Lightly Child, Lightly

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For him, love of art is inseparable from love of the outdoors—not raw wilderness, but the landscape of a dirt road cutting through a barren landscape, abandoned boats lying on a shore, an orchard or (a theme he returns to several times in his work) a church in the woods. My father possesses a pure love of light, and trees, the curve of a hill, the angle of a barn roof—shadows and colors. Weekends, as early as I can remember—age five or six maybe—we head out to the horticulture farm of the university with our walking sticks. Now and then, my mother and sister come, but often it’s just the two of us under the experimental apple trees sketching a field of cows or a stretch of abandoned railroad tracks. Sometimes, walking along the path on our way, my father stops so suddenly it seems as though he’s been jolted by electrical current. He points his walking stick toward the sky. “Look at that, chum,” he says. “What?” “See how the light hits that branch?” he says. “Study that cloud formation.”

Joyce Maynard, At Home in the World: A Memoir 


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, 5:46 a.m., June 9, 2020, Weed Ave. Stamford, CT
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Comments

  1. As so often, Dave, I wonder, while reading (do I need all these many commas….?) your posts: Is it something of his own life, is he quoting somebody, Oh, I hope it IS or I hope it ISN’T his story….
    This ewokes so much nostalgia, BUT it also made me think of getting really old. Why? These are exactly the things I tell my darling HH (minus the walking stick, that’s gonna be next)…. and he shows, at the most ;), some polite interest for about 3” or usually I just elicit a YES, knowing that nothing of my ‘pointing out’ has entered his overstuffed and elsewhere occupied mind. So pls tell me: Is it only old people who show and point out things to others???? I give you or anybody who ventures a counsel or offers advice, a scoop full of your favourite ice cream (virtually of course).

    Liked by 4 people

    • You are not old. And I’m sure you’ve been showing and pointing beautiful/different things out since you were a little girl.
      Give my icecream scoop to DK!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Done – thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I often thought that ‘things’ have been pointed out to me from a really early age. I had a father who was a keen observer of all nature things. He also was a carpenter and cabinetmaker/joiner, he knew every tree and what you make from its wood, we learned to make whistles from branches, he could repair everything and never failed to tell all what they could have done better, more perfect. My mum could do and did everything ‘within’ the home. Sawing, knitting, stitching, cooking, singing with us while we did the dishes, discussing books, etc etc etc. Both parents instilled in us 4 children honesty, hard work, goodness, generosity, fair thinking and of course we then wanted to be ‘of help’ to our (new) nearest and dearest! Neither my first husband nor this my last/2nd!! 🙂 are remotedly interested at all the fascinating tiniest treasures I spy and wish to share with them…. It’s just a cross I have to bear! 😉

        Liked by 4 people

        • Maybe this is why we all have each other. Others to point at things with, though virtually.
          The image you painted of your childhood years, and your parents is so precious. And explains your beautiful soul.
          🙏🏻

          Liked by 2 people

        • What an idyllic childhood, Kiki!

          Liked by 2 people

          • It does sound idyllic, doesn’t it?! I spoke with my mum, as I do every day since lockdown and I told her about this blog post. And I said, Doesn’t that sound so idyllic? When I know that we were poor, but always had all we needed!
            she replied: Yes, we WERE dirt poor, but you never lacked anything. Which is so true. We were complaining as all kids do, we had the lousiest parents once we were teenagers and knew it all, and then we realised JUST HOW GOOD WE HAD IT ALL ALONG. Thankfulness is a beautiful thing to behold.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Yes! Proof money has little to do with anything.
            I swear I sometimes think it is more of a hindrance, sometimes!

            Liked by 2 people

      • I’m waiting…

        Liked by 2 people

    • Smiling, there is always something about the words or the passage that touches me deeply. Here it was the noticing of the clouds, the light, the curves….

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Kiki and Sawsan! I don’t think it’s that we ‘do it’ more as we age as much as, perhaps, we notice more that, what we are doing is not done by ‘everyone’.

