Between Two Storms

Apex: Photo by Noelle

Apex: Photo by Noelle

I walked between two storms today. Clouds built menacing and bleak to the north, while another storm front raged gray and wild to the south. I wished a walk in these beautiful spring temps, but what to do?

I made a decision.

I am master and creator of my Universe and today I command the sky, and too, I shall command the rain. I will rule the earth. The heavens may fall, but on my east to west trail, nothing will fall upon my head. No dew will touch my skin. No puddle dampen my shoe. Lightening will heal to my call and thunder obey my leash. I am my own weather front. I am an ionic gulf stream that holds all violence at bay and forges a dry path. I am Goddess Divine and this moment my kingdom.

Be still!

And so it was….

Off the Deck: Photo by Noelle

The Platte: Photo by Noelle

image Off my Deck: Photo by Noelle

Death in the Wood

Beetles were still picking at the bones. I came upon it returning from, oddly enough, a dead end trail I’d taken. It was maybe a hundred feet from a service road and maybe two hundred from the interstate. It looked to be a coyote. It was such an odd location I suspected a trooper had pulled it off the interstate and tossed it here to decay. Fur was sinking into the earth and the bones had been partially scattered by scavengers.

I stared at it. One day I will seep into the earth, I thought. I sat on a nearby log and thought it a good omen to consider death for a bit. There are many meditations for pondering death, one in particular, in which you allow yourself to see your body decaying into the earth, like this coyote. So I sat and imagined I was sinking into the earth with him. It wasn’t unpleasant. The day was warm, sunny and there was a breeze under the tree. After a time, I found his bones comforting, and with that the idea of mine vanishing into the wind, too. The whole eco-system benefitted from this death. Tree roots to small weeds grew from the carcass. Green iridescent beetles thrived in the marrow and took what they ingested back into the dirt. I’d have photographed him from a lying position, but for me there’s a line in my creative hunger at lying in a bed of beetles. Still the sun would catch the red of a ladybug or the green of a scarab taking off and I felt not the least sorrow or loss. One day I will be part of all of this beauty.

After a time, I felt less and less as if my body was sitting there and more and more as if the spirit of the coyote had taken a seat next to me. So we sat. My spirit and the spirit of the coyote and we watched the beetles take his body back into the earth. It was a lovely spring day.

For Steve and Juan. Lovely to chat about death….

Spring Cleaning

Photo Painting by Noelle

By accident, really
I was pulling out something else
Didn’t realize bits of an older version of me
Were just stuck back there in my brain attic, waiting to fall out

I was looking at one thing, but got another
Imagine my surprise to find that squirrely me
Just gnawing away at the old pine rafters, full of pitch and tar
I was thinking it was all cleaned out, dead and gone, buried like the past

Alas, no
Such is not the case
It’s a damn shame seeing as my boots are new and white
Still, I have a decent broom, and more, a heart that knows it’s worthy

Spring cleaning
Sometimes it goes right into summer
Sometimes, you’ve been doing nothing but bullshitting yourself in top soil
I’ve been messing around with nothing but fat tar-babies that suck you in, before spitting you out

By the Lake



The crickets were so loud, I was certain, the boogie man could be right upon me before I’d know it. Still, the warmth and brightness of the campfire and my brother close by, made it hard to worry. I couldn’t camp out with all the other kids by the lake unless one of my older brother’s was with me. Mark and Eric were too much older and Chad’s friends too different, my brother Adam, too young, so usually it was my brother Cort. My mother never cut the grass, much to our neighbor’s dismay, so our lawn was the best on the lake to camp on. A rural vibe and more cushion for our beds. Even as I write this, I can smell the tallgrass, hyssop and selfheal that grew there. If I focus but a little, the head of a buttercup can be felt at the tip of my finger.

By nightfall, though, it was all warm glow and the smell of roasting marshmallows. I hardly remember what we spoke about all those summer nights. Yes, some ghost stories, but mostly we just goofed off. We had an old transister radio and in the early 70’s Three Dog Night’s, Shambala was hugely popular. I’m pretty sure I didn’t sing any better then, than now, but I certainly sang with heart. You could see the Milky Way then, as the world hadn’t turned on all its lights. I remember the first time I saw a satellite crossing the midnight sky. I didn’t know what it was and for hours we talked about space aliens and invasions. Someone kept singing the theme song to the Jetsons.

Our house was up on a hill and a wood separated it from the lake. My mother would hoot down to us to check in on how we were doing. Again, much to the chagrin of our neighbors who preferred well-manicured lawns and quiet, cordial discussion, sans hooting. She grew up on a farm. It was as natural to her as breathing and we could be a half mile off and know that sound. It was a comforting sound that brought a smile to your face. She never hooted like that out of anger. She only called this way when she was looking for you out of love.

