A Slow Rising

American Lotus ~ Nelumbo lutea
Brazos Bend State Park
“Be a lotus in the pond,” she said, “opening
slowly, no single energy tugging
against another but peacefully,
all together.”
I couldn’t even touch my toes.
“Feel your quadriceps stretching?” she asked.
Well, something was certainly stretching.
Standing impressively upright, she
raised one leg and placed it against
the other, then lifted her arms and
shook her hands like leaves. “Be a tree,” she said.
I lay on the floor, exhausted.
But to be a lotus in the pond —
opening slowly, and very slowly rising —
that I could do.
                                  “First Yoga Lesson” ~ Mary Oliver

Comments always are welcome.

58 thoughts on “A Slow Rising

    1. I especially like the difference between the green of the leaf’s ‘wave’ and that of the opening bud. Seeing for the first time how the leaves and flowers rise from the water’s depths, I couldn’t help but think of Oliver’s poem. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Derrick.

  1. It has the look of a very challenging wine glass! Thank you again for starting my morning with Mary Oliver, the augury of a fine day ahead.

    1. I like your vision of a wine glass; it’s perfect for toasting Mary Oliver. The lotus itself deserves a toast; , I’m entranced by its life cycle and appearance at every stage.

    1. I took some photos of more tightly closed buds, and they were lovely, but I really liked this slightly more open flower. It’s freshness was part of the appeal, and the wave-like leaf makes it even more special for me.

    1. Those elves were busy, too. The lake was covered with flowers and buds, as well as plants that had faded away. It was a lovely sight. I went for the flowers, but found the buds and leaves were — well, lagniappe!

    1. Flower envy seems to be a common phenomenon. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at favorites even from our Texas hill country and thought, “Oh, I wish we had those.” Of course, if we had ‘those,’ we wouldn’t have the conditions to sustain what we have! I do agree that this bud has more than the usual elegance. I think it’s partly because it’s isolated, and the form really shines; it’s the same effect you get with your studio flowers, particularly.

    1. It’s such an interesting plant, Jeanie. I’d thought only to post the flowers, but the leaves and buds are equally appealing, and they’ve distracted me from what I thought would be my primary focus. It’s the “Squirrel!” effect, botanical version!

  2. Love this, Linda, and I can certainly relate to Mary’s poem. Recalling my first aerobics class, I simply cringe. Eventually, I got the hang of it, but oh my, getting there wasn’t easy!

    1. When people ask me why in the world I’m still working on boats, I sometimes ask them, “Why should I trade the boats for time in the gym?” Of course, after a long stretch of rainy weather, I have the same problems getting back into condition. My beloved Varnish John’s advice certainly applies here, too: start where you can start, and do what you can do.

  3. Beautiful lotus, and I empathize with Oliver and beginning yoga. There was a time I stretched and contorted with ease and regularity, but when I go back and try those moves from long ago I feel that “something” is certainly stretching, as Oliver so aptly put it. So I lie on the floor and hope to rise again.

    1. You know doubt understand the envy I occasionally felt watching Dixie Rose and her easy movements. Even in her old age, she had a remarkable suppleness. I wonder if cat burglars practice yoga?

  4. “Well, something was certainly stretching.”
    I don’t do yoga, but that feeling still is with me every morning.
    Have a wonderful Sunday,
    Pit

    1. Isn’t it funny how “that feeling” seems to appear more often each year? The only way to keep it at bay seems to be a willingness to keep stretching — both physically and mentally.

    1. I don’t know about perfection, but I’m quite fond of this photo. I especially like the way the curve of the leaf suggests waves, making water a part of the image in a way it otherwise wouldn’t be. Glad you could feel the poem, too — Oliver does have a way of stretching our perceptions.

    1. Now, that’s a compliment I’ll gladly take. I’d not thought of O’Keeffe, but this image does have that ‘big flower’ feel of so many of her canvases. I don’t practice yoga, and don’t know much about it, but I know enough to hear the vague complaints of some friends in Oliver’s poem.

    1. I’d not thought of it until just now, but there’s a line that joins both the slow rising of the lotus and Oliver’s poem: Dylan Thomas’s “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower / drives my green age…”

    1. I’m glad you like that leaf line. Without it, the image wouldn’t be nearly as interesting: at least, to me. In fact, without the flower, the wave-like leaf would be missing ‘something.’ As for the Shavasana, I confess I laughed when I looked it up and found it’s also called ‘the corpse pose.’ How appropriate!

    1. Another commenter referenced O’Keeffe, and so I’m doubly pleased that you did, too. Looking at the image, I suspect that it’s the focus on the single flower that contributes to the association, along with the simplicity. It’s not exactly an abstract image, but stripping it down to the basic elements tends in that direction. Duckweed never has looked so good!

    1. One of my favorites of her poems captures the feelings of being surprised by a too-close alligator. The woman knew how to engage with the world, incorporate the experience, and then re-present her encounters in a way that’s remarkably universal. It’s no wonder we enjoy her work as we do.

      1. Absolutely. I never thought of it quite that way, but it’s so on point. I loved her engagement with the natural world. She wasn’t all wonder or harsh realism. She balanced them.

