Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heinkle Butte

The name isn't quite right, and I keep thinking of Anne saying, "Oh no! You can't call this place 'The Avenue.' There's no meaning in a name like that. You should call it 'The White Way to Light'" I adore Anne, and so, I'll say, "Oh no! You can't call this place 'Heinkle Butte.' There's no meaning in a name like that. You should call it 'The Pinnacle of Sight' or Eye of the Gods' or something else that sounds suitably dramatic."
The struggle up the hill, cleverly hides the view from many would-be hikers I think. It is a pain in the thighs to get up this butte, let me tell you. There is a fire-lookout there. I heard that the forest service rents the top of the butte from the landowner, so we are technically trespassing until we get up to the top...hmm...not so good for a Virgo like me who wants to follow the rules, but alas...rules don't seem to apply to a chance to see a view of the Three Sisters and Broken Top like this:

The top of the Butte has a sloping kind of "high desert meadow" which I wanted to roll in, but that would've been very poky and I'd've gotten plenty bruised, so I didn't. It has tall golden grasses among the sages, ponderosa pines and junipers. I loved how the sky had a snowy look (it was cold enough that day, believe me!), but the sun was peeking through, as if through vellum. It was gorgeous and ethereal.
There seemed to be plenty of "still-lifes" up there. And here is what I caught - Junipers and their berries are always photo subjects for me. A Juniper has long held the associations to a Sanctuary, a place of protection, a safe spot...this rings true for me, as I've never known "home" without them. They are sticky, silvery, fragrant, musky, many textured, and extremely individual. I see the tall Ponderosa, and I have to say I'd be hard pressed to pick one out from another, but Junipers always seem to grow so differently than even the one sprouted up next to them...they come young and vibrant, knarled and silvered, bent, broken, mossy, peeling, twisted...they are very important to me, and will always be a symbol of HOME, of a Pioneer Spirit, of Individuality.
I also saw this pretty little still-life and couldn't resist the picture. It came out so clear, and I never even had to crop it! That is not frost on those red leaves, that is a fuzzy underside that was curled. This is a little ground-growing plant, that I don't know the name of, but I'll consult my flora ident. books and let you know. I was drawn to the pretty arrangement of the pinecone, the silvery-twisted juniper branch, and these pretty little plants...they seemed to be quietly conversing over something, until I so rudely snapped their pictures.

Something that my mom did with me and my brother, and I love to do with my kids is a "Rainbow Walk" (after having studied Chakras, I also call them a Chakra Walk - see "sacred centers" at the right under my links). This is where the kids and I frantically look for, and photograph something from each of the rainbow colors. We found all of them on the top of Heinkle Butte:
We have a red leaf, an orange pine pollen cluster, yellow lichen, green moss, a blue juniper berry, an indigo colored rock, and a purple juniper berry (thank heavens that juniper berries come in all shades of cool colors - I've even seen some with a rasperry red blush on them)

This still-life so struck me as I turned around, I had to giggle, and it just about put a lump in my throat. I said, "Kids, honey, look! They's is fwends!" To which my son and daughter said, "Awww...they are!" Look how protective the short little juniper looks over his friend the rock. It was much more striking in black and white, so here you are:

Just as I found when I was exploring the Gnome Caves a few posts back, I found another tree a the top of the butte that had folded down it's arms like an umbrella, and now I was intrigued. I want to know why Junipers do this, and if they die soon afterwards, and if it happens all at once, or if it is because of wind...Very intriguing that I can find these "natural knots" on these kinds of trees. They create such a wonder and a magical spot when they do this.
Some of these had faces in them, and I couldn't resist smiling at all of them. It really is such a strange little phenomenon

