Brighter, Lighter

Because I'll go mad if I take this all too seriously

It's not a Doorway

I have been reading about the snowstorm in New England, and hearing about snowfalls of several feet, which can take forever to recover from in cities; especially Boston with its narrow streets and parked cars. However, Boston is only three miles long and unless you're heading across the river to Harvard, you can walk to work. In a couple of hours or so.

The snowstorm that struck the Midwest and the Northeast passed us by and we've had mild temperatures. Of course, it's only a matter of time before we get hit, but we'll take the mild weather and the beautiful sunsets for now.

However, we can't have snow without a little poetry, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow agrees with me:

Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession,
The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.

"Snow-Flakes"

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Easier to find poetry about snow than about sunsets, as I found when I looked about. Other than:

Red sky in the morning,
sailor take warning.
Red sky at night,
sailor's delight.

I think its because sunsets have their own beauty and anything to do with them — poetry, painting, or photography — is a given and a bit of a cheat. But I'll take the cheat for now.

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Of course, the sunset figures prominently into our fiction, particularly westerns. Cowboys would always ride off into the sunset when they've saved the day, which I thought was stupid.

I mean think about it: they ride in, get shot up, go against the bad guys 2 to 1, overcome against all odds, and just when the farmer's daughter cries out, "My hero", and we presume is feeling mighty grateful, the idiots ride off into the sunset.

I bet the horse had more sex. No wonder there's no poetry about sunsets.

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That's not completely true, there are poems about sunsets. Emily Dickinson wrote a couple — she wrote on everything it seems — and I rather liked, "The Sunset Stopped on Cottages":

The Sunset stopped on Cottages
Where Sunset hence must be
For treason not of His, but Life's,
Gone Westerly, Today –

The Sunset stopped on Cottages
Where Morning just begun –
What difference, after all, Thou mak'st
Thou supercilious Sun?

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Tired of sunsets yet? Just be glad I didn't publish the other ten photos I took tonight, because the sky did put on a lovely show. I grabbed my camera and ran down outside, fighting my cat at the door — me out, her in — before standing out on the deck in bare feet snapping pictures.

The neighbors are used to it: they think I'm nuts, and maybe I am. Am I of age to be eccentric yet?

Oh who cares. I spend too much time worrying about what people think of me when they see me puttering about, and most likely they don't think of me at all (which is very liberating, let me say).

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The sky is pretty and so are the trees, but yes I do need new subjects, which means I'll have to go look for them. New things to write about, too. Good.

And on that note, I'll end with JRR Tolkien:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

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Last Digital Postcard

Tomorrow I take off for home, and as I'll have no time to play along the way, this will be my last digital postcard for this trip.

I spent this morning making one last visit to Dog Beach (Crissy Field/Golden Gate), to the Ferry Building and the Embarcadero, and yes, even to the Big Damn Bow and Arrow (BDBaA).

There was some odd activity at the BDBaA. It looked like a guy filming another guy in front of the BDBaA, while that guy was taking pictures, or pretending to take pictures, and the person being filmed was also being photographed. What I couldn't get into the picture was a woman just out of the frame who was also taking pictures of all of them.

You know, if this were any city other than San Francisco, I would find this strange.

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At the Dog Beach, I was reassured to see that yes, part of the beach does still allow dogs, and spent some time this morning watching then. The big dogs are impressive, but it's the little ones that always catch my eye. Makes me want to get a dog until I remember what my cat, Zoe's, reaction would be to me getting a dog.

In particular, a little Yorky, feisty little bugger, kept running at the waves trying to take bites out of them. I nicknamed him Bush Junior.

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When I leave tomorrow morning, I won't be leaving my heart, as the song goes. I had a good time in San Francisco, both this trip and when I lived here. I've enjoyed the bridges and the beaches, and the dogs, and the surrounding lands. Now, though, my place is in St. Louis.

Well, in St. Louis at this moment — if an opportunity I've been given works out, I'll be moving again in the near future.

Another day, another adventure. See you when I get back home.

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Burningbugs

Today was hot and humid, which meant the fireflies were out, in force, at dusk. One particularly frisky little bug hovered in front of the living room window, seemingly infatuated with the magnificant glow of the small light by the window. Zzz. It said. Zzz. Zzz. Callous light just glowed steadily, ignoring the little critter.

How sad, this lost moment
   and the love that was not meant to be;
The little burningbug
   who lusted after electricity.

I didn't see my first firefly until I moved to a house on Grande Isle in Vermont several years ago. The place was surrounded by fields, high up on a hill overlooking the lake, the closest neighbor hid by a bank of trees.

During the summer, thunderstorms would roll through, magnificent expositions of lightening and rain. And at dusk, in the cooling moisture, bright lights would begin to appear. A shy glimmer here, a quite moment of luminosity there, until the field was aglow with the delicate white lights, dancing in and among the plants.

