October 30, 2015

what once or twice I have seen...

Can anyone explain why it takes so long to get to Friday, and then blam, before you know it Monday has appeared, leaving you wondering what happened to the weekend?  I have lots planned for this weekend, so in addition to the extra hour we gain I hope the hours move slowly!  Tomorrow we are babysitting Miss Lily, and can't wait to see her in her Halloween costume!  I have a special gift for her that I finished this week and am excited to give her.  I also need to finish my sister's birthday present, which will be late (as usual)....sorry, sis!!  Never enough time in the day to get it all done...

The last couple of weeks the drive to and from work has been exceptionally beautiful.  I thought you might enjoy seeing a few glimpses of what I see--even though I live in a large city there is a lot of nature close by!  First I drive by the local golf course...

whose trees never fail to delight me in the fall

and then a few blocks later I pass my favorite spot--cresting at the top of a hill I can see Lake Wingra in the distance.  It is always four seconds of breathtaking beauty in every season...

followed by a short drive past the nature preserve, also lovely in every season but particularly pretty in the fall...

and as I approach campus, I drive by the football stadium, which oddly enough always makes me think of the Colosseum, with our Saturday gladiators suiting up.  The statue, sadly, does not remind me of a Roman pillar, however, but more like a bunch of Easter eggs stacked on top of each other.  I know it is supposed to be footballs, but in my opinion this is one football statue that is a few yards short of a touchdown!

and then as I near my workplace, I enjoy a short drive by some beautiful old homes...

and finally past my favorite church, which is getting a sorely needed transformation!  I love its beautiful steeples and can't wait to see how they will gleam in the sun after the paint job is finished.  I'll keep you posted on the progress--I can look out my windows at work and gaze at this church.  

It's such a pretty church, and  somehow reminds me of London's St. Martin in the Fields because of the large pillars in front.  You can see the difference already between the crisp white paint on the lower roof and the very top of the steeple, while the in between area is still waiting to be refreshed.

Driving home also has its delights-- last night  a ray of sunshine burst free from the cloudy gray sky and lit up these trees near my home.  It was so beautiful I had to pull my car over and take this picture with my phone!

With all these lovely fall glimpses I thought it only right to share a lovely poem, another one from Mary Oliver's new book Felicity.  Felicity translates to intense happiness, joy and delight, and honestly, that's what some of her poems bring me.  I hope that you enjoy them too!

The World I Live In

I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of 
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in 
is wider than that.  And anyway,
what's wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn't believe what once or 
twice I have seen.  I'll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever, possibly, see one.

Have a wonderful day, a blessed weekend, and remember..
Today is a good day for a good day!!

October 27, 2015

Taken at our local golf course on my way to work last week

Good morning, and sorry for the long silence!  My mother came to visit two weeks ago, and between juggling all the work demands of our hectic homecoming activities on campus and trying to spend the rest of my time visiting with her, I had to let my writing slide.  We drove Mother to Indiana late last week so that she could spend time with family there, and from Indiana Phil and I went on to Cincinnati to help celebrate my brother's promotion to airline captain.  It was wonderful spending time with my mother and dearly loved relatives.  I felt blessed all the way around!

Since I think I've made it pretty clear I'm a huge Mary Oliver devotee, you can imagine how excited I was when her new book, Felicity, was released last week.  This collection of poems, unlike many of her previous books that highlight the beauty and grace of the natural world, focuses instead on the inner landscape of the human heart.  I can't wait to share some of these beautiful poems, and decided to start with this one.  Is it okay to be both John Muir and Emily D?  I need trees AND a garden!  The photos below were captured early morning at my uncle's farm in Indiana. 

“Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way”

If you’re John Muir you want trees to
live among. If you’re Emily, a garden
will do.
Try to find the right place for yourself.
If you can’t find it, at least dream of it.
When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.
Anything that touches.

God or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable. But holiness is visible,
Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.  

In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.
All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.

To understand many things you must reach out
of your own condition.
For how many years did I wander slowly
through the forest. What wonder and
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!

Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still
it explains nothing.
The point is, you’re you, and that’s for keeps.

My wish for today is that each of us can find the right place for ourselves.
Today is a good day for a good day...

October 12, 2015

"I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers"...

As Anne (with an "e") so aptly observed in Anne of Green Gables, October is such an amazing month.  My family celebrates the autumn splendor each year with a trip to Blue Mounds State Park, where the highest elevation in southeastern Wisconsin promises views all the way to Iowa!  As we hiked the trails yesterday a few favorite poems came to mind--I hope you enjoy them all.  

Happy Monday!

"If you wish to count the Scarlet Oaks, do it now. In a clear day stand thus on a hill-top in the woods, when the sun is an hour high, and every one within your range of vision, excepting in the west, will be revealed." (Thoreau, from "Autumnal Tints")

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay. 
~~Robert Frost 

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,
the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back
from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere
except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle
of unobservable mysteries – - -roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This
I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn
flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – - – how everything lives, shifting
from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

~~Mary Oliver

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

~~Emily Dickinson

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree... 
 ~~Emily Bronte

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, 
       the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things 
       come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, 
       not one lasts.
~~Carl Sandburg 

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile...

~~William Cullen Bryant

October 7, 2015

A morning with Mary Oliver

It's a stressful time at work, with college homecoming next week calling for umpteen meetings and a crazy workload.  I admit the weight of the work has kept me from sleeping well lately and I often find myself wide awake way too early, lying in the dark with my head spinning from my always expanding to-do list.  This morning was no exception, but instead of lying in bed fretting about things I decided to get up and spend some time with one of my favorite poets. 

"Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.”

There's nothing like a quiet, dark room and a hot cup of coffee to start the day off on a brighter note.  I found my new coffee mug this weekend and fell in love with it.  It's from England (no surprise, right?) and makes me smile every time I use it.  

"Ten times a day something happens to me like this - some strengthening throb of amazement - some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” 

“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
It's so easy when life gets hectic to focus on the negative and use words like "overwhelmed" and "stressed."  When I settled into the corner of the couch and picked up my book of Oliver's poems, different words greeted me--affirming words, joyful words.  This is how to start the day.  With joy.

“Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.” 

And as night slowly gave way to day, the heaviness I was feeling turned to gratefulness--grateful for another day of life, grateful for my family and friends, and today, extra grateful for wise words that transcend the page and lift the soul.

Hopefully I can carry the wise and wonderful words of this morning with me into my day.  May all of us have days blessed with wonder.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.