A Favorite Poem; “Kicking the Leaves”

This is a favorite poem. “Kicking the Leaves” by Donald Hall.  

Kicking the leaves, October, as we walk home together
from the game, in Ann Arbor,
on a day the color of soot, rain in the air;
I kick at the leaves of maples,
reds of seventy different shades, yellow
like old paper; and poplar leaves, fragile and pale;
and elm leaves, flags of a doomed race.
I kick at the leaves, making a sound I remember
as the leaves swirl upward from my boot,
and flutter; and I remember
Octobers walking to school in Connecticut,
wearing corduroy knickers that swished
with a sound like leaves; and a Sunday buying
a cup of cider at a roadside stand
on a dirt road in New Hampshire; and kicking the leaves,
autumn 1955 in Massachusetts, knowing
my father would die when the leaves were gone.
2
Each fall in New Hampshire, on the farm
where my mother grew up, a girl in the country,
my grandfather and grandmother
finished the autumn work, taking the last vegetables in
from the fields, canning, storing roots and apples
in the cellar under the kitchen. Then my grandfather
raked leaves against the house
as the final chore of autumn.
One November I drove up from college to see them.
We pulled big rakes, as we did when we hayed in summer, pulling the leaves against the granite foundations
around the house, on every side of the house,
and then, to keep them in place, we cut spruce boughs
and laid them across the leaves,
green on red, until the house
was tucked up, ready for snow
that would freeze the leaves in tight, like a stiff skirt.
Then we puffed through the shed door,
taking off boots and overcoats, slapping our hands,
and sat in the kitchen, rocking, and drank
black coffee my grandmother made,
three of us sitting together, silent, in gray November.
3
One Saturday when I was little, before the war,
my father came home at noon from his half day at the office
and wore his Bates sweater, black on red,
with the crossed hockey sticks on it, and raked beside me
in the back yard, and tumbled in the leaves with me,
laughing , and carried me, laughing, my hair full of leaves,
to the kitchen window
where my mother could see us, and smile, and motion
to set me down, afraid I would fall and be hurt.
4
Kicking the leaves today, as we walk home together
from the game, among the crowds of people
with their bright pennants, as many and bright as leaves,
my daughter’s hair is the red-yellow color
of birch leaves, and she is tall like a birch,
growing up, fifteen, growing older; and my son
flamboyant as maple, twenty,
visits from college, and walks ahead of us, his step
springing, impatient to travel
the woods of the earth. Now I watch them
from a pile of leaves beside this clapboard house
in Ann Arbor, across from the school
where they learned to read,
as their shapes grow small with distance, waving,
and I know that I
diminish, not them, as I go first
into the leaves, taking
the way they will follow, Octobers and years from now.
5
This year the poems came back, when the leaves fell.
Kicking the leaves, I heard the leaves tell stories,
remembering and therefore looking ahead, and building
the house of dying. I looked up into the maples
and found them, the vowels of bright desire.
I thought they had gone forever
while the bird sang I love you, I love you
and shook its black head
from side to side, and its red eye with no lid,
through years of winter, cold
as the taste of chickenwire, the music of cinderblock.
6
Kicking the leaves, I uncover the lids of graves.
My grandfather died at seventy-seven., in March
when the sap was running, and I remember my father
twenty years ago,
coughing himself to death at fifty-two in the house
in the suburbs. Oh how we flung
leaves in the air! How they tumbled and fluttered around us,
like slowly cascading water, when we walked together
in Hamden, before the war, when Johnson’s Pond
had not surrendered to houses, the two of us
hand in hand, and in the wet air the smell of leaves
burning:
in six years I will be fifty-two.
7
Now in fall, I leap and fall
to feel the leaves crush under my body, to feel my body
buoyant in the ocean of leaves, the night of them,
night heaving with death and leaves, rocking like the ocean.
Oh this delicious falling into the arms of leaves,
into the soft laps of leaves!
Face down, I swim into the leaves, feathery,
breathing the acrid odor of maple, swooping
in long glides to the bottom of October —
where the farm lies curled against the winter, and soup steams
its breath of onion and carrot
onto damp curtains and windows; and past the windows
I see the tall bare maple trunks and branches, the oak
with its few brown weathery remnant leaves,
and the spruce trees, holding their green.
Now I leap and fall, exultant, recovering
from death, on account of death, in accord with the dead,
the smell and taste of leaves again,
and the pleasure, the only long pleasure, of taking a place
in the story of leaves.

Pretty Photos

Just some recent photos from the last days of September and first day of October.

Leaves in our backyard.

Monarch Butterfly. I love this photo. And they are still visiting the garden!

Mittineague Park, West Springfield. Down the street from where we live.

Gooseberry Farms. Down the street from where we live.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Recent sunrise on a walk with Freddy.

Mittineague Park.

Zinnia. Beautiful, Bruce!

