Thursday, October 28, 2004

Of Autumn And Childhood

In autumnal winds,
leaves, like wine red
prayer flags hailing god,
dance with an impudence
reserved for the condemned.

From a window I observe,
recalling liquid amber;
a childhood passed,
branches, just the thing for climbing;
children, rich with imagination
no fear of heights
or falling.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Indicators Of/And Human Frailty

How quickly life can transform. The road one imagines oneself to be driving along changes. In the twinkling of an eye, it seems at the time. The scenery becomes unfamiliar. Or, resembles a landscape one hoped was now a chapter in the past. And perhaps the latter is more disconcerting

As time proceeds, there comes a realisation that there had been signposts along the way. Dark indicators. Indicators one had simply chosen to gloss over because they were infrequent. Also, because they suggested things one preferred not to confront. Thereafter, despite the best attempts to ignore such indicators, a low-grade spectre of disquiet loomed, with varying degrees of perceptibility.

The necessary acknowledgement that one had ignored the indicators is uncomfortable. Cognitive dissonance pushes one towards self-justification. Other-blame follows closely behind. And there is valid rationale for both.

Eventually there arrives a time for clemency. Towards oneself, at least. Whether one is ever able to exercise generosity towards the Other is uncertain. But I wonder whether such generosity is even possible without first the recognition of one's own human frailty.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Repast Interruptus

an alarm rings
everyone files out
onto the pavement,
the quick-witted
amongst us
still clinging to
their glass of wine

then arrive
fire engines;
short men in heavy
coats and boots,
ready to drown flames
should there be any

and because there's not
we return indoors
without any sense of
lucky escape
to await terakihi;
the matador's cape

satisfied until then
with talk,
each other


Footnote: Anyone floating around Newmarket with a couple of hours to spare and an inclination to eat, would do well to find their way to the Safran cafe. Food and wine selection both thoroughly recommended. (Unlike the review, I would give the Safran ****)

Monday, October 25, 2004

As Metals In A Mine

Originally uploaded by Adagio.

'....deformities lay deep down, whilst.....embellishments were upon the very surface, thus contrasting the homely oak whose defects were patent to the blindest and whose virtues were as metals in a mine.'

Thomas Hardy (Far From The Madding Crowd)

Pleasanter Than Discretion

Originally uploaded by Adagio.

'She felt her impulses to be pleasanter guides than her discretion.'

Thomas Hardy (Far From The Madding Crowd)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Forever Different

Window at Tangiers - Matisse
Originally uploaded by Adagio.

Apropos a comment expressed in response to my last post, The Resetting of Broken Bones, I wanted to consider the notion that a broken bone might reset, but crookedly. Healed, but forever different.

It is very easy to measure our own healing against a plumbline of the past. To expect that recovery from whatever experience led to our broken state will culminate in our acting, thinking and feeling exactly as we had previously. This is quite plainly nonsense. Taken to an extreme, it infers that the experiences of life do not influence the evolution of the individual.

Looking back at the person I was at age twenty-eight, I would be absolutely horrified at the thought of living today within the confines of the person I was at that time. The experiences of my life have led me along an often painful dog-legged path that has produced awareness of things I never even considered at twenty-eight.

To illustrate this point, I include an excerpt from a particularly introspective exercise in writing about one aspect of my life:

The degree to which I am physically dependent grows progressively. Yet, as if to defy all sensibility, there is a corresponding measure of significant personal expansion. Could I have achieved this personal development without the physical parallel? I would like to shout a resounding Yes! to that question but in truth, I fear the answer may in fact be no. That is particularly hard to acknowledge. It adds insult to injury. It challenges both my deepest longings to be free from physical shackles and the import I attribute to such freedom.

I guess I might explain the expanse in my thinking and latterly awakened awareness as the consequence of broken bones that have crookedly reset. Healed, but forever different.

Footnote: I would like to acknowledge that comments made by Actress with Attitude provided inspiration for this particular train of thought.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Vicarious Gardener

Originally uploaded by Adagio.

I do not expect that anyone else will (or can) appreciate the significance of the few wooden stakes, encircled by a length of baling twine, that form a 4 x 1.7m rectangle on my front lawn. It is the very first stage of a raised, no-dig vegetable garden; my first vegetable garden in a great many years.

To say I am excited by the prospect of growing (and eating) organic vegetables again is an understatement. In days gone by I always grew a vegetable garden. Over time it became physically more and more difficult, until the practice ceased. Everything comes from the vegetable shop these days. Complete with a frightening array of pesticides absorbed by roots and leaves.

Very recently it was brought to my attention (thankyou Marianne) that I could still have a vegetable garden. All that was necessary was somebody to maintain it for me. Under my instruction. So, what's new? Considering that I have already had to accept undertaking numerous (too many) other activities vicariously, it is a little embarrassing that I cannot claim this wonderful idea as my own.

I impatiently envisage shiny purple aubergines, fresh beans, masses of rocket (arugula), baby Agria potatoes, leafy red and green lettuce, beetroot, moderately fiery chillies, an assortment of Chinese greens and . . . . .Grace is dreaming about gigantic plants laden with a never ending supply of red capsicums. The possibilities are endless.

