Past Meditations

December 2007
Snow swirls in the winter wind, illuminated by the lights of a house in the early twilight of December dusk. Leafless trees appear as intricate black carvings against the deepening hue of blue above them. The season may seem and hostile. With a closer look, one may hear for the first time the subtle sound of snowflake landing upon snowflake, and the sound of thousands forming artfully shaped drifts unlike any museum's masterpiece. For the resting plants it will eventually be breakfast. For the humans it has cancelled worldly commitments, allowing each person a rare opportunity to rediscover all that really matters.

November 2007
Gone are the clear days of summer's play, of autumn's harvest, and all in nature rests. The calm is deceptive; this is a time of transition. From the horizon approach the clouds of its first storm. Fear of the coming wind, rain, and colder nights can make us overlook the subtle beauty of a bleak season: The leafless trees revealing the sky above, and the sky's breathtaking art made possible by the presence of clouds.

October 2007
Though a season of withering and fading, autumn is a celebration. Even the death-centered Halloween is a marking of the harvest, of abundance. Jack-o-lanterns are large fruits whose edible portions have gone into delicious pies. Dried-up cornstalks represent grains that are now stored away for the big meals of the holiday season. Like a television test pattern at the end of a broadcast day, fall colors signal a time to rest from hard work and sunburns. Autumn is the greatest proof that death's mission is one of complete futility and frustration: All seasons of withering and fading somehow turn into great celebration and abundance.

August 17 , 2007
Late August in New Hampshire always brings a change in the weather that can seem cruel and harsh: The cooling of swimming holes, the shortening of daylight, the first necessity of a heat source for the evening, each a reminder that frost is not far away. Not allowing any distraction by the pointless counting of days, the flowers show their midsummer's bloom until autumn actually finds them.

June 8 , 2007
The flapping of wildbird wings is the only sound aside from the occasional thunder from miles away. The strange irony is that the storm is frighteningly loud where it's striking, yet peacefully rumbling for those who've already felt its wrath. The sun chooses not to illuminate the rain-soaked land again before nightfall, but instead does something better: To aim at the icy heights and display a new aspect of the now-distant thunderhead. Fearsome, we already knew. But after getting mercy we now see its full beauty.

May 8 , 2007
It got to the point where no one thought the cold times would end. Halfway through April, as the greatest of all the winter's storms was only beginning, a loon sat near the edge of the ice pack in a small patch of open water on the otherwise-frozen lake. While the storm wind's voice got louder and threatened to rule, the loon offered its telltale song of milder times to come. Such a promise seemed unbelievable, or even impossible. Seven days later, 80-degree weather melted the lake ice. Less than three weeks after the blast of bitter wind, there was the blast of the summer ship's horn: The promises in the loon song had come true.

April 7 , 2007
They wished as they do every year at Christmas, for snow. When December brought weather more typical of Easter, they put aside their traditions of snowman-building and sleigh-riding, celebrated together as best they could, and gave up wishing. Unknown to them, their seemingly hopeless wishes had been heard. Things were not happening according to their own schedules, but the coming Easter was bringing a reminder of the universal truth that things always equal out in the end. Always.

March 14 , 2007
Your spirit soars. The bitterness of winter's extreme chill seemed like it would never end. Then, after one last cold morning--the coldest of them all--everything changed. You find yourself held up by wings, blinded by the complete snowcover of a frozen lake surrounded by majestic mountains. In the distance reigns the highest of them all, free of clouds for the first time in days. It, too, appears small compared to the vastness of everything else. Your newfound freedom gives you altitude, a more correct perspective of yourself, the world, and all that you once thought impossible.

February 7 , 2007
The morning greets you with cold floors and a wood stove whose fire went out while you slept. Opening your eyes is a blindingly pure-white blanket of snow from the storm that cleared before dawn. The sub-zero cold makes it hard to decide which comes first: A hot shower, or a new fire? From the swirl of blowing snow outside appears a chickadee. The thought of something so small trying to survive such temperatures boggles your mind. Before doing anything else, you put some seed out for the tiny bird. Your shivering stops momentarily as you witness the warmth you've given.

