October 19, 2014

Watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Another watercolor sketch of maple leaf

Another watercolor sketch of maple leaf


by David Budbill, from Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse

Almost all the leaves
are down.  Rain.

Clouds make a fog
just above the trees.

The world colder
more empty every day.

My favorite
time of year.

Cloudy morning, Skagit Valley

Cloudy morning, Skagit Valley



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

both house
and life.


Spiraling whorls of my moon snail shell

Spiraling whorls of my moon snail shell

“Studying and understanding the ‘Way of Anything’ leads one to understand the ‘Way of Everything.’”
— Barry Behrstock, The Way of the Artist:  Reflections on Creativity and the Life, Home, Art and Collections of Richard Marquis

I like that my moon snail shell connects me to the larger world in ways that I don’t fully understand.  I find the task of looking closely at it and then drawing or painting it very like meditation.  I lose myself for a time.

The Three Goals
by David Budbill, from Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse

The first goal is to see the thing itself
in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
for what it is.
No symbolism, please.

The second goal is to see each individual thing
as unified, as one, with all the other
ten thousand things.
In this regard, a little wine helps a lot.

The third goal is to grasp the first and second goals,
to see the universal in the particular,
Regarding this one, call me when you get it.

Moon Snail Shell # 36, watercolor pencil sketch with washes

Moon Snail Shell # 36, watercolor pencil sketch with washes


Dark mornings, house aglow

Dark mornings, house aglow

Winter is a quiet, contemplative time

Winter is a quiet, contemplative time

I do think that readers and writers and poets like winter, that quiet contemplative season.  (However, I’ve noticed that painting and drawing are more of a challenge because of the lack of light.)  Writer Timothy Egan recently wrote an interesting blog post about just this theme of creativity in winter — you can read it here.

“I love the winter, with its imprisonment and its cold, for it compels the prisoner to try new fields and resources.  I love to have the river closed up for a season and a pause put to my boating, to be obliged to get my boat in.  I shall launch it again in the spring with so much more pleasure.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals,December 5, 1856

“Such is a winter eve.  Now for a merry fire, some old poet’s pages, or else serene philosophy, or even a healthy book of travels to last far into the night, eked out perhaps with the walnuts which we gathered in November.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals, December 9, 1856

Winter is the Best Time
by David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet

Winter is the best time
to find out who you are.

Quiet, contemplative time,
away from the rushing world,

cold time, dark time, holed-up,
pulled-in time and space

to see that inner landscape,
that place hidden and within.

Every Day Rain

December 18, 2012

A foggy, rainy December morning at Green Lake

A foggy, rainy December morning at Green Lake

Weather Report
by David Budbill, from We’ve Still Got Feet

The weather is horrible here on Judevine Mountain.
It’s dark and cold all winter.  Every day rain and snow

beat on your head.  And the sun never shines.  Then
it’s spring and more rain and ice and mud, too.  And

after that, the blackflies eat you alive and then the
deerflies and then the mosquitoes and then it’s fall

before you ever noticed it was summer.  Then there
might be a couple of weeks of decent weather and

then it starts to rain and snow again.  It’s just awful
living here.  I don’t think you’d like it here at all.

You better go find your own miserable place to live.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a farmer’s daughter, or if it’s because I was raised in Minnesota, but talking about the weather is a normal part of my day.  (Here’s a video clip about “How to Talk Minnesotan” on YouTube.)  We are in the darkest days of the year, so it can be  a challenge to find something positive to say.   Winter in Seattle is almost invariably rainy and gray, cold, but not freezing (most of the time).  It’s true that if you waited for good weather to do some planned task, you’d never get anything done.

And if not the weather, it’s something else.  This is life.

“There are seven or eight categories of phenomena in the world that are worthy of talking about, and one of them is the weather.”
— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek

“What was the best thing that happened?  Reviewing the day’s delights often yields surprises, and serves as a reminder of how full a life is, how lucky some days feel, and how stressful days may contain glowing nuggets of peace, pleasure, or joy.”
— Diane Ackerman, Dawn Light:  Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day

A grace note in my day — ‘Bishop of York’ Dahlia at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Sometimes it’s good to remember how little we need, really need, for a good life.  Today, for example, it gives me joy to write the date: 10/11/12!!!

What We Need
by David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet: New Poems

The Emperor,
his bullies
and henchmen
terrorize the world
every day,

which is why
every day

we need

a little poem
of kindness,

a small song
of peace

a brief moment
of joy.

Sweet Zen Emptiness

October 4, 2012

Dried Queen Anne’s lace at the Union Bay Natural Area in Seattle

I’ve just now discovered the poetry of David Budbill who for more than 40 years has lived a quiet life in the mountains of Vermont.  His poems are deceptively simple, spare, but pointed.  I have read three books of his poetry from our library, and I plan to learn more about his work by reading some of his essays, poems, and blog posts on his website (you can link to it here).

Some of his sensibilities are Thoreau-like, and you know how much I admire Thoreau!

Here’s one of Budbill’s poems for early fall:

After Labor Day
by David Budbill, from During the Warbler’s Spring Migration, While Feeling Sorry for Myself for Being Stuck Here, the Dooryard Birds Save Me from My Melancholy

Summer people gone.
Kids back in school.

Fall coming fast.
Leaves turning.

Birds going south.
World getting quiet.

Chinese melancholy.
Sweet Zen emptiness.

Here again this year.

Enough, with Cat

October 2, 2012

Our cat


What It Takes
by David Budbill

of a house
to keep
the bugs and rain
in the summer,
stay warm
in the winter.

a few
musical instruments,
a garden,
some mountains,

maybe a cat.