Tag Archives: spirituality and nature

Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt.3) by Patricia Karamesines

Desert storm with rainbow

This is the third part of a three-part entry. To read part one, go here. To read part two, go here.

Glancing at Belle, I can tell she needs water, and soon. I lead her away from the beaver ponds before she’s tempted beyond her ability to resist to drink from its giardia-laced teapots. I hurry her to the shade of a big juniper, another of my stops, and sit down in the dirt beneath a broken branch that hangs across the trail. Obviously, Belle needs more water than I can provide by cupping my hand. I relent and pour her a drink in the canteen lid. She laps four or five lids full then lies down in the shade without my prompting, her shoulder pressing against my knee. She pants rapidly but seems to have gotten enough to drink, refusing another offered lid.

Looking around inside the juniper’s shadow, I notice a single penstemon blossom, looking like a wind sock on a pole, glowing red against the litter. Its color leaps to the eye from a backdrop of live blue-green and dead brown juniper stubble; last year’s curled, tawny oak leaves; green wisps of grass growing in a clump; spider webs clouded with dirt and other debris; and round, purplish-blue juniper berries dropped into grey-toned soil speckled with blacker grains, probably of decayed organic material. From somewhere up-canyon, a canyon wren’s laugh pipes its downward-falling scale. Continue reading Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt.3) by Patricia Karamesines

Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 2) by Patricia Karamesines

Brown's Canyon.
This canyon is a tributary canyon to Crossfire Canyon..

Part Two of a three-part post. To read Part One, go here.

Nearing the grove, I find the trail leading into it paved with a light mosaic of shed brown and yellow leaves. I resist the impulse to resent fall’s steady encroachment into summer’s back edge. When I reach the interior of the woods, Belle, very thirsty, trots ahead to a beaver-felled trunk, our customary bench, and plops down to wait for me to offer her water. I open my waist pack to discover that I’ve forgotten to bring her little plastic water dish. Thinking about how that might have happened, I can’t even remember why it isn’t in the pack. Maybe I took it out of the pack when I refilled her water bottle in the kitchen then forgot to put it back in. This is the kind of mistake I make when I’m worn down. I’m unhappy about this error and try to figure out what to do. I cup my hand and pour water into it, continuing to pour as Belle laps water off my palm. Looking at her face, I can tell it isn’t enough. The cap on my canteen is big and will probably hold 4 ounces of water, but I don’t want to offer the lid of my canteen to my dog’s tongue unless the need becomes urgent. Continue reading Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 2) by Patricia Karamesines

Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 1) by Patricia Karamesines

Crossfire in the Fall

What a mystery is the air, what an enigma to these human senses! [T]he air is the most pervasive presence I can name, enveloping, embracing, and caressing me both inside and out, moving in ripples along my skin, flowing between my fingers, swirling around my arms and thighs, rolling in eddies along the roof of my mouth, slipping ceaselessly thought the throat and trachea to fill the lungs, to feed my blood, my heart, my self. I cannot act, cannot speak, cannot think a single thought without the participation of this fluid element. I am immersed in its depths as surely as fish are immersed in the sea. 

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Part One of a three-part post.

August 24, 2013. When I head out today for Crossfire Canyon, I step into a world in motion. Currents of surface wind, smooth in texture, cool to the touch, flood out of the south, curling around every solid body be it person, fencepost, or stone, leaning into every curve in the terrain. Weeds and spindly desert sunflowers undulate in it. As I pass my neighbor’s orchard, waves of wind sound in the apple and pear trees’ leaves, oceanic in temperament, noising like breakers crushing themselves against sand.

Here on White Mesa, the character of the desert air ranges widely from spring’s sandpaper winds that rattle windows and flake shingles off roofs, to the sudden dust-ups of sand spouts or dust devils, to dead still, the odd hour where the air’s quiescence reminds me of a motionless pool deposited in a stream bed after a flash flood has rumbled through. Today’s wind surges without half smothering me. I’ve walked into mesa blasts that grapple with me for my breath. This wind is respiration friendly. Continue reading Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 1) by Patricia Karamesines

And I Did Eat by Jonathon Penny

Journal_of_Emerging_Infectious_Diseases_Jan_2013 pic2

The orchard offered fruit,
And I did eat.

The field imparted grain,
And I did graze.

The farm gave up the calf,
And I consumed.

Her mother furnished milk
To quench my thirst.

The market tendered goods
Both fair and fine,

Encumbrances unique
To tempt my tongue

And fill my eyes and ears
With vague desires.

