Maybe love, too, is beautiful because it has a wildness that cannot be tamed. I don’t know. All I know is that passion can take you up like a house of cards in a tornado, leaving destruction in its wake. Or it can let you alone because you’ve built a stone wall against it, set out the armed guards to keep it from touching you. The real trick is to let it in, but to hold on. To understand that the heart is as wide and vast as the universe, but that we come to know it best from here, this place of gravity and stability, where our feet can still touch ground.
~ Deb Caletti
Radical hope anticipates a good for which those who have the hope as yet lack the appropriate concepts with which to understand it. This is a daunting form of commitment: to a goodness in the world that transcends one’s current ability to grasp what it is.
~ Jonathan Lear, Radical Hope
Greetings! How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting? Or was it a quiet and restful weekend? Maybe a bit of both?
My weekend wasn’t terribly exciting, but it wasn’t entirely restful, either. I’m heading up to the mountains at the end of the week, and had to spend at least a little time getting ready to get ready. Do some cleaning and organizing, tidy up the guest room for our house/pet-sitter, make lists, and more of that sort of thing. But I did find some time to relax, paint a little, write a little, swim, read, and take a few early morning walks out to the gardens and the dock.
I haven’t been out to the dock for a while. At least a couple of weeks, I think. Once the weather turns hot, humid, and buggy, I usually avoid the woods because of the mosquitoes and flies. Our woods border the marsh and recent rains spawned swarms of mosquitoes. On Saturday morning, one of our hottest days of the season so far, I was outside to take care of a chore and decided to spray up (with a DEET product) and brave the swarms so I could go out to the dock for a little while. M has been telling me about all the action going on out there, action I miss because I don’t spend too many summer days by the creek.
M has seen bald eagles, schools of fish, jellyfish, turtles, and snakes from the seat on the dock. I wanted to see the jellyfish. One of the locals mentioned that because it’s been so dry, the water in the creeks and rivers has become saltier, and they were seeing critters and creatures in the river that they don’t normally see. This is the first time we’ve seen jellyfish in the creek. As you can tell from my photo, I was lucky enough to catch one swimming by.
There was evidence of a bald eagle on the walk out there. Poop, fish scales, a feather or two. When I got to the dock, I failed to look up and see that the eagle was right there, perched on the dead tree that is to the right of the dock. It wasn’t until I heard the quiet swoosh of her flapping wings that I looked and there she was. Or he. I really don’t know. I didn’t have the camera ready. I eventually got a few shots of her as she was flying over the creek but by that time she was a little too far away for a good shot.
It was quite hot out there in the sun. Not a breeze or bit of shade to be found on the dock. I didn’t stay too long. It was getting near 11 AM and I figured I could go out again on Sunday morning if I really want to sit a while and watch for more jellyfish. I saw three while I was out there, capturing just one with the camera.
As I’ve mentioned way too many times, summer is not my season. While out for an early morning walk yesterday, I had an interesting ah-ha! moment. Summer usually brings a sort of existential crises mode that I go through year after year, but only recently noticed it as a pattern in my life. It’s a questioning of everything, including the usual “who am I?” and “what should I be doing with my life?” kind of stuff that could (and often did) lead me into the abyss of self-doubt and self-recrimination. Not this year.
Summer sheds a lot of light, doesn’t it? Sometimes on things we might not want to deal with or see. For me, part of what I found in the shadows is related to writing and photography.
For the past couple of years, probably before the start of the pandemic, I’ve been less and less inclined to take photographs. I go through phases of inspiration, wanting to do a series of this or that, and then it recedes before I finish (in some cases, before I even begin). I’ve written about it here and have used the excuse that the camera isn’t working right and/or I’m feeling my age and don’t want to lug around a heavy camera. Hiding in the corner in the dark was something else.
I had a project going a while back that I called the Wounded Tree Series. I took a series of photographs of trees that had been wounded by barbed wire and lightning, trees that had healed. I also took photographs of ash trees that were dying or dead due to the emerald ash borer (in NE Ohio). There are images of the ghost forests on Assateague Island with close-ups of damage done by pine bark beetles. I write about the fish swimming on the woodland trail as if it is a magical thing (and it does seem that way) but in truth, it is what happens when the woods flood and that has been happening more and more over the years we’ve been here. It is part of what causes the ghost forests. The trees are weakened by saltwater inundation, making them less capable of surviving pests such as the pine bark beetles.
I recently pulled back and got a look at the bigger picture. For a couple of decades, I’ve been documenting climate change in my own backyard. Not just here, but in NE Ohio when I spent a year getting outside every day, frequently walking the same paths. I’ve been writing about it via my blog(s) and in my journal. One could almost say that I’ve been in training to be a witness, as we are all witnesses, to what is happening. I’ve been witnessing, day by day by day, the little changes and then the overall bigger changes, through my daily walks. When I look back at blog posts from here and on my previous blog, I can see the path I’ve been following. What those posts and images don’t show is how much it hurts to watch the changes, to see the trees die, and the landscape shift. The witnessing comes with grief, sadness, a feeling of helplessness, and sometimes anger and/or rage.
The painting and drawing I’ve been distracting myself with are more than mere distractions. They are a refuge for me, a way to express the grief, sadness, hurt, beauty, and joy in colors, symbols, and with the use of my hands. Now that I’ve got an inkling about all of these things, I also feel I have a direction, something I didn’t have when I started to write and put together a book some months back. I got stuck because of the lack of direction and purpose. I feel as if I’ve been given a compass, a way forward. Not a map. There is still so much of the unknowing and unknown.
I reckon that’s about it from me for today. Thank you for joining me on another meander. Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset. It’s scheduled for 8:20 PM. We will need to keep an eye on the sky. A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued. It might miss us but we don’t want to be out there with the lightning if it does arrive.
Please be safe and be well.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 2,056) Cosmos and zinnias and everything that is blooming right now. 2,057) Watching the jellyfish swim by. 2,058) Three fawns and a fox visiting this morning. Not at the same time. 2,059) A good, strong breeze on this sweltering day. 2,060) Homemade peach pie.