Thursday, August 20, 2009

new web site for my Alzheimer's book

Announcing a new web site! The book about Mother and Alzheimer's is on the web!

Check it out. You can read it online and download all or part of it for free.

Please pass on the site to any that might like it. The site will be referenced in the fall edition of The Caregiver, Newsletter of the Duke Family Support Program, going out all over the country. From there I hope it can go "viral" and be out there for many, many people.

Other sites you might like: (for information about our cabin and renting it) (Joan's web site with connections to her blogs)



Sunday, August 16, 2009

going with God

honoring the inner mountain man

right now I’m all by myself along the creek
at the edge of the national park,
my companions? a pen & my writing pad,
and the peaceful feeling the natural world wraps around you
as day slips away toward dusk,

I love connections with others--
making the connections,
servicing them,
caring about the body politic,
helping the body electric learn,
yet before the school year pulls me into its whirling wheels,
I need some time when I move across the mountains
with no obligations to another,
well, rather, acknowledging my connections to all that is not us,
but that which is before us, with us,
and that which will probably transcend us,

tomorrow I climb the great mountain above me
so that I can be open to how many companions and teachers I can have
when I seem to be alone,

as the new day has just begun
I near where I’ll park the car
and a bear is browsing where people have parked,
he turns from me, with a studied indifference,
as if he is an upperclassman and I a mere freshman,
nothing in his demeanor tells me that I matter,
I park and start toward the trail
and a family of wild turkeys fills the way before me,
mom and dad and a bevy of young
whom I saw two months ago
and who have doubled with summer’s plenty,
I sing to them of morning breaking
and that helps me be but a mild irritant to their foraging,

I push my body and spirit hard
and climb up & up, the air still, my sweat profuse,
rock and wood empty of my kind but for me,

as I come out of the wet rich cove onto the drier open ridge,
I startle 3 bear cubs who scamper up trees, with alarmed sounds,
and their mother alerts herself to see if she needs to deal with me,
I sing to them of morning breaking,
my pulse faster than with the turkeys,
the cubs scamper down and dissolve away into the heathy wood,

on the ridge the morning sun lifts my spirit,
though I do look behind me to make sure
the bears are off on another adventure,

I work my way steadily up the mountain,
appreciating each turn and even the occasional hiker,

when I crest the high ridge I celebrate the sunny divide,
the trail now almost level and flowers abound:
pink turtlehead and grass of parnassus force me to stop and savor them,

I get to the main top, leave two rocks at the summit,
a symbol of rising against gravity,
honoring my legs’ work the last few hours,

I say “hello” to friends at the lodge,
replenish my liquids, snack some,
and drop down the mountain,
stopping and stopping the first half mile

to photograph Indian pipe

and spruce-fir in the mist,

the way down mostly the effort to just get back to the start,
though I can feel the gestalt of the mountain’s shape
and the wit and work of the trail crew who built the way,

then, in the car at the bottom, I have to stop
for the bears I startled a third of the way up the mountain
are now climbing and playing at the mountain’s base,
up & down the sassafras trees they scamper like monkeys

and snack on berries I never knew even existed:
a round red berry morphing into an oval purple berry at its top,

the bears’ purple scat punctuated with red berries now makes sense,
a crowd of us can’t tear ourselves away,
though I finally do--

I have one more day here
and then I’ll answer the calling from the lowlands,
where calling and partner await,
and complete important parts of me.

by Henry Walker
August 13-14, ‘09

bears, and wolves, and . . .

