The Sirius Season

If you needed a poster child for the dog days of summer, Jake would do just fine. Jake lives on a boat tied up to a dock that I frequent, and it’s clear that he hates July.  He doesn’t like the heat, he doesn’t like the humidity, and he especially doesn’t like the fact that he’s not allowed to spend his entire day inside the boat.

I know what he’s thinking. With access to air conditioning, he could take over the settee in the main salon, chew on his bone and nap away the afternoon in cool comfort. Instead, he’s forced to spend part of his day lying in the cockpit, on top of the cabin or on the dock, where he quietly sulks. He has a sunshade, water, and occasional breezes wafting about, but still – he isn’t happy.

He wasn’t particularly happy in June, either, and probably won’t cheer up in August or even September. He’s been through this before and knows he’s condemned to endure dog days and dog nights until October, when summer on the Gulf Coast of Texas will have run its course. (more…)

Published in: on July 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm  Comments (92)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Salisbury, Solstice and Song

There’s no escaping the scent of gentle chaos wafting through these last days before Christmas. “I loves me some Christmas,”  says the woman to her companion in the checkout line, squinting at her notebook . “But I swear. If I never make another cookie it’ll be too soon.”  I love cookies as much as the next person, but my sympathies are all with the woman.  Even as I’ve pulled out angels and garlands, decorated trees, wrapped gifts, sent cards and done my own baking I’ve found myself thinking, “I could stand some peace and quiet.”

The quiet’s as important as the peace. The pressures of the Christmas to-do list are one thing, but the season can be noisy to the point of distraction. Grandma doesn’t go quietly when she gets run over by that reindeer, and hearing the Chipmunks’ version of Jingle Bell Rock piped through the produce aisle at full volume is more annoying than festive. While the carols and seasonal songs blare away, families squabble and impatient horns fill shopping mall parking lots with the honking of a thousand demented geese. The decible level of life rises perceptibly.

Even at night, the peace and quiet of hours meant for sleep is disturbed by the ebb and flow of incessant, internal questioning. “What have I forgotten?” “Who will be offended..?” “Can we afford..?” “Will there be time..?”  If dawn brings nagging children and snappish adults, it’s little wonder that by Christmas Day many are ready to throw out the tree with the wrapping paper and get on with it. Twelve days of Christmas, stretching on to the Feast of the Epiphany, seem a horror. Who needs more Christmas when we already are exhausted and drained? (more…)

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 4:00 pm  Comments (8)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Rock Star, Rock Planet

 

I discovered Eric Clapton, Rock Star, earlier this year. 

He’d been around, of course.  I just wasn’t paying attention.  In the early years, as he moved from the increasingly commercialized  Yardbirds into John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, I was being introduced to Lead Belly.  While I learned to play the 12-string, Cream  (Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Clapton) came and went in just two years, disbanding a few months before Woodstock.  After Cream, Clapton formed a new group, Derek and the Dominos.  Layla, the title track on their album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was released in December of 1970. First told by the Persian poet Nizami, the story of Layla and Majnun became one of rock’s definitive love songs, its famously contrasting movements composed separately by Clapton and Jim Gordon.

Clapton’s contribution to Layla was inspired by his then-unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, wife of friend and fellow musician George Harrison.  Though unaware of the details behind its composition, Layla  haunted my life for years. I loved the song, but couldn’t have told you the artist’s name.  It was enough to hear the music, drifting unbidden through the air of two decades and three continents, poignant and breathtaking as an unexpected tear. (more…)

Watching Comet Lulin

I love the night sky: the star-pictures of the constellations, the waxing and waning of the moon, the great wash of the galaxies.  This week’s close passage of Comet Lulin, a beautiful and spectacular – and scientifically interesting – bit of celestial wonder simply couldn’t be passed by.  Last Tuesday night, the evening of Lulin’s closest approach, I spent two hours lying in my parking lot with a pair of binoculars, drinking it in.  As it turned out, I didn’t watch alone.  Calliope, my stray Muse-kitty took time from her nightly rounds to keep me company.  The poem is my way of holding on to the experience, even as Lulin streams off into the mysterious reaches of space.

 

Watching Lulin

Green-eyed and aloof,
you prowl down heaven’s alleys      
and lurk on Saturn’s doorstep with singular elegance,
a celestial stray hungry for attention.
Prone beneath your pathway,
stretched across a concrete bed with curbstone for a pillow
I squint and ponder,
consult the charts
and probe your space through time
until I feel the tug
and hear the tiny, worried voice.
An earthling stray has found her friend,
her food,
her solace
not rising tall against the sky but flattened to the ground,
eyes turned upward,
head bent back as though the victim of a fall.
Green eyes flashing,
she nudges at my pillowed head upon the curb,
pushes back my dismissive hand.
Earthbound, insistent,
she bites and tugs my hair as though to pull me upright,
restore her world’s axis
and right a universe gone mad.
Leaving Lulin to her flight
I reach out to grasp this nearer world passing by.
“Look up,”  I murmur as I run my fingers through her fur
and catch the glint of starlight in her eyes.
“A thousand years.”
“A thousand years.”

Comments are welcome.  To leave a comment or respond, please click below.

 

Published in: on February 25, 2009 at 11:40 pm  Comments (13)  
Tags: , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,949 other followers