“The end of all scribblement is to amuse,
and he certainly succeeds there.” –Lord Byron, Referring to Sir Walter Scott in a letter to Francis Hodgson, 1810
… even if I’m the only one amused
As I say, I blog for my entertainment.
In my Cadivus post, I quoted Natalie Goldberg’s book Wild Mind, where she advised writers to “sink into the big sky and write from there.” (PDF of the full excerpt.) In my layman’s rough terms, “big sky” refers to widened awareness and/or a Buddhistic meditation practice called “big sky mind.”
In context, I believe Goldberg is talking about unleashing oneself from the limitations of overly self-critical, self-confining, ego-based/fear-driven, creativity-stifling thinking. It may also be distorted thinking that is out of harmony with things as they are.
Like me, for instance (to a degree).
Note the subtitle of this blog, Scribblements from Balsamea. Maybe I should have called it Scribblements of Balsamea, referring not only to these words and pictures, but also to writing myself into Nature here, and herself into my little mind-body machine. Cadivus is the latest significant example of that reciprocal, wordless writing process. I’d like to talk about one of the early examples, a place in Balsamea that I named Aranyaka in 2006.
NATURE DOODLE at Aranyaka, 9/24/2007. Click to enlarge.
God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, “Ah!” —Joseph Campbell
… for me, even a fallen tree.
If looking at a tree can be a divine experience, or something transcendent, then what may be revealed or experienced when you spend a few days intimately connecting with every part of a big fallen tree and everything on the ground surrounding it, including clearing away many other trees that it fell on, changing it to a playground shaped from what had been a big obstacle fallen onto and blockading an important trail? What does that intimacy reveal?
The wind snapped off this big white pine at a point where its trunk had divided and where it became infected with a fungus common among white pines. This “stump” will die and become a tall snag that will stand potentially for decades, and be a great resource to wildlife.
It’s what we have when we have nothing that defines our relation to nature and the effect of nature on the soul. Then we begin to realize that we do not exist outside of nature or above nature or independent of nature; we are simply its most vulnerable part. What we learn from nature may make the whole difference in the way we go through life, and what we want from it, and what we consider important in it, and—most of all—what we are capable of learning by being alive. —from Becoming Fully Human by Joan Chittister (Sheed & Ward)
(Click pics for full-screen views.) Views looking up under American Beech trees, abundant at Balsamea, fascinating in every season. See my post, The Junk Tree (Fagus grandifolia) for many more home-made pictures and discussion. Some foolish person called it a junk tree, not me. I’m not THAT foolish.
“What we learn from nature may make the whole difference in
… what we are capable of learning by being alive.” –JDC
“You don’t have to fly or drive anywhere to see the beauty of nature-it’s all right there in your own yard!” -NHGS
NHGS started out as a gardening blog — by a garden and landscape professional, self-described now as, “Once a professional gardener, now a helper” — who now shares with us nature studies, photographs, descriptions and more, including personal reactions to nature as it occurs in New Hampshire habitats of the same kinds I have here in the Northern Adirondacks.
It is terrific nature writing, wonderfully illustrated, and I am grateful to be a subscriber.
It is a delightful source of education about things I see every day, written in a fresh, light, personalized style, loaded with information about the things explored, in all seasons. I’m introduced to things I did not realize I was seeing! I’m enlightened about the things I have seen and long appreciated. Continue reading →
After half a foot of sticky, soggy snowfall overnight, today the temperature at Balsamea rose well above freezing. Along our trails, rapidly thawing snow showered from the trees everywhere in these dense woods, especially from the pines and firs, those bearers of great snow-loads.
Click pix for full size images
It fell in droplets, spoonfuls, cupfuls, bucketfuls and barrowfuls. The still, windless air said nothing while each of these sizes played their particular sounds, all around me patting, drumming, shushing and thumping their way through tree limbs, branches, twigs and evergreen boughs, then concluding each phrase with a strike on the snow on the ground. They formed an unusual percussive symphony unique to this particular circumstance, in a special variation playing upon atypical conditions in the fresh snow cover.
When or where can you hear nature using trees and snow as instruments to drench the still air in sound this way, with a variety of visual effects, too? When do you get to sit in the middle of the orchestra as it plays? It filled the air within a great dome surrounding me, simultaneously at every volume possible to my ears. Some notes played a few feet from me, ranging out to ones played barely within hearing. Some struck funny notes on my ball cap and shoulders. Continue reading →