Tuesday, April 30, 2013


These jeweled hyacinths, flame-tipped tulips and primrose posies, set off by tender, glowing greens, flow in rivers of color, bordering garden and path.

The glowing young tulips, springing forth from the open, happy faces of the primroses, speak of an innocence and grace that touches my heart.

May your eyes drink in an abundance of beauty as April speaks her last eloquent words.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The miracle of you

"Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up. Through some magic you don't fully understand, you're still breathing and your heart is beating, even though you've been unconscious for many hours. The air is a mix of gases that's just right for your body's needs, as it was before you fell asleep."

"You can see! Light of many colors floods into your eyes, registered by nerves that took God or evolution or some process millions of years to perfect."

"The interesting gift of these vivid hues is furthermore made possible by an unimaginably immense globe of fire, the sun, which continually detonates nuclear explosions in order to convert its own body into light and heat and energy for your personal use."

"Your hands work wonderfully well. Your heart circulates your blood all the way out to replenish the energy of the muscles and nerves in your fingers and palms and wrists. And after your blood has delivered its blessings, it finds its way back to your heart to be refreshed. This wondrous mystery recurs over and over again without stopping every minute of your life."

"You can smell intoxicating aromas. You can hear provocative and soothing sounds. You can taste a thousand different tastes. How is any of this possible? You can think thoughts any time you want -- big, wide, colorful thoughts or tiny dark burrowing thoughts. You can revel and wallow in great oceans of emotion. What colossal secret intelligence or improbable series of fabulous accidents conspired to bestow these superpowers upon you?"

From pronoiac guru Rob Brezsny. More here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Through old glass

The view through rippled glass from Burgh House, Hampstead Village

I mentioned that I've been going on a lot of guided walks. If this sounds dull to you, think of it this way: it is really like going to listen to a storyteller, who skillfully links what you see now with that-which-was-before. Combined with walking through one of the world's great cities.

A good guide makes connections and creates a narrative that places in context the churches, inns, pubs, alleys, lanes, place names, geography, and historical figures who walked these pavements, enabling you to see past the surfaces. She or he reveals the secrets of a place...those oddities, nuances, idiosyncrasies and stranger-than-fiction truths known by those who care about the events that help define a place, its culture and its peoples.

That is the main thing that strikes me—how much these guides and ambassadors love their Place. Some may be doing what David Abram calls "the practice of spinning stories that have the rhythm and lilt of the local soundscape, tales for the tongue, tales that want to be told, again and again."

Like all storytelling, it is interactive. Together, you conjure up the ghosts, imagine what was, and see how it connects with what visibly remains. While it is impossible to encapsulate THE story of such a place, or any place, it is A story, one of millions of stories.

Sometimes, you'll turn a corner and walk down a narrow but beckoning lane, and whoosh! The relentless noise of construction and traffic is gone. You're in a peaceful Georgian courtyard with flowering trees.

Apothecaries' Guild or Livery (mortar and pestle on wall

Or you've happened upon a church built by the Knights Templar in 1185, and the sound of cellos and violins floats from the windows.

London Walks guide Hilary

And occasionally, you'll hear a vendor singsonging on a corner about why you should buy what he is selling, or hear the clip-clop of horses' hooves on the cobbles (Mounted Patrol), and just for a moment, you'll be transported to Victorian or Edwardian London. As if the Past just swept up these old streets and tapped you on the shoulder, whispered in your ear.

How living amid this must shape your view of the world. London endures. From waves of invaders, plagues that wiped out half the population, the great fire of 1666, civil war, and the Blitz to terrorist attacks, London endures.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The blossoming of Prunus, Pyrus, Malus & Crataegus

The two women from China—mother and daughter—turned from surveying the sun-dappled glades, splashed with tightly folded blossoms. The daughter smiled ruefully at me. "It is too early."

They, like I, had walked to the farthest corner of Kew Gardens to behold the bluebell woods. But it has been a late spring. The little flowers still hold their blossoms close, not quite ready to release the magic of their deep-blue music under the pouring-down glory of sunlight.

However. Bluebell lovers who were too early found an immensity of consolations. Playing second fiddle to no dainty woodland flower is the family Rosaceae, who were busy spending their drifting clouds of blossom and sweetness to draw droves of deliciously fat bees.

And of course, meeting a peacock along the way is always a consolation.

Some offspring of the family Rosaceae* pictured:

Genus Prunus: cherry, plum, and other trees and shrubs that bear stone fruits. Plum and cherry trees are greatly venerated in the East, as told in this lovely tale from Japan.
Genus Pyrus: pear trees, bearing pomaceous fruits. Pear trees live a long time and symbolized immortality to the ancient Chinese.
Genus Malus: apple, crabapple and wild apple. Avalon, the island where King Arthur went to recover from his wounds, means the "Isle of Apples."
Genus Crataegus: hawthorn, also called thornapple and hawberry; the hawthorn often marks the entrance to a faery mound in Ireland.

*Since many of the ID tags on the trees used only Latin names, good thing I had my iPad along and could Google for their common names.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The possibilities

It was lovely to see such a huge sky.

One reason why people love and need open spaces is that they create a sense of possibility, a mirroring openness within ourselves. I visited Hampstead Village for a guided walk and wandered a bit on Hampstead Heath yesterday, breathing in the peace of London's largest open space and one of its highest spots.

A few days ago, another London Walks guide, Corinna, a sixtyish lady who lives in Highgate Village bordering the Heath, told us that she swims in one of its bathing ponds every morning, year round (like Katharine Hepburn, who swam every morning in chilly Long Island Sound).

I want to go back for a proper ramble, in hopes of spotting one of the foxes, owls, hedgehogs and grass snakes that make their homes here. 

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