words cannot be found on the table, on a shelf spoken they disappear as exhaled breath and yet word becomes flesh it has been said and so it must follow word becomes giraffes and beer… More
Tinney Creek, St. Petersburg, Florida
Tinney Creek runs past
the TJ Max
It travels back and forth
from Tampa Bay
rises and falls daily with the tide
feeds Egrets, families of Muscovy ducks and Mallards
who seek tiny prawns, mud crabs, bugs.
Feathery Java fern
grow in it’s rich mud,
as if this was still The Garden.
Between snaking highways,
the creeks and their residents
as if this was still The Garden.
Down the busy street a ways
atop a pole advertising Beer and Low-Cost Cigarettes,
an osprey has built a roomy nest,
designed in the contemporary open sky plan.
A lone Roseate Spoonbill sometimes visits Tinney Creek
always in company with her Egret.
I watch as
Spoonbill lifts it’s comical Dr. Seuss face
twitches its white and rosy feathers
lowers its wide paddle-like beak into brackish water
side to side
The ducks, Ibis, Egret, crows and I claim
this creek and the remaining
Royal Palms, oak trees, iridescent sunsets
“I used to see many Roseate Spoonbills here once,”
a neighbor tells me.
My heart aches
as it beats
at these all too familiar words:
There were many here
At night, arriving home,
my headlights sweep over the banks of the creek
lighting up a line of ducks, like fat-buddhas
heads curled into their downy breasts
asleep despite ambulance sirens,
the roar of traffic.
At dawn they will wake
waddle like drunks
raise their chicks,
the Osprey will hunt,
the Spoonbill and Egret will visit
I will marvel at how they float and splash
and the creek
feeds us all
as if this is still the Garden.
To Practice Seeing
poems by Anda Peterson
Nest appeared in Salt Creek Journal, a publication by the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, April 2018
Circumnavigation appeared in Sky Island Journal, June 2018
Table of Contents
Mermaid Visits Congress…..pg 2
Pushaw Lake, Maine, Late August…..pg 6
Requiem for a Dharma Bum Jack Kerouac, read on the occasion at the anniversary of his death at the Flamingo Bar, St. Petersburg, Florida…..pg 9
Nest…. pg 12
Tea Ceremony…. pg 15
Einstein, Buddha and Picasso Walk into a Bar…. pg 16
Chihuly Glass #1…. .pg 19
Chihuly Glass #2…..pg 21
Advice from a Live Oak…..pg 22
Boyd Hill Symphony….. pg 25
Tinney Creek, St. Petersburg…..pg 30
Tinney Creek 2…..pg 31
A Good Personality or the Play’s the Thing (with apologies to the Bard)……pg 33
For Pema Chodron, Bob, and Margaret…..pg36
From The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen:
“Is there anything I can do to win an immortal soul?”
“No,” said the old woman, “unless a man were to love you so much that you were more to him than his father or mother; and if all his thoughts and all his love were fixed upon you…then his soul would glide into your body and you would obtain a share in the future happiness of mankind. He would give a soul to you and retain his own as well; but this can never happen. Your fish’s tail, which amongst us is considered so beautiful, is thought on earth to be quite ugly; they do not know any better, and they think it necessary to have two stout props, which they call legs, in order to be handsome.”
Mermaid’s Visit to Congress
It hurts to walk on land.
Once we dreamt
how glorious it would be
above the ocean
in the land of their power
Once we sang
to guide men home
from their foolhardy voyages
the battles they waged against
the tides, the swells
of mountainous waves.
We all sang our warnings,
Whale sang and dolphin sang.
Now we know.
Each step is a shock,
like walking on shards of glass.
the cries of those
who walked this way before us,
who forgot how it was
to glide freely
under sunlit water shimmering overhead
among playful fish.
How we wore seaweed dresses
as we danced in the deep
rising like arrows through the water
with dolphins and whales.
We sacrificed our mermaid tails
our shining fish scales
the fields of water flowers
our coral castles
made of mist.
What is the sound of water?
No, I mean, really…
Who can know more than this:
a beat, a pulse
that rises and falls
after the downbeat of thunder
when rain sounds
like fingers snapping
on the roof
until the swell of a deluge
builds to a crescendo
and ends gentle
with the slow brushing beat of a snare drum.
