My Muse has been good to me this month. She has given me lots of inspiration for poems to share. I am still working on finishing my epic poem, mentioned in my April blog post. In the meantime, I wrote a few spring haiku and have taken some pictures to share.
Happy NaPoWriMo everyone! It’s been at least 5 years since I’ve participated in NaPoWriMo, so I am due to return to the side of my muse and rekindle the bonds of friendship between us. She has taken her love to more attentive mortal humans, but I am sure that I will win back her affections as I take time to spend in nature and still my voice and thoughts. I am all ears for listening to her whispers. I have my notebook ready to write down the inspirations she will bless me with.
One of my favorite legendary muses is Calliope. She is the the oldest among sisters and is the mother of Orpheus and Linus. Calliope is the chief among muses. She played the lyre like her son Orpheus, and enjoyed writing poetry. She is usually portrayed with a quill and scroll in her hands.
Some of my favorite examples of epic poetry are Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Odyssey by Homer, and Beowulf. I am also intrigued by the Kyrgyz epics around the hero Manas, who unites Kyrgyzstan against their enemies. I must confess that I have not read an epic poem written by a woman, so I will close that gap by April 30th, beginning with Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh.
For many years, one of my dreams has been to write an epic poem. I have decided to take this month to write one. On April 30th I will publish a companion post to share with you the results of my efforts. I will write a stanza each day for the next 28 days. I have written two shorter poems so far, but I am now ready take the plunge into the world of storytelling with a long chain of lyrical verses.
There is a classic structure to writing an epic poem. Among the elements to include are:
Opens in the midst of dramatic action taking place in the world.
Setting is vast, including many countries or planets.
Invokes the aid of a muse, one of the 9 daughters of Zeus.
States the theme, or cause of the story’s action.
Uses descriptive epithets for characters, e.g. Alexander the Great, Achilles the Brave, Hercules the Strong, etc.
Employs long lists of objects, places or people, e.g. the list of demons in Paradise Lost, by John Milton, the genealogy of the featured hero.
Weaves in long formal speeches.
Divine intervention in human affairs is prevalent.
Tragic hero descends into the Underworld, or hell.
Use of repetition, such as stock phrases, such as “rosy-fingered dawn.”
Heroes embody the values of the civilization where the epic originated.
The Hero’s Journey
The hero of the story embarks upon a journey or quest in which s/he is besieged by adversaries who want to detain her and cause her to fail in completing her quest. She returns home transformed when she succeeds. She exemplifies virtues valued by the people where the story is set and performs mighty deeds.
How many of you will try to write an epic poem with me? Let me know how you fare in your endeavor.
We are all Storytellers and our Stories are Magical
The theme of my online writing this month has been about the magic of storytelling We all have a story to tell, and our heart-bonds are strengthened when we gather often to share our stories with each other. Our world grows bigger, our circle of friends widens, and our muses multiply. Below is a blog post written by a colleague of mine. I am sharing the link to it because I consider it a magical story.
by Carey Scouler, Proofreader
I’m sure that everyone can remember or relate to the joy of receiving an expected gift in the mail as a child; counting down the days until it would be delivered…
There are two definitions of the work Enchant, v. in the Webster’s New Riverside University Dictionary:1. to cast a spell over; 2. to Charm and delight completely.
Have you every encountered a scene in nature that has enchanted you? How about a person? Or a pet? Perhaps the place or person delights you and you have gathered some lovely memories around that place or person. If you are enchanted by a pet, you probably love spending lots of time playing with your critter friend. No matter the source of your enchantment, memories of spending time with that source undoubtedly bring you joy and peace.
Gratitude and Well-Being
What are your sources of enchantment? Take out a piece of paper and make a list. How many are they? Does writing about them and reading over your list lead to feelings of gratitude and well-being? When you think about them, does time slow down or stop for you? This happens to me when I write about aspects of my world that bring me a sense of enchantment. Here are some of the things on my list:
Working in my garden
Reading an enthralling book
Playing with my daughter
Playing with our hamsters
Walking around my neighborhood during an evening snowfall
Spending time by the seashore
Playing my musical instruments
Walking a labyrinth
Please feel free to share some of your items as comments below. I’d love to know about them.
