Seaside

block Island High Speed Ferry to New London: Photo by Noelle

block Island High Speed Ferry to New London: Photo by Noelle

Someone’s Coke had exploded on the window; no telling how long ago, but it looked old and crusted. The waves fill in the scene between the running, brown spots telling a tale of holidays and luggage, children eating crushed sandwiches with chips and foamy soda. My nieces are giggling in the booth behind me and I pretend to read my book. In truth, the ocean moving beneath my window is far more intriguing. The girls launch off to the outer deck leaving the Coke and me and the dark green sea. Such a vast ocean full of life and dancing seagulls that laugh at soda and women longing for their vacation not to end.

I breathe deep and feel the sand still embedded in my sandals rubbing against my heal. The vacation may be over but my morning walks are alive within me as I sail for home.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

Some mornings the temptation to lie in bed would be great, but the island is a haven for bird migrations. The dawn is full of winged song and chattering old maids. Plus, I knew few walked the beaches in the morning leaving it mostly to myself. By nine o’clock people would be staking out their spots for the day, especially close to the water, but at the crack of dawn it’s a random dog walker and one or two folks likely fallen asleep on the beach from too much drink the night before.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

As I walk the surf rolls over my feet, a tempting lover, but hard to get. It’s in the way she pulls at my ankles then drifts back into the sea as if she could careless at my response. I chase her, as any sun-drenched lover would and she covers my legs with love. She could beguile the hardest soul winking delicately in the new dawn and makes positive beggars out of crabs whose claws outstretch demanding she return them home.

I collect stones and fill my pockets, smooth and black or mica-covered quartz the favorites. I walk, rubbing them, committing to a seaside rosary of sorts as I speak to spirits that pull my hair into the wind. Salt graces my lips and I lick it off for breakfast, smiling at the seagull who hovers wondering what I dine on. “The same as you, my friend. The same as you.”

Mohegan's Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Mohegan’s Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

I came upon a stingray, likely dead, but his eyes were still open and partially covered by a pool of water. I pulled him back into the seaweed thick surf and he quickly disappeared under the rolling garden. I could not tell if he lived or merely vanished in a tangle of kelp, but for some reason I felt very satisfied. After a time walking the beach I wondered at my need to deliver him from his death. We all must leave this plane at some point. The sight of death rarely disturbs me and I am at peace with the beautiful eco-system that has a purpose for even the decaying body. I sat on the sun-warmed sand and watched the surf for a long while. Clearly that day, I did not want either him or myself to be anywhere else but with the sea.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

Enchantment

Lazy Sunday: Photo by Noelle

Lazy Sunday: Photo by Noelle

 

I run my finger along the skin of my thigh. It is surprisingly smooth and soft. Knees bent the skin pulls taut and I can see the shape of the bones. I lay my hand flat over one knee and imagine I can feel the marrow alive and thriving at its center. These are my pieces. Pulled out of a toy chest and assembled into this form, specifically for this ride. I breathe in my good fortune, relishing the sound as the lungs fill with an expansiveness I had but all forgotten.

I remain still, my heart beating steady as spring rain – my breath slows to hear it.  Each chamber opens the door to my life blood, as the grandest of hosts in a burgundy castle. “All are welcome here!” they call out and my blood flows in as giddy guests.  The veins in my arms talk of banquet tables and vast dance floors where all life is on display. Fat oxygen molecules swinging as if ballerinas in and out of capillary beds hum my existence into life. I am humbled by the grace of single blue line mapping the tale of me.

The moment is brief as my senses remain tied to the dark chocolate I’d eaten a few moments ago. More bitter than sweet and rich as gold across my tongue. I feel the smile more than any facial change as I fall under my own enchantment. Beguiled by sensory facets that change as diamonds in sunlight. I wonder I had not noticed my beauty so thoroughly before. I cannot be disappointed, though. After so long a wait to make such a discovery now is pure magic.

I have lived inside this body for many decades and she surprises me still. Come close and I will show you the stone that has lived in my hand since childhood. A fall on a gravel driveway in the dark of a Halloween night left her there. Closer still and I will show you the scar where glass cut my back in a car accident and the place the surgeon’s knife lay fast upon my skin. Here you will see how my fingers bow slightly and over here the freckles that call to mind a constellation in a faraway galaxy. Let me show you the hands that age as all artist’s hands must. Weathered and wrinkled, traces of life beneath their nails. At this distance the green-gray pupil that has seen mountains and oceans fall beneath my feet will be readily apparent. She will, in all her extraordinary clarity, look back at you with immense openness.

Inch close enough to hear my whisper and it will thread the needle you have held out for me, magic upon your ear. For what am I, if not the very grace spirit is made of…

Hometown

Stamford Train Station: Photo by Noelle

Stamford Train Station: Photo by Noelle

I pass through her shadow much like passing through a lake spring. I catch a glimpse of her in baggy shirt and jeans by the State theater, but it’s only a ghost that passes into the shade of an elm. I felt her pulling my steps into the same sixteen year old’s rhythm on Washington Blvd and I forced myself to pick up the pace. She haunted me at the corner of Summer and Broad where the old Caldor’s Department store used to be. Just thinking about that old five and dime throws my thinking back forty years. I shiver as the closed in feeling of a girl’s bathroom swims into view. Children laughing and pulling at my clothes as they shove me into the stall door. I dressed in hand-me downs and cheap clothing that all the kids knew where it had been bought. I stop walking and let her ghost drift past as I turn my face into the sun on Atlantic.

