Creek Water

This evening, I walk down through
the bracken ferns, and passing
between the hemlock and beech
trees, I find the worn path that leads
down the bank to the sandbar.

The water is slow here, and the
surface looks like glass, except
for where the mountain laurel
brushes the surface, creating
ripples as the branches dip into
the cold water as it flow beneath
the undercut bank on the other

I watch three minnows, wriggling
in the shallow water at the end
of the shoal where I am standing.
I kneel in the wet sand and muck
and with both hands, cup cold
creek water and let it run through
my fingers and shake the droplets
like rain on the surface.

When I was a boy, I would drink
from these cold waters, on hot
summer days on expeditions in
this same patch of dense woods,
but I would not risk it now, time
has muddied this water, slowed
its course with silt and mud,
covering the smooth stones
that once lined its bottom.

The sun is sinking, last light
reflecting off slow, stained water.
I wash the sand from my fingers,
and brush off my knees, staring
down into the depths once more.
I see my reflection, and in my eyes,
the creek water always flows.

By Joshua Lanier

reflections in creek water

On my daily walks, I often make my way to the creek bottom that I explored as a boy. These waters have healing properties, and I draw from them in my work, no matter what the subject. This creek is a point of reflection for me. The natural world is always the centerpiece of my work, whether it be fiction, essays, or poetry. My blog can be found at Wildcat Creek Journal.

Photo of creek in Marin County, California, by Neil Lockhart

Winter Trees

I believe there is a particular welcome gesture in nature that announces another winter into the world. And if there is, it ought to be the nose-stinging coldness in the wind, a presence that makes breathing a painful chore. But like with all the challenges of life, you have to take it in, which is the only way to live a life of value. Winter season, to me, starts this way, with the chilling breeze preaching a stoic lecture on the struggles of life that are worthy of being undertaken. Every morning when I leave the comfort of my home to go to work, chill invades me wholly upon the opening of the front door. Listening to the click as the door shuts behind me, a surge of nostalgia fills my heart, momentarily reminding me of the warmth of the indoors, a comfort for which I have to wait till another evening, and work my way all through the day. Thus begin my mornings on any given weekday in the winters, with a tender fight between laziness and living.

As I walk along the pavement towards the tram-stop, I glance at the trees lined along the side of the bikers’ path, standing tall and stout. I see them slipping, with each passing day, into a calm slumber, like saints starting upon their meditation. As winter creeps upon the world, their leaves shed the green vigour little by little. Soon, as time for those leaves to depart from their shelters approaches, they adorn a yellow dryness upon themselves. And like that, one day they fall from their homes and become a carpet of nature for us to walk on. The trees are thus left barren and naked, and an aura of gloom reigns over them, covering all the signs of life from their branches for the rest of the season.

The look of these barren trees fills my heart with myriad emotions of dullness, as if the dreams of my life are at crossroads, as if they are lingering amid a confusion between abandonment and accomplishment. To make matters worse, the bright blue sky is replaced by a grey sadness, and daylight dims away from the world, as if the sun has gotten tired of us.

This is when the reality of winter is fully realized in my mind.

In this season, my insides are wired differently for the span of three cold months. All those multiple layers of clothing constrains me in many ways and makes me feel uneasy at times, especially when commuting. But it’s your responsibility towards yourself to be warm in a cold, stark world. When I think of it, it surprises me how true this is with the responsibilities of life itself. As you spend off your time year after year, and enter into the next seasons of your life, you grow more responsible towards everything that matters. Winter only mirrors this process, this cycle of life and its progress.

Daylight in winters seems to be too shy to present itself, and doesn’t really light up the sky until at least past 9 o’clock. But I can’t afford to wait for the sky to wish me a good morning. Hence, I wake myself up before the sun even opens his eyes to this side of the world, and walk out into the day and live it, or at least I try to.

