8.8.2022 – beach initially

beach initially
was deemed the most useless space
undesirable

I was struck by this passage:

The lords of the beachfront were late to the coastal real estate game. The beach was initially deemed the most useless, undesirable space on the North American continent. (Imagine rushing past the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard in your haste to stake a land claim in Ohio.)

Back in the day I had a job interview with the Federal Government.

On the application there was a spot where I could list places where I could not work.

I listed California, Florida and Ohio.

The interviewer asked a lot of questions then said, “Where you can’t work. I certainly understand Florida and California, but what do you have against Ohio?”

Naming my Alma Mater answered his question.

I like the beach.

I can’t remember a time I did not like the beach.

I love the line in the movie Superman II, where Gene Hackman, as only Gene Hackman can, informed General Zod that, “Well, General … the world is a big place. Thank goodness my needs are small. I have a certain weakness for … beachfront property.

I guess the idea that Ohio was populated by folks who rushed past the coast to get to Ohio pretty much says as much about Ohio as anyone needs to know.

If anyone needs anything more to know about Ohio, just consider the pantheon of personalities you meet when you name the 6 Ohio Presidents.

Grant.

Hayes.

Garfield.

McKinley.

Taft.

Harding.

Now there’s a Mount Rushmore no one ever proposed.

Three died in office and of those, two were shot dead and the other was poisoned by his wife (well that’s what I was told).

Talk about some sort of intervention.

But I digress.

I like the beach.

I like what Mr. Thoreau said when he said about the beach that, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”

I hope I would have stopped at the beach.

But right now, I like where I ended up.

Again as Mr. Thoreau says, The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

The passage comes from the opinion piece, We Will All End Up Paying for Someone Else’s Beach House, by Francis Wilkinson (@fdwilkinson), a columnist at Bloomberg, in the New York Times on August 8, 2022.

He closes with this warning.

The wealthy eventually realized their error. They put property markers on perpetually shifting sand, built expensive homes and called in the Army to keep their beaches from drifting away. It’s hard to see how, exactly, they will hold on to much of this sea-level paradise in the face of rising waters and carbon-charged superstorms. But it’s not hard to guess who will end up covering their losses.

The wise man built his house upon the rock but he didn’t have the view and he still, most likely, didn’t have a basement.

8.4.2022 – how beautiful to

how beautiful to
sight those beams of morning play
up from eastern sea

Adapted from Horace’s ode Diffugere nives (XVI) by A. E. Housman published in More Poems, Alfred A. Knopf. 1936.

How clear, how lovely bright
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day

To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.

Thought about this as I was driving to work.

And, as always, I was thinking, there sure could be worse morning drives (and I have made some of them.)

8.2.2022 – stars when drop and die

stars when drop and die
no star is lost – rains in sea
still the sea is salt

Adapted from Horace’s ode Diffugere nives (VII) by A. E. Housman published in More Poems, Alfred A. Knopf. 1936.

Stars, I have seen them fall,
    But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
    From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
    Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea
    And still the sea is salt.

And what does Diffugere nives mean?

One online source states: “one of Horace’s many reflections on the passage of time, the brevity of human life.”

Another states: “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.”

But I paste it into the GOOGLE translate from Latin to English, I get, Run away from the snow.

Ah well, still the sea is salt.

7.31.2022 – a lover of books

a lover of books
adventurous, creative
spend all day barefoot

Want to move to to Kunfunadhoo?

Is this a trick question?

It appears that a bookseller is being sought by a resort on the island of Kunfunadhoo.

Ultimate Library is looking for an island bookseller who, “ will need to be a self-starter who is happy to introduce themselves to guests and provide them with personalised book recommendations. The successful applicant will be solely responsible for the day-to-day running of the bookshop, including accounting and stock management. “The applicant will be there on their own, so they’re pretty much running the whole thing themselves.

The successful applicants will be a “Passionate lovers of books – who are also adventurous, outgoing, creative and don’t mind spending all day barefoot – are sought for the year-long contract, which starts in October and involves moving to live on the remote island of Kunfunadhoo in the Indian Ocean.”

You can click here to apply.

There was a time …

In the middle of a Michigan winter, sitting in one of the lower levels of the Harlen Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan, I was sitting at a library table that was pushed against an outside window where I could watch the snow come down.