January 9, 2007
It is January, yet there is no ice on the lake. Instead, the springlike fog forms as unusually warm air raises the water temperature at a time of year when it should be cooling off. Whenever things are so seemingly out of order, everyone claims a different theory for its cause as if it were fact. Though some may be right, we are still just children in the fog. Beavers know when to work, bears know when to sleep, and eagles have never needed radar, but are we not the same species who once proclaimed the earth flat and the Titanic unsinkable?

December 4 , 2006
The local pop radio station now plays a continuous stream of Christmas music. One musical star sings "Silent Night" while the sun draws nearer the western horizon. The busy summer season has finally culminated in one final thunderstormy battle on the last night of November and is now over. In its wake the land rests and eagerly awaits its whitening. In timely fashion the singer on the radio sings about "Radiant beams" while golden solar rays become plainly visible in plumes of snow. Heaven and nature sing.

October 23 , 2006
Summer's frantic nature yeilds to something refreshingly different. Once-busy waters now lie flat against a sky that has already produced its first few snowflakes. Nearby mountains await their annual blankets of it. The trees, like the creatures who live among them, prepare for hibernation. Like a television station announcing the end of its broadcast day, nature now draws inward for regularly scheduled rest and reflection. It beckons us to do the same.

September 25 , 2006
Colors, colors everywhere. It's no wonder there's such a battle. The heat tries to hold on. Autumn strikes with the inevitable. Between them, lightning and thunder are cannon fire in the mountains. Then the sun separates its colors in an arc over the world, while shining its light on the leaves showing color of their own. The color season is only preparation for the season of contrast.

August 31 , 2006
Soft mountain breezes blow the last puffs of summer over thriving wildflowers. Take a good look; all of this is quickly passing away. Nights just a couple notches above freezing are becoming more commonplace. Soon will come a final, incredible display of color - nature's own test pattern - before it all turns a blindingly pure white.

August 12 , 2006
The first of many battles between haze and clarity has taken place with clarity proving victorious. Though the haze will return to stifle us with more hot air, we can take comfort in knowing it won't last long. People see the sky and ask if the season has already changed, but it hasn't just yet. In its own time, clarity will reign, giving everyone a good rest when the land shows its colors. But in the Dog Days of August, autumn only appears long enough to remind us to be patient.

July 12 , 2006
Thunder fades into the distance. Raindrops patter from the leaves of trees. In the misty air, your ears still ring from the storm, even as calmness takes over. The inclement weather has not stolen the warmth away, and crickets chirp just as fast as they did before. The full moon rises to invoke the loons into song once again. Only this kind of peace is worthy to follow the storm's dramatic act. But only the most dramatic storm can introduce peace in such a way that we enjoy it as much as it deserves to be enjoyed.

June 13 , 2006
For weeks it seemed like the rain would never stop. Many felt eternally separated from the sun's light. But the powerful energy source was not about to make a grand appearance. It didn't need a ceremony. Instead, the sun would humbly sneak its first rays to earth via midnight's full moon, from behind the breaking clouds. Sleeping within the walls that had sheltered them from the rising floodwaters, the city's people would not notice until they awoke to find the light already shining. The light was a step ahead of them as always.

May 5 , 2006
Why do people dream of soaring with the eagle? What makes a child dream of becoming a pilot? A desire to join the heavens has been engraved on the heart of man for centuries. It has cost the lives of some who tried early flying machines, and driven the Wright brothers to give up their jobs as bicycle mechanics to build the first airplane. One can never understand why until passing through a room with a floor of puffy clouds, a ceiling of infinite blue, and no walls. Such a sight can make us suddenly aware that the wings are not our own, that our finite souls can only soar with help from the eagle.

