The school of hard rocks

 

beach_sit

Does it matter, she asked herself, does it matter that all this must cease to exist – the jagged rocks, the warm sand, the wide ocean and the blue sky, and even the birds that glide on the gentle breeze itself must go away when she dies. Or, is this why we have children?

This is not an original thought, she thought, and then she realized, we do not procreate with a purpose other than to find relief. To momentarily escape reality before reality again rears its ugly head. Oh, she realized, that it is only in the long years of child rearing that one signals one’s hope that life should go on and that others should ask this same question.

Then she had a strange thought that life is an endless series of steps. One starts and stops, like life itself. The distance from beginning to end being both insurmountable and unknowable.

A lesson from the school of hard rocks

Kansas Spring

March 31, 2017

blossom-bird

It is spring again in Kansas.

March 31st, the course of the sun has run halfway through Aries, the sign of the ram. It is Kansas and so it is the South Wind, not the West that warms the earth. The farmers give thanks for the sometimes-gentle rain that falls from the heavens above, and curse instead when it hails.

The earth, which a few weeks ago, was brown and grey is now green and lush, and the morning’s silence is broken by the Robins’ song.

What follows is a modern translation of Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: Modern English, French, and original Middle English,

Modern English

English did not become modern until William Shakespeare and the King James translation of the Bible, a fact that will surprise many “modern” high school English students.

When April with its sweet showers
Hath pierced the drought of March to its root,
And bathed every vein in such liquor
By which virtue engenders the flower;

When the West Wind also with his sweet breath,
Has inspired In every woodland and field
The tender crops, and the young sun
Has half its course within the sign of Aries run,

And small fowls make melody,
That sleep all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them in their hearts),
Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,

And pilgrims to seek strange shores,
To distant shrines, known in sundry lands;
And specially from every shire’s end
Of England to Canterbury wend their way,
The holy blessed martyr to seek
Who helped them when they were sick.

Language Barriers

When I was a little boy the joke was told,
Q: Why did Peter throw the butter out the window?
A: To see the butterfly.

It is a joke that works in English but not in French, since butterfly in French is papillon.

Language barriers are large but none so great as that observed by the Welsh and English cleric Matthew Henry, There are none so deaf and none so blind, as they who refuse to see and will not listen.

French

Quand avril avec ses douces douches
La sécheresse de mars à sa racine a percé ,
Et a baigné toutes les veines dans une telle liqueur
Par quoi la vertu engendre la fleur;

Quand le Vent de l’Ouest aussi avec son doux souffle,
A inspiré dans tous les bois et champs
Les plantes tendres et le jeune soleil
A couru la moitié du cours en Bélier,

Et les petites volailles chante la mélodie,
Qui dormir toute la nuit avec l’œil ouvert
(Donc la nature les pique dans leurs coeurs),
Ensuite, les gens souhaitaient faire des pèlerinages,

Et les pèlerins cherchent des rivages étranges,
Aux sanctuaires lointains, connus dans les terres diverses;
Et surtout depuis la fin de chaque cours
De l’Angleterre à Canterbury se promène,
Le saint béni martyr à chercher
Qui les a aidés quand ils étaient malades.

Middle English

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 25 October 1400) is the grand daddy of English literature. Thank God he wrote in the vernacular and not in Latin as had been the custom. English is the most polyglot of languages. Sprinkled throughout Chaucer’s English, one observes bits of French, German, and Latin.

If one looks at the words of Chaucer and then listens to the sound, much of the meaning will become clear.

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

The “hooly blisful martir for to seke”.

Alas, it was St. Thomas Beckett, murdered by followers of the king, who was the “holy blissful martyr” the pilgrims sought to seek. His shrine in Canterbury stood until 1538, when, on orders from King Henry VIII, it and Beckett’s bones were destroyed, and Henry ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated.

Lost in Translation

Even the most literal of translations can be deceiving. Lovers, poets, and politicians know this for that is why words matter. This is a good thing for it means that Google Translate will forever require human intervention.

Some place, some day.

Thoughts on the movie La La Land – It was La La Land until there was Moonlight.

There are dreamers and doers and if I could be but one, I suppose I’d rather dream of things to be when I leave Oz. To go some day to some place I long to go, might just spoil the dream.

img_3255

Far away, there is a cabin on the lake I long to go. I will someday but will it be too late?

Loin, il y a une cabane sur le lac que j’ai envie d’y aller. Je vais un jour, mais sera-t-il trop tard?

Life is a blur

girl-blue-2

This is as political as I want to get. For me, I hate getting caught up in the moment. You forget where you were when you started, and where you are going to, and now you are wondering why you are here, nothing else matters.

