Going through some old folders, I found the original set of 2005 Moose Pond Moon photos in a surprise location.  It included a scenery shot that I guess I had written off when the set was put where it belongs under photos/nature/moon.  Turns out it was worth keeping.

[This post has only 706 words, chunks of it in music quotes, and a few minutes for one song performance.]

I don’t think it’s exquisite.  It just has a way of holding my eye that doesn’t make sense.  Maybe there’s something wrong with my eye.

When I remembered the moon in Harry Chapin’s song, Circle, I was glad to have him join the moon song hit parade with this salty-sweet sing-a–long.

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Aranyaka – Part 1

George Gordon Byron


“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.

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Spring 2013 – Early April

Sing along: “It’s beginning to look a lot like April!”

If you don’t know the tune, write me and ask for it.  Just kidding.  Here it is, as written and sung by the great Johnny Mathis (biography):

If your brain is racked anything like mine, that song will be stuck in your head the rest of the day.  So, in a sense, we will be singing along together.  Just remember to use the word April.

Anyone living south of our Clinton County, New York (in the far northeast corner of the state, bordering Vermont and Canada) may enjoy seeing the still somewhat wintry nature of early-to-mid April here.  Folks north of here, go ahead and laugh, especially Alaskans, Siberians, Antarcticans (just north of the south pole), etc.

For reference, in case there is someone reading this not acquainted with Clinton County, NY:

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A word about Balsamea’s snowshoe paths

Actually, it’s around 1058 words.

Originally I intended to let the snowshoe path pictures in my previous blog post speak for themselves.  Today, Pyrrhite’s comment on that post got me wondering about what makes Balsamea’s snowshoe paths so attractive to me that I popped off more than 200 snapshots hoping to get lucky in the handful I found worth posting here.

In pithy Pyrrhite style, I read, “I love snowshoe trails. Nothing much is quite as compelling.”  Why are they so compelling?  Okay, Py, you pulled the cord to muse up a scribblement.  Let’s see if I have the gas to shoot through it quickly, because I am supposed to be doing something else.  I may be a scribblement addict, and you an enabler.

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Way – Scribblement 20121222

Saturday, December 22, 2012.  The second day of winter.  I meant to write something yesterday, to celebrate winter solstice, but I exhausted myself out in the woods being The Balsamean, celebrating for real, not just on paper.  Er … I mean, in pixels.  (That’s trite, isn’t it?)

If ever I lose the ability to walk in the woods as much as I do, maybe I would use the time to write a book (about what, I have no idea).  Unfortunately, most of my best inspiration arises while walking in the woods, the flow of creativity juices increasing proportionate to the time spent walking.  No walking, no writing.

Here on the second day of Winter 2012-13, finally we have some genuine winter weather.  On our morning walk, we had a beautiful 25 degrees and steadily falling snow, adding to the half-melted and re-frozen crunch-bed of snow underfoot.

Viewed from the window in front of me as I scribble, the snow is not falling so much as driven horizontally by strong winds roaring in from the west.  Deep in the woods, where the wind lives mainly in the treetops, the snow floated peacefully down to me during our morning walk.  (By the way, proper making of scribblements at Balsamea is with a window in front of you, if not outdoors.)

This morning, in addition to meandering through some passes and paths, Buddy took me on our usual walk around Balsamea’s perimeter trails.  He tends to want to go clockwise, beginning on Balsamea Way, to the west terminus of Stumpy Way, then Stumpy to the northeast half of Kiefer Loop, then across the east side of Beech Loop, around the southeast corner of Birdsong Loop, and back to the house via Whitetail Way.  Today we also ambled through part of Aranyaka Maze.  We walked about half of the entire trail network.

I cleaned yesterday’s crusty, icy accumulation off all the fireplace and woodpile covers.  This is a routine activity on every walk after snow.  We have large rock fireplaces (that’s large fireplaces made with large rocks) at five locations: Camp Balsamea, Turkeyfoot, Tettegouche, Silviden and Kieferhaven.  This year I made permanent covers for the fireplaces, to keep snow and ice out of them (I use all of them year-round).

