Sunday Morning

 

Thank you, Creator, that you created pigs and elephants with long snouts, that you shredded leaves and hearts, that you gave beets their sweetness. Thank you for nightingales and bedbugs. That girls have breasts, that fish breathe air, that we have lightning and cherries. That you commanded us to multiply in most eccentric ways, that you gave thought to stones, seas, and people.

~ Anna Kamienska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook


Photo: © Patrick Gonzalès )via Newthom)

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.

Dinner

tomato

It was a table laid for men of good will. Who could be the actual expected guests who hadn’t come? But it really was for us. So that woman gave away her best to just anyone? And contentedly washed the feet of the first stranger. Embarrassed, we stared. The table had been spread with a solemn abundance. Piled on the white tablecloth were stalks of wheat. And red apples, enormous yellow carrots, plump tomatoes nearly bursting their skin, watery-green chayote, pineapples malignant in their savagery, calm and orangey oranges, gherkins spiky like porcupines, cucumbers wrapped taut round their watery flesh, hollow red peppers that stung our eyes— all entangled with strands and strands of corn silk, reddish as near a mouth. And all those grapes. They were the deepest shade of purple grape and could hardly wait for the moment they’d be crushed. And they didn’t care who crushed them. The tomatoes were plump to please no one: for the air, for the plump air. […]

We kept eating. Like a horde of living beings, we gradually covered the earth. Busy like people who plow for their existence, and plant, and harvest, and kill, and live, and die, and eat.

~ Clarice Lispector, “The Sharing of Loaves.” The Complete Stories (New Directions. 2015)


Notes:

 

It’s been a long day

Marilyn-Minter-rain-heels-shoes-mud-legs-art

They’ll be days like this” my momma said. When you open your hands to catch, and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you try to step out of the phone booth and try to fly, and the very people you want to save, are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain, and you’ll be up to your knees with disappointment. And those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “Thank you”.

~ Sarah Kay, “Point B


Notes:

 

Autumn. It shows its disposition to calm, to what feels like a stasis, a pause

sanderlings-birds-beach

NOW and AGAIN the earth begins to desire rest. And in the weeks of autumn especially it shows its disposition to calm, to what feels like a stasis, a pause. The ocean retains its warmth, while high white cloud-boats ride out of the west. Now the birds of the woods are often quiet, but on the shore, the migrating sanderlings and plovers are many and vocal, rafts of terns with the year’s young among them come with the incoming tides, and plunge into the waves, and rise with silver leaves in their beaks. One can almost see the pulsing of their hearts, vigorous and tiny in the trim of white feathers.  Where I live, on the harbor edge of the Cape’s last town, perfect strangers walking along the beach turn and say to each other, without embarrassment or hesitation: isn’t it beautiful.

~ Mary Oliver, Where I Live from Long Life: Essays and Other Writings


Notes:

Sunday Morning: They have chosen us

birds-feeder-spring

It is afternoon — the time of gathering. The long shadows of the day stretch out behind us. I am watching the birds land on the feeder outside our window. Grackles, chickadees, songbirds, and jays. Why have they chosen us? Despite cats, squirrels, noise, human intrusion, they brave everything to return here. I marvel as they make their peace with each other and share this common space…

They take their turns. The songbirds flutter, alight, grab a few grains, and retreat. The jays strut and preen. The grackles swoop down with impunity, take what they will. Far in the background, perched in a small pine tree, the chickadee sits patiently…[and then] swoops in and takes a small grain of corn…The chickadee flutters upward and disappears into the orange glow of evening. She was the last, and now she is gone. But she will be back. They will all be back. Though they have the freedom of the air, they have chosen us.

~ Kent Nerburn, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life


Notes:

  • Credits: Thank you Susan for photo from backyard, 4pm, April 24, 2015.
  • Related Kent Nerburn posts

Saturday Morning

dreamy_horse-480x360

There were a lot of other things he no longer had to deal with.
He was like one of those horses,
who having shaken off the jockey,
slow down, dreamily, to a gentle trot,
while the others are still bursting their lungs
in pursuit of a finish line and an order of arrival.