The musician searches for a cadence
plays the tempo
set by water
the full orchestra of a hard monsoon
or jazz bounce of raindrops,
single notes struck on a piano.
I heard the sound of water
during an echocardiogram.
then I knew
the gurgling beat of my heart
with the whole great ocean
Pushaw Lake, Maine
It is late August
The bee flutters about a dandelion
gains its footing and does its work.
A man stands steady in a boat fishing
on the quiet lake.
The hammock, under two maples,
sways in the breeze.
I write these pictures
to capture the last days of summer.
This is a fool’s errand of course
Like trying to anchor the clouds.
But I persist
because I am in love with this moment
like a monk bent over his sand mandala
adding pinpricks of color in a corner of the whole.
He practices impermanence
the one lasting certainty.
The long-lived log
the swing of the ax
So I set these images
one word at a time
bent over the page
with reverence for:
The swimmer in the lake
who does a slow crawl through the evergreen water
the tall pines above her watching.
The black ant who climbs over the boulder.
A loon who rises with a haunting call
who talk a blue streak in passing.
For now, just now
I walk under the light of the moon
down the path to the fire pit
a full moon
will soon empty itself
become a sliver, a crescent
Lagoon, Martha’s Vineyard
Here on an empty stretch of saltwater lagoon this gray morning
my bare feet scoured by gold-brown sand I walk mindful of the footprints of dogs and sharp shells, rocks, mud.
I come to meditate
which is simply just to stop
to practice seeing.
Damp translucent and neon-green strips of seaweed
stretch along the shoreline. The lagoon lies still
under the smoky-pale sky
its calm speaks of a welcome respite from visitors
as if its heartbeat is steady again so I feel an intruder I will be quiet, walk slowly take a seat on a weathered green bench.
It is high tide a few days after a new moon (said to inspire new beginnings).
A swan appears on the silver water, looks my way. A mate nowhere to be seen. I whisper an invitation. I hope she will come to me teach me about her solitude but, no, she is only here to remind me to be graceful and careful
serenely alone .
She bends her long neck like a ballerina
darts her beak into the water to catch a minnow.
She will navigate this lagoon following the movement of the tides
the moon and starlight.
To begin anew
is all she knows.
Requiem for a Dharma Bum Jack Kerouac
Read on the occasion at the Anniversary of his Death
Flamingo Bar (where he drank his last) St. Petersburg, Florida
sitting at the bar
for your demons
though you knew yourself
also as a jewel in Indra’s net
caught in illusion
yet clear minded
poems spilled on the barroom floor.
You hungry ghost
you beautiful man/boy, Jack
trapped between dharma-love and whiskey-death
on the road
on the road
no arrival the right one.
America broke your heart
when it showed
it’s slave owning, lynching
In such a land
you were misunderstood
they loved your uncontrollable thirst
thought you dropped out
so cool man
lauded you for coolness
so cool man
jazz played the longings
you expressed for them
you seduced them
dark-eyed handsome man
they wanted to talk poetic in smokey bars with you
but go home sober
while you fell down the stairs pissing
shaking with the D.T’s
vomit and blood gushing from your mouth.
Far out. Far out
they applauded your shining, cascading words
You were misunderstood
They thought you said nothing matters but sex
Like it was so far out
how far out you went
in a soulless America with your lost boys
high on themselves and you.
Jack, your Buddha brother
went to the edges too
as seekers often do.
Siddhartha the sensual and bejeweled
then Siddhartha the starving monk
traveled every road
until he stopped
got off the bar stool
went to the forest
weary and done
like you are now
woken from the dream of being
and that is far out
so far out, man
To practice seeing
I choose an empty nest
fallen to the sidewalk
built into a Tillandsia,
the “air plant” that hangs from the branches of trees
A perfect scaffolding.
The plants tentacles intertwine
Round and round each other
The cardinal needs only scoop out the center.
For this, dear architect, did you use your clawing feet?
The cleverness of your construction should not surprise me
but I am human.
I have so many questions.
The answers are mapped in the mind
of a small, smooth feathered head which
pictured the design
shapes, sizes, textures
arranged each element
composed it all
into a unified utility.
