Tuesday, August 9, 2016
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
Friday, July 29, 2016
Each grave is decorated with the Rose of Sharon, the flower of South Korea.
Norm and I visited South Korea through Military Tours. Norm fought on the front lines in the war. The South Koreans wanted to show veterans sent by the United Nations how their country has risen from the ashes to a vibrant democracy. We met veterans from many countries on this trip and our guides showed us many interesting places. Everywhere we went people thanked him for his sacrifice. It was really an eye-opening trip.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Air Earth Fire Water
A misty drizzle falls over Puget Sound—
enters every living thing
thimble berries I pick from the roadside—
berries red, soft, tender
stain my fingers red
flood my tongue with tang.
Water seeps into leaves, grass, me.
I’m as damp as the black crenelated slug
crossing the forest path with deliberate gravity.
Under a lush green cedar bough I lean
against its stout rough trunk—
I feel the qi in flowing through every living thing
And in water, minerals, earth and from
the sun cupped yellow marsh marigolds.
A sweetness breathes from pink rose hedges,
chicory stands sentinel for my blue longing
Ferns breathe green ideas
into the fallen leaves
into the fallen leaves
Mist falls on an unseen singer haunting
the forest canopy with unearthly scales of notes.
Imbued, baptized the networks of roots under
my boots know I am here—the news
travels all the way to the salty Sound.
Octopus, seals, sea otters hear the news.
They know my love of them and the gray whale
I greeted in the Baja last winter breaches
its great body as it looks shore ward.
We are all joined in this joy.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
In Rhinelander, the city of the green glass dome where stands the court of justice, there dwelled a mighty sage who had paid dues. I sought the sage for my desire was to be a poet. I sought the sage in the hall of justice but he was not to be found there. I found him at last under a green leafy canopy contemplating a cool damp mushroom.
“Greetings,” I blurted out brashly— then the sage fixed me in his gaze for surely he ‘d never seen me before and I’d never seen him either. He spoke then and I blushed for he spoke of the foolish things I do and know and some wise things, too although I hadn’t said anything except “greetings.”
A woman who wishes to be a real poet the sage said must accomplish three tasks:
- Capture the consonant dragon murmuring under the sea.
- Capture the black troll growling vowels.
- Capture the essence of meadow flowers—the pleasantest task of all.
But how am I to begin? My tendency to fly must be overcome in favor of earthly images. Stay grounded at all costs. Women should not try like Icarus to fly. Why court disaster? My kiting dreams of many colors I pulled down on a string. Whoosh—they dangled from the skeletal limbs of a tree between Heaven and Earth.
I sat down on the damp Earth until my bottom felt at one with it: cold and damp. It happens that dragons dwell in the satiny waters of
lakes. No one has to look very far to
find one. I stared out at the rippling
water and discerned a moving shape beneath it.
Dragon slip, dragon slide—on a dragon I would ride. I slipped onto the
Hssss—the sound of dragon scales. I feel the cool pressure as we stir clouds of silt where winding weeds grow. The dragon takes no notice as I slide from its emerald skin. One of his scales has stuck to my shoulder.
I lie down on the grassy shore to dry. BZZZ hums the sound of honey bees kneading each flower with their legs furred with yellow pollen. They fly to their hive—females doing the work of the world. Yellow pollen covers my hair, my hands, my feet.
My body leaves a hollow place in the grass as if a deer had lain there. I wander into the forest with its dappled light. Leaves rustle as small animals flee. The coal bright eyes stare at me eye level. I am lost.
”Take me to the troll who dwells under the hill,” I ask of the brown and white owl. He spread his silent wings and flew low to the place where stone and black dirt meld—then disappeared.
All night long I listened to the hooting echoing through the trees. Hoo. Hoo Hoo Hoo. I sat on a stone and waited for the bandy legged man. Then in the moonlight he approached. I confronted him there.
“Take me to Mother Earth’s vowels,” I whispered.
“Why can’t you finally leave me in peace?” He asked.
“Please forgive all the mean things I’ve done and said—my rude laughter—take me there and I’ll be grateful ever after,” I said.
“You must follow me to the fen” he said.
Moonlight turned leaves to quicksilver as small breezes blew through them. At last we reached the dark fen where the earth quaked under our shoes. It sucked at my ankles and I knew if I fell into the water it would whirl me around and return only my hollow bones. A green luna moth brushed my cheek and I whispered “fly away. The moon you see below is deception and decay.”
The prune hearted man heard what I said and threatened to bind me to a willow tree. But I showed him the dragon scale clinging to my shoulder and bee yellow pollen that caught in my hair while I was still unaware.
“ I will lead you out of the fen if you will take this apple seed from me,” he growled quite low. He handed me an apple seed like a tear drop and I placed it under my tongue. “Now follow me,” he said.
As we approached the high mountain meadow he disappeared and I saw the first rays of violet dawn then the golds, reds and luminous grays. East wind dandled flower strewn grasses and when I felt tempted to rise and blow away with it, I laid my body down, for grounded after all is where it was decreed I should be by the blithe one.
And there I saw a bright yellow flower symmetrical as the sun. I touched it to my lips and breathed in its freshness. “The sun and the flower are one,” said I and felt a deep harmony. I could not explain how this is true, and yet I knew.
The sage who had paid his dues was right. By staying earthbound, I could go everywhere. A courthouse capped with a dome of green Tiffany glass could never contain this truth. So now I will roam Earth’s high and low places and write my poems. I reeled in my kite from the tree and gave it to a little boy.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Barbara Spring's Amazon page
Click the link to see all of my books. These books are labors of love. I wrote the Dynamic Great Lakes simply to show the workings of nature in these majestic freshwater seas.
My poetry books are also labors of love. Click the link to see what they are about.