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Newsletter

Scene&Heard: Magnolia Boulevard at the Burl

It’s a given: when Magnolia Boulevard takes the stage, the crowd immediately starts dancing. Whether their songs swing from folky to blues or funk, the crowd is always movin’ and shakin’ with this band. The organic connection between band and audience is part of the energy that is propelling Magnolia Boulevard along a path of promise. And somebody is paying attention to this. Only two years old, the band has already gained the attention and sponsorship of Paul Reed Smith guitars.

The Burl filled quickly on this August Friday evening in anticipation of a three-band lineup. Warmed up by Boscoe France, another PRS band that got the crowd moving with some astounding guitar work, everyone was ready to keep going when Magnolia Boulevard took the stage. The opening jam made the audience bubbly and perfect for when lead singer Maggie Noelle stepped up to the mic and began singing.

Compared often to Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt or Janis Joplin, Maggie’s deep and flawless voice commands the room. With Gregg Erwin on guitar, John Roberts on bass, Ryan Allen on keys and Todd Copeland on drums, Magnolia Boulevard creates a solid platform of funky jams in support of Maggie’s voice and soulful lyrics. 

Magnolia Boulevard - Call on Me - Video by Red Barn Radio

Each instrumentalist is a master of his craft. The keys converse with the guitar, the bass slaps out its funky beat and the drums keep them all going. It’s impressive. The crowd happily takes it all in as they dance together. This is the vibe the band loves best.

“What we experience is genuine, and the crowd experiences that…the crowd’s got a lot to do with it too,” said bassist John Roberts. “The crowd is a member of the band, if you keep coming we’ll keep putting it out there. You gotta feed off that energy.”

The crowd clearly agrees with these sentiments. And they aren’t the only ones. After playing at Wilcutt Guitar’s 50th-anniversary show, in a slot right before the PRS guitar presentation, Magnolia Boulevard managed to capture the attention of Paul Reed Smith himself.  After their set, and the good luck of Maggie winning the prize PRS guitar out of the raffle, the connection was made. As Gregg had predicted to Paul Reed Smith, “you’re gonna fall in love with Maggie.”

Before they knew it, PRS was flying the whole band to Baltimore to play at their music festival and to record some songs at Smith’s personal studio. During that brief four-song set that was “easy” according to the band, Paul Reed Smith was apparently found standing off to the side, all by himself, mesmerized by the band during their performance. They hope to fly back out to continue working toward a full album under Smith’s guidance and sponsorship.

A creole of folk, bluegrass, funk and rock, Magnolia Boulevard serves up variety from song to song, but the sound of the band is its own, and even the blusier, funkier, slightly darker songs still make the crowd dance. The soul is obvious, and deep, and each instrument holds an equal place in the songs. Balanced. Some songs belt out a near Prince and the Revolution style funk, while others bemoan the deeply felt sorrow of blues. Then they slide funky-like into a jam-band piece that sends the vibe of the room into a frenzy.

Most of the lyrics are written by Maggie or Ryan, but Gregg has written some songs as well. Maggie claims to be “the baby of this band” in terms of professional musical experience. She clearly adores her band family. “I am grateful for this, I am learning so much in this process, they are great teachers.”

Magnolia Boulevard - Jezebel - Video by Shaker Steps

It is not common enough to see local musicians with great talent get the recognition they deserve. The music game isn’t an easy one, for sure. “Be prepared to work for it,” John comments. He and Todd go back to previous bands such as Tribe called Lex and have been immersed in the scene for a while. To be picked up by PRS and have such sudden success is a dream come true. They have been playing festivals and shows all over the region, including Master Musician Festival in Somerset and FloydFest in Virginia.

What’s next? “The stars,” Maggie smiles back. Here’s hoping, y’all…


Listen to Cara’s backstage conversation with members of  Magnolia Boulevard:

Newsletter

Arts Tasting Menu

A handcut tasting of cultural delicacies from Lexington, the region, and beyond.

