Then summer fades and passes and October comes. We’ll smell smoke then, and feel an unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness, swift elation, a sense of sadness and departure. ~Thomas Wolfe
Photo © Jeff Frazier 2017
It is the summer’s great last heat, It is the fall’s first chill: They meet. ~ Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
I have seen many different skies in my lifetime but I have never seen a sky like the one I saw yesterday. My writing skills would never do this vision justice, so I rely on other’s to describe this astounding phenomenon. I think Elizabeth Enright comes close to putting in words what I can only try to do in image…
“In the deep sky where there had been a sun, we saw a ring of white silver; a smoking ring, and all the smokes were silver, too; gauzy, fuming, curling, unbelievable. And who had ever seen the sky this color! Not in the earliest morning or at twilight, never before had we seen or dreamed this strange immortal blue in which a few large stars now sparkled as though for the first time in creation.”
~ Elizabeth Enright
Like many Pagan holidays, Imbolc has a Celtic connection as well, although it wasn’t celebrated in non-Gaelic Celtic societies. The Irish Saint Brighid is the keeper of the sacred flame, the guardian of home and hearth. In addition to fire, she is a goddess connected to inspiration and creativity. Imbolic is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain and corresponds to the Welsh Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau. ForChristians, especially in Ireland, it is the feast day of Saint Brigid.There is some debate over whether St Brigid was a real person. She has the same name, associations and feast day as the Celtic goddess Brigid, and there are many supernatural events, legends and folk customs associated with her.
Deep in the woods the threads of earth and feather, bark and moss and bug and light conspired to create this tableu of an ending that is terrible and beautiful. Reminding us of nature’s unrelenting course, calling back to all of us. To merge again with all that we are.
Poet A.D Hope’s artistry is deeply hidden, quiet and restrained, what makes this poem so powerful, moving, and original is not easy to explain. But full of deep meaning.
For every bird there is this last migration:
Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;
With a warm passage to the summer station
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.
Year after year a speck on the map, divided
By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come;
Season after season, sure and safely guided,
Going away she is also coming home.
And being home, memory becomes a passion
With which she feeds her brood and straws her nest,
Aware of ghosts that haunt the heart’s possession
And exiled love mourning within the breast.
The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;
The palm-tree casts a shadow not its own;
Down the long architrave of temple or palace
Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone.
And day by day the whisper of love grows stronger;
That delicate voice, more urgent with despair,
Custom and fear constraining her no longer,
Drives her at last on the waste leagues of air.
A vanishing speck in those inane dominions,
Single and frail, uncertain of her place,
Alone in the bright host of her companions,
Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space,
She feels it close now, the appointed season:
The invisible thread is broken as she flies;
Suddenly, without warning, without reason,
The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.
Try as she will, the trackless world delivers
No way, the wilderness of light no sign,
The immense and complex map of hills and rivers
Mocks her small wisdom with its vast design.
And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.
Poem ~ A.D Hope
Photo © 2016 Jeff Frazier
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
Image © Jeff Frazier 2016 www.jefffrazier.com
Beautiful Wintry light at Radnor this week. Winter doesn’t necessarily reduce all to blank uniformity but the color pallet sure does become reduced. A season felt more distinctly here because we are left with cold wet air and leafless trees. None of the glimmer and glamour of ice-cycles and snow. I’ll still take it any day over the insane-icy New England winters and the monotonous season-less far south (Florida) winters.
Still, there is a special beauty that can be difficult to express visually. I love to mix images while I’m hiking. The spontaneous construction of a double exposure while still under the tree’s canopy gives you limitless creative choices.
© Jeff Frazier 2015