Saturday, March 31, 2012

What I've Been Up To Instead of Blogging

I'm sitting here with my foot elevated and a cup of hot tea in hand. There's a gorgeous bruise making its way across the top of my right foot where a shelf came down on it just an hour or so ago. The shelf could have fallen on my head I suppose, but my neighbor J's shoulder kept it from doing that.

Back up, you say. Okay. For weeks now I've noticed the shelves in my hallway-turned-closet were listing just a tad. On closer inspection, I saw that the braces underpinning the whole contraption were buckling, some out, some in, and knew that if I didn't take precautionary measures (like unloading the shelves and taking them down manually) the whole structure would collapse, spewing the closet contents willy nilly. Since most of what I own is stored on those shelves and some of it is precious, I began this morning to take everything off. By 9:30, after two cups of scalding tea and still clad in my nightshirt, I'd managed to drag and haul every last thing on 12 shelves into the cottage proper where it languishes still, taking up every available piece of furniture and floor space (except the chair on which my backside is perched).

The other half of the cottage looks equally cram-jammed.
I called J. "I'm afraid," I began,"that if I attack theses shelves with a hammer, the whole thing will come down on my head. Want to come help me so it can fall on your head too?"

J's a good sport. She came right over. She wove her way through the path I'd cleared from the closet to the front door and stood looking at the sway-backed shelves. She reached out and gave them a jiggle. The shelves leaned toward her. "Well!" she exclaimed, pushing them back. "This shouldn't be hard."

She took hammer in hand, whacking at one of the supports and then another. I was holding the top shelf against the wall when all of a sudden the whole structure collapsed on itself. The top shelf caught J's shoulder and the bottom one landed on my foot. The two of us yelped in unison but the shelves had done their worst and settled in a heap on the closet floor. J rubbed her shoulder while I inspected my foot.

"Now, if my husband were still here (J's husband G was a carpenter. He passed away a year ago), he'd have held a conference with all of us, then cleared us out and dismantled that thing without causing so much as a scratch." She grinned at me. "But who has time for that? Can you walk on that foot?" she asked.

I could, so we began hauling the broken shelves out to the burn pile at the farm. "Who on earth put these things up in the first place?" she asked me. "They're nothing but press board that's been glued and tacked together. Not a bit of it was even fastened to the wall!"

I had to admit they'd been fashioned by a fellow who didn't know a hammer from a soup spoon but had had good intentions, nonetheless. J's son came in while we were cleaning up the mess we'd made. He took one look, turned on his heel and returned minutes later with a couple of sturdy boards and his electric drill. In two minutes he'd braced the second set of shelves on the opposite wall. They just may may make it through the summer without mishap. thanks to his know-how.

You can see how the shelves are buckling. 
Meanwhile, I have to somehow fit all the crates and boxes and miscellaneous paraphernalia that came off those broken shelves back into the closet before day's end so I can find my bed and collapse into it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


If I could learn another language
It would be the tongue of nature,
The syntax of trees,
the music of wind and bird,
the grammar of grassland and forest.

Imagine discovering the mystery
of the great silence,
and learning to chant the meaning of the world.

Thanks Hilary!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Seeking Signs of Spring

I joined my naturalist friend at Bartholomew's Cobble (a cobbled mass of boulders, ledges, old growth trees and a meandering river) this week to see the first hepatica in bloom. We have often sponsored walk/writes where like minded people join us for a relatively silent walk through the woods followed by an hour or so of writing and sharing. This day it was just the two of us, our cameras and our notebooks. Here's what came of it all:

Pink, blue, purple or white petals spring from a nest of leathery, three-lobed leaves. The hepatica is a member of the buttercup family and is one of the first flowers to bloom at the Cobble.

Hepatica at the Cobble

The merest hint
of spring brings them out
like small children bursting
from a winter-weary house.
Out of the dark into the light
wearing only leaf scraps
of clothing and flower petals 
round their heads,
they clamber over rocks
and peer down the wooded hillsides
to the wandering river
or lean back to stare, yellow-eyed
at the blue bowl of sky.
How such a small, green, growing thing
can move the weighted earth,
how blooms so delicate, so barely visible,
can reach and swell the human heart
is on of the world's
finest miracles.

Hepatica's eye-view of the river from it's home ledge.

Friday, March 09, 2012

This Too Shall Pass

It's snowed, it's rained. The sun has come out, the wind has blown. We've seen 10 degrees one morning and 60 the next afternoon. Everything is waking up underground. Sap is rising, the first spring flowers have emerged, the summer birds are back and singing. Why, then, do I feel like I'm slowing down? I feel the way I imagine a butterfly feels in its cocoon - my wings are heavy, folded tight, and I'm in limbo. I can feel something stirring but I'm too sleepy to wake into whatever comes with the dawn. That's odd, I think. That's an autumn-winter feeling, that suspension of time, the slow curling up, the resting.

Perhaps it's because this has been a non-winter with temperatures all over the place, very little snow and no clear delineation between autumn, winter, and now spring. Maybe it's something else. I pick three books at random off the library shelves and all three are about the witness protection program. I wake at precisely 1:11 or 2:22 or 5:55. I watch the night skies because I can't sleep. I hear singing when no one's around.

This week I have fallen prey to the stomach bug that is making its way through the student population where I work. Whenever I'm ill my dreams take on weird, other-worldly characteristics. I count, over and over and over, whatever is in sight. All my dreams when I'm ill involve counting. I remember being sick as a child and experiencing what I called thunder and daisies, a recurring dream of an all encompassing, impenetrable black noise that grew to a crescendo then broke over me to spread into the most beautiful transparent light. I had that dream last night for the first time in over 50 years.

There is a dusting of snow on the ground this morning. The birds are hovering at the feeder. Clouds hurry across the sky as if they have someplace else to be. I sit and watch and sip tea and wonder at the paradox of restlessness and lethargy that weights my limbs. Perhaps my blood is like the tree sap, responding slowly but surely to the seasonal shift. Perhaps tomorrow I will be more like an emerging butterfly or a flower shoot pushing up through the frozen earth. Today I must be content to wait.