Like the gentle dove
I neither hate nor judge. But …
like the snake, I watch.
Notes: My childhood friend and schoolmate, John Marquand, takes some of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever seen. He rises early to get the Colorado morning light, and day after day amazes with remarkable nature photos.
He has become somewhat of a bird whisperer. I’ve never seen great blue heron photos like John’s. But he is not limited to birds. He somehow manages to make even insects look beautiful
John was kind enough to send me this shot of a Eurasian collared dove to illustrate the haiku.
Dog bed sits empty
in a house sitting quiet.
Sadness fills the void.
We came to the conclusion it was time to have our nearly 16-year-old poodle euthanized yesterday. It was a hard decision, the way these things usually are. But he had grown deaf, blind and quite feeble.
Otis was a wonderful family pet. He accompanied us on many family hikes and adventures. He was an every present part of our family life as our kids grew up.
Now, with no good reason to step our for a walk, I may forget to fetch the mail.
“Liberate the pool!”
We presumed naked meant free.
We didn’t know jack.
The year: 1970.
Location: A liberal arts college with a reputation for being a little “out there” situated in the upper Midwest.
A delegation of hometown friends make a long journey up to pay a fall break visit to a group of their high school friends who inexplicably all had happened to enroll in the same Liberal Arts College with a Reputation for Being a Little “Out There.”
It’s great to see old friends. Partying ensues. Someone (remembering with fondness the skinny-dipping escapades back home in the bucolic farm ponds and rock quarries of west central Missouri) suggests that a group be formed to go “liberate the pool” on campus.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time.
The word goes forth through the hallways of the dormitories of the liberal arts college with a reputation for being a little out there.
A party is formed, and the pool is “liberated.”
The campus police are called, and the liberators are duly cited for their violations of civility.
I’m not saying who was, and who wasn’t actually there. Or who was a participant, and who was just an observer. Perhaps, you were not available, but you would have gone had you been available. Perhaps, you were horrified at the mere suggestion. Memories get fuzzy when seen through the gauzy veil of so many years.
But, I’ll let the following people explain to their families and descendants just what role they actually played that evening in the notorious Macalester College Skinny-Dipping Affair of 1970:
Robert Lee Van Arsdale
Alison Williams Coulson
Becky Roberts Kabella
John Marquand, I’m pretty sure you were not along on that trip. But if you had been, I’m also pretty sure you would have been right there with the other liberators. This is your chance to set the record straight.
He’s truly a treasure. Virtually unpublished during his own lifetime, he left behind a small but rich collection of stunning poems.
A complete original, he labored in obscurity, writing poetry in his spare time when not occupied with his vocation as a Roman Catholic priest.
He took his poetry — like his religion — seriously, developing his own philosophy of poetry. And he innovated style and form, as well, creating his own form he called “sprung rhythm.”
Check out his poem, “Inversnaid.” The poem is a description of a steam rushing down a hillside emptying into Loch Lomond in Scotland.
The description is wonderful, and well worth clicking away to read the whole poem. But the last stanza is amazing. It’s four lines that form a prayer, seemingly beseeching God to preserve nature from the depredations of mankind:
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
When I read that out loud, I forget about what’s blaring on television, and I smile a little smile, and I find myself drawn back to the heart and center. Actually drawn back to God.
That’s what John Ciardi must have meant when he said, “Enrich language, and you cannot fail to enrich our experience. Whenever we have let great language into our heads, we have been richer for it.”
The wind and you played in my hair,
You lambent in the moon,
The night arranged as by design,
Afresh the breeze and warm our hands,
So lately introduced,
Traced so gently new found lands,
From tyranny aloosed.
While all around with fire and bang
Our freedom was proclaimed,
A nation’s liberty was meant,
To us, two hearts unchained.
July Fourth holds special meaning for me. I’m patriotic in the old fashioned way. I still believe that America is exceptional, and has been an exceptional blessing to the world.
Our founding documents are exceptional in the history of mankind, and the men who wrote them were inspired by truly great ideas.
The big idea: That rights are given by God, and not some king or the government. That’s important, because what government gives, government can take away. But the genius of the Founding Fathers was to see that our rights are granted by God, and thus “inalienable.”
I still get a lump in the throat when the national anthem is played.
But beyond this, my personal affection for July Fourth goes back to 1982, when a young couple snuck to the roof of the Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis to watch the fireworks. This perch, high above Lake Calhoun, offered a 360 degree view of the entire Twin Cities area. You could see several fireworks displays from there, both near and far away.