Monday, September 28, 2015

the light that's blazing


by Margaret Gibson

For today, I will memorize
the two trees now in end-of-summer light

and the drifts of wood asters as the yard slopes away toward
the black pond, blue

in the clouds that shine and float there, as if risen

from the bottom, unbidden. Now, just over the fern—
quick—a glimpse of it,

the plume, a fox-tail's copper, as the dog runs in ovals and eights,
chasing scent.

The yard is a waiting room. I have my chair. You, yours.

The hawk has its branch in the pine.

White petals ripple in the quiet light.

In the quiet, a necklace of gourds on the fence.

A mourning cloak on a seeded spray of crabgrass.

An undulant whine of cicadas.


The yard is a waiting room: what will you memorize?

Quickly now, slowly. Sit. Memorize the light at this time of year. Breathe in the light. Breathe. Don't forget.

So I tell myself.

Next. Solitude again, and simplicity. You'll likely remember the next passage from Walden, if you've read it, or recognize the oft quoted lines about advancing confidently in the direction of your dreams.


by Henry David Thoreau

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as
two or three, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail …

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time.
To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome
and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the
companion that was so companionable as solitude …

If one advances confidently in the direction of his
dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has
imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in
common hour …

A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener.
So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts.
We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and
took advantage of every accident that befell us. Sometimes, in
a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my
sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the
pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and
stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through
the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the
noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was
reminded of the lapse of time.

from Walden

Sitting, noticing, memorizing. These things won't quite change the world. But how much easier it is to meet the world after one has had some solitude.

Life is a garden,
not a road
we enter and exit
through the same gate
where we go matters less
than what we notice 

- Bokonon


"Beauty surrounds us,
but usually we need to be walking
in a garden to know it.

The body itself is a screen
to shield and partially reveal
the light that's blazing
inside your presence.

Water, stories, the body,
all the things we do, are mediums
that hide and show what's hidden.

Study them,
and enjoy this being washed
with a secret we sometimes know,
and then not."

- Rumi

(transl. Coleman Barks)

"After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked — as I am surprisingly often — why I bother to get up in the mornings." 

- Richard Dawkins

via Whiskey Rivers

More questions. What is the light that's blazing inside your presence? Why do you bother to get up in the mornings?

I know the questions sound a bit new age-y. But they're not unconnected to Mary Oliver's well-loved line:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
with your one wild and precious life?”

These questions are, in fact, urgent. If we ask them of ourselves frequently, we can see how the answer might change through time. Become refined, more hopeful, and at times less so.  Perhaps we come to know more about ourselves, our abilities, the world. When we see what persists, and what drops away, what does this tell us about our place in the universe? What do you want to notice when you move through the world today? What is the light that's blazing inside you?

While I have sometimes complained about Facebook here, the thing that keeps me going back is the generosity of my friends there. The sharing of the good stuff. 

One of my favourites from the week: A.L. Kennedy's "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction." Have humility, she says. And, "have more humility."

Number ten is also spot on:

10. Remember writing doesn’t love you. It doesn’t care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on.

So last week I had some completely unexpected and really quite insanely good stuff happen to me with regards to the forthcoming novel, Rumi and the Red Handbag. And so, how to proceed with humility. But also, to allow myself to enjoy the nice bits (when lord knows there have been some not so terrific bits and certainly will be more of same through this literary life). And maybe more importantly to let the book have this life of its own, to do what I can to help it into the world, to find readers, to also do well for my publisher. Okay, and to do all this and not turn into a terrible annoying rotten braggart of an author. In truth, I probably don't have to worry too much about this, as this might be the last fanfare the book/I experiences. So, tentatively, what I've decided to do is to mainly write about the 'journey' (a bit of a goofy word, that) of the book on my website blog. If you want to leave a comment, etc, just click on the title of the post. And thank you.

Our buddy Ace, is back to finding the sunbeams to nap in. So that must mean summer is officially over. 

I finally remembered to buy the fertilizer drops for the African violets, so they're back to blooming.

This also appeared rather magically on Facebook last week. Tina Turner, who knew? I love this.

And next. A few good early morning frosts made for some fun photography.

There's nothing like a bit of 'weather' to make you really appreciate weeds, yes?

There's still time, I hope, to sit and notice my sunflowers. The way they move and sway and want to grow even as the season draws to a close.

The golden light right now is like none other. Here it is from the kitchen looking out the back door.

And lastly, a few from around the neighbourhood. 

Other peoples' roses. 

A stone in the gutter stopping all the leaves, and damming the flow.

What the photographs never capture - the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze.

"Leaf sounds talk together like poets
making fresh metaphors. The green felt cover slips
and we get a flash of the mirror underneath."

- Rumi

The suburbs. A van we admire every time we walk by. (C. and I are both fond of the I Brake for Sasquatch sticker)

The sunflowers planted beside a neighbourhood church.  

And the view with the 7-Eleven. 

Have a calm week everyone, and thanks for visiting.

- Shawna


  1. If you told me Dali and Van Gogh had collaborated to paint that image of the sunflower, I'd have believed's stunning! Such a lovely post again today. So much magic.

    1. You're so sweet :) Thanks for the kind words and for being here (and there) for me, always xo

  2. I'm pouring over these beautiful images, memorizing all that gorgeous September light. Been thinking a lot about solitude and connection..sometimes hard to find a good balance because I find I need both and I'm feeling very fortunate to have made such wonderful connections on the internet and in real life. Here we are at the end of September. I have a feeling the light will continue to get even better during exciting time for you. Sometimes you just have to put humility aside and rejoice!!

    1. Me too, re: connections :) Esp you! Thank you for the reminder to rejoice. I really needed to hear that. xoxo


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