From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXVII

Musings in Winter: Jerry Dennis

“There’s relief in not having to be outside. No gardening, no mowing the lawn, no tyranny of long daylight hours to fill with productive activity. We rip through summer, burning the hours and tearing up the land. Then snow comes like a bandage, and winter heals the wounds.”

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Art for Winter – Part I of III: Philip Leslie Hale (American, 1865-1931)

Below – “Reading”

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Musings in Winter: Sam Starbuck

“Trains are beautiful. They take people to places they’ve never been, faster than they could ever go themselves. Everyone who works on trains knows they have personalities, they’re like people. They have their own mysteries.”

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Art for Winter – Part II of III: Melbourne H. Hardwick (American, 1857-1916)

Below – “Half Moon Beach, Gloucester”

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A Poem for Today

“May We Meet No Line a Boundary”
By Heather Derr-Smith

Sometimes I return to my mother’s childhood home, believing
I can reclaim it.
Mists rise up off the frozen creek
and the red star of Betelgeuse blinks out.
Pools of snowmelt glitter
violet as the Wyoming iolite. This is her territory, not mine,
her mother’s grave and her father’s.
I track it, the old paths of a past life.
The martin’s pad foot prints the mud,
claws curled into slivers of an unspoken language.
It’s mine now. I’ve nearly caught up with it,
right at the hem of the garment.
The red wing blackbird pivots
and shifts on its tall switch.
At first bright re-ignition of morning light,
the snake hushes in the saltbush
and lifts its rattle to astonish us.

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Art for Winter – Part III of III: Jane Grey (American, contemporary)

Below – “Cold Stream Winter, Enfield, Maine”

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Musings in Winter: Charles Baudelaire

“Isn’t it true that a pleasant house makes winter more poetic, and doesn’t winter add to the poetry of a house?”

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A Second Poem for Today

“Historic Flaws”
By Bianca Stone

I am going to the mountains
where the alternating universe of autumn
descends over you at an erotic squat. Out of that blank
and meaningless Play-Doh of my psychic flesh
I am moving on. I am a pupil of fading antiquity.
Sprawled across the table, in a lament about healthcare
and the ineptitude of The System.
Nothing burns quite like The System. It comes at you
when you ask for help, displaying its super-talons
around a clutch of arrows, saying ‘No.’

“What deeds could man ever have done
if he had not been enveloped in the dust-cloud
of the unhistorical?” Nietzsche asks this morning
from a small pamphlet on my lap, issued in 1949
in New York City, which I am leaving now,
like a wife from her distant husband
who will not stop to ask her why she is weeping
while she slices apart his silk ties on the floor of the closet.

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Musings in Winter: Hunter S. Thompson

“There’s a lot of things wrong with this country, but one of the few things still right with it is that a man can steer clear of the organized bullshit if he really wants to. It’s a goddamned luxury, and if I were you, I’d take advantage of it while you can.”

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French Art – Diane Rousseau

Diane Rousseau (born 1974) earned a degree in art from The Sorbonne in 2012.

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A Third Poem for Today

“United”
By Naomi Shihab Nye

When sleepless, it’s helpful to meditate on mottoes of the states.
South Carolina, “While I breathe I hope.”  Perhaps this could be
the new flag on the empty flagpole.
Or “I Direct” from Maine—why?
Because Maine gets the first sunrise?  How bossy, Maine!
Kansas, “To the Stars through Difficulties”—
clackety wagon wheels, long, long land
and the droning press of heat—cool stars, relief.
In Arkansas, “The People Rule”—lucky you.
Idaho, “Let It Be Perpetual”—now this is strange.
Idaho, what is your “it”?
Who chose these lines?
How many contenders?
What would my motto be tonight, in tangled sheets?
Texas—“Friendship”—now boasts the Open Carry law.
Wisconsin, where my mother’s parents are buried,
chose “Forward.”
New Mexico, “It Grows As It Goes”—now this is scary.
Two dangling its. This does not represent that glorious place.
West Virginia, “Mountaineers Are Always Free”—really?
Washington, you’re wise.
What could be better than “By and By”?
Oklahoma must be tired—“Labor Conquers all Things.”
Oklahoma, get together with Nevada, who chose only
“Industry” as motto. I think of Nevada as a playground
or mostly empty. How wrong we are about one another.
For Alaska to pick “North to the Future”
seems odd. Where else are they going?

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Musings in Winter: Annie Dillard

“It is winter proper; the cold weather, such as it is, has come to stay. I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things I have never understood become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.
The woods are acres of sticks: I could walk to the Gulf of Mexico in a straight line. When the leaves fall, the striptease is over; things stand mute and revealed. Everywhere skies extend, vistas deepen, walls become windows, doors open.”

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Mexican Art – Marco Zamudio

Marco Zamudio lives and works in Mexico City.

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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Homestead National Monument”
By Twyla M. Hansen

—Daniel Freeman, first to file claim, Jan. 1, 1863

Here, an abundance of trees, stream, prairie—
enough to sustain a family, prove up this plot of land,
the first of thousands to be claimed across America.

Place that was first inhabited by natives, lodge-
and tipi-dwellers, who also relied on the wood, water,
flourishing wild game—hooved, pawed, and winged.

Prairie, where wild grasses are capable of growing
taller than humans, sustained through heat, drought,
cold, hail, snow, wind, by roots of unimaginable depth.

Today, those lives and roots have been forever altered:
settlement, industry, and agriculture that marched
our nation westward, the trails that led us to homes.

This nation-center of sod-grass that was plowed,
its soils rich, yielding an abundance, the foundation
of farms and ranches that sustain the multitudes.

Here, on the Homestead trails, we touch a multitude
of seed-heads, inhale green-blue-gold, hear the music
of insect-leaf-bird, bridge the creek-flow that connects

us to the past, where we ponder the flow of hope,
hardship, joy, and sorrow of this preserve, from all
that once roamed, to those spellbound as we step.

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Musings in Winter: Steven Pressfield

“When we drug ourselves to blot out our soul’s call, we are being good Americans and exemplary consumers.”

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Russian Art – Constantin Chatov (1904-1993)

In the words of one writer, “As a young man, Constantin studied music at the National Conservatory of Music in Rostov, an affiliate of the prestigious St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music. After fleeing Russia in 1922, he studied music at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia under the legendary Isabelle Vengerova. He was a concert pianist in New York and an accompanist for the Ballet Russe, headed by Michael Mordkin, where he accompanied many famous ballet stars, including Anna Pavlova and Nemchinova.
As a result of over-practicing, Constantin injured his right hand which ultimately ended his professional career as a concert pianist. He began a new career; following his artistic passions into the world of painting, and by the 1940’s was acclaimed for his figure studies, paintings and portraits.”

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Musings in Winter: John Burroughs

“It is a spur that one feels at this season more than at any other. How nimbly you step forth! The woods roar, the waters shine, and the hills look invitingly near. You do not miss the flowers and the songsters, or wish the trees or fields any different, or heavens any nearer. Every object pleases…. the straight light-gray trunks of the trees… how curious they look, and as if surprised in undress.”

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American Art – Kris Lewis

Artist Statement: “As I begin a painting the subject physically, emotionally and spiritually reveals itself to me. Each brushstroke speaks to the subsequent stroke, carrying out a dialogue, linking my subject and me as if we were meeting for the first time. I find this uncertainty exciting and embrace the indecisive nature of my work.”

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