Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Photo: Getty Images

One autumn afternoon…

One autumn afternoon I take the clean crockery out of the dishwasher while I am frying sausages and cooking macaroni, and when the dishwasher is empty, I load it with breakfast plates…It’s drizzling, the sky is grey and the air perfectly still. Somewhere above me there is a honk, then another, and I look up. Maybe ten geese are flying by in V-formation. I can hear their wingbeats as they lie on the air with their outstretched necks and undulating movements….

Within me the migrating birds are living a life of their own. I’m not thinking of them, but they are there, in the stream of sensations and feelings which at times freeze into images. Not clear and distinct images, as with photographs, for that isn’t how the external gets depicted within us, but as if in rifts: a few black triangles, a sky, and then that sound, of several pairs of wings beating up in the air. That sound awakens feelings. What kind of feelings? I ask myself now, as I write this. I know them so well, but only as feelings, not as thoughts or concepts. The sound of birds’ wings beating maybe fifteen metres up in the air, heard twice or thrice every autumn for forty years.

Once, in childhood, the world was boundless. Africa, Australia, Asia, America, these were places beyond the horizon, far away from everything, with inexhaustible reservoirs of animals and landscapes. That one could actually travel there was as unthinkable as that one might journey into one of the many books I read at that time. But slowly – for it didn’t come to me as a sudden insight – I began to understand what the migration of birds signified. That they flew all that way under their own power, and that the world wasn’t boundless but limited, and that neither the place they left nor the place they arrived at were abstract but concrete and local.

Yes, that is what I sensed as I wedged the spatula under the slices of sausage and placed them on the green serving dish, then poured the macaroni into a glass bowl. The world is material. We are always in a certain place. Now I am here.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, from “The Migration of Birds” in “Autumn


Notes:

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.”

feel the steady pull toward your center of gravity

From Greek, Zeno is derived from Zeno’s Paradox, which asks how a person can walk from one point to another if they must first carry out a series of ever-shrinking steps, + Mnemosyne, the personification of memory in Ancient Greek mythology. How can we live our lives while each passing year feels shorter than the year before?

[…]

But soon you feel the circle begin to tighten, and you realize it’s a spiral, and you’re already halfway through. As more of your day repeats itself, you begin to cast off deadweight, and feel the steady pull toward your center of gravity, the ballast of memories you hold onto, until it all seems to move under its own inertia. So even when you sit still, it feels like you’re running somewhere. And even if tomorrow you will run a little faster, and stretch your arms a little farther, you’ll still feel the seconds slipping away as you drift around the bend.

Life is short. And life is long. But not in that order.

No bodies. No blood. No war.

edouard_boubat_057-boy-shell

There are certain pictures I can never take. We turn on the TV and are smothered with cruelty and suffering and I don’t need to add to it. So I just photograph peaceful things. A vase of flowers, a beautiful girl. Sometimes, through a peaceful face, I can bring something important into the world.

~ Edouard Boubat, (1923–1999), a French photo journalist and art photography said in an interview in Paris in 1991


Edouard Boubat, one of France’s most celebrated postwar photographers who was best known for his poetic images of children… Mr. Boubat traveled widely during a career that lasted almost 50 years, but unlike many photographers of his generation he showed no interest in political events. His rule, ”no bodies, no blood, no war,” even earned him the nickname of peace correspondent…Rather, what attracted him was the beauty of life, wherever he found it. He liked photographing women, animals, trees and nature as well as children, and his use of light gave his work a special quality. Invariably the emotion evoked by his images is tenderness, as in one of his most popular photographs, ”La Petite Fille aux Feuilles Mortes.” ‘There is something instinctive about the moment you choose to ‘take’ a photograph,” he once explained. ”It’s not the result of thought or reflection. The strength of the composition is always born of the instant of the decision. It reminds me of archery. There is the tension of the bow and the free flight of the arrow.”¹

Boubat is known to capture people in their own private worlds, whether that was lovers embracing, or children daydreaming.  He shows the empty moments of life and exalt the happiness in those moments.
Boubat is often described as a ‘humanist’ photographer because of his ability to capture the beauty and dignity of his subjects. This is one of his most famous pictures, “Remi Listening to the Sea”,  a portrait of a little boy holding a sea shell up to his ear and, with eyes closed, quietly listening to the sound of the ‘sea’.²


Notes:

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)

 

 

Summertime

beach-memories-summer

Charles Simic, 78, the Pulitzer Prize winning Serbian-American poet, wrote a piece for The New York Review of Books which was published in July, 2013.  It is titled “Summertime” and is a wonderful collage of short reflections on summer. Here’s a few excerpts:

  • A wind so mild this afternoon it touches our faces as we lie in the shade like little children going to sleep.
  • Are rocking chairs in this country, I’m asking myself, being rocked on summer evenings as much as they once were? Or do they stand abandoned and motionless on dark porches across the land, now that their elderly owners tend to relieve their boredom by sitting in front of their computers?
  • To my great regret, I no longer know how to be lazy, and summer is no fun without sloth. Indolence requires patience—to lie in the sun, for instance, day after day—and I have none left. When I could, it was bliss. I lived liked the old Greeks, who knew nothing of hours, minutes, and seconds.
  • There’s something familial, deeply comforting in the sound of a pig oinking in the peace and slumber of a summer afternoon.
  • For the sweet old couple working side by side in the garden, being ignorant of what goes on in the world has been the secret of their lifelong happiness.

Don’t miss “Summertime” in its entirety here: The New York Review of Books


Notes:

 

 

The blind man himself saw, and the sighted one close behind him knew it

sky-cloud-summer-memory

In order to guide me better, Jean had invented a code. The pressure of his hand on my right shoulder meant: “Slope on the right. Shift the weight of your body to the left,” and vice versa. Pressure in the middle of my back said: “No danger in a straight line in front of you. We can walk faster.” Pressure on my back but on the left side was a warning: “Slow up! Right turn ahead.” And when the weight of his hand became heavier, it was because the turn ahead was a hairpin bend…

Jean and I ran into a hard fact — the fact that limits do not exist. If there are any, they are never the ones they taught us. People around us seemed satisfied when they said that a lame man walks with a limp, that a blind man does not see, that a child is not old enough to understand, that life ends with death. For the two of us, in our summer of green fields, twilight and dawn continually revolving, none of these statements stood its ground. We had friendship on our side. We had ignorance and bliss, and we looked at everything through these channels. They taught us all we knew. The blind man himself saw, and the sighted one close behind him knew it. Life was good, very good.

~ Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II


Notes:

 

Saturday Morning

ocean-cloud

I’d like to walk there again.
It was so lonely — a nice kind of loneliness,
and all grass and clover and soft sea air.

– C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Chronicles of Narnia


Source: Quote – Schonwiener. Photo: Newthom

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