At the Start of the New Year

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So now its 2014, a year that has yet to be marked by anything.  Perhaps this will be remembered as the year Obamacare changed healthcare as the New Deal once did for market regulation.  Perhaps it will be the year we see peace in Syria.  Perhaps it will be the year the European market starts to rise.  These are all things that may or may not come to pass on a global scale, but which all carry the tides of history.  For each of us, though, 2014 will be remembered on a different scale.  It will be remembered by the story we write, on a scale both small and large.  So here’s to the new year, my friends.  Here’s to 2014.  May it be joyous.

Limbo Days

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Christmas is truly over, not just for me, but for everyone.  We’re all settling in to the cold days after the holidays, that time spent yearning for spring.

Its been a good break.  I feel rested, and ready for another year.  I’m excited to restart my love affair with words.  And my gardener’s spirit, if I can still claim any such thing, already craves spring.  I’m almost tempted to start looking for daffodils.  Every spring, I make plans for planting fall bulbs.  And each fall, buy the time I’ve gotten my feet back under me, the season has passed.  I plan to plant on time this year, though, and have the plants happily in the ground as soon as the sun shines warmly enough.  I fell asleep last night tossing around lines for a poem, and figuring out a way to shorten the green house so the wind won’t blow it over.  I hope I’ve remembered its structure correctly.  We’ll see in a few months.  A few more months of winter.

This morning started out with glorious sunshine, so bright and steady you could almost taste the warmth.  There were scatterings of cloud cover, but in the afternoon, there was a somewhat larger patch of light gray.  To my utter shock, I saw it begin to snow.  The flurry grew into an outright blizzard, dusting the ground white in mere minutes.  The wind conducted the thick clusters of flakes the way a conductor might direct strains of music from his orchestra.  The clouds blew over after some minutes, and I reveled in the falling snow as I watched the brilliant blue reclaim the sky.  I found myself staring upwards, as heavy snow fell from a clear blue sky.  It makes one remember how high up the clouds really are, even though we have nothing up there to give us scale.  The clouds had moved on, but the snow they’d released had yet to make its way to the ground.

Book Review: Ender’s Game

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by:  Orson Scott Card

This book gained a lot of press from the release of the movie a few weeks ago, and it has been highly recommended to me by several friends.  So I decided to venture cautiously into the science fiction I studiously avoid.  It was well worth it.  It is not for nothing that I have heard rave reviews.

In Ender’s Game, the human race has mastered interplanetary travel, and has begun explorations.  In the process we have come into conflict with the buggers, an extraterrestrial, insect-like life-form.  Previous invasions were repelled by luck and military genius, but the International Fleet (IF) knows that they are drastically outnumbered, and may not be able to repel a third invasion.  The IF has thus sent a force to the bugger homeworlds, to destroy the enemy once and for all.  But they need a new military commander, one as brilliant as Mazer Rackham.  The IF has been testing and training child geniuses at the Battle School.  They think Ender Wiggins may be the one.

From the day he is chosen by the IF, Ender is constantly being manipulated by the higher-ups.  He is used and trained ruthlessly, in ways designed to break him.  It is all for the good of humanity, but the cost to Ender is high.  He is always isolated, and he will never again be able to lead a normal life.

Ender’s Game is thrilling.  It is intense, and it is reflective.  Ender’s cutting intelligence takes us through the twisting plot, diving from space, back to Earth, and to far out asteroids where we see across the universe in the computer simulations.  This book is utterly wrenching in its plot and emotion, as well as in the questions it raises.  Reading Ender’s story, we are forced to ask what the survival of humankind is worth, and whether the greatest evils are simply misunderstandings.  It draws a constant response from the reader, and it is not one that is easily forgotten.

Five stars *****

Enchanted

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Enchanted- The magic of sunrise that pulls me in, capturing my heart so that I despair every time the bus turns West, away from the rise of light.

A few days ago, my camera and I walked around a small lake near our house, and I was delighted to find a sheen of ice covering sections of it.  Here are some pictures from a mini park on the lake shore.

Sunset reflected in icy lake

Sunset reflected in icy lake

Little park by the lake.

Little park by the lake.

A male Mallard duck beneath the bridge.

A male Mallard duck beneath the bridge.

A pair of sneakers hanging off an elictrical wire.  Goodness knows how they got there!

A pair of sneakers hanging off an elictrical wire. Goodness knows how they got there!

 

I can forgive winter some of its gloom in thanks for its allowing me to see sunrise, and sunset.  On the bus to and from home, I am gifted with the sight of the day beginning and ending, curtain call and finale.  The world feels so much more human in winter, away from the shows of bloom and more prominent rhythms of nature.  In winter, when the sun sets, all that’s left are the streetlights and commuters on their concrete highways.

Carpet of Stars

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A remnant of summer.  Remember those days?  Ah, yes.  Warm air, dreamy air.

A wistful thought on summer’s night:

“Perhaps the lights are out to shine”.

I gaze into darkness after twilight

But none of the orange or yellow is mine.

For the streetlights and lamps glow,

And intruding rays flood from doorways,

The artificial light from indoor windows

Is not what I seek among night’s dark haze.

Leaning from the balcony, peering into the dark night

Shying from the wash of light that pours from the kitchen window.

Warm bright light from reality, defined and not of the vague night.

