Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Wendell Berry’s stepping over stones in a stream shows us how he writes a poem and takes a stand

September 5, 2018

“What I stand for is what I stand on.” — Wendell Berry

I love the playful music in this brilliant little poem by Wendell Berry from Leavings: Poems. As if imitating the sounds and poetry of nature, Berry’s stepping over stones in a flowing stream demonstrates his own creative flow, the way he uses words to show us how he writes a poem, and takes a stand for nature and his place in it.

The Book of Camp Branch

How much delight I’ve known
in navigating down the flow
by stepping stones, by sounding
stones, by words that are
stepping and sounding stones.

Going down stone by stone,
the song of the water changes,
changing the way I walk
which changes my thought
as I go. Stone to stone
the stream flows. Stone to stone
the walker goes. The words
stand stone still until
the flow moves them, changing
the sound – a new word –
a new place to step or stand.

Here’s another of his poems I posted: Wendell Berry’s “No going back” is about the generosity of the evolving self through time.

For more on this environmental legend and writer, see Wendell Berry: Poet and Prophet. Produced by Bill Moyers, it aired on PBS 10/03/13.

Threshold Haiku by Ken Chawkin for Nathanael

April 16, 2016

This haiku was inspired by the overwhelming scent of jasmine that greeted me as I crossed the threshold to my son’s home in the Santa Barbara Riviera.

image

Threshold Haiku

Before entering
The threshold to my son’s home
Pillars of jasmine

©Ken Chawkin
Santa Barbara
April 15, 2016

See more beautiful views to and from Nathanael’s Santa Barbara Riviera home that inspired another short poem.

Nature’s Jewelry — haiku inspired by photograph

December 11, 2015

This week I went to my local Fairfield bank and picked up two copies of next year’s 2016 calendars for Sali and me. The pictures selected for each month were beautiful artistic photographs of local nature scenes. I recognized three of the photographers, friends of mine.

As I was showing and describing the pictures to Sali, one of them caught my eye and I was inspired to write a haiku, which happens around her! After many versions, here’s what I finally came up with.

Spider+Webs-8118

Nature’s Jewelry
A haiku based on a photograph by Jim Davis

tiny drops of dew
strung along a spider’s web
bright pearl necklaces

© Ken Chawkin
December 10+11, 2015
Fairfield, Iowa

Jim Davis, the photographer and a longtime friend, gave me permission to include this spider web photo from the First National Bank calendar, sponsored in part by the Jefferson County Trail Council. It was used for the month of May, Sali’s birth month. You can see more of his beautiful photographs in the calendar, if you have access to it. Visit his website: Jim Davis Images.

I asked Jim when and how he was able to take such a magical picture and he explained it this way:

The conditions for such a photo generally occur in late August and early September. It is an intersection of more spider webs due to onset of fall and warm days with cool nights creating early morning dew that drops off as the heat rises. Within those few days where the dew is created, there is the rare time when the air is still and the webs do not move. Without perfectly still air the dew drops would appear blurry or out of focus.

I turned the calendar upside down and noticed what appears to be Jim’s head and hat reflected in the large clear dewdrop under the leaf. He confirmed it saying his image would appear upside down in the drop.

Enjoy this other nature post and poem: The magic of fireflies is captured in this beautiful short film by @MaharishiU alum Radim Schreiber.

The magic of fireflies is captured in this beautiful short film by @MaharishiU alum Radim Schreiber

October 28, 2015

“I like to capture the magic.” — photographer Radim Schreiber

The little luminary pictured above was photographed in 2010 by award-winning photographer Radim Schreiber, of Fairfield, Iowa. The photo, entitled Amber Firefly, took 1st place out of 56,000 entries in “The Natural World” category at the 8th annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest published in March 2011. 

A designer, photographer and videographer, formerly for the Sky Factory, Radim has won several national and international photography competitions. Also in 2011 he took 1st place in the 41st annual National Wildlife Photo Contest in the “Backyard Habitat” professional category out of 27,000 entries. He won the 2010 Galapagos Conservancy Photography Contest, and the 2008 and 2009 Rainforest Alliance’s “Picture Sustainability” Photo Contest. Awards are listed on his website.