March 30 , 2006
The wetland peepers start their annual springtime chorus. The season's first soft warm breezes make a rhythm in the budding new leaves. The shrinking lake ice pack clatters and pings like cymbals that celebrate the light. Budding leaves and open water lure back the birds, whose vocal performances now welcome each dawn. Music seems a universal celebration of life and light. After all, when a winter illness leaves us, the first thing we seem to celebrate is the return of voice.

March 5 , 2006
The sun is stronger and more blinding than in months past. Could it be that the season of darkness is nearing its end? The mountain's shadow is no longer significant. Even as winter's chill stubbornly remains, solar rays melt ice into flowing, living water. Soon it will feed the re-emergence of life. The dogs, no longer needed as extra blankets for your bed, lead you toward the door. There's a sled waiting, and adventures beyond. The ice has lost its grip on us, and its days are numbered. You are about to respond with a display of boundless energy across the fields of brilliant light.

February 14, 2006
Evergreens at the mountaintop spend the night gathering snowflakes. In the darkness and the bitter wind, the ice builds on their branches. It's a desolate place, visited by none, until it becomes hospitable. Fair weather brings new admirers to see the frosted trees stand out from the monotony of earth-colored surroundings. By themselves, the trees would not be photogenic, but their experience in the storm lets them reflect the infinitely attractive light of the sun.

January 16, 2006
We seem to love photographs of trains plowing their way through snow. We may romanticize a train in a snowstorm, while the scene of cars on a snowbound highway brings less-favorable thoughts. Cars are an extension of self: Our desires, personalities, and weaknesses. On the train, desires and personalities mingle, and weaknesses meet strength for something faster, ground-shaking, that is not concerned about a little snow on the rails. Signals at crossings warn cars to stay back: The train will not yield. We are naturally fascinated with such greater things. Upon hearing, "all aboard!" we are drawn, yet repelled at the same time. We want to make an ally of the greater, more powerful thing. But first, we must willingly turn from self.

December 13, 2005
The holiday season can swirl around us like snow from a blizzard: Constant reminders of what it should be, what it could be, what it would be if only... As thoughts, commitments and unmet wishes make us think the light is nonexistent, remember the mountain. While darkness lingers, the mountain is bathed in blinding brilliance. To all who can only see the storm, this place is unseen but nonetheless real. It just rises above the clouds.

December 2, 2005
What makes a summer sun-worshipper wish for snow on only one day of the year? Perhaps such wishes are greater than we know. A child sees in snow a potential snowman or fortress, not airport delays. Christmas, for many, brings back those former ways, when innocence attracted happiness. Could it be that by chasing the happiness in hopes of getting more, we've embraced its opponent instead? We turn our backs to the Whitening, and shun nature's ways of telling us to slow down for the long winter's nap. The year's final days beckon us to give enough of ourselves away that we smile and shout, "let it snow!"

November 15, 2005
A dark room – mostly
Logfire tap-dances, at one side
Crack-pop, crack-pop
Light and shadow waltz, the opposite wall
Orange-black, orange-black
A grandfather clock, pendulum swings
Tick-tock, tick-tock
In warmth, beside blazing oak
Eyelids close
Outside, through autumn’s night
First snow falls.

"November" © 2002 Mike Colclough and

October 27, 2005
Although the days shorten, things can be clearer at night. Sit in an airplane cockpit facing the afterglow of sundown, your hand on the throttle, but your allegiance to the Tower, and let the runway lights lead your soul closer to Infinity. Confusion fades like the city's lamps far below, and your surroundings are illuminated in such a way that only the important details stand out. Nowhere are they more obvious than where the light of man's doing is not present: There the starlight compass remains.

October 8, 2005
Driving in the fog at night makes one glad to be in the company of others. Headlights reach out like two-pronged forks stabbing at the darkness. Taillights follow one another in single file, fading as they go, each driver more courteous to the others than when navigating in clarity, when he or she might rather own the road. It is the darkness and fog that make us so glad not to be alone. The challenge is to be sure that the ones we follow are leading us well, and to be aware that others do follow us so we can lead them well. This life at best is like fog at night, and only the rising sun can burn it away.

