Mon –

The Yoda-like syntax of this holiday remains meaningful, but Thanksgiving has such immense and varied connotations that a general feeling of gratitude to the universe for our existence sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.  There are certainly times when most of us are overwhelmed by the richness and wonder of being alive.  On the other hand, there are all the sales, the hassles with cooking unfamiliar birds, travel, the dread of encountering family, and, of course, the fact that the original holiday was declared by Lincoln as a day to ask God to help us slaughter the other side so that right might prevail.

I’m not at all cynical about being in awe of the cosmos all the time.  I know I had nothing to do with the bounty provided to me.  Like many people, at least in the more fortunate parts of the world, I would not trade my ordinary life here and now for an ordinary life in any other time nor place.  I am very lucky. 
Tue –

Amazingly, we can find beauty in scenes that promise little direct pleasure.  Evolutionary theory would claim that there is a clear survival skill in recognizing something immediately useful _ a fruit, a possible animal dinner, avoiding danger, whatever.  But the sere landscapes of late fall and winter offer no useful relief to our basic needs.

Yet we look at snowdrifts, and brown reeds, and skies promising rain or snow or harsh cold and we are often happy.  This all fits, we think.  Beauty is complex.   Our universes are more complicated than our theories can ever know.  I sometimes wonder if the only real sin is in extreme simplification.

Everyone seems to have taken the hint of the last few storms and spells.  The waters ride open and clear _ at least at this end of the harbor _ once more.  Even most of the buoys have been taken up.  Let the ice and snow arrive _ we are deep in our burrows until better times.

Thanksgiving kicks off the “holiday season” with which the Northern Hemisphere combats the depression of dark solstice.  It’s filled with feasts, and lights, and special social gatherings, and that is all to the good.  Some urge us to ponder the “deeper true meaning” of such events, but the “deeper true meaning” of any time you can take some moments to contemplate the universe is just to be astonished and in awe of your own experience of existence, and overwhelmed that you can share it with others.

Of all the infinite things for which I am grateful, perhaps the most extraordinary is the privilege of having lived in a goldilocks historical period.  Nature was still viable, man had not yet overwhelmed the planet, the past of cultures and buildings and languages lived on.  There was an amazing mix of new scientific knowledge and deeper religious experience.  We were all amazingly free to experience almost every human possibility.

This picture symbolizes that nicely.  It seems remote and wild, but it is in one of the most heavily populated and reworked places on earth.  Nature frames all, but there are docks and kayaks with which to explore.  An old man can walk here with a camera and go home to a full dinner.  Perhaps in t
he future, as in the past, the sky and the water will be filled with menace and destruction, but this particular slice of time was mostly benign and immensely glorious.


Not so much the cold as the raw drizzle and biting wind _ and the early onset which means I have not adjusted yet _ added gloom to the already dim and bleak scene.  I hunched down in my parka, furtively snapped some pictures, fondly remembered other, better times, and began to put myself in a pretty nasty funk.

Fortunately, I was able to take a few deep breaths and pause and finally immerse myself in the moment, and all was well.  I am constantly astounded that my mind can switch moods and make lemonade out of just about anything.  I’m not so foolish as to claim my life is entirely built on attitude, but I am amazed (and often grateful) that emotions can override any logic.

Bittersweet is featured perhaps too often in these seasonal shots, but this year’s crop happens to be magnificent, after several rather skimpy autumns.  It is the flashiest of the wild berries, out of place in the drab brown wilds where it is typically found.  Harder to ignore than the more inconspicuous fruits of poison ivy, wild grapes, rose hips, and innumerable others, but we manage to not see it all the same.

I never pretend to divorce myself from this blog, and that includes my personal history.  The other reason for bittersweet now is that it brings back strong memories of gathering it over twenty years ago for Joan’s Mom to decorate the house during these holidays.  Linking the past with today using tangible artifacts can be a rather noble activity, especially when it also recalls nature and a world that once was, keeps constantly changing, and yet, fortunately, still remains with us.

The greenest life around is the algae happily glowing on the tideline, although the most vibrant life of all remains under the water, like the seaweed draped on the back of this concrete.  The concrete itself is a remnant of a once-mighty wall futilely designed to hold back the sea, although its true demise rested on the constant erosion caused by fresh water springs seeping through from behind.    So many processes and connections in this world, of which we are mostly unaware.

Happily ignorant, I try to experience what I can each day.  I know I am affecting nothing, doing nothing, being nothing in particular.  And yet, to me, it is all important.  And, selfishly, “to me” still matters a great deal.






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