• Category Archives Plants
  • New Identities

    Spring and the Purim Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Yet more Snow! Today. Blue Colorado Sky with scattered white Cumulus Clouds. The Ancient Brothers. Hafar. K.L. S.F. Maine. Minnesota. Jackie in Bailey. Aspen Roots. Kissing Frogs. Movies. Nights. Days. Resurrection. A new life. The Shema. Full days. Travel. Dogs. Marilyn and Irv. The Socrates Cafe. Meeting new people.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Questions

    One brief shining: Each month I drive eight minutes from Shadow Mountain to Aspen Park, going by the new bakery the Wicked Whisk and my old personal trainer at On the Move Fitness, past the physical therapists who got me through knee surgery, to the never in my time up here full suite of offices and business that contain the Pinball place, the massage folks, a live theater, Thai 202 which makes the wonderful Crying Tiger, and hop up the stairs to Aspen Roots where Jackie cuts my hair and tells me she loves me which I say back.


    Long enough now. Long enough for relationships to have come and gone. And for some to remain. My tenth year on Shadow Mountain, begun last Winter Solstice. This is where I live, a Coloradan, a Westerner, a Mountain dweller. All distinct identities created by geography and geology and the human imprint on both.

    As a Coloradan I inhabit a former red hate state, transitioning to a blue progressive state. As a Westerner, I have heeded Horace Greeley and gone west though not as a young man, but as an older one. Greeley, Colorado* is named after him. The Western identity has a good deal of complexity to it as does Mountain dweller.

    To be a Westerner means to enjoy the benefits of manifest destiny, of the push west of the frontier, the railroads, those seeking gold, those fleeing law or custom or poverty in the the East. Of those who slaughtered the bison and the indigenous populations who lived here before we arrived. Those who clear cut the Front Range to build Denver and the many, far too many, hard Rock mines that pollute the Creeks, Streams, and Rivers here. The Western U.S. We who arrived later are not innocent. Yet no one is innocent. Either here or there.

    What happens now. What we do today. Who we are in this moment matters, too. We are the stewards, the fellow travelers in this magical wide open place. We are responsible for what happens here as are the Wild Neighbors, the Forests and Streams. The descendants of all those who lived here long ago and all those who altered the landscape not so long ago. We must build the sustainable way for humans to live here for as long as human beings can live.

    The Mountain Dweller is the most personal of these three identities and the most narrow, representing that place where I live and love and have my becoming. Each day my eyes open to the top of Shadow Mountain, to the taller prominence of Black Mountain, to the Lodgepoles and Aspens that cover them both. My lungs take in the scarce air of 8,800 feet as I set aside my nighttime oxygen canula. Often Mule Deer will be around, hunting for grass.

    To go anywhere. To see Jackie at Aspen Roots. To get groceries at Safeway. To breakfast with friends. To the synagogue. To the doctor. I drive on Mountain roads. Two lanes, blind curves, sudden changes of altitude, vistas opening and disappearing.

    Mountains whose names I do not know rise on either side, the Streams that drain them flowing often near the road itself. Sometimes I am up high and able to see for miles, then I go down into constricted views of only Rock and Trees. All the while, not far off the road Wild Neighbors living their wild lives. Beavers damming Streams, their Ponds. The Mountain Lion on a rocky shelf waiting for Elk or Mule Deer to walk below. In my own way I appear and disappear from view around curves, into a valley, only to suddenly reappear in Evergreen.

    How have these three identities changed me from the sea level view of life that was my birthright as a Midwestern boy? I’ve become more of a spectator of life outside of the Mountains. Back east. Or on the coasts. They are not close to me, and their struggles seem far away. My world has become more focused. There are fewer people out here, less urbanization, less agriculture. In those senses the Colorado/Western/Mountain world was unfamiliar to me.

