Tunes for a Monday Morning
Floating on the pulse of the Earth

Earth's gifts

Autumn bench

I started writing a post this morning about my adventures during my week away from Chagford, and it seems to be turning into an essay on me, so it's going to be a few more days before its done. It's coming, I promise.

Pomona by Arthur RackhamI've returned home to a garden (or "yard," as we Americans say) that has turned decisively to autumn, dressed in rusty reds and golden yellows, the air smelling of wood smoke and apples. When the weather permits, I've been working outdoors, soaking in the sun before the winter is upon us. The Hound is glad to have me back, and is sticking even closer to my side than usual...as if I might slip away again if she lets me out of her sight.

One of the books I have on the go
at the moment is Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature, an essay collection by naturalist, educator, and philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore. I started reading Wild Comfort half a year ago, and for some reason, I didn't stick with it then -- I can't imagine why, because this time I can't put it down. Books are like that sometimes. They open to you when they're ready, and not before.

Wild Comfort by Kathleen Dean Moore

"The earth offers gift after gift," writes Moore, "life and the living of it, light and the return of it, the growing things, the roaring things, fire and nightmares, falling water and the wisdom of friends, forgiveness. My god, the forgiveness, time, and the scouring tides. How does one accept gifts as great as these and hold them in the mind?

Autumn in the garden

Crooked fence

"Failing to notice a gift dishonors it, and deflects the love of the giver. That's what's wrong with living a careless life, storing up sorrow, waking up regretful, walking unaware. But to turn the gift in your hand, to say, this is wonderful and beautiful, this is a great gift -- this honors the gift and the giver of it. Maybe this is what [my friend] Hank has been trying to make me understand: Notice the gift. Be astonished at it. Be glad for it, care about it. Keep it in mind. This is the greatest gift a person can give in return.

Contemplative Tilly

" 'This is your work,' my friend told me, 'which is a work of substance and prayer and mad attentiveness, which is the real deal, which is why we are here.' "

Meldon Hill

Autumn leaves

Apple harvestThe passage by Kathleen Dean Moore above is from "Burning Garbage on an Incoming Tide," published in Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature (Trumpeter Books/Shambhala, 2010). The poem in the picture captions is from Poetry magazine (January, 1985). All rights reserved by the authors. The illustration is "Pomona," the Roman goddess of fruit and nut trees, by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). 

Comments

Even our scruffy little patch is bursting with apples and quince; though most have been given to those with the time to bake and make jams. It has felt like the heavens themselves have been gift giving over the last two nights. We have had a silvering moon so bright and stars that have broken through our city light pollution. The real gift is having the time to sit on the bench and just be.

Glad to see Tilly sharing with you. C xxx

Thank you for the pictures. Autumn is my favorite season as the air turns cool and the leaves turn as well. When I stepped outside this morning, before sunrise,the full moon in the west cast a silvery light on the lawn.

Sweet.

The Coin

Into my heart's treasury
I slipped a coin
That time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin, --
Oh better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing.

Sarah Teasdale

We've just had an autumn visitation to our garden in the form of a female sparrowhawk. A magpie scolded her from the trees and the smaller finches and tits tumbled around in an explosion of panic. But she remained undisturbed and surveyed all around her with an imperious golden eye.
To those of you who are lucky enough to live in the countryside, this may seem to be nothing of any importance, but I live in the depths of inner city Leicester and the fact that hawks and falcons are learning to adapt to our increasingly urbanised world is a truly wonderous thing!
According to the experts (Chris Packham on the BBC's 'Spring/Autumn Watch') the presence of a sparrowhawk in your garden is a sure indication of a healthy local ecosystem. Nestled as my home and garden is, between a railway line and a major inner ring road, that is a truly amazing thought.
A happy autumn harvest indeed.

Two young buzzards have moved into our local park (inner city Notts). Suspect that local sparrowhawk pair are a tad annoyed and they have truly hacked off the local crows, who mob them at every opportunity. Watching the birds is a way to connect when urban living; I know how we are doing by the variety that come down when autumn starts. We are doing quite well right now.

