging saplings underneath. We also learned when to just leave you all alone.

Many years later, I realized I needed to learn about other creatures and organisms, because they share your home, too. When I left my favorite woods and trees, I grieved at leaving you all behind. I still do. I moved thousands of miles away to a place where the Grandfathers live. Where trees are so tall and big around that the only way to see them and hear their stories was to lie on my back for hours. Even then, I could not see all of them. They were grand, many so old that their stories betrayed our presence on this planet as mere badly behaved babies. And, after seeing what we did to them, we were certainly due for a good punishment.

On that side of the continent, I learned more about the microscopic world in which you live, right down to the smallest particles of energy. I learned the stories of how you acquired the machinery, in chloroplasts, to harness energy from the sun. And how the powerhouse organelles inside our own bodies, the mitochondria, are not that dissimilar from yours. And how even they originated from microscopic organisms, eventually incorporated into our bodies during a time we can’t fathom. In fact, the more I learned about all the other organisms, the more I felt closer them, and they to us. Most importantly, I learned that we are more alike than different.

In that time, and thereafter, I felt a kinship with all of you and all the other organisms around me. And around us. I also learned how we are all related in many ways, and interconnected. I dare say, my friends, that I realized why I couldn’t live in the large synthetic places where humans are packed together. Not enough trees, other plants and animals. Our manufactured contrivances cannot substitute for the natural places you thrive.

Later, I moved to an entirely different environment, where in many places, trees don’t grow. Those that do are dwarfed, contorted and often sport thorns that catch and scratch. But these are merely adaptations that help them survive in a harsh environment. Severe climate, harsh sun and scarce water have dictated their adaptation and evolution to favor survival here. Some plants have even evolved to use more than one photosynthetic pathway to efficiently conserve water and produce nutrients. If only we humans could adapt as easily.

This past summer, after forty-two years, I visited the trees of my youth. I felt like a little fairy meandering about your big stems anchored in the soil. I felt your bark again, stared up at your giant heads in the sky, and gathered your fallen leaves like they were drops of blood that dripped on the ground. I know you were done with them and let them go, but to me they were precious jewels. You reminded me of my youth, and I walked hand in hand with my own childish self. You reminded me of my young adult admiration and dreams. And my older self, now losing my own leaves as they dissipate into the air where no one will gather them to remember.

I want to be buried at your feet, where my organic self might feed you. I want to give back the essence you have given me. Part of me wants to be tossed out as carbon ashes into the wind of the desert, where the small contribution might somehow be gathered up the xylum of a desert flower as it struggles to propagate in fantastic color. And I want to ride the wind, in song and ash, to blow around the world singing this letter to all the trees. And thank them all for giving us so much when we give back so little.

When you whisper in the wind, hear my whispers that I love you.  And I thank all the trees, shrubs, flowers and grass, the fungi, lichen and insects, the mammals, fish, and birds, all that live in your world, for making me who and what I am.

Your friend,

Elzi

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