March 27, 2021

A Renewal


It's been several years since I've posted on this blog, but some reading I've been doing lately has got me thinking that I might enjoy writing again. It's early spring here in northern Vermont, the ice is receding from the edges of the pond, green leaves are visible under the shallow pond water: a time to start afresh. 

The poems of Alberto Caeiro, a heteronym of Fernando Pessoa are making me aware again of the value of looking closely at the world around me: 
The astonishing reality of things
Is my daily discovery.
Each thing is what it is,
And it's hard to explain to someone how much joy this gives me,
And how much that joy suffices me. 
In my gaze, everything is clear as a sunflower,
I'm in the habit of going for walks along the roads,
Looking to the right and to the left,
And now and then looking back...
And what I see at each moment Is something I've never seen before,
And I'm very good at that...
I know how to feel the profound astonishment 
A child would feel if, on being born, 
He realized that he truly had been born...
I feel newborn with every moment
To the complete newness of the world...

Caeiro asks us to look, to truly see, with no preconceptions, no thought. I've also been reading several modernist French writers, such as Jean Frémon, Pierre Reverdy, Franck André Jamme, and Philippe Jaccottet whose prose styles are inspiring. It is Jaccottet's Seedtime, selections from his notebooks, that also made me think about making notebook-like entries in my blog, along with photographs. Although the blog is titled Studio and Garden, I don't think I'll post my artwork here, but will leave that to Facebook and Instagram. But I do hope to write about art that I see in museums and galleries, once I'm back to visiting those wonderful, much-missed places.

In the woods, the mosses have been refreshed by yesterday's rain, and their intense greens can't be matched in the natural world. Their shapes vary, from tiny tree-like forms to soft cushiony shapes, some that make resting on a moss-covered rock inviting. 

In the first entry in Jaccottet's Seedtime, he urges us towards a "complete forgetting": 
Attachment to the self renders life more opaque. One moment of complete forgetting and all the screens, one behind the other, become transparent so that you can perceive clarity to its very depths, as far as the eye can see, and at the same time everything becomes weightless. Thus does the soul truly become a bird. 


  1. Altoon, I am delighted that you have started to post once again. I look forward to to listening in on your observations about nature and literature.

  2. Glad you're firing this up again!

    1. Thanks. I'll see how long my enthusiasm lasts. Funny...there's no "like" button here.

  3. Pleased to see you are returning to this.
    I often challenge myself to observe something new and different with every step as I take my walks. So this resonates.

  4. This was exactly what I needed to read today- the last quote by Jaccottet carries so much wisdom. Thank you!

  5. This totally brought a heartfelt smile to my face today. Thank you. When I clicked from email to browser, the beautiful image of your header brought joy as your posts are always thoughtful and thought provoking. Thank you!

  6. Such a welcome return.
    Any advice on how to quiet the "naming-voice"? When I hike there is a running monolog naming everything I see. It would be good to just see and not label.

    1. Thanks.
      Well, you can be like me and not know most of the names of things in the first place. Your question reminds me of a book about Robert Irwin by Lawrence Weschler called "Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees"

    2. Thank you.
      I am looking into that book. I am remembering the "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" admonition to find ways to quiet the voice.
      I have my geology- and botany-knowledge working against me!
      No doubt your future entries will be helpful.
      Our cable "Soundscapes" music channel slideshows beautiful photos - one of them is a tree like your old lady apple. How is she?

    3. The book is about the artist, not about consciousness etc; I just love the title. My apple trees are still alive and producing every other year.

  7. Altoon! Your post came like a message in a unexpected and so welcome.
    "And it's hard to explain to someone how much joy this gives me,
    And how much that joy suffices me."

    I'm in Tubac, AZ, took an afternoon walk along the Anza Trail this afternoon, and became entranced by the trailing sprays of dead cottonwood leaves...I've looked up all the authors you mentioned, none of which were familiar to me, so as always you've provided entree into new worlds. I hope you get to curl up and take a nap in the moss one day soon! And I look forward, along with all your friends and fans, to more such posts. Thank you.

    1. Such a treat to hear from you, Heather. Have wonderful adventures in Arizona!