Into The Storm

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Into The Storm” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Angry clouds gather above my head once again. The wind batters the abandoned strip mine in bursts as the songbirds huddle together in the thickest part of the underbrush as they seek shelter from nature’s wrath. Somewhere else in the forest a box tortoise closes his shell as tightly as he can and the deer bed down on the leeward side of the mountain. The instinct to avoid a storm is one of the strongest forces in nature.

But there are those who have a different mindset. Some people run into the storm. For those people the raw power that God placed in elements of nature is irresistible, for some it’s scientific curiosity, and for others it’s the knowledge that after the storm passes someone will need help. I’ve found that the majority of the people who run into the storm do so because they themselves were touched by the aftermath of a storm in some way.

There’s definitely a Superman complex to one degree or another going on in the minds of most people. That’s okay as long as it comes with an equal measure humility. As humans we have a drive to make a difference and there’s a sense of fulfillment that comes with helping a stranger that will never see or hear from you again. But I think that there’s more than social instincts happening. I think that helping to set things right makes us feel like we’ve got some measure of power over the storm. We may not be able to stop the storms but the storms can’t stop us either. The scientists who chase storms do so to provide earlier warnings and stronger shelters. The rescuers do so to bring as many people to safety as possible. The rebuilders take up where the rescuers and scientists left off. Everyone does their part and the whole benefits.

But this phenomenon isn’t limited to weather. We extend this behavior into all aspects of life. A person who is terrified of a natural storm may not think twice about rushing in to aid someone who is in the middle of emotional distress. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those who would take on the natural storm will steer clear of the emotional storm. We all have a purpose and a place in such things. In fact for a lot of people the “storm” comes in the form of loneliness and what’s called for is a person who is just willing to ask them about their day.

As the storm moves in closer to my position I can see the thick bands of rain cascading down and a second wave of thunder begins the countdown to when I need to have my camera and myself someplace warm and dry. Fortunately the big blue truck is just a few steps away from where I’m set up. This particular storm isn’t really expected to cause damage. Sometimes all it turns out to be is a few gusts of wind, an isolated shower and a lot of noise. That’s great for a dramatic photograph but not really dangerous enough to warrant sticking around long enough to get wet.

With my lens tucked away safely in its dry case the big blue truck rolls back onto the pavement and I move on to the next opportunity.

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To Go A Wandering

We’ll go a wandering, that’s what we’ll do.

We’ll find a path that’s straight, beneath a sky that’s blue.

We’ll take our time, we’ll do it right.

We’ll wander all day and into the night.

We’ll pass beyond the hills and into the dale. We’ll find everyday treasures and tales to tell.

We’ll have stars for diamonds and the moon for a pearl.

And the dawn will bring gold at the new day’s unfurl.

We’ll wander and wander and continue to roam, till path that we wander brings us home.

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The Primeval Adventures Of My Youth.

The deep forests are an easy place to get lost. You start out on a dirt road and you just keep walking when you run out of gravel. Eventually the mud transitions into leaf litter. The moss grows thick and the gnarled undergrowth fills every available space. Just beyond these trees are the cliffs I used to play on as a kid. There’s a rocky ledge with a large overhang that one can sit on and observe the forest floor below. I’m guessing that it’s only about twenty or maybe thirty feet in hight but to a young man in his early teens it may as well had been the edge of the world. I would get all garbed up to the point where it looked like I was going on a major expedition down the Amazon. I carried a large Bowie Knife on my belt for survival. The only thing I ever used it for was to mark trees by cutting out a patch of the outer bark and being careful not to damage the live bark underneath. (If done right it in no way harms the tree). I would sometimes take a slingshot along. ( called a catapult by many of my international friends). I would try to pick off individual leaves with a small stone. The stones are not nice and consistent like the fancy ammo in the stores today. That made hitting anything consistently quite a challenge. Sometimes I would pick up acorns or hickory nuts for slingshot ammo which was better for accuracy but didn’t really impart much impact to the target. I’d bet that if I made my way to the ledge today I’d find a pile of small stones in the back of ledge waiting to be used during the zombie apocalypse. Other days I would trek down into the valley below. I would pick out a sapling to craft into spear. There was a particular rotten stump below the cliff that was just the right consistency to allow the spear to stick. I was actually better at throwing the spear than I was with the slingshot.

The road in the feature image was one of my favorite childhood memories and a way of escape from the mundane world and a gateway to a primeval adventure.

The Silent Road part 4. The Fireweaver.

