Happy New Year

Re-posted from Art For Ever Facebook page

Re-posted from Art For Ever Facebook page

Not sure how long I have had this image. A couple of years maybe. I downloaded it from one of my art Facebook sites. Like the portly fellow in it I find myself deeply affected by the imaginary winds. It sums up a lesson I learned this year. Life is about mystery not knowledge. Letting go and seeing what happens rather than constantly needing all the answers. We’re so trained to knowledge. To seek it out, acquire it or perish weak without it. “Knowledge is power” the saying goes. It’s taken me fifty years to understand how weak it has made me. My kryptonite.

When did we lose our hunger for adventure and discovery? When did structure and predictability get sexier than a little lost and something new? Living in the mystery is art. It’s life force on the tip of an eagle’s wing. We were born to live in it. To breathe it in and give it life in this world through our experience of it. That is what I learned this year, to stop asking when, how or what will happen. Instead I embrace whatever comes, knowing it could only come because I was ready. Maybe that is how gratitude has finally come to roost like a fat hen in my mind.

I wish you each a Happy New Year, but more than this I wish you a year of mystery and self discovery. I wish you mud on your shoes and accidentally swallowing a fly on a bike. I wish you a lost map out the car window and a roadside cafe that might have the best cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted. I wish you cookie dough on your face and a missed train. I wish you a moment of total mastery over something you’ve struggled a lifetime to achieve. I wish you bad dancing and worse singing in the shower. I wish you a half dozen strangers you’ll meet unexpectedly with words you needed to hear. I wish you such freedom of spirit that you, like me now writing this to you, weep with the power of it. That this year, this year, you let go of your heart and let it find its way. No structure, no certainties, no plan. Just faith that whatever is out there it was meant for you.

Happy New Year and much love, Noelle

Night Walk: Part IV

Free Bing Photos

There is a low howl in the eaves and an increasingly smaller voice in my mind says, “Stay in”. My coat hangs by the door, ready. My boots neatly coupled together below. It is surprising how quickly a habit can take hold. In just a few weeks it is difficult, even in this bitter cold, to skip the evening stroll. I bundle up tight and step out into the low wind. The snow falling feels wet, but in these temperatures I know it is just the quickness with which it melts upon my warmer face. Though snow falls the moon is apparent behind a thin veil of clouds. The walk begins with the wind at my face and I consider just a short-circuit around the block. I come to the northeast trail and there is a man ahead of me. He does not turn, so I am not sure he sees me. He doesn’t have a dog and, at first, I am very impressed that he is out for a stroll, too. This lasts less than a minute before I find myself mildly disturbed by his presence. Yes, I, who only a few posts ago noted how stuffy we have become hole up in our houses at night. Inwardly I charge, “Who is this rogue to enter MY domain?” I laugh at my own contrariness, as I trail along behind him. There is a tree at this point that appears lit by a fire beneath it. The fence is too high and the slats too tight to see how the effect is achieved, but this snow-capped tree with a light flickering up its trunk is beautiful to behold. When I look back down the lane the man is gone, likely through a side gate, unless of course, he is a changeling. In which case, he turned into a wolf and slipped stealthily into the wooded creek bed to the south. I laugh, but keep my eye on the wood.

I am left alone for the rest of the journey and I breathe deep of the solitude. It is done. The night has spun its magic and I will not turn back now for home.

I am aware I am staving off aging on these nightly walks in a way I had not expected. A curious feeling has settled in. The length of the journeys grows and the time in the wood or field lengthens, too. I have yet to cross over to the lake beyond the marsh, but I feel it coming on. No lights are present on that larger patch of land. A hunger for greater levels of darkness, quiet and solitude has settled into my soul in a way that is difficult to describe. The moon has become a balm that settles a restlessness that so often roams the bony rooms of my head. I see the easy path is to remain inside where it is warm and enjoy cocoa while watching the Christmas lights out the dining room window. Yet there is suddenly a somnolence in that image for me; a story of a coming death.

