Tag Archives: moon

Natural Love

“A brother is a friend given by Nature.” (Jean Baptiste Legouve)

There once lived three brothers working on a farm, aged 5, 10, and 15. That was long, long, ago.

The eldest left the farm to drive truck and the others stayed.

When the middle son had a medical condition briefly preventing him from working on the farm, he drove truck with his older brother, but he stayed on the farm.

When the youngest brother graduated from high school, he drove truck with his oldest brother for a summer before he left the farm for college, and the middle brother stayed.

When one brother needed help, the others showed up. It’s what they knew, lessons from their parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Money changed hands, time was shared in passing, deer were hunted together, parents and other family members buried, joys and sadness lived.

Years turned to decades and the middle brother went to trucking, but he stayed on the farm. The eldest continued trucking through his heart attack, through two open heart surgeries, and well past an age of retirement.

The youngest son retired from teaching, once, and went back for more. The oldest brother finally gave up trucking of medical necessity but returned to the farm to summer in an RV, work the garden, and help with farm chores. The middle brother lived in the same farmhouse he entered at age 4, continued trucking, and worked the farm in between. The youngest brother returned in summer to occasionally dabble in farm work.

Summers became a time of reunion as the eldest brother returned to the Wisconsin farm from Florida and the youngest visited from Arizona. The brothers laughed, played Sheepshead, and sweated together, again—home…home on the farm.

Always, the farm remained open to family. And, so, another summer brought the eldest home. Eighteen years past his second open heart surgery and thirty three past the heart attack that brought the first one—and the arrest on the table—find him rototilling the garden, mowing lawn, feeding and watering horses, pulling wagon loads of hay, and generally contributing what he can.

The youngest comes to visit for a week, invited into the house with his sick and dying dog, sleeping on a screen porch much like he did as a teenager, throwing a few bales of hay just to say thank you, or, mostly to feel the joy of honest work on the old farm.

After a hot day of hard work, the eldest reflected on the condition, the contribution to the farm, the opportunity to return: “I just love this…for the end of my life, really.”

The end of life may be sad, but it need not be tragic. I have seen too much of the tragic, people withering away far from home, if they ever had a real home. Not all families share this kind of brotherly love, this simple contribution of time and talent with each other.

Maybe that’s the point…of life, I mean, to have a home to enjoy at the end of life. What do you think?

Dark Adventure

In America’s pre-dawn darkness on Friday, December 21st, 2012, our sun will reach its extreme southern position on our horizon—and people will die.
They will die because they are afraid.
They will die to avoid adventure.
For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, this is our longest night, our longest wait for the light of our sun. It is a dark season for us. For Christians, it is Advent. We wait.
This year we wait for the unknown. We wait for the change—maybe the end of the world as we know it—and we are afraid.
If the world does not immediately end on that day, we will face the cold. As my dad used to say, “When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.”
But, the sun is coming back. The days are getting longer. Shouldn’t it be getting warmer?
All seasons lag. There is a delay as the long nights continue to take their toll. Winter follows the solstice,
February was always, ironically, my longest month. Spring still seemed so far away.
But it is coming, which is the meaning of advent, and our time between now and then is always an adventure. Because we do not know what comes, exactly, and we do not know what awaits us between now and then, between pain and salvation, between birth and death.
That is precisely what makes life an adventure.
In many ways, 2012 is no different from any other Advent season. We never know what the season brings or the new year (or, the new century, millennium, or age). Life is always adventure.
Earth will turn on Friday and the sun will rise over America as all other lands. The old adage, “It is always darkest before the dawn,” is figurative only. This year, our moon is in first quarter on Winter Solstice, so it will light our sky before sunrise, reflecting the sun’s light, foretelling its coming.
If we can but read the signs.
Pessimists among us decry change and adventure. They claim the world is ending, and fearing change, take their own lives. Sometimes they take the lives of others. Because they are afraid.
I watched a movie recently in which a young couple was stranded in the Grand Canyon. The husband lost his leg and suffered fever. As he lay near death, wolves approached. To save him from the wolves, his bride took his life—only moments before the sound of the approaching rescue helicopter.
Optimists see a Mayan prophecy of changing worlds, a grand spiritual shift from selfishness to cooperation among people. They see hope in adventure where others see despair.
Who is right?
Both. Seasons always lag. There will be more darkness. But seasons will change, light will return, Spring will come, and humans will evolve.
It will not be easy. It will be adventure.

