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Polylith 005   ☷  


Hello fellow resonating bodies and minds. This letter comes to you from beneath a silica sky stretched taut over the peninsula, pinned beyond the horizon against the occasional sweeping wind, vibrating with all those strong midsummer sun rays streaming through. The lakes are warming from the top down and the wind periodically pushes all the surface water in to shore. Go for a swim if you’re able! Summer’s stride may wait for no one, but when we let go and submerge we find that it’s a long stride.

The solstice came and went a week ago. Did you feel it? It slipped past like a craft in the night, silent, without edges, a faint penumbral glow surrounding a dark obsidian center. It’s an aethereal thing, the summer solstice, and there’s no chasing after it. Each year I glimpse it through sleep-heavy eyelids and I’m left with more questions than before.

Good to be with you all again. This month’s transmission will be a short one. So much is in flux in my life at this moment, and I only have a short letter in me right now. Many thanks for your company.


On the night of the solstice, as I lay out beneath the sky sliding through its bewildering but warm repertoire of colors, I let my body tune in to the the various low amplitude signals that are allowed to come through once all the noisy humans have gone to sleep. Whip-poor-will’s elastic twirl, owl’s round blunt phrasing, breeze sifting through the cricket legs of dunegrass — the hypnotic pendulum wash of a low swell coming to shore. As I drifted toward sleep the bird calls began to sound like the strange cryptic music they really are, the wind more and more like human breath, and the waves began to echo and merge into a rolling, enveloping wash of sound. Then sleep and its rarely remembered sonics.

A black and white photograph of the surface of a lake from way up in the air, ostensibly from an airplane. The right half of the frame is dark, but the left presents a bright shell of light reflecting off the surface. Tiny waves shine like stars atop the dark water. The image was captured on April 4, 2012 over Little Glen Lake.

Later in the night, when I emerged gently into a half-awake state, I found the swell still there, but all else had gone cool and ringingly silent. The stars had swung a few degrees onward around their likely oblivious hinge, the sky a shade lighter near the horizon than overhead even at that unsounded depth of night. Owl now quiet, ostensibly occupied with some violent business elsewhere. Silent obsidian sky dome absolutely still at the apex of our hemisphere’s ritual annual arc toward the sun. Air, water and earth suspended beneath. It was amid that stillness, I understand, that the craft passed over.

When I awoke the next morning the sky was just beginning to glow hematite in the east — the planet had resumed its procession along the arc while I was sleeping. The dawn chorus (bless them!) was warming up in the jack pines and maples beyond; robin and thrush, sparrow and finch, and all the others I know only by their song. The sky brightened through citrine to an intense candied tangerine, a hue no being could maintain for long, surely. Imagine the energy required! Finally, when the ever-alarming disc of the sun broke the horizon and broadcast its warmth over the chill platter of dewy earth and cool water, I rose and made my way back home. Summer resumes its long stride onward.

Lovely as always to walk with you — even for just a short stroll this month. If you find yourself on or near the Leelanau peninsula on the afternoon of Sunday, July 28, consider coming over to the Glen Arbor Arts Center, where at 2pm I’ll be talking about many of the things I write about here in Polylith: wandering, reorienting and reinhabiting, finding ways in, sticking around. It would be great to see you there!