Re-Enchanting Our World
I am reading a book by former priest and psychologist Thomas Moore, titled The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life. He is very Jungian in his perspective about how people form relationships with the world and how the modern world distracts us from developing deeper connections with nature, places we visit, animals, other humans, and the food we eat. The materials of the homes we live in affect our sense of peace when we are there. There could be too much of one element in a home, such as wood, and not enough of another, such as stone. There could be too little color or other types of creative stimulation in our work spaces. Such imbalances increase our levels of anxiety and affect our well-being. They detract from our health. If we give ourselves a chance to tune into what we need, we can create a more balanced home with a few adjustments, and begin our journey back to a greater sense of wholeness.
Once we can find enchantment daily in our homes, we have the freedom and openness to find enchantment in who we encounter there, such as family and pets. After that, we will be able to find enchantment in the places we pass through regularly, or visit occasionally, such as parks, schools, farm stands or local shops. Are there places in your town that you find enchanting? Are there favorite places that your family loves to visit? Our family loves to visit North Conway, New Hampshire and Acadia National Park in Mane. We also love to walk the trails of our local conservation land to our town library.
We Are Enough
When we look around us, do we find an enchanting place that warms our heart? If not, we can change that and make it more comfortable, more us. Our homes are meant to reflect what we love most, what makes us feel truly “at home” in the world. From that place we can have greater energy to meet the challenges that the world hands us, and respond with resilience and hope, perhaps sprinkled with playfulness. We can be a healing presence to others. Who we are is enough to light up the world. May we bless each other with our unique light!
We are now engulfed in the heart of winter. The holiday season is winding down and the coldest days of the season are still before us. No matter where we live, the dark hours of the night still seem much longer than those of daylight. What makes this season of cold and dark bearable for you? How do you satisfy your longing for warmth and light?
We need the shadow play of dark and light that winter brings. Only on the darkest nights do the lights on trees, bushes, yards and porches shine brighter. The darkness commands us to slow down, bundle up, and face the blustery side of nature. The time we spend inside gives us the opportunity to think about what we want to make happen in the new calendar year. The longer shadows help us focus our thoughts toward our center. The light of candles is softer than electric illumination, and fits the reflective mood of the winter months. One of the first things I do each day in December is to plug in the lights of our Christmas tree. As evening approaches, I light candles on safe surfaces. The play of shadow and light that they create invites us into a spirit of mystery and anticipation.
Bonfires and Holiday Lights
I am fortunate to live in Central Massachusetts. I live in an intentional community full of neighbors who love to gather around the hearth. When the night sky is crisp and clear with starlight, we sometimes stoke bonfires in the bowl pit and roast marshmallows. Neighbors also string lights on their porches and doors in anticipation of the holiday season. Those lights bring cheer and inspire me to spend more time walking around outside before I curl up under a pile of blankets inside.
Walking around our co-housing village this time of year is a magical time. My daily goal of 10,000 steps is more easily realized while walking the footpaths close to home. I often greet neighbors who are also walking about and wave to children playing. At dusk, the lights strung on porches and in doorways begin to sparkle brightly against the approaching nightfall. They are beacons of hope and warmth when the wind picks up and the chill begins to freeze my limbs. Yet, there are also fields nearby to step away into the darkness and appreciate the starlight of the winter constellations.
When I walk, my first destination is usually our community labyrinth on the other end of our village. It is a wonder-filled place to walk and reflect. It’s Baltic Wheel design and natural setting inspires moments of stillness and appreciation for nature’s wisdom. The deep, dark colors of our conifers stand out as snow laces their branches and shrouds the earth around their roots.
