Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Following the Sun: Earth Science 101

For twenty-six years I lived in a house with a hill to the south and east. Most times of the year by the time I saw the sun, it had been up for hours and had perhaps once again determined there was nothing new under it. Only in winter could I see it rise from my bedroom. It appeared on the hill like a bright match about to ignite the bare winter wood.

On June 25th we moved to High Valley and as I have mentioned here before, I have been getting up early every day to do chi gung on the dock at the pond, for most of the summer the sunniest place at sunrise. I have written more than one haiku about the sun climbing the spruce trees across the pond. Recently, after a week of cloudy weather, I noted that the sun had moved over to a maple tree, but still the dock had plenty of sun.

This week there is no denying the sun has quit this spot. I have to walk past the dock to stand for a moment in a patch of sun. Before I finish preliminary exercises, the sun has brushed the end of the dock and hurried on. Yes, hurried. That’s how it seems to me. No gradual: now it rises in the maple tree and now over the barn. It is rising in a southward curve, casting one shadow and then another and another. And of course, each day it is rising later.

None of these observations are news. Every year the earth makes an elliptical orbit around the sun, its axis tilting away and towards, giving those of us in northern and southern hemispheres a palpable summer and winter. This is grade school stuff. Except suddenly it isn’t or maybe I am reverting to that age (I believe it’s called latency) when discovering things like the path of the sun or the phases of the moon can hold your attention, because you are not thinking about sex, or not all the time. I still do think about sex, but figuring out why the sun appears to be moving faster than it was a few weeks ago is occupying more and more mental space.

I would like to do a science project, and find a place where I can track the sun’s movement in miniature for a year. I have not yet found a place where there is no shade all day. So I expect I will continue to follow the sun every morning, seeking a patch of early light and seeing how long I can stay in it before it moves. I doubt I will get very scientific in my measurements, but I will continue to write haiku. And I will continue to do my chi gung practice early when the sun gives at least the illusion that everything under it is new.

A few thoughts on personification

We do it. I just did it with the sun. We name hurricanes. If your region or home was devastated by Irene, my heart is with you. Though we were in its predicted path, the east side of the Hudson River got off lightly. We also didn’t feel the recent earthquake, though only fifteen minutes away, others did. What I want to say is that people are quick to ascribe motivation to disasters—God’s or Gaia’s. People on both sides of the political spectrum do it. We like to believe that some force larger than ourselves shares our views and our judgments.

I wish we would all just become curious. There is some evidence of a causal relation between the recent earthquake and fracking. There is also considerable evidence that global warming will result in more frequent and volatile storms and rising seas. But who is affected, where and why, is beyond our ken. I just heard from a neighbor who lives ten minutes from me whose road was washed out. Here we had no damage at all—this time. Was it because I walked out early into the storm and asked Irene not to harm my trees?

I don’t need to know the answer to that question. And I will continue to talk to storms and trees and birds and flowers and insects, because that is my nature. Sometimes with familiar trees and animals, I am pretty sure the conversation is two-sided. But the trees speak like trees. And my translation is just that, a translation. Storms and earthquakes also speak. Let’s do our best to learn their languages before we tell other people what they mean.

Note from Maeve

I am a weather witch, and I pretty much concur with Eliz. BTW Tim is going to be giving me blog assignments soon as the publication date for Red-Robed Priestess gets closer. If you have a venue for reviewing Red-Robed Priestess or interviewing Eliz—or me!—let Tim know: 

Friday, August 12, 2011


Watching the mists this morning, I realized that I might have gotten the clock reversed in my mind, and the mists are in fact going clockwise. Though, at the eastern shore, there was a small group of mists going the opposite direction. In any case, they appear to circle to the west before going east to the sun and rising. Perhaps the same principle as going left to go right in Tai Chi form. BTW I often get things backwards in the form, too. A kind of nonverbal dyslexia.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

News from the Pond

my news: from the pond
his from the wide world beyond
we meet at breakfast
I report water lilies
he reports London riots

I get up these days around 6:00am and go out to a small dock on the far side of the pond to practice chi gung and tai chi. I have struck a deal with my neighbor across the road, who is not only building a house and a barn but also constantly rearranges the contours of the land with a bulldozer: No earth-moving, nerve shattering, diesel-guzzling machines before 8:00am. It is to his credit and mine that we came to this solution peacefully. Our land situation is complicated and, on a small scale, very similar to the kinds of border/occupancy situations that have resulted in bitter, intractable wars.

This morning was the most beautiful yet, abundant mists after heavy rain, fresh clear sky. I wondered if it was all right to enjoy it so much when there are riots in London, Republican victories in Wisconsin, not to mention war and famine in various parts of the world, and all the personal tragedies the media insists on bringing to our awareness.

Then I remembered how dreams often balance our waking state. If we are unhappy, dreams can bring lightness. If we are flying high, we sometimes have hideous nightmares. As I sat on the dock after practice and noticed spider webs caught in the light, I thought: we are all in this dream; we are all dreamers. I am dreaming the joy right now. It is my job. I am not separate or disconnected from the nightmares. I am not oblivious or impervious. I am just dreaming my part.

My husband walks around in headsets listening to NPR as our larger radio doesn’t get reception. So I no longer hear the news (except from him). Sometimes I feel guilty for not staying tuned to the larger world. But this morning the world of the pond seems huge, as if the whole cosmos had gathered here with the mists that always circle counterclockwise, and the water lilies rising from their dark wet muck, the insects skimming the surface making ripples and the fish swimming up to catch them, and the birds and the frogs calling, and the squirrels upbraiding my cat till he creeps out of the undergrowth and returns to me for comfort. I can never know everything about this world. But I can spend this quiet attentive time in the morning. Now and then I can share some news. Here is some in the form of haiku (5-7-syllables) and tanka (5-7-5-7-7)

Indigo Bunting
can that really be your name?
Iridescent jewel
bringing blue sky, aqua sea
on bright wings to middle earth

the sun calls the mists
turns them back into fire
morning alchemy

Rise, great blue heron
wings green-blue, water and sky
small dinosaur, soar!

swimming in the mists
to the water lily cove
my cat stands lifeguard
trees singing with cardinals
fish nipping my beauty mark

mists circle moonwise
then rise on a ray of sun
now I know the way


I am enjoying these mornings, too. Eliz did not mention in this post what came to her about a new meaning for Lover of the World (one of my titles). For most of my life and hers, we have thought of the beloved as another human being, a soul mate. But what if your lover is the world, and you love the world back—and what if that love is just as erotic and ecstatic as any other?
Just sayin.’

Tim, please give me a blog post assignment soon.

Your combrogo,