'Sometimes, on a very clear night,' the BFG said, 'and if I is swiggling my ears in the right direction,' - and here he swivelled his great ears upwards so they were facing the ceiling - 'if I is swiggling them like this and the night is very clear, I is sometimes hearing faraway music coming from the stars in the sky.'
    A queer little shiver passed through Sophie's body. She sat very quiet, waiting for more.

Roald Dahl
-From The BFG 

Photo courtesy of Ben Arrowsmith


He told me it was worth the time.
He said trees are very honest and they don't care much for fancy people.
And he said he doesn't know of anything as important as sitting in that tree.

- Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnell
From The Other Way to Listen
First Christmas card:


When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don't improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease in incurable.

- John Steinbeck
From Travels with Charley: In Search of America


What we find beautiful accords with our most profound sense of how things ought to be. Ordinarily, we live in tension between our perceptions and our desires. When we encounter beauty, that tension vanishes, and inward and outward images agree.

- Scott Russell Sanders


The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world more habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture defined it.
- David Orr


Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them.
The least we can do is try to be there.

- Annie Dillard


Some one had sneaked up on Feller. Crouched in the ditch, bent over the mouth of the culvert, his hands in its cold gurgle of water, Feller felt eyes.
He whirled and saw shoes. On the roadbed above him were shoes with turned-up toes and zigzag tread. (That track, he had seen that running track this summer on the road past his cabin.) From the shoes rose short, muscular legs thick-furred with brown hair. The legs ended in red shorts. Above the shorts was a blue T-shirt with a broad tongue of sweat up its center. The bound ends of the two brown braids of hair jerked Feller's eyes up to a woman's face.
She was the ugliest woman Feller had ever seen. Her face was wide and flat, punctured in its middle by small, pinched-together blue eyes - a shovel held up to the sky with two .22 slugs shot through its center. Though he had never seen this woman, it was clear to Feller that she was the reason he had never married.
"What is it you're doing?" the woman asked.
Feller's eyes flickered to his basket of traps on the bank. Her eyes followed his.
"Setting a trap," Feller said. From disuse his voice croaked like a magpie. Living alone in the woods, Feller did not have to talk to many people. He liked it that way.
- Will Weaver
From The Trapper


Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.


A Color of the Sky

Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
                     when you pass through clumps of wood   
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,   
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.

I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?   
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing   
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.

Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,   
the very tint of inexperience.

Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,   
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written   
in big black spraypaint letters,

which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.

Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.   
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,   
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.

What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.   
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.   
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.

Outside the youth center, between the liquor store   
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;

overflowing with blossomfoam,   
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,

dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.   
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.


A Brief Photo Study of Wildlife 
in Madison, WI. 

Red Tail Hawk


Sea Dog

and the tracks of...




It makes one all right, though you hadn’t thought of it,
A sound like the sound of the sky on fire, like Armageddon,   
Whistling and crackling, the explosions of sunlight booming   
As the huge mass of gas rages into the emptiness around it.
It isn’t a sound you are often aware of, though the light speeds   
To us in seconds, each dawn leaping easily across a chasm   
Of space that swallows the sound of that sphere, but   
If you listen closely some morning, when the sun swells   
Over the horizon and the world is still and still asleep,   
You might hear it, a faint noise so far inside your mind
That it must come from somewhere, from light rushing to darkness,   
Energy burning towards entropy, towards a peaceful solution,   
Burning brilliantly, spontaneously, in the middle of nowhere,   
And you, too, must make a sound that is somewhat like it,   
Though that, of course, you have no way of hearing at all.

The Sound of the Sun
by George Bradley


After fantastic visits with close friends and family, it is good to be back north. I do not hold the sentiments expressed below - only a love for exceptional writing. 

 The sheriff was standing close now, as if to get Olaf's attention.
  "You've been farming here in Hubbard County how long, fifty years?
  Olaf blinked. "Fifty-three years."
  "And I've been the sheriff over half that time. I know you, I know the boys. None of you has ever broken a law that I can think of, not even the boys. The town folk respect that..."
  Olaf's vision cleared and something in him hardened at the mention of town folk. He had never spent much time in town, did not like it there very much. And he believed that, though farmers and townspeople did a lot of business together, it was a business of necessity; that in the end they had very little in common. He also had never forgotten how the town folk treated Inge when she first came to Hubbard County. 
  "What I mean is," the sheriff continued, "you don't want to start breaking the law now when you're seventy-five years old."
  "Seventy-eight," Olaf said. 
  "Seventy-eight," the sheriff repeated.
  They were all silent. The sheriff mopped his forehead again. The silence went on for a long time. 

- Will Weaver 
From A Gravestone Made of Wheat


Space Travelers
 In general, lichens are considered extremophiles. Many can survive extreme environments - even conditions of excessive radiation and temperatures that would kill most other organisms in moments. In order to test the possibility of a lichen surviving an interplanetary journey, in June 2005 the European Space Agency took a specimen of Elegant Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria elegans) into space. After being exposed directly to all the perils of space for 14.6 days, it was returned to earth for testing. There was a full rate of survival and an unchanged ability to photosynthesize.

- Joe Walewski


A system, which is too perfect, is also too rigid because it does not need to evolve... One moves from rigid and brittle rocks, within the upper layer to ductile rocks below that can deform in a continuous fashion under the action of tectonic forces. Contrary to what is often assumed, the weak and imperfect parts are often those that allow the evolution to occur without any revolution... We tend to dissociate the individuals who are well adapted to our social life from those that have difficulties to follow the pace that is imposed on them by our life style. Yet a society that separates the producers from the others considered dead weight, even as marginal or excluded individuals, is a hard society, characterized by conflicts and often by complete rejection of minorities.

- Xavier Le Pichon


Muddy clouds cream the sky.
Worry. Sun glows bloody orange.
Relief - Prescribed burn. 


Puffballs and Pennies

I've been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But - and this is the point - who gets excited by a mere penny? ... It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.
- Annie Dillard


"In the vaunted works of art, the master-stroke is nature's part."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


'All men are created equal; but no place more than in a sauna'
- Unknown


It really upsets me for people to fall in love with beautiful areas and use them as places to play. It's very sad if our culture only sees wilderness as a place to play. What wilderness should be doing is speaking to our souls and teaching us about being quiet, and learning and thinking and respecting the world we live in. It should remind us that there's where everything we have comes from.

- Bill Mason


October 6 Morning Walk:

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood, 
A beautiful day for a neighbor, 
Would you be mine? 
Could you be mine? 

It's a neighborly day in this beautywood, 

A neighborly day for a beauty, 
Would you be mine? 
Could you be mine? 

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day, 

Since we're together, we might as well say, 
Would you be mine? 
Could you be mine? 
Won't you be my neighbor?

- Mister Rogers



In this way, while I am charmed without by the sweet influence of the beauty of the country, I have not less delight within reflecting on the mysteries which are hidden beneath it.
- Bernard of Clairvaux


I put it shining anywhere I please.
By walking slowly on some evening later,
I've pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
And brought it over glossy water, greater,
And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.
 - from "The Freedom of the Moon" 
Robert Frost