Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Birthday Card

There I was in the United States Navy, stationed in San Diego, and at odds as to what to send my grandfather, Earl Carpenter, "Pop", for his 71st birthday. I found a Hallmark booklet that contained beautiful pictures and poetry in it. I added my own flourishes and sent it to him.


I found this hokey Hallmark greeting book. It was called, THE QUIET PLACES. It was filled with beautiful color photographs and special poetry.


If my calculations are correct on September 21, 1968, my ole' grandPop turned 71 years old, and he is well on his way toward that evening on the Eve of the Turn of the Century, hopefully spent with a middle-aged first grandson in a New World; a world stranger than fiction, a world where all men walk in the sun...and maybe a world where many of the things pictured in this pretty little book will no longer trees, no natural grass, no clean mountain streams; just memories for the two old men who will spend the whole night talking and drinking tea quietly, ushering in the year 2000, the next century, the new millennium.This book is rampant with varied visions of "God". We will just let Hallmark slide, and read into the pictures what we please; our perceptions.


Photograph:Dense trees in fall, an aspen in the foreground, with its leaves bright yellow in the early morning's sun,with a tall red southwestern cliff in the background.

Hallmark's Message

Good Morning
and a Good Today!
May all things happy
come your way;
And may the light
of this new dawn
find all your cares
and worries gone.

So much
the simple words convey,
Good Morning--It's a lovely day!

Helen Laurie Marshall

My Message:Remember those precious few good mornings, when you would pull yourself up after sleeping on the hard earth, stretch out the kinks in your soft city flesh; stooping to build the first warm red fire of the day, to cook coffee in one of those blackened old coffee cans ?


Photographs: One: A wild waterfall dropping hundreds of feet down into white mist; tall rock cliffs topped with squat trees against a black and white sky. Two: a black top of a piling, barely peeking out of flat water, with the sun rising, or setting, on a B&W cloudless horizon, with a single sea gull winging across thesky. Three: A small fir tree growing out of the cracks in thick granite on the edge of a cliff.

Hallmark's Message:

I believe in the brook
as it wanders
from hillside into glade;
I believe in the breeze
as it whispers
when shadows fade.
I believe in the roar of the river
as it dashes from high cascade;
I believe in the cry of the tempest
'mid the thunder's cannonade.
I believe in the light of the shining stars,
I believe in the sun and the moon.
I believe in the flash of lightning,
I believe in the night-bird's croon.
I believe in the faith of flowers,
I believe in the rock and sod,
for in all these that appeareth clear
the handiwork of God.

Author Unknown

My Message:I believe in the things that gestate in all men's minds, like the new youth movement of today; social reform and quiet revolution.The Man feels his palms sweating, and looks over his shoulder a lot; and when the neon jungle jangles my hypersensitive self, then I am off to the mountains, to the deepest green forests; off to share in the legacy given to me, by Nature and my Grandfather, while it still remains. If there truly is a "Creed for Nature", then it has very little to do with the handiwork of some Judeo Christian God, or man, for that matter.It is something more, something absolutely monumental, something as yet inexplicable, hidden amongst the vast labryths of distant galaxies, something actually worthy of "faith"; this Nature, this voluptuous bitch we all run to as often as we can.


Photograph:A small waterfall rushing over colorful rocks in the foreground with a small cold blue river pressing up to it behind, with several tall trees on the distant bank, flecked with Fall colors, and dark grey-blue rolling hills in the background, capped with a cloudy late Summer sky.

Hallmark's Message:


There's music in the sighing of a reed;
There's music in the gushing of a rill;
There's music in all things,
if men had ears;
The earth is but the music of the spheres.

Georges Gordon, Lord Byron.

My Message:One must be educated, must be mentored, to fully hear the music properly.Thank-you a thousand thousand times old man, forI do hear the music.


Photograph: Waves crashing right to left, over large boulders, onto a smooth white beach.

Hallmark's Message:

O, lovely in repose!
thy summer form
Is beautiful, and when thy silver waves
Make music in earth's dark and winding caves,
I love to wander on thy pebbled beach,
Marking the sunlight at the evening hour,
And hearken to the thoughts thy waters teach,
Eternity-- Eternity--and Power.

Barry Cornwall

My Message:
"See the whales play, my boy, see them spout high up into the wind!"
"Yes, Pop,...yes."
Oceans just frighten me, at least the Pacific does. It lies out flat against the dark horizon, flat and gray and leaden, and these Southland beaches all look the same; little in the way of rocks and cliffs. Just infinite miles of sameness, much like the sad-eyed plastic people of Southern California. So send me not out upon the gray-green ocean. Rather exile me to the mountains and valleys of the North.


