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Sunday Morning: Winters of My Life.

I thought this was well worth sharing — Thanks David. See — there’s beauty right in your backyard, especially this one.

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Today I visited the bike trail we used to ride. It goes along the harbor under the Verrazano bridge. Windy morning and rough seas and I could see the damage Sandy did. I wonder how long it will take for the City to get around to fixing this.

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Do we need God because the universe is just too strange, empty and frightening without Him? Do we know enough to decide about what created the universe? Isn’t the discovery of the cause of creation a continuous process for us?

Eric Stetson, a Facebook friend, entrepreneur and visionary, wrote a stimulating post the other day. It was Eric’s reaction to this article.

Eric wrote: Thoughts upon reading this article:
1. These people need to start calling themselves Unitarian Universalists, rather than Christians.
2. That realization just reminded me of what the UU brand has become — i.e. “the church for people who don’t believe anything religious” — and why I’m somewhat uncomfortable identifying with it, just as I also have mixed feelings about identifying with the “Christian” brand as it’s defined today.

The article quotes Rev Klass Hendrikse:
“Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death,” Mr Hendrikse says. “No, for me our life, our task, is before death.”

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

“When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that’s where it can happen. God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience.”

I believe some members of UU, maybe most, do not believe in God the way more traditional Christians do. UU is much less a Christian organization that it was years ago. What I find interesting is that many people feel they need to pick either belief in God or atheism. Faith or no faith. For me the question of God is unanswerable. We simply don’t have enough knowledge or insight to know. That’s why belief in God depends on Faith. Defined by Mark Twain Faith is believing in something you know ain’t true. At the very least its believing when you have doubts or not enough information. So people choose Faith or no faith. Of course lots of folks don’t care where we came from, why we are here or where we are going so they don’t raise these questions for themselves. (Do you think there are many people like that?)

Here is what I posted on Eric’s FB page:

“God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience.”

Some people experience something they call God. The creative force of the universe some call it. Or the echo of the big bang. Or our Father in Heaven. But whatever we call it it is a phenomenon for some people — an observable occurrence. The infinite – anti-chance – the first cause. Science and art seek to understand these terms. Abstract terms that we can’t get our minds around because we are finite (at least I think we are!). This phenomenon, whatever word we use to describe it, is a reflection of the mystery of creation and existence. Striving to grasp a small measure of understanding of this mystery is included in the work or art and science as well as religion and philosophy. In this striving we have two extremes — those who say they know God and can therefore know the unknowable (the paradox of some Western religions) — and the atheists who say they’ve got it all figured out — there is nothing beyond what our 5 senses tell us nothing transcendental nothing super-natural. Any time I read that there is no more mystery no more to discover in any field including religion I reject the notion. We are born from mystery, die in mystery, and are surrounded by mystery during our lives. If we try to cap that mystery and put it in a ‘NO’ bottle I think we shut off an important part of being human. Religion claims that periodically the mystery around us speaks. Emerson wrote “God has not spoken — He speaks” now and continuously. I don’t know God or god but I do feel surrounded by mystery and I sometimes pay attention.”

So that’s my answer — its a mystery. Sounds lame — like what a priest tells a parishioner when the priest is stumped. But it works for me. No religion speaks to me very well right now. The traditions and dogma of religion makes them confusing to me. But they all have wisdom and beauty as well as dogma so I might change my mind at some point. I am sure that in the next few hundred years people will learn much more about the mysteries. I think learning about black holes and the holographic universe may reveal much about the nature of creation and reality. Meanwhile the importance of staying in touch with Nature if you are a human being presses on us to a greater extent as we put pressure on Nature. Thoreau had it right — “In wildness is preservation of the world.” Nature is the tool of creation as well as the result of it. Nature is also where the clues to the mysteries lie. Let’s not calcify our thinking with dogma or emptiness.


This big little guy is in my In-laws backyard deep in South Brooklyn

Praying Mantis grows in Brooklyn

Gary Synder wrote that the wildness of Nature is everywhere.

From “The Etiquette of Freedom,” an essay in Synder’s book “The Practice of the Wild” –

“But wildness is not limited to (places formally set aside on public lands). Shifting scales, it is everywhere: ineradicable population of fungi, moss, mold, yeasts, and such that surround and inhabit us. Deer mice on our back porch, deer bounding across the freeway, pigeons in the park, spiders in the corners. There were crickets in the paint locker of the Sappa Creek oil tanker, as I worked as a wiper in the engine room out in mid-Pacific, cleaning brushes. Exquisite complex beings in their energy webs inhabiting the ferile corners of the urban world in accord with the rules of wild systems, the visible hardy stalks and stems of vacant lots and railroads, the persistent raccoon squads, bacteria in the loam of our yogurt……Civilization is permeable, and could be as inhabited as the wild is.”

Nature, wild Nature is the culture we swim in — it supports us even as we try to destroy it. We try to weed it out and debug it. But it persists. People move into cities looking for a better life and often they bring Nature with them because of old habits and ways of life. Many Chinese people and other orientals have moved into the Gravesend section of Brooklyn where my in-laws have lived for over 60 years. If they have a few feet of ground many plant squash and other crops. This is natural habitat for lots of wildlife including many sorts of insects. I’m guessing that my friend the praying mantis called the nearby squash patch home. But for some reason he was standing on the painted cement of the backyard (the whole yard is cement).