The bending world laid bait,
And I did eat.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

WIZ Profile-1 Jonathon PennyJonathon has taught literature on two continents, and has read, written, and conversed about it on three. He has published poetry, fiction, and reviews in Dialogue, Sunstone, Victorian Violet Press, Gangway Magazine, Mormon Artist, Mormon Midrashim, Mormon Review, Switchback, and WIZ, and was anthologized in Tyler Chadwick’s (Ed.) Fire in the Pasture.

Illustrating painting: Pieter Cornelisz van Rijck (1558?1628), Still Life with Two Figures (1622). Oil on canvas (123.8 cm × 148.6 cm).

Goat Paths by Patricia Karamesines

Echinopsis_Atacamensis_and_the_Milky_Way

We are the Day Society:

See how we skirt surefooted as goats

the Crevasse of Desire.

God is in the well-placed step that bears us above Death,

while Beauty weeps for us beyond the goat paths.

 

By day, the way is clear, so complete,

the ground floor and ceiling blue.

We see where we are and name it alone and only.

On our tongue, world settles into a few words—

unanswered, unanswerable shouting.

 

Then sunset’s splinters—orange, mauve—

 fade to night’s raw transparency

and the first call of a star.

 

Perfect, calling silence, star following star

like deer stepping from shadow or heavy forest

into the dark’s open, stream-curled meadows.

 

Now we’re in sterner metaphor,

the embrace of the abyss,

brought by goat paths

to the brink of wilderness.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Patricia KaramesinesPatricia Karamesines has won numerous awards for her poetry, essays, and fiction, including awards from the University of Arizona, the Utah Arts Council, and the Utah Wilderness Association. She is the author of The Pictograph Murders (Signature Books 2004), an award-winning mystery novel set in the Four Corners area.  Her poetry appears in the anthology Fire in the Pasture (Peculiar Pages 2011).   She writes for the Mormon arts and culture blog A Motley Vision and runs the nature writing blog Wilderness Interface Zone that advocates for the “greening of human language”.  She has taught English classes at USU-Eastern off and on since 2006 and now tutors English students for the NASNTI Grant program–a job she dearly loves. She lives with her husband and three children a stone’s throw from beleaguered Recapture Canyon, has put in plenty of foot-time in the canyon, and is currently completing a work of creative nonfiction about her strange and wonderful experiences there.

The Mechanics of Creation by Scott Hales

Model T Ford by O'Brien

“Darwin’s book was rather heavy, but by close application, the young student thought he learned what the scientist was ‘driving at.’”—Nephi Anderson, Dorian

Elder Joseph F. Smith, Jr. knows the Ford Model T as thoroughly as he knows his scriptures, and he knows those better than any man in the Church. So, with the automobile in neutral, he has little trouble guiding Brother Anderson through the process of setting the throttle and choke, adjusting the spark advance, and safely operating the hand-crank.

“You always crank with the left hand?” Brother Anderson asks after the demonstration.

“Always!” says Elder Smith. “If you use your right hand, you could lose your thumb when the engine backfires.”

“Oh, dear,” says Brother Anderson. He removes his glasses and polishes them with a pocket handkerchief.

“The Lord has provided us with a wonderful machine,” Elder Smith says. “Respect it!”

Elder Smith spends the next hour drilling Brother Anderson on the proper care and use of the Model T. They discuss the four cylinder engine, the flywheel magneto, the timer and trembler coils. He demonstrates how to use the foot pedals and handbrake, offers his opinion on gasoline and ethanol. After Brother Anderson successfully starts the engine three times, Elder Smith removes his coat, rolls up his sleeves, and shows how to change a flat tire.

“Extraordinary,” says Brother Anderson.

***
With Brother Anderson behind the wheel of his new Model T, the two men bump their way down 700 East. From the passenger’s seat, Elder Smith offers instruction about speed control, braking, and how to safely pass slow-moving vehicles. Over the sputter of the engine, he says, “Remember that you have dominion over the road. Nothing matches you in strength, speed, and mechanical sophistication. Even the streetcar, with its petty reliance on cable and track, is no match for you!”

Brother Anderson nods his head and tries to look attentive.

“Even so,” continues Elder Smith, “your dominion must be righteous. You must not lord over the road. ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.’ I have seen it happen before! Just the other day—turn here!”

Applying the brake, Brother Anderson turns haltingly onto 900 South. To his left, he thrills to see the magisterial trees of Liberty Park. With a gloved finger, he points to the park’s entrance, a wide thoroughfare flanked by two stone pedestals. “Shall we take a spin through the park?” he asks.