September 25, 2005
Autumn's evening air has a certain smell to it, an energy not found in any other season. The same temperature can happen many a time, but only autumn mixes it with wood smoke in such a way that it awakens you and yet makes you sleepy at the same time. The feeling makes you seek out the blankets in life. Early twilight makes you excited about golden light pouring from the windows of home, and the cold evening makes you eager for fresh hot pie. Such an abundance is incomplete without welcoming guests who need it more and a Host who has more. Strange, it seems: Nothing makes us celebrate in warmth and light quite like chilled darkness. Our fire's smoke is a drifting, open invitation.

August 29, 2005
Red and black are warning flags that fly before the storm
The great chaotic vortex draws life from oceans warm
With every storm is danger, raging winds and flood
And danger has a color: It's the same as blood
Danger sometimes kills those who don't put up a fight
Death has a color too: The absence of all light
The Lighthouse flashes white, a beam that does not bend
Like the rainbow it's a promise that soon the storm will end.

"Hurricane Warning" © 1992

August 23, 2005
For the first time in weeks, it feels nice to crawl under blankets when the sun goes down. August's last days are noticeably longer than its first, but the change brings the promise of a good night's sleep with open windows, soft late-summer breezes and a chorus of crickets. Dark clouds on the horizon may be precursors to autumn's endings in nature, but beginnings elsewhere: academic goals, football, hockey, baseball's World Series, and jumping in piles of leaves. The fields ripen while mild afternoons make it easy to bring in the harvest, and the cool twilight air of summer's finale is an invigorating celebration of every season having its own time for all to enjoy.

August 2, 2005
As quickly as it came, the storm departs. The sound of its thunder fades with each minute. It has left behind several calling cards: the dripping of water from the trees, a few branches scattered around the landscape, and the ringing in your ears from when it was directly overhead. Breaking clouds allow the day's last few minutes of sunlight to traverse the horizon. In the same place where a lightning bolt burned its image into your sight just a few minutes earlier, a rainbow springs to life. This transition is nature's most profound commentary.

June 9, 2005
After a sultry day in which the air seems to get more stifling with each passing minute, the sun goes in, the air becomes unnervingly motionless, and your mind detects the rumbles of a battle on the western horizon. The storm, however, brings a promise of clear air to follow. Lightning is constantly pulsing from all points of the living planet. It blasts to charred splinters a centuries-old oak tree, knocks boulders into jagged shards of granite, then dances silently on the horizon before the fog falls like a curtain. It is the ultimate evening show, the force of creation, and the force of destruction, having the first word, and the last.

May 17, 2005
We are fascinated with things greater and more perfect than ourselves. Children often read fairy tales of noble knights and beautiful ladies whose castle is strong enough to hold back the greatest attackers. As adults facing daily attacks we still crave something great enough to revive our senses of wonder. We need only pause, close our eyes, and revisit that place where the walls are always strong, where we too can be knights and ladies, and the good king lives on forever.

Friday, April 22, 2005
Led by the ever-brightening light, great numbers of individuals break the confines of the barren season and head home to the high country. Melting snows add to the swiftness of rivers, tiny green sprouts burst into bloom almost overnight, ponds newly freed of ice emit a chorus of frogs, and animals of all types are on the move. A long awaited energy is in abundance for all.

Thursday, March 31, 2005
After the reign of cold and windswept desolation, the clouds break, not a moment too late for dawn. The first sign of things to come is the migration of animal herds back to higher ground. Swans, geese, and eagles arrive back at their creek to find the ice departing and fish available for a meal. Creatures of song mingle their voices into one celebration of the light gathering on the mountain. The grand scheme of things is doing something new.

Monday February 28, 2005
The "March Lion" roars, as winds pick up from the east, and the approaching clouds thicken and lower. There's a certain energy in the air ahead of a storm, as the pace of nature itself seems to feature a sort of urgency. The same force that tells seagulls to fly inland and squirrels to seek out their stores of acorns speaks also to people. We look at the gray sky and dimming sun, and feel the need to buy food, or bring in more firewood than normal. The promise, however, is that storms are the exception, or they would never command our attention. Each in its own time shall pass.

