Monday’s are sometimes, blech. Rainy week ahead. Feeling gray as the sky, but still out for a walk. I was hoping for a sudden downpour to drench me, which would send me home to change clothes. I don’t know what that would accomplish, but there it is, that’s what I was thinking as I climbed the big hill, heading back towards the office. The hill is a sharp incline up, and in a short distance. The heart races most of the way down from coming up. I crest the hill and start the long slope down. At the bottom of this hill is a wall of woods, and the road takes a hard right. As I’m doing my careful steps down the hill, I notice one particular tree, directly in front of me, at the bottom of the hill. It’s medium size and dense with leaves, more like a tall bush, and this bush, tree is hiccuping little birds from its crown. About 5 or 10 little birds keep flitting out of the tree, and flying away. A moment passes, I’m a little further down the hill and another 5 or 10 birds are expressed from the tree. It looks so odd, and so rhythmic. The tree looks calm, and then, oof, birds fly out, and away. Another inhale and then another small set of birds swarm out of the tree. I think, the tree is breathing in the city air, and exhaling little puffs of birds. I notice this breath of birds nearly matches my own breathing which is a little short from walking up the steep side of the hill. I reach for my phone, I think a video of this would be -and then the tree lets out a bigger breath of birds, and soon after, another, the breathing is quickening and the groups of birds are getting bigger.
2015 is the year I took my pain for a walk. Physical pain related to my sciatic nerve, lower back, psoas, SI joint and hip. I also started a morning yoga and meditation practice in March of 2015, and I think these practices led to me taking a fair amount of emotional pain for a walk as well. Meditation isn’t all roses. You deal with your shit, eventually.
It was a misting and foggy early morning the other day. Otherworldly. Quiet. I was walking around a nearby park when I saw this scene in the drainage.
I still love looking at it. I sat here for too long, looking at it. It’s impossible to articulate why. I just love it. Everything is arranged, just so. My most recent photos are almost always my favorite, but this is my new favorite. I can see this as a huge print. I may make that happen. Soon. Maybe another print for the giveaway. More on that below.
A crazy, cool day where a purple bind weed in bloom I noticed on three separate walks today, over the course of the whole day, led me to the Color Purple, which is an amazing book, and then to Einstein (“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”), and then to this poem by Diane Ackerman:
In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,
I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.
In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,
I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.
and then there is this little place I’ve really enjoyed hiking lately, and now I think there is a waterfall of some sort down trails I haven’t walked. The waterfall is a rumor from years ago. I wonder if it is still there in all this drought. Here’s a pic of that place where the morning sunlight floods down the hillside.
“I have been given the freedom to do as I see fit. It’s high time I razed the walls that I’ve constructed.” -R.E.M
I’d be concerned if it all didn’t seem so good. Lately, I’ve been turning off the TV, setting aside my tablet, phone, and Ipod; and dragging the old rocking chair outside onto the back porch to sit under the night-time sky.
When I re-covered this old rocking chair, I picked this fabric because it had a Time Lord feel to it. Now on the back porch, it feels like a wooden throne on a ship at sea at night.
The old deck out back creaks when you rock on it. It creaks and moans like a pirate ship swaying and rolling at sea. Part of the rub is this deck was built with nails instead of screws, and now time and the Texas Sun has worked the nails out from the slow warping, undulating boards. It suits the night. It blends with the sound of crickets that quickly chant, “in-Yang, in-Yang, in-Yang” in waves and it feels like it is these waves that I sail on into the black. It seems all sky. As above, so below. I imagine the dark ocean would be a mirror and the deck ship on cricket waves would be cast in a sea of stars and rolling clouds with no difference between sea and sky and stars and me. How could TV top this? Why would I distract myself from this? Our world?
This morning I wore what I believe to be the last too-small-for-me shirt in my closet. It now fits. So now I have a host of too-big-for-me clothes, and a much smaller subset of, well, my current clothes that currently fit. Since March, I’ve lost about 80 pounds. I also realized, my hiking boots are the same boots I wore into the Grand Canyon, which was more than a decade ago. I have shirts, I’m currently fitting in, from my twenties. I hold on to clothes is what I’m saying. Many miles before I sleep, but it’s good to be here. I’m thankful, and lucky. if you’re all like, what did you do, here it is: I eat mainly vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts. I only drink tea (no sweetner) and water. Mostly water. I eat fish and fowl, but not alot. I don’t do processed food, fast food, dairy, cow, sheep or pig. I don’t miss ithem. It’s not a struggle, or a matter of will power. I’m lucky, the oral surgery at the end of February allowed me space to get off of refined sugar, and processed foods. The doctor and dentist both told me it would be a time of ice cream and yogurt, but instead, I went the juice, smoothie, and puree soup route. After about a month, I didn’t really crave meat either. It was an unintended side effect really. I did get the flu along the way, and woke up from a fevered night and that’s when chicken came back in to the mix. Seafood, well, as someone raised along the Gulf Coast, it’s hard for me to see life with no seafood. I also started meditation, 20 minutes in the morning at around the same time, and to me, it seems related. Anyway, marking the day.