“Yes,” says Elder Smith, “but I must be at my office in thirty minutes.”

***
Liberty Park is full of late-summer picnickers lazing in the noonday shade. Brother Anderson steers the car south through its tree-lined lanes and admires how the landscapers have molded and shaped nature to accentuate its inborn beauty. As they pass the zoo, Brother Anderson asks Elder Smith if he has taken his children to see it.

“No,” says Elder Smith.

“You really should,” says Brother Anderson. “The elephants are a sight to see.”

“Yes,” says Elder Smith. “I saw one in a circus once. When I was a child, that is.”

“You really should take your children,” insists Brother Anderson. “My children love the zoo. Have you ever seen a chimpanzee?”

“In England.”

“Amazing creatures,” says Brother Anderson. “They almost persuade me to believe those theories about pre-Adamite man.”

Elder Smith scoffs. “You don’t suggest…?”

“Not necessarily,” says Brother Anderson. “Elder Grant and I attended a lecture in Liverpool on Darwin’s theories some years ago. They’re rather compelling.”

“Let me remind you of your Bible, Brother Anderson,” says Elder Smith. “‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.’”

“Certainly,” says Brother Anderson, “but is there no greater metaphor of man’s eternal progression, from lowly intelligence to divinity itself, than the monkey that evolves into a man? Does it not say in Abraham, ‘And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed’? Could it be that pre-Adamite man was merely disobedient…”

“And I suppose next you will tell me that these pre-Adamites lived with us in premortality. Perhaps they even pursued each other romantically, like those spirits in your storybooks.”

“Well, no…”

“Such,” says Elder Smith, “is like saying that a machine as sophisticated as this automobile has the capacity to make itself. No, Brother Anderson. Man had a creator just as the automobile has Henry Ford!”

“I am only bringing this up as a matter of speculation,” says Brother Anderson. “The chimpanzee is no doubt of a lesser order than we who are created in the image of the Father. But still, face to face with a chimpanzee…”

“Remind me,” says Elder Smith, “to give you a copy of my father’s statement on the origins of man when you drop me off at the office.”

***
With his hat brim low across his forehead, Elder Smith walks hand-in-hand with his daughters through the strange noises and smells of the zoo in Liberty Park. They see an elephant, a lion, some exotic birds, and two chimpanzees. The girls squeal with delight as one chimpanzee peels a banana and smiles at them. “Look, father!” says the youngest daughter. “He eats just like us.”

Elder Smith watches the monkey chew its food. The way its mouth moves, the way it carelessly tosses the peel to the floor of the cage, seems so vulgar and common. Elder Smith stares at the beast until it locks eyes with him. For a moment, he recognizes something in the monkey’s grimace. He gasps as it proudly shows its brown teeth and pink gums.

“Look, Papa!” his daughter shouts. “He looks like Uncle!”

“Silly goose,” he says. “He doesn’t look a thing like Uncle. Uncle is bald.”

“But he does! He does!” says the girl.

“No,” Elder Smith says, looking at the beast. “No. No. No.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Scott Hales1Scott Hales does not usually write fiction, but when he does, he tries to keep it around 1000 words. He blogs at A Motley Vision, Dawning of a Brighter Day, and Modern Mormon Men. He also maintains a personal Mormon literature blog, The Low-Tech World. When he isn’t writing short short stories or blogging or parenting, he is writing his doctoral dissertation on the Mormon novel.

Picture of Model T Ford by Don O’Brien via Wikimedia Commons Images.

The Gardener Finds Out Death by Adam G

800px-Apple_trees_covered_with_ice

In Spring the gardener finds out death–
What fruit tree limbs did not overwinter.
Some stems twig and bud and bloom,
Some stems splinter.

I lost a limb some seasons back
From my own flesh–my firstborn daughter.
Time healed the break, but I still lack
The apples of her laughter.

__________________________________________________

Adam lives with his wife and children in central New Mexico near the ranch his great-grandfather lost in the Great Depression. He is a member of the www.jrganymede.com blog.His oldest daughter, Betsey Pearl, died of cancer in the spring of 2005.

The happen stance by Patricia Karamesines

800px-Japanese_-_Fuchi_with_Hunting_Hawk border added
Fuchi bowl (Japanese)

This is a rewrite of an earlier post published here on WIZ.

One dark night in January of 2010 Mark and I made a last minute run to the only grocery store within 22 miles. On our return trip home, I drove with the SUV’s highbeams on, because we live on a rural road where, even in winter, we’re likely to come across a wide variety of animals on the pavement, anything from cats, rabbits, deer, mice, coyotes, and foxes to neighbors’ loose horses and cattle. In spring and summer, the variety of animal-on-road is even wider.

