Could be a stagnant, sunny day; could be soaked and drizzling. Along a row of dumpsters the crows hang out on the truss-work just above. Behind them, in the broad-leafed maple (leaves white with fungus, and crispy-brown singed edges) dozens of crows fly in and out, back and forth. Of the crows that have taken an interest in the trash, one will fly in, or on, a dumpster and poke around. Usually within a matter of seconds another decides to hop down, then three and four, and soon, the whole bunch of them are scared off as the fifth flies too close to the group for comfort. They all scatter to the chain-link fencing, or the cinder containing wall. Up in the trusses, one brave newcomer, tempted soul that he is, will decide to hop down and try his luck —and the pattern begins all over again. When a seagull takes an interest, he becomes king of the dumpster, and has his way with the trash of his choosing. The crows move around, cautiously, waiting their turn. Some, in a fit of aggression, peck and haw, but it is clearly an attempt to get out their frustration at the seagull, still having his way. It is certainly a feast, but the crows don’t seem to know this. To them it is always in the balance, always on the verge of being taken away. Somewhere— between the margins— there is a poem; O industrious crow, has it always been that we humans make such a heap of waste? Where then would you feast?

Weekend at Lake Bumping

Sweeping views, up close micro-views

I spent the trip looking for sweeping views, I wanted to see big, grand mountaintops, tree lines, river banks, and we did. We saw it all. when we came back home on Sunday evening -after unloading, and unpacking- I took the dog for a walk and I noticed that I was lost in discovering the giant, ancient Douglas-fir close-up. And I realized that the amount of time spent discovering the sweeping, big views, meant that I didn’t make much time for inspecting the micro-view. We have the ability to shift perspective in this way usually depending on the complexity of each moment. Sometimes I use the big picture approach when it calls for the micro-view perspective.

It seems that when the situation is highly emotionally charged the perspective gets smaller. I become more guarded to my position and completely forget about the big picture. How can this change? The answer may lie in time. Within these situations there is the immediacy of the back and forth, there’s no time to step back and get a clearer picture. But if I know that this is what is required then, why not? Time traps me into thinking that I have to stick to this position in order to prove the point, in order to get this desired outcome. Like a spotlight my view of what’s going on get’s smaller and smaller, until the heat singes my brow, and I get more and more stuck in to my position. Forgetting entirely about the love that has brought us to this point, and the after effects, and the dozens of years from now that might pass and this fight, this viewpoint, may not last.

Industrious Birds

I spent an enormous amount of time searching for birds, that I never could see. Rarely would I see a robin, or a jay, or a woodpecker. In the early morning around 5 am they were singing, all kinds, hundreds, dozens of songs. And around 6-6:30 they stopped. Went to their homes or high in the canopies to clean and sunbath. And for the rest of the day we were hard pressed to see any. Had I the fortitude to get my ass out of the sleeping bag I probably would’ve been in for a show, but the best that I could do was listen to the harmonies of the cheery fellows working for their morning meal.

The campgrounds in the area were all pretty busy and the lake even busier, I suppose the birds in the area were used to all the commotion and had many years of experience hiding away. Even the trickster robin did not seem too keen on playing any tricks.

These mosquitoes,
Sitting so still,
Like mosquito husks.

Time to write a journal

I bought and brought with me a new travel journal. I was so excited to use it that I decided to forego the fishing (which turned out to be the only fishing we would get to do) in order to write a few notes and sketch. It occurred to me how silly it was to think that I could get time enough to write out some thoughts and be “in the zone”. I always have this ideal of going out and taking a notebook, sketchbook, or journal and doing a hike where I find a spot to hang for an hour or so and experience writing or sketching in such a serene environment. The kids are in constant movement and need for change, disruption of what is just well enough, that we usually get five to fifteen minutes or so depending on if we have a snack. This skill of hanging back and letting nature unfold around us, in order to discover more of her secrets, is lost on them, and me, as we constantly set out to discover what’s new, what’s next.

Sing me a song,
My little lady.

So while I was expecting and hoping to get the kind of views and time that is an immediate inspiration for poetry, unfortunately the trip didn’t allow it. I have to trust the moment was lived well enough that it sunk deep, soaked into my consciousness and will eventually come out, like a spring, in due time.

Invasive species

Lake Bumping is a man-made lake and dam from glacial runoff waters. You can see the stump of trees that were chopped down in order to make space for the lake. The river, Bumping river, carves it’s way through the valley floor and connects with the larger, perhaps natural American river. All along the Bumping river are campsites and trails. RV’s and pickup trucks lined the road, having made a space for their campsites in the turnoffs. Other designated campsites line the river and there must of been thousands of people in the wilderness area over the fourth of July weekend. So much for the solitude of the wild. Still though we found some spots that people weren’t so keen on degrading, like the American Ridge Trail, which has few reviews and is rated ‘hard’ so few were interested. We made the trek though and were pleasantly surprised at the views once we reached the top. I think the trail keeps going and connects with other trails in the area, but we were happy enough with what we found.