    I live within a smaller world altogether. My fourth new identity, that of a Jew, makes this world, this more narrow and circumscribed world, a friendly and friend full one. As has the nine years plus of living here, making connections like Jackie. And now the Socrates Cafe. This is important because, like most of us who live up here, going down the hill is not appealing. And that’s where the bon vivant of urban life plays out. Even for those things I enjoy I have to factor in a long drive in and a long drive back. Most often the positive gain is too weak to justify the hassle.

    For me. Today. This Colorado guy, this Western guy, this Mountain Man has found his spot and become one with it.



    *Greeley began as the Union Colony of Colorado, which was founded in 1869 by Nathan C. Meeker, an agricultural reporter for the New York Tribune as an experimental utopian farming community “based on temperance, religion, agriculture, education and family values,” with the backing of the Tribunes editor Horace Greeley, who popularized the phrase “Go West, young man”.[7][8][9] wiki

  • A Bold Return to Giving a Damn

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Tara. Her new puppy. Cold. Snow. Sleep. Gabriella. A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm. Amazon. New Phone. Wallet. 2024 on the way. Poetry. Road Less Taken. Lines Written at Tintern Abbey. Kubla Kahn. Notes on a Supreme Fiction. Circles. Leaves of Grass. Ozymandias. The Raven. Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The Wasteland. Song of Myself. The Second Coming. And so much else.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Poetry

    One brief shining: The end of another year approaches, our penchant for deciding calendar dates as the always orbiting Earth’s journey around Great Sol continues, brings us to Pope Gregory XIII who chose in October of 1582 in his well known Papal bull: Inter gravissimas to change the rules for leap years to prevent the Julian calendar’s drift away from the solar holidays, oh you didn’t know, well neither did I but Wikipedia did.



    Gabriella. My adopted Axolotl. She’s swimming in the chinampas canals along with other wild Axolotls who will repopulate the ancient waterways of Xochimilco. I get excited about this project because it’s both the reintroduction of a wild species into its former habitat (see the five Timber Wolves released a week ago in western Colorado) and a project that supports indigenous farming methods healthy for the chinampas themselves. This kind of work will enable our grandchildren to have their best chance to adapt to a warming World.

    A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm, Six Generations, and the Future of Food relates the story of Will Harris and his disillusionment with Big Ag 30 years ago. The successful transition of his family’s farm to regenerative farming makes compelling reading if you care about the source of your food. This farm is in southwestern Georgia, but it’s an example, not singular.

    The USA Regenerative Agriculture Allliance, Inc trains farmers in regenerative practices. Yes, it’s about good food, food raised without pesticides, fertilizers and other “inputs” that defy the natural cycle and deplete the soil. But, it’s also about how to live in a warming World. Someday regenerative agriculture will use the perennial grains and other crops under development at the Land Institute.

    Want to volunteer in the work of Ecosystem restoration? Look at the Ecosystems Restoration Communities website. They do restoration projects all over the world. The expertise and practical knowledge developed as these organization go about their own individual missions will become the Seedstock for a World that can no longer afford any depletion of natural capital.

    What’s natural capital? An accounting method. That’s right. Accounting. The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University develops accounting methods that define the value of Ecosystems, Oceans, the Water cycle, Forests. Why is this important? Regenerative agriculture is a good example. Corporate farming, by far the dominant model in the U.S. and in most of the World, treats Soil, Crops, and Animals as so many widgets to be manipulated for increased profits. Their accounting methods do not have to take into account the value of the Soil, the Rain, the need for dna diversity in both food Crops and Animals. They don’t have to reckon with the future costs of ruined Soil, the dangers of monocultures in such critical crops as Corn, Wheat, Rice. Maybe they’re not as profitable as they think.

    OK. I’ll stop. For now. But I will return to these adaptive approaches that will help Ruth and Gabe survive in a much changed world.


