The Sun as Eucharist Host

October 30, 2012

Sunrise, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana (photo September 2007)

“And the trees held the cold moon like an eucharist at the tips of their branches.”
The Journal of Jules Renard, edited by Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget

I’ve been re-reading some of my commonplace books, hoping to mine some gems for future blog posts, when I came across this passage about the moon.  I think it is wonderfully descriptive, and it conjured up an image I had seen before.  When I went back in my photo archives to retrieve the remembered photo, I realized that my photograph was of the sun — not the moon.  That didn’t diminish the effectiveness of the simile thankfully.

I have to admit that I couldn’t remember a thing about The Journal of Jules Renard Obviously I had read itthe quotes I had written down delighted me then, and still delight me upon re-reading.  But I had quite forgotten the rest of the journal.  I checked it out of the library again, and I can see why it did not become a favorite book in spite of its many rich passages.  The editing is too choppy, I think, and delivers a piecemeal narrative of Renard’s life.

I think Renard would have understood my forgetfulness.  Here are two more quotes from his journal:

“It’s enough to throw you into despair:  to read everything, and remember nothing!  Because you do remember nothing.  You may strain as much as you like:  everything escapes.  Here and there a few tatters remain, fragile as those puffs of smoke left over after a train has passed.”

“I have a remarkable memory:  I forget everything!  It is wonderfully convenient.  It is as though the world were constantly renewing itself for me.”


Wildernesses of Freedom

October 16, 2010

“His stride is wildernesses of freedom”
     — Ted Hughes, “The Jaguar”

Jaguar at the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle

Jaguar at the Woodland Park Zoo

Jaguar, Woodland Park Zoo

Stopping by the jaguar enclosure at the Woodland Park Zoo, I’m most likely to find the jaguar snoozing in the sun, just inches from the glass separating us.  Like our house cat, the jaguar has found a sun-warmed spot, and lolls with sleepy eyes.  But on the occasions when it is up and pacing through its cage, the jaguar is coiled intensity.  The Woodland Park Zoo gives its animals spacious environments, with running streams, trees, and grasses that replicate their natural habitats.  Except for the challenge of photographing through glass, as I look through my viewfinder, I can imagine being transported to the wild.

I do have my own wild cat story from my 2007 safari in Africa.  My cat was a leopard, as jaguars are found only in Middle and South America.  The leopard closely resembles the jaguar.  But their spot patterns are different.  The jaguar has larger rosettes surrounding a center spot, while the leopard has plain rosettes with no middle spot.

I was with a tour group in Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana, and our guide, clued in by the agitation of birds, spotted a leopard.  We pulled closer in our jeep, and not long after, the leopard walked right by our vehicle.  Shortly thereafter, a herd of impala wandered by, and the second they became aware of the leopard, they froze as one body on high alert. Then they chittered, stamped their hooves, and again stood at attention.  But the leopard was not interested in them.  It climbed a tree, and then we discovered the reason for its disinterest.  It had already killed, and it had dragged its impala carcass up a tree, where it was guarded by another leopard.  The two leopards had a little spat, and one jumped down while the other fed.  Nature, tooth and claw. . .

Leopard in the wild, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Leopard, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

A leopard attracts the excited attention of a tour on safari.

Impala, sensing a predator, stand on high alert.

Leopards with their kill, safe in a tree