Nearly every day I find something in the natural world that astounds me with its beauty– a single wildflower, a shy, graceful deer, or a stunning cloudscape over the Delaware River. When I walk, usually early in the morning, I’m often filled with wonder—a sensation of body and mind. This morning, I almost didn’t walk because of the rain and thunder, but it stopped, and I went out to see the most incredible sky.
golden leaves glow against charcoal clouds they dance, fall in nature’s rhythm
This is for Kim’s prompt at dVerse, to write a haibun “about a time when you last watched stars, a storm, the sea, an animal, or something else in nature that left you with a sense of wonder or awe.”
In the morning’s glow the water glimmers, shimmers pink on blue, as light slivers through silvered clouds and geese and gulls skim the surface
I walk. Beauty, akin, but not identical, the days similar, but different in ways perhaps not profound, but meaningful (to me) when I see a deer, or rippled sky
and wonder why— the age-old questions, life, death, and who am I? We drink some wine, and watch the clouds–
we laugh aloud—enjoy the moment, the storms come, and then they pass and the waves surge, but they don’t last, the sky is charcoal, then it’s blue.
The wind blows, the leaves fall in golden puddles mound the ground, the moon will hum, the sun will shine, and winter fade in springtime’s bloom.
And you? You’ll be here, and so will I, watching the tide flow in and outwards fly, the shore uncovered again. And again. Perhaps not a circle, but a chain
linking everything. The waves of light, water, motion—sky, river, ocean— dust from the stars, amoebas and trees, generations of humans, you and me.
Merril’s Movie Club: We watched the movie, Waves.We had seen previews in the theater, pre-pandemic. The cinematic style—lots of pulsing color and light—probably plays better on a big screen. It took me a little while to get into it, but it’s a movie in two parts. The second part explores the aftermath of a tragedy that occurs in the first part. We both liked it, but it’s one of those movies that I liked more after I thought about it for a while. We’re also watching Roadkill. In the US, it’s on Masterpiece (PBS). It’s always fun watching Hugh Laurie as a bad guy, and it was fun to see the female Danish prime minister from Borgen in it, too. We’ve watched 3 of the 4 episodes.
across the river, they danced in the streets and horns honked. Here, it was quiet, geese sailed serenely; their own squabbles settled with brief in-your-face trumpeting and posturing—perhaps not so different, as they fall into formation–and yet, I watch them take turns leading, caring for each other, soaring in a victory V, circling. Then as dawn laughs, and the water blushes, the horizon, foreshortened, expands, Philadelphia emerges from the fog, the sky much bluer than it was.
I dream poems of misty November mornings and blue rivers tinged with shimmery pink,
of wine-dark skies, I drink from half-full glasses filled with hope and watch opalescent glow breaking bright–
last night, I dreamt of glass-ceilings shattered– not store-front windows– of people raised, not battered
in coordinated terror, fleeing sharp shards of cutting hate, and the coming conflagration to annihilate– but I dream not of bonfire flash and ashes,
of books and people burned, but autumn peace, watching the sun sink behind russet leaves, knowing the flaming eaves are an illusion,
without any confusion, simply beauty, the way it should be. And so, my poetry dreams
lucid, drifting through timeless place, with pellucid water rippling through space and time- expanding circles
that never end, from sand to horizon, rising whispers to stars and sea, see me– the light burns through fog to capture shadows and gild the trees.
So, I guess this is really meta, since I really did dream poems last night of misty November mornings and blue rivers. Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of crystal), November 9-10, 1938, also called the Night of Broken Glass when Nazis and supporters carried out pogroms on the Jewish population and businesses in Germany and annexed areas. You can read more here.
Probably everyone reading this knows that Joe Biden is now the official president-elect of the US, and Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black woman, and first Asian woman in the US to become vice-president elect of the US. We listened to them speak on Saturday night, and I was particularly moved by Harris’s speech.
