National Poetry Month. 23

Unfurling fern, Como Park Conservatory

Unfurling fern, Como Park Conservatory

“If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day.  For there would be an intolerable hunger.”
— Muriel Rukeyser

Llandover Woods, north Seattle

Llandover Woods, north Seattle

“You cannot find what the poets find in the woods until you take the poet’s heart to the woods.  He sees nature through a colored glass, sees it truthfully, but with an indescribable charm added, the aureole of the spirit.  A tree, a cloud, a bird, a sunset, have no hidden meaning that the art of the poet is to unlock for us.  Every poet shall interpret them differently, and interpret them rightly, because the soul is infinite.”
— John Burroughs, Pepacton

I just learned about this little forest, Llandover Woods,  in north Seattle, not too far from the Dunn Gardens, and I spent an hour walking its groomed trail.  Splotchy bark, hanging moss, ferns, bare trees.  A quiet spot in the city.  Great discovery.

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“Winter is . . . the white page on which we write our hearts.”
Adam Gopnik, Winter: Five Windows on the Season

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Eisblumen:  German for hoarfrost ice flowers

“On a lonely winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence.”
— John Keats

Adam Gopnik sees the poetry in winter.  His book, Winter: Five Windows on the Season, explores “why winter, a season long seen as a sign of nature’s withdrawal from grace, has become for us a time of human warmth.”  He talks about the sublime side of winter, how it inspires fear, awe and mystery while remaining potentially lethal.  Gopnik says that a love of winter is a modern sensibility, evolving only after the use of cheap and abundant coal and central heating.

“Winter’s persona changes with our perception of safety from it — the glass of the window . . . is the lens through which modern winter is always seen.  The romance of winter is possible only when we have a warm, secure indoors to retreat to, and winter becomes a season to look at as much as one to live through.”

January morning at Green Lake

January morning at Green Lake

“How glorious the perfect stillness and peace of the winter landscape.”
—  Henry David Thoreau, from Winter:  The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, December 31, 1854

Path through the frosty grass, Green Lake

Path through the frosty grass, Green Lake

“We must go out and re-ally ourselves to Nature every day.  We must make root, send out some little fibre at least, even every winter day. . . . Staying in the house breeds a sort of insanity always.”
—  Henry David Thoreau, from Winter:  The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, December 29, 1856

I took Thoreau’s advice and walked around Green Lake on this frosty January morning.  It was crisp and clear.  I saw three great blue herons, a bald eagle perched in a tree, honking Canada geese, foraging ducks, and other Seattleites out to enjoy the fresh air.

Joggers at Green Lake

Joggers at Green Lake

Fishing from the dock, bundled up, enjoying the natural world

Fishing from the dock, bundled up, enjoying the natural world

One of three great blue herons (notice the frosty back feathers)

One of three great blue herons (notice the frosty back feathers)

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August Days

August 23, 2013

“Nature has, for the most part, lost her delicate tints in August. . . . The spirit of Nature has grown bold and aggressive; it is rank and coarse; she flaunts her weeds in our faces.”
— John Burroughs, “August Days”

Dried ferns

Dried ferns

“August days are for the most part tranquil days; the fret and hurry of the season are over.  We are on the threshold of autumn.  Nature dreams and meditates; her veins no longer thrill with the eager, frenzied sap; she ripens and hardens her growths; she concentrates; she begins to make ready for winter.”
— John Burroughs, “Autumn Days”

We’ve had a drier-than-normal summer so far, so things are definitely weedy and seedy around here.  Here are some images from a recent walk about my neighborhood:

Dried fern

Dried fern

Bindweed

Bindweed

Is this yarrow?

Is this yarrow?

Seed heads

Seed heads

Rose hips

Rose hips

Watercolor sketch of rose hips

Watercolor sketch of rose hips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“the leaping greenly spirits of trees . . .”
— e e cummings

Tall trees of the Hoh Rain Forest

Tall trees of the Hoh Rain Forest

Our second Olympic National Park destination was the Hoh Rain Forest.  This temperate rain forest gets 12 to 14 feet of rain each year, but we were lucky to be visiting on a sunny day.  We began seeing moss-draped trees on the road leading into the heart of the rain forest.  Instead of fifty shades of gray, we were seeing fifty shades of green.

Fisherman in the Hoh River

Fisherman in the Hoh River

The road into the Hoh valley

The road into the Hoh valley

Green, green stream

Green, green stream

Hall of Mosses trail

Hall of Mosses trail

Tall trees on a rare blue-sky day

Tall trees on a rare blue-sky day

Living giants

Living giants

New growth on fallen log

New growth on fallen log

Light through a lacey green curtain

Light through a lacey green curtain

 

Nurse log (fallen tree nourishing new trees)

Nurse log (fallen tree nourishing new trees)

Rings of a fallen giant

Rings of a fallen giant

Ground cover

Ground cover

Noah peeking around the trunk of a giant

Noah peeking around the trunk of a giant

These ferns reminded me of sea horses

These ferns reminded me of sea horses

Ferns with Holga-ish effect

Ferns with Holga-ish effect

190-foot fallen Sitka spruce

190-foot fallen Sitka spruce

Moss-Hung Trees
by Gertrude Gilmore, 1936

Moss-hung trees
Like the mantilla of a beautiful lady’s ghost
Bearing elusive fragrance of a faint perfume
Soft, caressing;
Shaped
Like the wings of huge, inert gray moths, —
Weird and uncertain branches veining them
Gossamer, intangible;
And reshaped
Like fairy cobwebs interlacing mesh upon mesh
With lights of foolish insects caught within them
Restive, darting
With shadows —
Like half reluctant thoughts lately modified
In a world of fantastical shapes and causes,
Mystical, fleeting.

Mossy branches of a maple tree

Mossy branches of a maple tree

Moss-laden maple

Moss-laden maple

“To make my days deserving of preservation, I have to give myself ample time for reflection and repose. . . . It feels as if such entries add an extra layer to living.”     — Wendy Lustbader, The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Old

Rain on the glass at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Rain on the glass at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

These short winter days slip by so quickly, especially if it’s rainy, dark, and gloomy.  Thank goodness this blog gives me the impetus to find something in my days to share with you, my readers.  Sometimes it’s just the excuse I need to see what’s happening at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which is a heaven-sent destination on a rainy winter day.  The warm humid interior is a comforting contrast to the cold outdoors.  Even if I do have to wait for the fog to clear from my camera lenses!

My eyes were soothed by patterns and graceful, curving lines on this particular visit.  Here are a few photos:

Branching pattern with brilliant blue stem

Branching pattern with brilliant blue stem

Ferns with subtle purples and greens

Ferns with subtle purples and greens

Graceful leaves, almost translucent against the glass windows

Graceful leaves, almost translucent against the glass windows

Delicate beaded edges grace these cascading leaves

Delicate beaded edges grace these cascading leaves

Hanging pitcher plant

Hanging pitcher plant