Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘spring’

The Thaw

“Snow on the tulips.”

Like the Mighty Mohawk River just north of here, my life had been frozen since early winter. My wife’s passing in mid-December was preceded by a mind-numbing, spirit-draining six-week death bed vigil. Five months later, life is beginning to thaw.

“They say the first year is tough,” a colleague and friend imparted, “a year of firsts. First birthday, first anniversary, first Christmas.”
Here now I move through my first spring. The first of the tulips we planned and planted together. The first of the crocuses we would thrill to together each spring. First Easter dinner at daughter’s. First Valentine’s Day.

One could hardly choose a better time, were we able to choose such things, than early winter for one’s death. For me, winter is a time of silent beauty. Of harsh and austere yet uplifting and exhilarating landscapes. Not the toils of summer, but the tasks of winter, which seem more like little challenges to our will and stamina and Yankee stick-to-it spirit. The season also lends itself well to more temperate pastimes, like couch-sitting and window seat bird-watching and marathons of black and white theater serials. If one is a bit frozen oneself, with a need to lay low for a while, it is the perfect time to do so.

Writing- and journaling, have been a part of my life for decades, and during my low times I would occasionally yearn for a blank page and a few quiet moments, to literally compose my thoughts. My blogs are partly hobby-writing, partly diary and correspondence, partly artful expression, and I felt they were being neglected. For all my Armchair Zen and Chow Dog Zen I couldn’t reconcile the real world around me with the virtual world of the web and the fictional world of my dog’s imaginary doppelganger. Writing about personified dogs for my own amusement seemed pretty low on a list heavily influenced by duty and logic, perspective and priority, protocol and propriety. I couldn’t imagine how one could make good reading or Armchair Zen lessons out of the recounting of personal trials and tribulations.

Then it occurred to me that at some time in the past I started this blog as a way to share such experiences, show the trail markers and reference points, to share my learnings in the navigation of life. The shine of that high ideal, a product of those heady days a decade ago, has lost some presumptuous and arrogant luster over the passing years. Now ACZ often seems no more than the diary of some old hick that flattered himself into thinking this would be of interest to anyone whatsoever. A Geocentric Journal.

Then a new thought arrived at my doorstep. That the very real Here and Now are the very things I sought to address, ponder and share. These ordinary things of an ordinary life. During difficulties I plow ahead, shield raised, shoulders bent, the Celtic Warrior, blinders on, failing to follow the simplest tenets of my own patent-pending Armchair Zen philosophy. Failing to notice and actively support and participate in the world that continues spinning around me at an unaffected rate.

Finally, now, with the thaw, my mind ices-off gradually but steadily as Engleville Pond. We don’t will these events, nor can we ignore them. Earth tilts. Our centrifugal course around the gravity anchor decays at its infinitesimal rate, and the Equinox heralds the arrival of another spring for the northern hemisphere. The smells of warming soil, rain and mud are intoxicating, inebriating essences. The angle of the sun, the time of its setting, the putting away of snowshoes act as catalysts somehow, even for the oldest Armchair Zen philosopher, even for the weariest of souls. There is an undeniable instinct simply to breathe and stretch and strive, and it dwells always, even in the darkest cellars of a mind in the deep freeze of a northern winter, even in the winters of the heart.

And now these charts I share.
I am emerging from the thaw, the breakup of the ice pack, somewhat unsure just where I am. As if awakening amid the everyday things of the cargo hold. Have I fainted from the fever? Have I been Shanghaied?
On deck I hear the voices of familiar hands, their calls resonating and relayed from stem to stern;
She’s coming about!”
I’m in the dark belly of the ship. I hear the clatters of the rigging and I am unsure of the heading to which we bear. Indeed, as unsure as I am of the heading we bear from. As unsure as I am of who I am, yet somehow I feel safe and sure and strong and know without conscious reason that this is the who and where I am supposed to be.
She’s coming about!”
I remember a tempest. A trying and fearful time when all hands were flat out and all in.
As I climb the ladder, the morning light catches an epaulet on my shoulder.
I am the Captain, and the sun is rising.



April Piece

Noni among the flowers


Such newfound joy I behold each year
When April’s song bends my ear.
The robins’ whistle by the fence,
The gobble of the turkey thence.
The warblers chatter, the swallows dart
In living, breathing, springing art.

From Earth rises all manner of things,
As if for the deaf April also sings.
First crocuses, Colt’s Foot and shad will bloom,
Then tulips and daffodils vie for room.
Trees, still leafless, seem eager and greener,
As if taking cues from the grass’s demeanor.

The sky looks bluer, the clouds fly higher,
The sun warms our face like the past winter’s fire.
The wind brings with it no freezing strife,
But the essence of growth, the breath of life.
As each day grows longer ‘tween end and start,
So, too, warms and grows hope in the heart.