Photograph:Green low rolling hills in the background, with several small farms in the foreground, capped with a quiet pinkish-gray sky peeking out from under dark clouds.

Hallmark's Message:

I need not shout my faith.
Thrice eloquent
Are quiet trees
and the green listening sod;
Hushed are the stars,
whose power is never spent;
The hills are mute,
yet how they speak of God!

My Message: Silence, a very loud and splendid thing. Remember that first few hours on the first wilderness evening, when there is no big city growling beneath you, no howl of automobile or plane, no steam pipes, no neon signs, no electric zap, no television...just the primordial pristine Silence, and it rings in your ears for a time, and then softly,very softly, it gently kisses your inner ear, and the ringing stops, and peace sets in.


Photograph:A lake in black and white, mostly in dark shadow, and the silouette of trees and bushes stand out black against the gray of distant rolling hills, against the white brilliance of a sun rising or setting.

Hallmark's Message:

A lake is the landscape's
most beautiful and expressive feature.
It is earth's eye;
looking into which the beholder measures
the depth of his own nature

The trees next to the shore
are the slender eyelashes which fringe it,
and the wooded hills and cliffs
around it
are its overhanging brows.

Henry David Thoreau

My Message:

"See, my son, see how the sun drenches the surface of the cold blue lake. Watch the ripples, see them dance in the thin light..."
"Yes, Pop, yes."

"Absolutley the only boy I ever saw that could fall uphill."

" Still can't catch anything, Butch? Well, then, fish out of this side for awhile, if you like."

Many are the lakes that my Pop has taken his bright eyed brood to. And now, hell, there are great grandchildren to tag along, watching with big child's eyes, that first magical time when Pop ties a leader to a line, and casts, and recasts, whipping that line, popping it through the air; and all the shiny and bright-colored lures hung in his rumpled fisherman's hat, jingling as he crept up on a deep hole, searching for the great trout; and his old fishing pole, or perhaps just a length of willow, bending, and suddenly, magically, there is a rainbow-bellied trout wriggling on the hot sand.


Photograph; A colorful two-page panorama of tall peaks, girdled in white snow, rugged jagged tops, like the Rockies along the Continental Divide, looming large over a thick dark forest, barely green slivers squirming out of their dark shadow.

Hallmark's Message:

Who knows a mountain?
One who has gone
To worship its beauty
In the dawn;
One who has slept
On its breast at night;
One who has measured
His strength to its height;
One who has followed
Its longest trail,
And laughed in the face
Of its fiercest gale;
One who has scaled its peaks,
And has trod
In cloud-swept summits,
Alone with God.

Ethel Roming Fuller

My Message: Oh grandfather, I say drag our lethargic loved ones from their fabricated ruts; and let us take them to the top of the world. Let them see how insignificant their red Cadillacs and color televisions are; and let them eat snow from the foot of a glacier they had hiked twenty miles to make the acquaintance of. The mountains are there, tall and open-armed. As long as I have the strength I will badger my Pop to take me there, and tell me the names of all the trees and meadows.


Photograph: Black and white two-page spread on a swath of beach, layered in white sand dunes and that hardy tall beach grass.

Hallmark's Message:

Not to the swift,
the race;
Not to the strong,
the fight;
Nor to the righteous,
perfect grace;
Nor to the wise,
the light.

But often faltering feet
Come surest to the goal;
And they who walk in darkness meet
The sunrise of the soul.

Henry Van Dyke

My Message: Certainly, old man, our feet have faltered, and we have walked in darkness, but there have been blinding moments of light, of reason, of truth, of love. What more can life offer?

"Once this whole earth was covered with water, Butch, and it was one gigantic sea..."
"Even this house, Pop?"
"Even this house. Now in the depths of that great dark sea, there were these warm spots, warmed by the sun, and in those warm spots, life began..."
"The sky is blue because..."
"At night a butterfly sleeps..."
" My boy, all the material things in this life could be a great river, a river rushing forever strong, never dry. Each of us could dip from this river as we needed to. Let me show you, let's take this bag of beans..."
"Yes, Pop, yes."


Photograph:Tall grass, thick bushes, and the dark limbs of trees in the foreground, with the ocean spreading out from the center and to the right, blending into the sky at the horizon line.

Hallmark's Message:

It is a beauteous evening,
calm and free;
The holy time is quiet as a nun,
Breathless with adoration;
the broad sun is sinking down in its tranquillity.
The gentleness of heaven is on the sea;

the mighty being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder-- everlasting.

William Wordsworth

My Message: Old man of the mountains, can you hear me? I have been by the sea too long; I smell like a fishmonger.Where are my buckskins? The sea is for other men.