I know bears

I know black bears
and I love black bears,
and, like people, I know there are levels upon levels
of who they are that are hidden from me,
and yet their essence burns through the obscuring mists,
and I do know them,

all things are connected,
all living things are even further connected,

I enjoy getting to know those most distant--
those fellow travelers who are of matter
yet lack spirit, consciousness,
that with which DNA binds all life,
and there are wondrous stories that rock, fire, water live,

I love all my cousins who share those original directions:
from algae and moss to flower and redwood,
from insect and salamander to mountain goat and river otter,

yet there is a special place in my heart for the wolf & the bear,

I have felt transformed when I’ve watched them be, and parent,
I have seen them model and let their young have some attitude
as each works on finding its own way within the common,

today as I bicycled through the cove,
I came upon bears grazing in black cherry trees,

mother and cub hard at work finding and eating

every possible cherry before them,

in a hundred photos I sought to capture

their hunger,
their focus,
their joy in climbing
and testing the limits of their own dexterity
and the strength of the branch,

each time I lingered longer than the other bikers and walkers:
watching, learning, savoring,
as I sought to find a way to let the essence of their selves
reveal itself to me and to my snapping, snapping camera.

by Henry Walker
August 12, ‘09

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

a gift

"Bears!" like "Gold!"

when it’s not winter and I’m in the Smokies,,
I’m always on the lookout for bear,
it used to be that people were excessively careless with their garbage
and the bears learned to seek out the fast food meal,
so I grew up with them all around in the summer,
I’d watch them roam the neighborhood
like those guys at traffic lights with their hands out,
now the garbage cans are bear-proofed, by city ordinance,
and the bears in this valley keep on the reservation:
browsing on leaves and bugs, and whatever they can sniff out, unearth,
when they fatten on acorns in the fall,
I have seen them most often, even high in the oak trees,
this summer I have walked the trails,
explored cross-country, driven the roads,
and only seen 1 bear, a skittish yearling I’ve seen twice
and then it dissolved away into the sheltering woods,

today I went out in search, again,
explored the middle valley along the creek,
where I sat, pondered, wrote,
then took a dip in a deep green pool,
I got back to the car and started forward,
almost immediately I saw cars stopped,
people pointing into the woods,
I joined them and the magic word “bears” thrilled the air,
something like “gold” to fever the mind,
I only glimpsed a bear, they were moving,
so I did, too, with my car,
and almost immediately stopped, got out,
saw the bears moving again,
got back in and drove ahead a hundred yards to a parking area,
as I walked back down the road,
almost immediately there she was, the mother bear,

trailed by a cub, and then another, and then another,
my camera was ready, all primed with the long lens,
and I shadowed the bears for half an hour,

snapping away with over a hundred pictures,
the bears hard at work being bears,
and midday means eating,
I watched them eat a bushel of leaves, jewelweed mostly,
and all sorts of things they found I couldn’t see,
close before me I watched the mother bear sniff out something,
start to dig, and then to dig with power,
the dirt flying behind her,
and then yellowjackets were all around her
as they defended the larvae whose protein and fat she was loving,
when she finished, a yellow cloud followed her,

she wandered parallel to the road, her cubs trailing,
like scouts making sure all is known
nearby the straighter path of her trajectory,
the cubs more reactive to our presence than she,

their ears straight and focused forward,
almost Mickey Mouse like,
they, too, like their mother,
noticed us and then dismissed us as background noise,
we were neither a threat, nor a source of food,
like wallpaper, there, and only barely noticed,

the mother only reacting when cars moved
as she started to cross the road,

like out West this summer
the mountains back East have been teaching me
to not expect so much I lose what is,
and then when I have done my best to settle in to living the moment,
while also readying myself in case exuberant revelation is at hand,
I can be given a major gift:
the bears’ lives and mine intersected,
and I am overwhelmed again
by a gift beyond what I had even hoped for.

by Henry Walker
August 3, ‘09

of a 4 year old and the mountain

Our son Ike asked to have the pictures denser with information so that they could be clicked on and not turn grainy as they are expanded. It takes longer to download/upload. Let me know whether it's a good idea or not to have it so. Thanks!

