This Day

Collected Sabbath Poems & New, 1979-2013,

Wendell Berry

1985 (the first and last stanza) FOR: MEL

Not again in this flesh will I see

the old trees stand as they did,

weighty creatures made of light, delight

of their making straight in them and well,

whatever blight our blindness was or made,

however thought or act might fail.

Though blindness may yet detonate in light,

ruining all, after all the years, great right

subsumed at last in paltry wrong,

what do we know? Still

the Presence that we come into with song

is here, shaping the seasons of His wild will.

I had an ink ling. It sounded like an Ode to Spring, so I
played with lines and squiggles instead of words.

April has been everything it can be. I found Wendell Berry someplace in my precious library, and I just love his old American way of hanging on to Transcendendtalism long after the cultural was fashion in America, at its best of years. But, by 1985 Berry saw the evolution of humanity trying to keep up with the evolution of Corporate Capitalism. A new guilded age was being ushered-in by the Tea-Party, twenty-five years later it is inevitable: the corn fields and the wheat fields are turning into sub-urban malls designed to have a short life, left to decay. Not like you, or i, or an old barn returning from Dust to Dust, rather, like steal beams rusting into asbestos and cement seaping through the tar and dripping with toxic paints.

Please Wabi-Saii show me the beauty in this decay. I want to see it. I want to touch it and feel it the way I did when I was ten.

I saw that boy recently. He was four years old. He was gifted to me by a spirit guide named Mel. All I know about her is her given name, Mel. She narrated me down a rabit hole and I fell into my inner landscape, I love it it ther. He was so small, just walking down the side porch stairs leading to a gravel yard (stone, screws, nails and glass) a car park area for the Canadian Style triple-decker that is iconic of the early 20th century.

He was wearing a three-quarter herringbone coat with a matching herringbone hat with a very small visor and, also of herringbone button smack on top of his hat. He was heading toward his friends house and I saw his face light up with a glow when he saw him come down the steps that led from his house to the dirt road between them. .

We played in the, Italian Field, among oily street run-off water, the rag-weed and the golden-rods. I remember a bow and arrow, and the arrows had rubber suction cups and you knew you could not possibly hurt yourself or your friend. It was all so safe and innocent.

Then I opened my eyes back into the outer-landscape. I like it in both places.

in Canada

It is September of my 73rd year. I am in Canada and along with me is my nemesis, Caleb. He has been with me since reading Ann Rice. Living forever, trading your soul in for extended consciousness, was a delightful fantasy–it sold books, and it sold me.

Always the ‘wanna-be’, that was Caleb’s life. With the arc in plain view, Caleb noticed that he was the same DNA that was once a little boy. As he sat by an open window in one of the townships of Quebec he heard neighbors in the adjoining yard–they spoke Canadian. It all came back to him like a dream. Except now it was Caleb that had COPD and his mother had been dead a quarter of a century. It was not so much the words as the rhythm, the cadence of the language that Caleb admired, as it was the heartfelt language, because it represents a people who had to settle-in to survive; and many did not survive. Those that did respect their antiquity. The culture of French Canada shows that determination. They are a nation that respects the status quo.

Today we would say it was a mindfulness that did not want to be intruded upon. Caleb would be meditating. He would be stopping. He would be absconded by an alien consciousness. This is too esoteric for these Canadians. They know how to be and the land and the history and the culture supports that.

Stained-Glass Gate

We get to a certain age and the question that sometimes get tossed around, especially among very close friends, becomes: which one of us will go first. It is not party conversation and often it is not the person you are the most intimate with that will participate in that conversation.

stainted glass gate.jpg

Life gets to a point where much of what was very important becomes less important and, in fact, at times, it seems pointless.

But the pointlessness is not a cynical position it is rather, a deeply reflective position that requires we to come to terms with ourselves. “Hummmm, I am helpless.” This is not a

defeated kind of position, it is more of a position that has become adopted from wisdom, our accumulated trials, and errors. The gateway to surrender is not crying, uncle.

It is achieved through remembering that healing takes time. And it is also facilitated by remembering we need only a glimpse of light to guide us to the way out of the ice-cold, blue darkness.

my three pines-Edit Blue ice.jpg

We, humans, get caught up in the conflict of moral surrender if it feels like defeat we might want to fight the injustice to the point of exacting revenge. Homicides and suicides are the consequence of following this maxim too far. But to quit too soon does nothing for one self- confidence.