The University of Michigan Graduate Library was reported to have some 5 million books on the shelves and all of them were literally stacked up over my head.

In the days before the World Wide Web this was as close to unlimited information on anything in the world that anyone could get.

And that is just what I was thinking.

Anything and everything that I might want to know or read about or experience thorugh a book was within a few feet of where I sat.

Of where I sat in the middle of a Michigan winter watching snow come down.

For some reason this thought about all that knowledge got to gnaw away at me.

I could know it all.

I could look it all up.

I could see it before my eyes.

But I would never go anywhere.

The library was my fate.

And at that moment, the library was my doom.

I was as depressed as I have ever been.

And I decided to do something about it.

The book Treasure Island came to mind and it stories of pirates and adventure in the Caribbean.

I can’t remember why I was thinking about that book at that time but I had just read up up the life of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson.

I had learned that Mr. Stevenson had died and was buried in Samoa.

And the word Samoa resonated through my soul.

With those vast resources over my head in the library stacks, I searched out everything I could find out about Samoa and American Samoa which, with its capitol of Pago Pago, was an American territory in the South Pacific.

I learned that the United States Department of State or some Washington Department like that maintained the schools in American Samoa.

And I learned that applications for teachers in the schools in American Samoa were being accepted.

A manic mania of pre-internet job application fury took me over as only someone who has sat in the lower levels of a library looking out at a winter storm can understand.

With typewriter and xerox machine I wrote out a resume and letter of application and got it into the mail that night.

There was a bit of romance and wonder and excitement as I walked through the dark snowy Ann Arbor night down to the local post office to drop my envelopes into the night drop box to get the quickest delivery possible to Washington.

There was a lot of satisfaction when I heard the lid of the drop box slam shut.

It was still snowing.

I had one my thick peacoat (which was required it seems that year) thick hat, gloves, scarf and boots and I was standing in the falling snow but in my mind I was barefoot, standing on an island beach in the South Pacific and teaching cute little Samoans about the American Civil War.

I got back to my apartment and started to make plans.

Chief among those plans was that I would be limited in what I would be able to bring along to the Island.

Limited as to what books I could bring.

In my mind, and maybe somewhere on paper, I made a list of the 30 or 40 essential books that would have to be packed.

I made and remade that list over and over in my mind through many dark nights that winter.

Over the weeks several letters arrived for me from Washington.

The first one was proforma and thanked me for the interest.

The 2nd was better as it at least started out Dear Applicant.

The 3rd letter I got was finally addressed to Dear Mr. Hoffman.

It acknowledged receipt of my application and that I did indeed meet all the qualifications necessary for the job.

Based on that, the letter welcomed me to the ‘pool of available applicants’ for teaching positions in the Territory of American Samoa.

I was advised that the pool was ranked by 1st in, 1st out and that as positions were filled, I would move up the list.

In the event that I made it to the top of the list, and something was available, I would be contacted for a further interview.

That was in the January of 1984.

So far as I know, I am still moving up that list.

6.18.2022 – stop this day and night

stop this day and night
with me and possess the good
of the earth and sun

Adapted from Song of Myself – 2, by Walt Whitman.

This passage:

You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

5.31.2022 – as mysterious

as mysterious
as great the perpetual
rhythm of the tides

In “Notes for a Preface“, an essay written by Carl Sandburg for the the book “Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg“, Mr. Sandburg wrote, “The Spanish poet Lorca saw one plain apple infinite as the sea. “The life of an apple when it is a delicate flower to the moment when, golden russet, it drops from the tree into the grass is as mysterious and as great as the perpetual rhythm of the tides . . .

According to Wikipedia: Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (5 June 1898 – 19 August 1936), known as Federico García Lorca was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theatre director.

García Lorca achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the Generation of ’27, a group consisting of mostly poets who introduced the tenets of European movements (such as symbolism, futurism, and surrealism) into Spanish literature. He was murdered by Nationalist forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. His remains have never been found.

In the poem, Ballad of the Water of the Sea, Lorca writes:

The sea
smiles from far off.
Teeth of foam,
lips of sky.