Radim Schreiber had rarely seen fireflies back home and was surprised and thrilled by their abundance here in Iowa. He started taking still photos and then made a movie of them.

“In the Czech Republic where I grew up, I only saw fireflies a couple of times, deep in the forest. When I came to the United States, I was shocked and thrilled to see the abundance of fireflies and their amazing glow. I was happy to encounter this firefly and photograph its magical bioluminescence.”

Read this July 2011 Iowa Source interview with Christine Schrum to find out how Radim braved ditches, swamps, mosquitoes, and chiggers to obtain his fantastic firefly photos: Stalking Fireflies in the Night.

Radim’s award-winning firefly images have been featured at CBS, NPR, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Iowa Public Television (Fireflies In Iowa) The Weather Channel, The National Wildlife Federation, and KEW – Royal Botanical Gardens. Read more in Mo Ellis’s updated profile of Radim on the MUM website.

Update Insert: On March 24, 2016 I found out that Radim’s photo, Synchronous Fireflies, won the Altered Images category of the 13th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest. The next day The Des Moines Register wrote: Fairfield photographer’s fireflies win Smithsonian award.

The photo was taken mid-June 2014* at twilight in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. Radim was in almost complete darkness surrounded by fireflies and witnessed one of the most amazing and magical natural phenomena—fireflies that synchronize. He used the latest low-light camera technology and took several long exposures over several minutes and merged them together to preserve detail and clarity. He uploaded it November 2015 and it was selected as Shot Of The Day on December 24, 2015, then Editors’ Pick, Finalist, and now Altered Images Winner. See the other winners and finalists here. Radim had used this photo for the cover of his Firefly Experience film described below.

The Firefly Experience on Film

Schreiber-synchronous-fireflies-elkmont-1058341

This summer I saw a magical little film at the first annual Creative Edge Film Fest in Fairfield, Iowa. Made by fellow MUM alum Radim Schreiber, BFA, it was so beautifully put together visually and musically, the audience was spellbound. When it was over, the 2½-minute short elicited an extended exuberant response.

In this film, Radim Schreiber tried to capture his experiences with fireflies in Lamson Woods, a State Preserve and segment of the Jefferson County Trails System near his house in Fairfield, Iowa. He wanted to document not only their beauty and magical glow, but also behavior in their natural environment, the Neff Wetlands section of the Fairfield Loop Trail.

“When I walk through a quiet forest in the middle of the night full of fireflies, I have an experience of a magical forest. When I see fireflies being a mere reflection of stars under the Milky Way, I feel connected to everything in the universe. They are communicating to me. I am listening.”

Radim chose to not do any digital manipulation to the video itself. The footage came straight from the camera. This is not time-lapse photography, but realtime footage of fireflies!

Radim Schreiber’s Firefly Experience is synchronistically edited with a beautiful soundtrack specifically composed and performed for the film by Tiko Lasola. Radim loves the song. “It is a perfect match for my photos. In fact I was shocked that it happened this way.” I agree! After watching the film you can hear Tiko’s full 3½-minute Fireflies piece here.

After the screening, Radim was selling HD and Blu-ray DVDs of his film. I bought the Blu-ray. I never tire of watching and listening to it; it’s beautiful! It produces a calming effect.

For optimal viewing, Radim suggests we watch the video at night in full screen mode with all lights turned off and the sound turned up.

Visit Radim’s website to see more firefly photos and videos at www.FireflyExperience.org.

A Firefly Poem

Have you ever experienced the magic of fireflies? I’ve seen them around Fairfield, but never like what I saw in southern Missouri during a summer Residence Course in the early 1990s. I had driven with three other Maharishi Ayurveda Health Technicians to a movement facility in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri to provide rejuvenation therapies.