  • See Beyond a Dystopian Future

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: New Snow. Cold. Christmas Eve. Ancient Brothers on Christmas. Animism. Joseph, his brothers. Jacob/Israel. Steel gray/blue Sky. Flocked Lodgepoles. Bears in hibernation. Elk and Mule Deer resting. Fox and Mountain Lions hunting. All wild neighbors adapting to the Snow and cold. Paul and Max. Kate, of blessed memory. Kep. Rigel. Gertie. Vega. Who left Shadow Mountain. Jon, too.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Fire

    One brief shining: Diane gone to Taiwan, Mary and Guru traveled south to Melbourne, my son and Seoah dress for the cold in Songtan, Mark remains in Hafar, while I look out my window for Black Mountain, it’s not there.


    Asked the folks at the National Autonomous University of Mexico to send me a photograph of my adopted Axolotl, Gabriella. They obliged. She’s a beauty. In an Axolotl sort of way. When I get my phone cord up here to transfer pictures, I’ll post it here.

    This project has my attention, the reintroduction of Axolotls to the chinampas canals in Xochimilco. Next I’m going to support one of the chinamperos who farm the chinampas in the traditional way. As I wrote before, this kind of work prepares the World for what comes after climate change. I feel a need to support folks willing to see the future beyond dystopian writings and fever dreams. And my lev, my heart/mind, seems to always land on folks caring for the land, for wild creatures, exchanging the old ways, the bad ways for Earth friendly farming, for chinampas canals clean enough to host again the Axolotl.

    This work, a necessary part of the Great Work of our time-creating a sustainable presence for human beings on Planet Earth-does not push back against carbon emissions or try to change the minds of politicians. Though that’s so important and critical for Ruth, Gabe, Imogen, Max and all the grandchildren. It imagines a world once again attuned to the rhythms and needs of the soil, of Plant life, of Animal life, including but not privileging, human life.

    At this age I want to say Yes instead of No. I’m weary of the struggle against greed and exploitation, oppression and entrenched bigotry like racism and anti-semitism. Though again that struggle is so important for Ruth, Gabe, Imogen, Max and all the grandchildren. I’m searching, scanning for projects and ideas that will last, that will ensure food and healthy ecosystems, that have faith in the future, that build that future starting now.

    I can’t support them all and I can’t support the ones I do very well, but I want to have a link, a real connection to them. Money is one way. Making their work known is another. Finding those committed to this work and celebrating them is another.

    We can learn again to farm with the Land, not in spite of it. We can clean our Waters, protect Mountain Biomes, seed Ecosystems with Animals and Plants eliminated by human activity in the past. Five Oregon Wolves have dispersed this week here in Colorado, for example. This work happens on all continents, among all peoples. I love them for it.










  • The Holy Land

    Samain and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Heidi. Irv. Luke. Money. Rich. Leo, the sweet boy. Cooper. Who may join me here. Sleep. Restoration. Resurrection. A new life, this day. Paul’s photo of the sardines. But, Paul, I’m stuck on lobster pots. Tom’s found sign. (right) Bill working with the paper marblers. Ode and the Stars. Diane getting ready for Taiwan. All the wound up little kids out there. Santa Claus. Norad. Christmas Trees. Eggnog. Lights. Yule Logs. All those pagan rooted parts of the celebration we call Christmas. Incarnation

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The ohr in everything

    One brief shining: Wanted a piece of jewelry a necklace as a constant reminder of my conversion but no to a mogen David, the six pointed star, no to a chaim searched could not find anything until an Etsy artist from Israel with handmade metal Alephs showed up, loved it the beginning of the Hebrew alphabet, makes no sound, a symbol for ayin nothingness, the ein sof from which Lurainic kabbalah says all creation has its origin, now around my neck, making no sound, under my shirt, talking in quiet whispers to me of origins and nothingness.



    Sorry for wearing my sacred heart on my sleeve these last few posts. No, I’m not. Well, I don’t want to weary you with it. May not be your thing. Or, you may wonder about my mental stability. Which of course you might anyway. But to me I feel sane, just fine. As they all say, right?

