30 December 2009

degrees of cold

"When your nose begins to feel prickly inside, you know it's below 15," Peter told me.  "Below zero, of course." The moisture in your nostrils freezes.  At -20, Peter's clothing crackles.  Uwe said that once he stood still for ten minutes watching a weather balloon launch in air 40 below and his cheeks developed white frostbite spots the size of 5 kronor coins.  That's roughly the size of a quarter.   He admitted that he forgot to move around.

Temperatures in Kiruna are starting to dip below -28 C at night.  Last night I walked through the woods for 15 minutes and my eyelashes gathered a rime of frost that looked like the beginning to a good Halloween costume.  With the full moon nearly upon us, it is light enough without low clouds to venture out at any time of night.  The moon will not touch the horizon for at least another week.

photograph taken at IRF yesterday around 2:30 p.m.

20 December 2009

nektonic drifters

a world snowcoated in silence three feet deep.
I caught the snow and the sky in a game of simon says.
favorite subaerial precipatory transport process, anyone?

19 December 2009

midday twilight

no nacreous clouds yet, but this image was taken around midday in Kiruna.

17 December 2009


Omarama, New Zealand.
December 7

15 December 2009

Välkommen till Arktis

Sometime on the train we crossed into the Arctic.  I woke up with the carriage to myself just north of Umeå and everything was covered in snow.  Feet of snow.  Thick.  Like icing smothering an undeserving cupcake.

Two colors told it all.  Black conifers balancing thin white snowdrifts out to their limbtips. A blackblue sky.  Ground white as eyes, textured like etched glass.

Kiruna won't see the sun again until after the first week of January.

I left New Zealand Saturday evening with the Pacific scent of summer on my breath.  Before the flight, I waited quietly in a park munching my last bit of smoky sausage, my backpack at my feet, beneath two rainbows that appeared briefly before the sky flushed a husky orange.

I flew in the belly of a 400,000 pound beast. Two wings, three wheels, and four Rolls Royce engines licking five gallons of fuel per mile. (That's how many polar bears, Carson?)  We lost the sun before we took off, found it near the coast of California, lost it once more over Canada, and finally caught up with it south of the Outer Hebrides. The giant cleavage between Scotland's highlands and its lower half peered up at us until the low clouds took it away. In Stockholm's afternoon darkness, I climbed aboard a train.  Seventeen hours later, I stepped onto an icy platform in Kiruna.  2 p.m. The sky a deepening blue.  Another eighteen horus before twilight.
My new field clothes. Tomorrow's forecast is -21 degrees C. One winter the temperature dipped to 40 below.

27 November 2009

place o flight

Omarama, New Zealand. 14 November 2009

The first thing you see when entering the township of Omarama is a wooden sign that reads, "OMARAMA: PLACE OF LIGHT."  This morning, from a rusty weed-tickled bleacher stand, I counted nearly 50 sailplane trailers lining a field south of the town's airstrip.  It is the South Island Regional Gliding Championships, and pilots here are rewarded for cloud-hunting.  From my spot on the edge of town, I noticed more than a few lenticulars squirming above the mountains.

Omarama, as far as I can tell, spans an area slightly smaller than Sewanee's central campus.  It's a handful of establishments dribbled around a T-junction of highways.  A couple petrol pumps, a police station, general store, and two of the most active gliding clubs in this hemisphere. 

As the day wore on, I watched 28 gliders evaporate from the airstrip and materialize on Nursery Ridge.  They had some help: a couple '70-something Piper Pawnees and a Supercub from the previous decade.  The Pawnees were painted red and white, and looked like clowns that someone clapped in the head with a pair of cymbals.  Their task for the day involved caressing the neck of Mt. Aspiring, among others in the area.  All of this flying makes me think that they got the spacing wrong in their welcome sign.  Just bump the F forward, and you've got a proper welcome to Omarama...

07 November 2009

the lonely sea and the sky

near Taieri, New Zealand.

