Top of Piedmont: To Watch, Listen and Ponder — Then Write!

June 2015Monthly Archives


Worship comes early. Raven croak tolls through cedars along the river.

A rose window of clouds skips through morning – shadow and light, shadow and light, and floats in the weave of wind in the tree tops.

Spring, the river swift, ice and snow in pine shadows reluctant to give up their hold at stream’s edge.

Moss, dull under winter’s debris, brightens to emerald. The sun nourishes its famished heart.

Solitude’s reward the surge and rumble of water under the bridge.

It echoes and releases the benumbed ground, thundering and rushing from the fragile, lacy ice of the lake.

A true believer dances a graceless ballet, hop, skip and jump over ragged cavities awash in melt along the path.

Mud and grass struggle for dominance, one chills, the other proclaims a warm green hope. An affable sun casts benediction.

Chickadee song stakes territory and pipes enticement.

Footfall shatters a slender branch and launches wood ducks from sedate cruising near the shore, morning’s communion suspended.

Peepers slumber –curled in their swampy beds, too soon the time, indolent, reluctant to stir, the day too brisk.

Fish have not made their spring run, hesitant before the emergent season.

I wait – listen. There is time for all things.

Posted in Bemidji Pioneer on June 9, 2015

Spring renews. Trees bud, geese return, (a mixed blessing), and fiddlehead ferns surface from the debris of last year’s growth. Purple Martin scouts return and sunrises come earlier and earlier, marching a little further each day along the horizon.

Historically, many rituals are associated with the emergence of new life after a period of dormancy. These ceremonies celebrate ancient mysteries. We like to think we don’t need to pay attention to the uncertainties and ambiguities of living, because we have acquired and continue to amass vast scientific knowledge. We have an answer, or excuse for everything – at least we think we do. Note the response to natural disasters, accidents or bad luck. When things happen, someone is to blame, somebody is responsible, and someone must be held accountable and above all else pay. Despite our best efforts, the inexplicable happens. Mystery persists.

The cycle of life brings to mind a multitude of interpretations. It is like the story of the blind men and the elephant, where several blind men touch the parts of an elephant and get into an argument about what they are experiencing. They make so much racket that the local prince who is trying to take a nap (sounds good), tells them to chill and start talking to one another.

One interpretation of the life cycle involves reincarnation. It is the religious or philosophical concept that the soul or spirit, after biological death, can begin a new life in a new body. Many religious traditions have this belief in their theologies, from Buddhism, Hindu, Taoism and Native American beliefs.  Mainstream religions in Western culture reject the notion, but a healthy percentage of western believers still see it as a reality or at least a possibility.

Giving the notion of reincarnation credence comes from our hope that this is not IT, or wishing we had a chance to make things right. After all, maybe another shot at a perfect body, mind or life partner is not a bad thing. Think of all the things you could do that you didn’t have the time or money to do the first go round! Then again there are no guarantees. Do we really learn from our mistakes, or will we keep repeating them ala “Ground Hog Day”? I personally like the idea of coming back as a Purple Martin or at least a gonzo slide guitar player.

Another interpretation of the Blind Men and the Elephant story centers on the vastness and wonder of the world around us. That pachyderm is big. None of us, especially with our limited capacities, have the potential to comprehend the whole thing. When we talk with one another about our experience, we might have a chance at understanding one more piece of the puzzle.

Spring has returned. It started slowly this year, but appears to be building a head of steam. By the time you read this, the crab apple tree blooms will be long gone, the pollen irritation will be waning, and the ferns will again cover the ground below the deck. I don’t know if I will ever be a Purple Martin, but I would sure like a shot at that slide guitar

More of Doug’s writing can be seen at <> and his recently launched book, Woman River.



Upcoming event

Hear a little bit more about WOMAN RIVER on KAXE/KBXE Community Radio from the author, discussing things with host Maggie Montgomery at 8:10 AM Wednesday morning on June 10, 2015 at 89.9 Brainerd, 91.7 Grand Rapids, and 90.5 Bemidji or streamed at

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