subtle connection

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by by Margaret Tulloch
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by by Margaret Tulloch

Shakespeare possesses the power of subordinating nature for the purposes of expression, beyond all poets. His imperial muse tosses the creation like a bauble from hand to hand, and uses it to embody any caprice of thought that is uppermost in his mind. The remotest spaces of nature are visited, and the farthest sundered things are brought together, by subtle spiritual connection. We are made aware that magnitude of material things is relative, and all objects shrink and expand to serve the passion of the poet.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Treasury of Thought: Forming an Encyclopædia of Quotation from Ancient & Modern Authors)

to dew her orbs upon the green

6.26.19 ~ heavy with dew

And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.

~ William Shakespeare
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

6.26.19 ~ cedar waxwing enjoying a mulberry
6.26.19 ~ dragonfly landing on dewy grass

We had a very wet spring and so far it’s looking to be a wet summer, too. Tuesday we got two inches of rain! It rained all day and I enjoyed many hours of family history research. But Wednesday we emerged from our den and took a walk in the very wet woods. And we saw several cedar waxwings, a new bird for us!

6.26.19 ~ cedar waxwing
6.26.19 ~ serenity
6.26.19 ~ ferns covering a bubbling brook
6.26.19
6.26.19 ~ cedar waxwing

As I approached this tree I was trying to figure out if it might be a shagbark hickory. (Still not sure…) And then a new experience for me: orbs appeared in the viewfinder when I went to take a picture! In the past, orbs have been an occasional surprise when they show up in pictures downloaded from the camera. But these were there before I even took the picture.

6.26.19
6.26.19 ~ looking up the tree with orbs
6.26.19 ~ more magic, sunlight highlighting a stone covered in lichen

In the span of centuries the rock became glazed with a gray-green crust of lichen almost indistinguishable from the rock itself, a bare coating of life.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer
(Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & The Teachings of Plants)

6.26.19 ~ juniper berries?
6.26.19

These trees and stones are audible to me,
These idle flowers, that tremble in the wind,
I understand their faery syllables,
And all their sad significance.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Collected Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1823-1911)

deep in the woods

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

On Saturday afternoon my sister and I did some hiking in the uncultivated part of the Connecticut College Arboretum. It was like being in the woods we played in and rambled through as children. We encountered a doe along our path, she stopped short when she spotted us and then darted off sideways into the woods.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

Nature — sometimes sears a Sapling —
Sometimes — scalps a Tree —
Her Green People recollect it
When they do not die —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #457)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ gypsy moth caterpillar, an invasive forest pest from Europe

When I was at the doctor for a check-up last week he said it seemed like he was treating nothing but rashes from these little villains. Why do people even touch them, I wondered? But they can dangle from invisible threads and I was startled when I walked right into one. No rash, so far…

Death is like the insect
Menacing the tree
Competent to kill it,
But decoyed may be.

Bait it with the balsam
Seek it with the saw,
Baffle, it cost you
Everything you are.

Then, if it have burrowed
Out of reach of skill —
Wring the tree and leave it.
‘Tis the vermin’s will.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1783)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

For some reason I am drawn to trees that seem dead, but sculptural, and yet still have a few green leaves up near the crown. Sometimes dying is a very gradual process.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ this feels like a carefully composed still life to me

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
~ William Shakespeare
(As You Like It)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ roots

One will see roots while looking down (photo above), of course, but also when looking up (photo below). The tree below decided it could grow sticking out of a rock face, high above the ground. There must have been just enough soil between the layers of rock for it to sustain itself. Maybe it is strong enough to move the rock some to give the roots more space.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ tree growing out from between two layers of rock

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
~ William Wordsworth
(The Tables Turned)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ ferns and mosses on the rock face

Ferns (above) with visible roots growing on the rock face. Plenty of moss to soften the surface, too.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

A tree (above) seems to have been blown over in a storm and left with a large cavity between its roots and the rock below. Stones and boulders, dumped by receding glaciers eons ago, are so ubiquitous in Connecticut and it seems the trees have no choice but to grow above, below, around and between them.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ two more of Emily’s “scalped” trees

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ a stone benchmark?

I wondered if someone might have set this stone deliberately pointing up as a benchmark for future hiking adventures. It’s amazing to contemplate that these stone walls deep in the woods once surrounded fields and pastures in colonial days. Farmers used the stones cluttering their land to build the walls but in the end, growing crops was difficult. Many eventually abandoned their homes and headed west for better farmland. The woods slowly came back and claimed the landscape once again.

summer tales and dreams

"Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" by John Singer Sargent
“Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” by John Singer Sargent

Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.
~ William Shakespeare
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

The Tempest

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island

Twenty years ago, in July of 1991, The Colonial Theater of  Westerly, Rhode Island, began presenting its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My mother had died only a few weeks earlier, and after seeing an article in the newspaper about the free performances, Tim & I decided we should go. We loved every minute of it, cuddled under the stars in our beach chairs on the lawn of beautiful Wilcox Park. Seeing these plays became one of the highlights of our year, a dearly loved tradition.