What is it about the sea and the sky that exudes such loneliness, and why despite the hollowness of that theater do we long to fling ourselves into it?

English poet laureate John Masefield captures it well in twelve lines.  His poem "Sea Fever" begins:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sails shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a gray dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

While broad tundras and dense forests and empty steppe offer parallel remoteness in some parts of the world, the sea and the sky bend solitude into an untenably alluring arena.  Open.  Free.  Unpeopled.  Directionless.

I am reading the autobiography of Francis Chichester, an early aviator and sailor, and I'm aching to fly again.  When I first arrived, I stopped by a one-room airport in Oamaru and took a 172 up over the gravelly braids of the Waitaki River in northern Otago.  I haven't been up since, although yesterday I received a package from home that contained a balsa wood airplane.  Almost as good.  Southwesterly winds were blowing a constant 30 knots and gusting to god-knows-what.  The balsa wings stayed in their  hangar. 

Next week, Omarama is hosting the South Island regional gliding championships. I'm headed that way with the only pair of wings I've got.

01 November 2009


across the Tasman, my mind is aswirl with the possibilities of a new place.  Aotearoa. Land of the Long White Cloud.  Yesterday, the sky was raked with altocumulus before it bubbled over with shreds of wooly stratus from the south.  In the evening, lenticular clouds levitated above the hilltops like stacks of red blood cells.  Weather bolts across this place like a jet shadow over the ground.  I'm gathering pieces.  Today, I cross the Southern Alps to collect bits of the west coast from the Cascade Plateau.

Above, a piece of sky from Byron Bay, New South Wales.

21 October 2009

catching light

I took this photo during a sunrise flight on the prowl for the Morning Glory last month. The fog pooled on the salt flats and flowed around the mangroves lining the river veins. We caught the light as it touched the streaky veneered surface, just before it burnt through. Two pilots. Early spring. The edge of a continent.

10 October 2009


Of the 4,006 identified species of cockroaches, Australia has 428.  I spotted this Northern Banded Cockroach (Cosmozosteria zonata) on Sweers Island, in the Gulf of Carpentaria.  Definitely the most comely Blattodean I've ever seen.  Australia has some of the world's smallest and largest, ranging from 3 to nearly 70 millimeters.  The larger ones are sometimes mistaken for tortoises on the road.

06 October 2009

dancing coffee and mugs of whales

The seeping desire to linger in familiarity is something I assume most people recognize.  From time to time, a soothing voice tiptoes out from behind droopy eyelids, crosses your temples, and slips into a pair of soft ears, saying stay putdon't venture away, I like it here. Why take to the sky when you've a cozy sheepskin chair , an engrossing book, and a mugful of something steamy?  That's a good question.  I could see myself perfectly happy scooting from one cozy nook to the next,  from mug to mug and book to book.  Happy. Complacent.  And really boring.

Today, I went flying and was thankful I did.  The most easterly point in Australia was a whale fest this afternoon.  Tyagarah's runway is a strip of grass hiding in a rectangular hole in the forest, and upon rising out of that hole, the Tasman Sea comes immediately into view.  And prancing about in the choppy blue today were scattered pods of jubilant humpback whales.  I cannot write with any authority about cetacean-human communication, but when we skimmed our glider over the water and circled the individual whales from 500 feet, I'm pretty sure they were trying to tell us something.  Like happy birthday, or I won the Mysticeti lottery.  As we swooped over them, they would leap out of the water and crash blissfully on their backs, hesitating on the surface long enough for us to count their white ventral grooves.  I dunno.  I'm just telling you what I saw.  I was impressed.

Tomorrow, I take up my pack for the first time in weeks, and head to Victoria.  It will be the first flight in a month that I haven't had to dip the fuel tank, monitor the oil pressure, balance a sectional chart on my knee, or take over the controls when my copilot falls asleep.  Instead, I'll probably pull out my book and maybe even enjoy a cup of something steamy.

photo: the mangrove-lined Albert River northeast of Burketown. In the foreground, the motorfalke VH-YHB.

