The woods and sky near home

Some pictures of the woods beyond the edge of the grass that is my yard.  Sunrise is only visible when the trees are bare of leaves.  Beyond the edge of grass the earth falls away into several deep ravines, home to white tailed deer, fox, racoon, possum, rabbits, squirrels, hawks, owls, and many types of woodland birds.

I think the sky at sundown is  even more beautiful than sunrise.  Many times as I walk the dogs in the evening I see colors and textures that almost stop my breath.  To witness such splendor is one of life’s simple pleasures.  The light scattered across the clouds, the colors,  are visible only briefly.  Watching the display may last only 10 or 15 minutes.  But if we don’t go outside, or are too busy to simply look up, we miss the show!

If you stop in the woods

If you stop in the woods, or move unobtrusively, and make a point of noticing, you discover there’s a lot going on.

It takes a few minutes, like eyes adjusting to the dark, before your senses re-tune. There are birds and rustlings, and puffs of air across your skin. Your nostrils open to the cacophony of scent. After a while longer, maybe an hour, a kind of spatial synaesthesia has taken over. The area around you is abuzz with conversation. In all directions stories are unfolding, on various temporal scales. Insects whirr and trees sigh. The ripples from your presence on the scene are noted and are fed back to you, and you become aware of that too.

You experience these stimuli as intimately as if your surroundings have become an extension of your body. It feels awesome. The woods themselves are your organs of perception.  They and everything that’s in them seem to be doing the thinking for you. What’s left is a kind of heightened sixth sense. Like waking into a lighter and immeasurably more alert state.

Is that how it is for the wild ones, all of the time?

It may have been an effort at first to “notice”, but when it’s time to trudge back to normality you find it’s almost a greater effort to switch off that enveloping hum, to shut your senses down and buckle into the familiar mental harness. There’s a boundless dialogue of life going on out there and the denizens of the wildwood are all a part of it. But we, the tamed ones, mostly blunder through insensate, having fenced ourselves off mentally and physically.

Why would we do that I wonder? How much was really gained in return for all that we lost?

Honoring the past and the lessons we learned

Humans haven’t always been ignorant of how our world and our civilization worked.  I was intrigued by this image of a church in Houston Texas recently flooded during Hurricane Harvey.  The picture above is of the old First Baptist Church of Orange, Texas completed and dedicated on September 14, 1915.  The architect is not known.  The First Baptist congregation has built newer buildings in the years since and the current building may be sold to the city and demolished to make way for new development.  What I found striking about this picture was the main floor was well above the flooding from Hurricane Harvey because it was built well above flood levels.

Perhaps the people of Houston built this church in response to the Great Galveston Hurricane, known regionally as the Great Storm of 1900, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Galveston on September 8, 1900. A storm surge of 15 ft (4.6 m) washed over the long, flat island-city, which was only 8 ft (2.4 m) above sea level, knocking buildings off their foundations and destroying over 3,600 homes.  The disaster ended the Golden Era of Galveston, as the hurricane alarmed potential investors, who turned to Houston instead. The whole island of Galveston was subsequently raised by 17 ft (5.2 m) and a 10 mi (16 km) seawall erected. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1900_Galveston_hurricane]

On September 17, 1947, a Category 4 hurricane struck southeast Florida, generating an 11-foot storm surge at Palm Beach. The seawater at Palm Beach on that date reached the highest recorded level, even topping a 9.8-foot storm tide generated by the “Lake Okeechobee Hurricane” of 1928. Both of these storms generated high enough storm surges to inflict substantial damage along the coast.


Hurricane damage at the Seacrest Hotel – Delray Beach, Florida. 1947. Black & white photoprint, 8 x 10 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/38352>, accessed 8 September 2017.

The beach in the photo above is damaged severely, but the building looks intact.  Why is there so little observable damage to the building?  Why are the trees still standing with palm fronds intact?  Could it be that the walls of the building were built thick enough and strong enough to resist the wind; that the palm trees growing in sand instead of surrounded by concrete sidewalks had better root support?