Saturday February 19, 2005
The time between sunrises and sunsets gets noticeably longer with each passing day. After many long, cold days in which the minutes of light were the minority, the sun rises higher in the sky. Its rays melt back some of the snowpack, watering the seeds of new life on earth. More icy days are inevitable, but the new season has already announced its promise.

Saturday February 5, 2005
All the previous day's heat has risen to the mountaintops overnight. The cold air taking its place in the valleys and over the lakes comes with a ground fog that freezes in a fine layer of frost to everything it touches. The distant sound of a fisherman's ice auger breaks the silence of dawn. The light makes the fog shine in many colors before removing it to reveal the day. The frost melts quickly. It is time to reel in a catch.

Tuesday February 1, 2005
It is one below zero, warmer than the past few mornings when the lake ice had spent the entire night expanding as it cooled, at times so forcefully that it rattled the windows of cabins along the shoreline. In the light, the day's first shadows show the tracks of those who've ventured across. Perhaps a few of them took a moment to stand in fascination of the fact that the very thing that gives us life comes in three forms - solid, liquid, and gas - and in all forms is capable of trembling the rock on which we live.

Thursday January 20, 2005
Hours of darkness and swirling snow end suddenly. Your eyes open to fences in the cold morning. The wind gives flight to each crystal from the newly whitened land, and no man-made barrier can stop them. The sun may be low in the sky for a while longer, but the soft blanket of powdery snow reflects its light, surrounding you, beckoning you outside in a state of bliss. After all, spring is not far off.

Saturday January 15, 2005
Light mixes with shadow at the break of day. The air's chilly calmness speaks of simplicity. In fascination you stare, for several moments forgetting that your mittens are still inside. With a camera you pursue the fleeting moment. The camera, however, can only record the physical. The rest cannot be confined.

Friday January 7, 2005
Waking up to find snow can sometimes bring back childhood memories of Bambi's woodland friends in awe of it, filled with wonder, and of completely relating to those characters while playing outside in fresh snow. What is it that makes so many adults see it differently than they did as children? Is it more deeply rooted than a simple opinion on a type of weather? Perhaps Robert Frost wondered this also, when he wrote that he'd nearly forgotten boyhood joys of swinging on birch trees. But, he said, all is not lost: It is never too late to return.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005
A cool misty morning reveals the early season lake ice breaking apart as though it were spring. Where is winter? Where is the snow the weatherman said would fall overnight? The branches of trees have long since shed their leaves in anticipation of carrying snow's weight, but hold glistening remnants of rain instead. There is a perfect reason behind everything in the natural world. If only we were big enough to question its source and understand the reply.

Thursday December 30, 2004
One of winter's most outstanding performances is that of moonlight on snow-covered ground. More grand than the "oil on canvas" one will find at the Museum of Fine Arts, this peace-inducing natural phenomena is accentuated by the presence of stars over a frozen lake. The light of a house on the shoreline offers a sense of warmth and solitude. The ice pack gurgles and booms as it cools and expands in the nighttime air.

Friday December 10, 2004
The midwinter only seems bleak, until you stand beside a calm lake that's about ready to freeze. As clouds lower and thicken, promising snow after dark, the water lies so still that it makes you toss a pebble in to see if there's ice yet. The ripples it makes are the only movement in the entire scene. After the splash, your breath is once again the only sound. You hold it, which is when you notice a very slight ringing in your ears from some more busy moment in your life -- perhaps earlier that same day -- but now it seems like long ago.

Wednesday December 8, 2004
The winter wind is filled with clean air, cold yet rejuvenating. If you're wearing windproof outerwear, the breeze hits only your face, acting as an ever-present cup of coffee from the sky. When autumn's leaves have all browned on the forest floor, and the once-green canopy of summer has become a leafless gray, it is inspiring to wake up in the morning and find the entire scene has become a crystalline white while you slept.


copyright © 2005 Mike Colclough, all rights reserved