How long, how difficult was the construction?
Thin, sliver twigs needed to be bent,
Bits of grape vine collected
Then inserted into the Tillandsia,
Threaded through the curls of grape vines
The stitching secures dry, flaky particles of Live Oak seedpods.
This builder knows how to balance beauty with practicality.
to practice the same day by day.
What was next indicated in your plans?
Perhaps, you decided
To lift dry, gray Spanish moss
Lacy string by lacy string
carried in your beak, flitting back and forth
on labored wings
Nest to branch
branch to nest
you knew that
moss matted down, then mixed with dirt
makes a sturdy stucco
Was this an ancient knowledge inherited from
Your dinosaur DNA?
To the stucco, lodged as if glued is
A one-by-one inch square of plastic netting from a bag of fruit.
Architect, this raises more questions.
How was the perfect size of plastic netting located, then chosen?
Was this serendipity?
Or was it a memory of a bright white, crisscrossed thing you spied from the air?
This plastic web has little function.
Did it thrill or amuse you?
Who can say it didn’t?
And why did you place this swatch of netting
On only one side of your nest?
Was this a statement?
Who can say it wasn’t.?
Or was it for fun?
Do you like fun like I like fun?
Who can say you don’t?
Woven between the Spanish moss, Tillandsia fibers and the fragile twigs
are three strips of cotton from an old cloth bandage.
Was this only for comfort?
Do you like the softness against your face?
Like I like softness?
Who can say you don’t?
Six strips of silver tinsel from an old Christmas tree
are inserted at the top of the nest.
Are you making a case for beauty?
Is this a sign of aesthetics in a life otherwise dominated by survival?
Who can say it isn’t?
The tinsel is fragile, not material for construction
in the sun.
Do you and I both delight in things that shine?
Who dares to say you don’t?
Like any clever architect
You balance beauty with practicality.
I attempt the same
day by day.
I never knew all this about you
Your jokes, your artistry
Until you stopped my mind one day
and opened my eyes
when I found your home.
The steam from Thich Nhat Hanh’s teacup
rises as a cloud
returns to earth
as rain to quench the thirst
of tea leaves.
Thay teaches how clouds appear in teacups and how
Picasso, Einstein and Buddha Walk into a Bar…
Picasso takes a swig of whiskey and says
there is blue in the horse
Yes, blue is in the horse.
If you look beyond muscle and haunch,
Buddha says, sipping his tea,
you will see
atoms that sparkle like a million small diamonds.
and drinks his beer.
they want me to make sense
draw the mouth on the face
they say, where it belongs
they don’t want the eyes on the forehead
they tell me to look at statues
to understand the body.
Einstein and Buddha laugh.
“That’s a good one!” Einstein says
“As if we aren’t particles,” Picasso says
“As if our cells are static.”
“As if we are solid bodies,” Buddha adds.
At this their laughter grows uproarious
the customers look askance.
“Did you hear the one about the two monks who pointed at a gingko tree and a cyrpess?
One of them said to the other:
‘They call those just trees! and the two monks fall on the ground laughing.’”
“Good one!” the three agree.
The customers shake their heads, concerned.
Since they sound so crazy
and one of them is wearing a sheet and no shoes
another hasn’t combed his hair for days
the three are thrown out of the bar
onto the street
accompanied by a gingko tree and a cypress
they stroll into the night
Chihuly Glass #1
A Chihuly glass shell
as are we all,
by a sacred geometry
by water and fire.
These secret equations
that set the exact beat
of our hearts
might be understood
the blazing suns
saltwater tossed rocks
ground to sand
turned hard and translucent by time
curled and bent
to correct angles
into harmonious parts
fragile as glass
smooth as the bone
of a seashell
or your spine.
Chihuly Glass #2
This is the mystery
of energy enough to ignite
colored shards of glass
into a fountain
of blue and red
yellow and orange
into a fused stillness.
The same mystery
in the candle wick,
the dry kindling.
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way…As a man is, so he sees. ~~William Blake
Advice From a Live Oak to the Owner of the Mercedes Floating Down the Street in Miami
says the Live Oak,
Yes, you there
in front of your winter home in Florida
watching your Mercedes float
like your yacht
down the avenue
You seem surprised
that concrete crumbles under your feet.