Was this my most perfect moment in Vermont? Or would it be held by that winter day, when the sun fell coldly on pure white snow, brilliant blue sky overhead reflected in the ice on the lake. And across the unmarked white field in front of the house hopped a red fox.

Later that night, we threw the switch that lit the lights on a tall evergreen far out in the field. The tree lights reflected on the snow, like fireflies flying about in the cooling mist of a summer night.

The Yellow and Black Skunk

When I was a young'un, I lived on a farm several miles outside of Kettle Falls, in Washington state. Below the farm was an undeveloped field with a dirt road running through it that connected several homes. Below that was Lake Roosevelt. Surrounding all of this was bits and pieces of the Colville National Forest. Back in those more innocent days, my mother let me go down to the field by myself as long as I didn't go down to the water.

I loved the field of tall golden weeds. Since I was only about five at the time, the weeds would come up to my chest and I could look out on a sea of waving fronds and imagine I was on a ship in the ocean.

I loved the dust of the road and would walk it slowly, sucking on the end of a grass blade and occasionally chasing after a grasshopper or butterfly. Every once in a while I would see another critter such as a deer or a mother skunk leading a string of babies across the road.

Imagine a soft, warm summer afternoon—blue sky, glimmers of light reflecting off the water in the distance—the sound of insects and birds the only noise. And absolutely nothing to do but walk along the road and think thoughts of faraway places and strange new doings—such as my cousin coming for a visit and my Uncle giving my brother a rifle and not me because I was a girl. I got a stupid china tea set.

Suddenly, there's a movement in the field towards my left. I stopped and looked, hand over eyes to shade the sun, squinting my eyes almost shut (sign of glasses to come the following year), trying to see what was causing the motion.

Up a head pops and down it goes.

What?

Up a head pops and down it goes again.

What is that?

Again, the head appears and I had a better view. It's golden and kind of flat and has black markings.

That's not a deer. Too small for a deer.

Up the head pops and down it goes again.

That's not a bunny. It's too big.

Up and down.

That's not a skunk though it does have markings like a skunk.

I watched this strange creature for some time. I wasn't frightened. If anything I thought this new experience was a huge treat considering the usual activity associated with a warm sunny afternoon, such as standing in the middle of a road of dust, listening to the insects rub their legs.

Up the head would pop, down it would go, each jump moving it farther away until with a last rustle, it disappeared into the woods.

I ran home and opened the door and there was my mother, washing something in the sink, with the smell of good things to eat hanging in the late afternoon air. I remembered running up to her, excitedly telling her in that jumbled child manner about this creature in the field that had these black markings and it jumped up and down and up and down and up…

"That's a skunk, honey, You just saw a skunk is all."

A yellow and black skunk? Well, okay. If you say so, Mama.

So I went for the just the longest, longest time, with this memory in my head of my warm, sunny afternoon and the field of gold and the dusty road, and my yellow and black skunk.

Until the day when I was looking at a new picture book and realized that my skunk was a bobcat.

A Dog with no Name

Dog with no name

The picture is of a dog with no name.

Outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, I entered a gas station and saw this dog, lying there among the pumps on the cement. My first reaction was "Oh my God! This poor dog has been hit!" But then, she rolled over and looked at me, thumped her tail a couple of times, and went back to sleep.

In the "trading post" attached to the gas station, I asked the lady sweeping the floor about the dog. According to her, it showed up one day: limping, hungry, and very afraid of people.

At first, the folks at the station didn't know what to do with the dog. They called the animal control officer, who tried to trap the her in a humane trap. The dog was too smart, and managed to avoid it. The owner of the gas station also tried to take her home, but she wouldn't get in the car. All of them believe that she has puppies around the station somewhere and won't leave them.

The dog with no name has a bad limp, as if her leg had been broken and then not set. She wags her tail when you talk to her, but if you approach her, she cringes and ducks as if she's afraid of a beating. The folks at the gas station think she was badly treated and abused, and eventually abandoned in the New Mexico desert when she was expecting puppies.

However, before you think this is a story about the worst in people, think again: this story is about about the best. We just need to turn the page.

Others, like myself, driving through from one place or another also asked about the dog. On hearing her story, each would leave food for the dog, stopping by to give her a kind word — from a distance so as to not frighten her. They, like me, were the recipient of a gentle, loving look and the same soft thump of her tail. In her own way, and in her own time, she's made the home she's comfortable with.

It's not a home as you or I think of it, but it is the home she wants. Since her first appearance, the dog with no name has gained weight and health. However, she's also gained something far more important: thanks to the kindness of strangers, she's gained the peace of a sunny afternoon and a nice nap on warm cement.

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