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A Word About Scribblement

Journaling in the camper at Balsamea

For decades I called the dictionary my favorite book, until Wiktionary, which I now adore as much.  Just the same, I’m keeping my 1995 Webster’s Collegiate 10th Ed. and my 1962 Roget’s Thesaurus 3rd Ed.  I may need a word when the lights are out, or when the satellite web connection goes away at a critical moment, or when unregulated hypergobalcapitalizm (masquerading as democracy) gets lethal immunodeficiency, and the web collapses.

You may have noticed the tagline on this blog, Scribblements from Balsamea.  I started using scribblement in 2008 to describe a two-year-long series of many hand-written long letters, accompanied by many photographs, usually with captions written on the backs — on the originals and six copies — and lovingly mailed to a handful of victims.  I called these scribblements The Balsamea Letters.    .

In my mind, they were like scribbling because they had little purpose or value but to satisfy my need to write them.  They also freely rambled, because I gave them permission.  Still, they were more than scribbling, firmer, meant to last.  The -ment suffix fit nicely, a baggy firmament.

That period, May 2008 – June 2010, was my Thoreauvian period: living off-the-grid, no electricity, no running water, no phone, no pool, one 70-pound pet.  I suppose that this unusual lifestyle choice, being largely the cause of the letters, could give the letters more meaning than if I wrote them from a walk-up flat in the burbs, on a computer, with C-SPAN on the tube and a frozen pizza in the oven.  I could offer such meaning as a justification for the -ment suffix.

I had a cell phone, thanks to the car charger adapter.  Three times or more per day during my forest saunters (Thoreau liked that word) I reached those positions where AT&T could hear me at a strength of one or two bars.  Those signal hot spots were about 1,500 feet from home base.  On those three occasions every day, I checked for voice mail messages, except when I forgot to bring the phone.

Otherwise, as I did when returning calls to three people with whom the conversations typically ran long, I drove the car four miles for a good signal.  At $0.40 to $0.50 per mile, that adds substantially to the cost of a phone call, especially when it’s 12 or 85 Fahrenheit and you leave the car running for A/C or heat while gabbing.  (According to Consumer Reports, the total cost of ownership, operation, and maintenance of my car over five years is $0.44/mile.  It is a subcompact, tiny, and gets 34-40 miles per gallon.)

After having used scribblement, thinking myself clever for coming up with it on my own, I pulled out the Webster’s just to make sure I had invented something.  (You didn’t think I would go two years in the woods without a dictionary, did you?)  Page 1050.  Scribal, scribble, scribbler, scribe … no scribblement!  Yay!  Then, I flattened my bubble under the authoritative weight of the public library’s giant dictionary.  Scribblement was a word in the Webster’s of 1913.  Its definition was, and is “a scribble.”  Authorities say the word is dated, but not archaic or obsolete.

English: Portrait by Benjamin D. Maxham (dague...

Thoreau portrait, 1856 daguerreotype by Benjamin D. Maxham

Original title page of Walden featuring a pict...

Original title page of Walden featuring a picture drawn by Thoreau’s sister Sophia

If a scribblement is a scribble, you may ask, why not just call the letters scribbles?  Scribblers scribble scribbles, don’t they?  Well, what do you call a 20-page scribble on two sides of loose-leaf paper, photocopied half a dozen times, the original stored in a loose-leaf binder, placed with annotated photos into 9×11 envelopes, and mailed to people in Wisconsin, New York and Connecticut?  Add to those long letters nine volumes (Marble-type composition books) of personal journals, or writing yoga, done partly from feeling obligated because Thoreau got a book out of his stunt and he didn’t even stay through the winters at Walden — or so I’ve heard.

THAT is making scribblements, not scribbles.

This blog is an outgrowth, or continuation (with changes, such as an audience) of those scribblements, and I’d feel silly calling it Scribbles from Balsamea.

1906 painting by Carl Larsson, “Model Writing Postcards.” Some people really know how to do their scribbling: on the job, between modeling assignments, in costume. Click for better view.

But why “scribble” instead of “write?”  Isn’t it writing?

Oh, puh-leeze!  Writement?  Not even I would invent a dopey word like that (not to imply you’re a dope if you asked the question).  And it would imply that I think myself a writer.  If I am, it is probably not a good idea to pat myself on the back for it.

Isn’t “scribble,” with or without “-ment,” diminutive, even self-derogatory?  Seriously (if that is possible in this post), I can explain farther, but it would take too long, and double your boredom.  So I’ll leave you there.