Morning Ablutions for a Scrubjay
Tomorrow may be my last chiropractic treatment related to the SI joint/Sciatic nerve thing I’ve been dealing with in my hip. I like the doctor. He’s tops. I think the treatment helped in many ways. The nature of the pain changed, as well as it’s location. It seems more muscle-based pain now, but when I hike or run, it turns sciatic. Maybe adjustments will help, but I’m open to try acupuncture or even massage at this point. We’ll see how it goes in the morning.
Enchanted Rock Morning
My love of hiking, camping, and the outdoors continues to grow. Even with the pain in my hip, I’ve packed in to some primitive camping, I’ve hiked many miles. Might take me longer, but I’m out in the world and loving it. While I’ll continue to hike and camp around Austin, I have my sites set on the Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend for the Fall and Winter.
I need to focus. Perhaps, I have too much going on. I want to write on here. I have a photography pdf I want to complete, that covers the basics and talks about returning to the same places, etc. Sort of a manifesto against the new. More of a hopeful inspiration to embrace your home and local wild.
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js leaf collecting is a distraction I am unlikely to let go of
There is the book, there is photography, there are artworks I’ve been working on, my new website, etc. I’m considering taking a memoir class by Spike Gillespie.
I want to collect my memories of my family, the ones who passed away, for myself, my son and my family. I was reticent in the past because I wonder how my memories jibe with other people in my family. I know we all see people differently. We can see actions and history so differently. I don’t want to start friction. Well, that’s what used to stop me. Now I don’t mind as much. Nevermind the fear. Press on.
When I was a little kid, mom would leave me to babysit grandad while my mom, grandmom and aunt went off to do whatever it was they did. Even as a little kid, I knew the setup was false, and grandad was babysitting me, but the time was too good, and so I didn’t hassle it.
At my grandparents, being inside wasn’t the thing for kids. You had to play outside, if the sun was up. If you came inside it was for baths, food, or a game of Monopoly. Maybe Scrabble. But get outside, pick blackberries, suck honeysuckle, build forts, or work in the yard and help grandma fight the woods. Run around and play.
When I was babysitting grandad, it was all inside time. Florida is hot and muggy. Inside time is good time.
Grandad was a bit of an artist. He wrote, painted with oils, played piano, and had the first book shelf I adored. When we were in babysit mode, he’d let me play with the books, he’d talk to me about the pictures, and best of all, he would tell me stories.
Grandad talked about his brother and him performing their vaudeville act at the Saenger Theater in Pensacola, Florida when they were kids. They were a singing a duo. They might have danced too. He told me ghost stories that he experienced, first hand account ghost stories.. As a kid, it freaked me out. He told me what it was like running restaurants in Houston, Tx. He talked about my mom and dad, and we talked about God and life. I was a kid, but grandad would venture into any subject. He was a good teacher.
I remember grandad had these books in his piano bench, and one had illustrations of Jacob’s ladder,or rather ladders, and chariots of fire, etc. One day we were looking at these pictures and talking about what they might signify. Grandad said, “Who knows what a chariot of fire might mean. It could be anything, but,” he leaned in close and said, “Darren, one day they’re going to open up one of those UFO’s and find angels inside.” I learned a broad perspective of possibilities from Granadad.
My grandparents, aunt, and my parents often had heated discussions about God. My father was an atheist when I was a kid, it didn’t last. Nearly everyone else in my family had a different denomination. There were many heated discussions. Discussions not fit for kids, but I was quiet, and kept close to the ground, and it was hot and humid outside.
I remember them talking about the Gospel of Thomas and Gnosticism. I don’t know if anyone kept these beliefs, because I don’t know anyone else in my family who talks about this stuff, but I remember, vividly, grandma and grandad both talking to me about how Jesus was everywhere, and in everything. I remember them teaching me the scripture:
“Cleave a piece of wood; I am there. Raise up a stone, and you will find me there.”
I puzzled over that for many days out in the yard, turning over rocks and breaking sticks. It was a pivotal moment for me. It was much later that I learned this comes from the Gospel of Thomas. I don’t think I know of anyone in my family who would now recognize the Gospel of Thomas as a Gospel. Grandad was adventurous, even though he was, a bit, chair bound.
I know alot of my fire these days is because I don’t want to be chair bound, but up and down the ladders like Grandma. Grandma. A whole other story. Another time.
I look like my grandfather, a bit, or maybe, alot. Either way it’s clear to me now how much Grandma, Grandad and my Aunt influenced me. Raised me. Some of the things they taught me I had to overcome, like:
They taught me to fear storms and lightning. Probably not their intent, but there it is. They would unplug appliances, the TV, and generally be afraid. I remember lots of talk of lightning rods. thunder and lightning meant automatic nap time. I grew up with that in me. I got over it camping in the Texas Hill Country in Spring time, where a storm can rise up and overtake you in violent moments. Catch you unaware out in a field, where you spend the storm underneath the lip of a roof over a too full shed. Experience enough of those, and the exhilaration changes the fear to wonder and awe.
I often think about deer and rabbits in the thunderstorms. They survive, surely we can too.
These are the type of things I’d like to start collecting. Little vignettes that’ll help my son know the people in our family.