descriptions of commonplace things

“October” by Willard Metcalf

Back in March, when I was sorting through the boxes of family stuff, I found the following undated, typewritten account of a lovely October day Tim’s great-grandparents spent together many years ago. Charles Amos Hamilton (1866-1943) wrote it for his wife, Gertrude Mabel Hubbard (1874-1965). They lived in Batavia, New York.

AN OCTOBER DAY

Written for the delectation of my good wife, Gertrude, who delights in reading descriptions of commonplace things, written in rather grandiloquent language.


The poet wrote,
“What is so rare as a day in June,
Then, if ever, come perfect days.”

Without questioning the judgment or belittling the taste of the writer of this couplet, I make the assertion that, with equal or even greater veracity, it might have been written with the substitution of “October” for “June.” For, in old October, Nature gives us examples of a brilliance of coloring, and a tang of ozone, which June, for meteorological reasons, cannot duplicate.

I arise on a bright October morning and raise the shades of my bedroom window. What a riot of all the hues of the rainbow meet my eyes. From the pale green of maple leaves not yet touched by autumn’s frosty fingers, up through the entire gamut of the spectrum, to the vivid scarlet of maples of a different species. As the leaves rustle in the light breeze, they seem to be whispering “Goodbye” to their companions of the departed summer. The dark green limbs of the evergreens nearer the house, stand out like sentinels, bravely daring the blasts of the coming winter. The sunlight lies in little pools in the verdancy of the lawn, dotted here and there by vagrant leaves which have thus early abandoned the protection of their parent branch. The clump of spireas, which last June resembled a snow-bank, now has the appearance of a cluster of shrubs, which in the serene consciousness of a duty well done, are now nestling quietly and unobtrusively together. A belated hollyhock, and a few sturdy petunias, render an additional dash of color. Glancing from the the rear window, I behold the majestic line of cedars, bowing gently before the breeze, but standing with all the dignity of a line of knights in full armor. The row of sweet alyssum shows the same white purity it has maintained for several months. Two scarlet rose-buds, with youthful optimism, raise their heads fearlessly to the autumnal skies, disregarding the improbability of their ever being able to attain maturity.

Later in the day, we take a drive in our Buick, through the farm lands of the vicinity. The same magnificent coloring marks the foliage everywhere, outdoing the most artistic efforts of the painter’s brush. Huge stacks of golden straw stand beside the farmer’s barns, testifying to the repleteness of the barns with fodder for the stock. We know without inspection, that the cellars are well filled with fruits and vegetables, destined to adorn many a well-filled table, and to furnish apples and pop-corn for groups of merry young people. In the fields, the sheep are quietly nibbling, already comfortably clad in their winter woolens. The cows are lying placidly chewing the rumen of contentment. Everything denotes peace, harmony and plenty. Occasionally, a vagrant leaf flutters down momentarily upon the hood of the car, then, as if disdaining its warmth, flutters away to joining its companions by the roadside.

In the evening, fortified by an excellent dinner, maybe washed down by a flagon of “Old October ale,” we sit by the bright flame of our fireplace, and as we listen to the occasional snap of the apple-tree wood, and watch the sparks seek freedom via the chimney, we feel that “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world.” Yes, what is so rare as a day in October?

walking on this earth

12.26.18 ~ Beebe Pond Park, Groton, Connecticut

If there is any wisdom running through my life now, in my walking on this earth, it came from listening in the Great Silence to the stones, trees, space, the wild animals, to the pulse of all life as my own heartbeat.
~ Vijali Hamilton
(Of Earth & Fire: Poems & Artworks)

12.26.18 ~ trees growing inside an abandoned foundation

Six of us took another family walk in the woods the other day, in Beebe Pond Park. Nate had been there years ago but I had never had a chance to explore it.

Katherine and Dominic

Katherine and Dominic loved climbing on the many boulders deposited by receding glaciers millions of years ago.

following the leader

It was warmish for a winter’s day, but I was happy to have my gloves.

