elaby: (LotR - Galadriel blue)
You may remember back in the spring of 2013 how I posted about discovering that a forest I walked through at work had been bulldozed. A happy consequence of this was that because I was forced to find a new walking route, I found another path through the woods that led to a glorious meadow and pond. For a year and a half, I've walked there almost every day when the weather would allow for it. I've watched it move through the seasons and I know it's a place of magic.

On Friday, after a week of rain, I was going stir crazy at work. I went out for a walk in spite of the chill and drizzle.

And I found yellow POSTED signs at the gate and all over the trees lining the path to the meadow.

They state, in no uncertain terms, that trespassing for any reason is strictly forbidden. I called Rachel and cried and she comforted me and on her suggestion I e-mailed the local development authority (who had posted the signs) to ask if walking there, leaving no litter and disturbing none of the plants and animals, could possibly be allowed. I thought it was a nature preserve. I haven't heard back -- I probably won't -- but I'm not giving up my meadow without even inquiring.

Luckily, unlike my other forest that was torn down, I have many pictures of this forest path and the meadow. It's a breathtaking place.

Photos under the cut. )
elaby: (Droplet trees)
One of the reasons I embraced paganism is that I wanted to feel more in touch with the seasons and the turning of the year. When I was little, I imagined the year to be like a circle or clock: Christmas was at 12:00, Easter at 3:00, the Fourth of July at 6:00, and Halloween at 9:00. I was somewhat off, but that’s pretty close to the pagan wheel of the year. As I grew older, I became more and more irked by the calendar definitions of the changeover from season to season. I mean, anybody who’s lived in New England can tell you that it starts to feel like winter WAY before December 21st. I wanted to celebrate the seasons by how they felt, by the changes in the weather and the earth, which is what the seasons actually are. As I learned more about paganism, I looked to the pagan calendar - the solstices and equinoxes and cross-quarter days - to remedy what I felt was erroneous in our secular calendar.

At first, this simply meant shifting the “wheel” in my head, as if I’d taken a circular 12-month calendar and superimposed a translucent circle with quarters for each season on top of it -- with just a 1/8th counterclockwise shift, the first day of winter now lined up with Samhain, the first day of spring with Imbolc, the first of summer with Beltane, and the first of fall with Lughnassa. This fell into place nicely with the old words for Yule and Litha: midwinter and midsummer. In my mind, the 21st of December felt a lot more like the middle of winter than the first day of it, and it made sense that winter would span the lead-up to the longest night of the year and the weeks after, when the sun was starting to return.

This adjustment made the seasons and dates line up a little better and soothed my literal-minded need to categorize things. However, it wasn’t perfect. In New England, it sure doesn’t start feeling like fall at the end of August, nor does the beginning of February feel like the start of spring. Both fall and spring are shorter and the changes in them more rapid than winter and summer are (much to my regret).

This year, I’ve felt particularly attuned to the change of the seasons. It’s not really anything I’ve done differently… I’ve tried to notice every year, but this year I feel like I had more cause or more opportunity to watch the wheel turn. In the spring when I was sick, being outside was one of the only things that made me feel better. At work, there’s a pond behind my office and a swath of long grasses and reeds between the parking lot and the water. I’ve been going out there almost every day, just to stand and breathe in the air and soak up the sun. It’s amazing what you see when you watch something grow over several seasons. I saw the cattails turn from green pencils to brown sausages and then bubble with fluff, wooly seed motes that floated in the air around me on my walk at lunch today. I saw dark purple spears appear at the tips of the long grasses and then bloom like fireworks into burgundy tufts, which have now mellowed to silver-gold. I saw purple crown-vetch replaced by Queen Anne’s lace replaced by asters. I saw butterflies give way to wasps and bumblebees who then made room for dragonflies.

It strikes me now that trying to delineate the seasons, trying to make the dates line up with the changes I see, is just as silly as trying to cram anything else into a neat, easily describable box. The number on the calendar is meaningless, because the shift between seasons is gradual and awe-inspiring and just as much its own “season” as any other. In fact, the time “between” seasons is always my favorite, because I love to watch the changes: to taste that first scent of crisp, dry grass on the air that signals autumn, to see the monarch butterflies appear.

Happy Mabon <3

Lyrical

Jul. 18th, 2014 08:30 pm
elaby: (Writing hand)
I've long had a love affair with poetry. From the moment my mother read me The Hobbit, I was awestruck by the way meter and rhyme can twine together to create this lyrical, evocative thing, like the lovechild of music and prose. For years, I held onto the notion (snob that I was, and still sadly have the capacity to be) that poetry could only be that which has both meter and rhyme. In high school, I was enamored with Edgar Allen Poe, particularly his most musical and metrically perfect poems like "Ulalume" and "Bridal Ballad". In college, I took numerous courses on the Romantics, treasuring especially the storytelling poems of Coleridge and Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads. I came to recognize that poems that didn't rhyme were sometimes even more complexly meaningful than ones that simply sounded beautiful. However, I rejected my professors' assertion – and still do – that a poem that portrays complex ideas necessarily has more value than a simpler poem constructed for the purpose of pleasing the ears.