After learning the secret written in the stone. I began to make my calculations. The maiden was carefully observing my every action as I removed the jackknife from my pants pocket and started scraping small shavings from the log where she had been seated. Ever so cautiously I collected them in the tail of my shirt. Next I would need a large piece bark and dead twigs from a nearby elder bush. I cut a notch in the bark just like my grandfather had taught me as a child and began to spin a twig in the notch. In no time at all I had a hot coal and was able to sustain it with the shavings. I took the next twig which longer split it perfectly in half. The pithy center was easy to remove and once that was done I bound them together with strands of the tall grass in meadow. I studied the broken dulcimer and committed it’s outline to memory. As I worked I looked up and saw the maiden looking onward in amazement and the raven still circled me above the trees. I placed the first hot coal on the dry wood and began to kindle it with the elder blow tube. I occasionally stepped back to the stone and checked the mathematical formulas carved there by ancient hand that was long since gone. The legacy written was instructions for a new dulcimer. The precision burning of the wood and removal of the char would need to be perfect. I became so involved with the task at hand that time lost all meaning. There was only the fire and the wood and my breath. Periodically a large drop of sweat would fall into the coal and erupt with a long stream of steam. With the jackknife I would put the finishing touches on the piece. Hand carved dovetails to hold it together and keys for tuning the strings recovered from the old one. There it was. My dreamworld had a new voice. I turned to the maiden and offered my finished product along with the parchment entrusted to me by the raven. She spoke not a word but the newfound joy in her eyes was the most profound expression of gratitude I ever experienced. Her eyes danced over the open scroll as she read the music. Then, she tuned the instrument to perfect pitch and took a breath. As she played the first few notes that gray sky rolled back and the birds all began to sing with her. The newly awoken sun pushed back the remaining clouds. With my task completed I began to make the return journey back to the waking world. As I approached the iron gate a now familiar shadow passed overhead. As turned to cast one last gaze on my dreamworld the raven landed on the road. He spoke in a raspy voice. “There is more to see here. You are as much a part of this world as you part of the one beyond that gate. You are the Fireweaver and a prince of the dreamworld.”

The drone of the alarm clock grew more intense as I slowly rose from my bed. The sun was shining through the blinds and just outside my window I could hear a mockingbird singing a song that was oddly familiar…

The Silent Road Part 3. The Maiden

I walked down the silent road with only a plume of dust to mark my passage. The gray world around me seemed so empty and lost. Nothing seemed to move now. No insects in the grass and only the giant raven in the sky. He circled around as he lead me back to the beginning of the road. When I came to the head of the road I looked around. The birds sat still in the trees. If it had not been for the occasional flash of feathers as they shifted position I would have been convinced that a flock of stuffed birds had been placed on the edge of the dark forest surrounding this strange highway in the dreamworld. The raven lighted in a majestic but ancient and gnarled tree. His red eyes flashed at me and he nodded to a dimly lit path in the wood. I understood that he could guide me no farther in this quest. Will a bit of angst I stepped inside the woods and looking towards the place where the light fell away I saw her. Dressed all in white and crying as she sat on a fallen log. At her feet lay a broken dulcimer. And then I knew the answer. She was the voice of this world. And without the dulcimer that voice was gone. The birds could not wake the morning sun and the clouds ruled the day. Silence is not always golden. As she wept quietly I approached her with cautious anticipation. When she noticed me standing on the edge of the path she wasn’t startled. She looked up at me in desperation and gestured to the shattered remains of her joy lying in pieces. I opened my mouth to speak words of comfort but no sound came from my throat. She took me by the hand and pulled me to a large stone in forest. We cleared away centuries of moss and there carved into the granite more strange symbols. I studied them for a moment and realized that I knew the meaning.

To be continued

The Silent Road part 2 Or Dreamwalk

Leaving behind the chaotic façade which most think of as the real world I continue down the silent road. Small things dart around inside the tall grass looking for the lost echo of birds. A world without bird’s songs is a creation without a voice. The silver sky weeps as muted wind howls in vain. The grasses and trees began to sway gently as if dancing in time with a forgotten memory. What was the tune? It’s on the tip of my useless tongue. I have to find the answer. As I search in despair for the solution I see movement out of corner of my eye. The dark shape floats above my head and I recognize the outline of a raven. The black feathers are almost iridescent and it’s unnaturally large. In its beak it carries a scroll. It would shriek if shrieking existed. The scroll lands at my feet. I unroll the parchment and the raven circles awaiting my reaction to the mystery I hold. Scratched on the inside of the parchment were ancient symbols that spoke of lost magic and words “The road ends in silence but begins in music. Let one who knows the secrets be the voice.” I nodded to raven and he dipped a wing in reply. I would undertake his quest to where the road begins.
… to be continued.

The Road Ends In Silence

I dreamt about a world of steel and concrete.

A world where the pace was hectic and one dare not stumble for fear of the crowd.

As I walked along in time with the daily march into chaos there was a gate unguarded.

I took the chance and walked through the threshold as the outside world vanished behind me.

No more hustle and bustle.

Steel and Glass gave way to open sky. Leaving only the wind.

Pavement crumbles away into earth.

Echoes fade into oblivion as I walked at different pace.

This road ends in silence.