For the 15th season, in 2005, the theater presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream again, much to our delight! And I loved these words found in the program that year:

The mix of illusion and reality that runs through the play is also a particularly relevant theme at this time. For this is at the heart of what we do each year. With your participation, we visit people and worlds where the normal, earthbound laws of physics no longer apply. … Not only is the play filled throughout with the imagery of dreams, but Puck even addresses the audience at the play’s close with the advice that if they’ve not been pleased with what they’ve seen, they should just tell themselves that they’ve been dreaming, and will wake up with nothing lost. And what’s to say that we haven’t been dreaming while this parade of characters has performed across the stretch of our imagination?
~ Harland Meltzer, Producing Artistic Director, Colonial Theater

Over the years we’ve been to almost every play, except for the few times there was no play due to lack of funding. It’s free, but the theater counts on donations to make it each year. Besides making donations ourselves, Tim buys a coffee cup each year and as you imagine, has a large collection now.

TheTempest2011
“The Tempest” ~ summer 2011 ~ Wilcox Park, Westerly, Rhode Island

This year the play chosen was The Tempest, which was put on for the second time, the first time being in 1992. After watching the weather report we decided that Wednesday was the best night to catch it. We went early in the afternoon to stake out our spot, and then returned in the evening, found a good parking spot, walked to a restaurant for dinner and then walked back to the park for the play. Even though I had my exercise ball to sit on, perhaps all the walking and sitting in the restaurant had taken its toll because I was uncomfortable almost immediately. And Tim was not feeling well due to moving around in the heat and humidity – it’s hard on his heart. Both of us sat there miserably until the intermission, wondering if the other would mind leaving early, something we had never ever done before. When intermission came we took one look at each other and knew with very little verbal communication how things stood. We quietly gathered up our things and left…

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island

For future reference I’m listing all of Shakespeare’s plays we’ve seen by this theater group at Wilcox Park:

1991 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1992 – Tempest
1993 – As You Like It
1996 – Romeo & Juliet
1996 – Julius Caesar (performed by the visiting Anglian Open Air Shakespeare Company)
1997 – Twelfth Night
1998 – Othello
1999 – Taming of the Shrew
2000 – Henry IV, Part I
2001 – Hamlet
2003 – Merchant of Venice
2004 – Much Ado About Nothing
2005 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
2006 – Romeo & Juliet
2008 – As You Like It
2009 – Two Gentlemen of Verona
2011 – Tempest (until intermission)

Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island
Wilcox Park ~ 7.27.11 ~ Westerly, Rhode Island

Much Ado About Nothing

7.17.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
Connecticut College Arboretum ~ 7.17.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

7.17.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
Khari and Kia ~ 7.17.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Last night Janet brought a good portion of her scrumptious blueberry harvest to the Connecticut College Arboretum, where we all enjoyed Shakespeare-under-the-Stars with our niece Bonnie and her children, Kia and Khari. We had a delightful evening watching and laughing at the abundant witticisms in the dialog of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About NothingFlock Theatre put on an entertaining performance, with Anne Flemmang’s portrayal of Beatrice particularly winning. The humidity had been oppressive all day, but evening brought a refreshing cool breeze across the arboretum’s pond, and the bats and dragonflies flitting about were keeping the mosquito population well under control.

7.17.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
Khari ~ 7.17.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

As we left we were given another container of blueberries! Thank you, Janet! So for breakfast this morning Tim whipped up some blueberry pancakes which we all loved, and we can now recommend Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Dreams Pancake & Waffle Mix whole-heartedly as a good choice for those of us allergic to wheat. We brought out the pure maple syrup we got at the Hebron Maple Festival in March. Yummy…

snow leopard

We also learned that Kia and Khari are proud members of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Both are very informed about the big cats and which ones do well and breed well in captivity and which ones conservationists are having more trouble helping. They are also very familiar with Shakespeare’s plays. We had such a good time getting to know them a little more and we may be seeing them again for The Tempest in August!

For future reference I’m listing all the plays we’ve seen put on by Flock Theatre (Artistic Director, Derron Wood) at Connecticut College Arboretum:

2002 – Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
2006 – Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare
2008 – Lysistrata by Aristophanes
2009 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare
2010 – Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare