naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Every now and then, I just have to wax poetical, even when it's really short.

Homeward, January 13th
by Adele Shakal

Fountains' water splash,
cloud-shrouded sliver of silver moon,
bagpipes on the wind.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
Solstice Afternoon
by Adele Shakal

The winter sun shines pale and clear
the sky crisp-blue with year's ending,
new-born hopes and dreams
resolved, resolute, resolving.

Craziness and bustle pauses to think,
how many cycles have turned,
how many times the sun closens and leaves us,
how many wheels within wheels the cosmos dances.

The longest night has passed again, and
in its leaving, again
begins its approach, steadily
pacing a year from today.

The wind chases memories across the distances.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I got a bit of inspiration last Tuesday, and asked Roommate to celebrate autumn with me...

Harvest Moon Soup

Sizzled in the bottom of a Really Big Soup Pot:
chopped leek
dash of olive oil

Then added:
small bit of water
onion flakes
chopped carrots

The moon was rising yellow in the dark clear sky over the mountains east of us as we were chopping.

Steamed in the microwave in a covered casserole after being lopped in half and cleaned of seeds:
one harlequin winter squash

Dumped into the Really Big Soup Pot after the onion flakes looked happily hydrated:
tomato puree
handfuls of baby orange lentils
big dash of paprika
dash of coarse ground black pepper
dash of dried basil
dash of celery flakes
tiny dash of savory
tiny dash of thyme
two bay leaves
chicken bullion to taste

While the pot was working its way to a good boil, I scooped the cooked squash out of its skin and popped it into the blender with a bit of water to puree. Then I added that to the pot and let it simmer for a bit.

Sliced into rectangles and cubes and presented in a really big bowl:
potato-rosemary bread
sun-dried tomato bread
another random herby bread that had looked good when I'd stopped at Berolina's on the way home

The thick, hearty soup didn't look like it had quite as many colors as I'd wanted, so I added frozen vegetables (mostly corn and peas), and brought that back to a quick boil only briefly so the peas didn't lose their bright color.

We served it in our huge soup bowls using the bread cubes for garnish and dunking, with Martinelli's apple-cranberry in sparkling wine glasses. By the time we sat down to eat the moon was shiny and bright, and clouds were moving in, looking beautiful and mysterious. It was a marvelous cozy evening at home, and around midnight I wrote...

Autumn sweeps in
a silent wind high above
dancing past the clouded moon.

Here's to autumn!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (autumn bountiful harvest)
The Tuft Of Flowers )

On that note, I'm off to work. Lots to think about, again, in this one...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
Out through the fields and the woods
  And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
  And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
  And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
  Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
  And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
  When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
  No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
  The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
  But the feet question, "Whither?"

Ah, when to the heart of man
  Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
  To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
  Of a love or a season?

Change is hard.

I'm going to have to think about this one a lot more and then post about it again at some point. Gosh, Frost's work is amazing.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (cascade)
When I was young, we dwelt in a vale
  By a misty fen that rang all night,
And thus it was the maidens pale
I knew so well, whose garments trail
  Across the reeds to a window light.

The fen had every kind of bloom,
  And for every kind there was a face,
And a voice that has sounded in my room
Across the sill from the outer gloom.
  Each came singly unto her place,

But all came every night with the mist;
  And often they brought so much to say
Of things of moment to which, they wist,
One so lonely was fain to list,
  That the stars were almost faded away,

Before the last went, heavy with dew,
  Back to the place from which she came--
Where the bird was before it flew,
Where the flower was before it grew,
  Where bird and flower were one and the same.

And thus it is I know so well
  Why the flower has color, the bird has song.
You have only to ask me, and I can tell.
No, not vainly there did I dwell,
  Nor vainly listen all the night long.

We learn the most amazing things when we just... listen.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
  Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
  She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
  She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
  Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
  The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eyes for these,
  And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
  The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
  And they are better for her praise.

Each season has a beauty of its own, and each feeling has its own strengths to savor, the bitter with the sweet, the bustle of busy projects, the fallow calm, the warmth of healing hearth, the promise of things to come...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew--
Only more sure of all I thought was true.

I want to put some commentary with these poems, because they're saying so much to me, but I'm not quite sure how to put my thoughts into words.


