I watched my neighbor this morning stuffing her trash can with dead sunflowers that were potential meal for the birdies, people are so detached from nature, unaware, myself, I’m hoping to encounter a cougar today —- I’ve oft heard it said that in wilderness there is salvation, I know what they’re getting at, although it doesn’t pertain to me anymore than it does a cougar or a rattlesnake —– photo August 23, 2021 —- Ah well, there are plenty sunflowers over here abundant with seeds we don’t pull up till first snow, if then
I AM SLOW
Some days are better than others I’m still mobile but the sinew resistant The gristle that holds my bones together is wearing down, my muscles are still strong, I have that to be thankful for and my hut is full of interesting books I have a broken toe, Han Shan, your poems are nimble, which I am not, presently, even as I am approaching three score and eight I can still hobble up mountain trail, neither young nor old There is humor in this cane It’s the perfect wobbly stick from a windfall Ponderosa Lonely canyon Further along
Portrait of Man with Broke Toe just minutes before he slipped and crashed ass over teakettle on Hawk Watch Trail last day of August —- I wasn’t even inattentive, and still it happen’d: wound up flat on my back between two boulders, first thought was, uh? Did I break anything? My right leg sending signals and further down the broke toe screaming, leg is sideways, blood on right hand, but it’s the left arm that’s impaled with cactus thorns in the hundreds, big thorns and those little furry thorns, luckily one packs tweezers & reading glasses in these mountains, but the rush of adrenaline has my hand shaking, I have to wait a bit for it to calm down, I delicately remove shirt, the sandy gravel colluvium betrayed my footing, there’s a ballet to walking stony paths, and surprise/unexpected/unwanted, hands still quivering I pull the needles one by one, even my backpack full of them, finally a half hour later I’m walking again and the Gods are with me, nothing broken
Reading the rocks: This one says Call yr broker, the stock market crashed. Really? Actually, this is granite and those stripes are what geologists call dikes —- When igneous rock is being metamorphosed deep underground it cracks and fills in with quartz, feldspar, mica, silica, Tonka toys, whatever is laying around —- I came across Greenstone filling one dike a few days ago —- Greenstone is metamorphosed basalt, kinda rare, didn’t know I knew that did you? I’m just a hopper full of worthless information, stick around —- photo 23aug2021 Piedra Lisa Canyon
photo in upper Piedra Lisa Canyon 23aug2021
The stasis of 2 in the afternoon Thorny stark sunstruck barren manifold life abounds, Rattlesnakes & Hornytoads, Ponderosa surrounded by Prickly Pear and decaying deadfall Jimi Hendrix sure hit the nail on the head calling this hurtling volcanic slag heap of basalt and granite: Third Rock From the Sun Insights from that good acid of 1967
photo 23aug2021 Desert Willow —- Piedra Lisa Canyon
Everything is a poem It’s amazing this time of year But then, it’s amazing every time of year — Presently, here on the 35th Parallel at 7,000 feet, the sunlight is quiescent As if the passing of summer is melancholy The light: opaque blue —- sere Even the clouds appear wanderlost as the axis of Earth begins to lean away from the summer sun
Proof positive that you are in the Northern Hemisphere: Everything spirals to the right —- Sacred Datura will open up at sunset —- This slow walking (broke toe) has brought me into the numinous elemental supernatural world, psychical drop-bombs, crinkling Cottonwood leaves in the afternoon breeze, I have a tea break —- 23aug2021
Our desert tortoise loves mulberry leaves and watermelon this time of year —- Curious, as there are no mulberry leaves in his native home of Death Valley, he only frequently will eat his Prickly Pears, which is what wild tortoise dine on
Billie Walters’ FIVE STONES FOR ELENA GALLEGOS in Bear Canyon en route to Pino Trail —- view directly east at the western face of Sandia Mountains —- 23aug2021
Early afternoon going up Pino Trail coming into the zone of tall pinon trees (namesake of this trail) ———— 23aug2021
A good hard Old Testament torrential rain could wash these mountains away, carry us off like Gilgamesh on the waters of oblivion
Greenstone with a quartz dike —- 29aug2021
Side draw off Embudo ——— photo is looking south —- Sunday morning August 29
The Treasure of Sandia Madre —- Looking up Embudo Canyon August 2021
Trail is straight up and slippery with loose rock, the
entire mountain is crumbling, withdrawing, going back from
whence it came, swirling in the universe —-
The path of renunciation, retreat, disengage from
worldly concerns for awhile, relinquish the drama of city life
We are all pilgrims
Portrait of Wayfaring Stranger with Lens Cap —- upper Pino Trail, late afternoon —- Went a whole lot farther than I should have that day with my toe still on the mend, I didnt get down till almost dark —- August 26 —- That’s Gambel Oak, Pinyon Pine, & Ponderosa
