In the Family of Things

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snowgeese in Whatcom County = photo by Chris Lovegren

 

…Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~Mary Oliver from “Wild Geese”

 

 

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snow geese in Whatcom County – photo by Chris Lovegren

 

Snow geese are populating the Skagit valley and farm land, as numerous as the scores of colorful tulips which soon will fill nearby fields.  The din of the flocks as they land and feed, then rise again in the air is astounding: a symphony of honks and hollers carried from one goose family to another in a ruckus of joyful abandon.

The Skagit flats become the New York City of snow geese for a few weeks, never sleeping.

Over the past few years, more snow geese wander up north closer to home here in Whatcom County to pepper our surrounding dormant cornfields like salt,  sprinkled half a dozen here and there across the Nooksack river valley.  When there are only a few together, their calling seems so melancholy, almost a disconsolate cry of abandonment carrying over the lonely countryside.

So too am I ensconced away from the clamorous masses,  preferring always to be part of an out-of-the-way rural landscape.  There may be moments of melancholy, to be sure.  Yet here,  as nowhere else, I know my place in the family of things —  of gray clouds, owl hoots, swampy wetlands, frog choruses, orange sunsets, pink sunrises, warm pony muzzles, budding snowdrops, and steaming manure piles.

I give myself up to wild abandon in a world offering itself up to my imagination instead of leaving nothing to the imagination.

Let the cities clamor and clang in their excitement.  They do just fine without me.
Instead I celebrate the relative silence that allows me to seek words to fit the music singing in my soul.

 

Some of  you who may remember a fictional story about a snow goose helping to lead the evacuation of Dunkirk in WWII – here is the link to the original story

Blooming Recklessly

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Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

Perhaps there are places where spring blooms are reckless and shrieking in the night but the tulip fields in Skagit County, just south of where we live, is not one of them.

This is the home of carefully blended choral floral voices, harmonious and joyful, singing together to create a symphony of unforgettable visual grandeur

In the heart of the night, there is only the contented hum of rows and rows of purring color stirring in the valley breezes, waiting for the dawn.

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Between Midnight and Dawn: No Flower Can Wither

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For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.  For,

“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:23-25

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How fresh, oh Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring;
         To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
                      Grief melts away
                      Like snow in May,

         As if there were no such cold thing.

         Who would have thought my shriveled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
         Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
                      Where they together
                      All the hard weather,
         Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
         These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell
         And up to heaven in an hour;

Making a chiming of a passing-bell.

                      We say amiss
                      This or that is:
         Thy word is all, if we could spell.
         Oh that I once past changing were,
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
         Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Offering at heaven, growing and groaning thither;

         And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
         I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing. Oh, my only light,
                      It cannot be
                      That I am he
         On whom thy tempests fell all night.
         These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide;
         Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide;
                      Who would be more,
                      Swelling through store,
         Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.
~George Herbert “The Flower”

 

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As they are meant to do,
the crocuses creep skyward,
snowdrops flourish,
the orchard tree buds swell
daffodil bulbs awaken bright from their autumn burial.

Bird song is plentiful again in the gray and frozen mornings
and frogs’ chorus rejoices again in the evenings.

There will be spring again in only a few short weeks,
despite how dark things feel now.
Exhaustion will be replaced by renewal
and fresh air filled with the sweetness of cherry and apple blossoms.

Our fields will grow lush and soft
with the sun warm on our horses’ withers.

It isn’t enough to celebrate the defeat of winter
by blooming where we are planted;
may we be forever past changing
by never withering again.

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

Reckless Blooms

photo by Kathy Yates
photo by Kathy Yates

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

Perhaps there are places where spring blooms are reckless and shrieking in the night but the tulip fields in Skagit County, just south of where we live, is not one of them.

This is the home of carefully blended choral floral voices, harmonious and joyful, singing together to create a symphony of unforgettable visual grandeur.

In the heart of the night, there is only the contented hum of rows and rows of purring color stirring in the valley breezes, waiting for the dawn.

photo by Kathy Yates
photo by Kathy Yates
photo by KR Backwoods Photography
photo by KR Backwoods Photography

 

Grounded Rainbow



Fifty weeks of dirt rows
Plain and unnoticed.
Could be corn, could be beans
Could be anything;
Drive-by fly-over dull.

Yet April ignites an explosion:
Dazzling retinal hues
Singed, crying
Grateful tears for such as this
Rainbow on Earth

Transient, incandescent
Brilliance hoped for.
Remembered in dreams,
Promises realized,
Housed in crystal before shattering.

(thanks to Josh Scholten for photos of the Skagit Valley tulip fields)
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