Photograph:A gentle slope covered in soft grass, and at its peak, standing tall against a blank grey sky, a maple tree.

Hallmark's Message:

Some say it is only a tree
Grown from the sod;
I say it is more than a tree--
To me it is God.

My Message:
"And as I flung the big rocks with my homemade slingshot, they fled to the safety of nearby trees, and each time they peeked out, I would knock off great hunks of bark."
"Show me, Pop."

"And all these wild flowers cost you nothing. Pick them, smell them, eat them...they are the garden for everyman, and they belong to no one, and they are so beautiful."

"Here, in your many paintings, Pop, where are there such trees as these?"
"High in the mountains, where the wind beats them and twists them, and their butts swell up like the muscles of a weight lifter, as they cling to mountain sides and are witness as storms are being made, and floods."
"But they look like the trees of your mind, of your soul. Nowhere could there really be trees such as these."
"Come, my son...and I will certainly show you such trees, and such clouds. I will take you where few other men have gone, and then you too,will have these visions, these high meadow dreams." "Yes, Pop, yes."


Photograph:A yearling fawn, spotless, hornless, rushing down a steep hill, looking back over its shoulder at something that had spooked it.

Hallmark's Message:

Fawn of the forest in later spring
When even the grass goes wondering,
When forest and field are a sea-green flame,
a vibrant beauty no words can name.

Edith Lombard Squires

My Message:

"Do you see them, son?"
"No...where, what?"
"There a hundred yards away at the edge of the meadow, a doe and her fawn, standing ever so still,watching us. There...did you see her big ears twitch?"
"Yes, I do see them.Shall we shoot them?"
"No, they have no horns, and we are not hungry."
"But we could kill them easily from here. Just, bang-bang!"
"No, they are safe from us, and they know it, else we would never have seen them."

" Did you see me, Pop!"
"Hell, kid, why did you shoot the little one for? We aren't hunting fawns."


Photograph:Rolling hills at the feet of taller peaks, dotted with dark forest.

Hallmark's Message:

Come up higher;
the air is rarer;
The sky is bluer,
come up higher.

Come up higher,
the mind is clearer,
The heart is truer;
come up higher.

Come up higher-- life is clearer,
And heaven is nearer--
come up higher.

Minnie Keith Bailey

My Message:
"Be careful, my boy..."
"Fear not, old man, remember your youth and the great strength in your young legs, and the great passion you once had for climbing."

" Suck it in! Breathe deep! Have you ever breathed such air, Butch?"
"No, it is as if I have never breathed before."

"A cloud is just steam, it is condensed water, like a flying mud puddle."
"Ahh, Pop."
"It is."

"And so, how did you get down, Pop?"
" I just slid tight into the crevice, and made my body rigid, and inch by terrible inch,I slowly wriggled my way to the bottom."

We are coming,
we are coming.
Hear our soft footsteps
and our labored breathing,
hear the tin cups clanking,
smell our beloved sweat...
do not vanish,
for we
are coming.


Photograph: A gentle shallow brook wandering through thick Fall trees, most of them golden in the afternoon light.

Hallmark's Message:

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty throps,
a little town,
And a half a hundred bridges.
I slip,
I slide,
I gloom,
I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars,
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses.
And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come,
and men may go,
But I go on forever.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

My Message:
"I tell you, Earl, there ain't no goddamned Dolly Ardens in that creek !"
" just creep up slowly, and plink this fly into the ripples at the head of the eddy, and you ever so gentlylet it drift down."
"Never wear bright colors or move too quickly. Learn to use the wrist, and how to tease with the fly."


One: Large waves crashing over rocks at the beach.
Two: Just a chipmonk eating a pine nut.
Three:Tall thick trees, dense in shadow.

Hallmark's Message:

Thou who hast made thy dwelling fair
With flowers below, above with starry lights,
And set thine alters everywhere,--
On mountain heights,
In woodlands dim with many a dream,
In valleys bright with springs,
And on the curving capes of every stream:
Thou who hast taken to thyself the wings
Of morning, to abide
Upon the secret places of the sea,
And on far islands, where the tide
Visits the beauty of untrodden shores,
Waiting for worshippers to come to thee
In thy great out-of-doors!

To thee I turn, to thee I make my prayer,
God of the open air.

Henry Van Dyke

My Message:
"Those great oceans that batter our beaches all the day and night, they hide within them, tall mountains, higher than McKinley, higher than Everest."
" Do you mean under the water?"
"Yes, just some of the mysteries of the deep, son."

"And we will need no flashlight to see the trai lon this fine warm moonlit night."
"But, Pop, I can't see yet."
"You will, my boy, you will."