    Have been re-reading Radical Judaism by Jamie’s mentor, Arthur Greenberg. The Radical piece comes from the Radical Theology movement that sprang up from the death of God conversation. Radical theologians wrote in honest recognition of the wreck on modernist shores that the God of old had become. He expired there, perhaps holding his long white beard in wrinkled old man hands.

    In Greenberg I find a soul companion, one who’s journey and mine took the road less traveled to much the same destination. A reimagining of sacredness utilizing the tools of other ancient seekers, especially focusing on the Western religious traditions. I took the Christian turnoff, then the liberal religion loop, stayed a long while in earth centered paganism, but, like Greenberg ended up on the path to the Holy Land.

    That may be the best short hand for this work, come to think of it. The Holy Land. Not just for the Middle East anymore. My Holy Land. The drive between Shadow Mountain and Evergreen through the Arapaho National Forest. Your Holy Land, maybe the Waters of Lake Minnetonka, or a Regional Park, or a pond near your townhome, or the cold Atlantic and the Waters and Lands of Down East Maine. Lucky Street and its domestic neighbors.

    Bloom where you are planted. Yes, a cliche for sure. And yet profound. Who knows when this phrase entered my archives, too common to pin down. But as an ethic, a call to action, a daily motivator it has stuck with me. Sort of like the shema: Listen up, Israel. The One is our God. Our god is the one. Brought to mind often, shaping a world in its simple resonant logic.

    When Kate had to move to the exurbs to be within 15 minutes of the hospital, I resisted. I had lived in the Twin Cities for 30 years. My working life had focused on urban issues, urban politics. What was I gonna do in conservative Anoka County? But there was no choice. She needed the new job. We needed the new job. So. We bought a model home on 2.5 acres of land. About 40% wooded, some scrub Oak and Black Ash with long grass, the rest stripped bare by bulldozers in the process of construction.

    Those of you visited our Andover home know what we did. We quite literally bloomed, over and over again, where we were planted.

    I’m going to continue this idea later.




  • International Mountain Day

    Samain and the last day of the Choice Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Ruth. Gabe. Leo. Luke. Friday’s Snow pock marked now by Snow falling from gently curved Lodgepole Branches. Shadow Mountain. International Mountain Day. Black Mountain. Bergen Mountain. Conifer Mountain. Mount Blue Sky. Pike’s Peak. Mount Rosalie. Long’s Peak. The Continental Divide. The Caucasus. The Atlas range. The Wasatch. Sierra Nevada. Cascades. Rockies. Mt. Snowdon. Kilimanjaro. Sea Mounts. Haleakala. Mauna Loa. Kilauea. The Mountain behind my son’s apartment building in Songtan.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mountains

    One brief shining: Each morning I open my eyes on Shadow Mountain, 8,800 feet above sea level, watch Great Sol gradually lighten the bulk of Black Mountain, and whenever I go for groceries or to see a friend or to the synagogue, I drive Mountain roads curving through Mountain Valleys alongside Mountain Streams in a manner similar to the other 15% of the World’s population who live on and in Earth’s Mountain Ranges.


    Happy International Mountain Day!* This year’s theme? Restoring Mountain Ecosystems. “This theme was selected to fully include mountains in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the UN Environment Programme.””

    Living on and in the Mountains this one feels personal. Kate said everyday she lived up here she felt like she was on vacation. I’m so glad she felt that way. The grandkids love coming up here. Gabe wants to live in the Mountains. And, he probably will. Folks at CBE often refer to each other as Mountain Jews. 15% of the World’s population live in and on Mountains. Some were born there, but many come by choice like Kate and me.

    I’ve seen a comparison between those who love the Ocean and those who love the Mountains. Beaches-extroverts. Mountains-introverts. Like any broad brush often wrong but in my experience Mountain folks keep to themselves. We spend a lot of time hiking, hunting, fishing. On our decks. Driving to somewhere else in the Mountains. We don’t like to go down the hill more than we have to.