Caldors marketing stock photo circa 1970

Caldors marketing stock photo circa 1970

I look in boutique windows that I would have never looked in as a child and her ten year old shadow hovers at my hip. We were too poor to buy clothes in such places. Now I dally vaguely window shopping, I suspect because I can, but I need nothing. As I walk past the first McDonald’s in our town I remember my mother bringing home fries once when I was sick. Probably sounds like a curious luxury to a world gone wild on fast food, but in the 70’s it was a big deal. I had strep throat for the umpteenth time with fevers that got as high as 105. She packed me once in ice to bring the fever down and would lay with me running her fingers through my sweaty hair until I’d fall asleep. I often slept on the floor with the fans because it was the only cool place to be in the summer. Even now I remember how unbearably hot I felt and the gallons of ginger ale I drank. As the scent of the fryers comes to me on the street I remember the taste of the salted fries she brought home. She sat with me by the sliding glass doors where a breeze came in and we shared them. It makes me weep to think about it. The ten year old shadow takes my hand and we keep walking.

This is my hometown and yet I could not feel any less at home. Walking along is an immersion in a time capsule. I no longer run from my previous selves, but I feel their weight here. I feel the lack of self-worth and fear she had. So much confusion of how to act or how to be. Loneliness. Isolation. I am a thousand light years from here and yet I find I want to find her on the next street. Take her shopping. Hear her laugh and see that lightning smile. Tell her, as Dr Seuss told us all, “Oh the places you will go, my love. Oh the places  you will go.”

Stamford Train Station: Photo by Noelle

Stamford Train Station: Photo by Noelle

 

Muir, Thoreau and Spirit Wood

White Ranch Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

White Ranch Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.” John Muir

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” John Muir

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” Henry David Thoreau

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

Apex Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir

Story in Mud IV


Photos by Noelle

I spend an inordinate amount of time staring at mud. My love affair often draws the attention of the neighbors. I squat down over huge mudslides, a mud vulture surveying for something to eat. I love the way it swirls and forms after a storm. New channels spring up where none had been before, each with a story. The mica glints in the sunlight flirting with me and only furthering a feeling of dark, gem-like sculptures.


Photos by Noelle

Life unfolded on the planet in these rivers of mud. Plant life germinated from seeds carried by water and mud far upstream. It picks up everything in its path and absorbs whatever it can. Thus, the same streams of mud can appear with different colors and hues, depending on where in the river you find them. As with water, only slower, it moves down paths of least resistance allowing whatever is to come, to come. There seems a spiritual lesson in this for me.


Photos by

In Jewish folklore the golem was often an evil creature made of mud. In recent times the most famous might’ve been the golem in the X-Files episode on the creepiness of HOA communities. Very funny, but I can’t imagine evil in mud. It feels the most life giving of substances with changing patterns, new tributaries or old ones made anew and in that, I find solace and hope. I can transform, change, become something else, travel new paths, with just a little rain. So I dance my rain dance and wave at the neighbors. They cannot help their ignorance of mud. Few people are schooled in this magic. I may, in fact, be the last one.

image
Photo by Noelle

No Audience


It’s a show of phenomenal proportions. Lightning, hail, outrageous downpour, I mean its something. There I am glued to the deck watching it roll in. I feel the air electrify the hair on my arms and dampen my face, as it all comes down with force and the All Mighty God of effort. And I am the only one. Every shade is pulled, every light on, in every home I can see. Where there are no lamps, there is the flicker of TV’s behind those shades. No one is watching. I thought we loved reality shows? It doesn’t get any realer than this, eh? In my wilder, more rebellious moments, I consider standing on the deck naked and calling out, “Outrageous thunderstorm, naked neighbor — Whoop! Whoop!”. The older I get the more I understand Lady Godiva. Sometimes humanity needs a little audacity.

The storm demands wild self expression. Each clap of thunder is an affront to the eaves and a banging on the front door. Who let the dogs out, indeed. Hail turns summer grass into winter cold, and trees bend as Muslims at prayer in a Mosque. “I will tear off your roofs and rip the panes from the frames”, she wails, as her storm clouds pass overhead. She is unimpressed by closed up homes and in parts of the city she demonstrates that fact with tornadoes and flooding.

How can we all be so asleep? When did we leave nature so thoroughly behind that Zeus’s lightning bolt is shuttered out, as we turn up the old tele?

Photos by Noelle

Photos by Noelle

Algae II

Why do we all try to be the same? Wear the same clothes, drive the same cars, go to the same movies. Why do we work so hard to erase our uniqueness when it is clear that nature thrives on diversity. Each moment she is someone else entirely.

If you have time, click on each photo and tour the goo.

Storm

Storm coming over a local community church

Storm coming over a local community church

The storm was as violent as my thoughts. Thunder cracked against the house with a shotgun blast. Hail pelted the roof and bounced out of the gutters like popcorn, as the Hogbacks vanished in the torrent of rain. A house darkens as bleak as the mind that is filled with rebellion. Is there no bottom to this work? How many layers of darkness can one body hold? The lightning flashes through the windows, as the Universe replies. The storm just as quickly shifts direction and rain pummels the windows as I let loose my reply. Whose violence will last longer, I wonder?

There is nothing fresher than the atmosphere after a thunderstorm. All that ionization makes the air crisp and clean, no matter the temps. Is it possible if we hold nothing in – we let it all go as sheets of rain, that we, too, become crisp and clean? If we hold onto nothing are we washed clean by the storm, as well?

All storms run out and exhaustion consumes as surely as the east wind moves the thunder heads out. Finally, sunset peaks through casting light on my hands that now lay open in my lap.

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….