Saturday Morning

My desert cactus has five spindly branches spread untidily in the pot. Each time I water that cactus I wonder why. I see no progress in how it looks; I water it all the same along with the other potted plants around it. It maintains a nonchalant brownish, greenish, and trace of yellow that appears anemic, as if on the verge of turning brown all over and withering up, if not for my regular water. Once afternoon, I pass it and what catches my eye makes me stop in my tracks and look again at the source of that stimulus. There on the end of one of the five tentacles of the cactus is an enormous flower, yellow with dozens of bristling stamens, and layers inside like a catacomb in miniature. I take photos with my phone, I call everyone from the house to come and see the miracle of a flower where I thought no such thing could occur. Thank goodness I kept watering that cactus after I dismissed it as ugly and unproductive or at least unresponsive to my care of it. The cactus flower proves me wrong. Nothing else in the garden comes near that flower’s majesty. By evening it shrivels and lies limp on the end of the thin branch of cactus. Next morning I give it an extra drink and apologize to it, and encourage my dear, ugly, surprising cactus to keep on doing whatever it does and to ignore me.

—  Fred D’Aguiar, Year of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020 (Harper, August 3, 2021)


Photo: Mike Grant, Desert Bloom, Phoenix, AZ

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


I am falling back in love with myself, taking extra time each day to care for my African violets and orchids. How I plan to live my life moving forward: no more doing for others what I do not want to do. I am centering my attention on the things that give me peace.

—  Jeffreen Hayes, Chicago, from “Emerging From the Coronavirus” in The New York Times, April 5, 2021


Photo: Galaxed

Pomodori

To travel is to eat. We were tucking into our lunch, which is to say Laura was munching crackers and I was eating bread and pomodori. These tomatoes tasted nothing like English tomatoes. They tasted tomatoey. I ate them one after another, the taste like a memory of childhood which actually turned out not to be a taste but a smell of taste, the reddening green smell – I had it exactly – of my Uncle Harry’s greenhouse in Shurdington where the air ripened under glass.

—  Geoff DyerOut of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence


Notes:

  • Photo Source
  • Inspired by: I picked up the book after reading “Vivian Gornick: ‘I Couldn’t Finish Michelle Obama’s Becoming‘: (The Guardian, March 26, 2021): “The last book that made me laugh Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer is a brilliant book. For me, the best thing he ever wrote. A little bit of genius, it made me laugh, and laugh, and laugh.”

One of My Favourite Things

One of my favourite things about in person conversation…..watching someone become more and more comfortable making eye contact with you. You’re watching a soul unfold, like a flower.

~ lilcowgirl7


Photo: “Cleome” on Morning Walk. 6:10 am. July 16, 2020. Hollow Tree Ridge Road, CT

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I want to reinstate a respect for soil. We must touch the soil. How many times do we touch our mobile phone every day? Maybe 100 times. How many times do we touch the soil? Hardly ever. We must give dignity to peasants, farmers and gardeners. We are all part of this healthy web of life maintained by soil. The Latin word humus means soil. The words human, humility and humus all come from the same root. When humans lose contact with soil, they are no longer humans.

Satish Kumar, from “The Link Between Soil, Soul and Society” (The Guardian)


Notes: Quote via Liquid Light and Running Trees. Photo – Soil by Alexandra

Saturday Morning

So, when it’s bad now,
when I can’t remember what’s lost
and all I have for the world to take
means nothing,
I go out back of the greenhouse
at the far end of my land
where the grasses go wild
and the arroyos come up
with cat’s-claw and giant dahlias,
where the children of my neighbors
consult with the wise heads
of sunflowers, huge against the sky,
where the rivers of weather
and the charred ghosts of old melodies
converge to flood my land
and sustain the one thicket
of memory that calls for me
to come and sit
among the tall canes
and shape full-throated songs
out of wind, out of bamboo,
out of a voice
that only whispers.

— Garrett Hongo, from ‘Something Whispered in the Shakuhachi’


Notes: Quote, thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo of bamboo by Elisa.

Truth

This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
Those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.

Marge Piercy, from “The Art of Blessing the Day” in The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme. © Knopf, 1999.


Notes: Photo – Katharine Hanna with Organic vine-ripened tomatoes. Poem – A Year of Being Here

Sunday Morning


My mother’s need for order has nothing to do with the chaos of a life with too little space and too little money and almost no chance to make something beautiful of it all. The chance to create loveliness is always waiting just past the door of our matchbox rental. She never prepares for gardening—no special gloves, no rubber garden clogs, no stiff canvas apron with pockets for tools. No tools, most of the time. She steps out of the house—or the car, setting her bags down before she even makes it to the door—and puts her hands in the soil, tugging out the green things that don’t belong among the green things that do. Now another bare square of ground appears, and there is room for marigold seeds, the ones she saved when last year’s ruffled yellow blooms turned brown and dried to fragile likenesses of themselves. The light bill might be under the covers at the foot of her bed, the unsigned report card somewhere in the mess of papers on the mantel, but she can always put her hands on last year’s seeds. And later, in the summer, the very ground she walks on will be covered in gold.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “My Mother Pulls Weeds, Birmingham, 1978,” Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss


Photo: Cindy Garber Iverson

Not a big ask…

I want a garden, a small house, grass, animals, books, pictures, music. And out of this, the expression of this, I want to be writing […] But warm, eager, living life—to be rooted in life—to learn, to desire to know, to feel, to think, to act. That is what I want. And nothing less.

~ Katherine Mansfield, (1888-1923) in a diary entry featured in Letters and Journals of Katherine Mansfield


Notes: Quote via minima. Photo: Jac Graham | wood worker & mead maker (via small & tiny home ideas)

Riding Metro North. A Voyeur.

6:25 pm train home. Tuesday. It’s been a very long day.

I’m 8 minutes early. I find my aisle seat, set my bag down, remove my coat and place it on the luggage rack overhead. I close my eyes, and pause. My right hand clutches my iPhone – activity is frantic inside the device. News. iMessages. Emails. Work. All churning forward. Just let it be for a moment. Rest. Let it be.

My eyes remain closed. Thoughts flicker, and latch onto Jack Kornfield’s “Your Mind: Friend or Foe” as he passes a cautionary road sign, “Your own tedious thoughts the next 200 miles.

I hear footsteps. She settles one seat up and to my left. She slouches in her seat, knees up against the seat in front of her.

She scratches items on a yellow note pad with a 2H pencil, her to-do list for tomorrow.
List fills, too far away for me to see details. Neat, on the lines. Cursive.

She then grabs her smartphone. Pans through a long list of emails. Then text messages. Then back to emails. Then back to her yellow note pad, to jot down another to-do.

She puts down her phone, and stares out the window. Hair, shoulder length, rests on a light, Patagonia windbreaker.  Clean, white sneakers, must have a long walk from the office to the train. Her heels tucked in her bag.

She lifts her phone, and scans more emails. Sends a few more text messages. Flicks through a few web sites. For some reason, you can’t take your eyes off this woman, her show, her frenetic activity in her private space. A peeping voyeur. [Read more…]

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