    Our ecosystems matter. A lot. The Snowpack in Colorado gets national and international exposure because its water reserves predict the amount of water available in the coming year for those who draw on the Colorado River. Seven states. Millions of people. On a smaller scale even Maxwell Creek and Cub Creek and Bear Creek flow into the Waters of the mighty Mississippi traveling through the South Platte to the Platte from there to the Missouri and from the Missouri into the Mississippi. It’s all downstream from me.

    I find myself drawn to restoring axolotls, creating perennial crops, heirloom seeds, regenerative farming, restoring Mountain Ecosystems. That’s where my money goes. And to caring for wild animals that need sanctuary. Not to say that other needs aren’t critical. Sure they are. But my heart expands when I imagine a World with organic and regenerative farms and farmers, with Axolotl’s swimming free among the chinampas and the chinamperos make that sustainable, with heirloom Vegetables on everyone’s table, with grain crops that can be planted once and then tended rather than plowed, with Mountain Ecosystems the world over restored to their original purpose. That’s my Other World. May it come soon.





    *”The United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day”. As of 2003, it has been observed every year to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.” International Mountain Day, U.N.


  • The Forest after dark

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: The Blues Shabbat. Ron and Jamie, the Blues Brothers. Veronica. The oneg. Thanksgiving. The Forest at night. Orion. The Pleiades. Scorpio. The night Sky on Shadow Mountain. The half crescent Choice Moon. Driving at night. Tara helping me get ready for my aliyah on December 1st. The torah blessings. Alan and Adrian. Helen. Evergreen at night. Israel ben Abraham and Sarah. Word to Deed today on prayer. Studying the Parsha. Making a sabbath.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Orion rising

    One brief shining: At the service last night Elizabeth announced Veronica and I would sponsor the oneg (after service food and drinks) on December 1st, people turned and smiled, greeted us afterward with genuine joy, reeling us both in closer.


    Last night I drove home from the Blues Shabbat, which was wonderful. Back up Brook Forest Drive which becomes Black Mountain Drive. A fat crescent moon hung in the southern Sky, stars twinkled, coming into sight and disappearing among the trees of the Arapaho National Forest.

    Two different realms. The daytime Forest and the nighttime Forest. We diurnal animals can navigate the Forest with relative ease during the day. Rocks and Trees, Valleys and Creeks. A trail going up or down. If there’s Snow or Ice, we can plan how we want to approach it. Or, turn back. The colors of the Grass, the Trees, the Granite and Gneiss show up. Green Grass or dead Grass, dusty brown, reddish bark, the gray of Boulders and other Outcroppings of Rock. We can cross the Creek on the fallen Tree, or those hopefully not too slippery Rocks.

    At night? Not so much. Our eyes, like all diurnal animals, gather light, but not as efficiently as nocturnal animal eyes. Our body temperature tends to be lower since we have the heat of the day. We sleep at night while the nocturnal animals sleep, or rest, most during the day. Nocturnal animals’ senses of smell and hearing also tend to be more acute that us day lovers.

    The Forest at night for a diurnal animal. Not our world. Even when our eyes adjust to the dark we don’t see well. Much more likely to trip, run into something, miss the patch of Ice or deep Snow. Nocturnal Predators have the upper hand over diurnal animals once darkness falls.

    As a result, when I drive through the night time Forest, an atavistic fear or at least caution arises as I imagine myself having to make my way through that dark landscape. Vulnerable. Uncertain. Certain species memories arise from the collective unconscious saying beware, there may be monsters. Not difficult to see how folks of say, the Middle Ages, created folk tales and legends around the Black Forest, Sherwood Forest, or even the Big Woods that used to stretch from the East coast to the Midwest.

    That’s in part why the Bull Elk I saw in the Rain and at night had such a powerful effect on me. He roamed the night time Forest, had a presence there I could not imagine.


