Peace in the Storm

“There is peace even in the storm.” — Vincent van Gogh

A summer hailstorm kicked up yesterday afternoon, coming on quickly and with unexpected ferocity. As the hail grew larger, it fell faster, battering everything it touched. I don’t know why, but as I watched the storm, the tragic shootings earlier this month at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston came to mind.

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” —Mother Teresa

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Spring Comes Slowly

‘Tis a month before the month of May, and the Spring comes slowly up this way. — Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Spring in the marsh is about patience and attention to details. While elsewhere, the crocus, daffodils, tulips, and crabapples are in colorful profusion, spring has a much more austere arrival in the marsh.

Over the last month, I made four treks into the same wetlands I filmed this past fall and winter. I’ve always appreciated the beauty of the marsh, but have never paid as close attention to its chronology of changing seasons until I began this project. Looking for signs of new growth in early April felt like a needle-in-a-haystack search. I was sure that spring would mean the cattails would be bursting forth in green, or at least showing some bare signs of emerging from the ground anew. Silly me. Ironically, I found that this time of year, when everything is blooming outside the wetlands, the marsh cattails and grasses are actually more brittle and decayed than any other season I’ve witnessed yet.

I don’t know why I expected spring to burst forth from the center outwards, but I did. What I saw instead was that new growth seemed to be working its way in to the marsh from the fringes, from the treetops down and from the edges inward. Once again, Mother Nature showed me that what she can conjure up is far better than what I can imagine.

 Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored. ― Oscar Wilde

 

Filmed between April 12th and May 9th of this year in the marsh behind The Marsh health and wellness center in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Musical track, Hire Purchase [CC BY-NC-ND 3.0], written and performed by Irish guitarist, Cian Nugent, was made available through freemusicarchives.com. Sounds of marsh birds recorded by dobroide and nicStage and shared at freesound.org.

Home | A Story of Return 

“We carry each of us an urn of native soil…sweet enough to find the smell of home.” — Malcolm Cowley, “The Urn”

Believe it or not, the song that provides the storyline for this video was inspired by a 1969 Harmony ukulele, my own uke as a kid. I wrote about it in a post three years ago called “Welcome Home, Cowboy Bob.” In some ways, this post should actually be titled “Cowboy Bob: The Sequel,” because like the original story, this one, too, explores the theme of leaving and returning, of what we choose to hold on to and what we choose to leave behind, and how our perception of which should be which can change over time.

Quotes in the video, in order of appearance, by: Malcolm Cowley, Joan Didion, e.e. cummings, Herte Müller

Winter Reprise

“Weather kept them humble.” — Annie Proulx

Last Sunday, we had blue skies and bright sunshine that hinted at spring; by Tuesday, a snowfall. Though it was short-lived, for the better half of the day it appeared as if we’d gone back in time to December. I suppose that never knowing what to expect can make even the mighty feel humble.

This winter, none know this better than the residents of the U.S. East Coast who’ve gotten wave after wave of the kind of snowfall for which we’re better known here in Minnesota, the kind for which you need a yard-stick, not a ruler.

Putting on five layers of warm clothing (I’ve never been known to love the cold), I trekked in to the marsh near my home to catch the snowflakes on video, figuring this might (wishful thinking, perhaps) be their final appearance here for this season.

“…winter, on its knees, observes everything with reverent attention.” ― Anna Akhmatova


CREDITS: Music in the video is “Por Rosa” by Peter Walker, from a live performance in the studio of WFMU, made available in the creative commons through the freemusicarchive. Field recording during closing credits by Peter Caeldries is “January Sleet” shared via freesound.org. Filmed in the marsh behind The Marsh, Minnetonka MN.

In the winter of 1863, my great, great, great, great grandfather, David Mathews, left home to serve in the Civil War. He was 36 years old, not a wealthy man, and regretted having to leave his wife, children, and extended family as he felt his greatest responsibility was providing for them in the lean times the war had brought.

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“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” — Hal Borland

Sitting on my front stoop in the early spring of 2009, I was playing my guitar on the first warm, sunny day of the season. Named “Little Girl,” my guitar is a far better instrument than I deserve. I had been sad when I discovered she had developed a long, narrow crack during the cold, dry months of winter, and I felt pretty negligent in tending to her properly. Read More

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” — Mark Twain

Approximately 19 million people do it each day. Some love it, some dread it, but either way, this day comes every year: your birthday.

As a kid, I was young for my grade. Being six when your classmates are already seven is an embarrassment, so in elementary school I tried to hide my age. I was certain older meant better. Read More

Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay. — Robert Browning

When fall begins, I always feel a tremendous burst of energy. Doesn’t everyone? I give the credit largely to the crisp air and the red, orange and yellow of the trees. It is hard not to feel buzzed on life with so much color surrounding you.

As the season begins to wane, there is a quiet transition between autumn and winter, a small sliver of time when it is neither one nor the other. The colors are muted but no less inspiring. The energy of the season shifts into low gear. While winter sometimes feels to me like a forced respite, the brief resting place at the tail end of fall is a choice, a reward before the season changes. Read More

“Their stories began with an epiphany, a precise moment when they understood that every bottle of wine contains a little bit of magic.” — American Wine Story

Epiphany: a split second of earth-shaking clarity that allows you to see something you’ve been missing in your life— your true purpose and passion. Read More

 

When I listen to this audio clip, it shocks me every time even though I know what’s coming. I always jump when I hear the crash; I always shudder when I hear myself groan. It was 2011, and I was thinking about writing a post on hindsight, a post that would become my first on this blog and an anchoring essay for my website, explaining why I think stories matter. I still believe in everything I wrote then, but I didn’t say everything I needed to say. Read More

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