Also have very happy memories of watching barn owls hunting across an industrial estate in Spinney Hill. Though that was ahem- 25 years ago.

what an idyllic garden!

Brilliant that buzzards are nesting in a city park! I think there are peregrine falcons nesting on Derby cathedral too. There's a movement to 'green' the cities going on now, and I love the concept of the urban forest that some are beginning to talk about. All we need to do now is reintroduce wolves and bears (the boar has made its own way back)and perhaps we can 'wild' the cities too. Come to think of it a wolf pack in the centre of Leicester on a saturday night would probably go completely unnoticed!

Hi Terri

Welcome back! It's good to know you are feeling better and enjoying your garden and beautiful grounds. These photos are exquisite and the poem by Gregory Djanadian, so beautifully voiced. I was very moved by it as well as today's essay on the "earth's gifts". A poet and friend of mine from Ireland sent me a link to a video on youtube called "The Flower seller of Aleppo". And it
co-insides with today's post and philosophy. Despite the turmoil of war and the destruction, this man and his son kept the garden alive, its flowers, its fruit trees and other plants. They elevated the gifts of their earth and the most moving and inspirational way. Though there is sadness in their fate, their story is something that enriches us and makes us take notice of our own lives and gardens, of what we have cultivated and how we must appreciate its beauty and the privilege of watching it flourish. Here is a link to the video and a poem I wrote after watching it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJGp3g93h6M

From Here To There

The white roses lean forward, high on their stems
as if they were long-necked birds -- wading in green
about to sip water from the sprinklers
and welcome this cooler wind.

Oblivious to the plane overhead, some flight
launched from LAX, they simply breathe and nod.
There for me to notice, to take solace
in their beauty. And I remember hearing

a man from Aleppo say, flowers can save us,
help us to endure. He was a flower seller
in the middle of town. His garden a corner
that still thrived, slatted with thin sticks of willow,
stocked with roses, fruit saplings and other plants

Like them, he was rooted in the earth, his
hands grafted to peace. And like them, he could not
migrate to distant trees or rooftops beyond
the city borders. Bombers flew in each day, thunderous
in his mind as Beethoven's wrath, destroying more homes & shops,
making urns of water tremble

in his spacious yard. His fingers skimmed
petals and seeds off the surface. Stray tokens
of an end & beginning -- while his son poured tea
into small, clay cups.
________________________________________

Again Thank you!
My Best
Wendy

Hi Michelle

I adore this small poem by Sarah Teasdale! And yes, when we find the odd treasure, the polished pebble, the shed feather of a bird, the unusual root of a tree or other things on our daily trail, it is a treasure far greater than the "gold coin of a king". Thank you so much for sharing this!

My Best
Wendy

Hi Stuart

I really like your description of this wondrous sighting. And when such an usual thing occurs, one doe4s notice and become overjoyed. I felt that way when I first saw real life roadrunner in my own high desert garden. It was something very special to view and take in. And it is amazing. I think in the lines below you have a poem starting..

We've just had an autumn visitation to our garden in the form of a female sparrowhawk. A magpie scolded her from the trees and the smaller finches and tits tumbled around in an explosion of panic. But she remained undisturbed and surveyed all around her with an imperious golden eye.

I really enjoyed your description and take on this scene. Thanks for sharing it!

Best
wendy
.

just a minor correction, the first sentence of my reply should read " when such an "un-usual thing occurs". I did not mean to say usual because this is an extraordinary gift or sighting.

Wendy

Hi Charlotte

I know what you mean about fruit bursting with ripeness & the potential for making jams and pies. My mother and grandmother did exactly that with our apple and peach trees back in New York state. I love Autumn and sitting out in its splendor. Thanks for the memory!

My Best
Wendy

I love what happens here with nods and shivers from Here and There, and every where. Terri, you were missed you see. We are stirred up and dance on the screen like fallen leaves.

