Big Cedar Trail

Here I am, having come upon a place

deep enough to lose myself,

among emerald bouquets of Sword fern

thriving in the damp, dim light

as far as the

I can see. As the I can see – there it is again,

that stubborn “I”

but it’s loosening,

almost gone into the breath

of this verdant ravine

where redcedar soars, roots, spreads, and sits

as still and profound as two in the morning.

Just this, redcedar whispers.


Cool breeze scatters leaves

from an unseen place – the top of the hill?

The jagged black edge of the island? Or

do the wafting breaths emanate from

sixty miles east of here, over the dark Salish Sea?

Here, now, air manifests:

gentle waves of cedar boughs,

fluttering tips of elderberry leaves and prickly

bumps on the freckled skin of my old arms.

Mind focuses and releases in waves

like the the darting chipmunk

who was breathlessly still

a second ago. Moving then still,

in breath and out,

back and forth,

we are centered in this particular herenow

at the bottom of the green ravine

where the I loosens and

joins the forest.





What Might Be

Here is a series of nature-based semi-abstracts with accompanying text. Your reactions to the images are likely to be different from mine and my thoughts would probably be different on another day.

Images have so much to give.


the wind wavered

a shadow

held me still



breath sinks

splash of




crackled hieroglyphics

eyes squint

and smile




of color

their stories always shifting



layers reach back

in space

the weaver rejoices



breath catches


under this chaos



In Ghent

I gape, lost

in a distant century



I always trust

you’re there

if I…



rough path

squirrel chatter

keeps me company



we were free

the clouds





left behind

detritus of the ages



I left something


for you



inner circle,

outer circle

who belongs?



no choice

immersed in

liquid relentlessness



A random group of images from a trip to New York comes together under the rubric “Contained,” then inspires a poem.







































Containing, contained:

  1. What’s left of a perfect espresso macchiato and eggplant pastry at La Colombe, 601 W. 27th St., NY, NY.
  2. A freestanding window frame contains the view at Queens Botanical Gardens, 43-50 Main Street in Flushing, NY.
  3. Packing crates for sculpture on the second floor of the Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Rd., Queens, NY.
  4. Basket made by Pomo Indians (?) in what is now California, photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY.
  5. Looking up into a sculpture by Ruth Asawa at the David Zwirner Gallery, 525 W. 19th St., NY, NY.  Asawa (1926 – 2013) learned to draw while interred in camps in California & Arkansas during WW II.  Later, she studied with Josef Albers at Black Mountain College.
  6. Stacked trash cans at Fort Totten Park, Totten Ave. & 15 Rd., Bayside, NY.
  7. Moving sculpture (probably the work of Deborah Butterfield)  on West 22th St. in Chelsea, NY, NY.
  8. An old wooden toolbox, washed up at Little Bay, East River, near the Throgs Neck Bridge, Whitestone, NY.
  9. A portion of “Lorrkon (Hollow Log)” by John Mawurndjul, a leading Australian contemporary indigenous artist. This sculpture relates to the ceremonial use of painted hollow logs to inter people’s bones after death. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY.
  10. A sculpture by Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner Gallery,  525 W. 19th St., NY, NY.
  11. A locked door to a now empty ammunition magazine at Fort Totten Park, Totten Ave. & 15 Rd., Bayside, NY.
  12. A broom and trash cans by the ammunition magazine, Fort Totten Park, Totten Ave. & 15 Rd., Bayside, NY.




Feet ache. An afternoon treat of espresso and pastry revives me, and

I relax and look out at the city streets, as fresh now

after coffee, as a green garden framed

by a floating

window, the window’s square geometry signaling the reassuring

order of framed and enclosed spaces, spaces

that hold us as safely as a crated sculpture, the crate’s stamped symbols

advising “This side up” and so

the contents are safe, unbroken, captivating and precious,

like the basket with feathers on its rim, the basket

that could fly, and it did, it flew

like Ruth’s hands when she wove her round forms

(“We always saw her making art, it was part of her everyday existence”),

the empty/full shapes weightless, almost insubstantial, yet

anchored in craft and material,

the looped metal wires and round contours as familiar as a trash container – but

uncommonly beautiful. And even a trash can might

transcend its surroundings, by way of

aquamarine paint –

as the horse transcends the city street even when

wrapped and tied. Waiting patiently, blue-clad movers watch the street for

signs of trouble, and daydream about fishing a strip of

derelict shore where a toolbox sits,

also patient, also transcending its setting by wearing

ragged, green seaweed vestments,

its wooden surface bearing the creamy, painted evidence of usefulness,

which the hollow ceremonial log

sitting quietly in the museum vitrine,

is denied. Covered with tiny cross-hatchings in outback earth colors

(“I put the experience in my head and went to paint the same thing”),

the somber container

sits empty,

longing for the bones it should but will not contain.