A doorway in Sunset Park, down by the docks.

A doorway in Sunset Park, down by the docks

An even less natural section of Brooklyn is Sunset park near the docks. 53rd street and 1st avenue is where I took the photo above. Railroad tracks and warehouses, factories and stone — the doorway attracted my photographer’s eye but I didn’t pay much attention to the green sprouts coming up, as they always do, through the cracks below. Given time they would cover the building. Abandoned towns and cities soon are recovered by wild Nature.

The disease of European civilization came across the ocean during the age of exploration. Looking for natural resources the explorers started the ruin of North America’s Nature. But the resistance persists. Unbridled civilization will not work. Nature will out. If not we are doomed, I think.


After the draw down

Shipley Swamp Looking toward Nabnasset Lake, across the beaver pool

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Winter cold seduces. If you fall on the ice you go down in cold onto cold. The texture of everything is cold. I walked down to the lake yesterday. Put things on my boots to prevent falling. Took camera. Heavy coat, scarf, gloves.

No dog, though.

Lad died last September. Seems like a hole in my life now. I haven’t written about him because it is hard to do. He was my friend and companion for 15 years. Especially  on walks. 

In the cold Lad would sometimes complain because of ice in between his toes. Too cold. We’d go back early. In the last couple of years he didn’t want to walk very far, but he always wanted to walk. Even if he would turn around in ten minutes he was excited at the start. 

Lad was 15 years and 3 months old when he died. He never gave us any problems and wasn’t very sick until the weekend before the monday when he dies at home in his bed. Just had trouble breathing for a while and then passed away. 

Now I walk without my dog. Thing is when we got him it was for Maria but also to help me get out for exercise more often. For most of his life he did a good job helping me and loving Maria. He was gentle and smart. Sensitive and aware of what his humans were up to. He wanted to understand and usually it seemed he did.

He hated to be put in the kennel. So when we got the Colby Pet Service to come and take care of him in our home, he seemed to know immediately that this time when we left him it would be different. He didn’t try to come with us in the car that first time, but just waited for Dave to come and take care of him. Dave had visited once to meet him and see our home. So when we left instead of complaining and trying to come with us he just sat in the chair that was his and waited. When Dave got there he said later that it was almost as if Lad expected him. I’m certain that he knew what was up and did expect Dave to come around to see him.

Here is one of my favorite photos of Lad. He is scruffy because we are out in conservation land and he has gotten into some mud, but I love the inquisitive look as if to say — so, are you coming? Where we going next?

 

Are you coming?

Are you coming?

Lad and I had different interests in the woods. He couldn’t see the landscape, I couldn’t smell the forest floor as he did. But together we covered it all pretty well. Of course if there was a coyote or turkey nearby he would notice way before me. 

Now when I go into the woods I feel as if I’m half a person. Getting another dog may be what we do later, Now its too soon and we need the extra space so to speak. We still may change houses in the next couple of years (but it seems unlikely in this market) and getting a new dog integrated and up and running will take time and energy. So for now — no dog.

But I don’t know if I can stand it.


Corn Field in Snow

Corn Field in the Prospect Hill Conservation Land, first week in December 2007

I raise my pelvis to God
so that it may know the truth of how
flowers smash through the long winter.
(Anne Sexton (1928-1974), U.S. poet. “The Fierceness of Female.”)

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Over and over, year after year, the flowers need to smash through. This spring it might be a little more difficult. We have had and are still having an old-fashioned New England winter. It snowed last night on March 28th, a week into spring, and then turned to rain. I went out to take photos to record the event before the precipitation stopped. But now low and behold, it’s snowing again, coming down pretty good.
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Cider Mill In snow
The Trail to Cider Mill Conservation Land on March 28th, 2008
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Of course before we had spring and winter snow we had fall snow in early December. Anyone thinking of moving south?
Along the Trail 12-4-08
Boulders Along the Trail – First Week of December, 2007

Burges Pond Fall 2007This is my best Canon G9 image yet. I’m very pleased with it.Shot in jpeg still it responded well to post processing in PS CS II. I’m working on my Westford Regional Art Event entries and of course next years Westford Conservation Trust calendar.The photo was taken in Westford’s East Boston Camps conservation area. The pond is Burges Pond, a lovely one in the middle of the 300 acre conservation land. Its clear and clean and very natural despite use by boys and girls camps for about 40 years.Please let me know if you like this one. I really do.


Hawk with Dinner

I saw this magnificent hawk in my backyard the other day. It had just killed a gray squirrel and was eating it. (You can just see it under the hawk) From my upstairs window I got some shots. It left after a short while only to return again. Seemed to be listening for me but not sure I was there. Of course in my excitement I forgot the importance of shutter speed — I had it set too low as well as ISO. But the photos are okish and I will do better next time — damn it!

Hawk Flying With Dinner

This one shows the hawk leaving the first time, squirrel in tow. It did return — so I guess it didn’t mind posing for photos!

Of course its been almost a week and I still have not seen another squirrel in the back yard. No hawks either!


Box Car Colors

This is a photo that I took last fall in EBCs. I like it. Its the best one with a train element that I’ve taken there so far (I think). I used my still new Canon G9.

I like the way the box car blends with the trees of fall. The train seems almost a part of nature there in our EBCs conservation land.

I hope you enjoy it!

BTW — Sorry to have been a non-blogger for a few weeks. I’ll do better this year — I promise!

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