Blessed Be

To read all lovely tales
Of birds and roses and all
Gifts about gifts. It shines.

It shines like the sunrise,
And the rainbow which is
Always a mystery. Magic light,

So much beauty, even
A city. a violin sweetly rising
From a kid on a city corner....

Seeing a little hispanic girl,
In what is named the Mission.
Two big brown leaves. "Look, Look!"

Friendships which have always
Be miraculous, there when you just
Think all is terrible. Turns upside down.
Joy.

I didn't have time to read your poem until now....The flowers seller.....Bombers few in each day, thunderous in his mind as Beethoven's wrath.....marvelous. We had the Blue Angels over San Francisco in early October, and this will be my thought next year. Beethoven wrath. PS....it goes on for Four days and I always go out on the first day, going on Bart train to Berkeley to begin my Christmas shopping. For balance.

I didn't have time today, until now....to add how much I loved this. I was fortunate to have my own forest and the Central High Desert for my playground, with animals tame and wild,
and many birds. So I can go there just by closing my eyes. But the grace of the wild that come to towns and cities is a joy. Every street might have a trotting coyote on it, or raccoon parades, redbreast hawks, and dozens of gulls up from the ocean, flirting around like white angels over the city. Crows in some places and Ravens in others. When I worked at the hotel until about midnight, I saw some weird things, a dug out area in Chinatown, with a rat town, hundreds of them displayed like a weird hotel. And once, walking along to the bus stop, I heard a "hisses!" It was a raccoon warning me I shouldn't try to look for anything on the garbage can he was guarding. That was about 20 years ago and I waked past there in twilight and no garbage can any more.

A story in lyric form, Wendy. Gorgeous.

Jane

We are all turned upside down these days, Phyllis--thanks for that.
Here's something of mine, a kind of anthem:


The Forgiveness of Grass

The forgiveness of pines,
Cut down, laddered, lathed,
Abandoned, and still they grow.

The forgiveness of grass,
Scythed, rolled, the imprints of cleats
Like wounds, and still it grows.

The forgiveness of roses,
Chained, chastened, cut in the bud,
And still they grow.

We treat the green as immigrants,
Usurpers of our more cultured grounds.
But they were here first, and still they grow

Over the cement bones, the walls
We erect, those monuments of selfishness.
The green, the green still grows.

©2016 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Hi Jane

Such a timely and gorgeous poem. I love the title an how you expand on the nature of grass and its forgiveness. We use/abuse it as we do other people unlike "us". Your poem speaks so subtly, eloquently of how we treat nature and immigrants. But still life thrives and some decent part of humanity grows somewhere, somewhere hidden and deep. I want to believe that.

So much enjoyed this!!
Thank you,
wendy

This Phyllis is so lovely and uplifting. I love the outlook in this poem and think the lines below are my favorite. And indeed, it does shine. Beauty exists in the most unique and unknown places/corners. We have to simply look, wait and listen.

It shines like the sunrise,
And the rainbow which is
Always a mystery. Magic light,

So much beauty, even
A city. a violin sweetly rising
From a kid on a city corner....


Thank you for this,
My Best
Wendy

Thank you, Wendy. Sometimes things are so perfect just describing what you see is poetry enough!

I love the idea of having a roadrunner in the garden. Though I just can't get the memory of the wonderful cartoon out of my head and have to ask was there a wiley coyote chasing it?

Sounds like there's a hugely diverse wild population around you, Phyllis. All we need to do now is get the larger animals into the cities...though I suspect they might cause a few problems!

Almost a new genre here, Wendy: poetry as jounalism or perhaps 'jounalistic poetry'.

It does this old cynic good to read such optimism.

I love the idea of the green reclaiming the 'cement bones' of the cities. I wonder how long it'll take for the forests to rise again when our civilisation finally falls.

Thanks for all the comments about nature and birds. I am lucky to live in a semi rural place where I see red tail hawks soaring on the thermals. Within 15 minutes, I can be in the local wilderness and enjoy the bounty of nature. Nearby is an area where apples grow and there is no lights so, in the dark of the moon, I can pull off the road in a sheltered spot and see the stars overhead in a clear sky.

