Another poem from The Writer’s Almanac really struck me a few weeks ago, Durum Wheat by Lisa Martin-Demoor. I find that I am reading these on a regular basis during natural breaks in the day. It doesn’t take long, and you sometimes find great gems, like the closing lines of this poem.

Durum wheat

by Lisa Martin-Demoor

Memory at its finest lacks corroboration
—no photographs, no diaries—
nothing to pin the past on the present with, to make it stick.
Just because you’ve got this idea
of red fields stretching along the tertiary roads
of Saskatchewan, like blazing, contained fires —
just because somewhere in your memory
there’s a rust-coloured pulse
taking its place among canola yellow
and flax fields the huddled blue of morning azures—
just because you want to
doesn’t mean you can
build a home for that old, peculiar ghost.

Someone tells you you’ve imagined it,
that gash across the ripe belly of summer,
and for a year, maybe two, you believe them.
Maybe you did invent it, maybe as you leaned,
to escape the heat, out the Pontiac’s backseat window
you just remembered it that way
because you preferred the better version.

Someone tells you this.
But what can they know of faith?
To ask you to leave behind this insignificance.
This innocence that can’t be proved: what the child saw
of the fields as she passed by, expecting nothing.

You have to go there while there’s still time.
Back to the red flag of that field, blazing in the wind.
While you’re still young enough to remember
a flame planted along a road. While you’re still
seeing more than there is to see.

“Durum wheat” by Lisa Martin-Demoor, from One Crow Sorrow. © Brindle & Glass, 2008.

Daemons and Geniuses

There are a lot of amazing TED talks out there at this point, but this has got to be one of my favorites. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, shares a new perspective on the creative process that goes back to the Greeks and Romans. It’s the idea that the creative energy comes from Somewhere Else – a creative daemon or genius that comes to work with the artist on her projects. She talks about how this idea helps her to approach her writing with a more positive and healthy mental outlook and tells us incredible stories of the creative process of the poet Ruth Stone. It’s only 18 minutes long. Watch it.

Travel Sketching Pen/Watercolor

Memorial Day weekend is historically one of the busiest. So, as a local, my tendency is to want to get out just as everyone else is trying to get in. Unfortunately, a substantial trip is not really in the works this year, for various reasons, so I’m left with trying to figure out what to do.

Here’s an idea.

Yosemite Association has taken charge of free art classes held in the Park. Classes are given by a wide variety of artists, so each week the lessons, style, and media are fresh and new . I’ve attended one or two before, and have gotten some great tips.

This week, (May 20 – 23) the classes are being taught by Pam Pederson – Travel Sketching Pen/Watercolor – which is absolutely perfect for the kind of ‘artwork’ that I like to do. There is something truly magnificent about finished paintings, but I like the fast and loose feeling of sketching without having to go back and painstakingly, well, work. I am sure that I will have to promise my husband not to buy things – I already have reams of paper and art supplies galore, but I’m hoping that this will give me incentive to dig those things out and rub off a bit of the rust.

April is Poetry Month and other Goings Ons

April is almost over, and I’m just getting around to collecting some ideas about in one place. Being busy is good, but if someone could slow the clocks down and give me a chance to catch up again that would be nice.

In addition to the big things (Easter, Earth Day etc.) There were a bunch of interesting things going on to distinguish the month (as if the beginning of wildflower season wasn’t distinction enough around here). I don’t know if they are interesting enough to actually get me to participate – which is probably why it took me so long to mention them – but definitely interesting enough to get my head going around a bit. Helping out with the Yosemite Sentinel brings a lot of these random events to the surface, and is one of the most rewarding things about working on it.

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Up from out of in under there!

Up From Out of In Under
Up From Out of In Under
Another great find courtesy of The Writer’s Almanac

I lately lost a preposition:
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair.
And angrily I cried: “Perdition!
Up from out of in under there!”

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor;
And yet I wondered: “What should he come
Up from out of in under for?”

Morris Bishop (who would have turned 116 years old today)
poem published in 1947 in The New Yorker

Yosemite Flower Report

Bird's Eye Gilia
Bird's Eye Gilia
Tom and I dodged down to Hite Cove to check up on the flowers there and get a little run in. The run was marvelous. We went all the way to the Cove, and I felt great – although my legs were cramping a little toward the end (not sure why). Plus, the flowers were spectacular.

A friend had been a little worried that the poppies were past. True, they may not be as abundant as they have been, but there are still plenty spectacular. Right now, it seems like the best display is further up-canyon, near El Portal. For my money, the hillsides have gotten even more interesting because instead of uninterrupted carpets of orange, the orange is punctuated with many other flowers and colors. I think the show stopper this trip, were the beautiful patches of Bird’s Eye Gilia (of which I got the Gilia and the B, but had to look up the rest).. or the RedBud. RedBud is always amazing when it is in bloom.

Many of the people that I stopped to ask about flower names could only shrug. To my, “Ooo – do you know what kind of flower that is?” one guy smiled and said, “The pretty kind”. True enough. Still, for those who are interested in this kind of thing (and are understanding of my imperfect flower identification skills)…

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Progress Check

So far we’re 29 days into Lent, and I’ve managed to get a blog post in each day. I’ve missed a few days, and had to back-date, but I’m still at one-for-one, and I usually get that nagging lagging post in the next morning.

It’s a lot more writing than I’ve really ever done before, and the great thing about it is that it seems to be getting easier with each day that goes by. Ideas for things to write about come at me faster than I can get them down. (Knock on wood that it continues.) The conservative part of me is saving those posts for use on later days when I can’t think of something else to say, or don’t have time to get something down, but the longer this goes on, the easier it is for me to build up a surplus of ideas.

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Playing the piano like Tom Bopp

Tom Bopp played the piano for the retirement party last night, and getting to see him in action made me think a lot about playing the piano and the power of music. I’d love to be able to play like Tom.

I started learning to play classical piano when I was 5 or 6 years old, and took lessons all the way through high-school. But, I had stopped playing since then, until Tom put his foot down and bought a piano for me about 8 months ago.

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Not the Usual Yosemite Fare

This is a strange weekend for me. It is filled with activity options that wouldn’t normally occur to me as Things to Do in Yosemite. When I got here 5 years ago, my list was pretty short – climb, hike (to climbs) and backpack (for far away climbs), but the more I’ve lived here the more I get exposed to all of the other things that are going on in Yosemite.

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