Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Legend and Poem: Feeding the Beast

Artist JohnnyLee –

I heard this Cherokee legend at a talk I went to last night.   First the legend and then a poem I wrote tying in some of the themes. 

Two Wolves – A Cherokee Legend

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. 

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside each of us. 

One is Evil. It is filled with an unforgiving spirit and is prone to anger, hatred, bitterness, envy and greed. 

The other is Good. It is full of peace, love, kindness, empathy, generosity and forgiveness." 

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?" 

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Feeding the Beast 
Red hot coals
for the angry beast
in me,

I shovel, I stoke,
I keep the flames alive,

I feed the beast
with searing heat,
seeing not the
gentle stream so near,
seeing not its peaceful path
around the rocks,

my task is clear,


yet evermore it
asks for more,
and more,
until my arms grow weak,

I kneel by the shore
and weep,

the cooling water,
my cleansing tears,
 wash over me,
run through me,
quenching my thirst,
quelling the flames,

the beast cries out
with a mighty roar,
“I’ll hate no more.”
and then it's

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Best Performance in a Movie

Home Piano © 2011 Rita Bourland

Best Performance in a Movie

And the Oscar for best performance in a movie goes to………the musicians who played background music for The Artist.  

I was swept away by soaring violins, soulful clarinets, piano rhythms and suspense-building drums.  These extra but unseen actors in the film were present for every scene, creating myriad moods from emotional collapse to the heights of ecstasy.

The music was so good and so seamless that one could be forgiven for not noticing it at all.  My awareness sharpened about a third of the way into the film.  It didn’t take me out of the action; it enhanced my experience.  As I felt the mellow saxophones and bluesy trombones tug at my heart, I watched the actors’ faces and knew they felt it too.  The beat of the underlying score made this movie complete in a way we seldom find anymore.  By removing the voices, we were given the gift of a sumptuous orchestra to feast upon.  And what a feast it was.  Oh, those clarinets and oboes were so fine, and what about those muted trumpets setting that jazzy mood?  I think I heard a harp plucking at my heart as well; just when all seemed lost.

Thank you, Hollywood.  By giving us a movie without voices we ended up with a front row seat to the art of creating sound, which creates mood, which creates great movies. 

Go see The Artist.  Watch it; be intrigued by it, and occasionally close your eyes and allow the music to wash over you and enthrall you. 

To the individuals who wrote the score, arranged the music, did the orchestration and played so masterfully - hats off to you.  You may pick up your Oscar as soon as I discuss this new category with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  Bravo!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poem: In the Stillness

Hilton Head 2012 © Rita Bourland

In the Stillness

In the stillness of morning
We hear,
‘Neath the shimmer of moonlight
We see,
In the deepening shadows
We find light,
In the prayers beneath covers
We beseech,
In the dawn of each day
We see hope,
In the smile of strangers
We find love,
In the friends who listen
We find trust,
In the children we've borne
We see tomorrow,
In our life
We seek more days
To hear,
Find light,
Find tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Grace in Return

Grace in Return

Once upon a time there was a bitter old woman who lived alone in a house in the deep, dark woods. 

When she was young, her heart had been healthy and whole, pumping goodness into the world and accepting gratitude and grace in return. 

But then life came along and upset the balance.  Hardship came knocking, losses occurred and bitterness settled into her bones.  The longer she lived alone and brooded on the past, the smaller her heart became.

It just so happened that the old woman’s house was right in between two small villages.  The most direct route to Fairhaven from Bountiful was a path through the woods passing right in front of her doorstep.  The path was rarely taken because travelers worried about wild animals, insects, snakes and darkness, but truth be told, they mostly worried about the old woman. 

There were rumors of lost children, lost pets and people losing their minds. 

Daisy Dunworth didn’t worry about such things; in fact, she didn’t worry about much of anything.  She wandered about with a smile on her face, staring up at the clouds or down at the tiniest of ants.  She was equally fascinated with both. 

Daisy’s dear Aunt Bessie lived in Fairhaven and was recovering from pneumonia.  Daisy decided to visit her each day to cheer her up during her recovery.  Every morning she packed her bag with a picnic lunch and a book to read to her aunt.  As she traveled through the woods she often stopped to gather some wild flowers to put in a vase at her aunt’s bedside.  As Daisy passed the old woman’s house she sometimes dropped a flower on the porch and occasionally, as days turned to weeks, she dropped a small package of cookies or a slice of apple pie.

As soon as the young woman was out of sight, the old woman opened her door to see what gift had been shared.  Her eyes darted left and right as she grabbed the treat and once again receded into the darkness.

One day, Daisy stopped at the old woman’s door to leave a treat and saw a small package wrapped in brown paper.  There was a note printed on top.  It simply said:  Thank You.  Daisy knew the gift was for her, so she knelt to pick it up then sat down on the stoop to open it. 

She discovered a photo in a delicate frame. It was a young woman dressed in a satin gown standing next to a handsome gentleman.  The joy on their faces made Daisy’s heart smile.  She knew the gift was priceless and also knew it was not hers to keep.  She timidly knocked on the door.

