Mary Oliver, Poet, “The Soft Animal of Your Body…”

Sometimes I think I should just give UP writing about nature and turn this entire world, not just NJWILDBEAUTY, over to my Ur-Poet — Mary Oliver, formerly of Provincetown, Mass, bard of the sea and the dunes and the wild creatures.  She describes her life purpose as “trying to write about nature so that anyone can understand it.”  Needless to say, she has been my mentor for decades.

Port in All Storms Provincetown

Provincetown, Mass — Port in All Storms

My computer didn’t compute all weekend, so I luxuriated in every Mary Oliver book, –prose and poetry–, that I own.

 

Mary Oliver on Provincetown Beach

Mary Oliver on Provincetown Beach, from Internet

The greatest tribute I can give to this Pulitzer-prize-winning poet is that hers were the only books I took to the hospital and rehab when my failed hip was replaced with a kayaker’s hip, on 11/11/11.  As Dr. Thomas Gutowski teased me, “You may like it better than the original.”

cfe kayaking I B b and wh IMG

Carolyn Kayaking on Barnegat Bay, the Sedge Islands, in August, 2000

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I make the most of this new hip, on trails and in the kayak.  I moved everything aside to kayak twice in two days a weekend ago, out on the canal, and writing of it for Rich Rein and his array of lively local papers.  My ideal, of course, will be a ‘trifecta’ – Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the water — but the weather gods will have to cooperate.

Provincetown Mac Millan Wharf Rowing Home

Provincetown, Returning Home

When Jeanette Hooban and Carolyn Yoder and I were in Provincetown last Hallowe’en, my favorite part (beyond the food! o yes, and the whale and seals) was the library, where everyone knew Mary, where her garden had been, how marvelous she was at readings and what a quiet force she was in that unique town..

Classic Provincetown from Mac Millan Wharf

Provincetown Central

Here is my all-time favorite Mary Oliver masterpiece — make of it what you will!  What does it stir in YOU?  Tell me in comments!

smiles, Carolyn

This came from a blog called Home Thoughts Worth Thinking, when I Googled, “soft animal of your body.”

They do not attribute the painting — my guess is one of my all-time American favorites, Winslow Homer.  What do you think?

cfe

“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination.” — John Keats


“WILD GEESE”
by Mary Oliver



You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

 

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

 

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely

the world offers itself to your imagination

calls to you like the wild geese — harsh and exciting —

over and over, announcing your place

in the family of things

 

geese pass moon by Brenda Jones

Wild Geese Pass the Moon, by Brenda Jones, Fine Art Photographer

SEA and SEASIDE VISTAS of Cape Cod — Through Henry Beston’s ‘eyes’ – “The Outermost House…”

Cover, Henry Beston's "Outermost House" on Nauset Beach

Cover, Henry Beston’s “Outermost House” on Nauset Beach

Perhaps the most enticing phrase in Henry Beston’s Outermost House (just re-read for easily the 15th time, during and after our Cape Cod sojourn) is “I like the seven windows of my larger room.”  Those of you who know me know I spent 5 yes perilous years in a Canal-side, forest-surrounded apartment, which had barely any windows and less light.  I am free of that situation now, but seven windows in one room would be more precious to me than diamonds, even without the Atlantic Ocean or Nantucket Sound or Cape Cod Bay within listening distance.

Henry's Nauset Retreat before 1978 Blizzard

Henry’s Nauset Retreat before 1978 Blizzard

Because of his views from the Eastham beach house, Henry could exult, “Into the bright, vast days I go.”  Carolyn Yoder, Jeanette Hooban and I also poured ourselves into bright vast days.  Unlike Henry, we did not trek the midnight beach, no matter the weather, preferring the luxury of snap/crackling fires and favorite films instead.

Vastness was particularly rewarding below Chatham Light, where seals beyond counting were basking and humming (! I kid you not!) on a Chatham bar — sandbar, just beyond our reach.

