Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man.
~ Leo Tolstoy
(Promises to Keep: Thoughts in Old Age)
Old age. All the facial detail is visible; all the traces life has left there are to be seen. The face is furrowed, wrinkled, sagging, ravaged by time. But the eyes are bright and, if not young, then somehow transcend the time that otherwise marks the face. It is as though someone else is looking at us, from somewhere inside the face, where everything is different. One can hardly be closer to another human soul.
~ Karl Ove Knausgård
(My Struggle, Book One)
This old age ought not to creep on a human mind. In nature every moment is new; the past is always swallowed and forgotten; the coming only is sacred. Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is a solitude of space A solitude of sea A solitude of Death, but these Society shall be Compared with that profounder site That polar privacy A soul admitted to itself –
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1696)
Our ancestors spoke to storms with magical words, prayed to them, cursed them, and danced for them, dancing to the very edge of what is alien and powerful – the cold power of ocean currents, chaotic winds beyond control and understanding. We may have lost the dances, but we carry with us a need to approach the power of the universe, if only to touch it and race away.
~ Kathleen Dean Moore
(Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World)
Hurricane Arthur is still to the south of us, and is expected to miss us and head northeast and out to sea. But we are experiencing tropical downpours here in Groton as the outer bands of rain brush by southeastern Connecticut. At 3:00 p.m. we already had 1.9 inches of rain and it is still coming down in torrents.
I often say that I love the excitement of storms, as long as they don’t get too exciting. This one fits the bill. We’ve been keeping a wary eye on this storm since it formed off the coast of Florida and are now relieved that it isn’t going to be too bad. Independence Day parades and fireworks have all been cancelled, but the rest of the weekend promises to be sunny and pleasant.
Will be busy this week getting ready for two big events next weekend, a baby shower for Larisa and a wedding for Tim’s cousin. Before those, a trip to IKEA with Janet. A night out at the Amherst Early Music Festival with Tim. This time we will see “Late Medieval sacred motets and secular love songs performed by award-winning women’s vocal quartet Anonymous 4.” A motet is “a short piece of sacred choral music, typically polyphonic and unaccompanied.” I can’t wait!
In the interest which natural scenery inspires there is the strongest contrast to this. It is for itself and at the moment it is enjoyed. The attention is aroused and the mind occupied without purpose, without a continuation of the common process of relating the present action, thought or perception to some future end. There is little else that has this quality so purely. There are few enjoyments with which regard for something outside and beyond the enjoyment of the moment can ordinarily be so little mixed. The pleasures of the table are irresistibly associated with the care of hunger and the repair of the bodily waste. In all social pleasures and all the pleasures which are usually enjoyed in association with the social pleasure, the care for the opinion of others, or the good of others largely mingles. In the pleasures of literature, the laying up of ideas and self-improvement are purposes which cannot be kept out of view.
This, however, is in very slight degree, if at all, the case with the enjoyment of the emotions caused by natural scenery. It therefore results that the enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it, tranquilizes it, and yet enlivens it, and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.
~ Frederick Law Olmsted
(America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents)
Five years ago we woke up to this breathtaking scene on our first full day of a family reunion at Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The day was full of pleasant surprises as I encountered fawns every time I turned around, and a few lovely does, and took many pictures. Following are a few of my favorites, which I dug out of my photo archives, because the memories of that wonderful day keep coming to mind at this time of year.
Little Thunder realized that the mother deer must not be too far off, because only rarely would a mother deer leave her young – and then only to get a drink of water or find a new place to hide her fawn.
~ Ted Ressler
(Whispers in the Forest: A Treasury of American Indian Tales)
After years of trying I was finally able to capture some good pictures of a mourning dove! She seemed to be posing for me on a tree in Janet’s yard and I was thrilled.
Janet and I had a great time celebrating the summer solstice on Saturday. We went strawberry picking in the morning, then made a lunch out of grilled eggplant with goat cheese and other veggies, devoured it outside on her sundeck and finished with our fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
We took a long afternoon walk in the woods and meadows at Machimoodus State Park. The day was breezy and warm – we could not have ordered more perfect weather! Back at Janet’s we had grilled wild turkey and veggies, enjoying supper outside as well.
Then, as dusk finally fell on the longest day of the year, we shared a campfire and watched the stars come out and the fireflies twinkle in the trees and eventually the embers dying down. We even heard a pack of coyotes howling in the distance. It was wonderful to have spent the entire day outdoors with the companionship of a good friend.