aubade and adieu


Atop Teutonia Peak at Mojave National Preserve, CA

“Even an amateur like myself will seldom lack something to see if he will only look. ‘Lift thine eyes unto the hills’ is a religious exhortation. ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard,’ is a scientific one. And, at least for certain temperaments, it is the more fruitful. Because I obey it, the place where I am is never really the same place two days in succession, and I can take every morning the same short walk down a certain wood road because it is not really the same walk.”
-Joseph Wood Crutch, Baja California and the Geography of Hope (1967)

“This curious world which we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful…more to be admired and enjoyed than used.”
-Henry David Thoreau, from his Harvard commencement speech entitled “The Commercial Spirit of Modern Times, Considered in Its Influence on the Political, Moral, and Literary Character of a Nation”, delivered August 30, 1837

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
-William Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood (1807)

In this WordPress forum I’ve spent several years and many thousands of words extolling nature’s wonders—as well as trying to convey the profound wonderment these inspired in me—beginning from my native Washington state and sojourning into Nevada, eastern California and western Oregon; also venturing into northern Mexico and Southeast Asia for brief tours. But mostly the ramblings stayed within the western states (hence the “occidental”), and most showcased my inveterate urge to make sense of what I saw.

This is my last post. Partially this is due to my having run up against WordPress’s storage limits (an upgrade in space would cost money, something I’m perennially short on); partially it’s because I’ve been busy with other things. Already I’ve neglected it terribly.

Being a generalist in interests, habits and profession—and being somewhat discursive by nature—there’s a fair number of non sequiturs to be found herein. In fact, there’s very little order at all to this blog. (To the intrepid few that peruse it: thank you. I’ve had fun.) Any circumstance in my life that sufficiently commanded my attention became fair game, past or present, real or imagined. As I once described my blogging to a dear friend,

I freely admit, my writing these days is for purely selfish reasons: therapy, practice, self-aggrandizement, love. A chance to feel creative and productive after a dull day at work. I say that I write for myself, because it feels right (as nothing else does)—yet I share it with the world, because that feels right, too: to heave my words out there to be judged, analyzed, and vetted by near-strangers; to not give a fuck about what people think and just revel in the inspiration when it comes to me.

Yet overwhelmingly the subjective lens focused squarely on nature, the natural world and its myriad phenomena. I say “subjective” because that is all I offered: one man’s view of places and birds and insects and whatnot—things first described and better elucidated by others before me. I am but one facet refracting an illimitable spectrum, one choir voice in Naess’s Church of Deep Ecology. I’ve never professed any sort of scientific acumen. I’m an amateur besotted with nature and its stories, which range from lessons to cautionary tales to paeans to tragedies and everything in between.

Simply put, these stories speak to me. Like everyone else, I am intertwined with the storytelling, particularly in crafting the endings: Individually we are bit players on this grand proscenium, but together we’re writing the script. If I am so fortunate as to be able to continue sharing these sagas during my earth-bound tenure—which, on the atomic level, promises to be rather long indeed—that is what I shall do. I’ll close with a quote from Joseph Wood Crutch in the Sierra Club’s excellent Baja California and the Geography of Hope:

“[B]oth Wordsworth and Thoreau knew that when the light of common day seemed no more than common it was because of something lacking in them, not because of something lacking in it, and what they asked for was eyes to see a universe they knew was worth seeing. For that reason theirs are the best of all attempts to describe what real awareness consists of…[They] realized that the rare moment is not the moment when there is something worth looking at but the moment when we are capable of seeing.”