Folly Field Beach at high tide – Hilton Head Island May 30, 2022

Murdered by the nationalistic or Franco’s forces during the Spanish Civil War, those types of fellers have always had it for the poets and artists and such.

The smart people I guess.

I am reminded of the story of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.

When they took over Cambodia they knew they had to cut off opposition and the best way to do that was get rid of the smart people, the people who could think, the people who would ask questions and start other people asking questions.

And so they did.

They soldiers of Pol Pot went from town to town and executed all the smart people.

They knew who to get.

They started with anyone wearing glasses.

5.23.2022 – the sky and the sea

the sky and the sea
put on a show, every day
they put on a show

Adapted from Carl Sandburg’s, Thimble Islands, which was published in “Good morning, America” by New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1928.

In searching for the full text of this poem to copy and paste into this essay, I came across a 269 page document from the Office of Education in Washington, DC that had been written by the University of Oregon, titled The Whole Poem Teacher.

The document was identified as a Poetry: Literature Curriculum – Teacher’s Guide.

Printed in 1971, the first two paragraphs of the introduction state:

In the lessons preceding this one, your class has concentrated on various poetic techniques, isolating them more or less from the total fabric of the poem for the purposes of examination and identification. Such a process is necessary, but it is a rather sterile exercise if it stops there. For the goal of all this investigation has been not the ability to identify poetic devices, but to enjoy more fully the experience of reading a poem. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to “put back” all the isolated elements into the whole poem.

To borrow a useful distinction made by the poet:-critic John Ciardi, we want our students to be able to answer not only the question, “What does this poem mean?” but also the question, “How does this poem mean?” Answering the first question only leads to bad paraphrase and moral- abstracting. Answering the first question in terms of the second, on the other hand, leads to close and intelligent reading, to appreciation of the internal dynamics of the poem, and consequently to a far more sensitive perception of the poem’s “meaning.” For in poetry the way something is said is part of what is being said.

Wanting to avoid the introduction tearing out scene of Dead Poets Society, I think this is rather good as it does not impose a scale but plays on the readers interpretation.

How does this poem mean?” and “… in poetry the way something is said is part of what is being said.” is good even as it brackets that oh so ponderous statement, “leads to close and intelligent reading, to appreciation of the internal dynamics of the poem, and consequently to a far more sensitive perception of the poem’s ‘meaning.‘”

The document was part of the Oregon Elementary English Project and according to the first line of the abstract, This curriculum guide is intended to introduce fifth and sixth grade children to the study of poetry.

Fifth and sixth grade children?

All I can say about that is to paraphrase the Book of Psalms, Lord Byron and Stephen Vincent Benét (all at the same time!), By the rivers of Babylon, There I sat down and wept, When I remembered Zion.

Here is the Sandburg poem:

THIMBLE ISLANDS

The sky and the sea put on a show
Every day they put on a show
There are dawn dress rehearsals
There are sweet monotonous evening monologues
The acrobatic lights of sunsets dwindle and darken
The stars step out one by one with a bimbo, bimbo.

The red ball of the sun hung a balloon in the west.
And there was half a balloon, then no balloon at all,
And ten stars marched out and ten thousand more,
And the fathoms of the sky far over met the fathoms of the sea far
under, among the thimble islands

In the clear green water of dawn came a float of silver filaments, feelers
circling a pink polyp’s mouth.
The feelers ran out, opened and closed, opened and closed, hungry and
searching, soft and incessant, floating the salt sea inlets sucking the
green sea water as land roses suck the land air

Frozen rock humps, smooth fire-rock humps –
Thimbles on the thumbs of the wives of prostrate sunken
giants –
God only knows how many sleep in the slack of the
seven seas

There in those places
under the sun balloons,
and fathoms, filaments, feelers –

The wind and the rain
sew the years
stitching one year into another

5.12.2022 – but the common thing

but the common thing
decision opening up
strive toward the wind

Based on the poem, Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond, by Mary Oliver.

Again, a big thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

(Feel free to touch base and tell me what to read.)

For me, herons, seeing a heron, has been and still is a harbinger of good fortune, a good omen.

Not that you saw herons all that often in West Michigan where I grew up but maybe that was part of it.

And not that I really believe in good omens but more in line that seeing one made me feel that, surely, this wasn’t as black a world as I made it out to be.

