Monday’s Meander: Salmon Creek Regional Park

One place I haven’t visited in a long while is Salmon Creek Greenway, part of Salmon Crteek Regional Park in Vancouver, WA. (Near that area is popular Klineline Pond for swimming and softball fields.) It is only an hour from my home and I’ve missed it. Until I enjoy it once more, these wintry pictures help bring it closer. The paved trail is only 3 miles, but the greenway is comprised of 368 acres of varied landscape: wetlands, bottomlands, forest, and its namesake, Salmon Creek. Surpsingly, it is within an urban area, yett many mammals and birds (including migrating waterfowl) utilize this diverse environment. These include deer, coyotes, beavers and rabbits, racoons and opossums. And, of course, frogs, harmless snakes and assorted others.

I enjoy being outdoors in frosty weather. The chilly season’s mostly monochrome views are peaceful–more so when not raining. And as sunlight brightened then shifted, it was water that caught my eye again and again.

Friday’s Poem: Solitary Encounter

It’s what you are thinking that wears you down

plus a dull afternoon that promises to shine

but does not. Yet you push on.

It’s not you who move your feet, they just take you

so it’s round the corners, past silent houses, under

bony arches of trees you want

to call out by name like friends.

Your shoulders sag: trees have no names,

they have no use of them, thriving in community,

and long outlive your sort.

Fine mist veils your eyes, covers your hair

but there must be more– it cannot be otherwise.

You come to this place as often before,

where an angel has life immortal in stone,

so does you no favors. It only waits.

Yet you step inside the mossy wall

to gaze at blind eyes, those ponderous wings

that should lift it upward to heaven.

Such an angel, this small one,

it dreams impossible things; it endures;

it bears the elements; speaks no ill will.

You close your eyes and mind slows,

skin feels rain as silken air, and

your breathing in this time between time is enough.

Wednesday’s Words/Nonfiction: Eleven Years/Thanks Giving

Eleven years.

WordPress informed me this week that it has been eleven years since my first blog post. That seems almost absurd. How can that be? I was sixty years old in 2010. And the passing of time has been a rhythmic flow of minutes, hours, days…starts and stops and this life resuming once again. And so, too, the posts on WordPress.

I recall it feeling like a small, entertaining adventure when I first learned the ropes. I jumped in and charged ahead. I learned through trial and error. And soon enjoyed the process. Yet, who would keep toiling away at a blog that long? Some of us just keep our foot on the pedal and go. It becomes a discipline and a habit, a way to also keep writing juices flowing. And the truth is, it hasn’t been very taxing to share the small theater of my life. We bloggers find pleasure and meaning as we put on pages the images that speak to us; stories that snare us; heartbreaks and recoveries that add up; random encounters that puzzle and move us. Blogging is a method of placing our thoughts and feelings into a more coherent perspective–as it is with any sort of writing (or any imaginative) endeavor.

Perhaps it has become one way to journal–whether the content is travelling, photography, hobbies, personal transformation, commentary on society and the world, true passion projects, deepening spiritual experiences, multimedia endeavors, humorous anecdotes. Or a simple tale of life that presses to reveal itself–and so we–I– obey. We create and place it into others’ hands…those often unknown others who are also moving and resting, chuckling or crying out.

Here: take these words and images and perhaps find me there and then find yourself here and there. Reach to the core of the story. The bare elegance of the view. The soundtrack of night as a woman or man flees wakefulness. The spill of light that flushes roots and limbs of the tree. But connect, be less alone. Peek into another way of living and engage mind and senses with no goal besides learning. And risk being open with moments of sharing. It will pull you from yourself even as it expands your knowldege. It has mine.

When I began this blogging adventure, I actually created and wrote one separate blog for poetry; another for prose; and one for photgraphy. Then I condensed the format (it got a bit much) so it became one blog that spanned three basic genres of fiction, nonfiction and poetry (with subgenres), as well as photography widely interspersed. It has evolved like most blogs do– and I have evloved, I suppose, and thus found my way from one kind of expression to different ones. I could spend more time on design, presentation and so on. (Proofreading more carefully, my apologies; also, there is a physical explanation for my poor typing–but another time!) I might attract more readers, who knows? (I guess I have well over 15,000 readers, but I have doubts about that count.) I lack motivation to experiment with it more, still. Maybe in 2022–year 12?

The bottom line is that I write and photograph because I am a creative person –here among countless others. I so love the process. The end results are of interest, but it is the actual doing whatever I do that magnetizes me, holds me captive until I am done enough. I spend on average 6-8 hours three days a week writing posts, working on the blog. I could do more ambitious things like submit work again, tackle another novel, explore art more seriously, get back to music (my cello sleeps upstairs in a corner; my voice hums very quietly). Some days I suspect I blog so much because I can procrastinate re: taking riskier chances out there. Perhaps, or perhaps not. I keep at this because it is a pleasure to do it, within a parcel of time put aside for myself. A rambling journey that takes me to bloggers and readers. We can all equally exchange our work and thoughts here. An overall democratic platform. I peruse the work of others, then begin once more.