Nearby, as if in a dream,
you hear someone saying words like
limestone, aquifer, rising sea levels
But you do not understand any language not spoken in banks.
You shouted your mantra
Fix it! Fix it!
Let me explain.
This is how you got here:
You looked at me through blinders and called me a tree.
Then you named me:
You wrote the name down in a book
as if it was truth.
I became a fact
to dismiss or use.
That was your first mistake.
When you cut me and my sap ran
you did not recall
the stickiness of your own blood.
So, I knew that our reunion would have to wait
until we had no choice.
You were too busy
conducting a war against
all that stood in your way.
You dug mines
smothered the soil with cement
slashed the forests and fields
forced water where it did not want to flow.
Your hand shakes now
as you grab at your pockets
for your rosary of coins.
You watch the news:
Coyotes leap over the walls of guarded houses.
Panthers roam the yards.
Alligators traverse your golf club.
Black bears rummage through your trash
swim at their leisure in your Olympic-sized pools.
Your homes are hidden behind steel gates
but the animals still enter
they know these woods and marshes
have mapped the paths in their veins
feel the contours of the land in their hearts.
For the first time, you hear the alarms.
Your senses open like a deer’s listening for the hunter’s next step.
You mowed when it was time to sow.
Demolished what it was time to save.
You understood only how to ravage
but not how to prune.
You did not see who shared these places with you.
That was your biggest mistake:
Yet, if you look east, west, south, north, up to the stars, down to the valley
you will see that what they call you is not what you are.
Your name is only a thing on paper
our roots, our veins inseparable.
to what speaks quietly
in both of us:
Against this cosmic background, the lifespan of a particular plant or animal appears, not as drama complete in itself, but only as a brief interlude in a panorama of endless change. ~~Rachael Carson
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, St. Petersburg, Florida
This land feasts on fire and flood
where lightning strikes
scrub pines flare like torches.
Crackling pine needles
play a fiery staccato.
Snakes, squirrels, mice
(who’ve learned from their elders)
burrow together in tunnels
built by the able gopher tortoise.
The truce between predator and prey will hold
below the conflagration
as mouse and snake listen together
to the racing current of flames overhead.
They wait for a drenching deluge
to cool the charred tree trunks.
Grasses turned to ash
(a rich burnt compost)
will nourish sandy soil
needle thin stalks will push up through dank mud
towards the steamy sun.
Soon thickly green
vines wind around vines.
Branches cross one another, reach
in every direction.
After fire and rain
Mockingbirds, thrush, kingfishers, hawks
call out emphatic declarations
while under darkened canopies of oaks
frogs and turtles sleep.
Upon the humid air floats
A symphony of scents
honeysuckle, magnolia, fiddlewood,
rise in sweet crescendos
In the thorny brush
as mouse jumps
from the grasp of snake
white clouds, backlit by the sun
grow into mountains
portend the next fire
the next flood
and gopher tortoise casts a wary, wise eye skyward.
Really there is no edge
from which to fall.
We are like ancient sailors
trembling at the horizon.
Everything is a circle
your eye, the earth
the path is not straight
as you come round
as we do
as we all do
to where we started
which may look like
of your recollections
in hues of every color
in circular order
we spent our lives
but finding instead
A Sufi dancing in a circle of light
round of white
Like a planet
and the sun
all circadian rings of light
that cross over
deep round sound of the
drum, or the
singing bowl struck awake
Like the echo
floating in a canyon
gliding up and down
the rocky basin
returning to its origin.
Tell me then
what you fear.
where is the beginning
of this moment
or the end
of the ocean?
Tinney Creek runs past
the TJ Max
CVS, Target .
I live next to Tinney Creek,
across from a mall
along with the ducks, egrets, and crows
and the occasional hawk.
travels back and forth
from Tampa Bay
rises and falls with the tide
feeds Egrets, families of Muscovy ducks and Mallards
seeking tiny prawns, mud crabs, bugs.
In the muddy bank grow
feathery Java fern
as if this was still The Garden.
the insults of a styrofoam cup,
a plastic bag.
between snaking highways,
hawk has built a nest atop a pole
advertising Beer and Low-Cost Cigarettes.
