February Snow 2005

At midnight  silence beckoned.

It told that snow had fallen. I rose to stand listening, fingertips pressed together at a windowsill alter.

Creeks flow, hushed and reverent. In a vast forest the size of cities, she and I are the only human souls that hour in a sea of unbroken indigo.

Ours,  the only breathings, our dreams alone hover over an immaculate complexion of winter. Be still, and know…

Amazing grace.

Spinning in Place For Want of a Word

I sat on the love seat watching the fire burn down, sat there much longer than the usual wait to close down the draft just so and get on about my work. My work. I sat there in the flickering dark because I understood so well that I don’t understand so well anymore just what my work is or ought to be.

So I sat there a little longer, trying to put that feeling into words–the better if there was one word that would wrap that complex state into a single breath. Or not. It is not really that important to make this happen, having lost the urge to plead my case to any other, and my one word, then, should include that solipsist inclination. Still…

With my second cup of coffee, Stumbler-ing across the interwebs, I find by chance (or not) “23 emotions people feel but can’t explain.” I would have said “can’t express” because it is often entirely possible to trace the above-ground branches back to their hidden roots. There are just no words in ordinary Everyman language to share with others, or to graps within the speechless moments of the ruminative word-seeker.

And this list at least lets me know that there are people–writers, mostly, because who else would do the work?–out there, in their own private dark, creating words like conjured stepping stones at the moment of need, to be able to get about their work, to take the next step.

It is a comfort to know these words describe experiences not unlike mine that have arisen in the lives of others. The obscurity of these odd words, however, will make them awkward to use in a conversation at the Country Store. Even so, the sum total of these selected few gives me a few pavers in the darkness of the day.

Liberosis: The desire to care less about things.

Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.

Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.

Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening

Vemödalen: The frustration of photographic something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

John Green’s tumblr • 23 Emotions people feel, but can’t explain 

Graphic created with WordItOut, since Wordle doesn’t play nice with Chrome–with some additional tweaking to distort text and overlay it against deep space. It is a kind of occupational therapy.

TIME AND A WORLD OF CHANGE ~ PART IV

Abraham Mignon - Fruit Still-Life with Squirrel and Goldfinch
Abraham Mignon – Fruit Still-Life with Squirrel and Goldfinch

Continued from Part III

The time-lapse episode I remember most vividly involved the delightful horror of watching a perfectly lovely bowl of fruit shrivel, go gray with mold and turn finally to a black liquid–a natural, everyday process of decay that took many hours, compressed into a twenty-second insight into the end of things.

About that time (maybe 1960?) in Look or Life or one of those glossy oversized magazines, I was smitten by a series of images of a family, taken in exactly the same position on exactly the same day of the year for 40 years running.

The eye tracked the frames of the series through changes of period-appropriate hair styles and clothes–and faces, or course–from before the birth of the first daughter, through the grade school years, until new babies appeared, grew and changed. Before the end of the series, the father disappeared from the pictures.

The message was not lost on me, not yet a teenager, that this chronology of portraits was just another way of depicting the fate of the bowl of fruit. Aging is time passing through us, and leaving us altered imperceptibly every minute, every season, every year.

The world of motion and of change swirls around us and within us, even as time moved ever so slowly from one Christmas to the next back then.

None–ripe fruit or mature grandparents or perfect newborns–would avoid entropy’s inevitability. But my grown-old self knows too, none should be indifferent to or ignorant of the beauty of the human and natural procession of birth and growth and senescence that the eye of the camera can show us from this grand buzzing, swirling, pulsing spectacle of life-in-time to which our eyes have grown dim.

This is the FOURTH excerpt from this topic taken from One Place Understood–a book in my mind only, maybe always, but at least until summer of 2018.

TIME AND A WORLD OF CHANGE ~ PART III

Image screen-captured from a video of earth-and-sky timelapse scenes.
Image screen-captured from a video of earth-and-sky timelapse scenes.

The first time-lapse segment I saw on Disneyland was the closest thing to magic I had ever experienced. Normally slow-changing objects or scenes were filmed over hours or days or even weeks with an umoving camera to reveal  glacially-slow and otherwise imperceptible changes of form or color. This was not Disney’s animation work but that of nature itself.

This was real and true just outside my door–a state of flux and motion happening every second of every day. I couldn’t see it with my own eyes, but I was made able to imagine and to know it, having been shown the existence of this grand motion and dance. In subtle ways, it gave me a new lens for seeing the world.

From this kind of photography came landscapes–desert or mountaintop or seashore scenes–captured over full light-and-shadow-shifting of dawn to dusk, daylight melting beautifully into the after-dark appearance of the Milky Way and wheeling constellations overhead against fixed and motionless objects in the foreground.

The spinning field of stars revolved majesticallyagainst the blackest heaven, slashed by bright streaks of high-altitude jets and meteors and sometimes stroked by the fast-moving squiggly red taillights of auto traffic in a city. The busy-ness and stir of a single day anywhere in this world was anything but ordinary!

This is the third excerpt from this topic of “seeing time” taken from One Place Understood–a book in my mind only, maybe always, but at least until summer of 2018.

Time and a World of Change ~ Part I
Time and a World of Change ~ Part II

TIME and a World of Change ~ Part II

Public domain image--wish it was my own! https://goo.gl/EaQ6wq
Public domain image–wish it was my own! https://goo.gl/EaQ6wq

The nuance and precision and beauty in the motion of living things and landscapes is often lost to our eyes, because too few frames a second can be processed in our brains. All we see is a blur of action without details. But the eye of the camera, with a little sourcery, can slow motion enough for us to see the intricacies of motion. Continued from Part I.

Here a housefly was able to turn upside-down just at the last thousandths of a second–a maneuver that filled many full seconds in the clip I watched in amazement as a tiny acrobat stuck the landing on the ceiling.

I think of this wonderfully complex skill every time I swat an annoying fly that disturbs me at my desk. Damn you, Disney!

A robin in flight cambered its wings and even changed the pitch of individual primary feathers–using the same skin muscles that give us goose bumps, which is the best act we can do with our puny feather-counterparts we call hair.

Visible before my young eyes, the impeccable timing and skillful motor planning of an ordinary bird prepared to land, like an aircraft increasing drag and slowing its approach before touch-down.

The target for the bird as I watched was a single distant and tiny branch, not a miles-long strip of concrete. Bird, from full speed to full stop in mere seconds. Beat that, Boeing!

I think of this when a garrulous swarm of September starlings rushes from nowhere to temporary perches in the pines out my window, every dark-pearlescent one of them a consummate gymnast tumbling and diving in air. The judges give them a perfect 10.

So the take-home for a fifth-grader in 1960: Rapidly-happening things could be slowed down enough to show details of motion too fast for a ten-year-old city boy’s eyes to take in.

There was more going on around me–just out in the flower bed under the front window–than I would have known, but for these few brief photographic special effects. But there was more!

This is the second excerpt from this topic taken from One Place Understood–a book in my mind only, maybe always, but at least until summer of 2018. Go to Part One

This short video shows precision flying by red kites (a kind of hawk) swooping down for bits of bacon (watch how they say no-thanks to the break scraps!)