RSS Feed

Category Archives: Nature in All Its Glory

The Mountain Reveals Herself

One of the wonders of driving from Edmonton to Prince George is passing Mount Robson. For many years, we drove past it several times a year, hoping to catch a glimpse of the peak. On many days, clouds cover its peak entirely or in part.

Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and the Fraser River headwaters the are in the provincial park bearing its name. We have walked along Robson River a ways, but the path goes for about 19 kilometres to a lake fed directly by a glacier.

An azure ceiling shines above,

Shimmering white lace spreads to meet it,

Rippling up from a white jacket;

A snowy zipper on a granite skirt;

Standing on guard below,

Silently an entourage of green warriors.

Gazing upwards,

Discovering her nobility and splendour,

She majestically reveals her grandeur–

To us mere mortals.

Yellowstone Elk

When we write, we write about things that we experienced and imagine. I have had the good fortune to come close to several large animals and took pictures.

This is a poem about an elk I saw in Yellowstone several years ago. I was able to get to about 30 feet (10 metres) of him, protected by the trees a bit. He impressed me with his calmness. He seemed totally unaware of me, but I am aware they are wild animals and I am the one out of my element.

Frank O’Hara wrote about common things in his poetry i.e. aspirin, lunch hours, and harmonicas. Sometimes, those things seem more exotic like this elk.

I picture him in my mind’s eye,

I recall the story.

Walking up the road

Down into a high-banked ditch.

Quietly, always trees between us,

I ease my way to this moment.

He appears unconcerned,

He does not lift his crown.

Cautiously, I approach,

After all, he is king here.

Head down,

He attends to his concerns.

I approach as close as I can,

One shot to recall I was there.

Imperfection/Perfection

Jacques Derrida wrote about deconstruction, which is about thinking in paradoxes. Instead of thinking about binaries i.e. perfection or imperfection, we consider the opposites as being part of each other. We are unable to think of one without the other and continuously deconstruct the meaning.

This continuous making of meaning is a hermeneutic task of  interpreting. Paul Ricoeur wrote about deep or radical hermeneutics, which considered context as part of the meaning-making process. Radical means to go the roots of something, so it requires the person look below the surface and turn things over.

I took a stab at writing a poem. after reading Mary Oliver today. I am reading a book of her essays called Upstream. She writes prose in a poetic way. I love walking in the mountains. Beauty and perfection of mountains reveal themselves in their lack of symmetry and imperfection. As well, there is always something hidden from sight, on the back side of a mountain and in the crevasses we cannot get close enough to.

Inspired by other’s words

I seek my own.

To discover meaning

I sit quietly and receive.

Meanings hold no meaning,

There can be no certainty.

Always something hidden,

On the backside, underneath.

Imperfection exists,

Making perfection complete.

It awaits my mindfulness,

The extraordinary in the ordinary.

I took this picture unsure of why at the time. Later, I used it in a presentation about environmentalism. Today, it adds depth and meaning to what I am trying to say.

Fog

Our spring is arriving in spits and spurts. There have been spring blizzards with accumulating snow. Another part of our spring is fog. It is unusual in Edmonton and could be due to the warming and cooling that has occurred.

In keeping with the slow arrival of spring and the fog, I wrote this poem. When we lived in Prince George, BC, fog was more common. The city is in a valley at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers. Edmonton has fog around the North Saskatchewan River, but the valley is not the same.

In Prince George, if I drove out of the bowl, I looked back and saw the fog hanging over the city. Its lines were not clearly drawn, but blurred and uneven.

Look back into the valley’s bowl

Fog hangs;

The city evaporates,

Gray lines blur my vision.

The road ends at the next curve,

Below, the top of bridges;

Suspended on the still grayness.

Across the rivers,

Mills’ stacks and building tops peek out;

Heads hanging on a gray pillow,

Severed from the city’s body.

Image result for prince George bc and fog images

Image from A Place for Things is taken in Prince George.

Our True Heritage

I am reading The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh to remind myself of to listen mindfully to others. When I am fully present to the other, I show compassion and understanding for their suffering.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes beautiful poetry, which reminds me to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. This poem reminds me that, when I am present, I experience the cosmos and its precious gems with all my senses.

In the busyness of living, I miss hearing birds singing, the pines chanting, and smiles of those around me. When I am happy, I share that with the world.

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem,

shining through and containing earth and sky,

water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently

for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing,

the pines chanting,

see the flowers blooming,

the blue sky,

the white clouds,

the smile and the marvelous look

of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth,

who have been going around begging for a living,

stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness

and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress

and embrace life fully in your arms.

Welcoming Spring

On my walk today, I saw my first robin. It appeared perplexed and it might have good reason for feeling that way. It is supposed to get cool with snow, possibly accumulating over the next days.

I imagine food is at a premium for robins now, unlike the magpie I saw a few steps further along the path.

A sign of spring–

A robin walks someone’s fence,

Anxious and tentative.

It moves cautiously,

Not taking flight

Less concerned with me, than food.

Winter ground cold,

No food in the hardpan–

No earthworms tilling the soil.

Image from All About Birds © Christopher L. Wood

Longing for the Mountains of Solitude

Kathy and I enjoy driving to and through the mountains. Where Kathy grew up, the Rockies are visible in the distance. We try to make a trip once a year, but have not this past year, with my finishing the dissertation. I say “a trip” as we have access to several routes.

Today, I came across this poem by Za Paltrül Rinpoche. I could not find a link to the poet, but the words spoke to me. Although I am terrified of heights, mountains invite me to find ways to safely explore them, finding peace and solitude in safe ways.

Kathy took this picture on the Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park in Montana.

This is Mount Robson, BC. It is the highest point in the Canadian Rockies at almost 4, 000 metres (almost 13, 000). Due to its height, the top is not always visible. I took this picture on one of our many trips past Mount Robson. It is one of those views that never disappoints. One year we walked along Robson River for several kilometres.

Fooled in samsara town—

the endless cycle of countless chores,

preoccupations of a delusory world—

this boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

Hassled by monastery life—

the hustle of duties and communal dues,

pursuits of pointless distraction—

This boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

Whomever I look at, I see at death’s threshold;

whatever I think on, I sense denial of dying,

grasping at the deathless; in this courtyard of death,

this boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

Whomever I meet with manifests clinging and repulsion;

whomever I talk to brings deception and lies;

faced by companions without virtuous conduct,

this boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

Behold, beings in the three realms are fooled by afflictions;

the beings of the six realms are led astray;

delusion engenders the birth of suffering for all;

this boy’s mind longs for mountains of solitude.

By the blessings of the undeceiving guru and the [Three] Jewels,

may I attain and persevere in solitude;

by the force of a place of seclusion,

may I attain a mystic’s isolation

of body, speech, and mind.

May I be blessed by the mountains of solitude.

%d bloggers like this: