Saturday, January 25, 2014

Have You Noticed?

A question from a character in a book. "Do you ever wonder about the way things look - about what we see and what we miss?"

She's just been given a death sentence cancer diagnosis and in her shock notices how clear everything looks to her, and realizes at the same time that she's never really taken the time to look at what passes for mundane - leaf shadows, the laugh lines on someone's face, the way the grass moves in the wind.

I don't want to wait until I'm on my way out to notice all the things that make life extraordinary. So I sit at my window and watch the way the snowflakes leap in the wind and the way the small birds at the feeder puff themselves out like little feather balls to keep warm. The horizon is invisible behind the falling snow and the gray haze of leafless trees.

Yesterday I hung laundry in the bright sunshine. The first piece of clothing was frozen before I hung the last but by midday the pants and shirts were dancing with one another, arms and legs flapping in time to the music of the wind. I made a pot of soup and watched the carrots and peas and beans take turns bubbling up to the surface only to dive again, like vegetable kids in a summer pond.

I walked along the roadside while the wind ruffled the faux fur on my hood and ducked under it to smite my cheeks and nose. The air smelled bright and metallic. Brilliant red berries stood out like sentries against the brown sameness of a line of trees.

Earlier a friend came for lunch. Her hair curled in little tendrils about her face and when she smiled her eyes lit up. The cottage smelled of hot soup and toasted bread. Our spoons made little clinking sounds against the bowls, the water in our glasses shimmered.

I vow to pay attention to the small things, to the way the pages of the book whisper when I turn them, the way the silence of the cottage is filled with small sounds - the tick of the clock, the clank of the radiator, the sigh of the door when it closes. I don't want to miss a thing.


Brian Miller said...

i want to be a noticer as see the world and not let it pass me by...its why i focus on details trying to capture them like a painting for later....smiles.

Reya Mellicker said...

I go in and out of focus. For me it's a rhythm - I certainly practice paying attention. It's always a revelation, but I have my lapses when I take everything for granted.

Oh well!!

What a beautiful post and the picture! Well, wow.

Out on the prairie said...

Small things make a difference. The simplest is the greatest of all pleasures.

Out on the prairie said...

Small things make a difference. The simplest is the greatest of all pleasures.

Marc Leavitt said...


You have a deft eye for seeing the details we need to paint a picture of our lives. Keep seeing, and don't put down your brush.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

By and large, we are lousy observers.

Friko said...

Thank you for the reminder.
I will try to do likewise. Sadly, these moments are all too few in a day and get trampled underfoot in the rush of nothingness.

Hilary said...

I've been reading your posts for a few years now, and I'd have to say that I believe you nearly always do. You notice like few others.

Pauline said...

Brian - it's a full time, but worthwhile, occupation!

Reya - when you're in a noticing mood, you do it right!

Too true, OOTP

Thanks, Marc. And I love being called Paula. One of my sisters and a friend call me that.

JCN - true of many of us and more's the pity.

Friko - I have to keep reminding myself even though noticing the small stuff is pretty much a habit now. What I must remind myself to do more often is write down what I notice and what I fell and think about it.

Hilary - thank you. I try.

Barbara said...

Such a good reminder to pay attention to the small things happening all around us. The big picture never tells the whole story.

Unknown said...

A fine post about not missing out on the smaller gifts in life! I enjoyed it very much.

Ruth L.~ said...

You notice the details. I love that!

Pauline said...

Barbara - nothing tells the whole story but I like that - we get to make bits of it up :)

Thanks, Michael. I always appreciate your appreciation.

Hi Ruth! Welcome back!

chiaroscuro: shadows and light said...

I DO love your picture - it reminds me of my own feeders (now in a bit of a lapse). I had two chickadees this morning... but this winter has been hard on the regular feathered denizens.

LOVE how you seem to see the world as I do and yet speak about it differently - making me think: We are one in our human experiences (whatever the details) and unique in our ways of telling the story. Thank you!

Lise in SW Ontario

Pauline said...

Chiaroscuru - thanks for the comment. It's one of our most interesting human characteristics - this individual telling of like stories.