The ducks, Ibis, Egret, crows and I claim the remaining
palms, oak trees, creek, iridescent sunsets
as our home
Tinney Creek #2
Low tide at Tinney Creek brings
a rare pink-and-white-feathered surprise.
The Roseate Spoonbill
sweeps its ladle-like beak
through the shallow water
ignoring the styrofoam cup floating past
comes and goes with the tides.
The Spoonbill lifts it’s comical Dr. Seuss face
to me for a moment then
twitching its white and rosey feathers
lowers its wide bill into the water
side to side
with open paddle mouth
for shrimps and insects.
The Spoonbill is a “gregarious bird” according to the website
“who spends time with other large wading birds,”
It arrived with an egret
now at its side
and likely enjoys the company
of the Muscovy ducks
resting like plump buddhas on the grass.
“I used to see many Roseate Spoonbills here once,”
a neighbor says.
My heart aches
as it beats
at the all too familiar words.
There were many
The Roseate Spoonbill came
to Tinney Creek.
And at night, arriving home,
my headlights sweep over the creek
lighting up a sweet stretch of sleeping ducks
despite ambulance sirens
the roar of car engines.
At dawn they will wake
to waddle like drunks
and raise their chicks
though hawk will seek them.
The creek still feeds them all
My heart resumes its song.
A Good Personality or The Play’s the Thing (with apologies to The Bard)
I usually congratulate people when they tell me, “I don’t know who I am anymore.”
Did Buddha have a good personality?
We would like to think so.
Without it who would he be?
How would he feel without it?
Let out of identity prison?
as he was constricted in his crib.
arrives on the stage
having learned his lines
face thick with make-up
mask in place.
The audience enthralled
the performance was so real!
So authentic! Like real life!
I really believed he was…they say.
Would Buddha have been a star
of the stage and screen?
No. He’d be a flop.
He forgot the role
he was assigned
misplaced the script
left his costume at home.
On his way to the theatre
Buddha got lost in the forest
Still trying to wake up
until he finally heard
suffering—his alarm clock
his personality shed like his actor’s mask
bare-faced, he knew
If we only trust what our eyes can see
we will believe the play is the only thing
and a mirror is a window.
hands on keyboard shoulder aches
a crowd of thoughts, elbow each other.
they are like drunks
shouting trash talk
thinking they makes perfect sense.
A car backfires a mindfulness bell of sorts, reminds me to breathe
Until ideas, images, words
grab me by my breath, hold me hostage and I am lost
pushed and pulled
between yesterday, tomorrow.
Then I inhale
after the exhale in the pause
before the next breath
that flickering moment
that quick bright peace is real.
For Pema Chodron and Bob and Margaret
Even though Bob and Margaret, lost both of their children
even knowing such tsunamis
sometimes I still think I stand firm on this
my plans laid out like railroad tracks
viewpoints arranged like books on a shelf
where I can reach them quickly
to prove their validity
(when necessary, of course)
What’s up is up
and down is down
I see the clock
I know the time.
I don’t need a weatherman…
Certainties crowd out
but I don’t mind
I navigate by thought alone.
It’s religious, a sustaining belief
in what I cannot see
what is ephemeral,
my thoughts and assumptions,
In those my faith is absolute.
Then I step out of my bunker
away from the tracks, the bookshelf
I go to the beach, let’s say.
Nowhere important at all
not like the places where my mind is in demand
where I use my thought-training
like a karate master.
I am barefooted
so it begins
of my body
as toes grip sand
then, beyond my control
a deep breath rises and falls.
More senses open
seeing and hearing
brought on by
the sight and sound
swooping, circling, crying sea gulls
the wide vistas, the vast sky
I stand at water’s edge
dig my feet into the heavy wet sand
anchored, safe again
until the sand slips
beneath my feet
effortlessly carrying what seemed my dense body
and I sink
an inch deeper weightless no viewpoint to grab
to steady me
pushed off the track
pulled by the tides like a pebble.
grinding out the last cigarette under your boot heel
this time for good
this time for good.