Starting the late summer and early fall season with some interesting blockbuster visual art exhibitions.

Appetizer

The League Members Exhibition. Lexington Art League, September 14-October 14.

Reviving an exhibition long a central focus of The Lexington Art League, the Loudoun House galleries will showcase work by past and current League members. A three-part exhibition, the show will include work by members active between 1957, the inception of the organization, and 1983, along with work by members of ten years or more, and work by current members. Historic documents, publications, photographs and other memorabilia will also be displayed. New Lexington Art League interim Executive Director, Matt Collinsworth, formerly of the Kentucky Folk Art Museum at Morehead State, will greet guests at the opening on September 14.

Entree

RALPH EUGENE MEATYARD: Stages for Being. UK Art Museum, September 8-December 9.

The upstairs galleries of the museum have been completely devoted to this exhibition of 99 works by influential Lexington photgrapher, Ralph Eugene Meatyard (1925-1972). His uncanny work, featuring friends and family members posed in abandoned, decrepit places, creating elusive narratives, and often using props like masks and dolls, has been highly influential in modern photography. The images will be used over the course of the next several months as springboards for a number of different concerts, plays, poetry readings at the museum. The downstairs galleries at the museum will exhibit work in two different exhibitions meant to be complementary to the Meatyard show.

Photopgraph by Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Dessert

Faculty Series: Vol II. UK School of Art and Visual Studies Bolivar Gallery, thru September 29.

This show, curated by Julien Robson, former Curator of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, and now Director of the Great Meadows Foundation, features recent work by select UK faculty. The exhibition shows work in different media by ten faculty members and includes installation, photography, animation, fiber, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and mixed media. This exhibition is part of a recasting of the traditional faculty show, in that each installment features the work of different select members of the SAVS faculty.

Bob Shay, ‘Untitled’, Drawing, 2018

Photograph by Doreen Maloney

Newsletter

20 Female Japanese MCs Changing The World of Hip-Hop

 This article was produced in partnership with The International Center for Journalists

After being almost entirely dismissed by mainstream media and record labels in Japan until the mid-nineties, the world of Japanese hip-hop emerged out of the underground clubs and gatherings at parks and train stations and has generationally evolved to be embedded in the cultural consciousness of every day Japanese people. Alongside of a positive shift toward true gender equality as well as a rising awareness and celebration of idiosyncratic hip-hop music, dance, fashion, and art, a new generation of avant-garde female rappers has emerged, who were not only inspired by strong American female hip-hop artists like MC Lyte and Lauryn Hill, but also by trailblazing Japanese hip-hop groups like Rhymestar and Nitro Microphone Underground, who learned the four elements of hip-hop from New York and adapted it to a Japanese palate.

Before female MCs began crafting their own raps in Japan, female R&B singers were instrumental in bringing hip-hop into the mainstream in Japan. The beginnings of commercial success for hip-hop artists started in the summer of 1995, when a group called East End teamed up with a former J-pop star named Yuri to put out a track called “Da.Yo.Ne.”. This song went on to sell millions of copies and started a long history of female J-pop and R&B artists, like Cibo Matto and Koda Kumi, to experiment with rapping as well as featuring (predominantly male) underground hip-hop artists in their songs. In his foundational book on the beginnings of how Japanese hip-hop came to be, Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization, MIT professor and Japanese scholar, Ian Condry, mentions that, in the late nineties, “a Japanese R&B boom led by women singers helped to bring (male) Japanese hip-hop into the mainstream consciousness.”

When hip-hop initially went mainstream in Japan, women were merely fans, but times have changed and now there is a multitude of new female MCs who are not only going beyond their rigid “Office Lady” gender expectations, but are experimenting into totally new realms of music and self-expression.