What Is a Story?

By definition, a story is an account of real or fictitious events (as history) usually narrated (told) as by spoken or written words, pictures, symbols, and/or artifacts. History is the root word from which story is derived. Narrate is a term grounded in a word meaning knowledge or knowing (as Gnostic). So, a story is some account of events told by someone having specific knowledge and point of view. Yeah, well…

A story is trouble for somebody about whom we have some care and concern. At least in the American Novel, there is some expectation of conflict escalating to climax and resolution. We might say there is a kind of recipe or format. A specific pattern of format for story expectations might characterize a literary genre. Readers look for very different plots in Romances, Mysteries, and Erotic Novels.

A story is a promise (Bill Johnson, www.storyispromise.com). The author presents a situation in which one or more characters face personal conflict which escalates to seemingly impossible conditions. Action and tension increase. Trouble abounds. Defects in personal and/or group character traits complicate the troubles. Outcome is not certain; however, the audience demands satisfactory conclusion.

Oh, one more thing. The story must stretch the audience’s belief without breaking it. Genres differ, here. I cannot become a fan of Horror or Science Fiction because it is very difficult to maintain the suspension of my disbelief (I am a skeptic). Erotica and Romance escape my naïveté. Military and Nature milieu stories must be accurate or true to my experience else I stop reading.

One example is a famous book that claimed the moon was visible in different phases at different places around the world simultaneously. I set up a sun-Earth-moon model in my living room and learned that the author was wrong. I discounted everything else in the story. It became unbelievable to me and the author not credible.

Similarly, characters must be believable. Fortunately, the range of normal and abnormal human psychology is so vast in my experience that little could be more extreme than historical accounts of real Wisconsin residents. Still, a character must stay in character unless that kind of abnormal psychology is part of the story.

Plot trajectory must also follow some generally predictable patterns with a few surprising specific twists. Random conflicts and resolutions (strangers appearing, magic events, unexplained coincidences) are believable only within limits of context. It breaks the story promise.

A story is a promise kept. The writer offers a promise of interesting characters with believable traits including defects, a milieu of setting and circumstance offering trouble, and a sequence of events with plenty of building conflict. The reader/audience has a right to expect all of this with some unpredictable events and a satisfactory outcome. And, the promise must be offered in the first few pages. That’s all.

In fairness, I remind you that my views come from on-the-job training. I have no formal education in narration or novel writing. You can get your own training by writing, reading, and searching views of successful writers you appreciate. You can find all sorts of discussions of story, narration, myth, and symbolism online. One topic I am interested in investigating is the range of emotional appetites of various audiences with regard to characterization and story structure (plot or conflict curve). We read to experience emotions.

One last thing: Feel free to teach something, to make a statement of observation regarding the meaning of the experience of life. You can tell a story that adds something to the great narrative of human history.

With all of this formulation, remember to be original. Keep writing, and enjoy the journey.

Time Defined

Time, itself, does not exist.

It is as imaginary as angels, demons, muses, and ideas.

Time is one component of the medium in which our physical world exists, the other being the subject of next month’s blog, space.

So, how is it that we can measure a thing that does not exist? It is a matter of relationship. As a medium component, time is intimately related to all existence. Why? Because existence is change.

We perceive existence only by way of physical, chemical, or nuclear change. We see light from fusion that is a star. We hear sound that is displacement of atoms, ions, or molecules. We even feel changes in pressure. All change happens only through time.

Our moon moves through space and time in patterns that allow us to “tell time”.

