Sunrise at Green Lake

Sunrise at Green Lake

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“Clouds are wonderful in so many ways:  they are beautiful in both form and colour; they are poetic — their shapes suggesting other things, provoking the imagination; they are prophetic, bringing warnings and promises of what is to come; they are created by complex and various processes, which physics can explain; they have beautiful names, both scientific and vernacular — cumulonimbus, altocumulus, castellanus, cirrus, lenticularis, mares’ tails, thunderheads, mackerel skies; above all they come, day after day inexhaustible, never two quite alike, appearing over the horizon and marching in long, solemn or playful procession across the sky.  They are yet another of the silent forces around us, announcing in  their passage that silence does have meaning, does have shape and purpose and something to teach me.”
— Sara Maitland, A Book of Silence

Tied to the Sky

August 6, 2014

“Sun came out today, which raised my spirits to a considerable degree.  How our bodies and minds are tied to the sky!”
— Molly Gloss, Wild Life

Nearing sunset on the Olympic Peninsula

Nearing sunset on the Olympic Peninsula

Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest suffer from sun deprivation especially in winter.  These sunny summer days are noted and appreciated because we know gray skies will return.  Although I like clear, sunny days and blue skies, I think it is passing clouds that make sky-watching a rewarding pastime.  Nature gave us a dramatic presentation as we approached sunset on our drive home from the Olympic Peninsula.

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Through the car window

Through the car window

Over the Hood Canal Bridge

Over the Hood Canal Bridge

 

Morning clouds

Morning clouds

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Morning clouds over Green Lake, Seattle

Morning clouds over Green Lake, Seattle

“The clouds, the clouds, she thought.  Piled and beautiful, they were both indifferent and inviting.  They had that paradox of nature you saw also in the sea, a thing appearing eternal even as it changed every second.”
— Susan Minot, from Thirty Girls

VII
by Wendell Berry

I know I am getting old and I say so,
but I don’t think of myself as an old man.
I think of myself as a young man
with unforseen debilities.  Time is neither
young nor old, but simply new, always
counting, the only apocalypse.  And the clouds
— no mere measure or geometry, no cubism,
can account for clouds or, satisfactorily, for bodies.
There is no science for this, or art either.
Even the old body is new — who has known it
before? — and no sooner new than gone, to be
replaced by a body yet older and again new.
The clouds are rarely absent from our sky
over this humid valley, and there is a sycamore
that I watch as, growing on the riverbank,
it forecloses the horizon, like the years
of an old man.  And you, who are as old
almost as I am, I love as I loved you
young, except that, old, I am astonished
at such a possibility, and am duly grateful.

 

Cloudy morning, Skagit Valley

Cloudy morning, Skagit Valley

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November Again Again
by David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet:  New Poems

Gray, damp, sere, chill,
bare November days
here again this year.

Day after day
clouds down
around our ankles.

The quiet, meditative
beauty of these
muffled days.

Withdraw, return,
pull in,
to somewhere

inside
both house
and life.

 

Raining on My Parade

September 30, 2013

Saturday morning at the Prosser Balloon Rally

Saturday morning at the Prosser Balloon Rally

Rained out!  Our weekend plans were wrecked by rain.  I had been so looking forward to this weekend getaway with my husband, our first time attending the annual Prosser, Washington Balloon Rally.  Over 20 balloons were scheduled to take off at dawn on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings from a field in Prosser, the heart of Washington’s wine country.  We left after work on Friday, driving in the dark and arriving in Prosser at midnight.  It rained off and on all night, and although the actual rain drops had stopped falling by 6 a.m., the event organizers decided to cancel Saturday’s morning launch because of the deteriorating forecast.  And since the weather was supposed to only get worst, George and I decided not to hang around for the evening’s balloon lighting or Sunday morning’s lift-off, which were both in jeopardy.

Disappointment!  I can only imagine how many colorful photos I could have taken had the balloons actually been filled and launched into the sky.  We will have to try again another year.

And so, all I have to share with you today are photos of clouds and rain on our long drive back to Seattle.  We opted to drive back along the Columbia River Gorge since we were in no rush to get back.

View from Horse Heaven Hills overlooking the Prosser area

View from Horse Heaven Hills overlooking the Prosser area

Autumn landscape at Horse Heaven Hills lookout

Autumn landscape at Horse Heaven Hills lookout

Eastern Washington with cloud bank

Eastern Washington with cloud bank

Driving the highway from Prosser to the Columbia River

Driving the highway from Prosser to the Columbia River

Old and new:  wind generators and power lines along the Columbia River

Old and new: wind generators and power lines along the Columbia River

Driving I-5 north to Seattle.  These rain clouds were heading east toward Prosser.

Driving I-5 north to Seattle. These rain clouds were heading east toward Prosser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contemplating Blue

August 23, 2013

“We love to contemplate blue, not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.”
— Goethe

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Blue skies with skyscraper

Blue skies with skyscraper

The old farmhouse where I grew up

The old farmhouse where I grew up

“I live here in the realm of predictability.  Each day goes by, a mirror of the one before, a rough draft of the one to come.  The passing hours bring variations in the sky’s coloration, the comings and goings of the birds, and a thousand almost imperceptible things.”
— Sylvain Tesson, The Consolations of the Forest:  Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale

My father is rooted to the land where he has lived for over 90 years.  The Minnesota farm was his childhood home, and he has observed the seasons passing predictably year after year.  And now in old age, the call of travel and adventure no longer appeals.  From my perspective, life on the farm seems slow and unchanging, each day a “rough draft of the one to come.”

Still, there is a lot of richness in being so rooted.  As Natalie Goldberg says in The True Secret of Writing:  Connecting Life with Language, “Much can be done by doing little — with regard.”

Sylvain Tesson, quoted in the opening to this post, deliberately experimented with finding his inner life by removing himself to a remote, rustic cabin in Siberia.  He found that “Staying put brought me what I could no longer find on any journey.”  Writer Jim Harrison, writes about these same feelings in Brown Dog:  “Come to think of it, the main good thing out here snowbound in this cabin is that nothing is happening . . . I’ve got this personal feeling things are not supposed to be happening to people all of the time.  At least I’m not designed for it.”

If we live to extreme old age, our bodies will inevitably wear out, slowing us down and making us stay put.  I got a taste of this during the two weeks I stayed with my Dad.  The challenge for all of us, regardless of age, is to stay observant to the things that come across our range of view, and to find the beauty in these still images.

Here is a window to my Dad’s world:

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