In particular, female MCs in Japan face lots of problems, not only with sexual harassment and dismissive record executives, but also with the Japanese language alone. In English, women and men use the same grammar and verb endings to express an idea, but in Japanese, women and men use different expressions. For example, women often refer to themselves as “atashi”, whereas men will use the word “ore”, so it creates a challenging dilemma for female MCs who want to sound strong but still maintain a feminine touch.

The 20 women that I have featured in this article are courageously shifting the paradigm of a male-dominated hip-hip world to a more balanced state and are brewing up fresh compositions drawing from elements of J-Pop, hip-hop, jazz, EDM, and traditional Japanese folk music. Using the spirit of hip-hop that celebrates individual pride and uniqueness, these women are boldly rejecting the image of passive Japanese women, fighting misogyny in their lyrics and performances, and are pushing the global world of hip-hop to new heights.

Click on the images of your favorite female Japanese MCs on the slider below to read more about them, see videos of their music, and hear interviews with several of them.

MC List and Links

#1 – コマチComa-Chi

#2 – あっこゴリラAkkogorilla

#3 – MCfrog

#4 – Kagura Sunshine

#5 – Acharu

#6 – 椿 Tsubaki

#7 -DJ みそしるとMCごはんDJ Misoshiru & MC Gohan

#8 – Awich

#9 – NENE from ゆるふわギャング Yurufuwa Gang

#10 – RIN a.k.a 貫井りらん Nukui Riran

#11 – MINAMI from Teng Gang Starr

#12 – 072 (Onatsu)

#13 – Sarah Midori Perry from Kero Kero Bonito

#14 – ダヲコDAOKO

#15 – 秀吉a.k.a.自称アイドルラッパー Hidekichi a.k.a. Jishou Idol Rapper

#16 – 泉まくらIzumi Makura

#17 – コムアイKOM_I from 水曜日のカンパネラWednesday Campanella

#18 and #19 – MaryJane (Luna and Tsugumi)

#20 – MC MSZ

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あっこゴリラAkkogorilla

“We all have our own different ways of expression, but what we have on the bottom line is all the same: to put importance on individual personalities. So many times we hear the line that “female rappers are good” or “who is going to be the best of the females”, but we are just individuals. It’s personal; it’s different.”

Akkogorilla is from Tokyo, or, as she clarifies, she is from Planet Earth. She first heard about hip-hop when she was ten years-old, in elementary school. When she first learned about Japanese hip-hop artists RIP SLYME and Kick the Can Crew, she was influenced to start writing her own lyrics. At first, she started just writing rhymes to play with rhythms, just for fun, but after gaining confidence and becoming a full-time rapper later on, she has been more influenced by other artists and her unique and vibrant style, juxtaposed in a world of J-pop monotony, has manifested brilliantly.

She first started out playing drums in a two-piece pop-rock girl band called Happy Birthday. During Halloween shows, she would come out on stage dressed up as a gorilla and would play drums behind her friend. At home, she would practice writing and recording and finally took her raps to the stage in 2015. After talking with Ken the 390 and soliciting advice for getting more shows, he encouraged her to participate in local MC battles. At first, she was scared and nervously threw up before most battles but, eventually, she won a few battles and gained admiration from fellow MCs. At the time, much like her friend MC Frog in Osaka, she was one of less than ten female battle rappers in Tokyo but she feels like the number is increasing these days.

The name Akkogorilla came from when she was still a drummer. As she said, “without thinking very seriously about it,” she named herself that because she learned that gorillas communicate through rhythm and thought it was cool. In 2016, Akkogorilla released her first mini-album, “Tokyo Banana”, on Kamikaze Records and it features a track called “Donkey Kong” that sampled music from the Super Nintendo game, Donkey Kong Country.

The gorilla motif continued in November of the same year when she quickly followed up this release with an EP on 2.5D Production called “Back to the Jungle” and, for the video of the title track, Akkogorilla traveled to Kigali, Rwanda. When I asked her how the experience in Africa was, she said,” I can’t say much about that trip except that I had some of the best moments of my life and also some of the worst moments of my life.” The beat for the song, made by HirasaWonder, samples Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and Akkogorilla told me that this song really represents her transitional period out of rock music and into the realm of old school and new school hip-hop. She is a big Public Enemy fan and, right now, she told me that she is digging the new Anderson Paak and Princess Nokia tracks.