The building was located at the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest. The warm night air was thick with nature’s sounds and sights. Hundreds of frogs incessantly called out to each other from a pond behind the building. Swarms of fireflies dazzled me with their exuberant flashing lights as I walked around the grounds. Their colors and bubbly nature reminded me of Champagne! Inspired, I wrote this short four-line poem.

FIREFLIES

EFFERVESCENT FIREFLIES
PHOSPHORESCENT HUE
SPARKLING LUMINOSITY
EVENING DROPS OF DEW

See newer photos by Radim Schreiber in his July 2017 newsletter.

*In July 2018, I discovered CBS Sunday Morning was also there that same summer in 2014 when Radim was capturing his award-winning photographs of the synchronous fireflies. They posted their report on July 13, 2014: Tennessee fireflies: A summertime light show.

Mary Oliver’s transcendent experience at the lake, put into words, might leave you breathless

May 27, 2015

At the Lake

A fish leaps
like a black pin —
then — when the starlight
strikes its side —

like a silver pin.
In an instant
the fish’s spine
alters the fierce line of rising

and it curls a little —
the head, like scalloped tin,
plunges back,
and it’s gone.

This is, I think,
what holiness is:
the natural world,
where every moment is full

of the passion to keep moving.
Inside every mind
there’s a hermit’s cave
full of light,

full of snow,
full of concentration.
I’ve knelt there,
and so have you,

hanging on
to what you love,
to what is lovely.
The lake’s

shining sheets
don’t make a ripple now,
and the stars
are going off to their blue sleep,

but the words are in place —
and the fish leaps, and leaps again
from the black plush of the poem,
that breathless space.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(White Pine)

 Enjoy these other lovely poems by Mary Oliver: Summer Day, Varanasi, Praying, Wild Geese, and The Journey.

Rolf Erickson’s Mirror Lake creates a cosmic connection for the reader.

Poets Kenneth Rexroth and William Wordsworth Experienced Transcendence and Self-Awareness

December 3, 2014

Transcendence and a self-referral awareness are described by great poets when they interact deeply with nature. In the process, they experience their own inner nature. Their poetic expressions describe a state similar to what practitioners of Transcendental Meditation experience, where the body is deeply restful, more than deep sleep, and the mind is highly alert, peaceful, unobstructed by thoughts, unbounded.

Kenneth Rexroth describes this experience in his poem, The Heart of Herakles, (The Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth). Looking up into the night sky through a telescope, he sees the enormous constellations and soon loses his sense of self. “My body is asleep. Only my eyes and brain are awake. … I can no longer tell where I begin and leave off.” In this expanded state he becomes aware of different aspects of nature being collectively self-aware with an “eye that sees itself.”

The Heart of Herakles

Lying under the stars,
In the summer night,
Late, while the autumn
Constellations climb the sky,
As the Cluster of Hercules
Falls down the west
I put the telescope by
and watch Deneb
Move towards the zenith.
My body is asleep. Only
My eyes and brain are awake.
The stars stand around me
Like gold eyes, I can no longer
Tell where I begin and leave off.
The faint breeze in the dark pines,
And the invisible grass,
The tipping earth, the swarming stars
Have an eye that sees itself.

William Wordsworth describes a similar experience of an inner physical suspension along with a deep seeing and joyful knowing while recalling a transcendental experience in his poem, Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798. Here are some excerpts from that long poem.

That blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened: — that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on —
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul;
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

His initial experience of transcending within his own mind has matured as he recognizes that same transcendental essence throughout nature, thereby unifying his inner Self with the same Self of all conscious things.

And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

(more…)

3 beautiful and profound short poems by Hafiz about the nature of God within us

October 23, 2014

Hafiz reveals the brilliant, compassionate nature of God within us

Here are 3 beautiful and profound short poems by Hafiz that reveal the hidden compassionate nature of God within us, and in a God-realized person. Published in “A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations,” and translated by Daniel Ladinsky, each poem is for a specific day of the year.

Hidden

Even the shadow of God is brilliant, so brilliant,
so much so even God has trouble looking at
Himself as that . . . unless He is more disguised,
hidden in illusion, hidden as He can be, in us.

