Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tikal Guatemala

What we had seen from the plane were the tops of tall temples poking up above the jungle. Now in a mini bus we passed through a countryside where men carried machetes on their way to fields and women carried water jugs on their heads or dried beans on cloths in their yards. Wild turkeys crossed the roads. The minibus stopped at a roadside stand-the driver seemed enchanted by the beautiful girl selling a few snacks-and we were told we could use the bushes if we needed a rest stop. 

When we reached Tikal we asked if we could have overnight accommodations for there is more than can be seen in one day. We sat and waited until finally we were told that we could have a room in a jungle lodge. We were lucky. If we had not stayed overnight, we never would have heard the haunting sounds of jungle birds and monkeys that surrounded us after dark. Also, there was to be a full moon, and we wanted to see Tikal 's tall temples in the moonlight. 

We joined a group touring the ruins. Tikal is layer upon layer of temple pyramids. The Mayans just kept building on top of former temples. I had a strange feeling as we viewed nine stellae dedicated to the nine underground gods. As we followed our guide we saw that Tikal was once a huge metropolis with broad causeways and squares designed for pageantry on a grand scale. 

The square with its great temples on each side is filled with sounds of flocks of parrots, monkeys, toucans and the voices of the Montezuma oro pendula birds. Their woven nests are like an oriole's and their bell like voices echo off the temple walls. The big beautiful birds, lemon yellow and rust, nest in groups around the ruins each year. The temples face north, east and west but never south. Strutting around the temples are wild turkeys that make a deep drumming noise to show off. 

As we walked through Tikal, we saw temples that had been excavated and others that were still overgrown with jungle trees, vines and soil. The jungle is filled with trees cultivated by the Maya; kapok, balsa, cork, rubber trees, nut trees, allspice tree used for embalming. Chocolate was considered sacred. Spider monkeys and howler monkeys drop debris down at us from the tree tops. 

We wondered at the limestone pyramids carved with masks, the ball courts where life and death games were played, aqueducts, market place, and coliseum. We visited the museum that contains a burial, a tall skeleton surrounded with shells, food jars, jade balls, jade anklets, necklaces. It is the burial found in a pyramid. 

Tikal means the voice of the spirits. In the main square, the acoustics are astounding. What spirits are here? We saw carved bones in the museum, a jaguar with a human face, a serpent with a face emerging from a dragonish serpent's mouth. By day we walked carefully through jungle paths following our guide. Poisonous snakes, the fer de lance and coral snakes are found here. We were careful not to step on army ants marching in formation on the jungle floor. We had no guide at night but we decided to walk through the jungle to see the temples in the light of a full moon. The fragrance of night blooming flowers filled the air and a musky smell-was it a jaguar or a fox? Something was near. Maybe the mythical jaguar man. Then through an opening in the jungle, we sew the glorious sight of Tikal's temples splashed with the clear light of a huge moon--the place of spirit voices. We heard them all around us.

By Barbara Spring

Friday, September 23, 2016

Journey to South Korea with Norm Spring

Our Recent Journey to South Korea  click the link.

Norm received a Peace Medal from the South Korean government for fighting on the front lines.

We met others who received the Peace Medal who fought as United Nations soldiers.  Some of these veterans were from South Africa, India, Scotland, England and many from the United States.

Norm was not wounded, but some veterans had wheel chairs and artificial limbs.

Click the link above for a story that ran in our local newspaper, The Grand Haven Tribune and also a video from Reuters.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Book Review of The Wilderness Within by Barbara Spring

    From The Lethbridge Insider: Editors Pick
Finding Transcendence In Nature
Canada  (11/10/2003)        On the cover of Barbara Spring’s first poetry
collection, the Wilderness Within, a polar bear saunters across the ice.
Given the rugged-sounding title and the harsh arctic climate depicted in the
photo, it is obvious that the writer has a love of nature. But why these
particular images I asked. Perhaps she’s a person intrigued by nature’s more
sublime qualities, the awe-inspiring grandeur of mountains and icebergs for
instance. Does she wander the countryside in a dress of Prussian blue, like
Dorothy Wordsworth, gathering her poems from nature?
Spring is a keen observer, and she does wander in the footsteps of the
Romantic poets: Like them she seeks to find a revelation of Truth in nature,
a point of universal connection. In the poem On Puget Sound she finds this
on the beach: Underneath my feet/tangled tree roots feel their way/ . . .
The roots know I am here-/They send the message of me through networks-/ . .
. And the gray whale I greeted in Baja last winter/also knows I am here. . .
In Dark Energy, her belief in oneness and regeneration is clear: The dark
universe exhales-/ . . . In our hearts we know/there breathes a oneness:/the
earth, the stars, beyond./Those we love we will see again.

>From the freshwater seas of the Great Lakes near her home on Lake Michigan,
to Puget Sound, the Galapagos, Africa, Mexico and the Midwest prairie, she
feels these eternal rhythms of nature, in her ears, bones and soul. For her,
ideas spring forth and are often expressed in delicate phrasings: There’s an
ice bear with hollow hair; the velvet buckhorns of a deer; frozen frog eggs
as stiff as little glass jugs; wood frogs dappled in sleek green suits; the
liquid halls of an ocean; and Fishbone lattices. A number of her
alliterations are also rather good: in the forest a fawn stands for the
first time; The Day Lily comes/carrying its candelabra/of burning candles;
Canadian Geese Fat with summer’s grasses/Stuffed with Saskatchewan Corn.