In early 2017, Akkogorilla released a number of singles on 2.5D Production leading up to the release of her EP, “Green Queen”. In April 2018, Akkogorilla released the “Tokyo Banana 2018” EP as well as her first major label single with Sony Music Japan, called “Yoyuu (Margins / A Cinch)”. The song is really a reflection on her last 3 years figuring out how to be a rapper and gaining the confidence that she can do it and do it in her own unique style. She is also working on her first major label album for Sony at the moment and, when I asked her if she had a title decided yet, she said,” I haven’t decided the title yet, but it’s very clear what I want to say and what I want to do. I’m just looking for the exact words to express those.”

Currently she is organizing annual events in Tokyo called “Donkey Kong”, that blend a multi-genre variety of rock, rappers, beat-makers, and others artists assembled in a unique way that only Akkogorilla can put together. If you check out her Instagram, you’ll see that fans often bring bananas to the show and hold them up to show her their support.

When I asked Akkogorilla what female rappers should be celebrated in the world, she mentioned a transgender Japanese MC named Fuziko, who was born a female and recently married a woman. Akkogorilla glowingly added, “She is the real cool rapper that we can be proud of.” Akkogorilla has a song about gender fluidity called “Ultra Gender” and, she said that, when she met Fuziko, she thought of the song and said, “Wow, it’s real.”

You can find this song and all of her releases on Spotify and, for more information on Akkogorilla, visit http://akkogorilla.yellow-artists.jp/

Listen to my interview with Akkogorilla here, with interpretation help from Junko Takahashi.

Lyrics for Akkogorilla’s “Yoyuu” (which literally means “Margins” or “A Cinch / A Piece of Cake”)

A cinch, (say it) it’s a cinch, a cinch!
While reading the surrounding atmosphere,
Life is finished in an instant.
Before someone says something,
I’m making a comeback to myself.

“What are you doing,? Hey!”
“Who is imprinting?”
“Remember your place!”
“It’s beyond your ability!”

If you move before hearing the voice, the world can be changed.
It saved me; it was not a man,
It was not a prince.
The heart to believe in yourself is king.

(I wonder) why at that time
I did that?
Just remembering it,
I shouted it in the bathroom.
If I repeat being out of place,
After some years,
It would become “normal”.

You can repeat it multiple times,
And live life like a lie,
But before looking down on yourself, reach out a hand.
Fully experience today and create your real self.
A Cinch, (say it) it’s a cinch, a cinch!

Actually it’s not a cinch
Lean, lean and mean, mean, everyday.
I have come to understand, because I have been running,
That the ultimate result is just a cinch!

Although the self-esteem is low,
Nurture the pride.
Getting a laugh only by self-degradation.
I was bound, bye bye!
What about it was frightening?
Someone let me borrow a ruler to measure.
Is it a cool style?
That judgment, I want to make by myself.
Defense mechanisms are abundant
But now: how to, how to,
Check 1. 2.
Alright?

Many of you are laughing,
You have weapons,
But my magnum
Is ultra-gigantic.
Laughing with the voice volume that is twice as big,
Let’s raise the volume of your inner voice!

It’s really a cinch,
A piece of cake,
It’s a cinch, if you do it.
It’s a cinch, you can do it!

Follow than the natural inclination and smartness.
It’s more important for the heart
to say you like what you like.
Are you ready?

You can recover yourself multiple times,
And live an awesome life like a lie.
I want to live everyday properly,
You, who save yourselves, are invincible!

A Cinch, (say it) it’s a cinch, a cinch!

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コマチComa-Chi

“This is just my way of thinking, but I think those who are seeking the real hip-hop, they are not looking for just fashion but they are looking from the bottom of their soul.”