Sep. 19th, 2004 08:46 pm
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (skyward)
This was written back when I was in high school. My parents and I came to California for the first time, and on that rather amazingly busy trip, we stopped at a few groves of sequoias. I don't know how else to properly introduce this poem, other than to say that forests and wild spaces deeply affect me. But then, you probably already knew that.

by Adele Shakal

saw them
ancient, enduring
sentinels to the ages
shooting upwards, branches lifted
to the sky
unchanging through the aeons.
It was then that i
how very small, of such inconsequence,
my little life and its experiences
truly are.
Simply the blink
of an eye and
will be gone,
with few to know
that i passed this way.
But Them -
Their senses
have stood witness
to the centuries -
could They but speak to us,
that we might possess
a bit of Their wisdom.
And yet...
i feel that, could They speak,
Their deep chuckles would roll
like thunder, across the hillsides,
as They spoke, with one Voice,
explaining that, aye,
They remember aeons,
and aye,
Their lofty limbed spires lift
ever upwards to the heavens,
but telling that we each
have our parts
in this ultimate play,
and that their lifetimes are,
as ours,
but a blink
in the eye
of the
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
Remember how I mentioned that if you think my poetry sucks, to just skim right past? Yeah.

This one was written on August 25th.

Yesterday Morning
by Adele Shakal

Yesterday morning
I was awakened by the blue-grey lightening dawn,
by the calls of scampering thieves and
sheen-blue-black dinosaurs' descendants' chirps
and flutters, the early morning crew
at Lodgepole campground.

Yesterday morning
I watched the sun rise
past cragged rocks and tall spires
to bathe golden blessed warmth
across dappled ridges, towering pines
shining gold-green in the crisp air,
bright dome of clear blue over all.
So beautiful. So wild, so free.

Today I've traded, by exchange of miles,
curves of mountain roads and stretches of highway,
for a return to my city life.
My morning will start with an alarm clock.
Somehow even a soft bed and a warm shower
and a steady job
do not seem an even exchange.

I yearn for the air.

Why must the choice be all one or the other?

I remind myself
the mountains are not all so far
as those with the towering sentinel redwoods.
There are beauties so very close.
Trips to remember the wild's call and blessings
need not be treks I can seldom afford.
Sometimes one must trade for snatches of melody
in greater number
rather than one deafening burst
of symphony.

Modern living is a compromise.

Yesterday morning
I watched the sun rise,
crisp morning
mountain air,
trees soaring,
water burbling,
wind brushing at my face.
Today, I begin planning
for my next beautiful wild morning,
or sunset, or stargaze, or simple walk,
free and surrounded
by the world greater than me,
greater than mankind.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
(It's taken me a decade to be able to sense some of the nuances of the seasons' change in Los Angeles, but now that I see, smell, hear, now that I feel, they cannot be ignored.)

Early September Morning
By Adele Shakal

Thin white streaks of clouds wisp across the sky
High above the mountains,
High above the city,
Unconcerned with everything below.
Yesterday felt the blaze of summer heat, yet
On this bright morning the first hints of change
Brush, nonchallant and fleeting
Across my face.
Midsummer has become complacent.

Autumn does not openly challenge, but instead
Casually breezes in and then away again,
Quick and noncommittal.
This morning's signs
Just an unselfconscious reminder
That its time will come, it is
Eventual, unhurried...
For me this is not its expected calling card,
Years and miles from here,
The sight of a single
Fiery-colored leaf
First-fallen onto a lawn.

So much more subtle...

Just a hint of a taste,
A slight scent,
A clarity
Tossed casually in a cool eddy
Of the morning's fresh wind.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
Not what you do but how you do it, is the test of your capacity.

We are always the same age inside. -- Gertrude Stein

No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap. -- Carrie Snow

Back on its golden hinges, the gate of memory swings, and my heart goes into the garden, and walks with the olden things. -- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can. -- Elsa Maxwell

Silently, one by one in the infinite meadows of heaven, blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of angels. -- Longfellow

That's what being young is all about. You have the courage and the daring to think that you can make a difference. -- Ruby Dee

Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. -- Rabindranath Tagore

I imagine, therefore I belong and am free. -- Lawrence Durell

It's the merry-hearted boys that make the best men! -- Irish proverb

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with wild abandon or not at all. -- Harriet Van Horne

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. -- Abraham Lincoln
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
On City Night In Pasadena
by Adele Shakal

The roll of tires on pavement
The trill of cell phones ring and chatter
I'm a block and a half from you
Meet me at the Starbucks
I can't believe he really said that to you
Did you get the job?
Crowds talking but not to each other, brushing past strangers
Crosswalks and cross-talk fill the air.

