One and one-half wandering Jews
Free to wander wherever they choose
Are traveling together
In the Sangre de Christo
The Blood of Christ Mountains
Of New Mexico
On the last leg of a journey
They started a long time ago
The arc of a love affair
Rainbows in the high desert air
Slipping into stone
Hearts and bones
The story behind my painting “The Christmas Bridge”
A few years ago we had a unexpected snow storm on Christmas Eve.
Two weeks in the making, we had already sent invitations in advance to a host of our closest friends. “Join us for a very special Christmas dinner!” we promised.
The storm as it turned was insurmountable and dangerous and so it became impossible for our friends to reach us.
And so we sat, the two of us, with a king’s ransom of dinner, lights, music, desserts and unopened gifts – feeling, well a bit empty. Our special evening didn’t seem quite so, well, special.
We sat, eggnogs calming, candles burning, the blue twilight casting something magical across the little bridge out the front window.
Nothing had changed really. The bridge into our house stood steadfast, waiting for our guests to arrive, not seeming concerned about the turn of events in the slightest. And it would, it promised, continue waiting each and every day. That was its purpose, its reason for being after all.
“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
― Eric Hoffer
That evening we agreed that this small unassuming bridge represented, to us, friendship. Friendship which remains true whatever challenges come along.
I wish for each and every one of you (who have so kindly blessed me with your comments and visits) successful arithmetic this season. That you can find blessings to count. Perhaps even some that at first don’t seem especially so.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
In the mountains of southern California there is a lake with an island in its midst. Outside this island a majority of trees were consumed in a forest fire in 2003 (The infamous Cedar Fire). Many of the trees had stood 200-300 or more years. But on the lake’s island you can still walk through a landscape of beautiful ancient oak and pine trees. On a fall day, as I walked the island’s edges, I came upon this spot- a still standing glorious ancient survivor. Autumn perfection – Fall color surrounds, the air is crisp and clear, migratory birds call above and the sun rests on the horizon.
“I was once told that certain spiritual masters in Tibet used to set their teacups upside down before they went to bed each night as a reminder that all life was impermanent.
And then, when they awoke each morning, they turned their teacups right side up again with the happy thought, ‘I’m still here!‘ This simple gesture was a wonderful reminder to celebrate every moment of the day.”
“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day… So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”
“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend”
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Within our garden in the high mountains of New Mexico is a 150 year old Pinyon tree. Our first few years here we made a twice daily pilgrimage to sit beneath this beautiful tree — folding chair in one hand, espresso in the other.
We end up here in time to see the sun rise and the night’s mist vanish. And in book-end symmetry at sunset we sit silent observers of the distant mountains set beneath an O’Keeffe sky of crimson, orange and purple.
One day a question arrived. How about more permanent ‘season ticket seating’? How about an old-fashioned tree swing? How about that branch there? But it’s old like us and might break. Perhaps an arbor to support it – a little insurance.
Arbor done, swing hung, but something was missing. It needs some color doesn’t it? Many colors had potential. All were considered and it took some time to settle on just one. The final choice of vibrant yellow worked perfectly, poetically.
All elements in balance now and for 310 days a year (give or take), this swing seems to levitate in the rising and setting sun, like a magic carpet….two performances daily.
“…When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me, And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves, And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter”
I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)
I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.
“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is the special one, it’s never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It’s growing in the street
Right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreaming
* Diogenese was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He believed human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study dogs who are thought to know instinctively who is friend and who is foe. Unlike human beings who either dupe others or are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth. The term “cynic” itself derives from the Greek word κυνικός, kynikos, “dog-like” and that from κύων, kyôn, “dog” (genitive: kynos).
“The sunsets come
The sunsets go
The clouds roll by
And the earth turns old
And the young bird’s eyes
Do always glow”
Song quote from It’s a Beautiful Day’s White Bird, 1967, songwriters: David and Linda LaFlamme
David and Linda LaFlamme
“White Bird” was written in December 1967, in Seattle, Washington. Manager Matthew Katz had moved the band there to polish their act at a small Seattle ballroom before booking them into San Francisco nightclubs. Living in the attic of a Victorian house across the street from Volunteer Park, the band had inadequate food and no transportation during a dreary Seattle winter. The song evolved from the depression of the band’s circumstances and yearning to be free.
The song’s repeated chorus is, “White bird must fly or she will die.”
In a later interview, LaFlamme said:
Where the ‘white bird’ thing came from … We were like caged…
In the beginning it was really to show how much or how little this country is what we think it is…
how far our expectations are mislead through the constant consumption of American culture. I stumbled across the expression ‘cultural imperialism’—I find it an interesting way to define the impact the U.S. media and culture have on the rest of the world.
I always have and still consume American pop culture, and I’ve found the recurring themes of those productions in the country’s daily life, although in a much more ordinary way than the cliche representations in movies or books. In many cases I’ve found myself wondering whether people do some things because they saw it in a movie first or if the movie was inspired by real life. What came first: fiction or reality?”