Hello Babies. Welcome to Earth. – Vol. 8

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”  ~ John Keats

Hello babies. Welcome to Words. What is it about digging in the dirt that is both symbolic of life–planting, harvesting, farming–and of death–burials, composting, ashes to ashes, dust to dust? It’s the complete cycle of life, isn’t it?, and it’s all going down around us on this Pale Blue Dot that we call home. We’re here for only a nano-second in the big universe of things, but while we’re here let us be kind. Let us create and grow and leave something beautiful that wasn’t here before. Let us dig in the dirt–even with our squat pen resting between our fingers and our thumbs–and let us rejoice in being alive.

Visit us next weekend when Jennie and I tackle the ‘fifth’ element, Love. Have a wonderful week everyone, Christy

***

Mother-Earth

Mother Earth (via)

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” ~ Kurt VonnegutGod Bless You, Mr. Rosewater 

***

Where to start?
Everything cracks and shakes,
the air trembles with similes,
No one world’s better than another;
the earth moans with metaphors.
~ Osip Mandelstam

***

“Endless distance
Wildlife and stars
Blanket the night
You lying beside me, darling
Eyes wide open
While the wide arc of the globe is turning
We feel it moving through the dark
Hear the hills
Scrape the sky
And our eyes fill with the falling sparks

Then we know that we’re alive
If we weren’t
Sure before
I reach for you by my side and soar”

~ “Revolution Earth” by B-52’s from Good Stuff

***

“Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive.” ~ Pablo Neruda

***

“The whole world is, to me, very much “alive” – all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life – the things going on – within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.” ~ Ansel Adams

***

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

***

“I’m digging in the dirt
Stay with me I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
To open up the places I got hurt”

~ “Digging in the Dirt” by Peter Gabriel from Us

***

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil (via)

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil (via)

Shovel

Davis, California

Planting bulbs last December, I had to cut
the cold, taut skin of ground, churn it into
wet yogurt-clods with my shovel. I felt sad
about that, the lopsided garden bed, the messy
swirls on the sidewalk. Shovel:
I love the word the way I love
tools—because of the hard silver edge at the end
that makes the tongue dip and rise again,
scraping the bottom of the mouth. Poets
do that too: dig down for the winter
beneath—and sometimes we plant
a word there, or two, though mine usually die
from neglect, a late frost, or poor planning.
I wonder sometimes about language
before the word shovel and I think then
we said digging stick, prying the round soaplant
bulb from the wet April soil—
& then someone thought of metal, and not long
after, shovels. Last week someone I love very much
became ill and the doctor scissored out a whole part
of his body. Afterwards, my friend wanted it back,
but the doctor needed to cut to sections,
for slides. Well, can I have the slides? he asked.
Sometimes we dig a thing out because
it’s needed elsewhere. Like mercury,
shoveled out from these blue oak hills,
to gather gold fines. Later, men held
shovel-fuls of mercury-gold over
fire, the mercury soon disappearing into sky and rain.
A scientist on mercury: Once you dig it out out
you can never get rid of it. It stays
on the surface forever. (In one winter,
a ton of mercury came down Cache Creek).
It helps sometimes to think of the lines
of the shovel itself, the handle oiled with my
own thumbs, the jut of the heel, the muscled curve
tarnished with rust. I envy the face of the shovel,
which hides, so well, all emotion. Lately, the word
shovel isn’t enough, so we say bulldozer,
tractor, motor grader. These things are needed,
but what is removed goes elsewhere: small streams
and the few pennies on the map we call lakes.
My friend? The doctor says he can have
a prosthesis, later, if he likes. And so I think—
another thing a shovel does: puts back. So this morning
I am here, shovel deep in the dirt,
planting a stick of willow. I am sorry it is such
a small one, and I am sorry I will probably
neglect it, though dirt carries on sometimes,
without us, and in astonishing ways. Today, I dig
down for deeper words, a darker way
to explain all my takings, but I hit rocks early, and tire.
If you find the ones I’m looking for, dig them up.

~ “Shovel” by Katie Redding, from Terrain.org: A Journal of Built and Natural Environments (No. 15, Fall/Winter 2004)

***

“Down there the scent of the sap and the flowers from the many gardens near the coast used to intoxicate me, and I wanted to burrow my fingers in the dark burning earth. I would roam about and try to remember your face, and draw in the perfume of your body. I would stretch my arms out in the air to touch as much as possible of your sunlight.” ~ Henri Barbusse, Hell

***

“Time weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won’t be able to escape it. Still, you have to go there – to the edge of the world. There’s something you can’t do unless you get there.” ~ Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

***

“To the ends of the earth, would you follow me
There’s a world that was meant for our eyes to see
To the ends of the earth, would you follow me
Well if you want, I will say my goodbyes to me

I was a-ready to die for you, baby
Doesn’t mean I’m ready to stay
What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given
If all you do is stand in one place”

“Ends of the Earth” by Lord Huron on Lonesome Dreams

***

“Between one tree and another, there is all the thirst of the earth.” ~ Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions: Volume I

***

Organic Layers by Jeni Lee, (via).