Katherine still loves to look at maps

We walked for a very long time and only turned around when Katherine got too cold and darkness was approaching…

mushrooms, moss, bark, leaves
a thin layer of ice on the pond
sticks and leaves under the ice
Beebe Pond
Katherine
Larisa and Finn and orbs
leaves hanging on tight in the breeze
Katherine sat a little too long on this cold rock, enjoying the long winter shadows
the frown ~ one chilled little girl
Dominic on the go
turning around to head home
Nate and Katherine ~ it’s wonderful to have a strong uncle to carry a cold and tired little one home
interesting connection between a tree and a rock
Beebe Pond

a tiger that devours me

2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ Sumatran tiger

Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.
~ Jorge Luis Borges
(Labyrinths: A New Refutation of Time)

midsummer magic

6.25.16.2935
6.25.16 ~ we celebrated the summer solstice on Saturday ~ good friends, good food and good fun…

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6.25.16 ~ bald eagle

6.25.16.2790
6.25.16 ~ catbird

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6.25.16 ~ woodpecker

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6.25.16 ~ woodpecker taking off

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6.25.16 ~ I’m drawing a blank on identifying flowers…

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6.25.16 ~ a lily?

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6.25.16 ~ ???

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6.25.16 ~ another lily?

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6.25.16 ~ fairy light

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6.25.16 ~ as close as I could get to this doe before she stomped her forefeet at me ~ I backed off so she could graze in peace…

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6.25.16 ~ chipmunk

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6.25.16 ~ so many orbs on a magical night

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6.25.16 ~ after a long day of fun in the sun, a fire to enjoy under a clear sky full of shimmering stars, with fireflies glowing in the surrounding trees, and fairy lights sparkling near the grass…

 

…first day of spring…

Sulamith Wülfing (1901–1989) German Artist & Illustrator
illustration by Sulamith Wülfing

To see the fire that warms you or, better yet, to cut the wood that feeds the fire that warms you; to see the spring where the water bubbles up that slakes your thirst and to dip your pail into it; to see the beams that are the stay of your four walls and the timbers that uphold the roof that shelters you; to be in direct and personal contact with the sources of your material life; to find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to find a quest of wild berries more satisfying than a gift of tropical fruit; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wild flower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
~ John Burroughs
(John Burroughs’ America: Selections from the Writings of the Naturalist)

Welcome Spring!

everything is flowing

Blue Marble image of North America by NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

In the belly of the furnace of creativity is a sexual fire; the flames twine about each other in fear and delight. The same sort of coiling, at a cooler, slower pace, is what the life of this planet looks like. The enormous spirals of typhoons, the twists and turns of mountain ranges and gorges, the waves and the deep ocean currents – a dragonlike writhing.
~ Gary Snyder
(A Place in Space)

Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have a clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien
(The Return of the King)

Contemplating the lace-like fabric of streams outspread over the mountains, we are reminded that everything is flowing – going somewhere, animals and so-called lifeless rocks as well as water. Thus the snow flows fast or slow in grand beauty-making glaciers and avalanches; the air in majestic floods carrying minerals, plant leaves, seeds, spores, with streams of music and fragrance; water streams carrying rocks both in solution and in the form of mud particles, sand, pebbles, and boulders. Rocks flow from volcanoes like water from springs, and animals flock together and flow in currents modified by stepping, leaping, gliding, flying, swimming, etc. While the stars go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood globules in Nature’s warm heart.
~ John Muir
(Meditations of John Muir: Nature’s Temple)

Happy Earth Day!

a warm and helping hand

"Hooded Crows" by Bruno Liljefors (1860–1939) Swedish Wildlife Painter
“Hooded Crows” by Bruno Liljefors

Now as the last broad oak leaf falls, we beg, consider this:
there’s some who have no coin to save for turkey, wine or gifts.
No children’s laughter round the fire, no family left to know.
So lend a warm and a helping hand, say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.
~ Ian Anderson
♫ (Jack Frost & The Hooded Crow) ♫

Welcome Winter!

Okefenokee Swamp I

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

If there were Druids whose temples were the oak groves, my temple is the swamp.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal)

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

On the night of a full moon, April 6, we took an enchanting sunset cruise on a small skiff into the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. There had been a natural fire, started by lightning, about a year ago.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

In southern Georgia and northern Florida there is a very special place, one of the oldest and best preserved freshwater systems in America. Native Americans called it Okefenoka, meaning “Land of the Trembling Earth.” Now this place, where earth, air, fire and water continuously reform the landscape, is preserved within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, created in 1937 to protect wildlife and for you to explore.
~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

Can you spot the alligator eyeing us in the next picture?

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

photos by Tim Rodgers