Like leaving the key on the table
and shutting the door
Surrender is like a fist opening
the grip loosening
from how it should have been.
is like untying yourself from the chair
to discover you tied it
you can stand upright.
are willing now clear enough
the wider horizon.
an angel put its arms around your shoulders
and you felt held
and you are certain
it was real.
is a lavender sky at dusk
a sweep of feathery light
a Great White Heron
on a log
in the Hillsborough River
in a frame
on your wall
take a picture
of a picture
of a heron
they can hold.
Look for the peacemakers,
a wise man once said.
Look, he said
in the midst of horror
for the kindness
the gentle eyes
how they always
appear to hold your hand
or Great Spirits
Look to the soft eyes of a dog
Head on your lap
creating, sharing your stillness.
Turn away from
leave them pitied
pitied eave them.
the songs and singers
by the water hoses
only sung louder, sweeter
who bend but never break
who fly free as birds
free at last
who sit around the fire
among the ruins
of treasures, most sought
and freely shared
at no cost, no cost
See the beloved with open arms
opening their doors
stretched beyond their own kin
to embrace us all
They are here, there, everywhere
They are never far
They have always been.
They will always be
just look up
there and there and there
they are carrying
you and me.
This morning I made a big mistake. Much smaller than anything that matters, fortunately, but it ended up with Meeko winning.
I made two slices of toast covered with peanut butter and jelly. I was hungry and out of my cereal. I was looking forward to that toast. I set it down at the kitchen table and went to look for my cell phone. There is a chair at the table—you may are already know where this is heading. I’ve seen Meeko jump up on that chair several times.
I came back with my phone and found him grabbing a piece of toast from the plate. No way could I get him to drop it, although in my fruitless chasing, jelly splattered on the floor. He ran from me in a most jaunty manner, then jumped on the futon in the TV room and ate the toast happily. while I wiped the floor clean.
The futon is his choice to go with a treat, I think, because sometimes I eat there while watching TV. I guess it is our recreation space and he was recreating. The living room is for a different purpose. He perches on the top cushions alongside the big window. You never know when enemies like UPS trucks might dare arrive.
By the way, he got the best piece too. Did he know which one was the best? I was stuck with the heel of the bread..Mind you, he had already had his own breakfast. Oh, foolish human, as if that makes any difference!
I slipped up on my knowledge of dogs and tables and food on the tables. When I lived with my own dogs I knew to follow the commandment Thou Shalt Not Leave Food Where the Dog Can Reach It. However, I have to admit that it’s always very cute when they get away with their thievery–at long as the food is not bad for them. Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing too much, but they sure do seem proud at winning the forbidden prize. At those times I know I am not so agile and clever. I forget that, like with a child, you are being watched. A lot. Nearly all the time unless a squirrel or mail carrier comes by. Otherwise its all eyes on the giver-of meals, thrower-of -squeaky-toys and petter-on-call.
Henry David Thoreau and Meeko are good companions. I curl up with each of them at different times. Last night when I had turned off the lights in the bedroom, called Meeko to bed and turned on my side to sleep, I felt Meeko put his rubber squeak toy at the nape of my neck and then lie down. I felt honored.
Today, in the yard, under the Live Oak on a lovely Spring day, I read a compilation of HDT’s essays. His style is more verbose than we modern folks are used to. I do not understand some of his archaic terms, and I admit to skipping over some page long paragraphs, yet he startles me with thoughts that are so contemporary that he could be writing in 2017. Reading his essays is like mining for gold—which he thought was a dishonorable activity, by the way— but you are sure the nuggets are there and they are and there are many. Like this.
(I’ll be right back. Meek is nosing his bowl telling me he wants his dinner). Okay, I’m back. Here are some his thoughts that startle me in how familiar they seem. This passage describes so closely what Buddhism teaches me.
“If we have I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality. Our very intellect shall be macadamized, as it were,–its foundations broken into fragments…If we have thus desecrated ourselves—as who has no?t–the remedy will be by wariness and devotion to reconsecrate ourselves…We should treat our minds, that is , ourselves, as innocent and ingenuous children, whose guardians were are, and be careful what objects and what subjects be thrust on their attention.”