Time as a factor of healing is evident when we suffer from an ugly virus or a broken leg. It seems less evident, though equally true, that emotional injuries require time to heal as do physical injuries.

Human contentment is acquired in small increments. It happens the way a leaf detaches from a tree in the wind. Suddenly after a lifetime of being the tip of a branch, one realizes they are in flight from one destination to another. You are still part of life the cosmos, just no longer attached to the tree.

You have come to a transition, a new season. Much will change but you will still be you-you in flight instead of you attached. Like a trapeze artist who has let go of one bar and swings blindly and backward releases the bar, turns mid-air and hopes and prays the other bar is there to grab onto.

my three pines.jpg

In the final performance, there is no safety net.

Life is practicing to die All the courage we used to face those silly little fears, and all the courage we used to face the atrocities of war, they come in handy when we are alone with our most intense and terrifying fears.

Because only then do we see the extent of our strength. We, screaming, as loud as a fisher cat in the woods brings only silence in return. Can you tolerate the feeling? It no longer matters because the feeling you feel is you.

Al Dussault Charlestown, RI

Spring, 2018

ST. AUGUSTINE, 450th anniversary: the environ

Preface:

It could only be better if it were Quebec rather than St. Augustine.  I say that because Quebec owns my heart and I tend to find beauty where I love.  But we are here and it is now, and that means photos and enhancements, and trials and errors, even during dinner.  It is very difficult for a photographer to escape without his camera.  It is all somewhat of a bus-man’s holiday.  It may be intrinsic to how I see.  I am a Naturalist.  The laws of nature are all around me.  I see them, and they are not watching me.

 

furs and feathers 2

 

As well as having my camera with me as a companion when I set out to write, I take my fascination for light and darkness as more than a metaphor.  I am a Naturalist.  My world is ever changing.  I am aware of moments of simple awe, and moments complicated by  compound-complex sentences that refuse to end.

A current phrase that I hear said to me is:  “Let it go, Man!”

matt cutter like

 

 

So, I let it go.

The pictures that are in this “note” are a product of the gifts of solitude and consciousness that arose out of “letting-it-go”.  I want to elevate these qualities to a near divinity, but they are so human, and ever so woven into the daily evolution of life, that they fail when I attempt to cut them away from the mother plant.  It is not divine consciousness that I elevate, it is Human Consciousness.

The simple observation of the wind, or the odor of sulphuric-salt at low-tide, these enable me to see the greater natural beauty that is St. Augustine. We live on the cusp of what mother nature knows is her land.  Not unlike the attempt started 450 years ago to claim the land for humans from humans, Mother Nature has had her eye on our bay-front for her own use.  St. Augustine is trying to save the shoreline for mother nature’s use.  But, even these interventions are an interruption, a cancer that we humans bring with our civilized footprints as fossils for future archaeologist. St. Augustine has a predilection to Pompeii, and to New Orleans.

the oldest city street on the continent

In the summer St. Augustine is a mix of Floridian consciousness with a touch of the tropics that it borders.  We live at the sea level of water, much like New Orleans, or Dutch Holland.  We are intrinsically woven with the sea, into the sea, and the sea is woven into this shoreline that is us.  We know it is the Laws of Nature that govern, and we know that the Law governs as an absolute monarch.  It is as merciless as the Spanish Inquisition or a Roman conquest.  Mother-Nature rules Absolutely. No amount of self-worth or self-pride can out veto a “NO” vote from mother nature.

We killed the previous owners of this land and we now call it ours.  As such, I photograph the land as if it were mine, and I was taking a picture to prove its inheritance.   We are western civilization.

Crossing the Bridge Of Lions on a soft summer evening can feel as glorious as Venice, or as tame as St. Augustine,  and the lens, my companion, searches for an intersection of lines and light.

the bridge

 

 

I enjoy the fascination of finding a fisherman crouched beneath a bridge fishing for life and maybe even for fish.  He seems to not notice 30,000 people circulating around his nest. He carries a tool box for line and hooks, and a knife as any hunter should.  He hunts.

fishing boy

Others sail!

vignette pencil stroke 2

 

 

Contrast in St. Augustine is relatively easy to fine.  We must be looking for it.  We must be deliberate about when we choose the moment to shoot.  There are two moments in Art: deliberated and un-deliberate.  The common sense choice is an extension of being deliberate.  It occurs for me when I am closest to belonging.

pedestrian bridge

In the theater of Humanity, we have so often come away from life to find a point of observation that captures more than the light dancing on an object.  We would like to come away and find a purpose higher than our own internal, subjective point of view.  I seem to find it more quickly when I am working with the elements of Nature directly.