And I have had enough Latin and roman history to not think about omens and not smile inwardly.

It is in the movie Spartacus that Roman Senator Sempronius Gracchus, played by Charles Laughton, walks out of the Senate and buys a pigeon saying “Let’s make a good old-fashioned sacrifice.

Still I cannot see a heron and somehow, not feel better.

I also cannot see a heron that I do not think of the time that Doug, my college roommate, and I were driving back to Ann Arbor, Michigan on I-96 and a heron dove out of the sky and swooped low, just above the median between the two sides of the freeway in a glide..

As I remember it, we were going about 60 miles an hour.

This was way back in the ‘Drive 55’ era and it took forever to get to Ann Arbor.

The heron passed us.

Here is the poem.

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond by Mary Oliver.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself —
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

takes her in.

I took this photo of a heron on a dock on Pinckney Island in South Carolina during a day of dolphin counting.

The heron stood on the post with a look that told me I was standing on a dock that the heron owned and my presence wasn’t much more than tolerated.

There are a lot more heron’s down here than I have ever seen in my life.

Looking at the these birds standing still and I think how could anyone have made a bird like this?

Looking at these birds in flight and I think, how else could anyone have made a bird like this?

The phrase “have been fearfully and wonderfully made” from the book of Psalms comes to mind.

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond‘ by Mary Oliver.

5.10.2022 – So heavy is the

So heavy is the
long-necked long-bodied heron
always a surprise

Based on the poem, Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond, by Mary Oliver.

Again, a big thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Feel free to touch base and tell me what to read.

For me, herons, seeing a heron, has been and still is a harbinger of good fortune, a good omen.

Not that you saw herons all that often in West Michigan where I grew up but maybe that was part of it.

And not that I really believe in good omens but more in line that seeing one made me feel that, surely, this wasn’t as black a world as I made it out to be.

And I have had enough Latin and roman history to not think about omens and not smile inwardly.

It is in the movie Spartacus that Roman Senator Sempronius Gracchus, played by Charles Laughton, walks out of the Senate and buys a pigeon saying “Let’s make a good old-fashioned sacrifice.

Still I cannot see a heron and somehow, not feel better.

I also cannot see a heron that I do not think of the time that Doug, my college roommate, and I were driving back to Ann Arbor, Michigan on I-96 and a heron dove out of the sky and swooped low, just above the median between the two sides of the freeway in a glide..

As I remember it, we were going about 60 miles an hour.

This was way back in the ‘Drive 55’ era and it took forever to get to Ann Arbor.

The heron passed us.

Here is the poem.

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond by Mary Oliver.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond‘ by Mary Oliver.

5.9.2022 – children screaming with

children screaming with
delight link generations
indestructible

Adapted from a paragraph in the EB White essay, Once More to the Lake.

Mr. White wrote: Afterward the calm, the rain steadily rustling in the calm lake, the return of light and hope and spirits, and the campers running out in joy and relief to go swimming in the rain, their bright cries perpetuating the deathless joke about how they were getting simply drenched, and the children screaming with delight at the new sensation of bathing in the rain, and the joke about getting drenched linking the generations in a strong indestructible chain.

My grand daughter was in town for a short visit and we were only able to squeeze in a quick trip to the beach.

The weather did not cooperate and instead of sunshine, sand and surf, we had gray skies and gray waves.

For May along the coast, the temperate was cool and the water was warmer than then air.

My grand daughter didn’t care and no matter how much we explained the time crunch and the uninviting weather, she was determined to see the water.

We walked out together along the walkways through the swamps.

She kept an eye out for alligators.

We got to the sand and got out of our shoes and barefooted, we walked down to the water.

With your toes in the Atlantic Ocean, I like to say, you have the entire country in back of you all the way to the Pacific.

My grand daughter didn’t mention the gray sky.

My grand daughter didn’t mention the gray waves.

My grand daughter didn’t mention that is was somewhat cool if not cold there on the beach.

She took my hand and walked into the water and wave after wave washed over our feet.

The occasion bigger wave would splash in and she would grab my arm and jump and I would lift her out of the way and set her back down.

And she would scream with delight.

Standing there, holding my hand, she looked out at the horizon.

“Poppa,” she said, “I love the ocean.”