  1. New Moon rises and sets with the sun;
  2. Each day the moon rises and sets later (some 50 minutes);
  3. Waxing moon gets brighter on the sun (right) side, waning stays brighter on the sun (left) side;
  4. The photo is a waxing crescent moon with the sun to the right and below the moon soon after sunset;
  5. The sun sets north of west in summer—to the right of the moon in the photo. That gives the crescent moon the appearance of pouring water rather than
    holding it. Some call this a dry (no water) moon and a cup crescent that appears to hold water a wet moon. I would reverse that, calling this moon wet because it pours the water out. In any case, it is a summer moon.
  6. This photo is a waxing crescent summer moon taken after sunset (around 9 p.m.) in early June.

I believe my conclusion is unambiguous; however, I welcome corrections and reflections. I could be wrong.

All existence (of the physical world) is change is matter and/or energy through space and time.

E = mc­2

Don’t see time in this relationship? It’s hidden in the c, the speed of light, which is a ratio of change in space (distance) to change in time, or distance divided by time.

Time, itself, may not exist, but it is still as real as angels, demons, muses, and ideas.

 

Mind Wind: Beating Time

Mind Wind: Beating Time

(Note: This was written a few weeks ago, while in the north woods. I wasn’t sure I would have time after I got back to Arizona.)

I always wonder what people do with all that time they (we) save by speeding, changing lanes, and passing in traffic. Do they save a few moments to cherish later?

Individual views of time are personal but grounded in culture and heritage. We learn both consciously and subconsciously, and we develop habits without even noticing.

When did you get out of bed today?

My morning was blessed with sunshine on tall trees in a deep blue sky. Time feels different in the north woods, even as I look out the bedroom window of our RV. Then, I hear the factory whistle and know it is 7:00 a.m. and I am still in bed. That’s late for me. I feel lazy. Oh, well. It’s only 5:00 at home in Arizona.

Sometimes it can be difficult to perceive our true attitudes and beliefs because they have become habituated. It takes conscious intention to observe the day. Am I feeling a sense of urgency? Why? What’s the rush?

The world is our mirror. A sentient look around our social environment reflects our own attitudes and beliefs about time. Walk with intention of observing and see yourself. Become a stranger in your neighborhood.

The garbage truck comes between 6:00 and 7:00. Mail, not until afternoon this time of year. Irrigation at 5:00, but that’s all in Arizona. In the north woods, loons go to work early in the morning and whippoorwills call before full dark. Owls are a little later. I am not familiar with the other rhythms. See? That tells me I am still not settled into north woods time. It can take awhile.

I’ll drive into town today, first the little unincorporated county seat in WI, then the VAH in the bigger “city” in MI. I want to be there for a meeting precisely at 7:00 p.m. I hate to be late. It draws so much attention to me, and I might not get a chair facing the doors. I’ll be there by 6:45.

Our neighbor in the woods said Nancy and I are the two most punctual people she knows. I wasn’t always that way. I don’t know about Nancy. I used to be late for most things until, well, I guess until the Army. It wasn’t that I had ever wanted to be late—I hadn’t—I just planned poorly.

Tardiness and punctuality can both be egocentric. Yes, tardiness is obvious because it seems to place more value on my time than others’, but punctuality can be a personal fear of being noticed or embarrassed. Anyway, I now have a fear of embarrassment at being late.

I used to blame my mother for my being late. I said I had been a ten month baby and was still trying to catch up. Actually, I was a surprise five and a half years after my siblings. My parents had recently purchased a farm on a special low down payment WWII plan when my mother found out she was pregnant. The other five children were ages 5 to 12 years. Yeah, I would say I was born late.

There is a speed limit of 15 mph on our shared private road. A stop sign welcomes me to the civilization of a state highway. The U.S. highway through town allows 30 mph with no stop. Speed is measured in time.

Distance is measured in time, too. How far is Yuma from San Diego? Less than 3 hours. It’s 36 hours from my Arizona home to the north woods and 5 hours from here downstate to my brother’s farm where we grew up.