As we arced along a curve, the vehicle’s lights splashed against something moving on the road. A small cottontail had emerged from cover, probably looking for something to eat at the road’s edges where the unusually heavy and long-lingering snow had melted back from the asphalt’s edges.

“A bunny,” I said. The rabbit hopped straight for us and I slowed down. As the vehicle edged to a stop, we saw another flash in the headlights, high up in the air to our right. A great horned owl dropped out of the darkness into the swath of our headlights, swinging its talons out toward the rabbit, working its wings to correct its aim.

“Whoa!” we both said, surprised by the sudden drama. The cottontail feinted right, seemingly away from the owl but still heading toward the car. The owl hesitated midair, quite possibly blinded by our headlights, then tumbled to the ground a good two feet off its away-running target. For a moment, the bird sat on the roadside, staring after the rabbit. It looked like it was considering giving chase but, glancing at us, seemed to decide the risk wasn’t worth it. The opportunity had passed. With another flash of wings, the big bird lifted away into the darkness above the highbeams. Continue reading The happen stance by Patricia Karamesines

2013 Spring haiku: Come join the dance!

800px-Winterling-005 purple crocuses

In my part of the spring world, the arrival of the vernal equinox has not felt much different from the arrival of the autumnal equinox. The green flame is burning unusually low for this time of year. Winds have been abrasive and cold. Usually, the Big Green is well on its way by now, but only the dandelions are turning it up.

So I was wondering–how is spring coming along where you are? (For those of you who are moving into spring, that is.) I thought that it might be fun to give and receive reports of spring’s arrival in the form of haiku. That is, any excuse seems good for starting a haiku chain. Tracking spring’s approach–like news stations track Santa Claus’s progression toward their position–lends itself especially well to a sequence of meditative post-it notes.

What is a haiku? A haiku is a classical Japanese poetical form, usually 17 syllables all in a single line in Japanese, but I understand that there are longer and shorter forms.  In English, a haiku often takes the form of one short line of 5 syllables, a long line of 7 syllables, then another short line of 5 syllables, but there are many paths–pick what pleases you.  Often, haiku mention the season under scrutiny–in this case spring, obviously.  If you wish to learn more about haiku, you can go here or here.

For this chain, I’ll post an opener that I brought up out of Crossfire Canyon yesterday when I went down to look for spring there. Imagine my surprise to see that not even the wild buckwheat are bucking up yet. They’re usually the first flower to bloom, after stork’s bill. Then, the wild phlox.

But yesterday, nada.

Or only slightly more than nada.

After I post my haiku, the chain is open for business. Simply post your haiku in the comments below the post. You can riff off the previous haiku or totally cowboy it. Those of you who aren’t springing it up but are actually falling–don’t feel left out. Remind us that hemispheres have minds of their own. Just have fun.

Me:

Spring flickers low in
root embers and cold pith, in
rare red sparks of ant.

Go!

Degrees of Coyoteness by Patricia Karamesines

Coyote_arizona

This is a rewrite of a post published here on WIZ that I’m including in my book Crossfire Canyon. I’m posting the rewrite today in response to finding a bounty-killed coyote on this morning’s walk.

April 8, 2009. As I walked out of a nearby canyon last week along a trail where I had previously encountered a curious coyote, my nose detected gases given off by putrefaction. Somewhere nearby, bacteria were at work breaking down formerly living tissue to simpler matter, dispersing an organism’s worldly good to its biological heritors.

To this we must all come. But who has come to it now, and where?

Walking deeper into the field of decomposition gases, I searched the ground, guessing what I would find. I was approaching the gravel pit, a dumping ground for domestic and wild animal carcasses and the scene of occasional war crimes of the sort some people commit against animals. It’s common to find coyote remains around the pit, along with elk and deer carcasses, tree prunings, the ashes of bonfires, articles of clothing, and aerosol cans–the residue of “huffing” parties.

My eyes had difficulty picking out the body of the coyote because his full winter regalia of desert-soils-hued fur blended in well where he had been dumped against the weathered juniper barricade a rancher erected decades ago to prevent cattle from wandering. I’m guessing the coyote was an adult male because of the animal’s size. Wind ruffled the luxuriant fur, and my own hand felt drawn to touch. But I didn’t. Touching the coyote might spark a response that under the circumstances I wasn’t prepared to support. Continue reading Degrees of Coyoteness by Patricia Karamesines