Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Connecting, Again

For a year and a month, the creek ran wild, the culvert and road gone, flushed downstream, nearly taking our neighbor’s lives that stormy night, as they came around the corner, the night blackened roadway ahead gone in a blink and a roar. They plunged into the raging flooding creek, and were carried a half mile down, finally caught by a blown over tree, with air, finally, to breathe. Fawcett Creek tried to live up to its name, and then some. Perhaps it should have been called Torrent Creek, or Inundation Gulch. The next day, the road gone, we found the old route closed, the abyss ready to take us, too, if we gave it a chance.

We have turned left now, to go to town, taking the back way, through five corners, three farms, the school and the store. Potholes grew wider, the road narrower, as we competed with the milk trucks and all of our neighbors for the old road.

Engineers came and went, and then, slowly, the ruins of the culvert and the old fill across the creek disappeared. Piling and cement forms stacked up, and then a new roadway, and then, week by week, a new bridge. Its slow curves began to rise, tempting us with a promise of connection. They had to wait for the salmon runs to end, before building in the creek bed, so late summer days meant pile driving thuds echoing off the hills. It was noise we could love, knowing the bridge was taking shape, rising and spreading its full length.

Finally, yesterday, the orange warning signs and the flashing “road closed” light disappeared, the bridge open at last. The new sign boldly proclaims the name of the creek. Yet, no trumpets blared, no ribbons were cut. Word quickly spreads, and we all slowly cross the bridge, a quiet celebration. Yet, with connection made again, news enough to enjoy.

Today, we turn right to go to town, starting again with old habits. On the way home, we revert, and come the old way, wondering how we could forget the bridge is open. We will miss the traffic by the school in the morning, and driving by the store, the local contractors parked there for coffee and news. But the potholes and the meeting of the milk trucks on the narrow corners of the old road will not be missed.

Our neighbors on the other side of the creek have said they’ve enjoyed the quiet, yet I’ve missed waving to them on my way home. For the last year and a month, I only see them in town, once in a while. Now, I can look again, by the highway, for the occasional eagle by the river, and the glint of sunlight on the rapids by the rest area. Now, I go back to the old patterns, the old ruts of daily life, yet enjoying the pleasures of the new bridge, solid, purposeful, and safe.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Day Begins

The stars are faded now, black of night gone,
turning to pewter and then a soft blue--
sunrise in a few minutes, in morning quiet;
pink, now orange, and soon, the brilliance of our sun lighting the hills,
moving down to the fields and the rooftops—
frost on trees and grass and fenceposts soon to melt
the day beginning
oh, so slowly, so quietly
in peace.

The house quiet, Christmas tomorrow
anticipation today
music again of Christmases past
memories of joys and family,
traditions and simple pleasures
in the coming together and sharing simple gifts
of love and play and song
of lighting a candle and watching the warmth
moving outward
one heart to another.

12/09 Neal Lemery

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Pencil across yellow paper
lined, helping me keep straight
all that I had hopefully learned
this semester.

Answers coming slowly, then faster…
clock staying the same
coffee slowly drained, shooting more lead
into the pencil, as it moves on, and on.

Soon, moving through the questions
the pile of yellow deeper, my confidence
builds, and I tackle the hardest

Time nearly up, I look around
and am nearly alone—
My colleagues this past thirteen weeks
left early, hopefully wrote smart
and more succinct.

The staple pushes through all of my thoughts
of the semester, all that stayed in my brain
in this room, every Monday morning,
and all that came from my books
now growing unread again
in the back of my car.

The cold rain falls hard
and I am done with thinking today…
headed for a beer and a hearty long lunch
and vacation --- next Monday
unplanned, unstudied, not


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter Night

"We invite you to listen to your desires, to see the world not as it is, but as it could be. Go ahead and wish. It is what makes the holidays the holidays."
---Starbucks coffee cup

The days grow shorter, the nights are colder, and my body wants more starch, more sleep, moving towards hibernation.

Yet, part of me seeks out the wonder in the early morning sky, the winter constellations bright and close, the faint hint of sunrise an hour or two away. I yearn for this time of creation, and find myself drawn to music making, writing, painting, and the reading of deep, spiritual books. I find myself drawn to my friends, for serious conversation, for truly being with each other, in community. I yearn to go deep, to go inside myself.

This is the time of year to ponder the mysteries of the Universe, to contemplate God and the universal energies and spirits, and to simply be in awe of where I am, who I am, and where I may be going.

We gather with friends, and discuss serious issues: prejudice, genocides, war, child abuse, the circle of life within our families, and of friends far away, but close in our hearts. While doing so, we listen to cheerful holiday music, imploring us to find the joy in giving, in the delights of children in wonder of the world, in the simple pleasures of joining together as family and friends, and celebrate our lives with each other. Bright lights twinkle in town, and in our neighbors’ yards, telling us we are all alive, we are all children of the Light.

Being serious and being in the spirit of joy with others is not incongruous, but rather simply two sides of the same coin of our humanity, our curiosity, our spiritual quest for seeking out who we really are. We are complex, yet, in simplicity and quiet, we can go deep into ourselves, and, in doing so, find true satisfaction, true peace, true understanding.

In sleep, I ponder life itself, and my spirit roams, battling the mythical beasts and spirits of the netherworld. I reorganize the file cabinets of my day’s experiences, and put them in order, tidying up and preparing for the next day’s work. I pull the blankets tighter around me, as the nights lengthen and the breath of winter comes into the valley. My spirit draws closer to me, and I go deeper into my own mysteries, my own cave. The moon rises and sets, stars whirl around Polaris, Orion remaining at the alert, his hand on his sword, as Morpheus carries me along.

Today, I mix my paints, and pick up different brushes to create bright colors, shapes of summer, of times when the sun rose high in blue skies, when cold east winds were but a distant memory. The Muse brings life to the palette, the canvas, and the smell of the oil brings warmth to my heart and to my soul. The hand and the soul dance together. I am just the meeting place.

Tonight, I dance, in the quiet of the cold, stirring the coals of my soul. Night draws close, and I ponder the words on the coffee cup, wondering about hope, what could be. And, knowing it begins with just a tiny spark, on a cold winter’s night.

And, so I light a candle. It begins.

Neal Lemery 12/09