04 October 2009

boiling down works

A couple rusty steel vats at Burketown's boiling down works.

The site sits about 5 kilometers out of town, a heap of abandoned machinery littered among the scrub.

03 October 2009

Australian badass

I know it's only been about 5 minutes since my last post, but I can't hold it in.  Here's the deal: I am staying with Morning Glory pioneer pilot/host/friend, curry-cooking, beer-brewing, motorcycle-twirling, mantodea-cultivating, photo-meister Russell White.  Basically a rare strain of Australian badass.  His driveway is--not shaded but maybe--attended by a crowd of tall banana trees. I think I even saw a trichopteran licking the dust off his BMW this afternoon.  That'd be the car, not the bike beside it.  He's the one to thank for my trip to Burketown, as it was he who gave me the only seat in his GROB 109A and let me fly a great deal of the time.  Russell lives in a town called Mullumbimby (I'm not making this up), which I just ran all over a few minutes ago.  To get a good idea of the terrain of Mullumbimby, imagine all of the 150-meter hills you could fit into 50 square kilometers, and then grab that bunch hills around the base and squeeze them together even tighter, and that's basically what Mullumbimby looks like, covered in grass and cows and fern trees and loud frogs and crickets.  And today, smoke.  Bush fires have been making the rounds these past few days further inland, and we inhaled a good dose of it.  So I'm here for a few days grâce à Monsieur White, until the next adventure, which begins with New and ends with Zealand, after a quick trip down south.

photo: another Australian badass. A jillaroo at the Burketown rodeo last weekend.

02 October 2009

switching back to CTAF

"Looks pretty amazing, really," said glider Oscar India.  Except he was looking in the opposite direction.  On 122.9 ("one-two-two-niner"), it sounded like the glider gang got the shards of a broken Morning Glory. What we saw was pretty amazing, too, but we were tracking 156 towards Cloncurry.  Shards of a different glory, the golden spokes of sunrise. It was enough of a sendoff for me.

I wouldn't be far from the mark if I admitted that I took this photo with a lump in my throat. Burketown was growing smaller behind us, and I knew it would only grow smaller in my memory, too.  We listened on 122.9 in silence as the other gliders' calls became more muddled and broken 10 miles out, 20 miles out, 50 miles out, and finally heard them one by one switch back to CTAF.

It's strange to live a year like this, building up a community over days or weeks and then one day turning away from it all without a backward glance simply because it's time to move on.  It's tough to leave a piece of yourself behind and not know if you'll ever return to reclaim it.  At Burketown, the pilots and friends, even the salt flats and the hot sea breezes, made the farewell difficult.

The day before I left, a fellow pilot, Nigel, gave me a thermalling lesson in this Dimona (VH-GYT). It was a beauty to fly, and I managed to keep it aloft for about an hour in the invisible afternoon thermals. When we landed, we ambled curiously among the parked aircraft to a helicopter being disected by a couple men and a forklift.  Dangling from the forklift's giant pincers was a 100 kilogram, 500 horsepower engine.  The one in the Dimona weighs 80 kilos and is 80 horsepower.  Nigel fell silent.  He was ogling the motor like a...well, like a glider pilot before a very lightweight 500 horsepower engine.  We had just spent an hour soaring with our engine off, and here we were, awestruck by a gently swinging gas-swilling beast.  Some things don't make too much sense.  I guess it's kind of like saying good-bye.  Eventually, we just had to turn and walk away.

28 September 2009

blowin in the wind

The sound of strong wind in the leaves is something I will never grow tired of. Like yesterday, today's wind send us dust from the southeast. No Morning Glory. For the first time since our arrival 16 days ago, we went back to sleep after our routine pre-dawn wake-up. We gathered in the dark between the cabins this morning, discussed the wind, the lack of moisture, made a few tired jokes, and concluded that it was not Morning Glory weather. Later, I wandered down the road that joins Burketown to the next closest town, Gregory Downs (population 50), 150 kilometers away. "Willy willies" of dust rose up and swept across the road before disappearing in the wind. When I returned, I was covered in a fine layer of Queensland's loosely clad skin, and there was grit in my mouth.