Alessandro Baricco, from Mr. Gwyn


Notes: Photo Source. Quote: The Journey of Words

TT*: Hear the playing cards slap in the spokes

bicycle-memories-ride

The child is riding her bicycle up the hill. I stand and look around; the thick summer foliage blocks the road from view. I turn back toward the river and hear the playing cards slap in the spokes. They click and slap slowly, for the hill is steep. Now the pushing grows suddenly easier, evidently; the cards click and slap. At once, imperceptibly, she starts down. The pace increases. The cards are slapping and she is rolling; the pace speeds up, she is rolling, and the cards are slapping so fast the sounds blur. And so she whirs down the hill. I can see her through the woods downstream where the road evens out. She is fine, still coasting, and leaning way back.

~ Annie Dillard, “Aces and Eights.” Teaching a Stone to Talk.


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Maurizio Raffa via Sensual Starfish

Floating on their backs and saying, Urr.

sea-lion-close-up

I was catching on to sea lions. Walk into the water. Instantly sea lions surround you, even if none has been in sight. To say that they come to play with you is not especially anthropomorphic. Animals play. The bull sea lions are off patrolling their territorial shores; these are the cows and young, which range freely. A five-foot sea lion peers intently into your face, then urges her muzzle gently against your underwater mask and searches your eyes without blinking. Next she rolls upside down and slides along the length of your floating body, rolls again, and casts a long glance back at your eyes. You are, I believe, supposed to follow, and think up something clever in return. You can play games with sea lions in the water using shells or bits of leaf, if you are willing. You can spin on your vertical axis and a sea lion will swim circles around you, keeping her face always six inches from yours, as though she were tethered. You can make a game of touching their back flippers, say, and the sea lions will understand at once; somersaulting conveniently before your clumsy hands, they will give you an excellent field of back flippers. And when you leave the water, they follow. They don’t want you to go. They porpoise to the shore, popping their heads up when they lose you and casting about, then speeding to your side and emitting a choked series of vocal notes. If you won’t relent, they disappear, barking; but if you sit on the beach with so much as a foot in the water, two or three will station with you, floating on their backs and saying, Urr.

~ Annie Dillard, “Life on the Rocks: The Galapagos.” Teaching a Stone to Talk.


Notes:

Two Minute Personality Test

Jonathan-Safran-Foer

What’s the kindest thing you almost did? Is your fear of insomnia stronger than your fear of what awoke you? Are bonsai cruel? Do you love what you love, or just the feeling? Your earliest memories: do you look though your young eyes, or look at your young self? Which feels worse: to know that there are people who do more with less talent, or that there are people with more talent? Do you walk on moving walkways? Should it make any difference that you knew it was wrong as you were doing it? Would you trade actual intelligence for the perception of being smarter? Why does it bother you when someone at the next table is having a conversation on a cell phone? How many years of your life would you trade for the greatest month of your life? What would you tell your father, if it were possible? Which is changing faster, your body, or your mind? Is it cruel to tell an old person his prognosis? Are you in any way angry at your phone? When you pass a storefront, do you look at what’s inside, look at your reflection, or neither? Is there anything you would die for if no one could ever know you died for it? If you could be assured that money wouldn’t make you any small bit happier, would you still want more money? What has been irrevocably spoiled for you? If your deepest secret became public, would you be forgiven? Is your best friend your kindest friend? Is it any way cruel to give a dog a name? Is there anything you feel a need to confess? You know it’s a “murder of crows” and a “wake of buzzards” but it’s a what of ravens, again? What is it about death that you’re afraid of? How does it make you feel to know that it’s an “unkindness of ravens”?

Jonathan Safran Foer [Read more…]

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