The last thing I'll leave you with, was as we were going back over the side of the Butte to leave, I saw this, what I thought of as a bleached white skeleton of a summer wildflower...which it really was. I know this flower in the summer, but not it's name...another one to look up in my identification book. But, it was so striking against the black cinders, I knew I needed a remembrance of it as well. There is beauty in the dried up, and the knarled. I see exquisite fineness in the curled up, krinkled leaves, and faded colors, the brittleness and the starkness. I find much of it on my walks in the high desert, so perhaps my eye has accustomed to see their beauty. Whatever it is, it brings me some kind of new awareness of how there can be beauty, even in death and decay. That if it didn't go, there wouldn't be room for the new, and the things that want to poke up through the wet spring earth, there wouldn't be perfect ledges on which a new bird family could live, or little rabbits to find homes in the fallen over bodies of Junipers.
once there was greenness, life, shouts
the days were in which there was the struggle to catch the light, the seldom rain
the days of wind in the strong supple arms
the pleasure of a bee in thenectar, picking its way down the throat for sustenance
a kind of wisdom came when my leaves began to curl, to knarl and furl
days began to bleach and softly emerged the fragile skeleton of what once was
a new beauty, a bringer of wisdom now
a wind shakes out the seeds of knowledge
to be carried by birds to the far side of the canyon
creating the shout, the green, the life, once more but farther away
-Katie E.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Four Girls in a Dirt Bath

The weather was unnaturally warm last Friday, and I let my Chicken Girls out in the yard for the first time since last fall. They have a little chicken run, but I like for them to wander around the yard to eat bugs and mix things up around in the dirt. They happen to find a soft earthy spot that they loved and decided on a communal bath. I love the "action" photo of the dirt in the above picture. I couldn't resist taking a video of them to share with you. I think my chickens are adorable...dirty, but adorable.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Ruminations of Real Life and Dirt and Dreams

I would've made for an interesting woman in the 18th and 19th century. I probably wouldn't have married, so that I could keep all of my "stuff" to myself. I wouldn't have liked the idea that someone could own me, and all of my worldly possessions. I probably would've owned my own store, and for sure, would've been intellectual. I would've had to endure the "sniffs" and "looks" of the proper class, but ah well.

I am sure that I would've read the likes of Goethe and Emerson and have found myself reflected there. I hope that I would have been able to sit in groups and discuss and intellectualize it all. I would hope that I would have had a strong enough belief in myself to say what I felt and do what I knew was right for me, in an age when women weren't expected, nor accepted, to. I would've been, positively, a bohemian-gypsy woman. An independent, willful, strong-jawed woman. I am sure of it.

I'd like to think that I would've been like the March family in Little Women, following their hearts and not accepted convention. They didn't attend church, but found themselves in the emerging ideas of Transcendentalism. It is so funny to me that I see some book characters as real people, and often tell myself things like,"I'm so glad Jo told me about this! I would never have heard of Goethe unless Jo had told me." But, I do seem to have a circle of most precious book friends that advise me, make me laugh and cry, and I enjoy imagining what they are doing when I close the pages of the book.

I wonder what Anne is up to (I never liked the continuing story of her and Gilbert in the war, but wanted to pretend that they lived with Marilla at Green Gables, and raised many children and Anne was ever my friend), and think on Jane Eyre who quietly married Mr. Rochester, and they had one child, a boy, and that they lived happily in a little cottage and raised Adele as their own. Jo and Frederick just live down the way in their big house turned school. I imagine that they never did have their own children, but dedicated their entire lives to the children at their school, and we all met regularly to discuss the likes of Thoreau, Emerson, and Goethe. It is a pretty picture I paint...and sometimes the worlds we create in our minds can be just as real as the one we live in.

I am thankful, though, for the world I live in now. The one in which I have attained every dream I could've ever wanted...I went to school to be a teacher, I met the one whom my soul loves, I had two most precious sweet little babies, I have the old cat who sleeps on my feet - my lap - my shoulder, I have chickens who give me eggs and satisfaction, I have some land to do what I want to with, I have a comfortable home that I don't always appreciate, I have my mom, I have my dad, I have my brother, I have some very sweet-kindred adopted-family members, my friends know me and still love me, my friends seek me out, I've inspired women to create, I've owned an art gallery, I've owned my own art business, and I've found myself on journey. I should smile every single day, don't you think.