A few years ago, a friend of mine recommended a poet named Amy Lowell. Lowell was a nature-reverent woman who loved women, writing in the early 20th century. I borrowed a book of her poetry from the library and started to page through it. There was no meter, no rhymes.

And I fell head-over-heels.

I look back with embarrassment on my former belief – if only privately proclaimed – that the only poetry worth reading was that perfectly constructed, metrical rhyming sort. Poetry doesn't need these things to be beautiful, to be valuable, to be a worthwhile pursuit either in reading or writing it. The flexibility of poetry seems uniquely freeing to me: in writing prose stories, I still believe that there are certain elements that must be executed with skill in order for the writing to be high-quality. With poetry, though, anything goes. Even the accepted rules of punctuation and capitalization, which I would never purposefully violate in prose writing, can be stretched or completely ignored when writing poetry. As someone who is frequently paralyzed by self-imposed standards of quality when writing prose, poetry is a delectable escape.

Because of my depression, I had written practically nothing since winter. In May, after the Fairie Festival, I came home and the world was blooming. There was so much beauty, now more easily visible to me with the help of medication and therapy. I had been deeply longing for quite some time for a way to express my adoration and appreciation of nature, but writing stories felt exhausting and pressured, and my attempts at botanical drawing fell short of my standards. As much as I've loved reading poetry, I've very rarely written any, and my prior attempts at perfect meter and rhyme were too constricting for sustained enjoyment.

One day in May I took my notebook and I went out into our yard. I sat down beneath our maple tree, in the grass amongst the clover and phlox and bluets, and I wrote a poem. And then another. They had no meter and no rhyme, just the natural flow with which the words slipped onto the page. Without the goal of writing a certain number of words or setting up a coherent story, and without the confines of meter and rhyme, I could focus on choosing one perfect word after another. Refining the final draft, tweaking each sentence so that it reflects precisely what I mean, has always been my favorite part of writing. When I write poetry, I can do that from the start.

My notebook is slowly filling up with poems. I don't feel pressure to excel when I write them, just the desire to reflect what inspires me. It occurs to me that this is what art is all about, but for so long that's gotten lost in my expectations and yearnings and "I should"s. Predictably, it's helped me write prose again, too. Rachel and I are writing together in the carefree way we used to when we were in college. It's blissful.
elaby: (Madoka - Sayaka Kyoko forehead touching)
It's been forever since I put up a bunch of pictures, but I've been taking them all the while :) I find that I like taking pictures better than I like looking actually through them and uploading them XD Rachel and I have been doing all sorts of happy things together this summer: taking walks in the elegant old Victorian cemetery down the street, going to the beach, seeing fireworks up close and personal at our neighbor's Fourth of July party... and today, we did a little redecorating and rearranging in our bedroom to give it more of a cozy, witchy, magic-cabin-in-the-woods feel.

Lots of pictures ahead!

Violets, gazebos, waves, and exploding stars )
elaby: (LotR - Galadriel smiles)
I've been taking a lot of walks, since the weather has turned pleasant, and I often take my camera. I thought I'd share some of the pictures I've taken as kind of a "here's what I've been up to lately" :)

Photos under the cut. )
elaby: (Makoto - Earth child)
I found this on the ohyeahmorigirl tumblr page. I have yet to figure out what tumblr is all about (*fails at being up to date*), but it's certainly full of cool things.





On ohyeahmorigirl, it says Deep in the rainforests of the Indian state of Meghalaya, bridges are not built, they’re grown. For more than 500 years locals have guided roots and vines from the native Ficus Elastica (rubber tree) across rivers, using hollowed out trees to create root guidance systems. When the roots and vines reach the opposite bank they are allowed to take root. Some of the bridges are over 100 feet long and can support the weight of 50 people.

I'm not positive where this quote comes from, but the pictures came from this tumblr. I want to write a story with bridges like this now that I know that they have a basis in reality. They're so Miyazaki-esque, and when I saw the second picture, I didn't realize it wasn't a photo manipulation. I want to walk on one.

I heard about Mori Girl fashion ("mori" is "forest" in Japanese) from [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin a couple of months ago. I LOVE this style. Elements include neutral and natural "foresty" colors, lots of layers, skirts, one-piece dresses, and a general loose fit with a lack of body-hugging clothing. I just want to draw this on everybody. And wear it XD If you want to see examples of this style, try ohyeahmorigirl and littleforestgirls on tumblr. This is tonight's favorite (and more colorful) example of the style.

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