Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holding Out . . .

Random Winter Thoughts
Although the shortest day of the year
Is well behind us
The coldest months
Are in front of us
To be borne as one may
In the Spring the sap rose
Circulating through arboreal veins
Bringing life to buds
Which burst forth in leaves
Leaves basking
In the summer sun
Green faces breathing
Weaving and waving when the wind blew
As they have been doing
These past few hundred million years or so
When the Fall came
The sap began to withdraw
The leaves began to wither
Changing from green to gold to brown
Toward the end of October
The winds blew harder
The rains came
The leaves began to fall
Soon in droves they let go
Released, they traced
Their various paths
Inevitably down
Back down to the ground
Returning to the Earth
To become soil again
Yet in the last days of November
I saw there were still a few survivors
Who refused to let go
Hanging on tenaciously
Looking down from their height
Not willing to return to the mud
Maybe loving the view
From up there
Company only to birds
Who might alight
For a moment
For a few days
I marvelled at those survivors
Though they finally succumbed
To the same forces
As their brethren leaves
Before them
What will then drove them
To hang on longer
Clinging against all hope
To their tiny uppermost branch
Unwilling to let go
What desire what motive
What emotion
Inspired them
To stay just one more day
And then another ?
And what matter all this ?
I thought I might say something deep
Something quite profound
But I fear what I have uttered here
Is trite, perhaps rather shallow
Like a field that’s lying fallow
With potential buried
But no life growing
Where no seed was sown
And time wanders onward
I wonder if I’ve grown ?
What matter these words
This heart that beats
This breath that pains to speak ?
Yet I would hold on
Like those leaves
I would hold on
Another day
Just one more day
One more breath
The wind
The heartless
Winter wind



At the end of November
The skies gave way to grey from blue
And then there were two . . .



Laurie said...

This is slightly spooky. Only a few hours ago, I looked at a corkscrew hazel tree outside the window and thought about the few leaves that hung on to life. Below the tree lay a large pile of dead and dying leaves beginning the journey that most leaves undertake - from decay to leafmould.

William Evertson said...

I was driving through N.Y. state this fall and passed several stands of tree refusing to let loose those top few bright yellow leaves. They reminded me of paint brushes set against the sky.

CiCi said...

Whoooeee, this is some good writing here Mr. Owen!! And the photo with the reflection is exceptional work.

joo said...

Happy New Year Owen!

Unknown said...

Winter Wind = Complete A-hole.

I love dumbing down a joint, I tell ya'! (laughs) I kid, I kid…

Happy New Year, Owen!

Jill said...

Those last two leaves look pretty lonely way up there (that one is my favorite shot).

Let me chime in: Happy New Year, Owen!!!!!:D

Cildemer said...

That was Fantastic!
I enjoyed very much your writing and photos and I wish a very happy new year.

Anonymous said...

A humble piece of work, Owen. And sweet observations of the seasons. There are many stubborn spirits out there in the world... those last two leaves.

Beautiful photos (always!) and lovely words. You're my kinda poet.

Happy New Year to you, your girls (because I know of no boys from your writing), and your kin in PA. Wish you could feel the air here. You'd love it.


Ann said...

wonderful post Owen..thanks!
Happy New Year!!

Lynne with an e said...

Well, it disturbs me a bit that you liken yourself to a sap, but other than that...I do like the imagery of tenacity and clinging on to life and hope. (Although the leaves are already dead and only symbolic of what once was, and will be again. Unless the tree is cut down in its prime by a nasty ice storm or a chain saw.)

We saw fields of trees enrobed in ice on our drive across Quebec today. Their icy beauty was mesmerising against the cold blue sky. I was gazing out the car window as thousands of bare trees rushed past, their delicate patterns traced against the changing skies. And here are more such tracings on your blog as I arrive back in exile tonight.

On the village roads here, there are still some wizened apples and berries clinging to bare branches. Winter apples of the moon, which shines full tonight, across the snow encrusted fields.

And I thought of death tonight as well, as we sped homeward on icy highways. Listening to songs from times long past. Remembering those who may still be clinging to life and to hope, and others who have had to let go.

"As blue turns to grey..."

Rhiannon said...

Reading this post reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago titled "Naked trees in winter" they are "Leafless, cold, barren"...but as we go through the fall and winter many of the leaves slowly blend in with "mother earth" to help the trees to "slowly be renewed and reborn again by spring"...trees the "eternal knowing through the ages of time"...

Hope New Year brings you all the best Owen...I love photos of what I have always called "Naked trees in winter"...yours are beautiful indeed.

Blessings to all for a "blooming and healing with change" New Year!


Marie K. said...