But I still feel a strong presence of inactivity all around me. Nothing seems to be moving, all feels still and stagnant, as if the night doesn’t want to advance itself into a new day. The world seems so quiet in the winters, and I never yet clearly understood why. Perhaps it has to do with that feeling of stagnancy and slumber in the air. There seems to be an unshakable silence all around, which is sometimes soothing, and at other times, dejecting. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling us to explore the voices of our own hearts amid this hovering calmness of the season.

snowmanAnd then there is snow — that cold cotton tenderness falling out of the thin air above our heads… The place where I’m presently living at, Den Haag in The Netherlands, experiences snowfall only rarely, which is exactly what makes its arrival so special. It turns the city almost festive, especially in the eyes of children, and in mine. There is a mysterious bliss hidden in those moments that make you a child again, and a rare snowfall is surely one of them; at least to me it is.

Krishna Kanth is a writer from India who is presently living and working in The Netherlands. He writes fiction, non-fiction, short stories, and has a special place in his heart for literature that speaks of nature. The words of Henry David Thoreau from the pages of Walden had made him cognizant of our planet’s nature and its magnificent and unparalleled beauty. Ever since, it has become a vital purpose in his life to bring awareness about nature and its beauty to people through his writings. Some of his writings can be found in his new personal blog:

Photos by the author

Raincloud Sunrise

Gold-edged coral and lavender clouds
hang above sunrise meadow.
Flailing cypress frame umber trail,
muddy vernal pond shallows.

Any minute, unsettled sky might deliver
concussive rumbling thunder,
platinum lightning strikes,
torrential downpour.

Water fowl burrow deeper
within disintegrating tule berms.
Chilled earth tenses, contracts.
Sniper rain fusillade splinters calmness.

By Jennifer Lagier

orange and purple clouds above walking path

The author, Jennifer LagierJennifer Lagier has published ten books and in literary magazines. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Forthcoming books: Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle), Forthcoming: Like a B Movie (FutureCycle Press, 2018).Click here to visit her website. Photo by the author.

Crow Castle

The sun wanted to come in
but autumn was holding it back.
I watched leaves fly like broken
wings from dead birds. The wind
held an invisible trawler that
netted up the litter of trees.
I was in the in-between,
wandering from place to place.
A peregrine barreled past, undoing
the sky like a zip. And when I
reached the top a wind came
from the outside. Throwing itself
into my body as if all the words I
had ever spoken were being erased.
When I got back home I noticed
my words reached further than ever before.

By Gareth Culshaw

man walking in high field

Gareth lives in North Wales. He loves the outdoors especially Snowdonia. He is published in various magazines across the U.K. Visit his website here.

Photos by Foryouinf Photography

Hiking with Nina

Three of us walking
Along the marshland trail
Grandma, Grandpa, toddler Nina,
Stopping every 20 feet or so
To investigate a new find –
A dead and desiccated millipede,
A rotting oak gall,
A crayfish gullicating
Through the trailside grasses
Looking for the creek it misplaced,
A whole field
Of brown and brittle Fuller’s teasels
One of which we cut for Nina
For whom it is important
To hold the world in hand.
When we come across a clump
Of several snow berry shrubs,
Leafless stems with clusters
Of small star-white orbs
On the ends of their branches,
We stop of course
To engage in a bit of harvesting
And find that when we squash those berries
They squirt a particularly satisfying white goo
That obliges us to cry out
“Mashed potatoes!” with each squeeze.
“Mashed potatoes!” Nina shouts
Again and again for the next few minutes
Picking and squashing, picking and squishing,
“Mashed potatoes! Mashed potatoes! Mashed potatoes!”
We all whoop in exuberant harmonies
Until at last the little one has had her fill
Of slushy spuds
And heads toward other possibilities,
In this case a large puddle just up the path
To which she applies her new teasel
With great vigor and intention,
Whipping up a fresh batch
Of unforgettably delicious mud soup
To nourish us all.

By Buff Whitman-Bradley

granddaughter walking with her grandparents

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poetry has been published in many print and online journals including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai’i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday, Watershed Review, and others. He has written several books of poems, including When Compasses Grow Old, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World, and Cancer Cantata. He was the producer of the Courage to Resist Audio Project and co-producer of two documentary films, Outside In and Por Que Venimos. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Photo of toddler and grandparents by David Pereiras Villagrá.