  • Water

    Lughnasa and the Korea Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Osan Air Base. A hike in the Mountains with my son, Seoah, and Murdoch. Meeting several ajuma (old women) who found Murdoch fascinating. A new TV. The dense population of Songtan and most of Korea. Buses. Taxis. Maglev trains. Subways. Cars. Motorcycles. Some bicycles. Many roads built for foot traffic or Horse/Ox powered carts. Jon’s yahrzeit. Kate, always Kate.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Seoul today

    One brief shining: Murdoch lying down on a brick walkway, passersby eyeing him, smiling, some pulling further away, one ajuma with a visor and a bamboo fan stopping, saying how noble he was, aristocratic, better than a human being since he would never betray.


    Happening again. Jimmy Buffet dead at 76. Bill Richardson at 75. Not people I followed in any way other than seeing their names often but familiar nonetheless. A singer and a diplomat/fixer. Dead at my age. Reminders that each generation fades away, one former celebrity at a time, one notorious person at a time (yes, even Trump will die), one friend and family member at a time.

    This thing we call life has its turn with us, with our Dogs and Whales and Paramecium, even the Bristle Cone Pines and the Joshua Trees, Mosquitoes and Mayflies. Even Mountains and Streams. Then leaves.

    But, not Water. No. Water moves from liquid to ice to steam, rises and condenses and falls. Returns to the World Ocean and leaves again on Jet Stream driven Winds to Rain on the just and the unjust. There is a measure of immortality in Water.

    Korea and Japan, Peninsula and Islands, are Land forms defined by Water. Risen above the depths of the World Ocean yet surrounded by it, influenced by its moods and its weather. So different from the Landlocked Rocky Mountains in which I live or the interior Midwest in which I lived for most of life.

    There the Great Lakes, for example, were Water forms defined by the Land that surrounds them. Those Lakes first filled with Water from the receding Glaciers of the last Ice Age. Rivers like the Minnesota and the Mississippi. Smaller Lakes dotting the northern part of the State and even within the city limits of the Twin Cities.

    One of Water’s other mysteries keeping the Lakes liquid. Water floats in its Ice form. If it didn’t, Ice would sink to the bottom of the Lakes and form cold basins with occasional melted Ice at the very top. No wonder Taoism finds in Water a metaphor for how chi, the energy of life, flows through the whole World.

    In the mussar class I take at CBE we’re exploring metaphors for what has been identified with the word God. Learning how the metaphors we choose define what we imagine that word to mean, or better, what it could mean.

    What if the call of the natural world, as Art Green, author of Radical Judaism defines the sacred (my interpretation of his work), could be heard and felt in the flow of a Mountain Stream or the evaporation of Water from the World Ocean or in the pelting of Rain on a roof, onto a newly sown Field? Or in the glass of Water I just finished, replenishing my body’s supply?

    What if then we could say that we share in Water’s immortality? In its ability to wear away the hard, move around obstacles, change into different forms, give life to the thirsty? I can follow that understanding of the sacred.


  • Mountains in the Cities

    Lughnasa and the Korea Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: A whole Chicken and Rice for each of us. Onions. Peppers. Pickled Peppers. Kimchi. Radish in squares. Side dishes. Dates. Mushrooms. Dinner last night in downtown Songtan. Screen golf. My son’s drives. Seoah calling  herself Bunker Woman after several sand traps. Walking in the Woods on the small Mountain behind Seoah and my son’s apartment building.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: My son and Seoah’s relationship. Playful.

    One brief shining: Black ceramic bowls with a whole Chicken, Rice underneath, Mushrooms and Dates in the soup, white bowls of pickled Radish, Cabbage, Peppers, Sliced Onions, and Green Peppers, cold Water in a jug, metal chopsticks and the long Korean spoon, a meal with my son and Seoah in neon intensive downtown Songtan on a Friday night.


    Songtan, as most Korean cities and towns, has Mountains within its borders. Reminds me of the  Twin Cities with Lakes inside the city limits. Many not more than high Hills at this point in their geological journey, yet Forested and with changing altitudes.

