Excursions

Daybreak at Paradise Beach, Thanksgiving Week

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

The night surf’s whoosh and rumble
Gives way to dawn.
Pelicans glide in line,
Skirt the crests,
Thread through spray, and wheel.
Way out there, the gray surface
Explodes in a flash of foam
Seizing light.

Grandson and pal
Lie inert in the sand
Fourteen hours now,
Growing cells, storing fuel
For the day’s unceasing patter–
Adolescent giants
Nearing boyhood’s end.

He turned fifteen two days ago
Weeping in the station house,
Caught stealing once again
From those who raised him
To whom he’s offered much occasion
For exercise of generosity.

But on this camping trip
To a place I’ve longed for
To return ten years,
He gave some sweeter recompense:
“Grandpa, we’ll run back down the beach
And carry your pack with ours.”
“We’ll pitch your tent.”
“This food tastes great.”

I stand at the edge of the sea
And watch each wave take form and break,
There a million microseconds
Grinding mountains into dust.
I feel my shrunken spine, my eyelids’ droop.

Behind me on the beach, I hear a laugh
And turn toward arms and fingers
Stretching in the sun.

see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smarx/albums/72157675418113981/show

Crossing the Inlet

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

It was only the reduced ferry service leaving two hours to kill before the departure from Earl’s Cove that finally convinced me to pull off the main road and take the driveway marked by the sign: “Iris Griffith Nature Centre.” I had passed it many times on our annual road trip from California to Lund, intrigued by what I imagined was a little old lady’s back yard with labels identifying plants. But that was never enough to get me to delay entering the final stretch of the three-day drive to our home away from home at the end of the road. This time, alone with our nine-year old grandson, Lucas, I decided to satisfy my curiosity.

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The gravel track through the forest opened to a large clearing. Through an artfully designed gateway I saw a bunch of kids engaged in some kind of race on a groomed lawn, egged on by college age counselors. (more…)

A Trip to Cloud Mountain

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

An address to the White Heron Sangha, November 29 2015

Four years ago, at a series of workshops conducted at Crow’s End in San Luis Obispo by White Heron Sangha members, June Kramer and Nancy Hilyard, I was introduced to the technique of concentration meditation, as adapted from the teachings of the Burmese monk, Pa Auk Sayadaw by Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder. Concentration, or Samatha meditation is claimed to have been favored by Buddha himself as an approach to elevated states of consciousness known as the Jhanas, which are precursors to true insight and eventually enlightenment. This form of meditation was long considered an esoteric discipline reserved for monks and initiates, but in recent years it has become accepted and popularized for lay practioners by a number of Buddhist teachers. (more…)

Belize Expedition–Conclusion

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Next morning is for departures.  As we cook coffee and oatmeal at our campsite, Ismael the volleyball coach,  guide, drummer and singer is solemnly raking the sand of the whole island compound.  He’s transformed the ceremonial space of last night’s fire and chanting to a clean white carpet. I ask him about the chants and he tells me that Garifuna compose songs for everything, fishing, cooking, loss of love, sadness—all come from the soul.

We will be taken by motor boat back to Dangriga to retrieve our stashed belongings and stand together for the last time.

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From there Joe and I will go to the interior to spend two nights at Mommaloots, an ecoresort in the jungle where we encounter more fascinating people and memorable sights.  Peter, John, Lionel, Andy and Eban will remain in Belize for several more days, enjoying new adventures.

On the flight back to Houston I have a short conversation with a young man hardly 30 sitting next to me who’s just downed two little bottles of vodka purchased from the attendant. He’s returning from a five-day trip during which he bought a lot near the beach in a resort subdivision outside of Belize City for $230,000 USD. It’s an investment for his retirement, secure, he says, because of the way the place is growing. “Maybe,” I say, “though with the way sea level is rising, you never know.” As we fly over the Yucatan coast near Cancun, I ask where he’s from. “Saskatchewan,” he replies, “but right now I’m headed back to work in northern Alberta.”  “Tar sands?” I inquire. “Yep” is the answer.