"And men who were hungry have eaten chipmonks and rattlesnakes, and many of the wild plants at our feet.This bark over here burns well even when damp.This root tastes a bit like a radish..."

Certainly, Pop, the open air is the place to worship...and all men worship in various ways. An old man once told me that there is as much of God in a rushing trout stream as there is in the gilded stilted air of the Vatican.


Photograph:The Grand Canyon stretching out mostly dark onto the horizon, with those reddish-yellow rocks dancing in the foreground, with an electric blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds.

Hallmark's Message:

A voice is in the wind I do not know;
A meaning on the face of the high hills
Whose utterance I cannot comprehend;
A something is behind them; that is God.

George MacDonald

My Message: Gaze into the vastness of the Grand Canyon and then try and convince me that God wears a hoary beard. Count one square inch of a forest's night sky, pregnant with stars...and you will forsake the bible, the Koran, and your television.There is God in a campfire, in the night's void, in the rain, gods all; some are benevolent, some are bogeymen. I hear the spiritual voices too. Perhaps they come from inside a man, when he is close to the earth, and he is happy. And not until he descends to the garbage heaps in the gray cities does that great swelling of sound, that chorus of Nature, ebb and become harder to hear. Last weekI heard an echo of that shout you let fly while atop a lofty crag along the Salmon River, deep in country, all those many years ago, loud and joyful, before I was born this time.


Photographs:Giant redwoods, mostly trunks, thick in the foreground, their tops spires out of sight.

Hallmark's Message:

I saw them first,
the redwoods,
at twilight,
coming on them

Silent, awe-struck,
I walked fearfully
between their boles,
greater than the shafts
of any temple,
and threw my head back
to see the last sunset light
sweeping through
the dark sempiternal fronds.

My feet,
on the dark humus carpet
of centuries of needle-fall,
made not a sound.
in the mistrose-blurred with afterglow,
was there a sound,
except the voice of a single bird,
at his vespers,
a disembodied voice
in the cleretory of this sacred grove.

Donald Culross Peattie

My Message:"A tree is for climbing, and for sitting in the shade of, and for pruning the lower boughs of and making a soft bed with. Feel that sweet sap on your fingers ? Chew it, it is Nature's gum."
"Always walk on fallen trees when you can...they lay in a fantastic patchwork, and each man makes his way along and through them as he can, in his own way,"
"Yes, Pop, yes."
The tallest redwoods are nearly 400 feet, and these red-barked giants are the tallest living things the oldest, and yet even today men saw them down and make toothpicks and Playboys out of them. Man, like the insects, would eat his mate after coition, so blind is he, so insensitive, so deaf to the volumes of history, and to the rings of a redwood.


Photograph:A purple-red yellow-orange sunset, bathing the bellies of thick clouds, with a dark tree silhouetted in the foreground.

Hallmark's Message:

Day is done,
gone the sun,
from the lake,
from the hills,
from the sky;
Safely rest,
all is well!
God is nigh.

Author Unknown.

My Message:
I cut out tiny pics of family members.
Art: Well, let's get the damned coffee on, and fire up four Coleman lanterns, and play poker, and suck on a jug...and maybe later, we'll drive up in the hills and stake out a stand.
Buddy: Hey Pop, make me a whistle, and a slingshot.Then can I throw a bunch of rocks, or shoot some cans, or catch some fish like you taught me?
Dick: How far did you say it was to town? Art and I could use some more beer and cigarettes, and there's a nice restaurant...
Butch: Yeah, I am always hungry! But sustance is relative, and God is in the task. If the bugs are not too bad, I may hike ten miles before supper. And even though Pop and I are rugged romantics, and we tend to forget many of the mundane aspects of "roughing it", still, and yet, there are sunsets by the score, mountains, meadows, cold creeks and lakes and more...waiting,waiting patiently for autumn and summer ,for those golden moments when we run for the dark forests with our guns, salt,and bags of oats and raisins.

Earl Melbourne "Sky" Carpenter loved his little birthday book, and he kept it with him for the remainder of his days.

Glenn "Butch" Buttkus ___1968_______________________________

1 comment:

Glenn Buttkus said...

This "card" was written for Pop 40 years ago. Now I am in my 60's, laboring those last few years before my retirement. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have been loved as much as my grandfather was? He was a very humble man in his heart, and he was always touched deeply with my poems and letters and love.

That's alright. I do OK with my "new" family of the last 15 years, and my three stepdaughters show me adequate affection. My new grandchildren, grandson Ethan at 1.5 years, and grandson Austin at 5 weeks old, are still a bit young for the level of adoration I bestowed on Pop. Besides, they live in Baltimore, which is a bit more than a stone's throw from Tacoma.