Two days ago, however, this was not the case. Another fabulous ride on the back of Burketown's blustery giant took us out to Sweer's Island on Saturday.  The Glory was another rippled beauty, and we surfed the primary for a while before hopping over it to the secondary, then the tertiary cloud.

The glider here is VH-YHB, the motor falke I trained in, on the primary cloud.  Beside the Glory, it looks miniscule.

25 September 2009

speed on the flats

Yesterday, we spent the "arvo" searching for an abandoned race track. All we found was this. In a couple months, the lake bed will be overflowing.

At dusk, we watched Geoff fly his model airplane across the salt flats. It's a styrofoam getup, with a modified prop and added rudders over the wings, about half a meter long.  If only a glider could pull off those tricks. We watched it with the deep longing to be four centimeters tall.

23 September 2009

said I'm comin from the south...

I don't know if there is a musical tradition for this part of the Gulf of Carpentaria, but if there is, the Morning Glory must lilt through it.  And if there isn't, I'll write one. But I'd do that anyway.  Last night we stayed off sleep later than usual I howled tunes from my homeland until we became too sleepy to see.  It felt good.  It felt great.  And it was probably best that we finally turned in because the cloud took us out to sea this morning for another three hour duel with gravity, sans un moteur.  It was the week's third Morning Glory to chase the tail of dawn across the Gulf, this time coming from the south.  We watched the giant roll over us stirring up dust and dew, and took off before it's siblings could do the same.  They took the darkness with them. It's not very often that they blow from the opposite direction like this.

I shot this photo facing east from the ground as the Glory was directly overhead (the darkness is cloud).  It obscured the entire sky for a couple minutes, sparing only two slices of pink twilight on either side.  Soon after this one passed overhead, a few others followed, spaced a few minutes apart.

21 September 2009

Albert River

A nine-ribbed Morning Glory leapt over us yesterday, and we were were waxing utopian to think that we could ride another this morning. Dew-slicked wings and water-heavy canopy covers made us hopeful. We climbed into our gliders with damp hands. In a momentary span of motorless quiet, I heard a rooster crow. On the horizon, a faint outline of a thick cloud, but too far out to sea to surf. Instead, we traced the Albert River back to Burketown before the sun sent the fog away.

20 September 2009

Morning Glory!

6:14 a.m. 20 September 2009. Burketown.
Morning Glory hunting. lenticular-crowned cumulus on the dawn's horizon. Jabiru taxiing [runway] 21. We're on deck.

I jotted these notes this morning before we took off. Three and a half hours later, we landed the motor glider on runway 03. We had used 10 liters of fuel. And had soared this:

Morning Glory, running roughly north-south. On the leading edge, we were able to get up to 9 knots of lift at times.

looking the other direction, you can see a gap where lenticular clouds are beginning to assemble

as we approached the "lennies," the lift became a bit more elusive

behind the primary Morning Glory, a secondary cloud rolling only a few miles behind

I posted a couple videos from the flight here.

17 September 2009

patterns in the sky

We took off from Tyagarah just after dawn on Sunday. By the time we reached Burketown the following afternoon, over 1000 miles had passed beneath us. I watched rhyolitic peaks rise out of the forest as we crossed over the Tweed Caldera and the Great Dividing Range, and witnessed them sink again when we traveled west. The green army of beeches and bromeliads suddenly came to a halt at the lip of a tawny-colored soup. Outback Queensland splayed out beneath us as far as we could see from eight thousand feet aloft. Dusty brown roads connected cattle station to cattle station, leading at some point to a town only a handful could call home. Rivers became the great sculptors of the land. Their burly arms writhed like snakes with thin stripes of trees on either side. When a curious finger of a river ran dry, the trees vanished and left naked ruts in the sand leading nowhere. Most, it seemed, were dry. It wasn't until we neared the gulf on the second day that we glimpsed flowing water again.

