Monday, July 22, 2013

Just One Day

A writer friend and I have established a fairly regular routine of writing together on Sunday mornings. She supplies most of the prompts and for an hour we write and share (over the phone - this is a long-distance event) what we've written. One of this weekend's prompts was to sift through the week to find those moments when we were really paying attention. I didn't get past Friday morning! 

Tea - hot, sweet, the first sip awakening the taste buds; two year old Bean's small, secretive, satisfied smile upon awakening to find herself in my bed; the delight in Baby Lily’s eyes that travels through her in a shiver as she holds her arms out to me; watching Al move about the kitchen with a dancer’s grace, choreographing breakfast; the thickness of air when it reaches 100 degrees, the sheer oppressive weight of it on my shoulders; the startling contrast of purple against yellow, the petunias leaning out of their wall basket to rest their heads on the shoulders of yellow lily blossoms; the absence of Frosty’s bark when a thunderstorm is imminent – he always alerted me to lightning before I was aware of its proximity; the way the scent of cut grass and the taste of cool watermelon can soothe my nerves even when I'm not aware they needed soothing; the look in my daughter’s eyes when she sees me - relief, love, amusement, anticipation, satisfaction all at once in those expressive orbs, and how I see her in that soft blue, the essence of Cassie, the part of her that connects with me; the massive relief of the first faint hint of a cool breeze on sweat-soaked skin; the height of the weeds that surround the garden and the staggering number of them that pop up through the bark mulch despite constant pulling; the unexpected feeling of being worry free while driving a car – my new-to-me one has effective brakes, a sound exhaust system, an automatic transmission – I am able to look around me as I drive, observing things that worry previously blinded me to.

I could have written reams and perhaps I shall write more as I think over the past week. Another prompt was to project what our lives might be like this time next year. I had trouble with that one. Tabor's post this week mentions the butterfly effect. One never knows what small event will change the course of a larger one. I hope that then will be much as now is - all in all, I lead quite a satisfactory life.

What moments did you pay attention to last week?

FYI: (Frosty was the neighbor's yellow lab. He died a few weeks ago.)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Just Breathe

There is something to be said for contemplative time - quite a lot, actually. After the hurly-burly of three weekdays with two small granddaughters it is a treat to sleep until I awaken naturally, to practice yoga before breakfast, to sip my first cup of tea as the first rays of sunlight wash over me, to bring my food to the outdoor table.

I am surrounded by flowers and green growing things, by songbirds and rooster crows at dawn, by areas of intense sunlight and of deep greeny-black shade. Underneath it all is the silence of the rural countryside, a silence undisturbed by surface noise, a silence that holds the singing brook, the laughter of flowers, the sighing of the wind, the whisper of passing clouds.

Some days I plan projects, on others I let the hours unfold, waiting to see what might happen. I spend a lot of time with books, reading piles of them from the library, picking up paperbacks at tag sales, pulling old favorites from my bookshelves. I write poems that appear sometimes fully formed first thing in the morning. I write entries in my daily journal, make comments in the margins of books. Ideas find their way onto odd slips of paper that I collect and put near my computer.

Sometimes of an afternoon, after a nap (an hour drifting in dreams), I hop on my one-speed (mine) double-cheek-seat, pedal brake bicycle and tour the neighborhood. One four mile trip takes me through town, another skirts the center of the village altogether, leading me instead past the river and along the edges of cornfields and hay meadows. A third takes me a straight two miles one way and another two back.

On Monday afternoons (and sometimes on Fridays) I spend hours searching the database of I have been writing what family history I know for my children and grandchildren, learning things along the way that might explain my propensity for dreaming rather than doing, my vast affection for the out-of-doors, my need for alone (and contemplative) time.

