28 July 2010

Decoupage - snips of my day

I live in the heart of a sprawling city where "all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And bears man's smudge and shares man's smell..." and yet sometimes I am surprised by great natural beauty.  The wild turning of a bayou, a kingfisher perched on a wire, flights of birds or butterflies that swirl like schools of fish in the sea, swooping martins, flowers, flowers everywhere.  "...nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep-down things..."  These two ideas play tug-of-war in my thoughts.  {The quotes are from my favorite poet Gerard Manley Hopkins whose words are as deeply etched in my heart and as voiced in my prayers as any scripture.}

Yesterday I went to the zoo with my sister-in-law, my neice and her young daughters.  When one goes to the zoo one expects to see animals, animals in cages--no matter how lovely the habitat of the cage may be.  My favorite animal was wild and uncaged--a young cotton-tail rabbit sitting behind a palm tree nibbling a tidbit from the plantings.  A "dearest freshness deep-down thing" reminds me that this city is an overlay on an ancient landscape.

After I got back home I rested by catching up on blog reading.  CFS in her blog Link to this blog wrote, "The other day I was driving home from work, on 290, going posted speeds with the rest of the Houston population, and do you want to know what I saw: a duck and her four baby ducks. That is right, there was a duck trying to cross 290 with her 4 babies!!! It was a disturbing picture for me. How on earth did that duck and her four babies get up on 290?"    I identify with the duck and wonder how such a fast-moving, dangerous thing as U.S. Highway 290 came to be on the peaceful Katy prairie, ancient home to migrating water birds.   "...all is seared with trade" and the prairie is being devoured by that sprawling city that is my home.

I think of my friend DTA and her pressing concern for the over-population of the earth.  I remember  petri dishes filled with nutrients and seeded with bacterial cultures.  How very much pictures of the earth from space--the spreading lights, the destruction of forest, the growing deserts, the Texas-sized gyre of litter in the Pacific, urban sprawl creeping across the big blue marble, "all... bears man's smudge and shares man's smell"--resemble those petri dishes with the bacterial colonies eating thier substrate until all is gone and there is nothing left but death.

Another friend, VFS, blogs   Link to this blog  about the Polyphemus moth in Annie Dillard's An American Childhood.  I don't need this reminder of a disturbing story that has long lived in my memory.  I remember my mother asking me to take a look at the "worms" that were eating one of her prize plants and finding a butterfly chrysalis and watching the process of a butterfly unfurl and take its first flight, a "dearest freshness deep-down thing."  I am in sore need of such comfort.

I love Annie Dillard who voices my tug-of-war and grows my spirit.  It's time to read her books again and I'm pleased to find that I can now add her books to my Kindle:  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek  American Childhood  The Writing Life  For the Time Being  Holy the Firm  Teaching a Stone to Talk  An Annie Dillard Reader The Maytrees  The Living

My blogging friends both work with issues of childhood, although in very different fields.  Their blogs resonate with each other, echo through my thoughts, disturb my rest.   How many children did I see at the zoo today who are Dillard's Polyphemus moth?  How many mothers and children are caught in a world that has changed and is moving much too fast?  How many of us are caged in spaces too small to spread our wings and fly?  We and all creation bear the curse of a by-gone Eden, "bleared, smeared with toil..."

I find it's easy to weep.
It's harder to hope.
I share the depression that often crippled the poet.
Yet, Hopkins concluded his poem:
"Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings."

Link: to Hopkins poem on the Victorian Web.


Anonymous said...

WOW! Takes my breath away as I contemplate your words...so much to ponder and pray about....BH

Whitney said...

This is short notice, but you might be interested in HGAC's forum tomorrow about Sustainable Planning http://www.h-gac.com/community/sustainability/current_workshops.aspx

VFS said...

Fantastic post, K, and I love the new look of your blog. And Hopkins. Sigh. Hopkins. There was nothing like reading Hopkin's in a Bob Patten seminar!

Have you read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek? I was thinking that I would try it next, but I've never read it before.

Hope all is well with you, and thanks for the shout out!

K Cummings Pipes said...

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was my intro to Dillard--on the reading list of environmental writers for an Alumni College course. Would you like to borrow my copy?