About Bright Blue Ball

Bright Blue Ball is my new experiment in creative non-fiction writing and editing, sharing from the heart in ways that I’m not able to do on my professional sites, Acoustic Ecology and EarthEar.

The idea is to explore a few central themes, all related to finding our way in these troubled and changing times.  Over time, you’ll find me writing about nature as a spiritual window into creation’s mysteries, the starry cosmos revealed when the sky opens wide at night, music and books that feed the souls of lovers in this dangerous time, musings and mostly heartening perspectives on the future we seem to be creating for ourselves, and whatever else might feel worth worth sharing in some moment yet to come. In addition essays from me, I’ll be donning my editorial cap to bring in many other voices as well.

Part of the reason to put all this online is to create incentive to write, and more importantly, to polish things for public consumption rather than letting them just sit as rough drafts in a notebook.  I’m stretching my writerly wings and editorial edges, remembering the craft of more lyrical wordsmithing, rediscovering my voice as well as beginning to cultivate the early shoots of whatever wisdom may have germinated over my 55 years.  No doubt I’ll veer off track at times, as I try to find my way toward the golden ring of writing in ways that speak to others, rather than mainly to and of myself (a longtime challenge in my non-fiction writing); I hope I can mostly avoid the narcissistic pitfalls of online publishing.  I invite your feedback and help as I grope my way toward these goals.  In the meantime, I do hope you’ll find some tidbits here that you enjoy!

Who is this “me” and “I” referred to above?
’tis Jim Cummings,  Mainer by blood and temperament, denizen of the southern Rockies foothills
for the past three decades, educated at Wesleyan in the late ’70s and JFKU (Bay Area) in the mid-80’s, with deeper learning taking place at Chick Hill, Camel’s Hump, Pecos Baldy, Bisti Badlands,  Abiquiu moon-nights, as well as in decades of living in one valley and seasons of pondering the night sky’s ever-circling depths. Toss in a dash of Wendell Berry, a sprig of Gary Snyder, a dollop of Lynn Margulis, and a generous handful of Thomas Berry,  and you’re getting a pretty good picture.
To contact Jim, to say hi or to ask to be added to Bright Blue Ball’s monthly
email reminder list, email
canoncito  A T  gmail DOT com

A couple tips of the ol’ hat are in order:

The title of this little expedition into the unknown comes from Throwing Stones, a Reagan-era John Perry Barlow/Bob Weir song often performed late in Grateful Dead shows.  It paints a beautiful picture of our oasis in space, with heartful acknowledgement of the human diversity upon it, and a cathartic release of the strain and fear for our future imposed by the economic powers that be; often, this poignant and tumultuous musical journey segued into a rousing version of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” with the entire crowd singing one side of the call and response conclusion, an arena full of voices affirming, “you know our love’ll not fade away!”

The song’s imagery is vivid; here’s some excerpts:

Picture a bright blue ball, just spinnin, spinnin free; dizzied with eternity
Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea; call it home for you and me
A peaceful place, or so it looks from space – a closer look reveals the human race
Full of hope, full of grace as the human face, but afraid we may lay it all to waste

There’s a fear down here we can’t forget; hasn’t got a name just yet
Always awake always around; singin ashes to ashes all fall down, ashes to ashes all fall down

Commisars and pinstripe bosses roll the dice; any way they fall, guess who gets to pay the price?
If the game is lost, then we’re all the same – no one left to place or take the blame
Will we leave this place an empty stone, or this shining ball of blue we can call our home?

Here’s a moving, though dated, video they put together of the song:

The project’s tagline comes from Ferron, a fine candidate for the musical opposite of the good ol’ Grateful Dead.  It’s from one of her later albums, Turning into Beautiful, a song called Witness to the Years. As ever, Ferron sings powerfully from deep in the heart, casting out strings of word-pearls that give voice to our deepest longings and memories. Here’s a bit more of this particular song’s reflections:

Somewhere there’s a war but I’m no longer in it
Somewhere there’s a prize I don’t have to win
Somewhere there’s deep sorrow but I don’t need to feel it
I’m home tonight and happy in my skin

And now that my heart is finally shattered open wide
I can see that all of us, through all of us, for all of us
Are a simple witness to the years

I can’t find a decent video of Witness to the Years, but here’s a  the best online taste I discovered of Ferron’s unique and compelling art. It’s “Girl on a Road,” and perchance includes the other lyric I considered for the title of this project: “footprints sunk in sand”

If you don’t know Ferron and your interest is now piqued, this retrospective is a great place to start.

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