    Behind Posco the  Sharp’s building 111 where my son and Seoah live on the 12th floor a small Mountain rises. Walking trails covered with soft Vegetal mats, workout equipment at various sites, this Mountain goes up from building 111 and peaks, then descends to a small commercial area maybe 10 blocks away.

    Murdoch goes on daily walks with his people there. Yesterday morning around 9 am the trails had many older Koreans out walking, using the workout equipment. Some swung side to side, some  hung on metal rings, others stretched their bodies while others turned a large wheel one way then the other or used a simple elliptical.

    I walked for thirty minutes up one side of the Mountain down the other and back again. Worked up a sweat in the humid warming air. A prized amenity to have so close to their apartment.

    Later in the day I went with my son and Seoah to screen golf. For $35 dollars they rented a room for three hours. Along the back wall was a large screen which had the ability to not only project various golf courses and their holes but to show the trajectory of a drive, the path of an iron shot, bunkers, roughs, water hazards. It could also show an instant video of your last swing, keep score, tell you the amount of backspin and side spin on your ball, where the ball struck your club face.

    They played 18 holes. My son shot a 94. Seoah, who prefers outdoors golf, did less well. I had fun watching them, seeing them applaud each others good shots, help each other with kind advice, be with each other. My son chipped in on one shot and we all got up and high fived  him.

    After returning to the apartment to feed and walk Murdoch, we set out again, this time on foot to downtown Songtan which is only ten minutes or so from the apartment.

    Seoah had a found a place that met her two key criteria: first, clean. Second, delicious. We walked through narrow, most often sidewalkless streets, cars going around us, delivery motorcycles weaving in and out, the traditional Asian exuberance of neon signage. Past coffee shops, clothing stores, many different kinds of restaurants, a small traditional grocery where they made rice cakes, sesame cakes, and other delicacies on site. Clubs. Bars advertising soju (a Korean vodka and a favorite beverage) and beer. Fried chicken places.

    Lively and interesting.

  • Softball, Korea News

    Lughnasa and the Korea Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Labor Day weekend. My son has Friday and Monday off. The Minnesota State Fair. A not so faded remnant of the Lughnasa festivals of the old Gaeltacht. A Minnesota Fall. Brilliant colors, blue Waters, trips up North. A Rocky Mountain Fall. Aspens gold against Lodgepole Green on Black Mountain. Clear cool Skies. A Korean Fall. Will find out.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Seasons

    One brief shining: My son came home last night in a bright t-shirt with Aladdin 02 on the back and a Cobra on the front his left arm bruised at the bicep after he threw a pitch and a hard hit soft ball came right back to him full of joy at playing and having an injury.


    My son plays on his squadron’s soft ball team. The Cobra signifies their squadron. His first time up a few weeks ago he hit a homer. Now he’s hooked for the season. He’s an athlete, has been since middle school. Cross country in the fall. Ski racing in the winter and track in the spring. High school. He also raced on the UofM’s ski team.

    He and Seoah both have the athletic gene, now expressed most often in workouts and golf every weekend. Makes dad glad. Ha. Good for health and for their marriage.


    Used the apartment’s gym again yesterday. Feel better already. More limber and a regular dose of endorphins. The same three buff middle-aged Korean women were in the weight room. Seemed like chatting had as much to do with their reason for being there as the weight machines.

    Noticed, again, that I tilt to the left. Scoliosis. Polio. Beginning to have some soreness in my right hip and lower back. Not often, not always. Usually after a lot of time on my feet.

    Still not sure how it will affect my stamina when I get into serious sight-seeing. May be limited to mornings. Maybe less than that. Or, maybe rest at intervals will be enough. I’m sure to find out this weekend since we’re going to Seoul for the first time.


    Big news here. War games held for both North and South Korea. Every year a war game called Freedom Shield unites South Korean and U.S. militaries in a display of force designed as a response to a hypothetical North Korean invasion. Such exercises enhance the ability of two command structures to blend when faced with actual conflict.

