Rushing stream with tiny waterfalls
The Long Winter seems to be exiting just in time for May. We can only hope. Last weekend the temperatures soared to about 70 degrees (21 C) and our snow began to melt, melt, melt.
We humans scurried outside, sun and warmth-deprived creatures, and we luxuriated.
I found an old cushion and sat with my back against maples and poplars and spruce, trying to feel the sap rising up my back.
Sat and delighted in Spring.
Here in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula we share the trees, the lakes, the snow, the paths, the rivers, the flora, the passing seasons with the wild ones, the wild creatures who roam the forests.
Sometimes days and weeks can go by without a glimpse of wild animals. You know they’re out there, you know they’re all around, but you perhaps only see deer munching by the roadside, squirrels or chipmunks scampering up the poplar, a lone eagle or hawk soaring overhead.
Yesterday afternoon I read an article in Orion magazine about the art of gazing. The author, Trebbe Johnson, urges us to open our hearts to brokenness in her powerful essay “Gaze even here.”
She shares about visiting a logged forest clearcut with friends. About how one wants to avert one’s eyes from devastation, from pain, from ugliness, from loss. Yet she and her companions remained in the scar of the decimated woods and lingered there for days.
The group questioned: what would happen if they simply settled into this damaged place observing the land and their own responses to it? Their intention was to get to know this place that they heartily wished to run from.
One crooked poplar survivor…
Posted in February 2013
Tagged clearcut, forest, life, logging, nature, Orion magazine, outdoors, philosophy, spirituality, thoughts, Trebbe Johnson, woods
Here is a little story inspired by blog reader Colleen who was fascinated by a recent comment about some of our inky black nights in the woods. You can’t see your familiar hands, your feet, your journey to the mailbox.
(Now that the moon stretches into her fat belly every night it’s like soft lamplight amplified by the gleaming of stars. Except when it’s snowing, and the firmaments hide themselves behind clouds pregnant with heavy white maternity robes.)
When the pregnant moon births our way through the darkness
Posted in November 2012
Tagged darkness, forest at night, home, life, moon, nature, night, outdoors, stories, thoughts, woods, writing
It’s spitting snow today with our thermometer shivering at 27 degrees (-2.8 C). It’s hard to ponder going outside. North wind cuts through flimsy autumn jackets, demanding winter garb.
My friend Emma recommended The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Just started lapping up the words and paragraphs last night, mesmerized by stark white descriptions of an aging couple living in Alaska in the 1920′s.
Here’s the book description: Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
I haven’t read beyond Page 80, so can’t determine if I’ll like the book or if it shall end “happily ever after” but am fascinated by the Fairy Tale child-fox sprinting in the trees of imagination, in the landscape of hope and possibility.
Speaking of magical, would you like to listen to one of my all-time favorite songs? Prepare to be transported into this White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes. The video is pure delight!
Posted in November 2012
Tagged Alaska, Eowyn Ivey, fairy tale, Fleet Foxes, nature, reading, The Snow child, video, White Winter Hymnal, winter, woods
Outside–just now–coyotes yipping, close to the house. Neighbor’s little dogs barking furiously. Cacophony in the woods! My heart pounds.
Suddenly, all still. Hopefully the dogs ran, tails between legs, back home. Hopefully, coyotes didn’t breakfast until later.
Dark lingers these mornings, but it will lighten earlier next weekend when Daylight Savings Time flies away with the last honking geese.
A few short weeks ago (last week? the week before?) the woods vibrated with rich colors of orange, red, yellow. Bright vivid leaves surrounded, encompassed, danced on autumn breezes.
A few short weeks ago the beauty of blazing intensity took your breath away. You wanted the colors to remain this rich, this amazing, forever and a day.
Posted in October 2012
Tagged autumn, black and white, branches, forest, Halloween, life, nature, photography, spirituality, thoughts, trees, woods
Woods in fog
I grew up in a ranch suburban 1960′s-style pink brick and white aluminum sided home one hour north of Detroit. My brothers and I skipped around the edges of a cornfield to attend elementary school. Farmers grew beans and sugar beets and the horizon stretched forever. An orange sunset took forever and a day to curve across green fields and disappear.
Sunset behind my childhood home
Of course some restless spirits long for other lands to settle, don’t they? Like modern-day pioneers they set their sights on faraway horizons, somewhere past the trail of the sun. They leave their beloved ones far behind as they drive off in wagon trains which look like Dodge pickup trucks. They’re headed for some place new, some place just beyond their heart’s familiarity.
Barry and I were some of those modern pioneers and we headed north, north, north to the woods. We drove more than five hundred miles north of those corn fields and settled in the north woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula back in the late 1970′s. The land of trees and more trees and, yes, more trees.
Posted in September 2012
Tagged bear, forest, life, little house in the big woods, nature, outdoors, personal, reflection, thoughts, Upper Peninsula, woods, writing
I speak for the trees. For the woods. For the forests.
Does everyone remember what the Lorax proclaimed in the famous Dr. Seuss book?
Sure, you remember.
He solemnly said, “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.”
This blog is ditto what the Lorax said so mightily.
Today I am joining hands with the Lorax and bravely echoing his sincerity: I am Kathy and I speak for the trees.
Leaf caught in bark.
Posted in April 2012
Tagged Arbor Day, Dr. Seuss, forest, life, Native American, nature, The Lorax, thoughts, trees, Upper Peninsula, woods, writing