It is so easy to find information about the past, old ways of building that may be more resilient than newer ways.  Permaculture, shorthand for permanent culture, teaches sustainable ways of producing food, building homes and communities, ways to conserve and reclaim land from desert, replant forests.  We do have ideas.  Humans are very good at surviving climate change.  Think of how many ice ages our ancestors survived!  We simply need to remember what we have forgotten…that life is a hard won endeavor not an entitlement.

 

keep your eyes and heart open, you never know what you’ll see

taking off on the idea of communication without words by using words has a certain charm, just like having a secret channel on the oh so public net.

willingness… first i am honored to be included in a conversation with a couple of no doubt troublemakers ornery enough to challenge the capacities of the previous herd enough to be banned from that digital island.  without knowing any particulars sometimes it is not productive to try to describe colors to the colorblind.  it’s not their fault and time is short. will try and live up to the spirit animasoul implies and speak from the heart as we get to know each other.

the world of the possible… there have been times when i’ve been allowed to “see behind the curtain” (if we were in wizard of oz land), more precisely seen something beyond the levels of education and understanding that i had  been exposed to and absorbed. Raised in a science based family where direct observation and repeatability were the required cornerstones of the world view,  many times some of the more rigid precepts have crumbled in moments, and each time i was left feeling that i had been allowed, priviliged actually, to see the inner workings of an entirely different world.

an example… many years ago 5 of us were fishing about 125 miles offshore  in an antique wooden vessel built in 1927.  she was a classic hull but with that age came the necessity of having seven primed pumps running continuously in order to keep her afloat. Before we sailed i discovered that there was going to be a total eclipse visible from the area we were bound. Normally might have been able to use the dark glass in a welding helmet to look directly at it but this vessel did not have that equipment so put one of the small glass plates in my seabag.

If i remember correctly it was the time of full moon, the tides normally strong there, now ferocious with the moon,  the old girl did not have a lot of horsepower. The trawl gear tangled and snarled repeatedly, culminating in an hours long repair on the morning of the coming afternoon eclipse. I decided to have some fun with the young Portugese shipmate Junior who had been at the wheel when the disaster occurred, humor often helps to break the monotony of long or difficult trips, bad weathers etc.  i told him that because of his lack of attention earlier there was going to bring more bad luck later in the day. He was going to pay for it!

the time came and it began to darken. Junior had the wheel again so out of sight on the stern i checked progress with the glass seeing that initial bite out of the side of the sun, and proceeded to let him know his time was coming. Ever so slowly the early afternoon sky darkened. it seems to take forever, then finally that eerie almost darkness of totality with the purple ring of flames. He looked at the sky but could not see the sun, Finally i let on about the eclipse and gave him the welding glass.  Meanwhile i turned to look around and was imobilized at what was going on. Struck dumb then yelled for him to stop looking at the sun.

For as far as you could see in every direction giant blue tuna were leaping out of the water, dozens of them, twisting and turning. Then they were running at high speed along the surface and launching themselves toward the sky over and over. Shear exuberance.  Tail dancing to the perfect alignment. A celebration of absolute magnificance.  Pure joy !

All too soon it stopped, they disappeared.  all of them. Speechless, the joke was on me.  I was ashamed, making a poor attempt at demonstrating a little knowledge, when the larger truth was that this was the special time of celebrating a holy communion of Joy…

Were they concious? how could they be leaping repeatedly into the sky and not know what they doing? were they self aware?  self concious ? or is that a peculiar affliction of the hominids, putting actions into verbal thoughts, putting thoughts into sounds about actions, the difference between music and singing, and reading printed text about music.

a little lesson about what we think we know

 

 

Welcome to Anima/Soul

It’s a work in progress.
I’m still figuring out how WordPress and this particular web theme works.
But what I’d like is for this to be a place to talk and think together about how we can see ourselves and the world differently. More accurately, better. How we can break down some really out-dated barriers between the human and the not-human, nature and not-nature, the spiritual and the worldly, between you and me. How we can find and nurture commonality (same-ness amid difference) not just among humans, but among human and non-human. How we might assemble the bits and pieces of a way of life with staying power – the shards of pottery, the foot-prints in the dust…
What would you like to see here? What would you like to talk about?

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