Homage to Dr. Balthazor

I have been privileged to experience nature in both local and international settings. These are some of the things I have seen, some of the texts I have read, and some of the songs I have heard that have shaped the way I view the earth.

Peru

Salkantay Trail
The Salkantay Crew

“I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.”

W. B. Yeats, “The Song of the Wandering Aengus.”

Salkantay Trail

“If it’s the beaches, if it’s the beaches’ sands you want then you will have them. If it’s the mountains’ bending rivers then you will have them.”

Salkantay Trail
The Crew Again

“You could say it’s my instinct. Yes,  I still have one. There’s no time to second guess it. Yes, there are things that I’m still so afraid of but my courage is roaring like the sound of the sun.”

Salkantay Trail

“On a winter’s Sunday I go to clear away the snow and green the ground below. April, all an ocean away, is this the better way to spend the day- keeping the winter at bay?”

Salkantay Trail

“I know there’s California, Oklahoma and all of the places I ain’t ever been to, but down in the valley with whiskey rivers- these are the places you will find me hidin’, these are the places I will always go, these are the places I will always go.”

Arizona, U.S.A

Sedona

“I might be a part of this ripple on water from a lonesome drip, a fallen tree that witness me. I’m alone, him and me.
And then life itself can not aspire to have someone be so admired. I threw creation to my king, have the silence broken by a whispered wind.”

Monument Valley

“I’m on the corner waiting for a light to come on. That’s when I know that you’re alone. It’s cold in the desert, water never sees the ground. Special unspoken without sound.”

Oregon, U.S.A

The Shadow of the Mt. Hood at Sunrise

“The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there. Simple races, as savages, do not climb mountains,–their tops are sacred and mysterious tracts never visited by them.”

-Thoreau, The Maine Woods

The View at the Top

“Ezekiel excoriates false prophets as those who have ‘not gone up into the gaps.’ The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit’s one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself for the once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the cliffs in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are fissures between the mountains and cells the wind lances through, the icy narrowing fiords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the sol, turn, and unlock–more than a maple–a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 

Another View
Climbing Up
At the Top

Washington, U.S.A

Ruby Beach

“Walk with me down Ruby Beach and through the valley floor. Love for the one you know more.”

Redwood Forest

“Out walking in the swamp picking cowslip, marsh marigold,
this sweet first green of spring. Now sautéed in a pan melting
to a deeper green than ever they were alive, this green, this life,

harbinger of things to come. Now we wit at the table munching
on this message from the dawn which says we and the world
are alive again today, and this is the world’s birthday. And

even though we know we are growing old, we are dying, we
will never be young again, we also know we’re still right here
now, today, and, my oh my! don’t these greens taste good.”

David Budbill, “The First Green of Spring”

Alaska, U.S.A

Lower Dewey Lake

“Many years ago along the Illinois-Wisconsin Border there was this Indian tribe. They found two babies in the woods, white babies. One of them was named Elizabeth. She was the fairer of the two, while the smaller and more fragile one was named Marie. Having never seen white girls before, and living on the two lakes known as the Twin Lakes, they named the larger and more beautiful Lake, Lake Elizabeth. And thus the smaller lake that was hidden from the highway became known forever as Lake Marie.”

Upper Dewey Lake… so cold

“There are high places
that don’t invite us,
sharp shapes, glacier-
scraped faces, whole
ranges whose given names
slip off. Any such relation
as we try to make
refuses to take. Some
high lakes are not for us,
some slick escarpments.
I’m giddy with thinking
where thinking can’t stick.”

