Sunday, November 29, 2015

the thankful poem (just another round of bad poetry, run while you can!)

too late, here we go ...

Josie says he’s thankful
for whatever comes his way.
Elliott says he’s thankful
for another lazy day.

I am thankful for the hat
this cold day makes me wear.
I am thankful for the ones
who seem always to be there.

In the field the deer is thankful
for not yet getting shot.
In the cabin we’re all thankful
that the fire is so hot.

deer in the field

I am thankful for the way
that life renews itself.
I am thankful for the books
that sit upon my shelf.

The chickadees are thankful
for their little song.
The crows caw their thanks, but for
what? all day long.

I’m thankful for the wind
and the pines and the sigh.
I’m thankful for the pens
lying handily nearby.

The river it seems thankful
for being ever-flowing.
The ground it seems so thankful
for its snow blanket growing.

snow scene

I’m thankful for the thump thump thump
of Josie’s tail.
I am thankful for the letters that
come in the mail.

My wrinkles they are thankful
they’re allowed just to be.
My eyes they are so thankful
for the specs that help them see.

I am thankful for the beeswax,
its essence and its smell.
I am thankful for the typewriter’s
little dingie bell.

The frost is thankful for the sun,
it sparkles like a jewel.
The moon is thankful for the dark,
I know it loves a duel.

I am thankful for the riches
that upon me seem to pour.
I am thankful for the feeling
that surely I need no more.

So let that be enough for now,
and I am thankful it’s the end.
Maybe come tomorrow
we can do it all again.

josie and elliott

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

typing. at long last. typing. again.

This, today, will be different.

Oh my mustard-colored baby.


All because I had a vision, pictured something while sitting riverside. I do not always go with visions—should not always go with visions, “visions” being a rather lofty, pretentious word, frivolous even, and after all, I’m not a nut or anything—but when a vision reverberates just right apparently I do go with it, for better or worse, I mean, look where I live, and it’s about time I accepted that and got on with it.

At the library I picked up this publication Book Page and read  this article
about a Michigan author who writes his books on a typewriter in a cabin
with a woodstove nearby. He uses a 1953 Royal, which looks like
a typewriter my dad once had.

There is a sift of snow on the ground, just enough to mark footprints, and walking to the river the other morning the sky was so low I did not have to reach far to touch it.

Be it ever so umbel ...

I found my typewriter online, emailed a bit with the seller, bought the typewriter and soon it arrived, showed up on the porch one day, and now it’s like being reunited with an old friend. But I do not understand the weird key with the arrow pointing right. When I hit it, I go back one space, to the left, and I think it just clicked … to go back one space, to the left on the page, the carriage—the platen—must move one space to the right. Whoa. Just tried it. Absolutely right. To go left, one must go right. Talk about everything being its opposite …

To go back, you must go forward.

A typewriter certainly makes one think.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

the first snow

I so love the first snow.

First picture first snow.

I don’t know why, just do.

Perhaps it’s the way snow changes the world for a moment or two, changes how it looks, how it sounds, its very scent, and you notice those changes especially the first moment or two of the first snow, or maybe you notice it all day long, but, for however long, the world is different.

Clem and Herbert enjoy the first snow.

It should be a holiday. The first snow should be a holiday. But then again, let’s not everyone make a big thing of it.

Josie in first snow.

Snow is so quiet.

And it just does its own thing. It really does not care about me, or you, or anyone.

River in first snow.

And it does not miss a thing.

Queen Anne’s lace in first snow.

The first snow won’t last, never does, or, usually never does. This year I keep hearing about last year, how the snow began and then it snowed and snowed and kept on snowing all winter long, but the thing is, there was so much snow on the ground before November 15 that nobody could get to deer camp, holy wah (as they say), and then there was that year just opposite when the snow came just after everyone had gone into the woods to deer camp, and it snowed and snowed and the roads got plowed none too quick that year because everyone was stuck in deer camp, the plow drivers were, anyway, and if you don’t know what deer camp is, well, up here the last two weeks of November are firearm deer season, meaning hunting deer with firearms, though I suppose you don’t actually hunt with the gun, I mean, first you hunt somehow for the deer, then, when you have found them, or when they have found you, you shoot them with your firearm. Alternatives are, say, to use a bow and arrow, but that’s a different season, I think. Anyway, up here firearm deer season is when businesses close and people take holidays to go into the woods to hunt deer and hang out in rustic old cabins with no toilets, no electricity, but probably card games and spaghetti and stuff, and they have, or so I hear, just a really good time and maybe a few deer get shot, gutted, cut up, put in the freezer for venison stew in February. These cabins are handed down generation to generation until they become dark and slick with so many memories their seams bust, and sometimes they have names like “Deer, Do Come Inn” or “Grandpa’s Hut.”

The trail from the river to home in first snow.

But, that’s a sidetrack.

Gully in first snow.

Snow is unambiguous: it changes the season. Sure, snow sometimes gets mixed up with rain and whatnot, the wrong crowd, but we all get mixed up with a bad element now and then, mistake similarities for likenesses and then at some point go: Whoa, what was that? Kind of like snow, because in a way all snowflakes look alike even though I hear each is unique, and people can be kind of like that, but anyway, snow and rain don’t really mix. They compete. One will always win out. A few days ago it was raining, then it was snowing, and at some point the two mixed, but snow won out. At that point, I stood and cheered.

Snow smells so damn fresh; there is nothing fresher than snow.

Spruce in first snow.

The first snow this year, right here, was Friday, November 13. It came sandwiched between a sunny day in the 60s and a sunny day in the 40s. Now, no snow. No trace. All gone. But, for a moment there, it was so damn lovely.