Merril’s Movie Club: Prior to the listening to the speeches, we watched the movie, Sometimes Always Never, a sweet, quirky little movie starring Bill Nighy as a father searching for his lost son who vanished during a Scrabble game years before. There is a lot about Scrabble and words in the film. We both enjoyed it, but definitely not for the action, blockbuster crowd. It’s on Amazon.
We have had unseasonably warm days, and we managed to get reservations for outdoor wineries twice this week, William Heritage Winery, and the Auburn Road Winery Wine Garden at Hill Creek Farms. I’m afraid we may go into lockdowns soon, and even if we don’t, I won’t be sitting indoors, so I thought we’d enjoy it while we can.
Blue is the sea, river, and sky that flows beyond what we can see but never ending, flowing, going round again,
the light bends, refracting and reflecting shapes, colors, moods—blue hues— clear and bright, or misty-infused with pink and grey, a foggy day
or mind, we say. Sometimes reality blurs, dims with age, or fever-dreamed perceptions and neurons misdirecting proprioception, the mind filled with misconception,
flies. And yet, when we dream, fantasy and reality blur, the dead come alive, the alive are dead– I see blue, but dream red
when my grandfather visits me from some other realm, sitting at a table well, he was a man who loved to eat— but now, we’re waiting for a play
but I say, I can’t stay and race off in a panic, and up, across the stage almost colliding with a male actor, to whom I apologize, waking soon after, without words, wise, or otherwise
from my grandfather. I wonder still after weeks, why was he in my dream? His family had to flee, asylum seekers from a repressive regime. He knew about hate, but also love, eloping when he was young, seeing ninety plus winters and sun,
announcing his presence with the scent of a cigar— I haven’t thought of him in a long time, why did he come to me that night? Against the vivid red of anxiety curtains, he was calm, unperturbed, in a grey suit,
slipping a message into my dream chute that this is just a moment, not final– the vivid reds and gold, turn brown, but the moon hums a song of cycling hues
with beauty all around. Blue moon tonight, then her circle grows smaller— but still there, just beyond our view directing tides through monthly cycles.
Black waters of night turn grey, then blue in morning light and though we know they’re there, the ghosts shimmer in the air—just out of view.
Over the past few days, every time I visit the Oracle, she gives me dreams and blue. The message above was from today. So, I went with it. We’ve had days and days of clouds and rain. The sun finally came out on Saturday, but then we had pouring rain yesterday. It’s sunny today, but it’s cold with gusty winds. We managed to find a time to get together with daughter and son-in-law—sitting well apart outside on their deck. We ate Thai food–and got some puppy time (and then it rained again).
Merril’s Movie Club: On Halloween night, we ate pizza with my homemade pumpkin pie for dessert and watched His House (Netflix), a thoughtful horror movie about South Sudanese refugees in London, who are (literally) haunted by ghosts of their past as they try to adjust to living in a new place and culture. There were several scenes that made me jump, but it’s the kind of horror movie that I like because it makes you think–and of course, it’s timely.
“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.” –Walt Whitman, quoted in Brainpickings
We used to go away, now we don’t go, we stay where we are, in stasis, mourn what was, embrace what is, forlorn–
but then comes a day, when we go not to stay, but to glory in the glow of autumn, amber light, and honeyed hues
well, wouldn’t you? If given a chance, bears from hibernation spring, if only temporarily– because I fear what winter will bring.
So, we drive over the bridge, as in days before, then masked, and with some hesitation, and trepidation, that gives way to elation—
because we’re seeing something new, a perfect day to stroll through seasonal gardens where flowers still bloom and bees buzz and butterflies flutter, birds chirp, squirrels stutter
in indignation, as we walk through Peirce’s Woods and in the meadow golden-bright to the manmade lake where we reflect in reflected light
on all the beauty we’re fortunate to see a special outing, a few hours to forget hate and plague, and all the vague anxiety
that hovers in the air, for once unaware, we laugh relax, eat, find a retreat–a poetic conceit perhaps, but for a time, we’re OK, and all is fine.