Footnote: The construction of this post was assisted by Tui beer and Van Morrison.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Revisitation: Cockburn 24 Years On

Originally uploaded by Adagio.

so i find out what the luxury of hate is

as exciting maybe as doing the dishes

Bruce Cockburn 3/1980

(I have only added this footnote to mitigate against what I have discovered is a gross fault in the web page formatting. That is: if I post an image but don't write sufficient words to fill up the space to the left of that image, the image will actually intrude into the previous post and juggle its formatting about in an alarmingly destructive way)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Resetting of Broken Bones

Originally uploaded by Adagio.

I was explaining to a friend that my use of the term ‘baggage’, in yesterday’s post, came about because it was the term that Ireland had used in his poem. It is not actually a term I like.

Apropos my explanation, I remembered a quote by Thomas Merton that I had read several years ago. The concept it presents resonated very deeply with me at that time. I had completely forgotten about it. Its sudden retrieval from the dark recesses of my brain was a timely and welcome occurrence.

As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with each other, because this love is the resetting [of a Body] of broken bones. Thomas Merton

The notion of broken bones evokes a sense of compassion with which to frame ourselves, and others. It infers past injury and pain. A broken bone is a very real thing.

What is very strong for me is the suggestion that it is our very contact with each other that is the catalyst for suffering. If two people, each with broken bones, interact with each other for long enough, sooner or later those bones will make contact and the friction will awaken pain. And it is those with whom we are in closest contact that we touch most often. Those with whom we interact shallowly are unlikely to get close enough to us to rouse pain.

There is a notion (or perhaps it is a rumour?) that a bone that has broken and mended is all the stronger for having done so. Be that fact or fiction, I feel encouraged by the knowledge that bones do heal, eventually.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Walking the land

In his poem, Walking the land, Kevin Ireland writes:

and the useless baggage you have to dump
along the way is always the burden
you thought you had left behind

It is exquisitely painful to be reminded that the ‘baggage’ we were convinced we had dumped a ways back on the road of life has actually been travelling with us. On our backs the entire time. The spiteful squall we thought had become a gentle shower is plastering our perfectly groomed hair to our face in cold, wet rat tails. Looking in the mirror we see reflected back an image we had been only too pleased to forget. Well, there’s no chance of forgetting now.

I have asked myself why ‘baggage’ can be so elusive. Now you see it; now you don’t. What I am inclined to believe is that particular varieties of ‘baggage’ will only respond to specific situations. If such a situation fails to arise, the ‘baggage’ will fall into a type of hibernation mode. In that mode it becomes undetectable. We think it has disappeared. Or, more likely, we think we have outgrown it. Gotten too big for it. And perhaps, on occasion, that is true. We really have matured beyond the need for it.

I imagine that being repeatedly fooled by hibernating 'baggage' is more common than I allow myself to believe when berating myself for allowing it to happen again. Why can it be so very difficult to exercise generosity towards oneself? We are our own worst lover.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Flowers to Come

Originally uploaded by Adagio.

I have been very pleased today to finally get around to buying pottingmix and an assortment of very healthy looking flower seedlings. So many varieties to choose from. I selected a promising mixture of favourites along with things I’ve never grown: Petunias, lobelia (with the white eye), Livingstone daisies, snapdragons, hollyhocks, cosmos, calendula (dwarf). By this time next week my winter-weary pots shall have been given a new lease on life. The area at my front door will once again look cared for.

The rest of the garden is full of cornflowers. Heavily laden with buds beginning to burst into colour. All those wonderful shades from pink through to lilac and a rich, deep purple. Poking through the gaps between the cornflowers are white primulas, pansies, lobelia, campanula and the last remaining bluebells.

I also wanted a kowhai tree for the front garden. There were none available today. Next week I hope. The kowhai will have just finished flowering and I shall enjoy the knowledge that next year I will have my very own kowhai to enjoy. And the tuis will have even more reason to visit next September.

And as if to emphasise today's very definite flower focus, Shirley brought me a few slender stems of wonderful, crimson-based, winter-white ixias. They are standing in the tall, square terracotta vase Grace gave me earlier in the year. Simply but perfectly composed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Under the Shadow

Originally uploaded by Adagio.

I suppose there have always been, and will always be, those who cast an immense shadow. It would seem that, on occasions, the shadow only reveals its immensity once one has moved away from the source. As if being directly beneath its umbrella, renders the shadow invisible to the naked eye.

Possibly, such shadows are the most powerful. The most insidious. Finding oneself enveloped by a shadow belonging to someone with whom one is no longer associated is a disconcerting experience. If there is an escape, I fear it is a long, slow process. One from which there is no shortcut.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Expected Lifespan of Blackbirds

For the inimitable 'Lumpy'

In that elemental, autonomous way of birds
Each instance of visitation, near but not too near
Exemplifies a carefully measured contribution
Towards human enchantment.

Had I been more thoughtful,
His name might have reflected the
Undeniable dignity that accompanies him;
Counterpoint to an unruly arrangement
Of head feathers; the distinctive attribute that
Lends a sometimes proud, sometimes wretched
But always surprisingly charming quality to
His appearance and inspired debate about
The handing down of physical traits from parent
To progeny and finally, the pursuit of information
Regarding the expected lifespan of blackbirds.

October 2004

On occasion, particular poems seem to 'arrive'; more a gift than the product of creativity. It was certainly the case with this piece.

Footnote: Happily, the quest for information about the expected lifespan of blackbirds was successful.