in another direction…

“Girl with Chrysanthemums” by Odilon Redon (1840-1916) French Symbolist Painter & Printmaker

“Girl with Chrysanthemums” by Odilon Redon

We say one thing and do another. We feel one way; then our hearts open in another direction. We see one thing but don’t understand that blinders hinder our vision. We plod along a well-loved path and then see a road, an alleyway, a river that tempts us….
~ Lisa See
(Snow Flower & The Secret Fan)

Whaleship Sails

5.25.14 ~ New London, Connecticut

Southeastern Connecticut is buzzing with excitement about the upcoming 38th voyage of the Charles W. Morgan, of Mystic Seaport, the last wooden whaleship in the world. Her 37th voyage was 93 years ago from September 1920 to May 1921. Mystic Seaport has been diligently working to restore her to her former glory for several years now.

5.25.14 ~ New London, Connecticut

Because the Mystic River is shallow, last Saturday tugboats brought the ship to New London, on the deeper Thames River, so they could add ballast and fuss with her sails, making final preparations for her historic voyage. Today we went over to see the Morgan and her crew at work.

5.25.14 ~ New London, Connecticut

Sea trials from New London will be June 7-8 and 11-12, and then on June 17, weather permitting, the Morgan will set sail for her first port of call in Newport. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can get some pictures of her as she sails past Groton on her way out of the Thames River and into Long Island Sound.

5.25.14 ~ New London, Connecticut

The tugs will probably take her down the river so I’m just not sure at what point she will finally be on her own under full sail. I do hope I catch it!!!

5.25.14 ~ New London, Connecticut

A moment of sadness came over me when I realized I had picked out a postcard for my father and was startled to remember yet again that he is gone… He would have loved seeing all this!

5.25.14 ~ New London, Connecticut

Isn’t it amazing how these sailors can work so high up in the rigging? And imagine them doing it while the ship is rolling with the waves…

5.25.14 ~ New London, Connecticut

We watched the PBS documentary, “The Charles W. Morgan” last night and enjoyed learning more about her history. We’re looking forward to following her progress as she embarks on this special 38th voyage!

One Held Breath

Okapi ~ image found on Pintrest

Okapi ~ image found on Pintrest

She is inhumanly alone. And then, all at once, she isn’t. A beautiful animal stands on the other side of the water. They look up from their lives, woman and animal, amazed to find themselves in the the same place. He freezes, inspecting her with his black-tipped ears. His back is purplish-brown in the dim light, sloping downward from the gentle hump of his shoulders. The forest’s shadows fall into lines across his white-striped flanks. His stiff forelegs splay out to the sides like stilts, for he’s been caught in the act of reaching down for water. Without taking his eyes from her, he twitches a little at the knee, then the shoulder, where a fly devils him. Finally he surrenders his surprise, looks away, and drinks. She can feel the touch of his long, curled tongue on the water’s skin, as if he were lapping from her hand. His head bobs gently, nodding small, velvet horns lit white from behind like new leaves.

It lasted just a moment, whatever that is. One held breath? An ant’s afternoon? It was brief, I can promise that much, for although it’s been many years now since my children ruled my life, a mother recalls the measure of the silences. I never had more than five minutes’ peace unbroken. I was that woman on the stream bank, of course, Orleanna Price, Southern Baptist by marriage, mother of children living and dead. That one time and no other the okapi came to the stream, and I was the only one to see it.

~ Barbara Kingsolver
(The Poisonwood Bible)

When I stumbled across this picture of an okapi on Pintrest it brought to memory this passage In Barbara Kingsolver’s amazing book, The Poisonwood Bible. It stuck with me because I had a similar experience with a stag when I was little, a moment of transcendence, when time seemed to stand still for this six-year-old.

I was introduced to Barbara Kingsolver’s writing by a physical therapist who was coming to the house regularly to work with my dad. One morning the three of us were sitting around the table, waiting for Papa to finish eating his late breakfast. Her name was Betty-Jean, which reminded us of my mother, who was called Betty-Jo by her parents. We fell into a conversation about my mother’s love of nature and Native American culture.

Papa mentioned a visit he and my mother had made to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe on Cape Cod, and that he had inadvertently offended a young man when he “stepped into his circle.” I wasn’t sure what he meant and he had trouble trying to explain it to me. Betty-Jean thought perhaps it had something to do with a vision quest. “What’s a vision quest?” I inquired, full of curiosity.

The conversation meandered around for a bit after that, but before Betty-Jean began her session with my father, she asked me if I was familiar with Barbara Kingsolver. I had never heard of her until then, so she said she thought I would like her book, Animal Dreams. I ordered it as soon as I got home that night and have been devouring her books ever since. They way she weaves spiritual journeys with nature resonates with me deeply.

A Good Saturday Night

2.8.14 ~ Old Saybrook, Connecticut…sign at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center
photo by Tim

dar.williams

“Dar Williams” by Andrew Rogers

The Kate is a relatively small venue, very cozy and intimate, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing Dar Williams perform there. We didn’t even mind having to sit a row apart, in the same seats, Tim in the row behind me. But Tim wasn’t in his seat much, poor guy. He still has a lingering cough from the bad cold he caught early in January. For much of the concert he was out in the lobby, where he could listen to the music without disturbing the rest of the audience.

Dar was amazing! These are some of the songs I remember her singing – no doubt there were some more: FebruaryThe Light and the SeaThe Beauty of the RainIf I Wrote YouBuzzerI Have Been Around the WorldWhen Sal’s Burned DownMercy of the Fallen ~ Crystal CreekStorm King, which she dedicated to Pete Seeger. All of us joined her in singing If I Had A Hammer in memory of him, too. Her stories in-between the songs were heartwarming and funny. It was wonderful spending an evening immersed in her music and inspiring lyrics. Beyond wonderful…

"North Star" by Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) Czech Art Nouveau Painter

“North Star” by Alphonse Mucha

Oh my fair North Star
I have held to you dearly
I had asked you to steer me
‘Til one cloud scattered night

I got lost in my travels
I met Leo the lion
Met a king and met a giant
With their errant knight

There’s the wind and the rain
And the mercy of the fallen
Who say they have no claim
To know what’s right

There’s the weak and the strong
And the beds that have no answer
And that’s where I may rest my head tonight

There’s the weak and the strong
And the many stars that guide us
We have some of them inside us

~ Dar Williams
♫ (Mercy of the Fallen) ♫

what happens next…

Piping Plover by Mike Morel/USFWS

piping plover by Mike Morel, Puerto Rico

The details don’t matter – they belong to all of us – and loss, after all, is mostly a story about what happens next. What’s next for me, it seems, is the story of realizing that if there are answers at all, they might not be found in the broadest expanses. I find myself mostly lowering my habitual gaze-out-to-sea and settling down to rummage in these greenish-brown, often stinking, bug-infested wrack lines, the likes of which I must have skirted or stepped over thousands of times in my younger-me rush to get to the water. Sometimes I notice what lies tangled within them: the moon snail with its grotesque foot, trash turned into sea glass, driftwood, egg cases, jellyfish. And sometimes I notice what’s gone. Not just my grandiose quest, but also the vanished tangible.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts & What Remains)