* * *
Warning! If you abhor holiday music, turn back!
But, if you like snow music and homespun videos, you might like this.




Sunday, November 8, 2015

into the gully (with josie) (& a bird named woody)

One day Josie and I were walking back from the river when Josie dashed off the trail toward the gully stopping just short of the big naked maple rooted there on the edge of the bank that drops into the gully. Josie stood there with left front paw raised, tail straight up, body all a’quiver staring up into that big naked maple so I thought OK, maybe there is something there. It took a minute to see but then a most impressive bird, a pileated woodpecker, showed himself midway up the tree, checking it out, cocking his cocky red head this way and that, hopping here, hopping there, all the while making little squeaky-talky noises, sharing news with that other pileated woodpecker that was nearby in a tree rooted down in the gully.

the many trunks of the maple on the edge of the gully

Josie stood taut and still staring at the bird, growling at the bird, and I stood on the trail watching. Then, I walked over to Josie and the big bird flew off, towards the other bird, so into the gully, and Josie, oh yes, he wanted to follow, chase after those big birds flapping their wings, flying from tree to tree, eyeing one branch then another, pecking here, pecking there, moving on, moving away, through the gully, but he waited at the precipice for I have never let Josie go into the gully. It’s an overgrown, often soggy mess. But that day took a turn, seemed a good day for an adventure, so I descended the bank saying “come on” and that was all Josie needed to tumble helter skelter through the layers of seasons and leaves that line the gully’s belly, and he did not stop running and exploring and shouting “Hallelujah!” until, well, I’m not sure he has stopped yet. He lays sleeping next to me now, whiskers twitching, legs jerking.

little dog in the big gully

The gully is an enchanted forest and a nest of hobgoblins. It is a place of neglect growing wild. Fallen and leaning and decaying trees caught in each other’s branches, branches covered in moss and lichen giving birth to mushrooms and shedding bark in long looping strips. Of course many of the trees are alive—the gully is rife with life—but only God or the porcupines or badgers or deer or woodpeckers and crows know what all actually lives and dies in the gully.

mushrooms live in the gully

Autumn is the best time to go into the gully. It is relatively dry and its three-foot-tall ferns and whatnot have died back, so one can get through, and there are no bugs, the leaves are down, one can see. In the summer the growth is too thick, it catches at your legs and arms and wraps you up and ties you down, and the mosquitoes are rampant. In the spring, the gully is wet, full of pools; in the heart of winter, deep in snow.

you can see the cabin from the gully

The gully may be about as big as a football field pulled and prodded and misshapen as a child’s first bowl of clay, and the trail from the river to the cabin runs just west of it. My neighbors live just east of it. My driveway runs along its south rim. You can tumble down into the gully from its south, west, or eastern bank, or walk in from the north, wading through waist-high brambles and branches and dogwood and wild raspberry canes, chest-high stalks of goldenrod, who knows what all, and this is why in summer, nigh impossible. But in the fall, an adventure.

many have their roots in the gully

I first explored the gully with a bit of snow on the ground, and I discovered two deer skulls, though I’m not sure how as they were partially buried, and why was I digging around down there? It was a bit macabre. Probably my first winter here, so late 2011. I remember exploring and seeing something that looked like teeth, big teeth, and with a stick pushing snow and dead leaves away until the skulls became apparent. I’m thinking about that this day with Josie, his first time in the gully, and I want to find those skulls again, but the leaves are so thick and anyway, I don’t find the skulls. What I do find is all those tires, all those discarded rubber tires.

when was it that rubber was valuable?

Throughout the U.P.—and maybe where you live too—there are places that collect old junk like this, abandoned cars and tires and TV sets and kitchen tables and rusty old bed springs and sofa springs and chair springs, springs that pop up amid the ferns and duff like wicked twisted wildflowers, and stoves and chairs and side tables and mounds and mounds of broken glass and rusted tin. All kinds of things. Crumbling foundations. Tumbling walls grown thick with moss. Clocks. A spatula. A baby buggy. The detritus of humanity. But in the gully, mostly tires and just a few springs from maybe old car seats.

the old rambler come to rest

So Josie and I traipse around the gully, the pileated woodpeckers disappear, and now just about every day Josie and I go back to the gully to traipse some more. Some days we walk along the river and then back through the gully, other days we just ramble around the gully, but every time we walk into or stumble down into the gully we scare up a partridge—it thrums and takes flight—and we see downy woodpeckers flying this way and that, going from tree to tree, a rat-at-tat here, a rat-a-tat there, and for every careful step I take Josie runs a hundred, zigging and zagging, jumping over stumps, ducking under branches, somehow avoiding tire traps, and I picture his brain exploding as it takes in multiple streams of information, and yet he is so focused, he must be, because the ground is uneven, buried beneath three or four inches of leaves, full of pitfalls and high jumps and low jumps and he navigates it all at top speed, his eyes, his nose, his ears just inches from the ground, and I cannot imagine how to him it looks, or smells, or feels, or sounds, but, as I take another careful step, I wish I did.

an abandoned shed spills into the gully

And for some reason I can’t quite fathom I think how the gully obliterates the need for concepts, human concepts like fairness, justice, retribution, for what would any of that mean to the gully? What use does the gully have for right and wrong? For good or bad? Here things just live and die and all that stuff between, and it’s all at once, everything at once and forever, and I may walk through and Josie may bound through, but who stays? We climb out, find footholds in roots and I hang onto branches, and old tires and seat cushions are left behind and the gully stays itself every day, every night, growing wild, going wild with neglect, wild with falling in on itself, with burying itself, resurrecting itself, there, then, every day, magical, mystical, real. The kind of place, I suppose, that some big and crazy black-and-white and red-headed bird can lead one to, then disappear.