It has one of everything, so it is in a sense an ark

I felt at home, strangely, because it is a miniature world.… One manor house, one farmhouse. A vineyard, a field of potatoes, a field of wheat, a cherry tree, an orchard. It has one of everything, so it is in a sense an ark. It is like when you draw a place when you are a child. I don’t like large-scale things, not in architecture or evolutionary leaps. I think it’s an aberration. This notion of something that is small and self-contained is for me a moral and aesthetic ideal.

~ W.G. Sebald, A Place in the Country 


Image: Cristiana Coucerio for The New Yorker,

A Division of Labor. A Promise Kept.

Saturday morning. Bird song, many species, ease softly through the window. The body, the bones and the mind at rest. The peace and sanctuary of Saturday morning. Bliss.

Until, it’s not.

For most, the smell of freshly cut grass conjures warm images of youth, of order, of parallel lines, or of a task completed. Or perhaps it’s the smell of rich, black soil, or the solidity of earth under one’s feet. Or perhaps a feeling of rebirth or growth.

For most.

But not for me.

This past, this dipping back into youth, of weekend chores, of hundreds of yards of uncut grass, of an aging push mower, of a hot sun bearing down, of a rush to finish – offers no such relief.

[Read more…]

Riding Metro North. Walking backwards.

7:34 p.m. train. Grand Central station. Last peak hour train home. Standing room only. Heads down, glowing screens, wifi slow, thousands sucking on the same straw. Pages loading slowly, then stopping altogether. One head, after another, mine too, lifting in frustration.  Beach ball spinning, locked up. There’s a message in this. To thousands of us sitting on this train. Whether we are listening, now that is another story.

8:31 p.m. Walk home. Down the platform. Up the stairs. Across the bridge over I-95. Up the hill – and the last 1/4 mile stretch, before losing this tie, this shirt sticking to my back, and these leather shoes strapped around my feet for last 12 hours. Free me, please!

I see them in the distance. Two boys, 7 or 8 years old, kicking a soccer ball on front yard. Mom sitting on the porch reading. When’s the last time I’ve seen this? [Read more…]

Back…back…back.

Am I as old as I am?
Maybe not. Time is a mystery
that can tip us upside down…
Who was I at age seven?

Sixty-eight years later I can still inhabit that boy’s
body without thinking of the time between.
It is the burden of life to be many ages
without seeing the end of time.

– Jim Harrison, from Seven in the Woods from Dead’s Man Float


Notes:

  • Inspired by – “We go back … and back … and back … through the layers of fear, shame, rage, hurt, and negative incantations until we discover the exuberant, unencumbered, delightful, and lovable child that was, and still is, in us.” By Melody Beattie (via Bright, Shiny Objects)
  • Photo: Ivanovo detstvo (Ivan’s Childhood) • Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky 1962 (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Walking Cross-Town. And Recycling.

My right eye is pulled down and right, to the gutter on 42nd street. A half-eaten sandwich, a bite out of a slice of yellow American cheddar cheese, and its wrapper moist from Italian dressing. A few feet further up, a Bic Pen with its partially chewed blue cap, a cigarette butt and a flyer for Chinese take-out.

This discarded potpourri waits for the next big rain, or the morning sweepers to push it down from one storefront to the next and to the next, when it eventually drops down a street drain, bumping along the dark tunnels, and ending in the Hudson River, where a bottom feeding catfish nibbles on it.

I’m rushing (again) to catch the 6:10 Metro-North home.  I can’t explain it: the mind, my mind, that is.  It’s locked on trash.

Last night, I tossed an empty box of Eggo Frozen Waffles into the trash can in the kitchen. My eyes scan the trash, as my tongue works its way across my lips, lips lightly coated from Log Cabin Maple Syrup.

“Why isn’t this paper in the recycling bin?”

“What paper?”

“All of the paper that should be in the recycling bin.”

“Because it’s soiled.”

Soiled? I dig down. I find unsoiled paper, an empty plastic stick deodorant push-up, zip-lock baggies and empty envelopes.  I toss them into the recycling bin.

I dig down to the bottom for one last pass and my hands land on raw, moist chicken fat. [Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly.

You wake up on a winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there – the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this has disappeared overnight, and what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.

Frederick BuechnerTelling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Whiskey River. Photo by werner neururer (Austria) with Walk in the woods
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • 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.”

As a child, I learned to eat honeysuckle sugar.

As a child, I learned to eat honeysuckle sugar. It is a tedious process, […] one that requires demonstration and touch. Despite the meager payoff, a few drops of nectar, these are small, bright memories. When I look through my past for a consistent pleasure, I find those empty, discarded blossoms scattered through my childhood summers.

~ Alysia Sawchyn, from “Riverbanks and Honeysuckle,” Cutbank (no. 86, July 2016)


Notes:

  • Inspired by Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay: “the surface on which we step has no more substance than the clouds floating above us on a summer day.
  • Photo of Honeysuckle: Awkward Botany.
  • Prose Source: Memory’s Landscape.  Alysia Sawchyn was the Winner of the CutBank 2016 Big Sky, Small Prose: Flash Contest with Riverbanks and Honeysuckle.

Lightly child, lightly. (Winter. Last Call.)

In the postcard I keep of a field in winter,
a child’s head is tilted back,
her mouth open to snow.

The awe is held still, says oh and oh and oh.

Allison Benis White, from Please Bury Me in This

 


Notes:

  • Photo:  just charlaine (via children of the universe). Quote: A Chateau of My Heart
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • 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.”

Saturday Morning

I see no pressing reason to get out of bed.
The lights are off
and it is raining
and the covers are the cave I dreamed of when I was a child.

Barry Hannah, from Ray: A Novel


Notes: Photo: Dormír via Mennyfox55. Quote: Memory’s Landscape

the summer we’re all sharing still has a few breaths left

beach-summer-weekend-breeze-grass-sand-dunes

From behind me in the heat, beneath a cloudless sky, I hear happy shouts. Treasure every moment you are given; savor every summer’s day. From the time you are a child there is the sanguine suggestion that you will have a supply of those days stretching to the horizon and beyond. The greatest gift of summers, even as they conclude each September, is the winking promise that next year a new one will be rolling around. Waiting for you up ahead.

Labor Day weekend: Soon autumn will arrive, cool days for rekindled ambition, a time for fervent vows and ardent goals, of fresh determination that this may be the season when your ship comes in. But before that, even now, the summer we’re all sharing still has a few breaths left, each with an expiration date. To squander a single one of them would seem a shame.

~ Bob Greene, excerpt from Summer’s Greatest Gift Is That Next Year There Will Be Another


Photo Sand, wind & jazz by Fintlandia (via couvertures de sérénité)

 

 

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