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

A Garden Needs Weeding

Yellow Tiger Swallowtail
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
In my garden
I am
Weeding
I know not the names of the weeds
They surround my plants
I do know my back and leg muscles
Will ache the next day
I am on my knees
Two hours on my knees
I think this  is a form of prayer
Man On Knees Weeding
There is
The smell of basil
The smell of tomatoes
The smell of mint
Parsley
Thyme
Oregano
This all happened
On Saturday, late morning
Cloudy and breezy
I am filling a pail with weeds
My heart fills with Joy
I sing a new song
“You will be like a well-watered garden,
Like a spring whose waters never fail”
My hands are full of weeds
The garden grows more beautiful
This is why I worked
In the garden, to see
Myself weeding, letting go
Letting God direct me
This is a story about love
This is a story about growth
This is a story about beauty
Stay a bit longer
Listen
To wings of the butterfly flapping
The wings of the hummingbird whirling
Do you hear
Do you see
This all happened
On Saturday
On Sunday I rested

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

I AM

On Friday
In Springfield, Massachusetts
I waited in the waiting room
At the urologist’s office.
I waited and I worried.
I prayed and I meditated.
I said my Mantra.
I said the great I Am.
There were a handful of us there
Waiting with our masks on;
Our face-coverings protecting us
From the virus. I was told
I had a number of large kidney stones.
The shock wave procedure did not work
And here I sat worrying, wondering
If I would need another operation.
My mind wandered as I waited.
I asked myself what is the meaning of life?
Jesus said “You must love
The Lord your God with all your heart:
All your soul, and all your mind.”
This is the first and greatest commandment.
A second is equally important:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
And I remembered this:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry
About your life, what you will eat or drink;
Or about your body, what you will wear.”
Someone calls out my name, “Bruce.”
And I remember this:
“I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me
Shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The physicians assistant says,
“Bruce, there is not much we can do now.
The kidney stone is too deep for surgery.
Let’s wait six months. If pain and problems arise
We will try shock wave therapy again.”
We don’t shake hands and I can see only
His eyes and I say Thank You.
And this I remember leaving
The waiting room, “I am the light
Of the world. Whoever follows me
Will not walk in darkness,
But will have the light of life.”
I return home to my other guiding light;
My wife, Susan, and our dog Freddy.
I go outside to our garden.
Freddy following me.
I see a Tiger Swallowtail.
And all is well here.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

Portrait Of A Young Woman

Lauren. Grand Niece. Scholar Athlete.

Christmas Eve. 2019/

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Portrait Of A Young Woman

My grand niece.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Good Advice; Your Words Matter

Here’s some great advice from my friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee:

“Here’s a little secret for writers: The way to write authentically is to pay attention to your regular life.

“I have written three books, one Bible study, and thousands of blog posts. But it took me a while to get in touch with The Regular.

“When I took that one simple step, everything about my writing changed.

“It’s like this: we can look around at our regular life and see it as quotidian and boring. That’s true whether you live on a cul-de-sac in Denver, or a farm in northwest Iowa. We hesitate to share from our own experiences and places because we’re afraid others won’t relate. Then, we water it down with generalities, and the life gets sucked out.

“But when I began to OWN my particular stories and places, an interesting paradox revealed itself — my regular life was what made my story both unique AND universally understood. Because when I explored my REGULAR life, all of the worries, fears, emotions, dreams, boredom, doubts, pain, anger, apathy, joy, and hope began to emerge from it.

“This is how you find your magic. You begin in the place where your bare feet roam, under the sky that domes over your head. Start with Place. Start with Home. Start with Regular. Start with your own weird thoughts, fumblings, and ponderings that emerge in your grocery store, church, back yard, bathroom, hospital, counselor’s office, cemetery, school gymnasium. Excavate the feelings underneath the places. The excavating ALWAYS starts when you put the spade under the dirt directly in front of you. Then, you’ll discover whatever it is that makes your story YOURS.

“As a writer, this is your ultimate strength. Write the stories only you can write. That’s how you find your style.”

This reminds me of a poem by Mary Oliver:

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

The path
Is a doorway
Follow me

To wonder
In fourth grade
We learn

Words matter
Susan and I
Bridges Together volunteers

In class
We read and write
Talk and laugh

Create art and friendships
Student Sabina whispers to me
“Susan is so beautiful”

Indeed she is
Inside and out
Her idea

To bring to class
Bushels of apples
For the students

And teachers and volunteers
Student Eva asks me
“May I have another apple?”

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

 

About October

I began the month with great expectations. Read the Bible daily. Practice yoga daily. Write daily. This I didn’t accomplish.

But Susan and I did begin a new season of volunteering in the Bridges Together Program .

Here are two of our students–4th graders.

I made some delicious food.

Here is a meatloaf with mushroom gravy.

Blueberry Scones.

Cranberry-Walnut Scones.

A Berry Galette.

Fig Chutney, which was so good served with chicken and oven-roasted Gen Tso’s cauliflower.

And since we have both fighting colds this past week, chicken soup.

Susan made a wonderful white chocolate cake. YUM!

One night we went out for dinner at 99 Restaurant and I had a sweet potato crusted haddock. I tried to replicate it at home with cod. Not as good, but still special.

Our garden continued to bring us great joy.

As did our Freddy. And Susan continued to sponsor the Nepali children in soccer.

I also had the opportunity to photograph my friend Beth and her family. I photographed her family last winter and I photographed her wedding a number of years ago.

 

And my friend Hajer.

And here is your humble author and friend. A self-portrait with my better half from October 3. She is my rock and inspiration. She is helping me get through some medical issues; this week I am having the first of two or three operations to remove kidney stones. Earlier in the month I thought I might have one as I have had them before; my back hurt and there was some blood in my urine. A CT Scan and Cystoscopy this month revealed two large stones and numerous small ones.

The long and short of all this is I AM reading the Bible, practicing yoga, praying, writing every day for now on. Thank You Susan for your continued inspiration. I love you. Keep smiling.

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.