Fall will come soon enough. I relish every moment of summer freedom I have, delighting in the morning mist that slows the sunrise, the brief beauty of my garden flowers, the happy splashing of the catbird in the makeshift birdbath, the hours that unwind in shades of gold and green, the quiet time spent with books and pen, the hovering visits of the hummingbird, the dusky silence that greets the evening, the last kiss of sunlight on treetops.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cottage Update

This summer's rain and sun have worked their magic; my patio flower garden is awash in flowers of pink and purple, red and yellow and orange. Bee balm is rampant, much to the delight of numerous bees and the single hummingbird that darts from blossom to blossom. The phlox has grown tall and is blooming. Its slightly musky, pepperminty scent takes me squarely back to childhood and my mother's garden where, as a small child, I loved to sit and talk with the flower fairies. Orange and yellow lilies hold their faces up to the sun and purple petunias in the hanging buckets strike a complimentary tone to the more delicate pink fairy roses. If it weren't for the voracious hordes of mosquitoes that attack me the moment I open the door, I'd have every meal at my patio table. As it is, I enjoy the color in brief snatches as I hurry from cottage to car or out to the screened tent.

The vegetable garden is thriving, as well. The snap peas have all been harvested and sweet peas load the vines. Steamed lightly and kissed with butter, they taste marvelous! Squash and cucumbers are in flower, the beets and carrots are ready for thinning, and I will pick swiss chard for dinner tonight. Little green tomatoes peek from beneath the foliage, both in the large garden and on the cherry tomato plant in the herb garden. A pesky, as yet unidentified bug chewed the leaves of the eggplant but I noticed a couple of brave blossoms doing their best to hang on and bloom. The beans will be ready to pick in a day or two and there will be plenty of potatoes to dig come fall.

Beets and carrots waiting to be thinned. Potatoes in the background.

Little tomatoes growing bigger by the day.

It's a very satisfactory life I live here in my little cottage. Comments on a fellow blogger's site let me know that life can't be perfect all the time and people who pretend it is are boring and shallow. Still, right now, right here, things are pretty good. (There are those miserable mosquitoes though...)

A gift from friends in England.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Elemental, My Dear...

Reading this - The Joy of Old Age (No Kidding) by Oliver Sacks, a wonderfully upbeat treatise on aging - led me to investigate my own age-appropriate element. On the Periodic Table of Elements my age, 67, corresponds to the rare-earth metal Holmium (Ho). Silvery white in color, somewhat soft and malleable with unusual magnetic properties, Holmium was discovered in 1878 in Switzerland and named after Holmia, the Greek word for Sweden (all of which makes me feel rather transcontinental). It oxidizes rapidly in moist air and at elevated temperatures, which certainly explains my sudden wilting in the current heat wave the Northeast is experiencing.

Though only the edges of my hair are turning silvery white, I fit the description of somewhat soft and malleable. I am still jiggly in places that never used to move on their own despite the garden, house, and yard work I document here and I've always been easy to persuade concerning things about which I don't already hold firm opinions. (Even then, there's wiggle room, else what's an open mind for?) I like being considered rare, and the magnetic properties explain nicely why I'm attracted to relationships with, say, catbirds or people that seem to be my polar opposite.

Next year I shall be erbium (Er). Also soft and malleable, erbium has a silvery, metallic luster (I like the sound of that) and, while it is another rare-earth metal, its properties depend to an extent on impurities present where it is found. Considered a fairly stable metal (it doesn't oxidize as rapidly as Ho), it was named after Ytterby, a village in Sweden. Now I'm off to discover if any of my forebears lived in Sweden. There's no end to the discoveries one can make about oneself.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

In an effort to stay cool in this heat...

The California coast.


Nothing shows the illusion of permanence
better than water—
rolling, ceaselessly rolling
against the stern edges of the earth,
every shoreline one frame in an
ongoing motion picture,
nothing -
unless it’s a salmon that carries in its genes
the memories of earth’s cataclysms
or the shore birds that fly screaming
above the cliffs, circling,
ceaselessly circling
against the hard edges of the wind.

Monday, July 01, 2013


The sun's as hot as melted cheese,
It oozes down between the leaves,
then spreads itself across the lawn
and slides along the trunks of trees.

By noon all trace of cool has gone,
the birds have ceased to sing their songs,
and every breathing thing is still,
until the daylight's almost gone.

Then thunderheads begin to build,
all black and blue behind the hill.
the sky takes on an eerie glow
and slowly rain begins to spill

The storm may calm the heat for now,
like asprin soothes a fevered brow,
but searing heat is summer's vow,
yes searing heat is summer's vow.