“The poetry of earth is ceasing never.” ~John Keats
Luther Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota/Sioux leader from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota a century ago, once remarked that “The Lakota was a true naturalist – a lover of Nature. He loved the earth and all things of the earth, and the attachment grew with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.” It took me a long time — far too many years, in retrospect — to independently discover the truths embedded in Standing Bear’s thesis, although in better-late-than-never style I did ultimately manage, somehow, to become ‘a lover of Nature’ in a fashion that ‘grew with age’ and continues to grow thru this day. To many, in fact, I’ve become an ‘extremely RADICAL(!) environmentalist’, a title which I continue to both accept and endorse with great pride and passion!
Only one aspect of Nature remains a puzzlement to me. It’s a huge one, of course, but still is one which I can state in what amounts to a small handful of very simple words, i.e.: how is it possible that SO MANY humans are SO LACKING in their appreciation of the natural world, of what ‘it’ so readily brings to imagination’s table? As I’ve noted here in an earlier post, the poet John Keats — way back in 1817 — proposed a profound concept that Nature is poetic, that Nature, really, IS poetry, a thesis with which I have no argument, none at all. Nature is, at least to my mind, Poetry Ohne Worte, or Poetry without words. Impossible? Nope, no way!
A decade or so ago (2001, actually), as I was trying everything I knew to recover from a major medical difficulty, we spent as much time as we could possibly manage, then and over the course of each ensuing year, ‘out there’, away from the city, from people, from ‘civilization’. In Nature’s grip. And we found many truly magic places ‘out there’, places which literally DEMANDED that old people (such as moi) should come … to love the soil and [sit] or [recline] on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. Yep, I done it! Esp. during late summer, in mushroom ‘season’, following the monsoon rains, sprawled on the dampened earth, old camera firmly in hand. And. There. It. Was! The MAGIC! of Nature on full display! The Poetry of Earth in spades!
Below, the Poetry of mushrooms both in photographs and in words, inspired by the reality of Nature! in Arizona’s Blue Range mountains, in and around that bit of paradise man has named Hannagan Meadow.
Life can, indeed, be sweet. Especially at that moment when old people [come] literally to love the soil and [sit or recline] on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.
Yep. Been there, done that. 🙂
Implications Upon Awakening
In a Truffled Fairyland
In darkest night they come alive,
With noiseless fury, start to thrive –
Ubiquitous in numbers, still
A Fairyland ephemeral.
At morning’s dawn, a look around
Reveals that life requires no sound
To fast emerge, then prosper there
On forest’s floor, now vibrant lair.
When simple things of multi-hue
In silent, stoic dance imbue
Their lives with purpose, not intent,
They signal a disparagement
Toward we who bare our shallow mind,
Who sometimes seek yet never find
Life’s noiseless essence, all-the-while
Engaged in greed, conceit, and guile.
Thus elves of red, of burnished orange –
Of black, of brown – in rich mélange
Portray a Spectrum, gleaming, smooth,
A breadth of color born to soothe
The wits of Earth’s most savage Beast
Which, true to form, might chance to feast
Whilst uninformed! – then find its doom
In noiseless, calm – and Suave – Mushroom!
NOTE: In June of 2011, a human-caused forest fire fed on the consequences of protracted (human-caused?) drought and destroyed nearly 850 square miles of forest in the Hannagan Meadow surround, probably including the mushroom ‘lairs’ pictured above. I don’t know the details, haven’t been back since the blaze. Probably won’t return, either; better the memories which are, perhaps, proof, indeed, that “The Poetry of Earth is ceasing never” and that for those of us who choose to remain forever close to the Earth, her poetry will, forever, be the reality. Thanks to that “feeling of being close to a mothering power.”