The night is cold and foggy, while at the same time sharp and vivid. It is stark while blinding. Sound has a curious way of moving across a field or between the trees. Nothing moves, while everything moves, as shadows have a life in them. Like the owl and fox, the darkness stirs a wildness in me. A hardiness is seeping into my veins and enlivening my spirit in the most magical way. I find my heart picking up and even when my toes begin to complain of the cold another drift is upon me and I am calf deep in it. At no other time do I feel quite so connected to the life force of the Earth. Something primitive and deep stirs the moment I leave the threshold of my warm cozy den. Something so fresh and clean, I can taste it landing in the flakes upon my tongue.

Night Walk: Part III

image Free Bing Photos

The skies have just a few wispy clouds accenting a moon a third full. In the distance a blue glow eminates off the Hogbacks now fully swathed in a winter blanket of snow. Stars wink in the depths of the heavens and it is surely a perfect winter’s night.

The moon is enough to cast my shadow long upon the snow. Unfortunately, not bright enough to highlight the black ice leaving me committed to walk on the crunchier, and thus, louder snow. Years of yogic balancing now my only means to avoid landing loudly on my backside as I head down the north path. I fear I’ll see no wildlife tonight, but I am not the only noisy beast out this evening. Children whose parents are dining and drinking in the warmth of the house down the lane have taken to playing on the porch in the Christmas lights. It is clear they delight in hearing their giggles carry across the pond and echo off the houses on the other side.

I shift direction and take the deeper path Northwest and plunge into the eight or so inches of snow. My nose may be frozen but my feet are warm and dry in my trusty winter boots. I pass the house of the spirit fashionistas aglow in white Christmas lights and the ambient warmth of stylish living room lamps. I have been passing this well dressed house with its beautiful furnishings and art work for more than a year. I have never seen a living human inside it or decorating the outside. I have given this an embarrassing amount of effort, craning my neck and walking nearly into their yard. I have come to the conclusion that the ghosts of dead editors for Architectural Digest live there.

Once at the open fields and the marshes the world changes again. Deep snow and black tree trunks pepper the hillside and the moon turns it all into a storybook scene. Shadows of tall, snow-capped cattails break up the marsh in patches of midnight blue and I hear the ice crack on the farthest side. My coyotes are nowhere to be found and in this light I could see a mouse cross the marsh ice. I stay here a long time until my fingers ache with the cold.

Night Walk: Part II

On Christmas the snow had been more ice. It came down tapping the forgotten leaves of fall still hanging on the trees. Tap, tap, tap, but not like rain. More like rice thrown at a wedding, softly. It was the only sound I heard along the trail. Tonight, the ice now lays underneath and my feet crackle as I walk, but the night is much quieter under the fluffier flakes of this snow fall. At first, the cold air has me withdrawn into my coat, but as the trail winds on I slip out further from the hood, a rabbit leaving it’s burrow. The sad tragedy is we have too many lights at night and so it is never truly dark. The wonderful benefit of this sad tragedy is the city lights cause the winter storm clouds to glow. A ghostly sight of orange, gray and cream colored apparitions floating across the sky. I sometimes feel as if I have entered a surrealist’s painting, with the way shadows move at night. As a child, I remember standing very still in a wood, turning my head ever so slightly to make out the shadows along the wooded path I traveled for home. Now, there is so much light, it creates a very different sort of play of shadow both on the snow and along the horizon. Obvious and yet peculiar all at the same time.

The wispy clouds moving steadily eastward are only eclipsed in beauty by the two coyotes who dash across my trail. Unlike foxes, coyotes are not as curious about humans. A fox, if you stop to watch it, will often turn and watch you. Even moving a bit closer to sort you out. Not a coyote. They are wild through and through. It will be mating season soon and the pair travel close together. One almost as black as the night should be and the other like the cattails they run through across the frozen marsh. They stop deeper in the wood and watch me. Cattail doesn’t move and stares back at me. I feel, for some irrational reason, that he must move first. My breath sounds uncommonly loud standing there. I imagine he is listening to every breath, while I pretend to stand a statue. I realize he is much better at this and likely in need of a meal. I am delaying their night hunt, which given the snow may be more work and so I move on.