Coma-Chi is a Tokyo-native rapper, singer, DJ, and mother, currently living in the bay area of Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture. She first heard about hip-hop when she was 15 and was deeply moved by the feminine strength of Lauryn Hill and MC Lyte. She started rapping as Coma-Chi at 20 and began writing lyrics after listening to Japanese rap groups like Rhymestar, Nitro Microphone Underground, and Tha Blue Herb. At 34, Coma-Chi reflects on the Japanese world around her from an underrepresented female perspective. Her lyrics include everything from relationships and the female point of view of going to the club to calling on the spirits of ancient Japanese empresses to speak to their modern feminine descendants.

In 2005, Coma Chi participated as the only female in the pioneering annual B-Boy Park MC battle in Yoyogi Park, in Tokyo. When the organizers planned the tournament, they had not envisioned that a female MC would make it to the final, so they organized the final to be in the center ring of the sacred sumo stadium, Ryogoku Kokugikan. Traditionally, women are not allowed to enter the ring, which created quite a debacle when Coma-Chi fought her way to the final. At first, the organizers had discussed suspending the final battle, but ultimately determined that, since it was not sumo, she could participate with the caveat that she could not wear high heels in the ring. Barefoot and determined, Coma-Chi took second place and became the first female ever to battle in the reverent Dohyo of Ryogoku Kokugikan.

In 2006, she put out her first independent release, “Day Before Blue”, on Da.Me Records, and the success from this record and her fame from B-Boy Park lead to her signing a contract with Knife Edge Records. In February 2009, Coma Chi released her first major label album called “Red Naked” and, a year later, released a second album called “Beauty or the Beast?” in May of 2010. When she made her major label debut, there was a feeling that only male rappers were allowed in Japan’s rap scene, but Coma-Chi wanted to change that. Being a trailblazer, Coma-Chi overcame the initial looking down on female rappers in Japan, and when she made her major label debut, she proved that women could do it and do it well. In 2011, Coma-Chi finished her contract with Knife Edge and decided to take her career in a different direction.

After experiencing the lack of control that major label artists experience and how they often don’t take the artist’s opinions into consideration, Coma-Chi decided to return to putting out her music independently. She started her own label called Queens Room Records, which first published a children’s picture book and CD called “A Boy Called The Sun”. Inspired by the 2011 Fukushima disaster, this books talks about the connections of love and nature and is about a young boy’s parents who catch a disease called “American Dream”. The disease forces him to go around asking for advice on a cure. He ultimately asks the sun, who says that they must return back to the origin of human beings, in Africa, to be healed. When they are healed, they become African. The book also comes with a CD that has a collection of original R&B, jazz, and afro-beat music on it.

In 2012, after doing loads of features on tracks with Japanese hip hop stars like RIP SLYME, Rhymester, Zeebra, Coma-Chi put out her first full independent album on Queen’s Room called “Golden Source”, and, in December 2013, she gave birth to her first child.

Her new album, released on Queen’s Room in March of 2018, is called “Jomon Green”, and it was inspired by a photo in a magazine that Coma-Chi saw last year. The photo was of a Kaen-Doki, a Jomon-era earthenware piece from around 4000 B.C., and she felt like our modern society was in great need of the ancient wisdom from the Jomon Period, a period of human civilization in Japan stretching from 14,000 B.C. to 300 B.C. and noted for the earliest evidence of fired clay pottery. She studied more about the era and discovered that, within it, there was a period of 10,000 years with no war. She also discovered that, because they were hunter-gatherers, they lived a sustainable lifestyle and the Jomon civilization was a maternal society, where mothers were the center of society. Ultimately, Coma Chi wanted to meditate on the connection between strong ancient Jomon matriarchs and women in today’s modern Japan and she does this very thing on her song, “Woman” (see below for link and lyrics).

