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

28 December 2011

Letters from the Outside, #53

An honest november chill sets in. You can feel, in the all-night glare of the new christian rec center (Im pinned down on all sides now by incessant electric lights, the cross and old glory) the snow pressing against the black bottoms of the clouds that cover our moon. The last logs of last years stovewood go into the licking heat of the hearth and tomorrow we go to get a fresh facecord. This morning taking out the recycling I am blessed by the sight of a big beautiful fox trotting down your driveway.

Late thursday afternoon the snow comes in fat flakes falling fast into night, four inches of winter briefly blessing the valley and followed by what feels entirely like spring -- warm and wet and gentle and after a week, in the last few days before december, a cold rain that aspires again to snow but has held off for the weeks since I last worked on this letter, balmy and bitter by turns but devoid of snow. Now counting up through the first week of december, the night is warm, the buffed blue overcast sky reflected pewter against the broad deep creek that runs through the valley toward the lake. The wind is only in the tops of the trees, fingertips up a vertebral ridge.

I bought fifty pounds of sunflower seed from the farm down the road and walked the blue dog over the bridge to deliver, with much stealth and good wishes, a lunchbag of the stuff for Sister Mother, a great friend and admirer of the birds. With the cat population as it stands around here, I cant claim to carry four stars from them, but try to repent with suet cages and black oil silos. So good to see the goldfinches go gray, the more marvelous an infusion of Life through the feathers in the spring which we seemed to have borrowed a few weeks from in early december – damp air and the muddy ground, one expected crocus and birdsong. But then just cold without the snow, bitter and bone-deep even out of the wind, the culvert water too cold even for the dog, and chargers of ice on the puddles at the side of the road.

Finally today, a few days before the Solstice, there comes snow. Snow never fails to help me feel better. The glass glitter globe dr. zhivago romance of the whole thing, my reindeer herding d.n.a. thrumming, the deep need to ramble through some lonesome woods and disappear into the sleeping world. Traffic on the walk can be heavy, and most certainly jarring. It works against the desired contemplative reward of my ambling and, standing there still with the dogs pulled up against me, considering the rocks and sticks and whatnot on the verge as the hrududus barrel within feet of us, our motley knot, I think well, if it hits us, itll be quick.

And how excellent it is to come in from the cold with red cheeks and bright eyes and have a little lunch and sit by the woodstove and write to you, knowing that this time next year you will have been three months again my good neighbor, in the flesh.

The pasture has gone from brown to grey, with only cut hay and fen reeds shining golden before and behind the bare black sketch of trees in the riparian way. The Chestnut leaves sound like bones and bamboo windchimes while the eye slides around over the imperceptibly shifting blur of the sky. Something about me here, pinned at the bottom of the wheel, when the world holds its breath before the strong winds of springtime stretch the muscles of light over the bones of winter, brings me inevitably into a torpid and viscous melancholy which only now, the eve of Solstice, sees me rising through.

I dust diligently, of all unlikely things, and bake the rest of the cookies cut in the shape of a heart, like the ones on a card, a valentine. I do Suns and Moons and Hands and Hearts for the most part, whatever holiday we're in.

I dust off all my chunky bead necklaces flocked in beggars velvet from lying on the dresser exposed and they glitter tucked into a little box for proper keeping. From the array im chosen by a bone Maori Koru, offering the bright beginning of a fiddlehead fern, a spiral dance perpetually returning to its point of origin, a soul engaged in change and awakening.

The winter holiday comes and goes with the black roar of water on cliffrocks and the vast silence of night in the middle pacific. There is palpable relief as it passes, stepping out from the curb into the muscular whoosh of a speeding truck inches from its hot metal engine.

Yesterday one had to drive south into the hinterland foothills of unbounded pasture, cornrows and looming, alien windfarms to see a quarter-inch of snow in the furrows and beneath the trees. But today it swirls like the inside of a souvenir snowglobe and I leave the house only to bring in more wood for the stove, to let the cats and dogs come and go, and finally send this letter to you. I putter and muse, nurse a persistent illness, reflect on my freshly minted resolutions.

The light grows, 2012 is upon us, and I try and turn my face to time with an expression of love and wonder. But what an excellent year for liberation. 
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)