Calvin and Hobbs are atop Lookout Mountain with a red wagon. Calvin says to Hobbs, “I call it ‘Lookout’ because that’s what you yell when we go down.”

Racing down the hill, Calvin says, “We are so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us, that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”

There are trees and rocks to the right and left of them. They pick up speed.

“Days go by and we hardly notice them. Life is a blur.”

Calvin then observes that sometimes it takes a calamity to notice where we are, like falling off a hill. We wake up and see our mistake, but it is too late.

wagon-red-3

Bill Watterson’s original Calvin and Hobbs cartoon.

Back in the Saddle Again

Years pass.

All fades to shades of what once was and now is nothing but a distant memory. Now, I am thinking back to college and the friends I knew. The times were good because all was new.

 

I’ve been wondering if you wondered where I’ve been. Well, I’ve been here and there, mostly there, but now I am back, back in the saddle again.

Back in the saddle

I don’t suppose I have much new to add.

Just remember, no matter how much time passes between our meetings, no matter what takes place in the meantime, some things we can never assign to the trashcan, memories are like embers in the fireplace, and there is always a spark to rekindle the flame.

But I will leave you with Gene Autry’s lyrics from Back in the Saddle Again. Take from them what you will. Better yet, add something to the pot, like passing travelers did on the trail.

I`m back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again

Ridin` the range once more
Totin` my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh
Rockin` to and fro
Back in the saddle again
Whoopi-ty-aye-yay
I go my way
Back in the saddle again

I`m back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again

Ridin` the range once more
Totin` my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh

Rockin` to and fro

Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-yay

I go my way

Back in the saddle again

Politics 2016

democrat-donkey-and-republican-elephant-no

Momma told me if you want to be liked by everyone, never talk about politics, sex, or religion. So I ask, How many friends does one need?

Politics 2016

Let’s not speak of politics
Republicans and Democrats
Hillary and Bernie, Donald and Ted
And, oh yes, what’s his name
The one from Ohio
You see,
We have no one to blame
But ourselves
They lead, we follow
Like cattle to the fodder
Eating straw coarsely chopped
Not fit enough to eat

Not fine like foie gras and crackers
You see it burns my ass, this grass they feed us
The promises, the pledges, the words
They give us
Knowing they’ll say
Anything
It is all a game
And meaningless
Empty words they have spoken
So, let’s not speak of politics
And leave it to academia
And talk instead
About the media

Alan Rickman

Just came back from the movie Eye in the Sky. And I recall Alan Rickman died in January after a brief battle with cancer.

snape

A mix of night and day, Alan Rickman, British actor who played brooding Professor Severus Snape to curious Harry Potter and determined Hermione Granger.

To Alan Rickman:

I
Yawn,

Awake and see
Cosmic black and trailing stars
Fade at last
Early morning
Light
Begin in aubergine
Violet-blue, softly flees the night
Kumquat, coral, marigold, then orange
Colors the break of day
Love and ardor
Dawns
And quickly as it comes, its gone
But where?

How does the green grass know to grow?

 

blade-grass-24

 

A blade of grass in spring
Waves merrily in the breeze
As if to say, eat me

A bright blade of green grass
eagerly grow
Until it is mowed

dirt-road-poster

I see the green grass in spring
I hear the songbird sing
But best is the warmth of the sun after a long winter

The south wind blows
The green grass grows
The good earth knows it’s spring

 

How did I get here?

How did I get here? In a canoe on a lake in Saskatchewan with a paddle and nowhere to go but across, and when I fall asleep tonight under a blue sky and the starlight and a full moon looking down on me, I want nothing more than to know how did I get here and where do I go.
Life is not always so serene.

girl-canoe
image by Roberto Nickson

There are chance meetings and couplings, marriages and births and deaths. There are wars and peace and they both play a part in life. There are choices we make that make no sense. Like the time that I swam in the ocean off Hawaii with the turtles and the sharks did not bite. Or the moment on the mountain in Colorado when I didn’t fall but your boyfriend did and slipped to his death.  There were jobs not taken and jobs taken and jobs that I quit. And all of these things lead me to you.

Life is not always serene.

There were days when I wanted to quit.  It rains, it storms, the lightening is bright and winters are bleak. The children, God bless them, have grown and have lives of their own. Leave them alone, I hope they find peace. Perhaps in our travels life has changed or has time changed us.  What is the point of arguing over coffee cups and the grinds of the beans left in the sink?

And that is how I got here darling, but where do we go?