I asked Coma-Chi to tell us some other Japanese female MCs that we should celebrate and she recommended a Shinto Shrine employee named MC Mystie, who started rapping at 42 and is featured on “Jomon Green”. She also recommended Tsubaki, who is also featured on this list. Her favorite female rapper in the world, at the moment, is Rhapsody.

When I asked her what message she wanted to share with our English-speaking audience, she said that you can listen to her album Jomon Green from anywhere in the world, that there is a song on the album called “Water” that has English lyrics, and she wants you to give it a listen and feel the ancient Japanese vibrations.

You can find more information at http://www.queens-room.com/

Listen to my interview with Coma-Chi here, with interpretation help from Junko Takahashi.

Lyrics to Coma-Chi’s Woman:

戦うために生まれたわけじゃない 大事なものただ守りたい
Overflowing love, I don’t deny it anymore.
溢れだす愛 もう否定しない 心に広がる母なる大地
Mother Earth, which spreads in the heart.
両手でハグするソウル 君に届ける優しい鼓動 「おかえり」
Soul to hug with both hands, gentle heartbeat to deliver to you.
ここが帰る場所 何故って答えはひとつ Because
Welcome back, here is the place to return to. Why? The answer is one because

We are the woman…
安らぎの 歌を歌おうLet’s sing a song of peace.
This is the women’s world

そうそれはDNA 組み込まれているのさ先天的に むしろ原始人
Yes it’s DNA, inherited congenitally, rather than from primitive man.
ネアルデルタールの頃からずっと受け継いできた長い歴史
It’s a long history, inherited all the time, since the age of Neanderthal.
女は守り 愛し育み 一人一人がまるで女神さま
Women protect, love, and raise; each one is a complete goddess.
だからいたわってその体 いつか大事な子を宿すから
So, please take care of the body because one day you will carry an important child
そしてその命が繋がり未来へ羽ばたき緑は輝き水は青き
And the life connects; to the future, wings flapping, green shimmers and water is blue;
この美しい地球を彩るcolorになる
Those will become the colors of the beautiful Earth.
明日を担う力生み出す 母の子宮恵みのひとしずく
Mother’s womb creates power for tomorrow, one drop of mercy,
苦しみ産み落とす 思い残すことなく種を残すBecause
Suffering by giving birth, never regretting leaving seeds behind because

We are the woman…
安らぎの 歌を歌おうLet’s sing a song of peace.
This is the women’s world

男たちは競い合う事で得る快感 深めてゆく絆
Men gain pleasure and deepen bonds by competing.
それも素敵だけど私達は違うの方法が
It’s nice as well, but we are different; the methods.
同じ土俵じゃ比べられないのわかってちょうだい
We cannot be compared on the same ring, please understand.
この世界の構造自体通用しない新時代
New era, the structure of this world itself is not accepted.
Back to母系社会 偶像崇拝なら美しい裸体
Back to the maternal society, if it is idolatry, beautiful naked body
マグダラのマリア宝のありか隠す内側
Mary of Magdalene, inner-side hides the treasure.
慰め癒す力 きっと何よりも尊いから
The power of comfort and healing, there is nothing more precious.
確かな第六感と共感力フル稼働して振りまくのさLOVEを
Fully operating a certain sixth sense and compassion; spread love.
笑わないでよスピリチュアルな波動
Don’t laugh, spiritual wave
Don’t think feel 伝える感情
Don’t think, feel emotion to tell
母なる地球 みたく包み込む 許し与える全て
Embrace like the Mother Earth. Forgive and give all.
混ざりあう色 時は優しく 溢れ出す永遠のLove‥
Mixed colors, time is gentle. Overflowing eternal love.