Sixty blocks south, another receptacle hangs tenuously

from the ceiling of an art gallery

throwing cross-hatched shadows, whose

curves dance until

the door is shut

and nothing remains

but a sign indicating “No” and

a worn broom.
















Seasonal Blend

The blend is uneven, barely mixed

as winter cedes to spring in

fits and starts:

trumpeting geese over barren


dangling buds

of red-flowered currant,

willow’s thin yellow curtains, last year’s

dry curls of dead grass among

discarded leaves.

Fits and starts of lime-green

moss inviting


on a fresh morning, chill rain

slicking the boardwalk,


camellias and collapsed cattails,

their tough green shoots stabbing

at the sodden air. It is an uneven blend

of dark

mixing with light moving

slowly, the

doe settling into wood’s edge for its

evening chew.

























Spring is moving slowly here, with colder and wetter weather than normal. I dart out between rainfalls – it’s often just hours before the drizzle begins again.  I took these photos on forays to a local botanical garden, a park, and at the side of the road. They are a mix of wild and cultivated – the camellia tree was planted, the red-flowered currant, and many of the grasses and trees were not. Wild Cackling geese (relatives of Canada geese) fly high above power lines and the doe forages at the botanical garden. It all draws my eye, whether wild or not.

It’s between seasons and I’m feeling in-between myself, unsure where to go next, literally and figuratively. Patience.

Patience too, during this just-before-Spring time. Gardens and fields are still mostly under last year’s detritus but cherry blossoms are about to pop, narcissus and forsythia are out, birds are singing and the grass is greening up. My favorite season is a breath away…


it happens on

the edge: transition,

change, movement.


At the edge, I see what’s

what. I think I

know what’s what, but

appearances, well,

you know – they’re


Still, I’m drawn to

an edge, if

only to keep

the comforting rhythm of


to center.

Photos of Begonia leaves; Lumix G3, 60 mm, f 2.8, 1/40-1/80 sec, ISO 800.





You think you lack love,

or money,

your coffee is cold. Something is

wrong, there is suffering,


And the river

rushes downhill, leaf

buds burst green explosions, the

light came this morning, sure as ever,

and the dark is

on its way.

Children run, clouds gather and

disperse, and the wobbling, lovely world

pours rain and shines sunlight

on you.

Holds you fast

to its surface, cradles you

without plan or thought –


It is enough.





Photos taken at the Kruckeberg Botanical Garden in Seattle.


There is nothing to be



There is a moment,


a sparkle inside my head – then,

the black box talks in my hands

of the unity of time

and its loss.

Of moments present

and past.

Of pretty things;

of love.

Having no idea what will come of it,

I wander home

to translate light.

Light that was

and is

and will be



Red Osier 1


Red Osier 2


Red Osier 3


Red Osier 4


Red Osier 5


Red Osier 6


Red Osier 7


Red Osier 8


Red Osier 9


Red Osier 10


Red Osier 11


Red Osier 12


Red Osier 13


I saw a bed of red osier dogwood planted in front of tall evergreens at Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle the other day. The deep blue-green gloom of the evergreens was a perfect foil for the warm colors of the stems.

(Also known as red twig dogwood, or Cornus siricea, the shrubby plant is an American native, used extensively in landscaping for its “winter interest.”   Its slender stems can be various shades of red, magenta, pink, and in some cultivars, yellow-green. It’s known as Cornus stolonifera, too, just to keep things complicated.)

The haze of warm color was inviting in the drab winter landscape. I remembered a photograph I took last year of a stand of red osier in another Seattle park. I had the camera on shutter priority and set a long exposure, then moved the camera up and down, following the growth pattern of the branches. It resulted in a brilliantly colored curtain of softly blended vertical streaks, included here in a previous post about Color.

