“He really was an enchanting person. In some way he was like the spiritual father of everybody…. It is hard to imagine Central Park without Charles Kennedy.” Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in Love, and close friend of Charles, remembering him after his death in October 2004

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice Lunar Eclipse Becomes a Charles Moment

Since Charles’s death in 2004, Deb and I have had many experiences with what we have come to call “Charles moments.” Last night offered yet another.

photo by s kennedy

December 21, 2010: Winter solstice, lunar eclipse, standing outside in the chill of night, looking up anticipating something special, something beautiful and transporting. It was a very Charles thing to do and this morning I couldn’t wait to gather some of his body of work in praise of heavenly bodies. Photos, essays, haiku: the Charles trifecta.  Enjoy!

First, here is an essay that appears in both Charles collections published to date. It recalls an adventure with his dear filmmaker friend, Frederic Lilien. It features a gorgeous photo that is also found in “The Legend of Pale Male”, now showing in theaters around the country.

Hawk In The Moon

photo by C.F. Kennedy

 the moon
paints so beautifully

     The Belgian and I had been scouting this shot for several days, Frederic with his video camera and I with a still camera. Pale Male, the boss Red-tail in the park, had been bringing his just fledged kids to Turtle Pond for hunting lessons and we wanted photographs, especially since a full moon was on its way.
     This pond had just been drained and for profound ecological reasons: it was nearly dead. A few years before there had been nine species of fish in the pond—now a struggling two. The pH values were all off, as was the oxygen level. The pond was strangling primarily because of bad drainage and silt overload. 
     A drained pond bottom was Christmas for the rats. Food galore. But as the food chain goes, it was also early Christmas for the hawk family. The wily father brought his eager but inexperienced juveniles to learn to hunt at the rat deli. To aid in the elaborate renovation of the pond, several thick 25-foot creosoted poles were sunk into the ground and used for stringing temporary electrical wires. Hunting from perches is a principal technique for Red-tails, so when they were not strafing the pond bottom for Rattus norwegicus, they were sitting on a pole planning their next attack.
     The crepuscular time was best for everyone. The rats are primarily nocturnal, but dusk is just fine with them. Dusk is a bit late for the diurnal Red-tail, but when training the children, one works late. For Mr. Lilien and Mr. Kennedy the time of day was spectacular. The sky was becoming a richer and deeper blue and, of course, the point of it all— the full moon found the hawk.

From the photo-essay collection Pale Male and Family and the haiku collection The Fish Jumps Out of the Moon.

And now a sample of the haiku to be found in The Fish Jumps Out of the Moon: Haiku of Charles F. Kennedy, beginning with a lovely scene turned exciting in this pair of poems.

haiku game
keeping the moon
on the water

the fish
jumps out
of the moon

In the next three Charles looks skyward and plays with the heavenly bodies.

the moon
is a precise half tonight
thin autumn air

Mars in the water
the moon
sidles over

new crescent
flat on her back
Venus lurking

Now a triptych wherein sharp observation meets humor, geometry, and whimsy.

tough question
in water or sky

good shot
splashing the moon
with a rock

chubby kids
throwing round stones
the full moon

I am swept into the following scenes each time I read them––so evocative and romantic in a way.

soft wind
scatters the moon
on the lake

after the rain
thousands of summer moons
on leaf tips

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