Lakefront Easy

Lakefront at Chatfield State Park: Photo by Noelle

Lakefront at Chatfield State Park: Photo by Noelle

Exhausted from almost eleven straight days of work I headed off to Chatfield. The three-day weekend promised at the end of the work run was now upon me, but the vestiges of long days dragged at my heels. The lake seemed the perfect place to begin my unraveling and as hoped, on a Friday after school had started, it was comparatively empty. With the exception of a few people I had the entire lake walk to myself. My gratitude for this would be hard to express.

Lakefront path at Chatfield State Park: Photo by Noelle

Lakefront path at Chatfield State Park: Photo by Noelle

Lately, I have found being deeply present with others in my work, almost easier, but then my need for silence and less stimulation when I leave work has grown with it. I needed the trails to myself, which in an urban metropolis isn’t easy to find. I wonder at times if this is what all our country’s rage is about. All the easy frustration, road rage and disconnection. We all need more silence. More peace. Less bells and whistles. Less demands on our time and attention. We are overstimulated to the point of chronic irritation. I slowed my step to sync my mind with meditative awareness.

Flooding throughout the spring has left the trails still disrupted. Some areas remained washed out while others were littered with logs. The start of the hike was hot with little wind and I remained close to the shore. Millions of dead leaves, now mere carcasses of their former selves, covered the sand. Each a curious art form in their rotting down to skeletal state.

Sections of the wood were immersed in sand, clearly demonstrating how high the waters had come off the lake. In some places the beach and wood were now almost one. Huge trees had been ripped from their moorings and now laid humbled upon the beach. My feet sunk down as I walked among the trunks listening to the buzz of cicadas. This is their last hurrah. Fall will nip our heels sooner than the dead heat would ever give away.


As I walk I must weave in and out of the woods or traverse huge mud flats and shallow inlets trying to find the original path or one now made up. Walkways have washed out from all the lake flooding and I slug through in sandals, delighted to be wet. There was a time when I would dress in such tight gear to not be touched by the elements or get too dirty. I laugh just to write this, as the thought of not allowing my feet to get wet seems insane to me now. I walk in hiking sandals that have plenty of holes for water to rush in and I donned them just so. I stand in a stream and let it cleanse me of hours of busyness and demand.
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I see how the small ways in which I blocked myself off have been eroded and washed away like these flooded inlets. I am permeable, I am porous, I am wearing away my former self as the wind bleaches the exposed roots of these lakeside trees.

Lake trail at Chatfield State Park: Photo by Noelle

Lake trail at Chatfield State Park: Photo by Noelle

Three

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

I have a fascination with the number three. I see it everywhere or find myself grouping things in threes. In numerology “….the number 3 resonates with the energies of optimism and joy, inspiration and creativity, speech and communication, good taste, imagination and intelligence, sociability and society, friendliness, kindness and compassion. Number 3 also relates to art, humour, energy, growth, expansion and the principles of increase, spontaneity, broad-minded thinking, synthesis, triad, heaven-human-earth, past-present-future, thought-word-action, demonstrates love through creative imagination…”
(Taken from http://numerology-thenumbersandtheirmeanings.blogspot.com/2011/02/number-3.html)

image Photo by Noelle

All sounds so lovely and there does seem to be something to this. Even in my art work there are patterns of three. I can’t seem to find a balance with a piece without it. The trinity often comes to mind, and in the bible it is the second most referenced number and its sacredness is second only to the number one. One being the totality of God. In Buddhism it is one of the pillar numbers and has far more references than any other. The three refuges: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The triple Gem and the three worlds or realms of existence: desire, form and formless. The three bodies of the Buddhas: truth, bliss and emanation. The three pillars of Zen, and so on.
(Taken from: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma7/numbers.html)

In Islamic traditions, Allah was said to be odd, and thus, loved odd numbers. The first number to indicate the multitude is three and therefore was considered sacred. “The Golden Ratio” in art is a segmentation of three that is natural to the eye’s movement and means of rest. Da Vinci used it extensively but then, interestingly enough, it was called “The Divine Proportion”. I can’t help but feel we all have some pattern of three within us, as certainly mind/body/spirit lives in us daily.

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

These images of an immersed dock are beautiful unto themselves, but the three posts provide an odd sort of peace I can hardly explain. I believe spirit and the universe have a universal language that is found in math and numbers. I don’t really understand it, to be honest, I just know in these images harmony resonates deeply for me. Three gives me a sense of balance, as if my inner world sat on a tripod.

By the Lake

From adirondackalmanack.com

From adirondackalmanack.com


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.

Periwinkle Night

Free Bing Photos

Free Bing Photos

The sky is dense in periwinkle, as a handful of stars float in the early twilight. Objects appear sharp across the horizon as the earth falls to shadow and day’s light holds a bit longer to a vanishing mountain range.

I am alone.

There is a rhythm to these sojourns. A natural gate that draws the breath and heart rate down. I smell a mix of the swamp and fresh melted snow. The tall windows of a nearby house are completely awash in the night sky, giving the illusion that east is west. I see the ripple of ducks swimming silently in the dark.

I am not alone.

The earth is a conversation the Universe is having with me. It speaks of love and passion. Richness and possibility. Renewal and evolution. Its song seeps up from the soil through the soles of my feet. Every step a serenade. My breath a kiss with a wind that invigorates my life force, as only a lover can. The night has become a devotional played on cricket backs to me.

The light slips over mountain crests, as silent as a furry moth and rises again within my breast, lighting my vision for home.

Listening

Lakeside: Photo by Noelle

Lakeside: Photo by Noelle

The bench is on the west side of the lake. The trail on this side is little more than mud in January’s warm up. The Eastern side has some stone trails that are well cleared and thus, more trafficked. I am alone, for the moment, and commit to listening and little more.

The wind rubs the winter grass stalks at my feet against each other, dry even in the mud. A warm sun would turn them green, but in these short days their rattle is little more than a reminder of summer snakes long asleep in their holes. Prairie dogs bark incessantly at me, at first. My stillness conquers. Eventually, they chatter amongst themselves no more than old women over a mahjong board. Even in the animal kingdom, neighborhoods have their gossips. The jet passes to the north heading up the spine of the Rockies. I think of travel and vacations both taken and imagined, but the real fly boys bring me back, as the geese come trumpeting off the icy lake heading for fields to dine. I marvel at the pattern. Squawking and honking begins until some unknown pitch is hit and then part of the flock suddenly rises and flies off. The length of this flock must be more than a city block. The group that rises comes from one end of the lake to the other. Some of the groups head east, while others to the south, as if they are aware where the group before them headed and know to seek pastures elsewhere.

I can hear the jogger coming for some time as her running shoes slap the surface of the mud. She is breathing hard and there is the faint tinny sound of music coming through earbuds. Another flock takes off and the wind pushes back my hood. Two women cut through the grassy hillside to beat the muddy trail and talk about teenagers with piercings. The longer I sit the more I’m aware I seem to have left the machine. The swaying cattails are riveting compared to nose rings. I wonder, briefly, where this disengagement with the fast moving world will take me, but even that thought seems more intense then this winter sun will allow. I rest back against the bench and listen.