Chatham Light

Chatham Light

Seals at Rest on Chatham Bar

Seals at Rest on Chatham Bar — “the long grey line” -=- of HUMMING Seals

"into the vast bright days we went" -- Race Point Beach, Provincetown

“into the vast bright days we went” — Race Point Beach, Provincetown

Bright healthy beach pea thriving on unspoiled protected Provincetown's Race Point Beach

Bright healthy beach pea thriving on unspoiled protected Provincetown’s Race Point Beach

Spouting Whale as Drawn in Provincetown Race Point Sand, by our predecessors on that beach

Spouting Whale as Drawn in Provincetown Race Point Sand, by our predecessors on that beach

Sun Creating Our "Vast, Bright Days", drawn by predecessors in Race Point Sand

Sun Creating Our “Vast, Bright Days”, drawn by predecessors in Race Point Sand

Shorebird Signatures and Dune Grass, Race Point, Provincetown

Shorebird Signatures and Dune Grass, Race Point, Provincetown

Barefoot October Surfcaster, Provincetown, Race Point Beach

Barefoot October Surfcaster, Provincetown, Race Point Beach

right whale as seen from Race Point Beach (photo from INternet)

right whale as seen from Race Point Beach (photo from INternet)

Tail of Right Whale as seen by us from Race Point Beach - Feeding in Enormous Circle -- Photo from Internet

Tail of Right Whale as seen by us from Race Point Beach – Feeding in Enormous Circle — Photo from Internet

And Carolyn Yoder, who held the glasses at that  moment, saw this very rare, calm, powerful creature spout.

Fragile Leopard Crab, Race Point, shell whole despite powerful waves

Fragile Leopard Crab, Race Point, shell whole despite powerful waves — see all the colors of authentic Provincetown sand!

Sea-Washed Stones, Race Point -- far more stones than shells!

Sea-Washed Stones, Race Point — far more stones than shells!

I select scenes from our various sea-side treks, gllmpses that convey our time, not in an Outermost House (which the Blizzard of ’78 washed out to sea anyway), but a Marsh-side, pond-side house in South Chatham.

Explore with us.  Experience the pristine beauties of the Cape, saved by President Kennedy not long before his death.  He, –man of Hyannis–, well knew the Cape’s value and its peril.  He braved the wrath of many forms of financiers during his tenure, –not the least of whom were those who would develop/destroy the sacred essential sands from just above Chatham to and beyond Provincetown.

Land's End, or Beginning, Provincetown

Land’s End, or Beginning, Provincetown

"Vast, Bright Brewster Beach"

“Vast, Bright Brewster Beach”

Raptor Alert, Alarmed Gulls, Brewster Beach

Raptor Alert, Alarmed Gulls, Brewster Beach

Tide-Dislodged Peat Clump, "primordial ooze" and the dune grass that creates it, Brewster Beach

Tide-Dislodged Peat Clump, “primordial ooze” and the dune grass that creates it, Brewster Beach

Jeanette Skips Out into Low-Tide Revealed Sandbars and Marshes

Jeanette Skips Out into Low-Tide Revealed Sandbars and Marshes

Henry Beston, in one of his countless memorable paragraphs, writes of “the restless sea and the mutable land.”

In Cape Cod, land is still principally mutated by wind, sand, sea and its tides.  Thanks to severe preservation measures in the 1960, under our soon-to-be-martyred President Kennedy, Cape Cod is a paradise of the natural.

Preserve whatever you can in your territory, wherever it is!

“I MUST GO DOWN TO THE SEA AGAIN…” — CHATHAM, MASS. SURPASSES EXPECTATIONS

Tall Ship, (sort-of), Mac Millan Wharf, Provincetown

Tall Ship, (sort-of), Mac Millan Wharf, Provincetown

This line from John Masefield has always been resonant to me, since long before this Michigander ever encountered an ocean.  It continues, “…the lonely sea, and the sky…   and all I ask is a tall ship…  and a star to steer her by”

Walking the Plank, Brewster Marsh, Wing Trail at Low Tide

Walking the Plank, Brewster Marsh, Wing Trail at Low Tide

I’m just back from a place of seas, bays, sounds, creeks where ‘herrings’ (alewives) ‘run’ (swim in forceful schools) in the spring, limitless marshlands crossed on planks.  Yes, I even encountered a tall ship or two, matters piratical, and wild Provincetown and other Cape interpretations of Hallowe’en, as you know from the previous post.

"Down to the Sea", Harbormaster's Life Preserver and Antique Salvaged Anchor, Provincetown Wharf

“Down to the Sea”, Harbormaster’s Life Preserver and Antique Salvaged Anchor, Provincetown Wharf

Those among my NJWILDBEAUTY readers who know me personally, know that my major haven, when I had a family, was Chatham, Massachusetts.  West Chatham, Harding’s Beach, to be exact.  A tiny grey-shingled single-floored house on Nantucket Sound, from which I could walk the beach from morning til night, down to Stage Harbor Light.  Sometimes, we’d even do it by moonlight.  Once, the girls and I even swam it, just to see if we could.  We could.

