IMYS #24 - Leaves and Leaving

Art in the everyday

From my desk here at the new house, I have a narrow but enchanting view of the woods surrounding our back pasture. If I lean a little to the left, I can see out to the side pasture. Each view is framed or backgrounded by trees.

My interest in trees is no surprise to my regular readers. You’ll see more of this when the novel comes out. Trees help me make a narrative that orders my world in the way I’d like it to be. Strong, mostly quiet, collaborative, and slow. Always biding time until the fad passes or the ennui fades.

This time of year, those trees are shedding their leaves. The birds and squirrels that call them home are leaving or planning to leave. We are in the middle of a migration path for a number of finch species. Our trees have been safe and comfortable overnight roosts for the finches these last few weeks. Even that pattern has slowed to just a few birds here and there.

Time is slowing as the days get shorter. The horses in the pasture are fattened against the leaner winter. The world is retracting and leaving space for all our human intrusions. I have a feeling that this winter, we’ll all be in a hibernal pause moreso than ever before. Find a good book and dig out your favorite albums. Settle in to the peace.

Patterns of Gaia

I’m a fan of brutalist architecture. Imagine the concrete monoliths built in Europe in the 50s and 60s. They are nearly anti-human in their visible function and building materials. This combined with a scale and texture that is clearly denatured. At the same time, I celebrate the architecture of nature (trees, obviously) but the great mountains of the world and the landscapes both widescale and minute. With these two potentially opposing ideas in mind, this research into biophilic patterns in design points how we might be able to marry patterns found in nature with the functional and physical needs of our living and working places. More than that, art might lie in that intersection.

Read the 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design

Gold in the Morning Sun

I contend that outside of some modern composers and some ambient music, very little contemporary music could be said to melodically beautiful. To my ear, modern music tends toward melodies that are catchy or that provide a tension echoing the anxieties of our time. I was pleased earlier this week to catch this Don Williams song on the radio. One of the purest, most beautiful melodies I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are a bit sardonic and loveworn. The melody though is spun sugar and light that forces you to pay attention lest you miss some capital-T Truth.

Listen to "I'm Just a Country Boy"

Walk on By

In the UK and parts of Scandinavia, there is an ancient “right to roam” which lets anyone walk across nearly any piece of land. In open areas, that includes going off any path or track that might already exist. Landowners typically provide ways to pass through or over fences to ensure this access. To someone living in the US, this sounds insane given our focus on property rights and trespassing. Still, it makes for a rich heritage of walking through nature or simply to get from one place to another. Slow Ways is an organization working to identify, map, and comment on all the ways to walk from place to place in the UK. There’s already an excellent network of paths and this effort to codify them is quite welcome.

Tread the Slow Ways

No More Troubled Water

Jennyzibreva, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I visited Prague quite a bit last year for work. It’s a beautiful city if a bit Disneyfied in its touristy areas. That said, the Charles Bridge still stuns as it crosses the Vltava River right in the center of the city. What’s more impressive is that it was built during a time when there was no power equipment. It was the purest application of engineering principles in the same way that the great vaulted ceilings of cathedrals reach for perfection. This animation shows some of the techniques behind how those medieval engineers accomplished the feat.

Build the Charles Bridge

Biscuit in the Basket

From Journal of Nomads

Sportsball of various kinds is the single largest pasttime in the entire world. This wasn’t true in ancient times. However, there’s more evidence now that ball games in Eurasia were more widespread earlier in history than previously thought. Central to these games was the player’s horsemanship. We’ve all heard about the great Mongol hordes conquering enormous swaths of Asia and Europe on top of their small, fast, and fearless ponies. How better for them to stay in shape and to practice than to compete with each other?

Ancient horse ball games in Eurasia


Lydia Loveless (no relation to Patty) recently released an amazing new album named, “Daughter.” While the title track is certainly a good song, the cut “Can’t Think” is one I keep coming back to. It’s lyrics simplify the complicated power that love can have over us as it turns to obsession and maybe even into sublimation of the self. The crescendo of the song echoes that creeping awareness of loss that the worst kind of love tends to find.

Listen to "Can't Think"

The Hell of Good Intentions

The author Max Brooks made his name with the novel, World War Z, which was later made into a Brad Pitt film. The structure of that book, with its firsthand accounts sprinkled with news and research reports, holds up in a more epistolary form in his new novel, Devolution. This time, Brooks looks at a supposed Sasquatch attack that occurs at a locked down ecovillage near Mount Rainier. There is social satire aplenty even as the terror and scares ramp up. The pace is relentless and the inside/outside narration by the main character is a fascinating device to create mystery and tension. Highly recommended for the Halloween season.

Read Max Brooks's "Devolution"

Thanks for reading this week. Pass this along to your friends and family. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, whatever. More readers means my typos get caught faster.

Your guide,


Banyan Tree, Fort Lauderdale, FL

By Alex Ezell