Empty Bowl: ‘012

The year left behind is like a valley, or a bowl.valley maker As I look down on it from this rivertop height, I see that it is still and low, despite another snowfall in the air. A stream flows underneath the valley’s icecap, parallel to the road of human life, the principle of female energy overcoming the rockbound hardness of the male, casting off the months of action and inaction, of information overload, of joys and sadness in the world at large.

rio grande cuttToday I’m doing nothing of consequence, nothing at all, really, other than having climbed to the ridgetop for another view of what is here and what has been. No fishing, no hunting, no work, no taking of ease. “Do nothing,” said the ancient Taoists, “and all will be well.” It’s a pleasant thought at year’s end, as I glance back to some moments recollected in photographs or in daydreams, a perfection of the Empty Bowl impossible to achieve.

sacramentosThe climb was difficult without snowshoes. Thoughts went to my poem “Hiker’s Koan” (Songscapes, 1994):

What sound:/ one foot/ following the other/ on a trail to a place/ where mind and/ mountains meet?

Over and over, “one foot following the other,” as I slogged upward through 18 inches of the white.

chinookThe winter valley below my vantage point is like the year gone by. Living there, I can see its usefulness, its flowing water that is life, its emptiness a stream of pleasant phantoms. Flowing toward the distant bay, the stream takes its ease and passes humankind, indifferent yet inviting the imagination to surrrender to its flow.

Another year has been emptied of events; the mind would be emptied if it could be, emptied of concerns and hopes and other times, for a moment or two of stillness like the air surrounding the source of a stream.

For a moment or two of stillness on a snowplumed ridge, I glance behind and watch the calendar fade. There’s peace on the heights, despite another snowfall.

A song begins to swirl around in the snow… “Old Songs/ New Songs” by Family (Music inold songs/new songs a Doll’s House, 1968)… Beautiful, progressive rock, with a fabulous sax break, too…

“Old songs… New songs… Keep on s-i-n-g-i-n-g!”

There is peace on the hill, a vessel filling slowly with a song in the snow. A new year wish would be to capture that in words, then voice it to everyone beyond.eastern native

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About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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7 Responses to Empty Bowl: ‘012

  1. walt says:

    Dr. C. commented on post via different address…
    “… Especially nice to read of a Family tie-in. Love that Roger Chapman, ever since you turned me onto him in 1979. Must dig out the old albums and give them a spin again…”

  2. Ken G says:

    I went through all my photos the other day, picked out a few from each month with the intent of doing a year in review. Two days later I tossed them all in the trash. Not feeling very reminiscent this year, more glad it’s over.

    It has been a joy reading you this past year Walt. Have a happy new year.

    • I hear you, Ken. I couldn’t do any methodical review, pictorial or otherwise. I just took a random approach here. YourWJ continues to be an inspiration for me. Keep at it, and best wishes for’13!

  3. Kenov says:

    Wonderful blog. Glad I wandered over here!

  4. Kenov,
    Thank you and happy New Year! I look forward to reading many posts at your blog site!

  5. The fading calendar is an interesting phrase.Thoroughly enjoyed the read. I’ll be poking around some more in here today…

  6. fishnerd,
    Reading your blog posts, hiking through the knee-deep snow out back, then hearing from you… It’s great to cross tracks!

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