Glossy glamour posters bare midriff shoulder hip leg
Postmodern modernist fashion selling sex
Allure in airbrushed two dimensions
Promise of fame and wealth and popularity and success and acceptance.

Brick facades thick painted
Look down disbelieving on the panorama of their town.

Yuppie homemaker businesswomen try to do it all
Pre-wrapped pre-matched pre-fabricated home grace at Crate and Barrel
The look if not the feel of welcome.

Teens clique on the corners, roughhouse past the musician
Belting out dreams on the six-string
Cash and coins in the box.

Urban techno industrial restaurant kitsch
Imitating art imitating life imitating art...

Is this what human space is supposed to be?

Nothing like fields and hills and soil and wind and sky...

But sky above, and glow of streetlamps and flash of neon light
People laughing and walking and meeting.
This is a home. For some.

I am a visitor, not quite believing, not quite understanding
Getting more comfortable as the years go by.

But how did I live before late-night bookstores?
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
There's nothing quite like curling up under a heap of blankets and quilts and comforters on a cold winter's night, with a purring sleepy cat making a nest in the comforters at your feet.

Of course, there's also nothing like being forced onto the edge of your bed by said cat, who decided sometime in the middle of the night that the very very center of the bed was the warmest place to be...


I still haven't mailed the rest of my holiday cards, but cocooning just had to be done these past few weeks. I feel a bit like I'm struggling to wake up from hibernation, trying to wake to the wonder of life. But one cannot wake if one hasn't slept.

Anyone wishing an interesting read... go here for a lovely webified version of John Greenleaf Whittier's Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll.

And for everyone else, here are online links to two of my favorite winter-themed paintings, both by Andrew Wyeth... Crescent and Last Light. Note that there are strict copyright things associated with these images... but aren't they beautiful?

Happy winter!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
image of the book cover

This is one of my favorite childhood books, and it's been reprinted. The Book of Giant Stories by David L. Harrison, Philippe Fix (Illustrator) -- though it's sometimes spelled Phillipe Fix. ISBN: 1563979764.

It is where I learned another of my favorite poems as a child...

There once was a silly old witch,
Who captured two frogs in a ditch.
She named one Pog, and the other one Wog,
But she never could tell which was which.

Or something along those lines. It's a wonderful book.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Still sits the school-house by the road,
  A ragged beggar sunning;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
  And blackberry vines are running.

Within, the master's desk is seen,
  Deep-scarred by raps official;
The warping floor, the battered seats,
  The jack-knife's carved initial;

The charcoal frescoes on its wall;
  Its door's worn sill, betraying
The feet that, creeping slow to school,
  Went storming out to playing!

Long years ago a winter sun
  Shone over it at setting;
Lit up its western window-panes,
  And low eaves' icy fretting.

It touched the tangled golden curls,
  And brown eyes full of grieving,
Of one who still her steps delayed
  When all the school were leaving.

For near it stood the little boy
  Her childish favor singled;
His cap pulled low upon a face
  Where pride and shame were mingled.

Pushing with restless feet the snow
  To right and left, he lingered; ---
As restlessly her tiny hands
  The blue-checked apron fingered.

He saw her lift her eyes; he felt
  The soft hand's light caressing,
And heard the tremble of her voice,
  As if a fault confessing.

"I'm sorry that I spelt the word:
  I hate to go above you,
Because,"-- the brown eyes lower fell, --
  "Because, you see, I love you!"

Still memory to a gray-haired man
  That sweet child-face is showing.
Dear girl! the grasses on her grave
  Have forty years been growing!

He lives to learn, in life's hard school,
  How few who pass above him
Lament their triumph and his loss,
  Like her, -- because they love him.

This was another of my favorite poems growing up. I had a small book of Whittier's poetry, and this was one of the shorter poems included. For the longest time I had it memorized, and I remember most of it even now.

I also often thought about the fact that it's a little girl who is apologizing for doing better than the boy. Neither should feel that they need to apologize for doing well... lamenting hard-earned triumphs should not be necessary, for anyone. Lamenting the friends' losses, however, is something many adults, both men and women, have had to stop doing in our modern everyone-for-themselves competitive society. Why is it necessary for one to lose for the other to win, when often cooperation can make things better for everyone? Interesting concepts to think about...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

February 2017

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