Poetry · Sacred Spaces

Autumn Apples

King apples outside our window
King apples outside our window (photo by Maurie Kirschner)

Rosy Cheeks
Peer into our window
From their place
Tucked amongst the leaves

Hanging down
Across the path
They invite us to
Reach and pluck
For a sweet treat

Or they brush our
Heads and shoulders
To drop
An evening snack for the deer


McKenzie River – July 7, 2015

Bruckart Bridge
Bruckart Bridge over the McKenzie River, Oregon

Sitting on sun-warmed rocks
Icey-blue water licks at my toes
As it chatters and babbles
Flowing past my perch
Swallows glide by
Chasing down their evening meal
Bees buzz along
Leaves of alder and blackberry
Rustle in the breeze
A warm wind blows
I smile
The river flows…


Winter’s Arrival

The first snow of the season arrived overnight. In honor of the occasion I share with you this morning’s poem.

It’s a day for sweaters and wool socks
Steaming mugs of coffee and hot cocoa
Fires in fireplaces and bowls of soup

It’s a day for snowball fights
And building snow people
Sliding down hills on plastic sleds

In the middle of autumn
Winter arrived today
With determination

Days of clear weather
Became cold and cloudy
And snow arrived overnight

Out my window is a blur of falling snow
Stuck to the trunks of trees
And burying potted plants

I will put on boots and a warm jacket
And stomp in the snow
Listening to it crunch underfoot

Icicles will hang from my beard
And my nose will redden from the cold
And all the while, I will grin like a little boy

I have to confess I love Winter. OK, that may be a “well, duh” statement to people that know me.  What can I say, just call me Captain Obvious.  There’s just something about the snow that thrills me.  I love the cool weather and even the flat out COLD we get during the Winter.  I love the warm sweaters and down jackets, and scratchy knit hats and glove.  I love fires in fireplaces and wood  burning stoves.  I love the sound of the snow as it crunches under my boots and squeaks under my snowshoes.  I  am looking forward to skiing again this winter (after many off the slopes) with my return to being a ski instructor.

When we moved to Bend, as much as I was looking forward to the warm high-desert summers and swimming and paddling the lakes and rivers here, I was also looking forward to experiencing a mountain winter.  We really had one last year, even getting three feet of snow in one day.  From the looks of today’s snowfall, we may be getting it again.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to bundle up and go enjoy the snow!

I hope you all enjoy the second half of your autumn, whatever the weather brings your way1

Outdoor Explorations · Photography · Poetry · Random Thoughts · Sacred Spaces

Fishing Lesson

Fly Fishing Gear almost ready for fishing
Fly Fishing Gear almost ready for fishing

The fish know what I’m up to
You can just tell
By the way they jump
Where I haven’t cast
And rise towards my fly
Just to dive away again
At the last moment

I can almost hear him,
That big trout at river’s bend,
Laughing as he splashes
And jumps
As I un-tangle my line
From the pine behind me

Forty-five minutes
We play, he and I,
Or should I say
He teases
As he teaches me
Fishing isn’t all about catching
It’s about being present and learning

It’s time to move on
I doff my cap
And offer
A bow of respect
To today’s teacher

Yesterday, my wife and I spent the afternoon along a beautiful river just south of our home.  The Fall River is a a short river, only about 10 miles from where several springs gush out of the ground forming the headwaters of the river to where it joins the Deschutes river in it’s flow towards the Columbia, and finally the Pacific Ocean.

Fall River Falls
Fall River Falls

After a picnic lunch next to the falls, I set up my fly rod and walked off along the bank for a bit of fly fishing while Maurie had some quiet time for art and to film some video for her website and YouTube Channel.

I’ve not fly fished much before.  In fact, I can count the number of times that I have on one hand.  The fly rod and reel were left for me by my Dad after a visit this summer.  The two hours I spent fishing yesterday were a learning experience.