Hello Owen,
J'avais posté des photos de silhouettes d'arbres semblables aux tiens il y a deux jours sur mon blog "comme un partage". Je n'ai pas pu m'empêcher de faire le rapprochement et d'y voir une certaine coïncidence ou comme un écho à ma longueur d'onde actuelle. Tes (é)cris sont ceux d'une âme qui semble en peine (l'hiver ? la grisaille environnante ? autre ?), tes mots (maux ?) sont ceux d'un poète qui semble vouloir rester accroché au radeau d'une vie dont la rive semble incertaine à atteindre. J'espère néanmoins que tout va bien pour toi. Je te souhaite en tout cas une merveilleuse année 2010, avec tout ce que tu peux en espérer de meilleur pour ta vie à toi (et on ne sait jamais ce qui est vraiment le meilleur - quelquefois on a des surprises de taille ! (avec le recul)).
Bon vent, et laissons la nature suivre son cycle et se régénérer jusqu'au printemps. Les vieilles feuilles qui s'accrochent sont peut être comme nos vieilles pensées ou peines devenues inutiles et qu'il vaudrait mieux laisser filer au vent.
Beau poème en tout cas, et jolies photos.

Amy said...

Really lovely post Owen. I love seeing the transformation of this tree...there will be blue skies again before we know it.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

clo said...

bientot le printemps ami Owen....
adieu la grisaille...les feuilles mortes et le vent qui glace...
il faut juste fermer les yeux et attendre un peu hop deux sauts de puce et nous y serons de nouveau...
les parfums, les couleurs, les petits bourgeons plein de vie...c'est demain...:o)
je t'embrasse bien fort Owen ...le dernier bisou de l'année...
passes de bonnes fetes avec ta petite famille....
plein de bonheur...

Steve said...

Looking forward to a 2010 full of more of your wonderful photos and poetry - all best wishes to you and yours!

Babzy.B said...

Magnifiques mots qui illustrent bien les images , joli traitement des photos ! happy sweet new year :)

French Fancy... said...

Some of your best work here Owen - here's to more over the next 12 months

Happy New Year

Stickup Artist said...

Dear Owen,

What a poignant post. I marvel always at the tenacity of life and the prospect for renewal. Those two tiny leaves at the top of the last tree photo... what a wonderful thing to notice and be inspired by.

Extremely touching series of visuals and poetry. Blogging at it's best.

All the best for a wonderful and Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Tous mes meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année!
Have a great NY's!

Plum' said...

Spring will come again...une petite surprise sur TmlG pour bien commencer la nouvelle année.
Best wishes and Happy New Year to you Owen and your family!

Anonymous said...


The Pliers said...

Happy New Year, Owen! I'll be happy for all of you in the Hexagone when the leaves are back in full force and winter has given way to spring.


AnSa said...

Eerily beautiful photos! :)
Happy New Year 2010!

Nevine Sultan said...

I can see you, Owen, clinging, like those leaves that don't want to fall away from their tree. Your words, your photos, your thoughts... all haunting. The graduation of your thoughts, and your photos... or rather, the fall... of the thoughts, the leaves, the darkness and bitterness of the winter cold... You're fascinating, Owen. And every visit here is pure fascination to me. I hope you are staying warm from the winter freeze. I wish you a delightful New Year and I'll be back... very soon! Take care and all the best. Happy New Year, my friend.


Anonymous said...

Towards the light, towards the light.

May this new year provide you joy, health and happiness.

Lydia said...

For me, this post was extremely profound and poignant. Your writing is plain wonderful, your thoughts anything but trite. The images are striking and will remain images in my mind for a long time.

Happy New Year, Owen!

Owen said...

Hi Laurie, I guess it might be called a case of "great minds think alike"? (although the greatness of my mind is questionable !) Or great minds decay alike... ?

In any case, winter is always a challenge for me when not in the mountains or somewhere where winter really belongs... but when it's just cold and damp and windy... and grey... I'd rather go find the sun somewhere warm !

Anyway, best wishes for an excellent 2010 my friend !


Hey Bill, must've been nice driving through some really vibrant fall colors like that, the northeastern US is well known for putting on some bright color shows in autumn... Hope all is well with you, plenty of projects percolating, will drop by shortly to see what you've been up to... take care and Happy New Year !


Hi TechnoB, thank you so much ! Love that "whooooeeee", which immediately transported me to that great old Dylan tune You Ain't Goin Nowhere (which is grammatically questionable as titles go, but I guess we can grant him some artistic license) :

Clouds so swift
Rain won't lift
Gate won't close
Railings froze
Get your mind off wintertime
You ain't goin' nowhere
Whoo-ee! Ride me high
Tomorrow's the day
My bride's gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair!