Staring hard at the blurry blackness, searching for the telltale glow.

At first there’s nothing to be seen, seconds of watching only gray grass.

Mounds and stalks fold gently over; but those pale, persistent shadows

Remain still, unaware of anticipation; eternity of dark as seconds pass

Until night is lit with the first flash, followed by more lights in grassy cradles.

They blink into existence, yellow, bright, then they softly fade.

The winter stars are so pure, so cold- unaffected by the chirp of crickets, or the haze of summer dreams.  The cold seems to bring them out somehow, not just the lack of clouds.  Looking up into the universe, framed against the bare trees, makes me think of the line in The Golden Compass, in which Serafina Pekkala describes the star-tingle, the song of the stars, that the witches feel along with the cold.

I’ve been feeling around blog world again these past few weeks, and there’s nothing to lose from posting again.  We’ll see how long this urge to blog lasts this time.  I’m excited, though.  I think starting this blog up again will motivate me to write on a more regular basis.  The more I write, the more I want to write.  Well, no point in waiting till tomorrow.  Up we go…

On the Fourth Day of July

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Everyone was home for the fourth, and it was the perfect opportunity to check if the wild blueberries on a favored hiking trail were ripe or not.  We set out after some hullaballo, made no wrong turns (that was a close one), and arrive around 10:30.  The blueberries weren’t quite ripe yet, but there were plenty of green berries on the abundant bushes.  We did search out a few tasty ones, though they were on the tart side.  The majority should ripen in a few weeks, hopefully when our relatives arrive so we can show off the beautiful scenery of our woodland.

A cluster of berries that my camera disliked:

One of many patches of blueberry bushes that abound on this trail:

The view from the overlook:

Of course, it isn’t really the 4th of July without fireworks.  I went with a friend and her younger brother, and without any carefully laid plans.  As we started out for the field, my dad stopped beside us and said that if we were to be walking, he could drive us part of the way (her parents watching from the window probably thought she’d hopped willingly into the car of a stranger).  While we were waiting for the sky to darken, we watched the beautiful sunset nature had chosen to regale us with.  There was something very linear about the sunset, all composed along straight lines.  One line was soft, the bottom edge of a cloud that the golden pink light swept below.  Another was defined by contrast, a slight ellipse of dark gray-blue against the dreamy, golden pink.  It seemed to snatch to moment you looked away to change, and we were constantly gasping and alerting each other to the renewed spectacle.

Eventually, the twilight drew in the last of its skirts and the night darkened, lit now by the vendors’ carts and the floodlights upon the band’s stage.  After several false alarms, the Star Spangled Banner was sung and the fireworks began.  There was a great awe in gazing upwards, neck craned toward the flashes of color, the deafening boom of each celabratory explosion on the tail of the previous.

The displays that really took my breath were the ones from which burst forth a shower of golden sparkles, slower to fade than the rest.  The ones that contained only the gold gave such a strong impression of someone reaching a hand through an opening from behind the clouds and throwing out a handful of celestial glitter that fell slowly to earth, fading softly.  Then, there were those that let loose a flash of royal purple, each purple spark followed by a trail of gold.  On occaision, several of these would be released in quick succession, and it would rain fire upon the night.  It was such an astonishing night, and both my friend and I made comments about the what beauty would abound if it truly rained fire as it did in bursts that night, with a shower of gold, red, and orange sparks falling from the sky, blown slightly by wind as they faded, until only a few bright spots, then two, then just one remaining light from that swarm of sparks, and darkness.  Then it was time to turn your head back to the display of booming color that had never paused.

One of my favorite sights that evening was when a firefly winged its way low across the sky, lighting bravely its own yellow lamp.

Cemetary Sunset

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There’s something of Mars in the color of clouds swept across the sky.

The delicate dabs of cloudy paths invoke an angel’s flight.

The endless palete of the sky features a backdrop of stunning color.

To see it lit by a diamond star invokes an endless wonder.

Never have I seen such a display of light on sunset’s sky.

The brilliance of that colored flame puts to my words the lie.

Pink the color of early dawn, between gray and early sunrise.

Pink brighter than the flower that lit the wood with it’s surprise.

Then there is purple, of contrast cool, also now aflame.

All lit with a fire that not even rain or stiffling heat could tame.

At the center of waving flames is a glowing orange ember.

From this seed would daylight spring each day at sun remembered.

At the ending of the day, with vanguard rife with color,

The sun burned down to this orange fire that not even night could smother.

For in that center of the sunset burned all of this world’s hopes.

They survive the long dim night with those who hold them close.

Hard edges and realities are softened by that smokeless hearth.

All the graveyard guardians are lit by that center of the Earth.

The trees here have more urgency as they watch over paths.

Their presence adds awed reverence; only in darkness do I fear wrath.

Within the border of the fence the light is softer, and the sky.

I see no fire, only pale blue, with a white feather sweeping by.

Despite the pervading sense of peace, my watch keeps ticking still.

The ember dims, and I must go, in face of the hint of chill.

The guardians and their gravestones, unmoving through all time,

Stand beyond the rushing world, here whenever I venture in to rhyme.

This was written as I waited outside for the end-of-the-year movie to start playing.  I was early, so I crossed the street to take a walk in the beautiful cemetary.  (as a note of potential interest, this post marks my blog being officially 1 week behind real life).

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