The night is always the same. It holds the same serene pace it always has had. No, it is me that changes along the path. I grow increasingly peaceful and in harmony with the night and the cold and the slowly falling snow. I wonder at times that I am alone. The nights are so beautiful like this and yet there is not a soul in sight. This possibly, more than anything, has drawn me out again and again each evening, no matter the cold. The night is mine and outside of my coyote friends rarely interrupted. So even as I am perplexed by man’s loss of interest in the mysteries of the night, I am as delighted as a child to have these snowy footfalls all to myself.

Merry Christmas

Re-posted from Enchanted Nature Facebook page

Re-posted from Enchanted Nature Facebook page

May today bring each of you good cheer, loving company, warm meals made with care and enchantment to carry you into the New Year. It is an honor to be in your company.

Christmas Eve

Re-posted from Enchanted Nature's Facebook page

Re-posted from Enchanted Nature’s Facebook page

Christmas Eve is upon us, laden as it so often is with darkness, mystery and old stories. The shopping is done and the fires are now lit. The last of the decorations find their way to the tree and the scent of meals half prepared for Christmas day fill the house. There is a wonderful quiet that comes on this night. Children are for once off to bed eager for the morning. Exhaustion from the preparations leaves us hole up in chairs sipping brandy or venturing out into back lanes for one last, silent walk in the winter’s air. Candles remain lit upon tables and music, rather than television fills the late hours. There is a pause on this night not felt really at any other time or evening of the year. A willingness to be quiet and allow the mystery of our spirit to take over our otherwise rational minds. We can’t explain it really. Just a feeling of something larger than ourselves, even for those who don’t celebrate the holiday. A “something” about this silence that affects most of us in a wondrous way. Leaves us with the ever so subtle feeling that maybe, just maybe, we are so much more than we think we are.

Peace, goodwill, and joy to you all. May the mystery of this night fill you with the spirit of the child you have, in fact, always been.

Prairie: Series II

Rabbits, field mice and voles scurry in the brush. If I sit long enough the prairie dogs quit their yelping and the rabbits return to nibbling on winter grass. The crows come and go. They walk amongst the scrub and short cacti with a strut fit for a banker. They seem fat this year, as do the prairie dogs. All that summer rain has left them all fat on seed and grass. They do not rejoice in their bounty anymore than they complained in the drought. They make good what is given them and leave it at that. My lesson for today. Make good on what is given me and today it is an open field, a decent winter sun and fat rabbits.

The Bench

Couple at Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle

Couple at Johnston Lake: Photo by Noelle

It is not a loss of passion toward the end. At this level, you appreciate the subtlest gifts of time together. You need do little more than sit in silence enjoying the geese and you are made a bit more whole.

Prairie: Series I

I came to Colorado for the Rockies rising powerfully off the prairie and capped in white much of the year. I love to hike as well as sit listening to wildlife moving amongst the trees or along cliff ledges. Thus, I often hike alone. Curiously, though, as the years have passed it’s the prairie that draws me most. I love the openness and the huge skies. Rolling vistas, beautiful grasses and skeletal tumble weeds. I can meditate for sometime on the waves of tall grasses moving as a great ocean to prairie winds. Driving along an interstate or passing a field you know well on your way to work can leave you thinking its all the same. Nothing new there. You have to spend time in fields and prairie land to discover their subtler beauty. Mountains are easy. They’re grand and spectacular in their sweeping majesty. They are beauty without effort and I’ve discovered, as a result, there’s no effort from me in that. No growth. No push in my vision to see more. The prairie pushes my understanding of what beauty is. It asks me to work for it. It demands I look more closely.