The folks at Japanesepod101.com also featured Coma-Chi and her track “The Voices of Kamuy” from Jomon Green and you can check it out here:

Also, check out her latest release, “This is Japan”, inspired by Childish Gambino’s “This is America” : https://soundcloud.com/coma_chi/this-is-japan

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Eyes to See

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour

 Auguries of Innocence – William Blake

As a young man, I had the good fortune and insight to spend a great deal of time outdoors hiking and backpacking.  I traveled to Alaska and, on one memorable night, sat on a cliffside on Kodiak Island, watching a literal midnight sun disappear beneath the horizon, bathing sea, air, land in a glowing wash.  This was followed, a twilit dusky hour later, by an equally glorious sunrise, the sun that far north traveling not in an arc but in a barely truncated circle about the sky. 

I hiked the Olympic National Rain Forest for a sodden sublime week, sitting on a valley rim, alone in the vastness save for a deer, licking the sweat from my rain jacket I had hung to dry on a branch.  I watched in wonder as a white stag, whose forebears had been imported from Sherwood Forest, emerged from the fog of a Point Reyes morning, him being more interested in lording over the herd of females and fawns who materialized, with a shuffle, out of the whiteness. 

I sang to the glories of the grandeur unfolding as I hiked up the switchbacked cliff face of Yosemite Valley, each turn bringing me higher and deeper into the vast beauty of that hallowed land. 

I guided a raft of friends down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River through the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.  We started in a tributary barely wide and deep enough to permit our craft, finishing, after many nights and rapids, in a wide, flat, slow flowing river which could accommodate a cruise liner.  The world was grand and big and I wanted to see it, to taste it, to bite off huge dramatic chunks.

I am not now that young man.  A friend’s t-shirt loudly proclaims my current state: “The older I get, the better I was.”  My hikes are now a morning walk, my vistas the downtown buildings I spy from my perch atop the coach’s tower in my neighborhood park.  Guiding rivers is now staring in wonder at the intricacies of the creek that flows through the next door neighborhood.  And yet, when I stop long enough to see, the grandeur which inhabits these spaces reveals itself.

I watched in amazement as the remains of a spring rain flowed down the creek, simultaneously carving a channel and creating a delta, as the carrying capacity of the swift water diminished with slowing flow.  In a fractal view of the world, I was watching the Mississippi River flow past New Orleans. 

On a neighborhood walk, I spied in astonishment a Cooper’s Hawk diving treacherously at a chipmunk, narrowly missing.  Or equally amazing, a Red Tailed Hawk lumbering skyward, hauling with him a squirrel who must have equaled the bird’s own weight, forced onto a tree limb perch by my insistent approach.  With the additions of a video crew and David Attenborough’s narration, this was life writ large, worthy of National Geographic. 

The other evening I went for a walk, to be greeted by a Rothko sunset: a flat, snow-leadened wall of cloud sat heavy on the sun, squashing an orange smear onto the horizon. 

Another night, I watched as clouds like a sheet of dryer lint dragged in front of a gibbous moon, fat and white, fixed and solid like a peg in the heavens.  That celestial display no less grand than the gauzy curtains of Northern Lights I was entranced by in New Hampshire on the Appalachian Trail. 

I watched a Bradford Pear tree, whose flowers bested 3 snowfalls and a hard frost to sweetly declare this spring’s imminence, at last give way to the greening of the branch.  The fortitude of our trees to persevere in the face of Spring’s grudging warming is as grand as the Redwoods’ or Joshua Trees’.  Caterpillars of snow crawling on the delicate limbs of Eastern White Pines, crashing down in a secondary snowfall as the sun-warmed branches released their burdens, are as wondrous as the calving of icebergs, the process being the same. 

I feel deeply, especially in spring, the glories of the world around. The volunteer Pin Oak in my backyard, 20 years ago a twig, now is rivaling the size of the 100-year-old Burr Oak of my neighbor’s.  The flocks of warblers travel like gaily colored acrobats on their way north, stopping to pick bug and bud from trees seemingly timed for their arrival. 

My legs are hampered by age and responsibility, my hunger for adventure diminished with time, but the wonders of the world surround us even in our backyards if we have eyes to see, an open spirit and the willingness to “waste” time on the slow and the minute.