We arrived Monday afternoon, a bit cramped from almost nine hours in the plane, but happy to breathe the heat-laden air of Burketown. On Tuesday, we rose before five and spun our props by the day's first light. As we climbed from the runway, we could see a line of clouds building on the horizon to the northeast. According to local residents and pilots, a well-formed Morning Glory had plowed across the gulf the previous day. What we saw that morning was a second breath of the same type of system, but not as smoothly rolling as its predecessor. It was advancing slowly south-westward nearly 30 miles out to sea. While not producing enough lift for us to soar, it was nevertheless a magnificent sight.

On the prowl for the Morning Glory, we join a handful of other pilots from around the country gathered here in Burketown seeking a ride on the famous cloud. I'll be here for another two weeks. Hopefully, the winds will send her our way.

06 September 2009


70 kilometers south of Kununurra in Western Australia lies a dam constructed without a speck of bitumen or concrete. There, the Ord River meets a barracade of rock, sand, and clay pulled from the nearby gorges to create one of the world's most efficient dams. The result is a body of water occupying over 1000 square kilometers. That's large enough to be classified as "open water," like the ocean, and also vast enough to generate its own cyclonic weather systems. They call it Lake Argyle. Beyond the dam, the Ord River slithers on through Kununurra and eventually meets the Indian Ocean.

Above, an image taken from Mirima National Park in Kununurra. Below, the river and gorge just after sunrise this morning, about 13 kilometers south of the town. The water is so clean that it can be cupped straight from the river.

31 August 2009


Blazing through Lamington National Park last week, I caught a glimpse of a few things I was not looking for. This Giant Panda snail (Hedleyella falconeri), for one. Others included a handful of sunbathing rough-scaled snakes, a gulley of glowworms, Prickly Tree Fern fronds that could double as some nice lingerie for a citizen of Brobdingnag, the largest erosion caldera in the southern hemisphere, enough strangler figs to make you suspicious, and the Victoria Riflebird through a pair of the most expensive binoculars that will ever touch my face, courtesy of a couple bird quacks-I mean, watchers.

The only downside is that the rainforest butchers the sky, which makes cloudwatching a bit complicated. September is Morning Glory month. So in less than two weeks, I'll be gliding north in hopes of glimpsing that famous cloud in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It has occurred there every year for at least the past 20. To be expected? It's only a cloud.

20 August 2009

avian revery

Five hours with an instructor was enough. When time was up, I popped the canopy, he hopped out, and I flew solo. Back up to 1300 feet, I cooled the engine, and turned it off. Weightless. Well, compared to this agile beast. To ascend any further, the game becomes cloud hunting. A small, squirmy cumulus usually sits on good lift. Or you could just follow the birds. Wedge-tailed Eagles, Little Eagles, White-bellied Sea Eagles, vultures. Thermal experts. They've had about a 150 million year head start.

08 August 2009


Byron Bay, New South Wales.

06 August 2009

Byron gliding club

Today, I caught my first sultry sight of a Scheibe Falke in action. It soared over the hillock where I was planted running a time-lapse of the bay. The view from the lighthouse hill is unrivaled. Over the course of an afternoon, a crowd of parcelled cumulus gathers over the Koonyum Range and swells up and blows inland, while more puffs congregate further seaward. Some of the more buxom cumulus individuals were even capped by lenticular pileus clouds. Above it all, filaments of mare's tail cirrus drifted slowly, like wisps of fine white hair. Some of my favorites.

I made a two-wheeled trek out to Tyagarah a couple days ago to visit the Byron Gliding Club. The place is pretty bare bones. One room of flight manuals, creased sectional charts, faded pilot certificates, plus the office desk and kitchen sink. In the rear, a doorway leads to a spacious hangar with a handful of motor gliders and an old Cessna. The bathroom is classic outback: a toilet stuck to a concrete pad, encircled by a cylinder of corrugated galvanized iron. I move in next Tuesday.

