Arcady

When the world is weary of mediocrity
and the doors are flung wide open
to admit the least of us is also worthy,
neither better nor worse but as crucial
to the whole as any other life form;

When we finally attain some sort
of collective maturity, a steady hand
on the wheel of samsara can navigate
through the narrowest channels
of perception into a brilliantly clear
vision with limitless horizons.

all photos ©Bela Johnson

Of Hearts and Stones

Small stones cobbled the backyard
of the San Gabriel Mountains foothill home
where I grew up, dappled by the light
of pergola and wisteria overhead, flanking
cascading waterfalls and the fishpond
my father built outside my parents’
bedroom window;

Yet it was giant granite boulders larger
than fishing shacks which grounded me
to the woods and waters of eastern Maine,
region of choice for a street-weary soul,
igneous wonders cleaved from glaciers
that covered most of New England
if not all, long before human memory;

Planting anything in that rocky terrain took
fortitude and persistence, pickaxe and shovel
and plenty of insect repellent, for winter
spread ice and snow into drifts and created
crystalline topsoil, while early springtime’s
mud prevented solid progress; thus it was bug-
riddled May before the earth was clear
and pliable enough for groundbreaking;

Still, steadfastness and a rototiller tamed
the garden enough to hoe up, row by row,
a large area in which to raise vegetables
as grocery stores provided little truly fresh,
and farmers markets had not yet caught on
in a time before they widened the highway
and a half-hour commute into town transformed
our lakeside village into a bedroom community;

Every year out of thirty-four, that same plot
heaved up rocks and boulders of every size,
thus before cultivating and yielding those
delectable edibles, one really had to harvest
rocks and more rocks, while piles lined
perimeters to be carried closer to the house
to ring flower gardens or delimit pathways,
or to place on an animal’s grave to prevent
hungry intruders from dislodging rotting
remains;

Nothing and everything changes, routines
may remain, yet nature demonstrates
with each passing season the modicum
of knowledge humans might grasp about
the ground under our feet, so busy are we
jumping into metal boxes and flying
at breakneck speed to obtain life’s
necessities, while stones, ever patient,
mark the ages with a persistence
and perseverance all their own.

Pololu pohaku
Pololu Valley pohaku
Pololu beach rocks
Goose Pond, ME granite shoreline – C Johnson
Goose Pond forest boulder – C Johnson (photo with Vernon Emeliano)
Goose Pond fairy boulder – C Johnson

Casting Shadows

What do we do when the words won’t come,
when we stand, stock-still, mouths agape,
dazzled by beauty and wonder and awe,
minds taking snapshots as if we might
capture a moment in time, whatever that is,
perception being everything;

What happens to us when we become unmoored,
tethers fraying, lone boat rocking, gasping
for breath, biting back deductions, holding
reservations, staving off fears of flying
away, over and out, yearning once again
for connection;

How then to manage without language
to provide signposts, a barometer of how
we connect, soul to soul, dot by dot
along an imaginary line drawn cleanly
through this maze of illusions;

When will we arrive at knowing more fully,
if ever, reasons we were drawn into this vortex
called relationship, whether mother or lover,
friend or companion, like spokes on a wheel
turning onto spiral paths to infinity,
diminutive footprints scoring that well-trod
alleyway to nowhere and everything.

all images ©Bela Johnson

Scoured

There are those who shun the wind, though I am not one of them. A desert dweller by birth, living in a subtropical environment has me gasping all too often for air, movement of energy, a yearning for fresh. 

Tonight we drove to the end of the road as is often the case after launching balls for Pili pup, stopping to gaze over boundless sea, daily troubles and strife sailing aloft on lilting thermals and out of minds too much with a tumultuous world, despite our remote location in the scheme of it. 

Driving out of the port town of Kawaihae alongside the ocean toward this northernmost region of Kohala, be observant and you might spy a small weatherbeaten hand-painted sign that reads, Aloha kamakani o’Kohala, Welcome, winds of Kohala! Blessed be our clean air and cooler, more temperate climate. This is a place to learn the value of what remains, once all else is swept away on currents of sea and sky. Taking nature’s lead, we loosen the detritus and learn to love the scoured sparsity of a life lived close to the bones of a vibrant landscape.

all photos ©Bela Johnson

Little Dog Update

You may have read about it here.

Amazing news.

After Chris has taken food to little dog every morning and evening for months now, he discovered this note yesterday. We don’t know who the writer is referring to; another person had been leaving a bowl of water from time to time, and likely a little food as well. In the end, the result is the same.

Little dog has a new forever home! Her efforts to defy capture must have meant that something inside of her little feral body told her to persist. She somehow must have known her special person was on the way. And we could not be happier to have contributed to the quality of this creature’s life. Yay.

Raising Mana

My own sadness pulls me inward,
bringing tears but also fond
and tender memories of another
time, another place; sometimes
it feels as though it was another life
that guided me to those dense woods
and sparkling waters of eastern Maine,
a place I never thought to leave;

After growing up in the foothills
of the San Gabriel Mountains surrounded
by eucalyptus glades and dancing streams
with all the freedom a child could ever want,
my heart ached every time a tree was hacked down
for yet another tract home or shopping center
anchoring suburban residents to a world
far removed from the pulse of a growing town
then dubbed the City of Roses;

When the final insult came, it was in the form
of an eighteen-hole golf course as trees were felled
and carted off like cattle to slaughter, a child’s
magical forest gone, singing brook diverted
so that white men with white hair sporting white
polyester slacks and shirts with tiny alligators
embroidered over thumping hearts could play
adult games; men driving diminutive
battery powered cars with ragtop canopies
that carried them and their leather bags stocked
with wood and iron clubs around and around
closely cropped turf laid down to replace
fragrant leaf mulch and arching tree limbs’
dappled shade;

Oh, when I cast memory back
to that enchanted wonderland where
my sight beheld spirits from deep
within the earth, all seems ensconced
in watery illusion similar yet different
from that secluded cabin in the woods
where I learned how to gather forgotten
ground under my feet while raising two
young women to care about things
that mattered;

Now here I find myself in beloved Kohala,
surrounded by lush gardens created
with my own two hands, and I know the pain
of partition has been a deception, for nature
within has all the time become informed
by experiences only appearing to be other;
there is no separation, has never been;
all is, as Poe divined, a dream within a dream,
and as I live my life, this treasured vision
becomes my chosen reality.

Windswept
Dragonfruit blossoms ~ Chris Johnson
Gloriosa lilies
Nightfall ~ Coast Guard Point
Eventide

 

Hybrid Hibiscus
Echinacea

~ all images ©Bela Johnson (or Chris Johnson, where noted)