Eclipsed

Tofino, March 18, 2020, 10:25 pm
Tofino, March 18, 2020, 10:25 pm

This is our 300th blogpost but wouldn’t you know it, there’s bigger news this week.  A total lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning, May 26 from 03:11 to 03:25, a rare occurrence, a phenomenon that astronomers call a lunar tetrad, the sun, earth and moon exactly aligned, the earth between the two, the moon full. A super flower blood moon.

There’s a poem I’ve been saving, “As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse,” by Billy Collins. Conversational, witty and delightful, much like the persona he displayed when Magellan and I saw him perform at a festival in Key West, his poem captures how lucky we feel to travel this earth, to shimmer the joy of it, weekly.

“As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse”

I pick an orange from a wicker basket
and place it on the table
to represent the sun.
Then down at the other end
a blue and white marble
becomes the earth
and nearby I lay the little moon of an aspirin.

I get a glass from a cabinet,
open a bottle of wine,
then I sit in a ladder-back chair,
a benevolent god presiding
over a miniature creation myth,

and I begin to sing
a homemade canticle of thanks
for this perfect little arrangement,
for not making the earth too hot or cold
not making it spin too fast or slow

so that the grove of orange trees
and the owl become possible,
not to mention the rolling wave,
the play of clouds, geese in flight,
and the Z of lightning on a dark lake.

Then I fill my glass again
and give thanks for the trout,
the oak, and the yellow feather,

singing the room full of shadows,
as sun and earth and moon
circle one another in their impeccable orbits
and I get more and more cockeyed with gratitude.

So here we are. Orbiting, more and more cockeyed with gratitude, for your readership and your comments as we circle around together. See you next week.

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Collins, Billy. Nine Horses. New York: Random House, 2003. “As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse” comes from this volume, one of his thirteen books of poetry of which we own maybe half. In the booklet for the Key West Literary Seminar that we went to, The Hungry Muse, Billy said this of himself: “Mr. Collins wants it known that he prefers restaurants that are staffed by elderly waiters who wear leather shoes and  don’t tell you their names” and printed his seductively witty poem “France.”  Crackling with humour, his poems arises “out of small, banal moments, unearthing the extraordinary or uncanny in the everyday, as their titles suggest: “Going for a Walk as the Drugs Kick In,” or “Listening to Hank Mobley Around 11 O’Clock After A Long Fun Boozy Dinner, the Four of Us, at Captain Pig’s Our Favorite Restaurant in Town.”

UPDATE: MacLaughlin, Nina. “Flower Moon.” The Paris Review. May 25, 2021.

Plimpton, George. “Billy Collins, The Art of Poetry.” The Paris Review. Issue 159, Fall 2001. Billy’s poetry has been described as a “a rare amalgam of accessibility and intellectuality,” fitting for an only child christened William who prefers Billy, whose mother was born on a farm in Canada and recited to him poems she’d memorized, a distinguished professor whose verse is so beloved and awarded that twice he’s been US poet laureate.

17 Responses

  1. 300, wow, a big accomplishment! Thanks very much for all of these travel stories and photos, very enjoyable.

  2. Congrats you two on #300!!! Love reading and seeing all the wonderful pictures/video’s of your amazing trips. Can’t wait to see more!!! You both do an incredible job of transporting me to more of the places on my bucket list.

    1. From the Japanese poet Basho: “The moon and sun are travelers of a hundred generations. The years, coming and going, are wanderers too…each day is a journey, and the journey itself becomes home.”

    2. Just got a note from Mooncurser Vineyards:
      https://www.mooncurser.com/Wines“Today is a good day and a good night too, as it happens – a rare full lunar eclipse is taking place tonight….

      The moon’s done dark…..time to move the goods. To take advantage of this uncommon opportunity, we’re upping the ante, FREE SHIPPING on orders of six bottles or more till Thursday at midnight.” You use the code ECLIPSE. Now that’s what I call good marketing.

  3. Always look forward to Sunday morning to read your blog……our travels! Love the poem. You both do an outstanding travel detail.

  4. 300 blogs! WOW! Congratulations. I have enjoyed them. Thank you.
    In return I offer a gift of Robert Macfarlane, wonderful, writer, explorer, walker, climber. As I read his Underland, I was reminded of your travels. Perhaps you already know his work, if not an adventure awaits.

    1. Thanks Wendy. Yes, I love Robert Macfarlane’s writing and saw an interview he did this spring with a brilliant young naturalist Dara MaAnulty, who at the age of 16 has published Diary of a Young Naturalist. In my collection of phrases here are three favourites from Robert: Dandelion: son-of-the grass; Crow: blue-black jacket; and Heron: magically unstatuing.

  5. Thanks to each of you for continuing to encourage us. Our 160 subscribers have contributed 2,634 Comments over nearly six years.

    Early on, most of the images were mine, but when Spice got her own Olympus camera body, she took over the role of Chief Photographer, supplementing her roles as writer and editor. Despite being colourblind, I continue to do the post-processing on our growing collection of 5,637 images that are on our site, and dabble with video, having added 52 clips.

    Cheers!

  6. Indeed congratulations on 300, well done.

    It has been a true pleasure to be included in your travels, the past year even more so as we have been confined to virtual travels through your photography and words. Strangely I was thinking about this exact travel plan before I opened this weeks mailing, 🤔🤔.
    Cockeyed with gratitude, the author, obviously knows me personally as I can wear that coat with glee.

    I think your choice for 300 is awesome, concise, accurate and enduring, all in one.

    Cheers, and again “My Sincere Thanks” for allowing me to piggy back on your travels. 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

  7. Congratulations! Your blogs are great. Interesting and always educational. HOPEFULLY YOU CAN RESUME YOUR TRAVELS SOON

  8. In the last years of her life my mother (passed on April 7th this year) read your posts every week. She loved to travel and used these weekly blogs to continue her travel experiences. She said often how much she enjoyed the writing and pictures. My brother used to do a FaceTime with her when they drove (she made many virtual trips from Saskatoon to LaRonge with them). One of these days this lockdown will end and travel will again start up – although I am not certain it will ever be like it was in the past. Thanks for doing this guys and you certainly deserve a “high five”. Pat & Dallas

    1. Your family pushed the benefit of today’s technology in communicating with your mom. Remember when we’d only make landline calls at night because it was too expensive to call during the day!

  9. Congratulations on # 300! And thank you for virtually taking us to so many places around the world- a few we have visited and many we haven’t. Can’t wait for the next 300 and many trips around the sun!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement. During the next year, any trips will likely be confined to Canada. Perhaps some “soft road” camping on BC Forestry Recreation Sites; a camping trip to Saskatchewan to see friends and family; and next spring a big road trip to Nova Scotia to see family, followed by a trip to Newfoundland and Labrador to see that province’s remote beauty and icebergs. (I’d like to ship Rove-Inn to St. John’s, and then start our return on the Trans-Labrador Highway)

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