Organic Layers by Jeni Lee, (via).

“The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.” ~ Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

***

“Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s jus’ in their head.” ~ John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

***

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
A.A. Milne

***

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Carl SaganPale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

***

The Earth as imaged from the Voyager 1 Spacecraft. Earth is nearly 4 billion miles away in this image. Via myhigherdrive.com.

The Earth as imaged from the Voyager 1 Spacecraft. Earth is nearly 4 billion miles away in this image. (Via)

***

“You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion- years-old. There’s been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away — all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. . . . In the thinking of the human being, a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago we didn’t have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can’t imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven’t got the humility to try. We’ve been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we’re gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.” ~ Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

***

Digging

BY SEAMUS HEANEY

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

~ “Digging” by Seamus Heaney from Death of a Naturalist.

~~~

This week’s Earth-themed music playlist via YouTube, including music by: Johnny Cash, Eva Cassidy, Counting Crows, Marvin Gaye and more.

20 comments

  1. You are so utterly unique to me. You seem to absorb all the happy, intellectual, stimulating, beautiful, and awakening thoughts that pass before you. Nothing is off the radar. A rare and appealing quality. Thank you for the depth of your integrity as you so masterfully puzzle these pieces together every week. You truly move the mountains in our hearts. Hearts, Me

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    1. Hi Lisa! Christy will be around later to reply to your beautiful comment 🙂 Christy really does have the unique ability of being able to see all the pieces doesn’t she? I’ve always loved her Words post because of that. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! -Jennie

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    2. I am going to print this, Lisa, and tape it to my bathroom mirror so that I may start every day with your beautiful words.

      The thing about absorbing everything around me, is that I can’t always filter or choose what I take in, so I get the dark, ugly, twisty-sticky stuff too. Your words will help me zone in and focus on the light and the beautiful though, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. All my love, C

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  2. I love that Ansel Adams quote. It put down in words exactly how I feel. Great collection of quotes, songs, inspiration once again Christy! Have a great weekend! I know we will watching the ‘living’ snow fall here. Ginger goes nuts in the snow, so I’m happy for it (since I have nowhere to drive today).

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    1. The Ansel Adams quote was perfect, it’s one of my favorites she used in this as well! I’m a little sad we didn’t get the snow they were talking about here, we were kind of looking forward to it (especially since we had nowhere we had to be today lol). Have a great weekend Char, and enjoy your snow! -Jennie

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      1. That’s why I enjoyed it (since I hibernated at home). I hope you get some on a day when you’re not going anywhere.

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    2. Hi Char, we have been knee deep (or at least ankle deep) in ice around here from Winter Storm Cleon. The dogs aren’t crazy about the slipping and sliding that comes with ice, but when they get snow, they’re like furry little jumping beans hopping around and chasing each other through the snow. They may like snow even more than leaf piles! Me, on the other hand, I’ll take sandy beaches and balmy breezes any day of the week.

      And since I forgot to add an Ansel Adams photo today (doh!), here is one to celebrate our winter wonderlands:
      Trees and Snow by Ansel Adams

      Trees and Snow, Ansel Adams

      Have a wonderful weekend, Christy

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      1. That’s perfectly breathtaking! Thank you. I hope your ice melts and warmer winter weather follows soon. The cold is not my favorite friend to keep around for very long.

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  3. Love this….
    especially grateful for the Vonnegut quote, as I am going to a baby shower today…I will copy it into the card.
    the Heaney and the Lord Huron…
    Lisa said it best (pretend I said that!)
    xoxo

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    1. Oh how perfect Michele, I hope the shower was fun.

      I love the Heaney piece–am I the only one that teared up watching his reading?–and I was quite lucky to stumble upon Katie Redding’s “Shovel” — love the notion of writers and poets digging, churning, tilling up soil with our pens and our words. Speaking of which . . . Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones . . . hope you are enjoying. I recently read it again too and have recommended it to several friends.

      Lord Huron–love! Heard that one on the season finale of Shameless. It was love at first listen. Aren’t they wonderful?

      I can pretend 🙂 And I’m so grateful… thank you!
      xoxo, C

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  4. Hi Christy!
