Friday, March 23, 2007

My Life Has Been The Poem

"My life has been the poem I would have writ, But I could not both live and utter it." - Thoreau

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Alphabet Seeds

She writes a poem
A day
And cuts it up
Into pieces
Scattering the letters
Into the wind
And praying
That the "p"s will take root
And the "q"s will land on fertile soil.
She dots her "t"s
And crosses her "i"s,
Not unlike
Crossing one's fingers or
Knocking on wood
While listening for pings
And waiting for a response.

Gravity Happens

A bead
of water forms
on head of faucet

but surely until

It drops
as it becomes
a drop

and stops,
splashing into
a teacup.

Gravity happens.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Downhill All the Way

Susan and the kids and I went skiing up in northern Michigan last week. We had a lot of fun. We had an opportunity to stay at Camp Michigania, on Waloon Lake, just south of Petoskey and 30 minutes from Nubs Nob Ski Center. It was the first time Susan and I had gone cross-country skiing in about 18 years and the first time any of us had gone downhill.

Max, who's 14 years old, really took to the downhill (it's a lot easier than uphill) and convinced me to bring him back the next day. He and I took a couple of runs down the easy beginner slope to get our blood going. Of course, I fell at the foot of the slope, right near the load area for the ski lift and lay there like a ladybug on it's back trying desperately to get up. Meanwhile, Max went up the lift without me. Another kid came over and asked if I was OK. I said, yes, but I couldn't get up. Finally, I realized that I would need to take off one of my skis. That made the process immeasurably easier. I got up just as Max was finishing his 3rd run.

Meanwhile it was getting very windy and snowing quite a bit. Some severe winds and storms had been predicted. We went on to the "advanced beginner's" slopes. They were lots of fun; just the right level of challenge, but Max quickly wanted to go on the intermediate slopes. I pleaded with him but he was insistent and started down a "blue slope". I quickly decided that I would be negligent in my fatherly duties if I didn't follow him down. What if he fell and hurt himself? About a quarter of the way down I realized that I wouldn't be doing him any favors if I broke my neck. Of course, at this point, it was too late. I fell twice on the same run down. The good news was that, now,I knew how to get back up.

We parted ways for awhile and I went back to the beginner's slopes. The ski-lifts were getting pretty rough, wind blowing them left and right. I am used to having ice form on my beard but I had never experiennced significant ice on my eyebrows. The wind was biting my face. I would get off at the top of the lift and find myself starting off on a thick slab of ice with a very small but significant slope and the wind blowing snow in my face so that it was as much of a challenge to see as it was to stand up. I couldn't understand why the slopes were still open, but, of course, this was the second time in my life on a ski slope. What did I know?

At one point, Max and I got off two different lifts which left us off at the same part of the mountain, about fifty feet away from each other. No matter how hard I tried, I could not make any progress toward him, as I was going against the wind. Fortunately the wind blew him to me. "OK, Max, this is it", I said. "This is the last run. It's getting too dangerous". "Ahhh, c'mon Dad! It's not dangerous!", was his reply. We went around and and around about this as the wind howled around and through us. After a while we parted ways again and took up the debate at the bottom of the hill. Finally I agreed that, if he let me buy him some goggles so that he could see, he could make two more runs down. He agreed, with the caveat that I let him pay me back for the goggles. Finally, after his last run, we returned our rented skis and headed out back to the cabin. About 5 miles down the road I turned on the radio. "Nubs Nob", the DJ announced, "is closed due to severe winds".

Bob Fisher is a novice skier and a Home Buyer's Agent in Ann Arbor, MI

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night, at the least sound
In fear of what my life
And my childrens' lives may be
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests
In his beauty, on the water
And the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still waters.
I feel above me the day blind stars
Waiting, with their light.
And, for a time, I rest
In the grace of the world
And am free.

Wendell Berry

Who'd have thought that a poem about despair could be so inspiring. But, really, this poem is about a kind of release from despair.

When I was in High School, I wrote this:

How frustrated and helpless I am.
You ask why
And, so do I.
And, then, I go outside
For a walk
And Mother Nature's cold,
Cold wind
Blows all my cares
Right through me.

Wendell Berry was infinitely more articulate and, when I was introduced to "The Peace of Wild Things" it took me a while to see that he was expressing something that I had tried to express ten or 15 years earlier. I think that the common theme is nature's healing power and it's ability to help us transcend the tendency to "tax our lives with forethought of grief".

Thursday, March 8, 2007


I just discovered this account by Ralph Waldo Emerson about Henry David Thoreau (a hero of mine since the day I accidentally did my homework in High School). All I can say is "Hooray" for the, then, president of Harvard! I laughed until I cried.

"On one occasion he went to the [Harvard] University Library to procure some books. The librarian refused to lend them. Mr. Thoreau repaired to the President, who stated to him the rules and usages, which permitted the loan of books to resident graduates, to clergymen who were alumni, and to some other residents within a circle of ten miles radius from the College. Mr. Thoreau explained to the President that the railroad had destroyed the old scale of distances, — that the library was useless, yes, and President and College useless, on the terms of his rules,— that the one benefit he owed to the College was its library, — that, at this moment, not only his want of books was imperative, but he wanted a large number of books, and assured him that he, Thoreau, and not the librarian, was the proper custodian of these. In short, the President found the petitioner so formidable, and the rules getting to look so ridiculous, that he ended by giving him a privilege which in his hands proved unlimited thereafter." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I also just discovered this website:
I recommend a paragraph a day for sanity's sake.