Love Nature More (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 5)

I usually do not condone graffiti, but have to admit this inscription on a large rock brought a smile to our faces as my friends and I walked along Lake Superior’s Brighton Beach.

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Lord Byron’s words are fitting, given the fury Lake Superior unleashed just over a week ago, rearranging the shoreline and man-made paths.

Reminders of Lake Superior's power along Brighton Beach

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”

~ Lord George Gordon Byron, from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Lake Superior redecorates Brighton Beach after t

Gratitude for Nature’s gifts, as well as for words that stand the test of time.

~ Kat

Do Not Hurry the Journey (Weekly Photo Challenge: Half-Light)

Remembering to enjoy the journey, rather than missing the joys along the way because of a focus on the destination, is a constant struggle.  C.P. Cavafy’s poem “Ithaka” reminds us in the most lyrical way that what fills our spirits during our  lives are all those journeys connected together, making up the memories we treasure.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Corbin-SHT-20160328-1.jpg

And there is no better companion for reminding me to be mindful on my voyage than a dog.  Actually, for those you have been with me these past few years, you know I am specifically referring to a certain dog …. Corbin, my 100 pounds of black lab love. While this photo I share is not one of my best from a photographic quality perspective, it was one that captured the essence of the poetry and the half-light, as the sun set on one of our many hikes through Minnesota’s Northwoods.

Corbin turned 10 earlier this year, and he is slowing, but still in remarkable health for his size and age. It is hard to imagine life without him, although I know I will have to, sooner than I care to think about.  We have had many dogs over the years — some joined us later in their lives than others, all “rescues” adopted from the local animal humane society or shelter.  From the beginning, when we brought the 7-month old 70-pound pup into our home, Corbin and I have had a special bond.

I intend to enjoy this leg of the journey to Ithaka, however long it may last, for as long as my friend is by my side.

The full text of Cavafy’s poem, “Ithaka” (also translated as “Ithaca”):

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

A wonderful reading of the poem by Sean Connery with music by Vangelis can be found on YouTube:

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “Half-Light” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: Half-Light.

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV

The penny is an underappreciated piece of currency.  Undervalued, taken for granted, often discarded!  But, for college-bound high school seniors, every penny begins to count as they look toward college costs.  Shifting from the idea of fun pocket change to funding education — one’s point of view, and stage in life, makes all the difference.

My son entertained you with his earlier pear bread poem, and now has shared another — a plea for your vote, a minute of your time, to help him become a finalist for a $500 college scholarship. Vote for Charles Bray’s photo by noon EST on September 16, here: http://www.universitylanguage.com/finalists/, but do enjoy the poem regardless!  And thank you to those who already have voted, thanks to my last post.

A pretty penny?
A pretty penny? (photo by Kat B.)

Poetic Plea for a Pretty Penny 

I’ve never written poems for a reason, you see,
But only to please the masses (ha, I joke).
I’m going to college now, however, you know,
And I’m short on funds for classes (help, I’m broke!)

So I search far and wide for student capital,
Entering many a contest.
Each and every last resource, I’ll tap it all,
Until the whole of my tuition is addressed.

Now it appears that I’m really in the running;
My photo has made it quite far.
It needs to make finals now, for which I’m gunning,
But the door to a good education remains…just slightly ajar.

 I ask of you a small but important favor:
To throw open this door for me.
Just simply click a bubble by a name, my name—
And Thank You, in all sincerity.

 P.S.H. (Post Scriptum Haiku) 

The contest is tight
And time, limited, so please:
Vote, for each one counts!

 Thank You Again!

Click and vote: http://www.universitylanguage.com/finalists/

Charlie Bray

(Ciao and grazie from Mom Kat, too!)

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”An Unusual POV” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Preparing for the Rainbow Bridge

I heard the tell-tale “thump, thump, thump” and went downstairs to find our oldest black lab sprawled out at the bottom of the carpeted steps.  I helped him up, and with assistance he made it upstairs to his favorite daytime napping spot.  Kruger was diagnosed with lymphoma a couple of weeks ago.  He is on prednisone to help control the swelling, but the cancer continues to work its evil, and his body wastes away a little more with each day.  He still has a smile and tail wag for us, so we know it is not quite his time to cross the Rainbow Bridge, although we know that time is coming soon.

Happy black lab in snow

Kruger has only been part of our family for 15 months.  He was estimated to be 11 years old when we adopted him from our local humane society.  We swore with two large black labs already occupying the household, that bringing the number of dogs to three, particularly when the third was another large lab, was too many.  But, sometimes our four-legged friends have a way of worming themselves into our hearts and we find a way to make room for them in our homes.

Black lab tug-of-war

He was so sad after two different potential adopters returned him to the humane society  less than 24 hours after bringing him home.  Reportedly, he was not housebroken.  Despite suggestions by the adoption counselor that they give it a little time, letting him learn the ins and outs of his new home and routine, he was returned, and his time at the shelter approached four months.  After the second return, poor Kruger slipped into a funk, showing no interest in people who stopped by his kennel to say hello, and he lost interest in eating, as well.  The former happy-go-lucky lab who never met a tennis ball he didn’t like was in danger of letting depression overcome his will for living.

Kruger ready for a swim in his doggy lifejacket

We took him in, and in less than two weeks, after only a handful of housebreaking accidents later as he figured out the new routine, this gentle, old lab settled into the last home he would have.  He could be a stubborn old cuss, and we learned that arthritic body could really move when he wanted it to — like when I thought he was going to trot up to greet my son but instead bolted past the car, across busy streets, and through residential yards to reach the shores of Lake Superior, where a thin layer of ice had just formed,  reaching out 50 feet or so toward that icy, open water.