    North Korea launched an unsuccessful spy satellite last Wednesday in response. Then two more short range ballistic missiles this week. Today North Korea announced military exercises simulating the occupation of all of South Korea. Tit for tat.

    This annual saber rattling makes both sides a bit nervous, jumpy. My son has had some extra work as a result.

    On the streets of Songtan this causes no reaction whatsoever as near I can tell. The taxis pick up passengers. Folks go into the coffee shops. Buy meals in restaurants. It’s not that people don’t care. All Koreans want unification. Just not through military means. It’s more that the specter of war hangs so heavy here that it has become a backdrop to daily life. Not ignored, but not engaged daily.

    Sort of like having cancer it just occurred to me. You can’t pretend it’s not there. And, yes, it could kill you. But, if it occupies your heart/mind all the time  you give up life. Which doesn’t make sense. So  you make an uneasy peace and go on about your day.

  • Go now, the play has ended

    Lughnasa and the Korea Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: The Trail to Cold Mountain. Performed to applause. Released. Packing started. Radical light this time. The company of actors. Acting. Alan and Joan at dinner last night. Cold Mountain. His poetry. The improv class’s Armando. Ginnie. Rebecca. Marilyn and Irv. Ruth. Jen. Gabe. Joan’s piece on the dybbuk. Alan’s on aging. Tal, a master teacher at 26. A chilly Mountain Night. Luke and Leo. Vince. The Parking Spot. TSA open at 4 am for precheck security. Korea. Israel. Taipei.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Live a Great Story (decal on a Jeep back window)

    One brief shining: This time there was a crowd when I walked out, confident in my piece, carrying the drinking Gourd and my parchment poems, dropped into Herme and Han Shan’s story, Great Sol gone unseen as Berrigan Mountain rotated west with the rest of us, a light breeze blowing.


    Go now, the play has ended. My first play has found an audience. What a rush. I finished saying, “Take the Trail to Cold Mountain.” And we all had. My performance was over. The work of the summer over. Ups and downs culminating in a work I was proud of and a performance I was proud of. Felt wonderful. Stretched in a healthy way past my comfort zone.

    Only will know later if my goal for the piece spreading the word about the Rivers and Mountains poetry tradition of China found its way into anyone’s heart. If I had written an artist’s statement for The Trail to Cold Mountain it would have been something like this:

    I want to introduce to a Mountain audience the Rivers and Mountains poetry tradition of China through the Tarot archetype of the Hermit. I believe most Mountain folks have a strong component of this archetype that led them here. We like the curvy roads, the cool Mountain mornings, living with Wild Neighbors on Forested Land. No, more. We need to live away from the World, to clear the heat and dust from our minds and be where the Wind sings through the Pines. So, too, in China. In the Andes. In all the great Mountains and Forests of the World. We are one people.

    Poetry and archetype, myth and legend. Religion. This has long been my realm. From one novel to the next, from one job to the next, even the motor behind the justice work. Now it speaks to where and how and with whom I live. In the Mountains, with other Hermits yet also linked in loving ways to a community, caring for them and being cared for by them. Still linked in deep heart connection with Minnesota made friends, with family far away and nearby, living my own life with them all, yet apart from them, too.

    Deepening the love. Burning away the dross.


    Coming home, late. Drove up Brook Forest and Black Mountain Drives. Realized a powerful raison d’être for experiencing the sacred. As I drive along the familiar ranks of Lodgepoles and Aspens, I look now for another glimpse, a brief appearance of the natural world calling to me. (Art Green, Radical Judaism, p. 120) I know that the opportunity, the chance to again see through a portal like the Rainy Night Watcher exists. Thus, I’m more aware of the sacred all along the drive.

    This is, I imagine, the reason others over the course of history have written down their experiences, collected the stories of others, and collected them in what we call sacred writings. Not to freeze those moment and make them rules against which to measure our lives, but as clues, as prompts to the possible moments when the natural world will reach out to us, to help us be ready to see what we’re looking at.