      When my daughters were little, I’d lie on my back with them on the grass and look up at the leaves shimmering in the light, the clouds drifting by, the breeze tickling our faces – and we’d tell stories and watch an ant crawl by and simply be.

      I have always stopped to savour as David says, “The clouds. The light. The curves”. – it’s just I have more time now to notice what other people are doing (because I’m not as busy ‘doing’ as I once was) and in that noticing I see how ‘the busy’ separates us from taking time out from all the doing so that we can simply be.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Louise, exactly! I ‘love’ telling people I love now how we used to lie in the high grass (before I was plagued by hayfever and allergies – thank you my 6 weeks’ stay to help a farmer family at the age of 12 1/2yrs), letting the clouds float by, the little insects and bees humming above us, we girls snickering and chuckling over nothing at all…. and then re-doing the same in the short cut grass at the shores of Lake Zurich in a fantastic setting of the town swimming pools with my little sun, showing him the light dancing through the leaves of the beech tree we stayed under, in the soft shadow and warm air…… And I STILL delight in those tiny pleasures, the beauty of a bee ‘parking’ on a swinging flower’s stem to get at the nectar – it’s so precious, it’s free and utterly beautiful.

        Liked by 4 people

    • I don’t think it has anything to do with age, Kiki. My father didn’t make it to old man status, dying at 70 (today, that is so NOT old, is it?) and he was definitely a pointer of things…

      Liked by 3 people

  2. i so love this and can identify –

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, but have to confess that I have become a much keener observer of my surroundings as I age. Nowadays I find myself pausing to gape at passing cloud formations, a deer and her fawn grazing in a meadow, a bird foraging in the weeds, even two anoles facing off on the patio. Nature is such a grand show…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Such poignancy in this passage David. And beauty.

    And yes. The clouds. The light. The curves.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Blue skies, clods, nature, outside … ““Look at that, chum,” he says. “What?” See how the light hits that branch?” he says. “Study that cloud formation.” — Joyce Maynard, At Home in the World: A Memoir

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You do read the most divine books/articles/whatnot, David. You really do make us stop and think, reflect, observe.
    I am one of those who stops when she sees something: cloud, flower, shadow. Zeke stops me for his one hundred million pees (now HE’S an old man) and I stop him for my sudden urge to look at something more closely – and usually take its picture… We are like an old couple, he and I (I don’t even want to think about…) stopping for the other with a patience borne of experience…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Smiling. Couple maybe. Old, not so much.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dale, this just nearly stopped my heartbeat for a mo…. When my then ‘ancient’ dachsie and I went for a walk through the vineyards in our then town, it was only up, up, up…. Because Tigi-Lee was short-legged, me too, we both not 20 any longer, because it was so steep, we had to stop frequently. THEN I said to her: It’s OK, we stop for a moment, so that you can breathe better… When, in fact, I was happy for her need to stop so that I too could take a breather…. We then also admired the beauty of the vineyards, the lake from above, the tiny beetles rushing about – sweet, sweet memories.
      And I still and REALLY want to have a dog again, in the not too far future!!!! Like tomorrow….

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Valerie Meluskey says:

    Another inspiring photo and passage…brings me back to my lovely mother who would point out the beauty surrounding us whether in New York City (in the old days) or in the country. I’ve cherished the memories of learning about wild flowers, birds, trees and their identifying leaves, cloud formations. I guess artists are blessed with extra sensitive visual senses. Dear Kiki, I’ve found that people listen more fully when we have eye contact, or have a reason to hear what we have to say. Regarding “Is it only old people who show and point out things to others?” how wonderful when anyone is generous enough to point out what is interesting; those who don’t do this when older may be retreating and withdrawing from life….

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I love looking at the clouds — so many kinds!

    Small world moment, Joyce Maynard’s older sister was my first editor at a Canadian national magazine and we’re still friends, decades later. She was tough!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. LOVE this!

    Liked by 1 person

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