  5. Wonderful! I have such an obsession with lotus flower, probably the flower is so intertwined with mythology and poetry. And the places I have lived too have given lot of importance to lotus. I have rambled about the flower, its fruits on my blog posts…but, Linda I have never come across this poem!! Thank you for that! And such a beautiful photograph! Brings a tranquil feel.

    1. Of course the lotus would be important to you, rethy. You’re so lucky to have seen the other species, and in abundance, I’m sure. Some of the lotus gardens I saw in photos from places like Bali and Thailand are breath-taking. Our yellow ones are beautiful, too. I became so intrigued with the buds and leaves that I still haven’t posted the flowers or the receptacle that becomes the wonderful seedhead, but I’ll do that soon. The pink and white lotuses are beautiful, but the yellow touches my heart.

    1. Indeed she does. And now that I’ve had a bit more time to look at the lotus flower, I’m seeing the bud as one of those stemmed votive candle holders that used to be so popular. Maybe they still are — this one certainly would be beautiful in glass.

    1. I’ve had such a good time learning about lotuses. These are the first I’ve seen, save for a passing glance a few years ago. Now, I need to get the photos of the flower posted, so people can see how lovely our yellow ones are!

    1. I don’t mind at all, Ellen. In fact, it pleases me immensely that you’d want to work with it. I’m really fond of the photo myself. Sometimes, things turn out better than we’ve imagined.

    1. Thank you, Vicki. My goal now is to get some decent photos of the birds that live among the plants. I’ve seen them, but the combination of their speedy movements, their distance, and the dense plant life is going to require practice.

    1. Look at you! Your first sentence is a poem all on its own: it’s got rhythm, as well as rhyme. It goes with the image of the lotus just as nicely as Mary Oliver’s poem — thanks for adding it!

      1. That was unintentional. Purely an accident. I had to laugh about your reply because I was in a hurry to get to another blog. I haven’t been looking at my email where I see WP notices and I have missed more than a few posts- some of yours I noticed. Just been busy reading. But that is how I saw your photo and that was it in a nutshell.

    1. I had seen the plant once, some years ago, and I had no idea that there were lakes filled with it so close to me. I went to Brazos Bend to find a plant called alligator flag, and there were the lotus. I’ve some nice photos of the flowers to share, too. They’re they most beautiful yellow in the world.

  6. Rising above the lotus leaf as we are rising above the virus’ travails. So many Mary Oliver poems are perfect for pairing with an image. That’s certainly the case here. I like the green/white petals and the nice pond background.

    1. Blue sky reflected in the water would have made a nice background, but the thick layer of duckweed did very nicely, especially since the bud isn’t a stark white. This one was more a very light ivory — just lovely.

  7. I love observing the progressive stages of growth of the lotus. The impossible freshness of new green buds, the symmetry of forming flowers, incredible sea of yellow blanketing the lake’s surface, the wonderful sculptures of the drying seed pods.

    As far as actual yoga is concerned, if I were to attempt the lotus position I would fall to the floor and assume your “Lady of The Lake” position in your previous post.

    1. The lotuses have been quite a revelation. I had seen some end-of-season leaves at the Anahuac Wildlife Refuge years ago, but that was the extent of my experience with them. They’re a delightful shade of yellow — a kind of lemon chiffon pie yellow that’s quite different from sunflowers or goldenrod. And now I know that those cool seed pods I’ve seen in dried flower arrangements are lotus; I may have been told that, but it didn’t really connect.

      I certainly connected with the Oliver poem, though. Even if slow and steady doesn’t always win the race, at least it can get us up off the ground.

  8. Oh, I could see art glass from the ilk of L. C. Tiffany, or Daum Nancy in the shape of that lotus with a lotus leaf for a pedestal. You’d have to drink from the groove between the petals, or else have a clear glass inset to form a smooth rim — with a touch of gold inside where the stem met the bowl. Another one for the wallpaper program. . . . I’m garnering quite a collection of your greatest hits . . .

    Mary Oliver always pleases. In that particular instance, I completely agree with her.

    1. I think we’ll put you in charge of transforming nature into art; your ideas always are pleasing. Useful, too, since you’re right that a way to prevent dribbling would be task number one for those goblets.

      As for Mary Oliver, I suspect this is one of the poems that her detractors would point to as proving that she’s ‘not really a poet.’ So be it. Sometimes truth doesn’t rhyme.

  9. What symmetry Linda.

    “As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.”- Gautama Buddha

    1. Your comment intrigued me, and I did a little exploring. There’s a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple a couple of small towns over, and I stopped by for a visit to see if they might have had lotuses there. I didn’t find the plant, but I found a good number of different ways the flower had been incorporated into the architecture and statuary. They did have water lilies, though. I have some other photos that I should post, including a few of white wisteria I found growing there. I need to go back and try to find someone who speaks English. The people I met were very friendly, but our communication was rudimentary, to say the least.

      The quotation’s especially interesting now that I know the lotus leaves are self-cleaning, and remain essentially unsoiled.

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