What a wonderful talent – that can create an entire Spring
from a brush and a sheet of paper. If he would try poetry
I know he would be a master…
Su Tung P’o – On a Painting by Wang the Clerk of Yeng Ling, c. 1080
Also known as Su Shi, Su Tung P’o (1037-1101) was a Song Dynasty writer, calligrapher, painter, poet, statesman and noted gourmet. The dish “dungpo pork” is named for him.
Woman with Umbrella in Spring Snow: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
*Bokeh (暈け / ボケ) is a Japanese term meaning blur that began to gain popularity in American photography circles in the late 1990s.
The only friend to walk with is one… who so exactly shares your taste
for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a
nudge, is enough to assure that the pleasure is shared.
C. S. Lewis – from Surprised by Joy, 1955
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963), known as Jack, considered his last novel, Till We have Faces, to be his most mature and masterly work though it did not achieve commercial success.
*As is true of many Japanese words added to English, the pronunciation of “bokeh” is not always consistent with the original Japanese. This bothers some a lot, others a little and still others not at all. Many English speakers pronounce the word “boh-kuh” to rhyme with chocolate “mocha.” However, in Japanese the first syllable in bokeh is pronounced with the “o” in hope and the second syllable is pronounced with a clipped (shortened) long “a” approximately between the ke in kettle and the kay in the name Kay. Almost like the word “bouquet:” long “o” and long “a,” but with the vowels clipped short and neither syllable accented.
Khongoryn Els: The Singing Dunes, Gobi Desert, Mongolia
A trace of slate in the sand grains at Khongoryn Els results in vibrations that are not only easily audible, but which reverberate through one’s body.
…I am tormented
with an everlasting itch
for things remote.
Herman Melville – Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1851
Herman Melville (1819-1891) served aboard a whaling ship before deserting in the Marquesas. Although he knew his subject (the book draws from Melville’s own experience, The Bible, Shakespeare’s work, research into whaling, the actual account of a hard-to-catch white whale nicknamed Mocha Dick and the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex by a whale, Moby Dick received mixed reviews and was a commercial flop. Dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorn “in token of my admiration for his genius,” the book sold just 3,200 copies in Melville’s lifetime and was out of print at his death.
A year after Melville’s death, Moby Dick was reprinted by Harper and Brothers. Literati circles – mostly in New York – kept interest in the book (barely) alive over the next several years until it was rediscovered by larger audiences. Of the book, William Faulkner said that he wished he’d written it himself; D. H. Lawrence called it “the greatest book of the sea ever written,” and in time it found its place as an icon of American literature.
Pup: Sea Otters, Chignik Lagoon, Alaska
Exceptionally attentive, caring mothers, while diving for food such as crabs, sea urchins and clams, a Sea Otter mother will often wrap her pup in kelp so it won’t float away.
It seems clear beyond the possibility of argument that any given generation… can have only a lease, not ownership, of the earth; and one essential term of the lease is that the earth be handed on down to the next generation with unimpaired potentialities.
Roderick Haig-Brown, Author of A River Never Sleeps, 1946
Roderick Haig-Brown (1908-1976) was a tireless conservationist in his native Canada. His book A River Never Sleeps is highly regarded in angling circles and beyond.
The Vixen of Contact Creek: Contact Creek, British Columbia, Canada
Red Fox, Vulpus vulpus, with rabbit for breakfast, likely on her way home to a den of kits.
She loved me, and sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Pablo Neruda – from Tonight I Can Write…, 1924
Born Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) adopted a pen name to avoid conflict with his father who disapproved of his writing. In 1971, Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Brown Bear Claw Marks on Clay Bank: The Trail to Clarks River near Chignik Lake, Alaska
With two lakes, a river and numerous small streams that draw hundreds of thousands of spawning salmon each year, Alaska’s Chignik River watershed is home to a dense population of some of the largest bears in the world.
No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.
Jack Kerouac – Lonesome Traveler, 1960
– Although Kerouac’s (1922-1969) Lonesome Traveler didn’t achieve the acclaim of On the Road, The Dharma Bums or even Big Sur, the short story “Alone on a Mountaintop” by itself makes it worth diving into.
Panache: Bohemian Waxwing, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
The red, waxy tips on the Bohemian Waxwings’ wings are actually flattened feather shafts.
…beneath a silk-blue sky…
To sun, to feast, and to converse
and all together – for this I have abandoned
All my other lives.
Robert Francis – Waxwings, 1960
– Robert Francis (1901-1987) lived for 40 years in a two-room house he built in Amherst, Massachusetts. Of Francis, Robert Frost noted, “…of all the great, neglected poets, (he is) the best.”