The first few spots I stopped and cast out were quiet sections of river with nice gravel beds underneath and a few shady overhangs on the far bank.  Good spots for trout to rest out of the sun on this hot day.  But there was no activity that I could see at all.  So in each I spent some time casting out and letting my fly drift only to retrieve it and cast again.  After 10 to 15 minutes of this, I’d move along to another spot.

Finally, I came to a large bend in the river and saw a fish jump.  I couldn’t get a sense of its size, but the splash was certainly noticeable.  A good sign, so I put down my bag and my fleece shirt and cast into the middle of the disappearing rings, only to see it jump further downstream, and on the other side of a log snag.

I spent about 45 minutes in this spot, working a section of river bank about 50 feet long.  The trout would jump occasionally far away from where I had my fly, and I’d hurry to cast out where he was, only to find he’d moved.  A couple of times, I could see him rising in the clear water towards my fly, only to push at it with his nose as if to say “you expect me to bite on THIS?!?” and dive away.

When I would manage to snag my fly and line up in a pine tree behind me, I would hear him jumping and splashing as I worked to free them so I could go back to fishing.

As I fished this river bend, I got to watching how my fly moved in the water.  How the fish responded to where I placed it relative to where he was, and how it moved towards him.  I also got a few glimpses at the flies (real) that he was feeding on, and how they differed from many of the flies in my grandfather’s old fly book.

When he made it clear that our lesson was done, I had so much respect for this fish, and the lessons he was trying to give to me, that I took a page from my time taking Karate in university.  I took off my cap and gave a bow to my teacher for the day and thanked him for the lesson.

I moved up the river and put his lessons to good use.  I finally managed to hook a fish. It would have been a keeper too, but in playing him into the shore, he managed to slip off the hook and swim free.  I had a few more nudges at my flies, but no more bites.

Many veteran fly fishers will tell you that it’s not all about hooking or landing the fish.  As much as I’d have liked to bring home a trout or two for dinner last night, I have to say, the lessons taught by that trout made every moment worth it.  I even enjoyed the laughter I shared with him as he played while I tried to un-snag my line!

One of the springs at the head of Fall River
One of the springs at the head of Fall River


Outdoor Explorations · Poetry · Sacred Spaces · Writing

River’s Peace

Water falling over rock

Perched on a rock above the river
Listening to the sound of water
Falling upon itself
Falling a hundred times
Over submerged rocks
Its sound drowning all else
Eyes closed
Feel the brush of wind
The wild energy of the place
Breathe in its lively laughter
Exhale worries to drift away
Taken by the current
Leaving peace

Outdoor Explorations · Poetry · Writing

Dry River Canyon

Modern Petroglyph in the Dry River Canyon
Modern Petroglyph in the Dry River Canyon

Walking in the canyon
Rounded water-worn rock
Rises from the trail under our feet
Marking the course of the ancient river

Walls of greys and tans and browns
Rise above our heads to meet a brilliant blue sky
The earth-toned landscape is
Dotted with yellow of rabbitbrush in bloom

The wind brushes our backs
Carrying the scent of Juniper
And blooming desert sage

We taste the dust
That rises in plumes with each step
To coat our legs and bodies

Buzz of insects and call of birds
Sound of wind through rock and trees
Mute the sound of the nearby highway

We spy lizards scurrying across sand and rock
And pass petroglyphs
Etched by not-so-ancient travelers
A pile of obsidian flakes
An old fire ring half buried in sand and dust

In the hard packed earth
Tracks of a cougar follow tracks of a deer
Scavenged bones bleaching in the sun
Scat with bone and fur
Tracks of a cougar meander deeper in

Blooming Rabbitbrush
Blooming Rabbitbrush
Juniper Berries and Sage Sprigs
Juniper Berries and Sage Sprigs
Outdoor Explorations · Poetry · Sketches · Writing


I want to share a little creativity from last September as Maurie and I were still in the early stages of getting to know our new home here in Bend.

Standing sentinel
On cliff’s edge
The river flows gently

It watches animals
And birds
As they go about
Their business

The seasons  will come
And go
It will add new berries
And grow ever so slightly more
Stretching taller for a higher view

Sketch of Juniper