JUST OFF THE PATHWAY

Next morning, alone in mountains, he ventured off trail to view a two-hundred-foot waterfall. The roar asked why he’d come and answered the question with another mountain. Todd traveled in ways that left no evidence of his presence. Footsteps in snow will melt. Even his walking was quiet. Here, even as an alien, he could fit.

In the morning, I read aloud: “Tomorrow, favorable, new moon coming up.”

I thought we could go panning for gold.

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MY VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE BARN

Some maples are red and others bright yellow. Either one can catch my breath.
Some maples are red and others bright yellow. Either one can catch my breath.

 

October is one of my favorite times for sitting and working in the loft of the barn. The sun no longer turns its air intolerably stuffy but rather adds some welcome comfort. I can still leave the loft door open for natural light and fresh air, if I want. And just look what’s happening around me!

 

Our season of outdoor dining is just about ended.
Our season of outdoor dining is just about ended.

FIELD GUIDE

When you walk into the expanse, keep going. Maybe you’ll meet a dwarf at creekside. Maybe a bear. If you do, you must speak respectfully and listen closely to the reply. Even if they call you a yokel, as Kokopelli did.

~*~

A dust storm — sandstorm — and they close the highway.

You must wait. Cover your mouth and eyes.

~*~

On high ridges, bachelor Basque shepherds follow their flocks all summer. Each one and his dogs rarely encounter anyone who speaks Human.

~*~

Wilderness is about clouds, too.

Now what were you dreaming?

~*~

Guides do appear. Sometimes among fellow practitioners. Maybe even your landlord. Or Kokopelli.

~*~

“Who’s standing on my head?” a totem pole figure wonders.

Just like a typical office.

~*~

Blinking in my field of karma, the reminder:

PENDULUM
swinging
back
winter
NIGHTFALL

It’s not the first time.

Be faithful and wait.

~*~

Sometimes a lover becomes a place you want to enter.

Sometimes one’s the space the other envelops.

~*~

Where would I have been without her in that desolate expanse?

~*~

For more insights from the American Far West and Kokopelli, click here.

DIMENSIONS OF ARTISTRY

The space of art also works in other dimensions. The artists themselves are rarely of the same social class as their benefactors or audience. We repeat the cliché of starving artist, even when some become comfortably wealthy and dwell in chic locales. Still, they’re employed in ethereal fields — actors, musicians, painters, the stagehands and gallery owners, box office managers, and a host of others. They work different schedules from the general populace. Many sleep late or stay up through the night.

There are even the spaces as a work moves away from its creator into other locations. A painting, for example, appears one way in the studio, another way on one’s walls, and still another way in a gallery — none of them resembling what happens when the same piece is hung in a major museum. Musicians and actors know the difference between the intensity and argument of rehearsal and the propriety of performance itself. An author can observe how different a piece appears in manuscript, in galley-proof, in a magazine or literary review, or in a bound book. A poet or a poetry supporter becomes aware of the differences between viewing a piece on the page, voicing it on the lips (either in a public occasion or for one’s own private pleasure), or performing it in a formal reading.

We can move outward, of course. Into ballparks or arenas. The loud crowds. But those are other spaces, in some ways overlapping fine arts and religion.

We might consider as well the ways the fine arts have been acceptable as civic religion. An Oscar or a Grammy is more valued than a Crucifix in our society. A comedian is a better master of ceremonies than a preacher or priest. We’re nervous about civic events held in houses of worship. A wedding or funeral, perhaps, though it carries a sense of crossing into something private.

On the other hand, as religion has retreated largely from public awareness, or perhaps simply to the suburbs and better parking, it has abandoned earlier houses of worship, especially those downtown or in the inner city. Some have been converted to arts spaces — galleries, concert halls, night clubs, theaters, restaurants. I regard these as being somehow different from structures designed and built for arts uses. It’s more than recycling, I’d say.

For more insights from the American Far West and Kokopelli, click here.

FLUTTERING INTO FALL

Gray skies hinted snow was on the way. In the morning, a cape of white stretched down to 3,500 feet elevation on distant western mountains. It was a magic show. On the ridge reaching above our walls, a blue-gray haze obscured the wrinkled tan slope. In the orchard surrounding us, repeating the staggered schedule that brought blossoms and leaves earlier in the year, leaves now dropped on a similar itinerary. Peach trees, the first to shed their foliage, exposed a bewitching grove of stark black limbs against emerald grass and cobalt sky. This light-filled breach was my own private theater or dance hall, all the more eerie and magical when a cloud settles on the orchard and tunnels seemed to point off in every direction. All too soon browned scales fluttered from the remaining cover — cherries, apricots, pears, plums, apples. At this time of the year, when the dew sparkled, I called the rutted path through the dale my Vale of Many Colored Glasses.

How strenuous the goal of dwelling in your own heart, keeping peace, radiating from that center can be. How difficult also to know your own landscape and resources, and how to “live at home” and not go to town for stimulation. Or was I simply trying to cover too much ground?

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