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May 25, 2017


that was beautiful

Wonderful, Janie. Maine is one of the best places in the world. We are a week or so past that now in RI.

I love it this time of year when the night insects explode in sound, and the owls start over the doves. I start sleeping out on the hammock around this time, the brief period before the mosquitos take over.

I love hearing from those who live where the seasons are the way that they are in all the books. As opposed to what I grew up with and see to this day.

We do get flowers and such in the spring. But the time when the hills turn green is October, when the rains begin. And spring, when they stop, is when the grass starts to turn brown. Or, as we say, when California turns golden.

The idea of having the (unirrigated) landscape be green in summer still feels like a view of another planet.

A most beautiful and lyrical post, JanieM. Thank you.

As your post stayed in my mind (beautiful, lyrical things do that) I remembered an interview shown on TV, with Dennis Potter, one of our very finest TV dramatists (The Singing Detective, Pennies from Heaven etc) when he was dying of cancer. He kept having to swig liquid morphine during the interview, and died not that long thereafter, but nobody who saw it can ever forget it. Apart from the revelation that he had named his cancer "Murdoch", by far the most memorable passage was this:

Below my window in Ross, when I'm working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It's a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it's white, and looking at it, instead of saying "Oh that's nice blossom" ... last week looking at it through the window when I'm writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There's no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance ... not that I'm interested in reassuring people - bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.

the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous

This, and Janie's post, have made my day.

Thank you both.

We're a week or so ahead of you Janie, but otherwise it all sounds exactly right.

We're hoping the local mockingbird decides to nest nearby again this year. He sings all night long, literally, loud enough to wake you up.

Some things are worth losing some sleep for.

Sorry, have just seen, he called his cancer Rupert, after Murdoch. Here is an edited transcript, if you are interested, and the actual program (interviewer Melvyn Bragg) is probably findable for anyone interested enough:


Nice moment, JanieM. Thanks.

I am joining the chorus of appreciation for JanieM's Post!

I have been enjoying the greenery of spring in Washington. It is actually not raining and I have been enjoying that, too.

I have been thinking about thin veils, but in a different way. There are certain places where it seems the veil between time is very thin whe time travel feels possible. One of those places is Calf Creek Canyon, in Staircase Escalente Natl Monument, Utah.

A friend an dI discovered the canyon in the seventies before the road over the mountain was paved, before Monument status. We hiked up the canyon to the falls, hiked back, Then we scrambled up the canyon walls and wandered along the top of the mesa. I found an arrowhead. We slept under an unbelievable sky full of stars. The next day, back down in the canyon we saw the petroglyphs.

Three figures, horned gods, standing side by side staring out over a thousand years of passing time.

I had one of those time travel moments when I felt like if i just stepped in the right place, just a few inchnes one way or the other and I would be there in the canyon in the tie of the horned gods.

I kind of wanted to do it.

I went back to Calf Creek with my sister last spring The road over the mountain is paved, the canyon is protected (but on Trump's hit list). The parking lot was crammed cars. Monument status has brought the tourists.

However most of the tourists were not hiking. Se saw the petroglyphs, the gods still stoically monitoring the changes in their canyon.

But I was having a different time travel experience. I was going back in my mind to when my friend and I stumbled on the canyon by accident, two stoned twenty year olds on a driving jag. Now I am over sixty an dI could not hike all the way to the falls, too hot.

We sat on a rock and watched the towhees and the grosbeaks and a blue gray flycatcher.

I'm going back in June, probably for the last time.

If I could choose a place to die, it would be in that canyon. Or maybe Iceland, or the Yukon up near the Circle. Some place old where the geology gives a perspective on human life.

I am joining the chorus of appreciation for JanieM's Post!

Me, too!

In terms of Celtic folklore and mythology there's plenty of associations between apples and the Otherworld (Emhain Abhlach, Tir na nÓg). In "The Voyage of Bran (son of Febail)", Bran is given a blooming silver apple branch as a token of passage to Emhain Abhlach.

And apple blossom time sits opposite the wheel of the year from Samhain, so it stands to reason that it too would be a liminal time. The Otherworld need not be a singular world, having both light and dark aspects. The Irish source materials also speak of Tech Duinn -- The House of Donn -- where the souls of the dead gather. I haven't looked for any articles on it, but I could easily see there being a correspondence between Beltaine/Samhain and Emhain Abhlach/Tech Duinn.

wj -- since your comment I've been trying to imagine living in a place where it gets green in the fall and brown in the spring. It's hard!

But that image reminds me of a different comparison. My first trip to Ireland was in April/May of '79, and when I got back to the Boston area I was raving about how beautifully green Ireland was. (It's not called the Emerald Isle for nothing, after all.) Everyone at home looked at me like I was nuts, because Boston was in the midst of springtime too, and incredibly green.

It has taken me all these years to realize that a big difference in how the Irish countryside looks (compared to any I'm familiar with in the US) is that there's all this grassland, and it's all kept "mowed" by sheep instead of lawn mowers. It's a totally different look, the look that I always treasure for about three days in early May in Maine, before the busy people get busy on their mowers.

Thanks to GftNC for the Dennis Potter quote and link and to nous for the extra insight into Celtic folklore.

Also as to this from wonkie:

I'm going back in June, probably for the last time.

If I could choose a place to die, it would be in that canyon. Or maybe Iceland, or the Yukon up near the Circle. Some place old where the geology gives a perspective on human life.

So many echoes here. I used to think that if I could choose a place to die it would be on the coastal strip of Olympic National Park, the most beautiful place I've ever seen. (The Park as a whole, but especially the coastline.) That was before I had kids; having them changed my focus more toward where I might want to be buried, as I mentioned in my first post here on "Cemeteries."

But the mention that this June trip might be your last echoed too. I hiked in the Olympics in 1972 and 1974, visited the edge of that land in 1985, and haven't been back since. I'm 67 now and wondering if I ever will see it again...but then, the same goes for Ireland, England, and Scotland. Never mind that I have never visited Italy, where half my ancestors came from....

Hmmm. I think I'll just go for a walk and think about my dad, my grandfather, and all my uncles who fought (and in one case died) in the wars of the twentieth century.

Thanks everyone.

Never mind that I have never visited Italy

Please visit Italy, JanieM, if you can. I hope you have a chance. At some point during my travels at the turn of the century, I realized that Italy and Ireland have a mutual affinity. I love both of those countries, and their people.

Janie, that's precisely the problem I have, just from the other side. I suppose it's a bit easier on my side, because the way things are east of the Rockies (and in Europe) is how most books talk about the world -- or just assume it is. But the cognitive dissonance never quite goes away.
The biggest impact on me actually has to do with water use and landscaping. Most people in California came here from elsewhere (or, at most, their parents did), from places with, if you will, more standard climates. As a result, their idea of "normal" involves large, green all summer, lawns. They even write requirements for them into their neighborhood homeowners covenants -- heaven forbid someone act like they are aware of the local climate reality.

But this is a desert. To get a green lawn in summer, you have to irrigate. Several times a week. And that means massive infrastructure to get the water from far away, move it and store it.

Not that home landscaping is the only use. California agriculture wouldn't exist without those government projects either. Not that our farmers see it that way. Abundant water, at below market prices, is their natural, God-given right, just ask them.

And it can't be due to government, because government interference is bad by definition. In fact, it's why there are limits on their water just. Outrageous! I suppose that's why I have little patience with the more extreme libertarians: I've seen too much nonsense like that from their fellow believers.

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