For a glider certificate, it should take around 5 hours of flight time in a motorfalke. Perhaps the same one I saw graze the hillside today. Upon flying the length of the lighthouse spit, the glider slipped soundlessly into an 80 degree bank and disappeared beneath the cottony fringe over the mountains. Soon, I'll have wings again.

31 July 2009


In the slant light of morning, this camp is nearly inviting, barring the scent of smoldering "ciggie" butts and the frantic hooting of the extended magpie family above my tent.

In Travels with Charley , Steinbeck says, "External reality has a way of being not so external after all." We perceive the world often as a macrocosm of our own experience. When we are sullen, a grey sky is sunken and drab, vapid and oppressive. In better spirits, the same sky may be mysterious and coy or insulatory and snug.

I am in Byron Bay, which I can best describe as vagrant hippie hobo meets brawny choch surfer meets skittles gone wild. A lot of rainbow kitsch, a lot of haggard dusty-bearded buskers, and a lot of dudes glued to their surf boards. They almost resemble herds of centaurs, marching with their wetsuits peeled down the waist--the nude top half of a long-haired man with gloved legs and a longboard extended horizontally behind. Put a bunch together and you'd think you were lost in Lewis' wardrobe.

Vibrant colors abound. On people, cars, buildings. Something in the air exudes rainbows, I swear. It's tough to say who wears more ink--the hoards of tattooed layabouts or the graffitied hulls of concrete buildings and automobile panels. The only surface not slathered in paint is beaches. In the early morning, they are sparsely peopled and smooth, not yet pocked by bum hewn footprints.

Today, I snapped this photo just after sunrise. The spit of land downhill from the lighthouse is the most easterly point in mainland Australia. The air was beautifully clear, the clouds crisp, and the sky inviting. If the way I saw the coast this morning is any reflection of how I am feeling, then I think it can be taken as a good sign.

20 July 2009

Missing Autumn

I see the comings and the goings...
the trays and platters brought in
and emptied
people growing, people shrinking
excitement for the first time
laughter at the young, naïve

today there are leaves
tomorrow there are none
the night sees them red
by dawn they are done.
there are so many
comings and goings

what does it mean to have stake?
a big bite.
what does it mean to taste them all?
a layer of dust
is all we are.

flipping through an old notebook in search of a song name, I came across this old rambling. maybe you could call it a poem. I leave tomorrow. The only thing that makes me a little sad about this year is missing Autumn.

I took this photo last year at my home in Sharpsburg, Georgia.

19 July 2009


After many many hours in the Skyhawk (45), I earned my wings on Friday.

15 July 2009

seeing green

The sky as seen from the fire tower one evening a couple nights ago. In the tower the world seems to slow down. You hear sounds from animals whose names you can only pathetically attempt to guess. Heavy footsteps, scampering, rustling, hooting, croaking, chirping. Even the wasps that have papered homes in the box at the top of the tower make a strange hum I hadn't noticed before.

One of the most astonishing things about seeing the plateau from there in the summertime is the immensity of the space covered by trees. Trees of all shades of green and endless shapes as far as the eye can see, until the Tennessee River beyond South Pittsburg and until the plateau drops off in the northwest. (Here is a good example.) We live in a beautiful place. The whole world is not so lucky.

13 July 2009

Quel giorno piu non vi leggemmo avante

Sometimes, in a hill town like Orveito or Assisi, one can believe for whole moments in the possibility of a life with wings. Here, in this city of the river valley, stolid and beautiful as it is, no creature but a bird could ever lift up of its own accord, circle once the bell tower of the Badia Fiorentina, where Dante used to look longingly at Beatrice during Mass, and fly away. Nonetheless, however much or little it matters, I am writing this in a small notebook covered with tentative brown wings, touched only slightly by a single feather of blue here and there, every one of them laid down by the hands of the printer Giulio Giannini. It is now late afternoon in Florence, and my head is full of wings.

