That cabin in the woods,
nestled beneath second generation pine
planted after the last logging,
waits for our visit.

Snow caught in tree-tops
meanders through the winter sky
covering the green roof in a smooth
slope where acorns speed to the ground.

Ravens ever present toward the open fields,
near the old silo base, they rule the open sky
with acrobatics and voices blanketing
the otherwise quiet space.

The nest in the overhang now empty.
Somewhere deep in the woods they watch
with caution and curiosity as the dogs
run circles around that cabin in the woods.

A red cabin in the woods
beneath the pine trees
sagging from the winter snow,
is all I need for solitude.

I walk through the shadows
closing the path.

The silence consumes reason,
replaced with fear and awareness.

I walk through the shadows
as a visitor seeking nothing

more than solitude and the
desire to fall within my thoughts

until they are scattered into the forest
and consumed by these shadows.

I walk through the shadows
a fragment of my self

until I become one with each tree
and the creatures pass unbothered.

FullSizeRender 25

A foot of new powder, deep blue skies, and a quiet afternoon of snowshoeing.

Nature’s fury becomes
the landscape
we seek
the solitude
we savor.


Ode on Solitude
BY ALEXANDER POPE

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

The following poem is written by Robert Bly. He is considered one of the greatest writers of our time, and it was a challenge to select one piece form his 60-plus years of writing. This piece is from the collection “Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems”, published in 1999 by Perennial.


Solitude Late at Night in the Woods

I
The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!

II
My last walk in the trees has come. At dawn
I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.

III
It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odor that partridges love.

Christmas Day brings thoughts of family, friends, beliefs and what helps us to get through each day. We headed north into the cold and snow to spend the time within nature, at the beckon call of deer and raven, and fell asleep each day to the methodical splashing of water on the frozen shoreline.

Rising in the early morning before the sun, the grass is sharp and crunchy, the lake is calm, and the horizon has a very faint glow.

We walk down the wooden staircase to the rocky shoreline. Mostly flat with a slight slope to the water, it is mostly smooth stones, and sand. On this morning, with the temperature at 6 below, there is 2 feet of ice lining the shore for as far as we can see in both directions. The slushy water is heavy and slow, with pancake ice floating near. Our breath is thick and heavy, staying near our face with each exhale. Fingers are cold, even while holding a quickly cooling cup of coffee. We walk toward the river, kicking a few rocks and looking at various sized pieces of driftwood, trying to warm our fingers and toes.

Turning around and beginning to walk back, a faint shadow passes over the rocks. We stop and look up at the sky in time to see the black raven – large and majestic, the wingspan at least 4 feet across and the body the size of a small dog.

Once the sun has become visible
and fully stretched for a few hours
it is time to hit the trails
for a solo hike.

Well worn paths pass through
grasslands and into the forest
before narrowing as it hugs the
steep cliffs overlooking the Cascade River.

Scattered ice and snow patches,
frozen hoof prints and hiking boots.

The trail veers away
from the river and further
up the forest becomes dense,
the trail is overrun with
tree roots, river rock, and fallen limbs,
before opening into a field.

On the other side the last
climb to Lookout Mountain.

The solitude and quiet that is
winter while hiking trails that
have not been touched by humans
in days, brings the mind within
as it focuses and narrows, by
letting negative energy fall away
and we give ourselves to the creator.

Work on the retreat has been going well the past few weeks.  Though our time has been tight and hectic, when it comes to nature and the vision we are working towards, it is worth it.  Today, Patti completed painting of the interior in a greenish/brownish color, depending on how much sunlight streams through the trees.  I spent most of my time with the hard chore of burning brush piles and dried wood.  Such a tough job!  Since most of the retreat is pine trees, there is a couple inch carpet of dried pine needles and many dried branches and twigs.  This made for an intense mid-day bonfire.

In between the chores we took time for lunch and sat within the silence of nature and whispering pine trees.  The ravens that visit each weekend could be heard circling nearby, no doubt searching for their lunch.

Birds I do not know the name of.

Small collections of cotton from the aptly named cotton wood tree.

A robin flying from the neighbors roof to a tree in the yard.

Deep blue azure background to the expanding and contracting white clouds.

A Delta airplane, and then another I did not recognize.

Swaying tree tops basking in the remaining sunlight.

The smell of BBQ wafting from across the road.

Voices heard from children I do not see.

Closed eyes and deep breath.

Smooth chatter of leaves dancing.

A moment of solitude.

A place exists tucked into tall pine trees
reaching toward the empty
sky filled with Nothing.

Yielding the search for everything
I found what I was looking for.

I do not fully understand
the magic slipping through
exposed fingers and I
question why it took so long to get here,
why so many roadblocks of various
origins, and where was my strength
and resolve to clear this field.

Not so empty the mind’s field
is vast and luminous as my experience
is growing and the net of awareness I
cast years ago is finally being pulled
aboard this vessel I sail the
seven seas within.

As captain I christened this
vessel “reality” and vow to
survive the upcoming storm
on my terms, with things I carry.

Sleep has returned.

I see the tree roots vibration
and with eyes closed I feel
them overtaking my body
and I return to solitude.