Saturday, April 18, 2015


The sun is preceded by streaks, sharp smears of light across the sky. It likes to be announced before coming on the scene.

If you're quiet, frogs and birds are deafening in this last gasp of dark. It's like walking late into a cafeteria, impossible to follow any given conversation through the noise.

My new-found fascination with birds does not lend itself to fast running times. I stop to take a picture, or watch a red-tailed hawk in the tree, or see where a cardinal or eastern bluebird lands. It does lend itself to some unexpected interval training.

I'm more obsessed with warblers these days than personal running records. More taking in and being part of my surroundings than running through them. Which is not to say I don't feel transcendent when quick-stepping down winding singletrack trails, or dropping the throttle for the last mile or half-mile of a run.

There is something to walking out of breath through the back door, pouring a water, and grabbing Peterson's Field Guide to cool down on the back deck and try to figure out what bird I saw in the brush along the road; or trying over morning coffee to ID the yellow-headed newcomer to the feeder.

Forrest Gander's "Science and Steepleflower" has been on my bookshelf for a couple years. I've started and stopped in it a few times. Books open themselves at the right time. Gander goes vertical, deep into things. He knows the names of things, but doesn't lose their wonder for the science.

... Can you smell
where analyses end, the orchard
oriole begins? 

I dig the notion that getting at the thing itself, the sublime nature of something, comes on the other side of science.

I have no idea what it is about warblers or if I have ever seen one. Certainly not consciously and been able to name it. But that seems to be where I am with this whole bird thing--learning, fascinated, possessed by a beginner's mind, curiosity, and opportunity. And it doesn't hurt that I can walk the yard and the treeline with a Dale's, a notebook and pen, look and listen, and breathe in sun and sound.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It's not that I am getting older

It's not that I'm getting older. Or slowing down. But I walk more. I still run, still push myself. Hey man, I'm still hardcore, haven't gained weight in the past year. I still know how to earn sweat. I walk to notice the things I only ran by. I walk to keep up with the girls.

You can't build forts if you're too busy running. You can't stare into nesting ospreys or cardinals playing hide and seek. Only lying on your back can you properly discuss cloud formations, what color blue the sky is, or imbibe the cosmos via stars in the night sky.

I heed the same elders:  Hass, Snyder, Merwin, Merton. I've maybe added a few to the list: bluebird, woodpecker, hawk, At this time last year, I wrote this on turning 42. The view has changed, but I try to live each of those things everyday, the best I can.

It's not that I'm getting older, but life feels deeper this year. Like I've had a year submerged and am getting back in touch with the air.

I have no new advice this year. I'm not generally one to give it, and not always to take it anyway. But I still think Gary Snyder got it right when he advised:

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

I don't dare to add to Gary's simple mantra. But if I were, I might say:

find your people
watch the birds
go for walks