Thoughts on Mary Oliver

Now seems like a good time to repost this. RIP Mary Oliver.

Nomadic Noesis

“And there is the thing that one does, the needle one plies, the work, and within that work a chance to take thoughts that are hot and formless and to place them slowly and with meticulous effort into some shapely heat-retaining form, even as the gods, or nature, or the soundless wheels of time have made forms all across the soft, curved universe…” – Mary Oliver, Upstream

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I’m a big fan of Mary Oliver’s writing. She makes connections, or rather shows connections, that are not obvious on the surface. Her descriptions of nature do more than make you want to re-read the passage. They make you want to go see the world for yourself and then re-read the passage. Her poems are bereft of sentimentality, but full of mindful observation. And I can guarantee there’s some sweat behind those words.

Here’s the thing about writing poetry — it takes work…

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On Today’s Walk 12-9-18

On today’s walk, it was sunny but brrr c-c-c-old. On the one-mile lap around my immediate neighborhood, I engaged in not a single spoken conversation. Yet a fair amount of communication happened.

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I ignored the caution sign and went close to peek under the rock, because I’m a rebel without a clue. All I saw was a hole in the ground.

On Today’s Walk 11-24-18

I strolled my neighborhood in unseasonably temperate weather, perfect for a walk — the last few warm hours before a predicted winter storm.

I heard leaf blowers, but never saw them. I saw people raking the brown, drying remnants of autumn, and running them over with mulching mowers. I saw a family taking photos of their toddlers playing in a leaf pile. At one house, a determined man used a front-loading Bobcat to push the masses of leaves from his lawn into one big stack near the edge.

Maybe I should have been have been doing yard work instead of playing tourist to all of the neighbors doing theirs. I still have undone weeding, left over from the summer. On the other hand, the mess of my yard might not be visible under the snow by this time tomorrow.

The bodies of the leaves are gone, but their spirits have not yet crossed over:

 

 

 

On Today’s Walk, Thanksgiving Edition

On Thanksgiving, a post-dinner excursion on the Katy Trail near Rocheport, Missouri.

I assume these two animals were not here at the exact same time:

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Dog’s paw print and deer hoof print.

Bluff on one side, river on the other. Being between a bluff and a river is a little better than between a rock and a hard place:

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A little cave — a cavelet, if you will:

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An old explosives depot, used by the railroad company when trains ran down this route:

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Eerie shadows (my son):

 

Inside looking out:

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Missouri River near sunset:

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On Today’s Walk 11-19-18

A red-tail hawk glided to the ground, not twenty feet from me. I’d never seen the wingspan of one from so close. It wasn’t a swooping prey snatch. The bird stopped and sat, looking intently at the ground, channeling its inner robin.

I stopped in my tracks. Nobody else nearby to startle it. But the slow draw of a phone from my coat pocket was enough to send it flying up to a tree limb. I tracked it and took a photo, but couldn’t zoom in enough to get a sharp image.

So it was memory already, the details no longer available, except what welled in me when I saw those substantial, functional, wings of power spread so near. The feeling remains vivid.

The visual details fade. Here’s what I have:

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Photo and words both so inadequate to convey the experience.

Note: Posting a day late, but didn’t change the title.

 

 

On Today’s Walk, 11-16-18

I walk a fair amount. I usually commute to work on foot. I also walk recreationally. It occurred to me to share what I encountered. I know I’m not winning any awards with my photos. I’m as amateur as they come. But here’s life as I see it.

On today’s walk, carpets of leaves:

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My own elongated shadow:

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A large deer in someone’s yard. Some kids off-camera called to him, “Here Bucky. Bucky, Bucky.” Until he turned to face them. Then one of them yelled, “Run, before he stabs us with his horns!” Spoiler: there was no horn stabbing.

 

I perambulated 1.75 miles, just around the neighborhood.