Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.”

11 January 2011

Letters from the Outside, #32

I apologize for the lapse. Ive been hibernating.

Early january was a lot like springtime. The light was gentle, the birds were at a chatter and only the standing shadows bore a negligee of snow. Then a few days of snow, snow T. and I walked through at night, smiling. Now the mercury stalled at twenty and the tarp of snow is stale and frozen on the ground, tiretracks and footprints as static and obvious as the moment they were made. Halfway through january and its still cold, with no snow. Dark moon in Sagittarius turns the tide in the light and I leave the house in increasing degrees, making it into the stateland by midweek. But most days its too easy to stay in and maybe bake something, read something, drink tea.  I pick up a pine bough, a snail shell, an acorn and a gall. A red rock. Seven jay feathers. And then it snows. And in my cardigan and homeknit hat, field coat and T.s brown rubber boots (worn over the jeans), I fancy I embody the archetype of a salty nor'easterner, a resourceful and resilient woman, Judi Dench in Shipping News. 

Out for a brisk with the dogs. I thought I might get all the way to the freeground but the wind was hard today, sounded like an autumn woodland army through the oak leaves left on the trees. The below-freezing cold sharpens the snow and the dogs paws suffer. I suspect the town is expecting more snow as the plows are out in late morning with sand and scraping the turns. The windfall maple burns better than should be expected, and theres always books, and tea.

Two deer. A blue heron (in january!). The raven we thought we saw seems to be two and the sound low over coyote road is a rumbling of river stones, some sentiment expressed intelligently in a descending glossal purr. I couldnt believe it when I saw the first and then to see two, to hear one speaking, its been marvelous, and encourages further forays up coyote road, and the farther aforementioned freeground. I did some research on distinguishing ravens from crows at a distance and the next serendipitous encounter with them ill make sure, one way or the other. The owl, all these traditionally dark portents that only gladden my winter heart and make me feel even more a part of things, of the world I love and understand. Were approaching the heart of winter, the one beat at noon and the other at midnight. The frogs are at their frozen nadir, the earth is stone. But its a deep and peaceful sense of rest, gestating the green miracle of Spring. And I see in myself a reflection of this apogee, and cut myself slack. The dogs tree a raccoon kit up a sapling at the edge of one of the gullies, and every day now we go by that spot the black dog stops and sniffs the air. It was probably doing a little foraging in the thaw. The brave little heart, the intelligent hands and sharp, clicking little teeth, grateful it stayed in the tree.

Its a fine beta, this hat, but needs now knitting in woolen. Im thinking alpaca. T.s adopted the beta, which for a hack knitter like myself is a real gold star. Cowboy and I have been reading fiends, a few weeks of books and the woodstove and music playing (and tea). This year will continue to challenge my creativity and clarify my path. With Love am I looking forward to it. I think about soup and bread, and books, and tea. I hold on hard to my metagnostics, my breath and the prayer wheel Golden Boy gifted me this christmas. Im dreaming more.

Enormous pileated woodpecker at the suet cage. Manic Panic crest of electric strawberry, not the chinese red of the smaller downies I usually get. The goldfinches in their winter dun look miraculously small beside him at the feeder, but my heart is with them. Nevertheless the pileated is a wonder, and I stand at the sink, with the cats, my mouth and eyes wide open.

Theres something uneasy in the air today, a lot of natural, and malignant, cataclysm of late unsettling even in the empty open cold. Hoofprints and birdtracks are runes and omens in the snow. But enormous inertia, and anomalous inner silence and books, and tea.
Not much of a letter and it took weeks to put together but I wanted you to know not a day goes by we dont think of you, and send you our Peace and our Light. The seed catalogs start to come in and im looking forward to further honing my tomato cultivation techinque. In january the garden of july seems a miraculous and paradisaical place, which it really is. The sweet fruit off the bramble, the clean peas from the pod. Last night we had beans I put up in july, when the dogs and I walked down the road in barely anything at all. In july when the air above the grass spangles with fireflies, the smell of lavender and sage on your fingers, breeze in the shade of a tree. For now, I bake brownies and watch Okay Go videos, and steep tea.  We love you.

"And if the question were asked: What is more real, the mundane or the sublime? most would hesitate before they gave an answer. On the one side, details: say, the aftermath of a breakfast, dirty chipped plates in the sink, their rims encrusted with egg yolk. Against this, the unnameable: small aching heart with boasts, what can you know? Outside the cage of everything we ever heard or saw, beyond, outside, above, there lies the real, hiding as long as we shall live, there stretch and trail the millions of names of God burning across the eons. When all through this our end will come before we even know the names of us.

For many the egg yolk prevails." -L.M.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

"The perfection of the Absolute where all Becoming stops and pure Being, immutable, timeless, unchanging, hangs forever like a ripe peach upon the bough." -E.A.

"...and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-rod and filled almost a whole mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psycho-skeletal outline." -D.F.W.

"At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." -H.S.T.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." -D.T.
"Cometh a voice: My children, hear; From the crowded street and the close-packed mart I call you back with my message clear, back to my lap and my loving heart. Long have ye left me, journeying on by range and river and grassy plain, to the teeming towns where the rest have gone - come back, come back to my arms again. So shall ye lose the foolish needs that gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve to heal the fretted nerve. Treading the turf that ye once loved well, instead of the stones of the city's street, ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell, but the wind that croons in the ripening wheat. I that am old have seen long since ruin of palaces made with hands for the soldier-king and the priest and prince whose cities crumble in desert sands. But still the furrow in many a clime yields softly under the ploughman's feet; still there is seeding and harvest time, and the wind still croons in the ripening wheat. The works of man are but little worth; for a time they stand, for a space endure; but turn once more to your mother - Earth, my gifts are gracious, my works are sure. Instead of the strife and pain I give you peace, with its blessing sweet. Come back, come back to my arms again, for the wind still croons in the ripening wheat."
-John Sandes, The Earth-Mother (excerpt, 1918)