Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL WAS NOT AN ONCOMING TRAIN!

After four years of chaos, conflict, and confusion, (and I would add contumely for all you lovers of Shakespeare…it’s a perfect fit), it’s wonderful to face what we all hope is a calmer future, despite the spectre of rising cases of Covid-19. We have a chance to repair a shattered government, work together to mend a divided populace, and once more take our place in the family of nations to promote desperately needed climate control and the peaceful solution of major conflicts. Yes, this is a tall order. But we’ve hit bottom, and now it’s time to come together and rebuild.

During these past months I’ve had the same ups and downs experienced by most of you—the lack of socializing, the shutdown of the Arts, the curtailing of many activities, the dependence on Zoom, the deep concern for those who are suffering, and the intermittent feeling of isolation and ennui. It’s during these times that our imagination can be our strongest ally. And it’s a challenge to keep it on the light side, exercising our sense of humor rather than giving in to scenarios of darkness and despair.

With that in mind I have been experimenting with verse and fantasy. I usually write a type of humorous Ogden Nashian verse, but have recently branched out into Rap…a result of enjoying a magnificent performance of the musical, Hamilton, on Disney Plus (well worth joining for a month!)…and blank verse, which is my attempt to turn stream of consciousness into poetry. I have to admit it’s fun, and I urge all of you to try it.

One of my favorite indoor locations for work and contemplation looks out at a deep forest of cedar and pine. Cedar is a tree with very expressive leaves and branches, feathery and light, easily captured by the slightest wind. To my eyes they can quickly morph into any number of animals or people: a nodding sea captain clutching a pipe in his teeth, a dolphin jumping out of the water, two whales facing off with open mouths, a yapping dog with wagging tale and floppy ears. It’s all there in your imagination, ready to be your friend and provide a story. Sounds a bit willy-nilly? So what! Welcome to life in 2020.

Now you’ve gone over the edge, Meg, you say. Ah, but what fun! Here is my latest buddy, who has been with me most of the summer, and is getting ready to hibernate for the winter. Squint your eyes and see what I see…a protective bear watching over me and telling me to get on with my life.

And here is what he means to me….

My protective bear stands between two fir trees,
One robust, the other rail thin
He leans to the right, gently brushing the bark’s deep ridges with one giant paw
While the left arm hangs lightly so as not to disturb the woody stem of the tender one.
Fifteen, twenty feet he looms, sometimes swaying, his cloak of leaves shimmering,
Opening up a small patch of bare chest

Eyes that never stop watching, sometimes laughing at my intensity
Sometimes disapproving and moving his head slightly to the left
Putting an end to further communication
But he is there for me, assuaging loneliness, encouraging tranquility,
Allowing me to believe

A sturdy truncated cedar bole some say, with tangled branches forming
Animal features. No nerves, no arteries, no voice, only the anatomical structure
Of a dying tree.
But they do not see what I see.
It is a fool who sees only what is directly in front of him
He is not fanciful, he does not squint his eyes, he does not imagine,
He does not let in the unknown

My bear is always changing, sometimes deep green with highlights, sometimes pale and forlorn,
Flattened by the wind,
Sometimes pushed back into the forest by unforeseen forces
In an attempt to loosen his grip. But that unshakeable glance gives me courage
He stands composed, peaceful, almost placid.
His message is clear…I am always here, whether you see me or not.
But I will check him in the morning, fearful that he has gone away, left me
For his winter home, discarded his fading green mantle, revealed his cedar trunk
To those who don’t believe in his existence

One night an imperceptible lowering of the eyes occurs as light fades.
They no longer seem bright and piercing.
I feel relaxed. Breathing is easier. No pressure from my vigilant
Companion. I will miss the twinkle, the secrets that connect us,
The promise of fresh ideas,
The endless possibility…
The narrow head remains immobile
I stand up to watch it recede into the darkness

Until I am ready to resume travel, I do my exploring in the woods around Upper Langley and the myriad trails on Whidbey Island. I’m outside, the air is fresh, and I hardly ever meet anyone, so a mask is not necessary. Since rain is too often my companion, I have found myself taking a closer look at the intricate underbrush, the ubiquitous mushrooms, the tangled vines, the ancient trees. And, of course, in this kind of unpredictable weather, there are always beautiful skies and inspiring sunsets. Maxwelton Beach is my favorite evening spot. Here are a few pictures of my wanderings.

Forest walks…

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Maxwelton Beach…

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Ebey’s Landing…

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Sky…

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One very positive side of these past nine months has been some of the excellent poetry readings and inspirational programs in Langley that are available on Zoom. They help me move out of the “poor me” rut into all the creative possibilities at hand. PBS, YouTube, Prime, and Netflix have probably never been so busy. There have also been numerous plays from TDF and other NYC venues and many operas available from the Met repertory. A play that I especially liked, On Becoming Shakespeare, starring the terrific English actor, Simon Callow, comes all the way from London and is free. What could be better?

I leave you some photos of the morning view from my upstairs window. I keep them handy to cheer me up when the rains come.

 

 

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OUR LAST DAYS IN BOUDHANATH

11 Comments

  1. Exploring our inner worlds
    as wondrous as the Himalayas.

    Maybe the same …

  2. Judy Wyman Kelly

    Thanks for this lovely post. So glad you have found a wonderful place to land!

  3. Anne Quarles

    Meg, thank you for sharing your uplifting art.

    Knowing that his hibernation may be unbearable to you, my guess is your protective bear remains- though barely recognizable among the naked trees.

  4. Bonnie Phipps

    Meg – this is the perfect place for you, isn’t it? Especially during these times!

    Love you, Bonzo

  5. Carole outwater

    Ah Meg…a spirit after my own heart. What a lovely bear that stands watch for you and greets you daily. Your totem, I presume. I’m so glad you are back to blogging. Please keep it going.

  6. Martha Peterson

    Thank you for such an eloquent and vivid description of the magical nature of your surroundings. I now see your protective bear!

  7. Tam Frignoca

    What an artist you are! Seeing life the way you do. Finding comfort in nature and also from your imagination.

  8. Barry Hamilton

    Beautiful and inspiring post, Meg. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Ruth Klukoff

    Just lovely, Meg!!

  10. Meg,

    As I’ve told you many times … I am not a reader! But I am a devoted Meg fan so I finally stopped by. Of course, I first noticed a lot of written words — way too many words — but thankfully, mostly English ones which I was familiar with. So I continued along and waded in deeper.

    I wandered past something that looked like a poem. Bears were mentioned. I wasn’t scared so I continued through even more words. And then it happened … All of a sudden, I was overcome by joy … PICTURES!

    Awesome! Now you were speaking my language! Wow! Such pictorial eloquence!

    Meg, you have a great eye and have repeatedly captured the beauty around you. I looked at your images again and again. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing them! You truly live in a magical place and I am so very happy for you.

    I hope you enjoyed all of my words. 🙂

    Sending love,
    ~ Arpie

  11. Tamara

    Love this entry Meg, it’s so beautiful there. Do you have camels there?

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