From Harding's Beach to Stage Harbor Light, Chatham, Mass.

From Harding’s Beach to Stage Harbor Light, Chatham, Mass.

Some of you also know that I lost both my beloved, beautiful, and yes, brilliant (they always want the best and the brightest) daughters to an aggressive cult during the 1980’s.  Brainwashing appears to be permanent.

Cults are worse than any Hallowe’en drama — turning all treats for the remainder of life to tricks and/or tragedy.

But beautiful places, strong fellowship, and determined creating of new memories can serve as antidote.

'Our' Home for Seven Weeks Each Late Summer in the 1970's and 80's, but tripled in size now...

‘Our’ Home for Seven Weeks Each Late Summer in the 1970’s and 80’s, but tripled in size now…

I know because I braved Chatham return with two of The Intrepids last week.

'Our' Road, Heading toward South Chatham and Harwich, unchanged...

‘Our’ Road, Heading toward South Chatham and Harwich, unchanged…

That idyllic place was everything I needed, and THEN some.

First View, Evening Arrival, Taylor Pond,Cottage, South Chatham

First View, Evening Arrival, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

First Sunset, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

First Sunset, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

You’ll be traveling Chatham and Brewster and Provincetown shores and streets with me in the weeks of this difficult month of the girls’ birthdays.

Fellowship is EVERYTHING!

Carolyn Yoder beachcombing at Hardint's Beach at High Tide

Carolyn Yoder beachcombing at Hardint’s Beach at High Tide

Jeanette Hooban following brant flock at Brewster Beach of Paine's Lane, at High Tide

Jeanette Hooban following brant flock at Brewster Beach of Paine’s Lane, at High Tide

It’s funny — seems like it was always high tide when we arrived at destinations.  True friends can re-think, rearrange, re-plan, and relish every nuance, no matter where, because we’re together.

Ur-Lobster Roll, Quintessential Cole Slaw, The Lobster Pot, Provincetown

Ur-Lobster Roll, Quintessential Cole Slaw, The Lobster Pot, Provincetown

Lobster Pot Restaurant Provincetown Lunch at Lobster Pot

Haven at Land’s End

Lobster, Avocado and Mango with Sauteed Baguette, The Lobster Pot, Provincetown

Lobster, Avocado and Mango with Sauteed Baguette, The Lobster Pot, Provincetown

You could call our meals “Early Thanksgivings” — especially the Wellfleet Oysters!

Rainy-Day Haven, Chatham

Rainy-Day Haven, Chatham

Impudent Oyster Dining Room Early for Lunch

Early for Lunch

Memorable Oysters, Impudent Oyster, Chatham Bars Ave., Chatham

Memorable Oysters, Impudent Oyster, Chatham Bars Ave., Chatham

The above was a meal as predicted drizzle began to sift from oyster skies, after a morning of seeing seals beyond counting upon ‘Chatham bars’, — a major sandbar below the main Chatham lighthouse.

Chatham Light, Storm Appropriately Brewing

Chatham Light, Storm Appropriately Brewing

I hope some of the scintillation of my Cape Cod return flashes all around you as you view upcoming mages and read scant words.

Last Fire, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

Last Fire, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

I hope that having gone “down to the sea again” with us reminds NJWILDBEAUTY readers of their own major reasons to be thankful that such luminous places persist in our 21st Century.

There may be no more important concept in our time than PRESERVATION.

PROVINCETOWN DOES HALLOWE’EN: Tricks and Treats and One From Chatham

Words are superfluous, as you stroll Commercial Street with us.

NOBODY does it like Provincetown!

Provincetown Bride

Provincetown Bride

Spider Pumpkin at The Lobster Pot

Spider Pumpkin at The Lobster Pot

Provincetown Does Hallowe'en

Provincetown Does Hallowe’en

Provincetown Sculpture

Provincetown Sculpture

Provincetown Ghost Tours

Provincetown Ghost Tours

Chatham Does Hallowe'en

Chatham Does Hallowe’en

And Treats:

Cafe and Treatery

Cafe and Treatery

Ice Cream Parlor Chairs

Ice Cream Parlor Chairs

Purple Feather Treats

Purple Feather Treats

Coffee with Jamaican Rum; Bittersweet Belgian Chocolate -- Worthy of the Journey!

Coffee with Jamaican Rum; Bittersweet Belgian Chocolate — Worthy of the Journey!

Nature Treats, in Ciro & Sal's Courtyard

Nature Treats, in Ciro & Sal’s Courtyard