HDT would like that I was sitting under a tree while reading this. He would applaud my urge to always be outdoors. I think he and I share a lot in common—like his hermit tendencies that are mine also. Today I feel close to old Henry. I think he would understand me. Both of us pretty much loners who have a difficult time in polite company. It comforts me that he writes about the emptiness of much of what we consider “success” and he called “industry”—how the industrious man was praised all for making money, and yet a philosopher, a writer like HDT, is seen as lazy, a failure even. I think even Ralph Waldo Emerson, his friend, criticized him for lack of ambition.
Like Thoreau, I could never make myself work for money. My work needed to be meaningful and helpful to others. As a result, I am not rich. Neither was Thoreau, and I , like him, can sometimes feel like an outcast in my society when it comes to owning a house and a new car. And I have to watch my mind, as he suggested, to keep it from thinking of myself as a failure because I don’t have “fame” and fortune.
It wasn’t easy being Thoreau. And maybe he was no fun to be in a bar with, but I sense him in the room with me as he says, “I shall be a benefactor…if I can show men that there is some beauty awake while they are asleep.” He was speaking of taking walks in the moonlight, but I understand it to mean what Buddha meant. You are my benefactor HDT, even if you had a lousy personality. Smiley face.
Dogs, like people, can be difficult to love sometimes. Every dog family has its dysfunction. It’s not nearly as bad as it can be in families that are all human, but, it can still be a trial.
I love all the dogs I dog-sit, but they are not without their quirks. One has a bark that, inside, is painful to the ears and I worry a little about damage to my hearing. There are too many FedEx trucks in the world! And why don’t mail delivery people just toss the mail from their vehicles as they pass the house. Why in the world do they need to storm the house like invading armies, the dog wonders.
All of them tend to scratch my arms because it seems I do not notice that it is time for someone to get an ear scratch. My skin is thin and the blood blisters on my arms are not so attractive! Usually a long sleeve sweater helps, but not always.
Another dog has terrible separation anxiety, maybe because his parents travel a lot and leave him or maybe he was born with that trait. Either way it can be heartbreaking to leave him even to go to the store for a little while. The panic in his eyes is painful to see. It’s worse when he freaks out and jumps like a whirling dervish—he is a big, strong boy and his nails on my back hurt.
Sometimes I can’t tell what my pups want. This must be what it is like with an infant who cries no matter how the parent tries to soothe them.
I take out the leash and say “Out?” He lies down and looks at me. Okay, not out. ”
“Chew thing?” Another blank look; it’s not that he doesn’t like chew things, he seems to be saying, but not this chew thing. He looks at me like I should know this by now. And actually I do, so why do I keep trying with that chew thing. Some of us never learn.
“Cookie?” That always get a positive reaction and all is right with the world. For about an hour. Then it’s time for ball tossing. This guy is very smart and has me trained. He looks up at the drawer in the bureau where the balls are kept and gives a slight bark. I get the ball. He is a talented ball player. I especially admire how when I throw the ball and he hits it back to me with his nose.
So I am trained by my dogs to be patient, to pay attention, to go out, to sit, and that’s just the truth!
Live Oaks are ubiquitous in Florida. Most people think of palm trees when they think of Florida, but the oaks are just as plentiful. I certainly didn’t expect to see such trees in here when I arrived from New England. Now that I’m a Floridian, I’ve fallen in love with them because of their grandeur and the yards of shade they provide. Only foolish developers reject the gift of cooling the trees offer. There are two in Meeko’s yard. It’s clear they have been here for many decades judging from their girth. Naturally, I try to hug them as any old hippie would, but I cannot reach my arms around either one.
What I find interesting about Meeko’s trees is how much they have stretched and bended to fit their environment. These two are remarkable in the way, over the years, they took on such yoga-like postures. They have extended themselves six feet or more from their dense core, their branches–like small trees themselves–reaching over the roof. Yet they have not toppled and remain firmly rooted. How is it they can stretch so deeply without crashing to the ground from the burden of their weight?
They reach for the sun of course, so here is more proof that the longing for life is powerful; a tree that is meant to stand upright decides, in this situation, it cannot. Here is intelligence embedded in bark. Here is proof that even these beings who seem so massive and rigid are not static. Here is the genius of adaptation. We are the only creatures that believe to be strong we must remain rigid when instead, we ought to bow in surrender to our conditions and grow in new directions.