19 is a big number this year.

19 is on our lips.


The likes of which unseen for the last century.

Yes, the Equinox on the 19th of March.

The earliest in 123 years.

Spring rolls in. Robins and grackles and the tops of tulips.

Nature doesn’t give a fig about the number 19.

Whatever it represents.


Be well,



Tonic Of Spring

Noni among the flowers


How I love the snow.

As Spring returns

As she is wont,

I’m sad to see it go.


Then “O! What’s this?”

Birds in red and yellow and blue!

And reaching up from Earth,

Crocuses in every hue!


And green!

For months the color only of pines,

Now returning to this yard of mine,

And in the trees it can be seen.


Tractors battle mud in fields

To carve the furrows

Rich and dark,

A sooner start for better yields.


Eagles nest. Osprey, too.

Foxes bare their kits in dens.

Skunks stretch from their winter’s sleep,

To join else other denizens.


In a month the sky will glow,

To warm and copper-tone my skin.

I will be chagrined to part

With this sweet Spring I’ve come to know.



Seek peace,





One Perfect Day

Noni among the flowers

It seems we get this one perfect day in the spring.

The temperatures rise and we can go out comfortably, perhaps a light wrap is all we need.

The sun breaks through the spring rain clouds, and shines on the greening Earth.

Birds sing. Hyacinths and daffodils and colt’s foot and crocuses bloom gaily.

And then it’s gone.

Next day, all the flies come out, accompanied by the ticks.

Mud tracks everywhere.

Before you know it, someone is complaining about the summer.

One perfect day.

Demanding? Perfectionists? Ultra-sensitive?

Next thing I know, folks will be complaining about the heat and humidity, the mosquitoes, the lawns we can’t keep up with.

The memory of that one perfect day fades quickly, and is lost in all the terrible days of summer.

After suffering a lot of sunshine and birdsong and camping and fishing and relaxing, you’d think folks would be glad the awful summer is over.

September first, or Labor Day, someone will turn to me and say “Next thing you know, it’ll be snowing.”

And I’ll be glad this nasty summer business is behind us so we can get back to freezing and shoveling.


Seek peace,



Circle of Seasons


Schoharie Creek Sunrise

It’s great to live in a place that has such changes of season. Sure, idyllic life on tropical islands has its appeal, but I’ve never known that so won’t miss it I guess.

Moving through the seasons is like an annual reminder of the larger circle in which we linger, that of our own mortal lives. Metaphors speak of the “springtime” of one’s life, call out May-December marriages, and observe happenings that occur “once in a blue moon”.

I’ve recently chosen not to choose a favorite season.

Little Bit on the Cape

Lots of folks love summer, our own short piece of idyllic tropical life, doled out in 3-month stints. Shirtsleeves or less, the smell of mown grass, flowers, swimming, vacations and camping. Naps in the hammock, afternoons by the lake, long days with sunset stretching the light out ’til nine o’clock. What’s not to love about summer?

Winter does nothing by half-measures. People love winter or despise it and rarely fall between the two extremes. Some will ski and ice-fish and snowshoe and snowmobile gleefully through the most inhumane conditions with mile-wide smiles and bright eyes gleaming beneath frosty eyebrows. Others will build warm fires and libraries, and take up origami and macrame, fly tying and model-building, one-eyed tv watching and after-lunch couch-napping.

A day on Duane Lake




Spring! Spring has the heart and eye of every poet born to the art. Spring leaps to mind in metaphors for everything from circles and cycles to hopes and dreams. From the embryonic starts of life itself to the romance needed to keep the chain going. Change! No more dark, no more brown, but green and yellow! No more snow-covered ground but…well, mud-covered ground (especially in the kitchen)..but soon to be green!




Noni among the flowers

Alas, there is Fall. Autumn has so many colors, smells and flavors. We enjoy the Earth’s bounty as all around us she prepares to mothball the northern hemisphere and concentrate on summer in Australia. Noisy flocks of Canada geese and silent flocks of European starlings assemble overhead to begin their southern trek. Apples are ready to fall from trees, pumpkins are ready to be spared from frosts only to be sacrificed to Halloween.

As the air cools with these advancing autumn evenings, our instincts tell us to prepare the dens for the winter.

I don’t remember when it began, maybe it’s a past-halfway thing in life, but fall finds me reminded of the unwavering march of time. As we stare into the barrel of another winter, I am reminded of life’s own circle.



Maxie & the milkweed

We each are born in late winters, grow through our springs, enjoy the short summer of marriage; children, living and loving, learning. As each year passes we find ourselves closer to the autumn of our lives, and as we vow to enjoy every moment of it, we may turn around one day to discover the trees are bare.



You can regret and mourn the approach of winter.

Or you can learn to fish through the ice.


Be at peace,



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