Why is it that we can count our blessings and be happy for a moment and then think of the stupidest things to bring us down like, "Yes, but I'm a terrible housekeeper." That was NEVER a dream of mine anyway. I never grew up saying, "And yes, I shall have spotless windows and a toilets so clean you could eat off of them (ick, why did I say that)..." No, I wanted a Happy Home, a home full of laughing and running, and I dreamt of quiet evenings by the fire with everyone doing their little quiet things together...and guess what...we DO that!!! I've created the life I wanted to live, and I have to remember that all of that laughing and running and quiet evenings means that I have made a decision that I have to be content with a certain amount of dust and dirt and grossness in order to have fun. HA! So there!

It reminds me of that little old proverb, "Quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep. I'm playing with my babies, and babies don't keep." I am so glad to live in the here and now where I can have all that I have right now. I am thankful for the freedom to believe and do what I want, the freedom to create the kind of life my family and I live right now. I am thankful for the friends I have in the real world. I am thankful that life is messy...if it weren't, I wouldn't appreciate the sweetness.

Today, I am thinking of all that I have in this moment, and letting it fill my heart to the brim and propel me ever forward.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Robert Frost Always Saves the Day

My absolute favorite poet of all time is Robert Frost - Here is one that I say to myself when I am out in the snow and the cold, and it comforts my heart - Mr. Frost reminds me to smile.

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Loreena Mckennitt

I ADORE Loreena Mckennitt - thought you might enjoy seeing her play live...oh how I'd love to see her!---Her music is the music of the soul, and deeply beautiful...

Monday, February 09, 2009

In search of the Chamrosh

Another place between this town and that is a skinny little canyon. Before we got to the Canyon, my daughter's little legs gave out...but our walk wasn't for naught. What began as a normal walk in the High Desert became something else all together:

A very large juniper tree really touched my heart. About halfway up the tree, all of the branches, at some point, had come crashing down into the earth, leaving it looking like an umbrella not put up all the way. According to the Victorian Flower Oracle, Junipers are associated with the meanings of protection, sanctuary, safety and preservation. This tree gave that association a whole new meaning. It was like a touchable Celtic Knot. I adored it! The first picture was standing outside with wonder, then I got inside, and was absolutely amazed at the textures, the darks and lights, the twisting, the wrapping, the knotting. Absolutely beautiful.
They all seemed to be grabbing and in action. Though the air was still, the limbs were almost frantic with motion, like a thousand-tentacled water creature. The more I looked at this scene from inside the branches, the more mesmerized I became. I think I could've sat for a good while, watching the twisting and motion. I kept thinking that whenever I looked away it was moving and supple, and when my eyes were on them they had to freeze up in their silvered bark. From this scene, I finally turned to look at the main trunk, and this is what I saw: the sun perfectly framed in the window between the trunks. I played up the light in this one, but not much. I was amazed, to say the least, to see the aura around the sun like that in the photo. It was so bright, the rest of the inside was very dark, so I lightened that part, and it has become a kind of magical photo, don't you agree?! One thing I have always done since I was little was to see "spirits" in every natural thing...faces, or wings, or evidence of fairies. In this one, I'd like to think I see a kindly dog-type animal on the left, peering out with one soft eye. Of course the branches hanging down made me think of tiny fairies...again, frozen in silver and brown bark when I look at them, but moving and animated when I glance away. I have a veeeery active imagination...can you go with me on it?

I don't pretend to know what branches do when I am not around, but this upended root system seem to be suspended in some sort of battle, don't you think? I had to make it black and white to help you see it the way I do. Do you see a kind of alligator creature with his great maw of a mouth open as his head is inside the mouth of another kind of elephant-like creature...oh dear. I know how crazy that is sounding all of the sudden, but I can't apologize for it. I just saw it and am telling you about it now.
Here is the "great maw" of the "alligator" close up...what is in there, do you think? I almost put my hand down there, but my imagination got the better of me.

And then, look here...
Suddenly I saw in the place between the two "creatures" a little nest with a blue rock snuggled inside. The scene changed to one of protection. A kind of fortress meant to scare away any comers with visions of terrible battle and unimaginable creatures. Now, deep inside the Silver Castle is the sacred blue egg...the last of its kind...protected. Are you coming with me, still?
When I had promised the surprised guardians living in the old wood to never tell of its existence, and to forget what I had seen nestled in the crook of the branches, they opened my eyes wider so I could see the doorway into a magical village. I stepped into it with caution and wonder, and what do you think I found? A very empty little village. Abandoned homes that had been carefully created by tiny hands. Round and pink inside, I wondered strenuously at the people who must've lived here. Small, that was to be sure. Maybe gnomes...maybe an ancient gnome village!