There is a meditative aspect to art that is linked to both the cause of the piece and the execution of the piece.   A Naturalist that I have great respect for is Mr. Henry Beston.  The following is a quote from 1949 forward of his book, The Outer Most House:

“Man can either be less than man or more than man, and both are monsters, the last   more dread.”

an intersection of line and light

The stage at the center of town, holding court, held little interest for me.  The masses captured by a slogan and swaying to the odor of ale, did not impress me.  The town on which this stage is raised, however, does call to me.  It calls to me because the past has not been deliberately hidden.  The awful scars of righteousness and bigotry do not seem to be as hidden as they might be in other small southern towns.  The sins and atrocities of man seem to become part of the fabric of here.  Though, there does appear to be a lot of civic pride about a massive blood-bath in the Matanzas river.

I think of it as the respect for art and architecture.  St. Augustine envelopes most visitors at least at first sight.

galleon

 

El Galeon, an authentic replica of a 16th century Spanish War ship was one such recent visitor.  We stood on the bridge and watched her come in from the inlet at Vilano and move slowly into the bay front.  Spanish and American flags waved her into place.  She was here to be a part of a festival of celebration.

I find her to be a majestic aspect of St. Augustine’s past.  We were, after all, held here by royalty.  And, for as little as we try to make of it in today’s world, we certainly have been deeply influenced by the behavior of royalty and its part in domesticating western civilization.

the galleon 2

 

This floating art work is a salute to war and the spoils of war. Most of what we have acquired was stolen or forced away from its natural habitat.  Our consciousness belongs to Nature, it has evolved along side the earth since the beginning of time.  We are the furthest-most extension of Nature that we have found anywhere in the universe.  And our little town of St. Augustines is such a representative gem in that crown of thorns.

P1170902

 

 

Our town is a triumph of man against nature.  See what we have cut out of mother nature and put in its place.  See how architectural transplants have added multiple uses to the marsh lands. so many more uses than mother nature had intended for this piece of little paradise.

P1020017

 

 

Evolution is just another name for the slice of life that we have become.  Migration of species moves to a natural order, an order of not-knowing that bothers our consciousness.  Freud would say that psycho-analysis disturbed the sleep of the world.  That German-Jew knew what he was talking about.  We do not want to know that what we have created is created on a bed of sand that has an equal capacity to move from beneath as it does from above.  A foundation of shifting sand brings no comfort. The answer may not be a bigger wall unless we are deliberate about the fact that a bigger wall will only postpone what mother nature, in the long run, will re-capture as hers.  She is a formidable Queen every bit as powerful as Isabell or Elizabeth.  She is mother to every Queen that ever ruled.

a bird of paradise 2

 

There will be more about mother nature in St. Augustine in a separate post.  This post will connect with an episode from the Caleb Sagas.

Thanks for reading.logo

 

What The Dickens…..

vibrant

Spending an afternoon strolling around the flora and fauna of St Augustine compels one to want to create.  This town feels so organically grown, so free of stereotypes and so open to allowing in the well-to-do vacationers to spend money to their hearts content.

The art community is so plentiful that I dare say it is over-populated with well meaning folks like myself who consider themselves an artist whether or not any one else considers them so.

If art for meditation is what you are looking for–look no further, St. Augustine offers a plan for the sincere to the talented.  Walking with my camera in this town let’s me challenge my concept of beauty at every nook and cranny and corner or circle that I come to.

These are the best of artist and the worst of artists, misquoting Mr. Dickens.  And while we are on the topic of Dickens an image from a Tale of Two Cities comes to mind.  All that glitters is not gold.

For some, the struggle of homelessness is as real here among the tranquil serenity as it is in the sub-ways of grand cities.  Poor is poor; and, as more of us are becoming poorer and poorer, there is an upper-crust of society that is as rich as any previous Guilded Age.

Our delightful, little, oldest city on the continent is no exception.

decay charcoal and color

My fickled brain loves Augustine again, not despite its decay, but because of its decay…impermanence is much easier to swallow in the warm than in the cold.