I was often the only girl by the fire, thus the reason for my brother’s chaperone. The boys were honorable though. When I had to go to the bathroom they all kept their distance. They knew I was afraid of the dark and wouldn’t wonder far at all into the wood. I don’t remember wearing bug repellent, and yet, even by the lake I don’t remember being bit to death by mosquitos. Or it’s a testament to how easily we actually do forget momentary pain. Or maybe it was all the bats that flew throughout the night above our heads or the big sunnies, leaping into the air to catch them from the lake. I’m sure the frogs that sang to each other played their part.

When I feel empty or alone I need only travel a short distance in my mind to realize I am neither. I am so full of life and bounty it is a wonder I have any more room for anything new. Life inside me teems with children catching fireflies, boys wrestling down the side of a hill, the smell of fresh lake fish roasting in a pit, or a comic book shared by firelight. A billion lights could be turned on across the planet and still the iridescent beauty of a starry night lives on in me. I have lost nothing. I am a hoarder of beauty and innocence.

Dedicated to my friend, John Wilder, whose photograph of his east Texas cabin triggered a thousand memories of life within me. Thank you, my friend, for the unintended sojourn.

Rendering of Fat

Painting by Gregory Summers

Painting by Gregory Summers

The first stages were huge rents and gashes in my inner landscape. Hurricanes that tore away known shores and earthquakes that ripped open the well-tended lawns and careful cities I’d built to hold in, both what worked and what didn’t. Just in nature where such events alter the courses of rivers, so too, they altered the course of my deepest waters. Changing direction caused dams to crack open and field breaks to give way, no more than twigs. Tributaries formed for miles filled with mud, fertile and rich that would be ready for life. But in the beginning I only saw snapped off moorings, crushed homes, barren lakes and sandy shoals with little more of life than minnows.

Hundreds of suns, snow and autumn leaves have passed hence. New sprouts have broken through, green and lush. Like tree buds hungry for life, I turn toward the sun. It warms and stirs long forgotten pools of energy, but it’s impact has nurtured more change, subtler and more curious than the first. As shorelines ravaged by storms reshape and build new dunes and forests spring up on land once scorched and burned, I am someone else strange and new, yet never wholly stable. I am melting, it would seem, as rendered fat, strained for impurities without seeking perfection. An alchemical mix of old stories retold, cleaned of sorrow and guilt. Still more floats to the surface to be skimmed off, detritus of costumes torched and gone. Each round less to find and the oil grows more golden and clear. There is a tension, but less struggle. Resistance half hearted that dissolves more quickly to surrender. Each day more leaves me with little fanfare or grief. Even as I weep comes joy and welcomed release. I ponder how easily I have come to the ocean, nearly naked and with so little in my hands. It seems odd how much we carry to define who we are, when what we are can never be defined.

Night Heron

Free Bing Photos

They surprised me. Two nesting black crowned, night herons. They lifted off together, circled around me and landed in a tree stand a few yards off. They make nests in thickets by rivers and streams and cattail beds in marshes. I was just turning the corner on the walk toward the marsh and they suddenly appeared in the air. I’d never seen this bird before and the trail took me right beneath them. I had my camera but took no photographs.

When I am so fortunate as to stumble upon wildlife, especially that which is rarely seen, I feel almost an intruder. Here they are at twilight building their nest and preparing for a night’s hunt for food and I stumble in, a party crasher in pink and lavender. No different than a juggler walking into my bedroom at midnight. So I left the camera in my pocket and just observed.

The breast of the male is a curious greenish yellow, but irridescent in the late afternoon sun. His mask has a slice of rich lapis blue. He peers at me as I walk past. I silently apologize for the intrusion. The female is deeper into the tree and is seen as just an eye peeking around the trunk. Once past, I turn and bow. Always be grateful for such moments. They are spirit taking hold of your heart.

Rain Lullaby

Free Bing Photos

Free Bing Photos

It’s a steady and soft staccato upon the roof. With no wind it’s pattern is a gentle, but persistent tapping on my heart. Rain, like snow, creates a cocoon made of water. I watch it stream down windows; a cleansing power that pours over my mind. Everything shifts slightly under its trance. I step out onto the deck, below the eaves. Water, alight from street lamps, streams off the roof as brilliant water gems. The air is infused with moisture and wraps my body, delicate and cool. I let it seep in and breathe deep of the fresh atmosphere. This may be the great healer.

Back inside the lights in the house are warmer, the blanket pile thicker, the silence within, deeper. Come to me, sweet sleep, and let us slip away on a rain lullaby.

Morning Call

It’s so quiet I can hear myself breathe. Then he begins to sing. Piercing and long are his calls. The eastern horizon is but a paler shade of midnight blue, hardly an inkling of sunrise, but he knows. I listen without moving. I can’t see him, but he sounds like a Western Wren or possibly a Yellowthroat. I wonder how he knows in all this dark. More curious is how the others remain quiet for at least fifteen to twenty minutes. This time gap is as consistent as the sun. It’s as if everyone is in the silent awe of daybreak. Not a sound, not a tweet, not a bark. Just that single, piercing note to call us all to the eastern alter. So I pray. I fix upon the distant horizon and I talk to the spirits about all I have to be grateful for. Such wonder fills me that I then realize how he knows, but more importantly, why he sings.