LeConte ‘09

“you just want to see smiles on everyone’s faces, don’t you?”

guilty as charged,
my sister-in-law knows me
and she gets why I walk upon this Earth,
to find that which is sacred within nature
and sacred within everyone’s hearts,
and when the holy within and without resonate
often a person smiles with the rightness of it all,

this morning it is the day after our LeConte trip
when 42 of us hiked up the mountain,

spent the night, and hiked back down,
the hike up a wonder of honest effort and glorious view,

from the rivulets, moss, flowers,

and trees nearby,
to the mountains clear as they fell out and away from us,

the sunset breathtaking in its clarity and grey in its color,

those same clouds that greyed the sunset hid the stars from us
and hazed the great Moon as she tried to get through,

by early morning the clouds settled down on us in a persistent drizzle,
and I sadly gave up my dream of sunrise
and the camaraderie of shared awakening,

the hike down a misty morning of feeling one with all the liquid
falling from the sky,flowing down the trail, and seeking the valley,

the trip a time to get out from behind the bars of individuality
into bonds with the other--friends, flora,

fauna, the mountains themselves,

our four-year-old granddaughter hiked all the way up, and all the way down,

of such is the kingdom, & the power, & the glory.

by Henry Walker
August 3, ‘09

relationship and the oblivious

relationship can be central

so much that builds who we are
is connection with the other,
the expansion out to feel that who we are
only grows truer as we become larger,

I love family and joying in the bonds
with partner, child, grandchild, cousin,
all the blood with whom I can feel a tie,

I love friends and joying in the bonds
of shared adventure, organizing the trip,
cooking the food, preparing it all,

I watch a one-year-old and see her thirst
to drink in everyone around her,

and I see the smiles bubble out of us
as we joy in the twinkle in her eye
that draws out the twinkle in our own,

autism and its cousins deny so much connection,
for that which is obvious to most of us
does not even exist in a perception oblivious to it all,
and yet a perception intense in its own way
and to which I feel oblivious.

by Henry Walker
July 31, ‘09

time, place, perspective

East Vs West

we’re back within the folds of Eastern woods and mountain,
away from the brazen simplicity of the West
where the mountains are young and taller, the climate harsher,
the trees there huddle together more with their own kind,
and do not overwhelm the grasslands with their shade,
distance opens up, large animals thrive and can often be easily seen,

these older, warmer, less towering mountains back East
hide their worlds with fold after fold of varied forest,
different tree after tree all jumbled together
like the many varied faces in crowds along a big city’s streets,

out West we could watch grizzlies miles away atop a high ridge,
here a black bear can be 50 feet away and we can’t see him,

one aspect of growing-up is that black & white
often learn to reach toward each other in shades of grey,
and something like that happens in these woods
where clarity of contrast transforms into subtlety and nuance,
diversity explodes in number and type,
reality contracts into the nearby,
humidity hazes what views can be found
as if an impressionist filters the eye,

every moment can reveal the divine,
it’s our charge to slow ourselves, to enlarge ourselves,
to take time and open our selves
so that we can hear the older truths
that we could not hear in the brashness of our youth,

so much depends on one millipede scuttering along
and making its own world.

by Henry Walker
July 28, ‘09

so quick

Isabel Is One

so quick with the eye,
so quick with the smile,
so quick with the wail
when the world denies her what she wants
or she just feels out-of-sorts,

these days now she wants the best friend around,
her mother, or her father,
who knows her and she knows the knowing,
who she knows and she knows the knowing,

without words to let us know what she needs,
to comfort her in their explanation of what is
and how long what she wants to be will be,
or why it won’t,
she’s thrown back in feeling as FEELING,
with all the prodigious power of her intellect
hijacked into service to her emotions,
she knows the moment and throws herself
into expressing the loss or the hope,

she roughly patterns what she hears and sees
and hopes the broad stroke of a sound,
a face, the cast of the eye,
can be read right by the adults around her,

I love her openness, her smile,
the joy so easy to read and to reinforce,

we dance to the twinkle in her eye
and do our best to deal with the furrow of her brow,
and the despair of her cry.

by Henry Walker
July 27, ‘09