American school-aged children my age or older were introduced to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass at some time along their educational journey. I’m sure I learned something about the basic structure, or maybe it’s best to say lack of structure, of the compilation of over 400 poems.
I don’t recall being particularly interested at the time, which looking back surprises me because I was very devoted to Emerson and Thoreau. Transcendentalist principles were an easy sell to a highschooler in the ’60s.
But Whitman caught my imagination a little later.
The 1980 American musical film “Fame” followed a talented group of students through their years at the New York High School of the Performing Arts, and in the movie, the graduating class performed the finale “I Sing the Body Electric.”
I devoured the soundtrack, repeatedly listening to the songs on my very spiffy 8-track tape, until it was wholly memorized.
The song’s title is from Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” and it was from that musical exposure that I began a lifelong appreciation for the great American poet.
And for this new year, I’m keeping a particularly favorite Whitman quote close at hand.
“Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
So would you like to see what has produced joy this week? Sure you would!
These three hawks, soaking up some late afternoon sun, certainly gave me more than a few moments of being joyful! I took this photo from my backyard, and it always gives me a burst of delight when I capture a glimpse of urban nature.
It pays to look up!
This photo takes a little extra imagination. Can you see it? The deer, I mean. I’m so sorry! It’s not your eyes…I can’t see it well either, but you’ll just need to trust me. She’s there, just very well camouflaged.
Instead of sitting in an office for an extra few minutes when I ran early for an appointment, I drove just a few blocks north–that would be towards the foothills- and on a homeowner’s lawn, what I at first mistook for a realistic piece of lawn art, moved!
I don’t have to tell you how excited I was. Poor little thing was probably hungry or thirsty in our very dry winter conditions, but there she stood, and I did the best I could with my iPhone, not daring to get very close or she’d have been frightened away.
I, on the other hand, don’t need a photo to recall how beautiful she was–a very unexpected visitor.
How about a visit to the local park to feed the ducks? A loaf of bread and two darling granddaughters and we were on another outdoor adventure. I’d do this every day if it were possible.
Joy is often captured in moments of opportunity…
I couldn’t help but laugh when Sophia picked a handful of weeds and gleefully announced to her sister, “Look! Clover!”
And then they just ran…and ran…and ran.
Now that’s pure joy when you’re 4 and 6…or even older.
I must say that sharing my moments of joy, with all these photos of the great outdoors, makes me just a little self-conscious.
I wish I could share some warmth and dry Southern California weather with my friends caught in the current Arctic Blast!
There is more than a 100 degree difference in temperatures coast to coast and I don’t even know how to process that information. Frankly, I didn’t know it was possible to get a windchill factor of negative 50 degrees!
While you wait for warmer weather, and it will come, maybe artist Andrew Wyeth’s words will give you something to consider. I’m sure even the harshest winter landscape can be extremely beautiful.
“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape–the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.”
Under all conditions,
We need to practice joy!