Thursday, November 29, 2012


Getting ready for new fires in the just-cleaned woodstove, went at evening to fill the bucket with pinecones from the shed, out to the big bag of them still left from the ones I picked up on Little Pine Beach a couple years ago, my feet going quiet out back trying not to startle the two young does nibbling at the big meadow across the road as I saw from the big side window a few moments before-- I don’t think they can see me here, and I’m downbreeze, but they might hear me, so I try to sound like a bunch of pinecones in a big bag in a shed.

Then trying even harder to stay quiet while slowly pouring out those years-dry pinecones that whisper as they go out of a big chunky bag into the old iron bucket just waiting to be noise, and then in that autumn evening light the surprise to me, so far from expecting the beauty that comes tumbling into the reddish bucket in the silvers, russets and other dun colors left behind by pine seeds long gone into the world; purpose fulfilled, the pinecones are still reaching-- openness their new beauty, they gather together without fuss, arrange themselves in elegance; I add some more on top, they’re still perfectly arranged. Then I add a handful more, just to see. You cannot mess up a bunch of pinecones.

Simple, sleek power they are, gathered there in a bucket in a twilight, fallen altogether in ancient understanding. One must take the time they call for, gaze at their perfection, try to see how they do it, being mostly space, but are we not the same-- it is something that knows us well, some ancient thing, far older than eyes, that life has made and light has painted, a glimpse from a now at what is always, about light and seeds, about hearts and moments, about deep stirrings of time in evenings of lives... pinecones in a bucket.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SOMETHING THERE IS, FOR SURE Although the phrasing makes it pretty awkward to do so, I have to agree 100% with Robert Frost that definitely Something there is that doesn't love a wall, which Something in my case, in addition to RF's groundswells, includes hurricanes, wild pigs and earthquakes, though I know R was after a refined, esoteric entity better suited to a New Englandy kind of poetry. But hey, since I'm on the subject and not being the least bit poetic, let's not limit this to stone walls, shall we, there is more to the phenomenon than that. Like any stone handler, I have basic stone wall permanency problems, but I have the same trouble with stacks of firewood. And so do you, if you've ever stacked a bunch of big oddsized chunks of it; tougher than building a sentence in Finnegan's Wake. Soon after which you find out that yes, Something there is alright, and it doesn't love a stack of firewood any less than it doesn't love a stone wall. No need to even mention stacks of money. Yes, here we humans are, all this time - thousands of millennia so far - trying to stack up something of our own that will last, preferably years - even centuries for a stone wall - but a mere year or two for a stack of firewood-- is that too much to ask? Whatever that unidentifiable entity Frost is hinting at, it sure as hell doesn't listen. It's not a matter just of gravity, which is a strictly bureaucratic form of energy; there's Something more impish to it, being the antithesis of entropy, yet persistently selective in its anarchy. I got rerouted onto this rant because this year not one stack of firewood, not two stacks of firewood, but three stacks of firewood (one stack twice, so far) have been toppled by wild pigs or hurricanes, and the year ain't over yet, though it's leaning in that direction. Earth, time and gravity have friends.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Standing out in the strong wind last night getting a good soft buffeting, listening to the air itself roar the way it does when seasons change, in the castoff light from the house windows I watched the same bamboo I always see as a wall of vegetation in the light of day, when I look out the window or glance up from gardening or firewooding-- 

But now, in the light upon the dark, and as a figure in the picture myself I saw the bamboo as if on a stage before me, saw how it lived and moved in ancient understanding of the roar of an autumn night-- it was a different beast, clearly alive now out here in its world, collective in its singularity, truer to its nature there in the night of its life, where seeing is of no point and being is all--

I'd always thought of this bamboo in itself as individual stalks, the stubborn ones I now and then had to force my way through on a path of last resort. A feisty plant in its human relations, this is the variety they make fishing rods out of - mountain bamboo - taller than a man but slender and crowded, grows too densely for any but wild pigs, ferrets, foxes and snakes to travel easily through (bamboo and animals share a primordial alliance of noses and shapes); but now, in the rush of the night, each light-paled stalk was on its own, yet one with all the others.

Like a school of bright fish in a dark sea they were together, shifting and swaying, shining and turning as one golden mass in the roiling ocean of black air that moved with and around them, 'together' in the deepest meaning: wind and stalk, air and plant in one vast lifewave, both surrendering, both prevailing, air moving on, bamboo letting it go and holding fast to the earth, each stalk reaching even in the night for the light of the day to come, in ancient and undying trust.

Monday, November 05, 2012


Went on Sunday to a mountain across the Lake to check out Oda Nobunaga's Azuchi castle digs, he wasn't there, hasn't been for several centuries now, nothing left on that mountaintop but huge stone foundations that cast the eye into high fortifications and the mind into standing guard outdoors in high twisting corridors of stone on savage winter nights alert in the dark of long before electricity, listening through the howl of the wind for sounds of conspirators edging up through tilted blackness, and only three years after all that magnificence was built, Oda made his biggest mistake, got cornered at a lowdown temple near Kyoto's Gion district (still a pleasure center today), and slit his own belly rather than be captured by an upstart, and the very next day the plotters burned those brand-new golden towers, those treasure walls down to the bare rough stones I saw on Sunday, overlooking vast holdings that belong to no one after all, is what the ruin says, and only ten days later Hideyoshi carried out an amazing forced march and sent the surprised plotters themselves to where Oda and his fabulous dream-filled castle had gone, and there 400 years later was I, standing on a post stone 30 meters below where Oda's candle-lit tower room had risen into the night with its painted walls, broad doors open to the vastness beneath the stars, no one there today but some elderly visitors stumbling to the top of what's left of the foundation to exclaim on the view from here, in fact one can see much much farther in so many ways from such places as this, royal chambers in the air where once were trysts and plottings now repossessed by the crowns of trees, the fights of crows and how fickle is power, as one's boot fits the wear in the time-tilted grand steps of stone a nation once climbed, in obeisance now as far from here as Nobunaga is...