The bank sign here gives us time and temperature. I was across and up the street at the hardware store when I heard the radio news on 9/11. Time stopped that day. I had heard on my car radio that a plane hit the World Trade Center, but I had visualized a small private model. The owner at the hardware store briefed me on the second plane and we listened together. She said she couldn’t stop listening. I went home and told my wife we were at war, but we just didn’t know with whom. We watched TV. That is the only time in memory that my wife chose to not go out to eat on her birthday. That family owned hardware store closed just before Memorial Day, 2011.

The smoke from the collapse of those twin towers hung above America for almost 10 years. Finally, it seems like only a shadow in our collective memory. America likes short wars.

I have 27 years and a few months to pay off my mortgage. Already on Medicare, it sometimes feels like a race. Hope it’s not a dead heat. Actually, I don’t much care.

Buying on time is a way of life for many of us—including the nation, itself. If we pay off the debt, who wins? If we don’t, who loses? Time will tell.

Wisconsin and Michigan clocks agree in my neck of the woods. East or north of here, it is one hour later on the clock. It’s two hours earlier in Arizona and California, but that all changes when Daylight Saving Time ends. Arizona stays on Standard time year round. I guess there is no reason to save sunshine there.

How does one save time? Does it earn interest? Can we borrow time? I perceive some strange social views on this subject. Oh, that’s right. Time = $. No, I don’t believe that. Money is a human invention. Time exists in nature.

High winds yesterday took down many of my trees. I heard and watched two of them crash. You were not here, but I can tell you they did make sound in your absence. My conclusion is that others this spring made sounds even though I was not here at the time.

I have to go clean up a fallen tree. At least one of us has run out of time.

P.S. The moon picture was taken with my new camera at our place in Northern Wisconsin. Now, can you determine approximate date and time?

P.P.S. The blog header photo was also taken with my new camera just south of Quartzite, AZ as I approached home after ~70 hours on the road.

Essence of Time: God’s Art

Natural Time

Nature is an exquisite calendar and an elegantly functional clock. There is much we can determine about time from a single photograph of the moon—if we know how to read the clock. What time is it in the picture? How completely can you answer? Assume it is the Northern Hemisphere. I may post clues as needed from time to time.

While I was a Volunteer Interpretive Ranger at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Arizona, I observed the phenomenon of light from the sunrise near equinox passing through a hole in the east wall, moving down the inside of a west wall, and passing through a similar hole there. Among other things, this great building is an impressive calendar.

Some people suggest this helped the Hohokam know the right time to plant their crops. I don’t think so.

My dad was a Wisconsin dirt farmer, and he taught me that the right time to plant corn was when the Burr Oak leaves were as big as squirrels’ ears. I suppose I remember this because it was important to me. It meant freedom. When my dad started planting corn, I was free to go barefoot all summer.

O’odham people, likely descendents of the Hohokam, hold a similar folk tale. The right time to plant cotton is when the Mesquite trees begin to grow new leaves.

Still, the Bitter Man of legend said to have built the Casa Grande had his reasons for making it a calendar. Prophecy aided by scientific prediction, like the Casa Grande itself, is impressive, and impressing people is an effective tool of politics. Perhaps his great big calendar helped the Bitter Man predict the coming monsoons. Maybe he even hosted great ceremonies appearing to bring the rains. That would be true power in the desert.

My interest in understanding the universe has taken me to inquiry of a spiritual nature. I find beautiful order in man’s perception of natural laws. Certain experiences have nudged me to accept some Mystery of Creation which, for simplicity and cultural relevance I choose to call God. In short, I want to know how the universe works, and this includes all things spiritual as well as physical. I want to understand what I can about God. But, I am an empirical sort of guy inclined to science as a preferred epistemology.

How do I find evidence about God? Well, I figure, if I want to understand an artist, I should probably study the artist’s work. After all, art is an expression of the artist. Since God is what I am calling the unknown (force, intelligence, being) who creates Nature (at least natural law), Nature is God’s art. I study Nature to study God.

I am attracted to Nature. I feel at home in Nature. I feel like me in wild places. I feel closer to my life goal, closer to understanding, closer to God.

Essence of Time: Grounding

Can you tell time with the moon?