The geologist in me understands that the soft underbellies of the rocks were worn out by a long ago river, but the storyteller in me wanted to hear little spades and pick-axes and work-a-day songs of the little people that must've created these homes by the sweat of their brows.

So cozy and dry inside, I imagined little fires warming the small families, with mending by candlelight, and pipesmoke curling around the rock walls and curved ceilings. The air smelling of burning sage and juniper wood and roasting rabbit. Animal skin flaps kept the cold wind out, and the children listened to their grandfathers tell stories of the lost blue egg of the Chamrosh. He tells his grandchildren that no one has seen a Chamrosh in a hundred years, but they would have a shock if they did see one. They have the body of a dog and the head and wings of a bird. Then he would read to them from the Persian Rivayats: "The Creator Ohrmazd has produced on the shores of the sea Vourukasha a tree and two birds who are immortal and without death. Every year a thousand new branches spring up from that tree and all kinds of seeds hang on those branches and all those seeds become ripe. A bird called Amrosh comes and sits on one of the branches and shakes it and scatters down to the ground all the seeds. Another bird called Chamrosh comes and strikes all the seeds with its wings and sides and throws them into the sea. All those seeds go inside a cloud full of rain and that cloud rains on the ground and all the seeds appear on the earth." Grey-headed Grandfather tells the littles that he is afraid for Mama Gaia if there are no more Chamrosh to scatter the seeds to help things grow, but he has heard of one last egg. One blue egg, protected by the spirits of a very old tree. The little gnome children go to bed dreaming of finding the egg beyond the entrance to their lands; they dream of helping that egg to hatch. It seems that when they all grew older, they remembered the stories of their grandfathers and took them to heart. They left their cozy, carved out lives, knowing that they were the holders of a great knowledge. Long ago, they began a gypsy life and bundled their families and journeyed beyond the doorway in search of the Blue Egg of the Chamrosh (I heard it in an echo off of a cave wall, I promise you I did.)
When I had looked in each little home and wondered over these heart-hardy peoples, I longed to know more of them, and walked deeper into their lands. I found that it wasn't as empty and forlorn as I had thought it once was. I found many lingering spirits watching over the land of the gnomes- peaceful, but watchful.

See here, this old man watching as we slipped by him?

If I thought I could get him to stop being so watchful for a moment, I think he might have had a jolly story or two to tell of the days when the air was thick with laughter and song, but alas, he was very loyal to the job he was given so long ago...the caretaker of the abandoned village. So I reverently left him to it.
Almost at once I saw these warriors standing guard to another kind of entrance that lay before me. They didn't seem to be gnomes, and I wondered at their long chiseled faces. They seemed engaged in conversation, and I almost chanced a walk through, but I knew when I stepped nearer and they quit their talking that they were most serious and alert to my presence. So cheekily, I snapped their picture and turned on my heel. I'll leave the adventure through that doorway for another time...

A little further into the magical land, and I knew I couldn't make it any longer. I wasn't going to find where the gypsy gnomes had traveled to on this day. So, I made my way back to where I had come from. Back through the quiet homes, sneaking past the old wise caretaker, with ever watchful eyes. Past the serious looking guardians at the second gate, and soon I was leaving the eerily quiet little homes. I found my way back through the first doorway, but this time, something caught my eye as I neared the path I first come from, that was very near the Silver Castle. I saw a very talkative old Root. I knew that each time I looked at her she was in mid-sentence, talking to someone nearby. When I looked away, I could hear a murmur and looked back at her. Mouth agape, and hair askew, she froze herself for fear of revealing the whereabouts of the Gnome I sat very still, and very near for a moment...looking away and feigning interest further afield, but keeping a close ear on Grandmother Root. By and by, I heard her murmuring once more, and by straining my ears as much as I dared, I caught her words, "...little people deepr in and under the Sanctuary...keeping watch over Chamrosh...before his hatching..." I turned quickly saying, "Ah Ha!" I took her picture here, and you can see how shocked and stunned she is at being caught telling such appalling secrets...