Hornytoad, probably only 3 weeks old —- 7500 feet elevation with the tall Ponderosa —- I always see Hornytoads on this stretch of trail this time of year, there must be a colony — One has to be careful not to step on the babies, they’re so docile, they don’t scramble off like Sceloporus, or that other freaked-out lizard, the Whiptail (I’ve seen Sceloporus all day but no Whiptail) —- They say Hornytoads will spend their entire lives in the vicinity of one ant hill, so, I looked around and of course, as always, there they are, big fat black steak dinners for hornytoads all over that decaying ancient falldown Ponderosa —- Maybe that’s why there seems to be a symbiotic relationship between Hornytoads and Ponderosa? They have a penchant for this variety of ant? Have seen no butterflies today, haven’t seen many this year, I hope nothing happen’d to them in their winter quarters down in Mexico? —- photo on Pino Trail August 26 late afternoon
Upper Piedra Lisa Arroyo in the Southern Sandias —- mid-afternoon in late August —- Tiger Swallowtail solitary sailing gracefully down canyon declivity and then fluttering back up, as if looking for something, like a visitation from the spirit world, I watch for some time, float back & forth, impossible to photograph I don’t bother
My compadre Brother Tim is going to show me how to eat these Prickly Pear —- I have lived my whole life in the Southwest and have never dined on one of these, one sees jars of Prickly Pear Jam at Farmer’s Markets, but, I don’t recall having that either, innocent that I am —— photo late August in foothills of Sandia Mountains (Tim did the cover drawing of the Sandias for my latest chapbook GALILEO TREE)
Little momentary episodes of light-headedness are common, nothing serious, it’s the elevation gain up these steep trails, altitude, Janet had a medical term for it that I dis-remember, something to do with aging —- I fainted once, got up too quick, and dropped —- It’s all part of it, if you want to hike these craggy mountains —- Time for lunch, in the summer I look for shade, in the winter I look for sun —- The other day on Hawk Watch Trail I find shade under a pinyon, but the gnats had staked their claim first (gnats problematic this summer), so, I wonder if they’d pester me if I moved into the sun? I’d rather not sit in the direct sun, but I need to shovel some coal into the burner —- I’m not much for breakfast, one of my bad habits, I had an apple earlier, hard to find shade on Hawk Watch, by the time I sit down to have a bite I eat like a blue ribbon hog, even as I’d like to take a few pounds off, but no hope in that after sardines, mixed nuts, prunes (2), dates (3), a few slabs of jerky, can of V8, and to top off, a CLIF bar (Crunchy Peanut Butter Banana w/Dark Chocolate) —- After all that I loaf around reading from my revered Shigeyoshi Obata (1922) translation of LiPo
My drawing of the west face of Sandia Mountains
Janet brought my coffee
saying “There’s a baby dove asleep on
the telephone wires”
Over the past week I’ve been spending
my coffee time in bed reading and looking at photos
A BOOK ON THE MAKING OF LONESOME DOVE
She says, “Do they do that? Sleep on
the telephone wire?”
I say “It’s hemispherical sleep, one half
of the brain sleeps while the other half
is on alert. There’s a big fancy word for it
that I keep meaning to memorize so I can
impress people, but so far it hasn’t
Lizards do this as well. Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep (I hadda look it up). Sceloporus on a boundary fence post. Sentry. When you see lizards doing push-ups, up, down, up, down, the theory is that with eyes on opposite sides of the head they do not have stereoscopic vision which is how homo sapiens discerns depth of field —- Lizards change position, up, down, up, to enable depth. They are “opportunistic insectivores” Aren’t we all? Four years is lifespan. Repopulation is a reproductive cycle that can start at ten months —- Females lay up to ten eggs.
Desert Marigold (Bailey Multiradiata) multi-radiation multi-waves of light —- Late August Embudito Canyon
POEM WITH CHARLEY KRACHY SOLO TENOR SAXOHONE
All the things yr suppose to do Are done Seemingly inconsequential Even as they shore up yr life: Wash the dishes, bring the laundry in, teapot whistling, feed the cat, make sure the turtles have water, respond to emails (maybe later, usually later), see about provisions for today’s hike, nothing tedious about all this and I hate to use the word mundane, sounds so pejorative for these activities These simple things that Somehow you know how to do, you like yr life so you do them, it’s the Sunday poets who blabber on about the nobility of simplicity you want to douse with a water hose, ah well . . . . Only takes 15 or 20 minutes and now you can sit have a cup of tea with a book about trees (much too early to read the newspaper)
This is how one occupies oneself during these Covid Lockdown Days —— I’ve actually been thinking about the arrangement for this Still Life for weeks and collecting elements for a couple months ———–SO this is just a preliminary shot, BUT it looks much better than I thought it would! —————– I still haven’t figured it out, yet ———— The versions with my splinted toe harken back to a Still Life I did in 1970 where I had a carburetor and some gears and had my brother Craig put his foot in the photo ————- So this is a Study for Still Life (work-in-progress) This preliminary shot really makes you think: What exactly makes a Still Life tick?