So I tried that again and experimented with different ways of moving the camera while the shutter was open – up and down, right and left, in arcs, forward and back, while walking around the plants…it’s a pleasure to get your body into camera work once in while! Then I returned home and got to work, to play. I processed the images with a variety of adjustments and effects in Lightroom and OnOne Perfect Effects, in a few very enjoyable hours…

There was freedom in it, and pleasure.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved: No Resolutions


nothing – my perennial urges

at “self” improvement (those vague

promises hovering just beyond daylight’s reach)

don’t correspond to calendars.

And it’s a problem of

time – twelve months stretch farther

than I can imagine: no,

there will be no New Years Resolutions here.


I can promise, though, that I will


to the spirit of the moment,

more and more.

And I can promise that I will

try harder

to show you

what I find.


Pretty –

or not.

Photo taken 1/3/2013, in a field off Cherry Valley Road, Duvall, Washington. This Canada goose was likely shot by hunters and then thrown away. There were hunters shooting in the field when I took the picture. Between mid-October and late January, four geese may taken a day, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, in King County.

To me, hunting is not a “good” or an “evil” activity.  I recognize that very few people – at least where I live – need to kill to eat.  So it’s tempting to make that grounds for refraining from hunting.  But of course we condone hunting of a sort when we eat meat.  A long tradition of hunting here is integrated with country life, and hunters have supported the land and wildlife in many ways, even as they take life.  So it’s complicated.  But nothing about this frozen Canada goose, carelessly tossed at the edge of a field along with another goose and a few ducks, seems  morally comfortable.


This post is part of the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, and more responses to “Resolved” can be found here:


Hearing all the Sounds

Forty years ago this month, I listened very carefully to all the sounds I heard one day and wrote them down in a notebook. The resulting 60 page work was later submitted as part of the requirements for a Fine Arts degree at what was then the wonderfully progressive School of Visual Arts, in New York City.

I have thought about my “Sounds Piece” many times since then, especially when the anniversary of that day rolls around.  Wherever I might be living, it always seems that my sound environment is far, far noisier and more complex than it was back then. I thought it would be interesting to do another sound piece twenty years later, but even in 1992, the world was so much noisier than it had been in 1972. It just didn’t seem possible.


I can’t share the whole piece here, but I have set below some pages from it. The first two list each sound I heard from the moment I awoke that morning until about two hours later. I had placed a small notebook & pencil next to the bed the night before, so I would be ready. (The “shower” wasn’t mine – someone else was in the bathroom and that was the first sound I was conscious of as I woke up).

I was already struggling with the question of how to identify and record the odd sounds we don’t normally think about, as well as the usual ones. I quickly realized that the best – or easiest – way to describe a sound was to simply name the thing that made the sound, a “once-removed” process I didn’t like, but felt forced to use, to lend consistency to the writing. Of course, writing rather than recording sounds directly is already a once-removed method of conveying auditory experience, but I liked the idea of translating the auditory sensations onto paper. I wanted to see what that would look like – like a peculiar diary? – and I was curious to see how this extra layer of activity would affect my day.

A page from mid-day:

I attended classes that day, and as soon as my friends got wind of what I was up to, they began making odd sounds that were very difficult to describe. I was so busy writing I hardly spoke all day. A few people bothered me, or followed me, or kissed me.

I was glad to get away from school, but all the noises outside – from the street to the subway – were hard to capture. Made me grind my teeth!

That night I scribbled with a worn out brain, but I was determined to complete the project.  I had produced a beautifully skewed record of one day – the perceptions of one of my five senses, filtered through my brain and crudely recorded on paper, had left an oddly complete, yet incomplete trail of clues to 16 hours of  everyday life.

Here, the final two pages of sounds (there’s a typo in there):


Since then there have been many nights when I couldn’t sleep because my son was crying in his crib, or it was summer and they were dredging the harbor, or people outside were yelling. I would long to live in a place where the last thing I heard at night could be my own breathing.


Has anyone else tried to list all the sounds they heard over the course of a day?  I don’t know, but today, unless you do this far away from cities, it will be very hard. Many more layers of sound litter our lives now compared with a few decades ago. We live in a sound and noise polluted world, just as we live in a world polluted by so much other extra stuff. Paring away some layers from time to time and allowing yourself to just be, in a less busy environment, becomes more and more attractive.

If it seems like a good thing to do, take a minute and listen to every sound, one by one. Just listen.