Take care TechnoB, and all good things for you in 2010 !!!!


Hey Joo ! Hope you are staying warm where you are to the east of here; many thanks and a very, very happy new year to you too, full of wonderful haiku !!!


Yo Tom, (that's "Yo" the way us philly boys used to affectionately greet each other, "yo man, whas'up"... yeah, I hear ya, winter wind = life's a bitch, and then you just have to put on more layers.... jeez, right now I have four heavy layers on, and I'm not even outside !

Listen, I'm so happy that Laurie steered me to your blog quite some months ago now, (THANKS LAURIE !!!), it has been pure pleasure, and vicariously envious tantalizing wonder to follow your wanderings through all these abandoned places you manage to discover... sure hope someday to accompany you just once on a photoshoot in some fabulous abandoned factory somewhere... I am putting that on my serious wish list for 2010. All the best for you Tom...

clo said...

une bises toute neuve en passant Owen...:o)

Jilly said...

These images are so beautiful. I find winter landscapes rather sad - just me...but somehow this last vestiges of life lift the spirits. I wish you all the best for 2010, Owen and look forward to more magical wonders on your great blog.

Owen said...

Hiya Jill !! The last one is the loneliest and greyest of the lot, and somehow looking at that makes me value coming away from such thoughts and back to the warm loving company of wife and daughters and friends whether nearby or virtual ever so much... Many happy returns to you, may 2010 be an excellent year !!! Take care, keep those eyes peeled for the odd little details that you are so good at turning up !


Dear Cildemer, thank you ! Une très bonne année à toi et les tiens !


Hi Christine... many many thanks; may 2010 be full of good things in your life. You have gathered correctly, there are only daughters in my family here, two of them, plus la grenouille, (my frog wife), and even our two cats are females... so I'm very much in the minority in the house... Which is fine by me, more power to the women, I say, there is too much testosterone inspired idiocy on the face of this planet imho... What was that song the Grateful Dead used to play ? The Women Are Smarter ???

Take care Christine, and thx a million...


Many thanks Ann, a very happy New Year to you too !!!

Owen said...

But Lynne, but Lynne, I am a sap, a sappy old sap, a sot, and a sod, as the Saj has so kindly informed, yes all of that, and more my friend, whatever you wish... seems to me a sapper was a military term for trench and tunnel diggers... a grueling business, no doubt. I digress... sounds like you had a lovely drive through the winter wonderland of Quebec forests; and glad to hear you arrived safely back to your exile in a distant village... hope we'll get to see some images of the snow covered apples on branches still... maybe some grapes too for making ice wine ??? Have you come across ice wine ? I bought some once in the airport in Toronto a few years back, it was rather good...

Gotta run to New Years day lunch now, but all the very best to you and family and the raccoons in 2010 !!!

jeff said...

Et une réflexion de plus !...
Et bien alors Owen ? T'es pas venu... je viens !
Je te le fais dans le traditionnel Bonne Année mais je te le souhaite en plus !
Bonne Bonne Bonne Année Mister Owen philips ! Bonne pour toi, ta grenouille, ta douce, tes fifilles, ton australienne, et toi ! Oui toi ! Arrête un peu de picoler cette année ! ! ! ça nous fera des vacances un peu ! ! ! Non mais arrêtes la bière, le whisky, le vin, les digestif et autres boissons en tout genres ! ! ! Tu picoles pas ? He bien c'est pareil ! Arrêtes d'arrêter ! ! ! Tu pourrais t'y mettre un peu ! La tisane... avec modération ( c'est une pote à moi ) il n'y a que ça de vrai ! ! ! Et pleins d'autres choses encore...

Bonne année Owen !
Que du bonheur, de la santé, de la chance, des sous et surtout pas... de cimetières ! Non, je plaisantes ! Putain ! je me suis grillé tout seul ! ! !...:-)))

Bises my friend ! I lo.... Non mais tu crois quoi ? Quoi crois... quroi coi... qroi croi... Owen ! ! ! Arrête ! Stop ! ! !

Api niou ieur !
Tu vois... je me mets au british... sans alcoooooolll ! ! !

A + !


Owen said...

Hi Rhiannon, I'd very much like to see the entire poem of Naked Trees... my email is in the profile if you'd like, or if you posted it at your place ? Whatever... in any case, glad this stirred up the embers of remembering for you... and I wish you a happy happy new year, full of new experiences and plenty of memories... take care...