In 2010, I had an active career in the mental health field, providing assessments, doing education groups several times a day, and counseling clients via individual therapy as well as group therapy. I valued and enjoyed my work. But I needed to write more. To breathe more freely, cleanse myself of the trauma and loss of those complex lives that could hover about my being when I got home. I had long been keen on good self-care and did a decent job of it. But that part of me that yearned to be more creative for myself first and last nagged at me. I was hungry and thirsty for it. I looked into blogging for that fun and release, for greater community with others, and another route to creative growth. It worked out nicely. I have been happy to keep my Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule (more or less) for all this time. I am nothing if not a persistent sort, it appears.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I, like many millions, am a bit worn by the anxiety and drear that try to engulf us. I refuse to give in to it. I may weep and gnash teeth now and then, but then I am done–until the next time. I get up from the floor. And not that I don’t know sorrow. I grieve the vanishing of easy freedom and also people. In just the past year my 26 year old granddaughter died. My older and only remaining sister is losing her way in the morass of dementia. My best friend moved to Arizona. I feel the weight of our sorrowing earth–I have a devotion to nature–and of the slouching and redeeming humanity that inhabits it. We are full of our failures and long for wholeness and peace. And I keep striving. I know I am not alone.

So, I am not giving in to any lingering melancholy much less despair now. I have made it this far. I hope to make it at least a bit farther. I am powered by the regenerative essence of life, the leaps of joy in living–if also challenged. I am inspired and invigorated by the peculiar mysteries of love; gifts of encounters with other people; and surprising illuminations of God that I experience in everyday moments. In short, I am grateful, yes. I say so each morning and night. Praying and working to be present and to learn from others and remain aware of a multitude of wonders is edemic to my path.

What is at the root of your creative blogging journey? How do you keep moving forward amid strain of troubles? Where lives your gratitude?

We keep at it, don’t we, and what we find may instruct or thrill us. As one more blogger and writer, I do feel privileged. How auspicious an experience to offer our words, images and more. It is an opportunity to practice what I care about doing without judgement or pressures, and it brings such happiness.

I’ll remain here, then, at least for the time being.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Blessings to you and yours,

Cynthia

Husband Marc and me, 2010, when I began this blog. A little tension around those smiles, perhaps… We both worked too hard and such long hours back then. Careers that demanded much, but all work asks much!
Now retired for 7 years, still dreaming and doing–I thank Divine Light/Love/God.

Monday’s Meander: A Refuge of Autumnal Beauties

A month ago, the rains fell only sporadically; now it blows in and hammers, drizzles, mists and sweeps over the Pacific Northwest. Winter. This morning there was freezing fog, and when the fog dissipated, the cold remianed strong. But that’s November; it’s our wintry rainy season. So I decided to look back at October and share some last fall scenes. Photos were taken at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, a place we return to 2-3 tmes a year. Riparian forest, lowlands, wetlands: 1800 acres of wonders to explore. The trails are just over 3 miles when all are open–but worth even a shorter walkabout. I hope you enjoy the shots.

We end up at our starting point having enjoyed a couple of hours observing birds and skittering creatures we can’t quite find. And listening to wind sweep over grasses, play in branches and bring to us birdsong. And watching the river flow with its quiet power, smelling fecund earth mand fallne leaves– and walking, walking, walking. It is always a privledge to move about nature’s surprises and designs.

Saturday’s Poem: Concert Hall

This is a place of safety.

I lean toward a concert hall entrance,

into otherworldly glow of chandeliers, heavy

like incandescent fruits hung from a gracious dome.

Luxe carpeted steps lift my feet higher,

leading me through dim passageways that will

ring with wood and brass, string and reed,

and a union of voices. Those that will sing for me.

My voice is silenced as lights fade;

a burgundy curtain, opulent dressing, swings apart,

and the revelation is a great gathering of human beings,

weilding insturments of transportation.

They commune with the conductor as he

choreographs sound;

they unite unfurling notes, make crescendoes of story.

Before long, they ride a ship to exotic parts

and return laden with treasures for the mind, the soul.

For me, for us. I shelter here, all together.

I come and worship humbly.

I pull close music made of breath, of beating blood

and smile, weep into it, meditate with it,

seek heroine and hero in it,

and bring each precise measure to my thirsting self.

A woman fragranced with English oak and

redcurrent, swathed in an indulgent cashmere

still needs a goblet of clean water, a handful of figs,

a conversation that rouses and clarifies

with a language that tells truths.

Sancutary for all.

The music finds and fits me and I, it,

and the leaning forward is not of body

but spirit and I am lifting,

I am alight and the players and I

cross demarcations, are vast and unmapped,

become one.