We visited the Grand Canyon and it was amazing to see the Milky Way. I heard that with light pollution and most people living in cities, most people never see a dark sky or many stars.

Hi Stuart

Fortunately, for the bird there was no wiley nearby but we do have coyotes in the distance at night, howling across a long field of ancient Joshua trees. I imagine they feast out there on stray rabbits, birds and other small game.

Best
Wendy

Hi Stuart

Journalistic poetry -- Yes! I like that and it could be called that I suppose. Interesting to think of it that vein. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your viewpoint!

Much appreciated,
wendy

Thanks so much Jane!!

I am glad you enjoyed this poem and deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness!

Take care
Wendy

Thanks so much Phyllis

I deeply appreciate your kind words; and like you, I have seen The Blue Angels , here, too in California. They are quite spectacular! Hope you shopping trip goes well and you find some interesting things to buy.

Again many thanks!
Wendy

Thank you Stuart- yes, bring on the Buffalos!

Thank you Wendy. It is so good to read your poem and to chime in.

All the word-hoard is giving me, seems a little off. I have never read a poem like this, and want to seed it somewhere in a garden, or eventually, a forest.

We've had good apples, plums, and blackberries this year. Howard made crumbles out of them, and Victoria made some very tasty jam. But the season is turning on us now: the apples have fallen, the berries have shrivelled, and our vegetable garden has gone to seed. I want push the "pause" button, slow it all down. How it can be the end of October already? I'm not ready for the coming winter....

But then, I never am.

My favorite season is probably spring (when wildflowers fill the hedgerows and bluebells turn the woods into Faeryland), but I love autumn too...although its beauty seems tinged with melancholy. Walking through the mist on Nattadon Hill, I'm reminded of these words by Angela Carter (from her story collection Black Venus):

"Sad, so sad, those smokey-rose, smokey-mauve evenings of late Autumn, sad enough to pierce the heart. The sun departs the sky in winding sheets of gaudy cloud, anquish enters the city, a sense of the bitterest regret, a nostalgia for things we never knew, anguish of the turn of the year, the time of impotent yearning, the inconsolable season."

:)

Oh, thank you, dear, for the reminder of Sarah Teasdale. I haven't read her in too long....

A sparrowhawk?! You lucky man. I love sparrowhawks...and haven't seen one near our garden. I hope that doesn't say anything about *our* ecosystem.

Have you read Helen Macdonald's "H is for Hawk," Stuart?

The abundance of wildlife in America, especially the west, is something I miss here. I'm so glad you're living in such a wild urban place.

That's Howard's work. It was sad, muddy hillside when we moved here, and he's transformed it. There's a lot more we'd like to do (if we ever have the time and funds), but it's joy to walk through every day on my way up the hill to the studio.

(You can see Howard's studio in these pictures: the cabin at the top of the hill. Mine is close by, through a gap in the hedge.)

What an extraordinary story, video, and poem. Thank you, dear woman, for all these gifts -- which are heart-breaking and heart-mending all at once. xo

It was good to be away, and it's good to be back. Many thanks to you, and to everyone, for not deserting Myth & Moor while I was gone!

It's particularly good to feel the joy in your words, Phyllis, at a time when there's so much angry and bitter speech floating everywhere around us. May there be the music of violins sweetly rising from *every* street corner in the coming weeks and months....

I want to live my life with "the forgiveness of grass." And with its quiet tenacity.

Thanks Terri

So much for reading and commenting on this poem! Your thoughts and empathy are dearly appreciated!

Please take care
Wendy

Yes, I have read 'H is for Hawk'. Have you read T.H. White's 'The Goshawk'? It makes an interesting comparison. White came from a time and background that seemed to view animals and wildlife in a completely different way. There's an atmosphere of almost casual cruelty that is thankfully completely absent from Macdonald's book.

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