Perhaps it is from this vantage point that it became clear that the amount of people in the area were like an invasive species to the lush forested area.

We brought back with us some species of spider and larger than life ants. I’m not exactly sure where they scrambled to when we unloaded the truck, some hiding and living out the remainder of their life in our SUV perhaps, others making a living in our planters by our front door. Either way since we were on the other side of the Cascades it seems entirely possible that these guys are not from around here and so we may have introduced life to a new and strange ecosystem. Oh well, we did what we had to do. But it occurred to me when I saw the little spider scurrying off my hiking bag and into the crack of the lift gate, that perhaps this is how we’ve been getting on for centuries, adapting and evolving, and that no matter how hard you try to ‘leave no trace’, you are always creating change in some aspect, unwittingly most of the time, so you might as well get used to it and try to make the change for the benefit of yourself and others.

By the Moonlit Pond

The frogs are enticing you tonight as you step out the front door
You can hear them from a quarter mile away. Usually they sing you to sleep,
But tonight they are cooing and purring, drawing you in to their wonderland.
Standing in the soft yellow phosphorescent street lights of the parking lot 
You realize that if you cross the threshold there may be no coming back.
The chain linked barrier between man and nature hidden in the shadows behind the Twin Cedars
The pond, though in the middle of the parking lot, is veiled to keep the threat of 
Nature, the threat of life without convenience, hidden from our psyche.  
Creeping between the cedars with feet just too heavy, they become wary.
In the silence you realize what it would look like to walk by someone like you. 
Knelt over and slumped, worshipping, or perhaps taking a shit, hiding from humanity
But before your self conscious completely takes over They give the all clear. 
rrrr ib.   rrr  ib.  ib. ibit-ribit. ribit. ribitribitribitribitribit. 
It’s a welcoming party. A celebration.  They brought you here. 
Soon the noise is deafening and your thoughts, preconceptions, notions are all drowned
In the leafy, moonlit pond. 
From a distance Their chorus sparkles like crickets, with rhythm,
But up close you can hear individual riffing and singing and sometimes screaming
Live-it. Live-it. Live-it. 
Wawa. Wa. Wawa. Wa. 
Which roughly translates to live your insights,
Trust yourself and 
Align your actions with your realizations.
Like a schoolboy, you smile
and no one is around to see it.

for enquiring minds

(For optimal affect read in a teenager’s voice)


Naming Names

We paint our hearts with birdsong and sun-drenched green canopies. The sky was made up of tufts and wisps of sea. Sun breaks. The overnight rain. What we wanted was the same; adventure, joy, connection. One of us ducked off the main trail, down a side path already almost overgrown with new spring growth. So the rest of us followed. What used to be a creek, with a barely discernible trickle, had become much wider since the snow melt, moss covered trunks and rocks providing a way across, though we don’t have the courage or the will to venture that way, we just wonder at the new growth shooting straight and tall with ripe green foliage that, from our vantage point, could yet still be anything because we don’t have a name, or any other point of reference for it. The stream narrows and the stillness is hurried to yet more stillness. A great totem, a Douglas-fir bole perhaps two feet in diameter, slanted and dead rises from the pool of water that has forced the park stewards to put of caution tape. At the very top we spot our first bird. Not exactly discernible, though still wondrous, lightly pecking at the mossy wood, feeding on insects and organisms only known to the tips of trees. He deftly works his way around the trunk and disappears to the other side. After a few moments of wondering at a name, we just about give up waiting for him and he reappears in flight and back into the cover of a stand of Douglas-fir with his friends. As he flies from one trunk to another, we notice a striking red underwing, which will not soon be forgotten.

at the tips of trees,
a whole world of wonder
bright smile on your face.

What is this thing that insists on identifying and categorizing? while watching I cannot but focus on knowing a name for what I’m looking at. Is this the same place that imagination creates from? Would it make me a better dad if I had a name for it? Would it make the experience better? Back on the main trail we talk and laugh, plan and run under the cover of Redwood cedar and Douglas fir. One of us says, “wait, shhh,” The whole trail is alight with morning song, with what seems like hundreds of different species of bird. Our attention, like a flashlight, went from focused onto a single point, our own thoughts and words, feet on the trail, and in the next instant our attention seemed to include the whole 130 acres of the park.

how wonderful,
this expanse,

Nighttime Winds

Nighttime winds whip ‘n whorl tree branches, as mist sprays directionless. And in some odd hour of the night limbs are felled without witness. The abundant fragrance of new growth birthed and nurtured at 130’ now sits street side. In the morning, the robin on the high hill bathes in the perfume. He thrashes in and out of the low hanging fog snacking on easily gotten worms picked from the soft earth.

Robin Sumi by Dan Flosi