The old woman opened the door a crack and beheld the lovely smile of Daisy.  As light filtered in, the door swung wider and Daisy opened her arms to embrace the lonely woman who had, seemingly, not forgotten the meaning of love.

May your heart be light, your worries take flight 
and the gift of pure love be with you tonight.  


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Taking a Step toward the Light

Stoney-Baynard Plantation Ruins - Hilton Head Island © Rita Bourland 2012

 Taking a Step toward the Light

Taking the leap
from here to there,
inside to out,

forsaking safety,

seeking a path
to somewhere,

seeking renewal,
a rehearsal
for what might be,

can’t see the forest for the trees,
oh please,
show me daylight,

must I cut through the undergrowth,
clearing a path
for myself
to prove my true worth,

how did this wall come to define
my space,
how did I give it permission
to limit me,

I can go where I please,
seeking new ways to be,
stepping through time,

I need to retrieve what I lost
in the darkness,
cut off by the wall,

taking the leap
from here to there,
inside to out,
taking a step toward the light.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Pocketful of Stones

Photo by Rita Bourland © 2012

A Pocketful of Stones

Once upon a time there was a boy who collected small stones.  He stooped to pick them up on his way to school, on his way to the park and while he was out playing.  They found their way into his jeans, his coat pockets, his shoes, his socks, his bed and his backpack.  He had a jar in his room where he dumped them, but many fell out elsewhere.  His mother grumbled when they got sucked into the vacuum or tumbled noisily in the dryer.  His father exclaimed when he stepped on one with his bare feet.  The day one got mixed in with the cereal caused quite a stir, as well as a mad rush to the dentist.  And then there was the time a few fell into the bathtub and clogged the drain. 

The boy’s parents were confused by his obsession with stone collecting.  They asked him why he persisted; they pleaded with him to stop.  They bribed him with toys and movies and they disciplined him with time outs and missed meals.  Nothing worked.  They grudgingly gave up and accepted their son’s peculiar habit.

Years went by.  The stones got larger and rarely made their way into the house anymore.  They were strewn about in the backyard, wreaking havoc on the lawn mower. The boy started shaping them with a chisel and mallet; making stone dogs, cats, frogs and turtles.  Stone dust lay across the lawn like powder from a fresh snow.

 Pretty soon the stones were too big to bring home at all. 

The boy traveled to Italy and apprenticed with a master carver.  He stayed for four years.  Then he found his way to Canada and worked for two years with Inuit stone carvers.  He also spent time in Indiana shaping stone from the limestone quarries.

The boy’s parents still occasionally found a stone around the house, but always made sure they placed it in the jar in the boy’s room.  When their friends came to visit, they marveled at the sculptures in the backyard.  They offered to buy them, but the parents could not be persuaded to part with them.

The boy returned home at age twenty-eight.  He drove past his parents’ house and headed to the town square.  There, he and a crew of twenty workers unloaded a stone statue which stood twelve feet tall.  It was a wondrous carving with intertwining figures of people, horses and birds, all reaching upward toward some unknown vision. 

It was the first of hundreds the boy would carve in his lifetime. 

He returned home once a year with a pocketful of stones.  Each was carved into an intricate shape of rare beauty.  He dumped them on the table and told his parents where he had found each one, and that as he carved he allowed the stones to help shape their stories.  As he spoke, he held the stones with tender reverence in the palm of his hand; the very same hand that had collected stones so lovingly as a very small boy.

* Sometimes, the path to your future is as close
as the pebbles beneath your feet.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Photo Essay: A Bobcat Beckons

 A Bobcat Beckons

The bike path beckoned this week.  The weather was suddenly warmer and my spirits needed a jolt of fresh air to shake off the cobwebs of winter.  It has been very rainy in Central Ohio.  We’ve broken records – but who likes records when we’re discussing rain?   I should have known the Olentangy River would be high, but I was still surprised yesterday when I discovered portions of the path covered in water. Today the path was clear, but I was on the watch for something else. 

The Columbus Dispatch reported this morning that the body of a bobcat was found on the side of Route 315 (a major highway dividing the city to the east and west).   It had apparently been struck by a vehicle.  A motorist brought the animal to the local wildlife division.  It created quite a stir since the last sighting of a bobcat in Franklin County was well over 10 years ago.  It was also extremely unusual to find one in a major urban area. 

There was some conjecture in the article as to whether the bobcat might have been following the river through town.  The bike path follows the river so I thought I’d do some exploring and see what I could find.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find a bobcat and I didn’t (I suppose that's a good thing), but it was fun to think about the conditions that brought this rare creature to our city.   Plus, I needed an adventure.

Pedestrian and bike bridge over Rte. 315
and the Olentangy River.

A possible bobcat den? 

Silence under the towering trees.

 The swirling current full of winter's runoff

Branches reaching toward the path casting ominous shadows.

Might the bobcat have rested here, near the river's edge? 

Or here?

A laser beam of light leading me home.

No bobcats today.  I guess my kitty will have to do.

All photos except the bobcat were taken by Rita Bourland