Marie K., un grand merci du fond du coeur pour ce petit mot plein de perceptions justes et sympathie et empathie... j'apprécie bcp la tenderesse de vision qui anime ces pensées, merci... j'espère que 2010 va avoir que de bonnes surprises, et aucune mauvaise... j'aimerais vraiment bouler un petit peu sur une île deserte comme Robinson ou comme Tom Hanks dans Seul au Monde... on verra bien. En tout cas, un plaisir de faire ta connaissance ces dernières semaines, et bonne année, bonnes fins de fêtes ! ! !


Hi Amy, in sunny California.... I think I need a few months, just until Spring returns to Paris, to hang out down around San Diego where I used to live for a while... concerts at the Yacht Club or at the UCSD campus; trips down the coast to Rosarita... yep, that sounds pretty good right now. Maybe you could make the trip for me and then report back on it ? ? ?

Well, whatever, a very happy 2010 to you ! ! !

la Bell's said...

May those broom sweep the sky and get ride of all the clouds that's how I'd like to wish you a sunny new year ! Another solution is to come over to Lebanon where there is no winter... the seasons go like this : automn, spring, canicule, summer, automn....
Lovely new year et biz from la Bell's

Owen said...

There you are Clo !

Que du plaisir d'avoir un petit mot signé Clo... et oui, tu as raison, je vais juste trouver une bonne grotte en montagne comme un ours grizzly, et après avoir fait le plein de saumon cru, je vais dormir tranquillement pendant 4 mois, et voilà, le printemps sera revenu ! Voilà une bonne solution... Mais non, ce n'est pas possible, car si je dors 4 mois, au combien de photos est-ce que je manquerais de voir chez Photo Sans Cible ??? Non, ça n'irait pas du tout... bon, on va rajouter des pulls, des chaussettes en laine, des manteaux doublés, et on va faire avec, voilà, la vie est belle.... Merci Clo et à très bientôt, je te souhaite la meilleure année 2010 imaginable !

Et café en modération, n'est-ce pas ?!?


Steve, ah yes, many good things to come in 2010, including a trip to Somalia to visit the pirates, and to the Ivory Coast or Nigeria to visit the bankers who have promised us so much but delivered so damn little... ah yes, lots of good things to come in 2010... may it be a rewarding year for you in all domains...


Hi Babzy, so nice to see you here, merci bcp pour ce petit mot, plus que gentil de ta part... toutes bonnes choses pour toi en 2010 !!!


Dear FF, a big thank you, and may you pass an excellent year to come in the Brittany of our dreams; it's been a pleasure making your acquaintance over the past year... best wishes...


Ah the Stickup Artist !
"Blogging at its best"... those are very kind words indeed, whether they really apply to me is debatable, one could sometimes call me, "guttering at its best", but I thank you wholeheartedly, and am looking forward to many more rich months of exchanges through the blogosphere with wonderful artists like you... art is not something one does part time I think, it is a way of life... An excellent New Year to you and yours, and especially for your excellent photos !!! Looking forward to many more beautiful moments from your camera...

Marie K. said...

Tu sais Owen, le plaisir est grand pour moi également d'avoir fait ta connaissance à l'entrée de ce nouvel hiver froid et plein de grisaille. Ces quelques échanges et lectures sont pour moi des moments de chaleur et un espace de ciel bleu à l'intérieur de mon âme ; il m'arrive de comparer maintenant la fenêtre de mon ordinateur à un foyer de cheminée où je pourrais (si j'en avais une) regarder danser les flammes chatoyantes des bûches et me laisser rêvasser dans le vague, comme sans doute Robinson le fit quelquefois (on ne nous a pas tout dit) sur son île solitaire ou Tom Hank dans le superbe film "seul au monde" qui m'a beaucoup marquée lorsque j'ai eu l'occasion de le voir.

Jo said...

Oh, how amazing. I have been watching the poplar tree outside my treehouse window too, losing the very last of the "hold outs". But you know, towards the end of January, here in Vancouver, we can begin to smell spring in the air again. It's quite noticeable around January 28th. The sea has a different smell, and the air feels like the stirrings of spring.

Happy New Year to your and your family, Owen!


The Sagittarian said...

Hi ya, I am back!! I was actually here yesterday but as it was 33 degrees in the shade at our place I thought I'd best not leave such a comment...that was yesterday tho' today they reckon we'll only get 28 so I can empathise today.
So, I also note that we're more twins than we thought..I'm a 1960 baby as well.
Happy New year, wishing you and yours all the very best for 2010. (Except any rugby wins over the AB's - I don't wish for that!!)

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Nice one. Then again the French do shoot all their wild birds and cut all their trees down to naught so I guess France in winter is even bleaker than winter in Blighty.