-Kay Ryan

Upper Dewey

“Neither had said they were going to climb it,
But they kept walking beside the stream
Under the high shade
Of fir trees, upslope, wading through ferns and leaves
As if through a living and dying current,
Through water itself
Whenever the sea-green walls of the creek bank
Steepened to overhangs where roots
Clung wrong-side up
And seedling firs lurched out from under a world
That dared them to survive one birth.
They shared smooth stones
With sandpipers and dippers, with gold-eyed frogs,
Shared low-slung branches with green herons,
With kingfishers,
Warblers, and winter wrens, who watched them pass
Songless to higher ground, to a light
Thinning out, a waterfall
Where the creek was rain and a sideways mist and past
The sidelong mouths of runnels and freshets
Glistening, as cold
To their fingers’ touch as the promises of winter.
More shallow, its stones no longer softened
By white-water crowfoot and pale
Flowerless fountain moss, the creek seemed younger,
Hurrying, its surface quick, more hectic,
As if felt no longing
Yet to have anything like the sea to turn to.
They climbed past thicker and smaller trees,
Past the half-dead
And the weathered barkless gray dead at the treeline,
Climbed toward spillways of snow on the mountain
Through avalanche lily, sorrel,
Through lupine, through snow, the light as snowfall,
A blue-white daylight the color of snowmelt
Shimmering by their feet,
Still only half persuaded not to be ice
But to give the full beginning
Of flowing. At the rim
Of a pond near the foot of steep snow-drifted talus,
Half-frozen, they knelt where the foot-wide creek
Was now being born
Again and again under their eyes. They drank
From the source, their blue lips going numb
At that strange kiss.
They kissed like strangers. They watched the creek spill over
Stones like first words: Only
Begin, and the rest will follow.”

David Wagoner, “The Source”

Glacier Valley

“And that full bellied moon- she’s a shinin on me. Yeah, she pulls on this heart like she pulls on the sea.”

Glacier Valley

“Up to my knees now, do I wait? Do I dive? The sea has seen my like before though it’s my first and perhaps last time.
Let’s call me a baptist, call this the drowning of the past. She’s there on the shoreline throwing stones at my back.
So swim until you can’t see land, swim until you can’t see land.”

Mt. Rainier

“There is a hush now while the hills rise up
and God is going to sleep. He trusts the ship
of Heaven to take over and proceed beautifully
as he lies dreaming in the lap of the world.
He knows owls will guard the sweetness
of the soul in their massive keep of silence,
looking out with eyes open or closed over
the length of Tomales Bay that the herons
conform to, whitely broad in flight, white
and slim in standing. God, who thinks about
poetry all the time, breathes happily as He
repeats to Himself: There are fish in the net,
lots of fish this time in the net of the heart.”

Linda Gregg, “Fishing in the Keep of Silence”

Rainier

“Think of our life in nature, –daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, –rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! The solid earth! the actual world! the common sense! Contact! Contact! Who are we? where are we?”

Thoreau, The Maine Woods 

Rainier

(Only video worth watching)

Georgia, U.S.A

Panther Creek in Rabun County, Ga
Chattahoochie River in Duluth

California, U.S.A

Mt. Shasta

“Books or no books, it is in fact, patent both to my dog and myself, that at daybreak I am the sole owner of all the acres I can walk over. It is not only boundaries that disappear, but also the thought of being bounded. Expanses unknown to deed or map are known to every dawn, and solitude, supposed no longer to exist in my country, extends on every hand as far as the dew can reach.”

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac 

Shasta
Yosemite National Park

“Here was tree. Here was forest. Here was landscape. If left alone, it would function like the children on the soccer field, spaces closing and opening on a slow-ticking biological clock- a centuries-long game. A tree would fall and in its vacancy in the puzzle of sky, a sapling would sprout.”

Janisse Ray, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood 

Yosemite
Yosemite

“Lunar rainbows or spray-bows also abound in the glorious affluence of dashing, rejoicing, hurrahing, enthusiastic spring floods, their colors as distinct as those of the sun and regularly and obviously banded, though less vivid. Fine specimens may be found any night at the foot of the Upper Yosemite Fall, glowing gloriously amid the gloomy shadows and thundering waters, whenever there is plenty of moonlight and spray.”

John Muir, The Yosemite 

Athens, GA

State Botanical Gardens of Georgia

“So now we’re dancing through the garden, and what a garden I have made. And now that death will grow my jasmine; I find it soothing I’m afraid.”

Tennessee, U.S.A

Lookout Mt, Chattanooga

“When you’re thinking’ bout the country, you’re just trying to be with me.”