"In the City without Wings"
Gibbons Ruark

photo of Freiburg, Germany

12 July 2009

Species concept

A drip?

One of my guide books to clouds lists 53 different cloud classifications. On each page, a careful paragraph describes the subtle distinctions between types, explaining how to identify the exact moment when one cloud evolves into another. At some point the entire body of water droplets crosses an imaginary line to be called something else. To say that clouds are ephemeral is simply a temporally broader observation.

If the whole idea of classifying transient bodies seems nearly pointless to you, you're not the first to think so. The sorites paradox sums it up nicely. Darwin recognized this problem with species concepts, of which there are now at least a couple dozen floating around. Systematics is simply a recognition that there is some salient cluster of characteristics that allows us to make a little more sense of what we see, from clouds to barnacles.

"I look at the term species", Darwin wrote, "as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other." Which is just about all we can agree upon. But at least we agree on that.

10 July 2009

Fuite de sens

I took this string of photos atop a fire tower in Tennessee as the sun was setting. The clouds seemed to be directionless, some retreating to the west, while others fled eastwards above them.

My thoughts from the evening went something like this:

My legs dangle freely a half-story beneath my camera clicking away at 5 second intervals and catching un « dageurréotype » du coucher du soleil, ou plutôt la lumière qui se déplace devant le coucher du soleil.

La nuit approche. La lune est pleine. Demain, mon deuxième vol de nuit vers un aéroport contrôlé. Je sais. Et je ne sais rien. Les bottes de mon ami faire un craquement à chaque fois qu'il se déplace sur l'ancien escalier de chêne juste à côté de mon oreille.

La nuit descend rapidement et, peu à peu les grillons me calmer vers pensées de mes étés d'enfance sur un île-barrière, comme les rêves étoilés de Saint-Exupéry qui fut transformé dans le désert et a accouché du petit prince. J'écris.

Il y a quelque chose de sérénité dans le changement lent de lumière. Il est peut-être la raison que je me languis des hauts latitudes où la lumière reste suspendue pendant des jours du crépuscule et chaque saison a sa propre gamme de couleurs délicates.

Mon ami monte, et moi, je reste assise sur l'escalier tandis que les grillons et les grenouilles chantent pour le changement de la lumière. La nuit approche.

01 July 2009


I just received a Canon G10 to help me document my Watson year. Minutes after I got it, I saw some incredible cloudscapes at Lake Cheston. The barn swallows are nesting at the old dairy.

26 June 2009


dried oak leaves lie caught in a piece of door screen curled away from the frame. tiny nails stick out. it stays open for days.

the porch has so many different textures of wood that shadows from the maple growing beside it become muddled when they fall there. it has sloped for ages.

at eight o'clock the light catches the bench in the front yard. by nine, it's warm and too hot to sit down upon.
I don't know how long it has stood there. the grass beneath it is long.

28 May 2009

in the Lowlands

Sometimes words fail.

For me, that time is encountered more often than not. I've always found writing to be easier than speaking, and music easier than writing. Recently, it has been a song by the pianist George Winston entitled "Billy in the Lowlands," that reaches a part of me that my mouth or pen cannot. Whatever it is that impels me to pour myself into this song every day, I cannot explain.

This week is a strange one. A dear friend is leaving. Another is arriving. A lot of things that want to be said cannot be, simply for lack of words. Yet somewhere in the music we make, what wants to be said becomes evident.

I've had this image on my mind for a while. A sunset on Cumberland Island, which more closely resembles a sunrise. The clouds fetch twice the glory in the plate glass water of Christmas Creek. There's something about clouds, too that is difficult for me to explain. Why, for example, the frayed lattice of an altocumulus heap can put me at peace. This year I hope to delve into that question and hopefully, after a year, be able to express some sort of answer, whatever the medium.
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