Happy New Year! Lx

Amy said...

I definitely need to spend more time in San Diego, so I'll put that on my list. ;)

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Great pictures, as always!

Happy New Year!

Owen said...

Hi Dedene... all good things for you in 2010 ! This past six months or so has been fun, goofing off in the comment box... take care...


Chère K'line, mille fois merci, et meilleurs voeux à toi aussi et à ceux et celles qui sont proches... je suis allé voir les fleurs sur les toits de Paris... joli... marrant, j'étais en haut de la Tour Montparnasse l'autre jour, c'aurait été bien s'il y avait toutes ces fleurs sur Paris, mais il y avait trop de vent... tant pis, peut-être au Printemps...

Bonne Année K'line, et un grand bisou de Nouvelle Année à toi !


Rain ! Merci ! Happy New Year !
Stay Warm !
:- )


Dear Pliers,
Many thanks, yeah, Spring will be along here again in just a few months... Hope you are having a wonderful time where you are in sunny eternal Summer...

All best wishes to you and Mr Pliers for 2010 !


Owen said...

Hi Ansa, Many thanks for dropping in here, and even more thanks for adding me to your sidebar, very kind of you... hope you enjoy what you find here... Happy 2010 !


Ah Nevine, most perceptive one... may 2010 be full of wonder as you continue to wander through this world and all of the experiences you are living, living most richly... it has been a complete pleasure discovering your writing over the past weeks... looking forward to alot more... Have been crazy busy with holiday business, but will be back to blogging and visiting soon...

May the new year be magical for you...


Robert, Always toward the light... may your days be blessed with bright luminous joy in this coming year... auf wiedersehen...


Hey Lydia,
Many thanks for these kind words... I was just watching "Into the Wild" the other night, I sort of see you as one of the great people that Chris met on his travels in California... just an impression... but a good one. I hope 2010 brings you lots of good things in life... plenty of poetry and music...


Jilly, hey, great to see you, hope all is well in Menton, no end of canines carousing in the streets, and other odds and ends... All best wishes for you for 2010 !


Salluuuuuutttttt JEFF !!!

Je suis passé en bas de chez toi hier soir, tu m'as entendu croasser ???

Mille milliards de merci's pour avoir rendu cette année passée plein des joies des échanges... tes folies, tes élans, tes jeux de mots, ta jouissance de la vie toute courte... un régal... qui aurait pu imaginer ce que ces pages et ces commentaires pourraient apporter, mais tu vas loin dans le domaine... bien loin... loin vers la lumière, vers l'amitié...

Voilà, je te souhaite que de bonnes choses pour l'année à venir...

Ciao ! Bises ! Tchin tchin ! ! !


Owen said...

Dearest Bell's, ahhh, enfin, le moment de compréhension, tu vois comme c'est simple de laisser un petit mot ici... maintenant chaque fois que je vois Liban dans les drapeaux je ferai un grand sourire... Bonne Année Bell's, que tout va merveilleusement bien pour toi et ton B. dans ce monde plein de merveilles....


Hi Jo ! Wow, so you can feel the stirring of Spring in Vancouver already at the end of January ? Wow... I'm going to have to look harder... In any case, may you have an excellent year in 2010, full of joy...


Saj ! There you are !!! Cheeky Sod that you are ! I hope you are talking about temperatures in Fahrenheit, right ?!!? If you are talking in Centigrade, I'm going to go off and sulk for the next few months ! 28 degrees ! Aaaarrrggghhhhhh.... that is cruel and unusual. But coming from my favorite twin sister, I guess we'll just have to put up with it...

Listen, all kidding aside, I hope you and the family have an excellent year ahead in 2010... full of plenty of good tipples and whatnot... take care Saj...

your twin sod...


Dear Laura, Bleak is an understatement, but you being British and all, I guess that is classic british understatement... you're right, there are alot of hunters, but still some wild birds about... and only the trees in towns along the streets get hacked back to the trunk regularly...
Happy 2010 to you !


Hi Elizabeth,
Many thanks! Happy New Year !

Roxana said...

"What matter these words
This heart that beats
This breath that pains to speak ?"

i could use this as a motto on the Bridge :-)

the loveliest gift... and your visual meditation on time passing, nature rhythms is the most fitting to start the New Year...

i wish you all the best in the world, dear Owen (which includes opening that gallery in Paris, though here you might imagine i am thinking of myself as well :-)

my warmest wishes for your dear ones as well...

babbler said...

I would like to get my rasp on those tender top leaves!

There are a few trees like this along the road I drive every day, three of them have been downed by beavers and a few more have the telltale signs of logging. Great poem!
Love, Mrs. Slug