    Every week, just when I think I’ve read my favorite, you produce another new fav. Of all the elements, I associate with the earth the most personally. Running on it, digging in it, feeling it under my fingernails. Your beautiful compilation reminded me of some sweet passages I read from The Roots of my Obsession: Thirty Gardener’s Reveal why they Garden by Thomas C Cooper. From contributor Page Dickey:

    “…this world of Earthly details absorbs me. I think of nothing else–not the e-mails I haven’t answered nor the errands that need doing…”

    You have such a vast grasp of so many sources of art, literature and music. Do you sleep?!?
    Xo, M

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    1. Sleep? Ahahaha, that’s a good one! I guess I sleep enough, but not as often as I’d like.

      I LOVE that you mentioned dirt under the fingernails. I refuse to garden with gloves (unless I absolutely must), because I love the feel of dirt on my hands, under my nails. I love cradling a flower or plant–its roots delicately coiled in my hands–and willing it loving growing thoughts before I place it gently in the ground and cover it up with soil and dirt. I know it sounds hokey, but I just had the image of a doctor delivering a child and holding it in its hands–willing it loving and growing thoughts–before placing it in the mother’s arms. Life is all around us . . .

      I love the sturdiness of earth. The ruggedness. The dependability. “Land is the only thing that lasts,” as Mitchell wrote. I love that it has been here eons before us, and will be here for eons after us. Odd that I most associate with earth and air (and those are the two element volumes I composed) and Jennie associates with fire and water (and those were her volumes); I didn’t really think about that until now. Hmmm.

      xoxo, C

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      1. Hello again!
        I imagined your cradled seedling and felt my body completely relax. And the SMELL–don’t you just cherish that unmistakable earthy scent? Your description was especially timely as I think about the tulips just planted last week that are now nestled under layers of soil topped by an ice cap of snow. Winter is rough on me simply because I’m rarely able to dig into that beloved ground. I’ll just have to bookmark this post and reread “Shovel” and the piece from Michael Chricton. Thank you as well for your lovely edit of my comment! So much technically I’m eager to learn in this blogger’s paradise. Have a great week, Christy and thanks so much for this week’s post. LOVED it!
        M

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        1. 🙂

          Like Heaney, you can dig with your pen, Michelle, until Spring.

          Loved “Shovel” with “Digging” — such imagery.

          (You’re welcome. Easy for me to do on the laptop, nearly impossible on my phone…) Have a great week M!

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  5. I’d never read ‘Shovel’ until today, and wow. Just wow. Let’s just say you have moved me into reading more Redding, much more. You guys are throwing nothing but strikes with these Weekend posts. It’s truly amazing stuff, the words of your weekend.

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    1. Gotta try to live up to my nickname so here ya go:

      http://katieredding.wordpress.com/education-clips/

      Katie contributed poetry to volumes 14 and 15 at Terrain. She’s very talented, yes?

      Now please pass me a Twinkie, yes?

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  6. Christina, I haven’t abandoned you, my dear friend. I’ve got many irons in the fire right now, but when I have more time to dedicated myself to your last two WFtW, I most definitely well. I don’t like just breezing through your posts. I want to experience it fully, capture its essence, listen to all the videos, too, and that takes time. BBS

    Much love and big hugs,
    Victoria

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    1. Oh, it’s okay, Victoria! I know these are long posts–some weeks can be savored and some are bound to be scanned or skipped depending on time. You use these posts however you need to–savor, scan, or skip–that’s what they’re for.

      I hoped you’d see this one though… I know you love Sagan too.

      Lots of love to you, xoxo, Christy

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  7. whiteladyinthehood · ·

    Another great one! I really loved the Ansel Adams photo you inserted in the above comment! When I read through these quotes and passages I always find one I’ve never heard that I really really like! and then, too, I like that I recognize one sometimes! The one I thought, Hey, I know this one, was the Carl Sagan one! The Pale Blue Dot. I have a science blog that I follow and I saw a video of this one with the words being spoken – it was awesome! So, I guess what I’m trying to say is: I love these because of recognizing something familiar and at the same time finding something unexpectedly beautiful!

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    1. Oh, how cool is that?! We were just talking science, more specifically the science of round-ish objects, over at your blog. Earth is kind of like a big egg, right? One could even say we are some kid’s science experiment too, like a certain Stephen King novel that we won’t spoil for anyone here.

      That’s one of the nicest compliments you could offer us, Whitelady, about the blend of familiar and unexpected. I think there’s a lot of comfort in poems and passages that we all know–just like a song we all know the lyrics to–but at the same time, it’s fun to discover someone new too; it’s like chocolate cornbread! (Which OMG, warm sweet iron skillet cornbread with chocolate frosting on it, just because. I am so going to try that.)

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