But I keep the secret with me, and do not bother the little gypsies who live in the knotted, twisting tree, for they have a very important job to attend, and do not need me to get in their way. I send them blessings and courage on their quest to shelter the unborn Chamrosh, until his hatch-day.
I shall leave you with something else rather surprising I found as I left...I've only brought the color up on the rock, otherwise, it is exactly as I saw it... There is a strange sort of whimsy magic in the land before the Canyon, don't you agree? I was so inspired by this stone kitty, I wrote him a poem:
If you can't read it, it says:
Yellow kitty with the green eyes
sitting so still
looking back
pebbles are sneaking up on you

I'd like to think that he was a favored pet of a little gnome girl, and waits for the day when she will come back home to him. He longs to become soft again in the lap of his family. He is looking rather feral these days, is he not. Poor Yellow Kitty. I left him some of my lunch.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Emerson on Nature

~a frozen landscape in the morning~
"To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says, -- he is my creature, and maugre [(in spite of)] all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind, from breathless noon to grimmest midnight. Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -- no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, -- all mean egotism vanishes."
~frost on the juniper~
"I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, -- master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature. "

~rising up from a bed of rock~

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Cold Springs

In a little woode, between this town and that
lies a grove of birch, of pine, and
three tangled, twining, wild cherries
~dryads dancing sunwise, leaning into song~

Midsummer grasses caress the tops of the twisting limbs
and together they hide me in their center
I sit in secret and relish the heat, the buzzing, the washes of light and shadow

In the winter, all is laying bare and flat
no leafy bowers, no whisperings with tiny grass spiders

I smile at the memory
and at the tomorrow
where I will hide again, and giggle at the passers-by

I have real love for this woode
with tall trunks reaching up
the longest green grasses and the brightest woodland flowers tucked in
near and far and inbetween

my voice echoes when it is cold with frost

Always hot with haze in the summer, crisp and open in winter

When first I saw Cold Springs, my breath caught and I wanted to run among
the trees and laugh and giggle
so I did
and my children followed me,
and they follow me still, but now they get ahead and lead the discoveries
pointing out the familiar and the well-loved
the hollow log we are sure a rabbit lives in
the paper birch with peeling curls
the natural bridge we sit and swing our legs on

the spring source that is green even in the winter
and even in the bitter biting cold when ice hangs over it like a crystal curtain, and you think it might be frozen over completely,
I have been surprised to hear it whispering still, when I put ear to ice

mud comes up to our ankles in the summer when we must cross it to be lost in shoulder high grass and wild roses and self-heal
yellow monkey-flower is like a carpet
and tiny chickadees flit from inner bramble to inner bramble,
knowing they are just out of your grasp
the familiar voice of the creek as it burbles along and makes its way to bigger places

soothes my soul
I feel a belonging here

a mutual respect and an awe and a kinship with it
I think this woode trusts me

I want to lay down in the creek and let it clean me
but it is so bitter cold, I'd have to be full-on crazy to do it

I'm only half crazy today, and I put my hands in
maybe I'll be crazier in the heat of summer
when my mind is heady with the pollen and the bees and I've sat in my hidden spot
peering out for long enough

there is magic of another kind just past the green grasses
and a step from the sounds of the water
an ancient lava river stopped here, making a shelter
it is not the same playful spirit here, as the grass stops and the rocks rise up
a different spirit lives if one went running through the meadow in
glee and wonder and have been stopped on tip-toe, panting and still
as if suddenly faced with the rising steeple of a church
and their spirit is hushed and suddenly the need to sit and ponder is as impulsive as the need to run came over them before
how thankful I am that something stopped the lava from coming any further...
as if it just didn't have the heart to create anymore destruction
as if it couldn't bring itself to take over the innocent sweet spirit of the spring
and because I can't bring you here, I'll let the creek talk to you itself: