Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Talk Not of Sad November

Talk not of sad November, when a day

Of warm, glad sunshine fills the sky of noon,

And a wind, borrowed from some morn of June,

Stirs the brown grasses and the leafless spray.

On the unfrosted pool the pillared pines

Lay their long shafts of shadow: the small rill,

Singing a pleasant song of summer still,

A line of silver, down the hill-slope shines.

Hushed the bird-voices and the hum of bees,

In the thin grass the crickets pipe no more;

But still the squirrel hoards his winter store,

And drops his nut-shells from the shag-bark trees.

Softly the dark green hemlocks whisper: high

Above, the spires of yellowing larches show,

Where the woodpecker and home-loving crow

And jay and nut-hatch winter’s threat defy.

O gracious beauty, ever new and old!

O sights and sounds of nature, doubly dear

When the low sunshine warns the closing year

Of snow-blown fields and waves of Arctic cold!

Close to my heart I fold each lovely thing

The sweet day yields; and, not disconsolate,

With the calm patience of the woods I wait

For leaf and blossom when God gives us Spring!

                                                                ~John Greenleaf Whittier

Saturday, October 31, 2020

O All Wide Places...

O all wide places, far from feverous towns;

  Great shining seas; pine forests; mountains wild;

Rock-bosomed shores; rough heaths, and sheep-cropt downs;

  Vast pallid clouds; blue spaces undefiled—

Room! give me room! give loneliness and air—

Free things and plenteous in your regions fair.

White dove of David, flying overhead,

  Golden with sunlight on thy snowy wings,

Outspeeding thee my longing thoughts are fled

  To find a home afar from men or things;

Where in His temple, earth o’erarched with sky,

God’s heart to mine may speak, my heart reply.


O God of mountains, stars, and boundless spaces,

  O God of freedom and of joyous hearts,

When Thy face looketh forth from all men’s faces,

  There will be room enough in crowded marts!

Brood Thou around me, and the noise is o’er,

Thy universe my closet with shut door.

Heart, heart, awake! The love that loveth all

  Maketh a deeper calm than Horeb’s cave,

God in thee, can His children’s folly gall?

  Love may be hurt, but shall not love be brave?—

Thy holy silence sinks in dews of balm;

Thou art my solitude, my mountain-calm! 

                                                         ~George MacDonald

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Poet's Delay

           In vain I see the morning rise,

            In vain observe the western blaze,

            Who idly look to other skies,

            Expecting life by other ways.


            Amidst such boundless wealth without,

            I only still am poor within,

            The birds have sung their summer out,

            But still my spring does not begin.


            Shall I then wait the autumn wind,

            Compelled to seek a milder day,

            And leave no curious nest behind,

            No woods still echoing to my lay?

                                           ~Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, October 22, 2020

On Hearing a Thrush Sing on a Morning Walk

I don't really have the best pictures to illustrate this poem, but it was too beautiful not to share! 😊

Sing on, sweet thrush, upon the leafless bough,

Sing on, sweet bird, I'll listen to thy strain;

See aged Winter 'mid his surly reign

At thy blythe carol clears his furrowed brow.—

Thus in bleak Poverty's dominion drear

Sits meek Content, with light, unanxious heart,

Welcomes the rapid moments, bids them part,

Nor asks if they bring aught to hope, or fear.—

I thank thee, Author of this opening day,

Thou whose bright sun now gilds yon orient skies.

Riches denied, thy boon was purer joys,

What Wealth could never give, nor take away!—

But come, thou child of Poverty and Care,

The mite high Heaven bestowed, that mite with thee I'll share.

                                                                                           ~Robert Burns

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Ready for Winter

"Have you got in your wood for this winter? What else have you got in? Of what use a great fire on the hearth, and a confounded little fire in the heart?"
                                                                                                                     ~Henry David Thoreau

As I was walking through the fields the other day, watching the birds and squirrels busying about and making their preparations for the winter, it suddenly occurred to me that, in a spiritual sense, I was also preparing for the meagre days ahead. Now that the leaves are gone, we have reached one of the bleakest, and yet, strange to say, one of my favorite times of the year. Thoreau said his spirits would infallibly rise in proportion to the outward dreariness, and I find the same to be true of myself. Not because I like dreariness, but because I've learned how much beauty can be found in apparently desolate surroundings. 

There's no challenge to finding beauty on a lovely summer's day, but now all our senses must be on the alert, and our spirits receptive to the softest touch. 
" And this is human happiness...
'Tis to have
Attentive and believing faculties; 
To go abroad rejoicing in the joy 
Of beautiful and well created things..."

    And so at this time, I am treasuring up all the loveliness around me. Truly, there have been moments these past couple of weeks that I wouldn't trade for all the splendours of summer! Autumn sunrises, the frost sparkling in the early morning light, the wind blowing through the dry grasses, abandoned birds nests found in thickets along the edge of the woods, the mosses and lichens, so fresh and delicate after our badly needed rains, the sunsets...and every once in a while, a glorious, unexpected songbird, pouring out music as if his heart would burst for joy! 

I heard a bird at break of day
  Sing from the autumn trees
A song so mystical and calm,
  So full of certainties,
       No man, I think, could listen long         
  Except upon his knees.
Yet this was but a simple bird,
  Alone, among dead trees.

The coming of winter no longer holds any dread for me. All creation is full of the glory of the Lord, and after all, "this cold and solitude are friends of mine." 😊

Monday, October 5, 2020

Moosehead Lake and Mt. Kineo

It's been a long time since I've done a blog post, hasn't it? I've just been rather preoccupied this summer, and I think the uncertainty of life in general in these times has made me a bit of a hermit! 😄  I do hope you all are well and had a good summer! Ours was hot and very dry. A lot of wells in the area have gone dry...so far ours is fine but we're trying to conserve water as much as we can. We did have a good rain last week and are supposed to get more this week, but we were 7 inches below normal so we're not out of the woods yet! 
Last week, my father and I and some Amish friends rented a cabin on Moosehead Lake for a couple of days. I've always wanted to see it, so was very happy for the opportunity! Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine, and is situated in the Longfellow Mountains. It was also a sort of pilgrimage for me, since I've read and loved Thoreau's account of his visit here in 1853, and also know that another of my favorite authors, the poet James Russell Lowell, visited the area! We had a lovely view from the back of our cabin of several mountains - the most prominent, of course, being Mt. Kineo, which rises some 750 feet above the lake, and 90 feet below the water! 
We arrived late Wednesday afternoon and left Friday at noon...a wonderful trip, but way too short! 

If you look closely at this picture, you can see a bird (possibly an eagle?) soaring above the treetops on the far left! 

Sunrise over the lake, Thursday morning...

We spent most of Thursday driving along dirt roads deep in the woods, just admiring the scenery.  

Moose are supposed to outnumber people 3:1 in this area, but we didn't see any until we were on our way home! This would have been the perfect spot to see one, though. 

One of the prettiest places we found was ironically called Misery Pond! We all wondered how it could have got such a name! 

Interesting steps formed from tree roots leading down to the shore...

Another beautiful scene was Attean View, on Rte. 201. It was named for Joseph Attean, who was Thoreau's guide on his trip to the region in 1853. Attean died in a log-driving accident. As I recall reading, he could have saved himself, but instead chose to drown with his men. 

Behind the scenic roadside lookout is a trail leading up a mountain with even more magnificent views at the summit. It felt so good to get out and stretch our legs, and the view was well worth the climb! I could probably have spent all day up there! 

On our way back to the cabin, we followed the Kennebec river, which was also a very pretty drive...

A passing shower over the lake...

I woke up around 2AM Friday to a loon calling...one of the eeriest sounds there is, yet one of my favorites! Rain was forecasted for the day, but we had an even better sunrise than Thursday morning! 

Mt. Kineo was magnificent in the early morning sun...my pictures don't do it justice! 

But the highlight of the whole trip, for me at least, was climbing Mt. Kineo! To get to the mountain we took a boat which runs back and forth from the mountain to the dock near our cabin every hour from 9-4. Since it was raining there weren't many people going over, and our Amish friend and I were the only ones who climbed! I was glad of the rain, because the captain of the boat said it could be quite crowded in fine weather. It was a little scary though, with the rocks being slippery from the rain. The captain warned us that they had seen a lot of broken ankles! When we got off the boat, we took the trail along the edge of the lake, under steep cliffs that sometimes looked like they could fall on us!

After about half a mile, we turned off on the Indian Trail leading to the summit, which we were told would have the best views but was also the steepest climb...which I believe! 😂 It was incredibly beautiful, even in the rain! 

We were fascinated by this cave...

You can just see our boat returning to the dock to the left of the dead tree...

There is also a golf course at the foot of the mountain...

There is a 60-foot look-out tower at the summit. In my opinion climbing it was a lot scarier than climbing the mountain, but once again, the view was worth it! Thoreau, who I believe must have climbed about the same way as we did, (and also in rainy weather!) describes it far better than I can...

"...we had a glorious wild view, as we ascended, of the broad lake with its fluctuating surface and numerous forest-clad islands, extending beyond our sight both north and south, and the boundless forest undulating away from its shores on every side, as densely packed as a rye-field, and enveloping nameless mountains in succession; but above all, looking westward over a large island, was visible a very distant part of the lake, though we did not then suspect it to be Moosehead,—at first a mere broken white line seen through the tops of the island trees, like hay-caps, but spreading to a lake when we got higher. Beyond this we saw what appears to be called Bald Mountain on the map, some twenty-five miles distant, near the sources of the Penobscot. It was a perfect lake of the woods."

Despite the slippery conditions, we managed to do the 2 1/2 hour climb in just under 2 hours. But we had to wait util the boat was ready to go, so we waited outside the club house on the golf course, with this view in front of us! Our friend said it reminded him of a small Yosemite. 

It was a wonderful time (I think I said that already! 😂) and I hope we'll go again someday and get to spend more time!