“Saudade”

Posted on Mar, Sat, 2020 in Uncategorized

“Saudade”

 

A Portuguese word that many Americans may not recognize for the simple reason it has no direct English translation. Briefly (and incompletely) saudade is a deep melancholic, emotional state of yearning for a loved one, a lost relationship or a place. What distinguishes saudade from singular emotions is its ambivalence, the dimension of melancholy and happiness at once.

This barley field in northern Michigan reminded me of similar fields in southern Spain and Portugal. The emotion it evoked for me was melancholy and the love and longing for the serene beauty of the Iberian landscape.

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“Beyond”

Posted on Mar, Sat, 2020 in Landscapes, Musings from Still Point, Uncategorized

“Beyond”

A trip to Mentor Headlands last Wednesday afternoon yielded an unexpected gift of the landscape. The beach east of the Headlands has transformed since my last visit over twenty-five years ago. Low dunes have developed as a root system of switch grass has created a carpet for sand to collect.

Rolling, richly textured fields of switch grass bend in the wind, catching light and emotion. It reminded me of the Portuguese word “saudade”, one about which I’ve written previously and one which many Americans may not recognize. It really has no simple direct English translation. Briefly (and incompletely), saudade is a deep melancholic, emotional state of yearning for a loved one, a lost relationship, a place or even a time. What distinguishes saudade from singular emotions is its ambivalence, the dimension of melancholy and happiness at once. I think it may be the perfect word for the emotions that sweep this nation. We, many of us, long for the recent past, one that now seems distant and possibly never the same, never attainable. The lighthouse (Fairport Harbor) just over the horizon is leading us metaphorically, paradoxically, back to the light.

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“Sheep in Repose”

Posted on Mar, Tue, 2020 in Uncategorized

“Sheep in Repose”

I’ve posted one of my favorite images, “Sheep in Repose”, taken many years ago in a small Amish graveyard east of Middlefield, Ohio.  It’s a bit whimsical not only for the subjects portrayed but for my memory recalling how I had unwittingly crawled across 100 feet of sheep dung getting in position to take the shot.

Sheep (lambs) have been an auspicious symbol for the arrival of spring, rebirth and the coming of Easter.  I had originally entitled it “Trinity” but dropped the biblical allusion.  Moreover it is a sobering reminder that my health problems started abruptly a year ago tomorrow shortly before the advent of spring.  I now look forward to this new year as one of healing, enlightened perspectives and a time to somehow begin repaying Kate for her unfailing love and support each day.

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“Westbound”

Posted on Mar, Mon, 2020 in Uncategorized

“Westbound”

 

I can’t imagine any of you will be as excited as I was last Thursday to see this year’s return of the Great Blue Heron. He’s been a silent friend at Schweitzer Marsh for over a decade. I first encountered him in the spring of 2008 when he asserted his right of dominion over two smaller herons. It was a highly audible squabble of croaking and shrieks (gaw, gaw, gaw) that echoed across the marsh. I’ve observed him several times on summer mornings in standoffs with bald-eagles nesting nearby. Otherwise, he is a sovereign spirit, gliding silently, gracefully about, or standing in the shallows motionless for hours.

His presence startled me as he rose from cattails and crossed in front of me along the rails. I recently read that a heron crossing one’s path is not only a sign of luck but a time to pause, contemplate and recede from chaos. What a great notion.

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“Trumpeter Swans, Edge of Spring”

Posted on Mar, Fri, 2020 in Uncategorized

“Trumpeter Swans, Edge of Spring”

Hiking through Schweitzer Marsh a week ago I was struck by two distant (approx. 300 yards) white dots contrasted against the dark shoreline that appeared to be growing. After about a minute they had doubled in size and seemed to be swimming directly towards me. About 100 yards from the bank where I was standing I recognized the dots as a pair of swans, presumably the very common Mute Swans. I frequently see them (an invasive species from Europe) on the marsh in late March during the spring migration. As they floated closer I could see their black bills and realized these were actually Trumpeter Swans, a species that had been hunted almost to extinction by the late 30’s.  I had come across a pair in northern Michigan several years ago and was fascinated with their history, especially the fact there are still less than 500 in the Midwest. Curious about me, they continued until they were about 100 feet away at which point they stopped, each trumpeted two low notes and proceeded back from where they had come.

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