A Flute and Call In Evergreen Winter Mountains

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A Remembrance of a Group that is No More

The following piece of writing relays remembrances of a cohort of martial artists training together outdoors in winter. We practiced outside in nature during several weekends in each season and were the better in mind and body for it.

Winter was my favorite time of year for these gatherings that happened Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, with time for music, home cooked food, and stories as well as practice sessions night and day.

My 4th degree black belt test was held during one weekend in January and one weekend in February of that year. That experience helped to push me all the way to 9th degree black belt in more than one style of martial arts, and all that has saved my life and mind a few times.

After about a decade or so, all in the original cohort of men and women had quit or moved away or were deceased, except for me. I began my own group for many years and still offer private lessons and consultations to Olympic Class teams.

Legend of the Korean Flute for this Poem

About 14 centuries ago on a mountain to the east in Korea, there grew a strange bamboo species. In the daytime, each plant divided into two parts. At night, each plant was a single bamboo.

The King formed a flute form the strange two-part bamboo and played the new instrument. Then miracles happened! The sick became well, the enemy could no longer see the King's men, rain fell on drought-stricken territories, and the music was magical and beautiful.

Please listen to some Korean flute music as you enjoy the poem offered below.

Listen while you read.

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An Elegy of Flute and Call

It seems a century ago and only yesterday that I heard the flute and call.

Living clouds of misting white ice-smoke hugged the hillsides in the winter Appalachian Mountains.

Snow skirts covered the foothills and made melting rivulets of water skip through iced-over lakes and streams as they cut paths in the sunlight of January…February.

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The enchanting mists brought calm and peace as they wafted through stands of pine trees standing guard over many histories.

Wide, tall trunks and branches curtained billows of fresh pine-scented air with sweeps of great green arms bending over us as we stood before them.

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Above, the call of the hawk and eagle embellished the peace with life.

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Afar, a trio of deer paused to gaze at us as we melted into nature between the trees and hills.

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Below, even the mud was beautiful as our boots paced through dances of piercing and soft movements intertwined.

Inside, our hearts absorbed energy and gladness.

Our minds became as clear as invisible glass.

Each practitioner chose a tall tree as a partner for focus in the forest.

We did not become lost.

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Snapping, cracking extensions of uniform arms and legs were like small lightning strikes in the dawn.

Whirling movements shot waves of wind toward those nearby.

Long-legged far reaching kicks took us up steep hillsides quickly in snow, ice, and mud.

We did not fall.

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In the distance over this hill and that rise, I could hear the ring of shouts at the end of punches, pouring themselves into the wind and echoing away.

At the martial temple in Korea, it was just so. Similar latitudes, similar drills.

It was all familiar in the Winter Appalachians.

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In the distance, the notes of an Asian flute sounded as mists rose from the ground, around the trunks, and through the branches of our trees as the sun glided higher overhead.

A river was singing nearby, in harmony with woodland birdsong.

This time and place should be forever.

This time and place are difficult to find in the present.

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The mountains and trees still stand, but many of the cadre have died.

The old ones lived long lives with many happy years before passing over.

Younger ones died in war – two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Others disappeared to other lives - I wish them well. The rest eventually quit.

I stand alone on those wintry mountains in January…February,

And I still hear them all.

Source

© 2015 Patty Inglish

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Comments 21 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia

What a delight this hub is Patty. Beautifully structured. The legend of the Korean flute was very interesting and the poetry was vividly descriptive bringing nature alive. Also accompanied by beautiful images. Very well done, voted up and shared.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

Simply beautiful.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 22 months ago from North America Author

@Jodah - Thanks for your kind thoughts. Poetry writing is traditionally part of the training, along with others of the creative arts. I miss the whole experience of those years.

@FlourishAnyway - Thank you. This was a pleasure to write.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Patty you done real fine here. I was carried away and lost in your words. It surely does show that you enjoyed writing this and I am sure many will enjoy reading it.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 22 months ago from North America Author

It really is another world. Not as good as Heaven, but it will do :)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 22 months ago from The Beautiful South

Thanks for sharing that Patty; I will let everywhere I can; know this is part of the winter memories! I have you at the top of the list. Up and shared.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 22 months ago from North America Author

Thanks for the Hub Challenge; it was a privilege to contribute this poem.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 22 months ago from southern USA

Hi Patty, wow, this is like no other I have read. You have beautifully and creatively describe that time in your life of training in martial arts during those winter months. I cannot imagine training like that out in the snow! Your choice of imagery is stunning as is your poem. It is sad about all of your cohorts passing on. I know you will always remember them when you think of these winter memories. Up++++ I will share when I get back on my laptop as I am on my phone at the moment. Peacec and blessings


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 22 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

The words Renaissance Man are often heard, however the words Renaissance Woman do not get the airtime they deserve. You certainly fit that description. Your poem is filled with courage and nostalgia, strength and vulnerability, remembrance and wisdom.


Nurtjahja profile image

Nurtjahja 22 months ago from Malang

Remarkable. enjoying nature is a part of medical therapy and confidence.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 22 months ago

This is really beautiful Patty, I loved it and the haunting flute with the pictures of nature that sooth the mind and heart.

Voted up, UABI and shared.

Blessings dear friend.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 22 months ago from North America Author

Thank you all for the beautiful comments you all have left on this thread!

The outdoor training has saved my life a few times and I can manage better in snow and ice storms because of it. You can see brief scenes of martial artists in North Korea training with the famous Hee Il Cho in the snow in the film series "Best of the Best" - the men are shirtless as well. It is difficult training, but it becomes easier and the scenery is beautiful.


Nurtjahja profile image

Nurtjahja 22 months ago from Malang

Beautiful places and good for get relax .


rdsparrowriter profile image

rdsparrowriter 22 months ago

Simply enchanting and beautiful :) Enjoyed this very much :)


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 22 months ago from North Carolina

As a native Appalachian and Zen novice, your poem brings forth a peace so beautiful and melodious, so forever and newborn.

V+ for sure. Thank You.

With Wintry Reverence, I look forward to reading more.

Kim


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 22 months ago from North America Author

@rdsparrowriter -Thanks for the kind response!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 22 months ago from North America Author

@ocfireflies - Thank you for your wonderful comment! The winter is beautiful.


DonnaDM 20 months ago

Wonderful! I enjoyed every part of this.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 20 months ago from North America Author

Thank you very much for reading and enjoying this poetry. It is a world I will remember always.


no body profile image

no body 20 months ago from Rochester, New York

This was delightful and full of memory for myself as well. I got as far a green belt in Tae Kwon Do and then I moved on to other things but for that time there was a sense of oneness with my body and movement was fluid with no stumbling. I would practice about 4 hours a day and I was young. I know that makes it sound like I miss being young but I really don't because I've never been happier than right now. I do miss that feeling of always feeling balanced with my physical body though. It is hard to explain to others what that feeling is but that is what I miss the most and find so hard to regain in my older years. Loved the poem and the feelings it stirred. Voted up. Bob.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 20 months ago from North America Author

Hi Bob! - That sense of balance is almost magical. Thanks for appreciating the poem and sharing some of these experiences with me. I am glad to know that you understand.

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