Winter Garden Wonder
Another place quite close to us that we love to visit is Tower Hill Botanical Garden. It was established in 1986 by the Worcester Horticultural Society and hosts a wide variety of programs for members and guests to forge a deeper kinship with nature. The garden is a magical place all year round, in all seasons, but especially when it is lit up with many lights during the site’s Winter Re-Imagined festival. Their outside and inside exhibits delight visitors of all ages. I spent 2 evenings this month volunteering there and plan to return soon.
Happy New Year
May all of your days in 2017 be filled with love, hope, and cheer. May the warmth of holiday lights remind you that you are not alone, that no matter where you are you are thought of fondly. May the spring bring warmer days to accomplish outside tasks and the summer shine on an abundant garden harvest. May all of your dearest dreams come true!
As Autumn wanes and we await winter’s cold and snow, I bid a fond farewell to the colorful leaves that have graced my days the past couple of months.
September escaped my grasp and I have nearly allowed October to run away from me, too, as I have spent these past couple of months walking wooded paths and enjoying the glory of Autumn in New England.
As September glided into October, my family and I spent a weekend exploring Acadia National Park in Maine, one of the first parks in our national system founded a hundred years ago. The flora, fauna, and geological diversity at the site captured our interests and imagination. We were also treated to an early foliage peaking as the state of Maine is very close to Canada, and very close to the top of our continent. Brrr.
During the month of October, we have enjoyed the peak foliage season closer to home. I have reveled in the glow of warm colors in the leaves as I walked our wooded labyrinth, took an art class around drawing fallen leaves with colored pencils at our local botanical garden, and watched my daughter jump into fluffy, fragrant piles. Together we love to throw armfuls of leaves into the air and stand in the middle of their showering over our heads.
We have seen more rain fall from the sky this fall than we had all summer. The first frost bit our pole bean bushes and snap pea vines. I am grateful for the kale that still grows and the butternut squash continuing to ripen in our pantry. The beets still have some time before they are full grown and are hardier, so I have left them in the bed for now, and planted garlic bulbs for next year’s summer harvest.
As more colorful leaves begin to carpet the grass than flutter from the branches of trees, I extend my best wishes to you for a cozy and productive winter. The world is ready to rest. I am ready to spend more time indoors than outdoors. As Garrison Keillor used to say at the end of his Prairie Home Companion show every week ~ “be well, do good work and keep in touch.”
Saturday, August 20, 2016 was National Honey Bee Day, instituted as a celebration of the beauty, industry, and generosity of honey bees. They deserve our respect and appreciation. There are so many things that our winged friends do for us:
Pollinate our plants so that flowers and food blossom and grow for us.
Make honey that contains an abundance of healing properties.
Their honey adds sweetness to our lives without spiking glucose levels.
They build beautiful hives that are geometrically intricate – according to the Fibonacci pattern of mathematics.
Bees in Community
If those aren’t enough reasons to appreciate bees, they also live in and inspire community. All bees work together to accomplish their home building and honey production, and to keep their family thriving.
On August 19th, the eve of their special day this year, the owner ofFollow the Honey, a shop in Harvard Square, hosted an evening of poetry by Devi Lockwood in their warmly lit courtyard. She is a cyclist and a writer who traveled around the world collecting stories about water and climate change. Her poetry is beautiful and thought-provoking and speaking with her was a pleasure. We bought a copy of her chapbook to support her next bicycle trip, which will be to attend the climate talks in Morocco.
Follow the Honey also partnered with Proud Pour, a wine company that helps the environment thrive with each bottle it creates. It’s “Oyster” white wine is crispy and refreshing on a summer’s night, reasonably priced and restores 100 oysters with each bottle. They will name their next wine project “The Bee,” which will have sweet honey notes in it and will dedicate its sales to supporting the health and survival of bee colonies.
Sustainable Business Models
I was impressed by how a business model can be built around contributing to economic and environmental justice. The time it took to travel and park in Harvard Square was rewarded with a wealth of fresh knowledge and our chance to taste a variety of honey flavors. We also brought home 2 jars of raw honey, which we have enjoyed in our iced tea and morning cereal.