We went to Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, PA–about an hour away from our house in south Jersey. (You have to buy tickets in advance for a particular day and time.) We haven’t really gone anywhere, except for a few local wineries, where we can sit outdoors and far apart from others. Before we went, we got our flu shots at our local CVS, and that was the first time I had been inside the store since March. I felt a bit of panic. And at Longwood Gardens, it was strange to be among so many people—though mostly at a safe distance and masked. It was so good to see something different, and we picked a perfect autumn day. Of course, the mood was spoiled a bit because of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings. I turned off NPR for awhile.
I’m linking this to Robin of “Breezes at Dawn”’s Walktober. For those who don’t follow my blog, my usual, almost daily walk, is at Red Bank Battlefield, usually early in the morning. Below see some of the beauty that I experience there. Before the Covid Crisis hit, we went into Philadelphia almost every week, often taking public transportation. I think we last did that in February.
And a PS–Merril’s Movie Club: We watched The Trial of the Chicago 7. It’s on Netflix, and it’s enjoyable and timely. Fans of The West Wing, Sorkin even manages to get in a few walk and talks. 😏
“But something next to normal would be okay Yeah, something next to normal That’s the thing I’d like to try Close enough to normal to get by” –“Maybe (Next to Normal)” from Next to Normal (2008) book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt.
The world is upside down, but still the morning sky sings, brings comfort to my soul, wings
away the swirling thoughts from me, a body in motion is not stopped, so free of notions,
and anger, emotions may fly away, but beauty, makes me stop and stay
a body at rest, (breathe) for a while, recharged, hopes expanded, vision enlarged
to see this is but one piece as time flows on, history is past, and will we learn, we’re often asked—
perhaps, or not, the world goes on, the sun still shines the geese still fly in V-shaped lines
and deer graze and gambol whether I’m there to amble by the riverside, the river bides (with me, I see)
though its course may change, it carries still, cargo and dreams, while over it the heron soars—
not mine or yours, it endures sensing how the wind blows, but what does it think, who knows?
Not to oversimply, I wonder what it’s like to fly, but their survival is also fraught
but uncaught, I understand. Yet as the woman sang, something next to normal, would be grand,
as I listen to insanity, the bizarre upheld, I long for those in power to be felled
and for the robot followers to waken to be shaken by the horror they uphold.
It won’t happen, they’ll deny, believe the lies again and again,
but someday, I don’t know when I have to believe, things will change again– and meanwhile,
I’ll walk by the river in hope that nature’s cure will ease my soul to bring me peace, one thing I can control
a tiny piece in this crazy world, where lunacy is the new normal, unfurled like a banner—well, I see those flags waved,
and crowds like those with arms in straight salute the past reborn, without jackboots, at least not yet, but you can’t refute
the similarities. Despots are all the same, and fanatics, too. What’s in a name? They’ve lived through the ages on history’s pages . I hope this time, they are soon confined, I won’t give up hope, nor bind myself to evil,
but listen for a laugh that echoes still in my heart, it always will, speaking of survival–and until
and if we meet again, perhaps the world will be next to normal then.
We didn’t go anywhere this week, but we had an at home theater night. We ate nachos and watched the Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normalon Saturday night– which appropriately for the theme of the show was World Mental Health Day. It was a production done a few years ago by the Arden Theater in Philadelphia, and because we’re subscribers, we were given a free link to stream a video of the production. It’s a moving story, as a woman grapples with her mental illness and her family also tries to cope, but there are also some laugh out loud moments. Here are the nachos and dinner from the night before, homemade naan and channa masala.
We watched the Netflix show Away. We renamed it, “This is Us in Space.” I was sobbing at episode five. It was enjoyable, in the way of a beach book. 😏 We also started the Netflix series, Haunting of Bly Manor. I liked the first two episodes, though the lead-in seemed a bit contrived. It’s the kind of horror I like, not splatter gore, but subtle. It’s based on the Henry James novella, The Turn of the Screw. But if you ever get to see the 1961 film, The Innocents, also based on that story, it’s excellent. It doesn’t seem to be available to stream in the U.S. right now.