1. Janet has to test herself regularly for her doctoring job so these boxes are laying all over the place 2. I used to drink Coors —– Found it up on the trail in the Sandias 3. I actually threw those tubes of dried-up paint out but retrieved them for photo props 4. That piano hammer comes from the (recondition’d) Outpost Performance Space Steinway, SO, a LOT of great pianists have played it 5. I was a house painter 1955-2010ish ——— that’s a well-used oil stain brush, a beauty 6. In other versions of this projected Still Life I have 3 dozen pencils that are only 2-inches long (I’m a person who writes draft in pencil) 7. And those are my reading glasses, added at the last minute 8. I broke the little toe on door frame while on telephone with Jesse Sharps barefoot
Apache Plume, ever-present in the midday cosmos of August
He fought. A lot. But in the end, he lost. Heavy treatments. More than 3 and a half years of illness... Klaus' life ended this Friday, May 26, in our house. He was 69 years, 3 months and 24 days old. Since then, our cats have been looking for him everywhere. His absence is devastating.
On an afternoon in June or July, at a date and location yet to be determined, all those who wish to greet Klaus will be invited to gather in his memory, or have a thought for him from the other side of the world.
Christine Janvier, Klaus’ partner Saint-Nazaire, Loire-Atlantique, France
Il a lutté. Beaucoup. Il s'est battu. Mais finalement il a perdu. Des traitements lourds. Plus de 3 ans et demi de maladie... La vie de Klaus a pris fin ce vendredi 26 mai, dans notre maison. Il avait 69 ans, 3 mois et 24 jours. Depuis, nos chats le cherchent partout. Son absence est dévastatrice.
Un après-midi de juin ou juillet, à une date et en un lieu encore inconnus, tous ceux qui souhaitent le saluer pourront se réunir en sa mémoire, ou avoir une pensée pour lui de l'autre bout du monde.
Christine Janvier, sa compagne Saint Nazaire, Loire Atlantique, France
Er hat gekämpft. Sehr. Leider hat Er letzt endlich verloren. Schwere Therapien. Mehr als 3,5 Jahre Krankheit... Das Leben von Klaus ging am 26. Mai zu Ende in unserem Zuhause. Er wurde 69 Jahre, 3 Monate und 24 Tage alt. Unsere Katzen suchen ihn überall. Seine Abwesenheit ist verheerend.
Einen Nachmittag im Juni oder Juli an einem noch unbekannten Datum und Ort können alle, die es wünschen haben zusammenkommen an ihn zu erinnern oder aus aller Welt einen Gedanken an Ihn zu senden.
Christine Janvier, Seine Lebensgefaehrtin Saint Nazaire, Loire Atlantique, Frankreich
Damn, Mark. I’m so glad your riding with us on this planet.
What Melbert said. This is one of the best things I’ve ingested in months – I left a different reply earlier but it disappeared. Slow is good.
I always enjoy your wit. Have fun.
e till the e
Dear Mark. Me again. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your artistic journey, I truly am sorry about your toe tho. Those photos and your poems and comments just blew my mind. Incredible indeed. Thanks so much my friend. I send you lots of love and millions of thank yous and a strong wish that you’re back in top shape real real soon. Much love and gratitude for your friendship. Love and joy …. Sheila (Jordan)(.
You rock, Mark.
Amazing photos, beautiful toe…..great commentary & poems but what would you have done if you actually encountered a cougar…?
Hey Mark. 57 degrees this morning in Kentucky. Im walking down at Raven Run.
I thought about you Charley yesterday when I came across a cougar print in the mud of a seep spring in Embudo Canyon, fresh track so I lookt around for the big cat, but there are a million places for them to stay secret in these rocky mountains, so, there’s little hope of seeing one —- I’ve tracked them in snow, which might be stupid —- They’re like rattlesnakes, they are all over, but inhabit a different dimension that we can’t see ———— To answer yr question, what’ll I do when this eventuality occurs and I break into their dimension? I’ll keep my own counsel, ie. distance, and watch, even as climate change has changed many behaviors (more shark attacks lately) cougars have not been a problem in the past —— They say cougars need to take one deer per week, which seems like an exaggerated number, altho, we have deer, just like you do on Krachy Mountain ——— I have come across cougar kill before, quite often, really, so, heck, I’ll be sure to hide my antlers under a hat —————- There’s a good number of Forest Service sanctioned & survey’d official trails in the Sandias, but, deeper in, one’s curiosity prevails and you follow deer trails and many is the time you are bushwhacking, so, I’m definitely often in cougar territory ———– What will I do? Probably scream like a Boy Scout and run! Bouldering up a wash yesterday off-trail I came across what lookt to be a cougar lair, and that was a tad spooky, and I turned around
I guess as long as there is a supply of deer you’ll be ok…!!
Capturing the essence right.