I should have kicked off my shoes that had a slight heel instead of trying to jog after him, but honestly, how could that old guy run so quickly and be so nimble?  He weaved in and out of spots where I had to slow to follow, and then managed to negotiate the icy rocks on the shore that caused me to slip and slide, screaming out in panic and watching a scene seem to unfold in slow motion as he walked out onto that icy film covering the unforgiving winter lake waters.

Common sense thankfully got the better of me, and I remained on the shore rather than going out after him.  I have read too many tragic stories of pet owners going after their pets in dangerous situations, with the pet often emerging unscathed while the family member or multiple members lose their lives attempting to save it.  I cautioned my son to take the same course of action and he ran back to the house to get my husband.  When my husband reached the lake shore, I yelled at him to call the fire department.  Kruger was causing the ice to creak and groan as he walked further out.  I helplessly watched our newest family member begin to break through the ice as he approached Lake Superior’s open water.

Thankfully, he must have had some fear enter his thought process, as he slowly made his way back to shore, just as the fire department arrived with their safety gear for ice and water saves.  Apologies and profuse thanks relayed, we leashed old Kruger and remained fanatical about doing so for months.  He learned over time that our home was his home, and there was no need to run in fear of not having a home again.

Black labs galloping through the snow

During his short time with us, Kruger has galloped (using the term loosely given the arthritic hips involved) through the snow with our other older lab, gone swimming at the cabin (his elderly, muscle-wasted hind end required a life jacket to keep him safely afloat and minimize the risk of inhaling water while paddling around), played tug-of-war and chased after tennis balls (even in recent days), and enjoyed snuggling on the floor with us while watching a movie.  In return, Kruger gave us the unconditional, trusting love that reminds us why we repeatedly make room in our hearts and homes for our four-legged companions . . . even when saying good-bye is so painful.

Happy boy! ~ Kruger at the cabin last spring
Happy boy! ~ Kruger at the cabin last spring

The Legend of Rainbow Bridge

From the book, “The Legend of Rainbow Bridge” by William N. Britton

Reprinted with Permission

http://www.legendofrainbowbridge.com

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When a pet dies who has been especially close to a person here on earth, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are beautiful meadows and grassy hills there for all our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is always plenty of their favorite food to eat, plenty of fresh spring water for them to drink, and every day is filled with sunshine so our little friends are warm and comfortable.

All the pets that had been ill or old are now restored to health and youth.

Those that had been hurt or maimed are now whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days gone by.

The pets we loved are happy and content except for one small thing.

Each one misses someone very special who was left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one of them suddenly stops and looks off into the distant hills.

It is as if they heard a whistle or were given a signal of some kind.

Their eyes are bright and intent. Their body begins to quiver.

All at once they break away from the group, flying like a deer over the grass, their little legs carrying them faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you hug and cling to them in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.

Happy kisses rain upon your face.

Your hands once again caress the beloved head.

You look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet so long gone from your life, but never gone from your heart.

Then with your beloved pet by your side, you will cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

Your Sacred Circle is now complete again.

(Reprinted with permission of the author. Published 1994. Copyright © William N. Britton. http://www.legendofrainbowbridge.com)

Rainbows -- perhaps a bridge to better places?
Rainbows — perhaps a bridge to better places?

Kruger, we will be here for you until you are ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge.  Then, when it is time, we will do our best to help you cross without pain and with as much love as you can carry until we meet again.

~ Kat

Teen in the Kitchen: Pear Bread and Poetry

The wind is howling, snow is blowing, and the house fills with the aroma of baking bread in the oven and chili on the stove top.  The men of the house are in the kitchen!

My 17-year-old son is putting on a repeat performance of his pear bread that he baked a couple of weeks ago.  He had me take photos of his lovely first attempt at this baked good, and I must say it turned out beautifully!  The sight and accompanying good taste apparently acted as his poetic muse.  His light-hearted ode to a pear follows.  I suppose I should have properly labeled this post as a “guest post” with my son as the guest blogger!  Enjoy!

Pear Bread

Pear-ly Poetic

A poem by Kat B.’s son

Pear, oh pear,

Fleshy fruit without compare,

Juicy, green, so sweet, so fair –

To thee I pour out emotions bare.

~

Thy rotund figure does seduce,

But I shan’t imbibe thy godly juice.

Though with all this self-abuse,

Me to a madman will you reduce?

~

Tensions begin to run quite deep;

Thoughts of thee keep me from sleep.

This un-sated desire makes me weep,

But sown seeds of want I shall not reap.

~

Canst thou give me a little flavor?

Just a nibble, for me to savor.

Then perhaps I will return the favor,

And present thee mine toe – I shall not waver.

~

I finally snap, grasp thy body at last;

’Tis time to break this maddening fast!

Mine wheel’s unmanned, and lies broken the mast;

I have submitted, heavens, avast!

~

Mine mouth tastes sickly sweet, is thinly glazed.

Within me’s the pear at which I once gazed.

My being’s been torn, my morals razed,

But ’tis lack of remorse that leaves me dazed.

~

For I loved thee, pear, it still is true,

But my recent actions I shan’t ever rue,

For looking back, I’d not undo

Mine every last bite of succulent you.

Pear Bread

You can find a link to the pear bread recipe here on the Taste of Home website — my son recommends one more pear than what the recipe calls for, and added chocolate chips this time for a fun twist.

Ciao! ~ Kat B. (and son!)