Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Waving Goodbye from Democracy's Sinking Ship

Childrens's Playground
San Francisco: 12/26/16
CC Jean Stimmell

Three Blind Men: Casualties of Capitalism

San Francisco on the Day after Christmas
CC Jean Stimmell: 12/26/16

Three blind men. 
Three blind men.
See how they falter. 
See how they fall.
All because capitalism
 cut off their balls.
Did you ever see 
such a sight 
in your life,
as three blind mice?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hungry Ghost

Winter Solstice: 12/21/16
CC Jean Stimmell

Ancient Apple Tree,
a hungry ghost,
haunting long-gone farms,
whose farmers deserted
an agrarian way of life

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Solstice musings on growing old

Photo and essay published in the Concord Monitor 12/21/16

My Enduring Friend
When I was eight or nine, I helped my father clear a path to the top of the hill across the road from our house, land I later inherited. The land had been clear cut, almost denuded, a few years earlier by the previous owner to extract all possible value before selling the land to my father.

Almost every large tree had been cut.  Therefore, by its very presence, this hulking tree well past its prime, straddling the boundary line at the high point of the property, commandeered my attention. But not in a good way: To my young mind, this ancient sugar maple was a useless old tree, decayed and deformed, better off dead and gone.

But like so many things I used to think when young, I was wrong. The tree lived on. And slowly over the last 60 odd years of walking that path to the top of the land, that old tree has become my friend.

She is not the same tree whose appearance I had initially judged to be already old and decrepit.  Over the years since then, she has gracefully relinquished all three of her once-magnificent main trunks, along with virtually all of her branches.

Yet, rather than succumbing, she has miraculously sprouted a vibrant new appendage and continues to live on.

Certainly, she is a monument to the tenacity of life. But, more important to me personally, she represents the foibles and complexities of the human imagination.

Imagining a tree as a young child is not the same as imaging a tree in old age. It is a qualitatively different kind of imagination. The French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard – who himself would be 132 years-old, if alive today – wrote about these two forms of imagination, calling one formal and the other material. He believed both types of imagination were vital elements, in nature as well as in the human mind.

According to Bachelard, formal imagination in nature creates fleeting beauty such as the bright bloom of a flower while the material imagination produces that which is both primitive and eternal:
 “In the mind, the formal imagination is fond of novelty, picturesquenss, variety, and unexpectedness in events, while the material imagination is attracted by the elements of permanency present in things.”

So it is with my old friend.  No longer is she the body-beautiful goddess, lush and symmetrically rounded, stretching sensually toward the sky. No longer do nineteenth century farmers visit her early each spring to tap her vital fluids.

Yet, while she may no longer appear beautiful and useful in the formal, conventional sense of the imagination, she majestically endures, “in being, both primitive and eternal.”

The older I get, the more I value my walks up the path cut so long ago by my father and I to visit my dear old friend, my teacher, my initiator into the mysteries of old age.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Dreaming of what was...

Abandoned Building, Concord NH
CC Jean Stimmell: 12/19/16

Beanpoles become empty skeletons

Beanpoles in Our Graden
CC Jean Stimmell
In the stark winter landscape
beanpoles become skeletons

stripped of their summer flesh
of lush green tangled vines

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Escaping like a genie from a bottle

ow P

Bow Power Plant view from next to Rt 3
Pembroke NH: 12/15/16
CC Jean Stimmell
Escaping like a genie from a bottle
malevolent vapors
from coal-fired 
power plant.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

As the winter solstice approaches

Along the Merrimack 12/14/16
CC Jean Stimmell

Frozen in the fury of the polar vortex
a dead leaf and a withered berry
are the only ones left standing

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter Solstice 2016 along the Merrimack

Conservation Center, Concord, NH: 12/6/16
CC Jean Stimmell
Exposed in this stark landscape,
the ominous, Van Gogh sky
wraps me in a heavy blanket:
It must be Winter Solstice.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Salisbury State Park; 11/12/16
CC Jean Stimmell
along the ocean:
metal fences decay
into fish skeletons.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The turtle who holds up the Earth

Giant Snapper
CC Jean Stimmell:10/20/16
I slammed on the brakes, startled by a dark, lurching apparition, as big as a medium sized dog, crossing the road in front of me. It was a massive snapping turtle, her shell at least 2-1/2 feet across. I tried to guide her to safety by pushing her across the road with a stout pine limb but she was too strong, too heavy, and too stubborn to move. Eventually other cars stopped and we stood guard until she safely crossed the road.

She evoked strong feelings in me too deep to unpack quickly. Upon reflection, I think the nearest word to describe what I felt is awe: Awe to be in the presence of such an ancient ancestor, such a primal spirit.

Tonight, as I examined my photograph, I marveled at what was on the turtle's back: seeds, pine needles and a patch of earth deep enough to grow something. The turtle's back resembles a tiny island!

 That image triggered a memory of an ancient myth, versions of which are found in India, China and North America, the last of which is known as "Turtle Island" to some tribes as a reference to the belief that the continent was resting on the back of an gigantic turtle.

After my close encounter, I can viscerally relate to the reverence that indigenous people have for this primal archetype: I can’t explain it, other than to say,  I feel like I have been blessed with a visit from a god.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Portal to everlasting life

Fort Foster, Kittery Maine
CC Jean Stimmell: 10/17/16

Alice may have her rabbit hole 
but here's the real deal

Mother Earth’s portal
to a pulsing
animate world
as near as right here
right now:

a universe of interbeing where
every one talks to one another,
not only four-legged critters
and creepy-crawly things,
but kelp and kale –

even stones.