While the transcendence of nature is the predominate theme in this
collection, not all of Spring’s poems are solemn. In fact, many are playful.
In Whale Songs she communes with humpbacks and imagines them asking in
puzzlement, “Woman, why don’t you sing to me?” Two Horses has a similar
mood. When she tells them how handsome they are the old one strikes a show
horse pose/even though he is bony, spavined, swaybacked. The young one looks
at her with the eyes of a child/on the first day of school.

Another fun aspect of Spring’s book is the inclusion of shape poems, where
the text is formed like its subject. My Kites is quite entertaining as is My
Strawberries. Other times her poems read like colourful social commentary.
Birth Control for the Earth Mother Rampant Upon a Fruitful World is a good
example of this. It’s about a painter-woman whose creativity flows from her
femaleness; a goddess on the birth control pill who remains fecundate, by
giving birth to canvas.

In her work Spring draws from many traditions, including Christianity and
Darwinism. Jonah’s Journey is of course a retelling of the parable, Jonah
and the Whale. In a poem called Praise, where a reader would expect
religious underpinnings however, the tone is instead deliberately secular in
its celebration of universal and individual contrasts. After travelling to
the Galapagos Islands, Spring writes an essay that she dedicates to Charles
Darwin, a tribute to the evolution of species. This experience thus becomes
another testament to the eternal and universal connection she believes all
life energy has.

The Wilderness Within is available at, bn.,com, and many other online and brick and mortar stores such as The Bookman in Grand Haven, MI, Schuler Books and Music etc.

My Amazon Page  click the link for my books etc.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Harvest Poem and Watercolors by Barbara Spring


Geese filled fields and apple fragrant orchards
Fruit stands bursting bins—
Bees tumble in velvet blooms
Gather sweetness, fly through honeyed air.
Grapes hang heavy on vines, purple, red and green.
Such sweetness asks you to breathe out blessings there.
Salmon streak streams with silver
And hunters lie in twilight darkening
Waiting for swift white tail deer.

                       --Barbara Spring

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Chauvet Cave

It's 3:00 a.m. and I can't sleep. I get up and look out. There's a bright moon shining on Lake Michigan. A few stars are twinkling. I take a deep breath and think. What to do at 3 a.m.? I take down a book I had been intending to read: "Chauvet Cave-the oldest paintings in the world," a book I pulled off the shelf at the library a few days ago. It was a great choice. I am astonished by the gorgeous cave paintings, the oldest found yet--they are some 30,000 years old. The shapes and colors of animals awe me: mammoths, rhinoceros, lions, horses, bears and one owl. Maybe just like the owl I am listening to right now.
When the cave was discovered in France in 1994, its location and the beauty of its art astonished specialists. Who would have guessed that people that long ago could be so sophisticated in their drawing. They used contours of the cave to dramatize the shapes of animals. The unknown master artist used perspective to show great herds of animals running and used shading on their bodies. There were a few handprints outlined in red and the imprints of a pair of hands in the clay on the floor of the cave.
Even more astonishing were the huge footprints of cave bears and mixed in their tracks were paint pigments used on the walls. Imagine painting a masterpiece and having huge bears tracking through the paint. How distracting. In some places, the bears had incised the paintings on the cave walls with their huge claws.
Cave bears are now extinct. They were larger than even the largest bears we know of today. Chauvet Cave was littered with many bear skulls and bones. If the bears had died while hibernating, that might explain part of it. But one bear skull had been deliberately set on a huge stone that had fallen from the ceiling as if it were an altar.
What had these early people been thinking to paint running herds of animals, bison, and ibex, all beautifully, poetically rendered, and solitary bears in a cave stunning in its beauty with calcite stone draperies and ochre colored walls. All of this remained in pristine condition for 30,000 years and then not very long ago expert cavers discovered it. The government of France is making sure that none of it is destroyed by eager tourists or even research teams who may inadvertently destroy the evidence of early man and the animals they obviously admired.
The work is still being carried on and there is a lot to learn from the cave. I was thrilled to find the book, even though it is not a brand new book. The book is wonderful, but now it's getting light outside, my eyes are tired and my foot has gone to sleep.
I take my bike out of the garage and head for the boardwalk. There's a nip in the air, but the lake is warm. And I see there are a few fishermen out all ready. Maybe one was there all night--he seems to be sleeping. The river smells of fish. There are a lot of carp, but a few white fish have started biting. Soon there will be tons of them and fishermen and women and children will be flocking like seagulls - or cave bears - at a picnic.
I turn my bike around and head back just as the sun is bouncing up on the horizon over the town. It looks huge and red this morning sending a glow over the ambitious joggers I meet on the boardwalk.
Early morning is a great time to jog or ride a bike. There's very little traffic and everything looks like the dawn of time. Obviously I'm seeing the world through the eyes of ancient cave bears and master artists - and the prints left in Chauvet Cave are still imprinted on my mind.
It is 7:30. Time to start my day. I head for home.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Freedom Medal Seoul South Korea

On July 27, 2016 Norm Spring was awarded the Freedom Medal for his service on the front lines of the Korean War.  The people of of South Korea appreciate their freedom since their country has been able to practice freedom of religion and to develop into a vibrant economy.  Norm did not want to go back to the country he left in 1953 until recently.  The trip was really worthwhile.  He saw what has been accomplished there since it is now a free country