Woodstock – 40
I have watched and listened, this week, to all the 40th anniversary reflection, commentary and postulation about the meaning of Woodstock, and the effect it has on the participants and the world, but I have yet to be convinced that it was pivotal in any global sense.
Vietnam was pivotal. The assassinations were pivotal. Watergate was pivotal. Four hundred thousand people coming together more or less extemporaneously is certainly noteworthy, but that it changed anything or was some kind of turning point of history is at least debatable if not completely off the mark.
Gail Collins writing in the NYT, August 15, ’09, did, I m convinced, put her nimble finger on the pulse of the event for thousands of the participants when she said that she didn’t remember the music so much as the search for food for herself and her companions. But she was there and she can say that, and that is about it. I has a young friend once a number of years ago who was there and who acknowledged much the same thing: that being there was enough to change his life. He wasn’t close enough to the music to really have that experience but he was cheek by jowl to hundreds of thousands of people just like him. He said it changed him. He said it changed the world. He was enthusiastic about it. He got married, got fat and lives in a gated community with a club house and pool. (wisecrack here)
I do think that for a crowd the size of a medium class big city to gather for anything is quite an accomplishment, but given the common language, hymnody and more or less spiritual leanings of the group, it, or something like it seems in retrospect to have been inevitable. The angst of the age had just about reached complete gestation and a birthing of common hope or hopelessness needed some midwirery assistance and Woodstock filled the bill.
Frankly, I wish I’d been there. I found within myself great empathy for that generation but I was not of that generation. When Woodstock happened, I felt it was a true ingathering of kindred sprits – in the churchy parlance with which I was, at the time, quite familiar. A mountain top experience. A revival meeting with “bands” of prophets, spiritual rites of passage, sacred dance, and at least in Ms. Collins’ case, a yearning for a saltine cracker.
Jerry Henderson

It was a huge shadow. It passed quickly across the yard as Bluejays screamed and a tiny finch did it’s best to catch the raptor! The paradoxes of nature. The hawk lives here out in the woods out behind our place in the woods that continue on to the mountain, our local mountain, about a mile away. We see him from time to time. He looks for mice and other delicacies and will not pass up anything he can carry. Don’t ask me why he was fleeing the smaller bird. Some kind of professional courtesy? Bird to bird. Respect for the genome.

 I had been out in the larger garden trying to stem the tide of weeds and grasses that seem to be in complete control down there. It is hot. Humid. I was wearing long sleeves and long pants to avoid the bugs that invariably rule down there and was, after an hour, soaked through. I did good, as the home boys used to say. Most of the invading weeds were taken out and the earth aerated with the long handled claw.

 Cooling now on the screened porch with a dependable breeze coming around he northern side of the house, I decided that very late or very early is the time for manual labor in this heat. I suppose with the hawk, it is always time to be aloft and seeking his next meal. No refrigerator to go to or store on the corner. I felt lucky not to have to be seeking and killing my next meal. My ancestral blood did just that. Preserving meat was a skill that did not always work. Even as a youngster, and this would be in the 30’s and early 40’s, someone in the family would always bring in on a more or less weekly schedule, game of some kind. Fish were common while squirrel, rabbit, birds in their season and duck come in as those things were found. I am quite fond of rabbit and squirrel. Most of my friends gag when the subject comes up. The thought of actually killing Peter Rabbit or Sammy Squirrel and then skinning them and throwing them in the pot is quite repulsive to most of my younger friends, while it was common when I was coming up.

 We sat on a log deep in the Louisiana woods, my father and I, almost holding our breath to be invisible to the unwary squirrel. “Look”, my father whispered. He was pointing at a high limb almost directly overhead. A huge gray was creeping along a high thin limb just asking for a loaded shotgun to step in and being balance back to nature. Well, we’ll let that slide for the moment,

 The hawk hunts for food. Back then, so did we. It was sport, of course in the looser definition of that word, but it was for food primarily. My dad and I hunted and fished when we were out. That’s what we did together. So I suppose sport was a big reason for our fishing and hunting. Something for a man to do with his son. A rite of passage for us both. We were uncomfortable just talking but being out hunting or fishing gave us a reason to be together and something common talk about.

 We were not too unlike that winged raptor that passed over out yard the other day. On patrol. Waiting. Loaded and cocked. So to speak. Ready to “harvest” some unwary wild life subject. I just love that term: harvesting game. Wild game farmers harvesting the crop. Oh well that’s for another time. It was always with pride and satisfaction, and not a little validation of one’s budding manhood, to come home with game in the bag.

 It’s complicated with people. With the hawk it is instinct. it never occurs to him to “think” about what he is doing in an evaluative way – to wonder if he should or should not take this rabbit or other small animal for food. It is what he does. And he does this as a part of a system that is designed to sustain itself by maintaining a pecking order in the woods where Darwin is validated every second.

 Well it was just a hawk. He lives here and apparently thrives. He is a huge bird. Be well Hawk. But please leave the kitty cat alone.


Monstrously quiet around here this morning. I’ll hush and listen.

Everything is early here this summer with all the rain we have had. Nothing is the same. It’s raining now, as a matter of fact. It is what it is, as it is said, and it is wet. 
I’m not complaining. We awaken to temperatures in the mid sixties and “swelter” in mid eighty heat later in the afternoon when the sun hopefully shines and thunderstorms threaten to chase us off the deck where in umbrella shaded comfort we enjoy a long awaited summer’s outdoor blessing. 
Flower beds are out of control. Weeds are winning but blooming things hold your attention with blazing displays of indescribable beauty. There is so much that I have to remind myself, when I am out and about, to look for longer than a glance to absorb the magic for which these plants were set out in the first place.

This little 2 1/2 inch flower of the rubeccia family which includes the common Black Eyed Susan grows at the end of stalks that are reaching ten feet into the eve region of the house. This specimen was dug for us by a friendly greenhouse woman. It is seen against the sids of old barns throughout New England. Butterflies love it.

Lilies are in abundance here. Their beauty is poetical and prolific. Each bloom lives only a day and then is replaced by a sibling until all are gone. Then a later blooming relative comes in to replace it until the huge clump out front that produces a shower of huge yellow heads holds on into September. For the effort, these wonderful plants give so much more beauty.

For a defining perspective here is the rubeccia from below. Large cupping leaves that convinces one early on that the flower to come must be of at least salad plate size. 
These are phone images and so do not have the resolution I would prefer, but it was all I had at the moment. 
Such beauty in a world gone mad with bloodlust in the name of : take your choice: politics, religion, ignorance and I can’t help it – stupidity. 
Go beauty unbridled and blanket the earth. Persist until your song is universally sung. Appear where least expected. Hold on beyond expectation. In your fullness persuade our hearts.