May 19, page 155

* * * * *

It Is My Nature

It is the nature of this world to share
its burden with you.

And it is my nature to remove it from
your back.

August 19, page 255

* * * * *

Once A Young Woman Said To Me

Once a young woman said to me, “Hafiz, what
is the sign of someone who knows God?”

I became very quiet, and looked deep into her
eyes, then replied,

“My dear, they have dropped the knife. Someone
who knows God has dropped the cruel knife

that most so often use upon their tender self
and others.”

January 31, page 33

Other beautiful poems by Hafiz are also posted here: Hafiz’s poem, God Pours Light, awakens the soul and frees the mind from debating words about it | Winding up the year with inspiration from Hafiz | Hafiz via Ladinsky describes the spiritual transformation of loving deeply within himself | For Hafiz the role of an enlightened poet is to connect humanity with the joy of the divine | Hafiz said to leave something in the marketplace, and Jesse Winchester sure did before he left us | Hafiz, via Ladinsky, reminds us when we love those in our care we are brought closer to God

Mary Oliver’s Summer Day is filled with wonder

June 23, 2014

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~ Mary Oliver ~

(New and Selected Poems, Volume I)

Related: Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, is a lesson on attention, receptivity, listening and writing.

Other poems: The Journey by Mary Oliver | Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, photo by Ken West | Varanasi by Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings.

Redwood Forest Haiku, two versions, inspired by a photo my sister took in a Redwood Forest Park

August 24, 2013

I signed up with Instagram so I could see the pictures my sister took on her vacation to Mendocino in Northern California. They drove north to Humboldt County to see the California Redwood Coast Park Forest. Among the beautiful photos she posted, this one of the Giant Redwoods, considered the largest trees in the world, inspired me to write this haiku. Here is that photo, and two haiku versions, for your enjoyment.

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest Haiku

~1~

In Redwood Forests
There are Giants among us
Who Hold The Silence

~2~

In Redwood Forests
There are Giants among us
Holding The Silence

© Ken Chawkin
Fairfield, Iowa
written 8/23/2013
posted 8/24/2013

See Being in Nature, a gift from a tree, with links to other tree poems. See Redwood forest photo and haiku inspire others.

Nature’s Bi-Cycle, a poem from/for the child in us

August 8, 2013

I wrote a poem the first day on my job working for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation as a paper-picker in Queen Elizabeth Park. It was in the mid-1990’s, during the wintertime. The job kept me active, walking miles each day, spent mostly in nature, in a beautiful park setting. And I made more money doing that than teaching kids writing after school at a Sylvan Learning Center in North Vancouver. It was what I needed at the time. But that’s a whole other story.

The park attendant would leave each year to go to California for the winter. Some friends who had done the job for him the previous winter introduced us. A fellow poet and a meditator (not TM), we shared common interests. He offered me the job and said I could stay in the caretaker facility he lived in across the street from Q.E. Park in Hillsdale Park. In exchange I would cover his utilities. I just had to get his boss’s approval, who did hire me, but wasn’t happy about the arrangement. He said there were people ahead of me in line for such a hard-to-come-by job. But it worked out well and he later hired me for the summer in Stanley Park when the caretaker returned from California.

I was lucky to get that prized job, doing simple work, like cleaning the park facilities and picking up trash. I also appreciated the beautiful park settings and composed poems as I walked the grounds. I actually amused myself that first day. I thought of how things grew from seed to tree, and their interrelationships with the animals. Dark berries turned white in winter and the birds who ate them caught my attention as I thought of the cycles in nature.

My inner child loved composing and hearing the sounds and meanings of the words. Every time I shared this poem with kids, they’d squeal with delight! Maybe the child in you will like it too.

NATURE’S BI-CYCLE

Berries are meant to be eaten by birds
who poop out the seeds contained in their turds
this process prepares seeds to sprout in the spring
’til one day they’re trees and in them birds sing

© Ken Chawkin

Read Park Poems from Ken Chawkin for more details on this story and other poems inspired from Q.E. Park and others I visited in the Greater Vancouver area.


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