In recent weeks, we awakened (for the most part) to gray skies and rain beating a staccato rhythm that shunned meter and metronome. Puckish breezes cavorted in the eaves and ruffled tiny leaves in the garden like decks of playing cards. A thousand and one little waterfalls appeared out of nowhere, and limpid, impromptu streams danced their way through village gutters carrying twigs, oak leaves, pine needles and fallen petals. Here and there were precious islands of stillness. Sheltered by overhanging trees, a friend's pond was like glass, its white and scarlet koi hovering almost motionless in the early light with their open mouths like tiny perfect "o"s. Sometimes they seemed to be swimming in sky.
At times, there was water in our garage, and the old Passat rested in a shallow pool until the accumulation gurgled its way down through frantically working drains. When the waters receded, I used an trowel to scoop rust into mason jars and tucked them carefully away. Natural iron oxide pigments produce lovely ochre and umber hues, and my gleanings will be used in projects somewhere up the trail, possibly on other rainy days. My fingers are trying to cope with the effects of chemotherapy (painful peripheral neuropathy to name one such), and it will probably be a while until I can actually do anything with a brush, but that doesn't stop me from thinking up "stuff".
While claiming my rusty bounty, I thought about the fact that humans have been using iron oxides in artistic undertakings as far back as the prehistoric caves of Lascaux. I would be a happy camper indeed if I ever managed to produce something a scrap as vibrant as the Chinese horse. I thought too about the fact that a heady brew of rust (iron oxides), carbon dioxide and water is where sentient life begins, and that the Japanese word for rust is sabi (錆) as in wabi sabi (侘寂), the all enfolding aesthetic or world view centered on notions of transience, simplicity and naturalness or imperfection.
Clouds and rain, then sunshine and blue sky, then back to clouds and rain again, who knows what spring days will hold? When good weather prevails, we go off to the woods, and I lurch up the trail a few hundred feet, a long way from the miles of rugged terrain I was once able to cover, but there is gratitude in every step.
On wet days, we listen to a little Bach or Rameau on the sound system, read and drink tea. We watch raindrops dappling the windows, the painterly way in which trees, little rivers and old wood fences are beaded with moisture and shining in the grey. Each and every raindrop is a minuscule world teeming with exuberant life, whole universes looking up at us, great and bumbling creatures that we are. Rain or shine, up and down, in and out, them and us, it's all good.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Thursday, April 27, 2017
How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness
and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom:
as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious
Lisel Mueller, from Alive Together
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
It was late in the day when I returned from the hospital yesterday, but I did not have to stay there, and that was a good thing.
I awakened late this morning, and although I feel as though I have been trampled by elephants, I am cheerful for all that.
These early tulips bloom in a sunny, sheltered alcove in a friend's garden, and dappled with early dew, they are always a treat for the eyes. If not quite as rosy and "in the pink" as they are, I am working on it.
Monday, April 24, 2017
It is going to be one of those days, so I am starting it in the early hours with a small magic that uplifts my spirit, gladdens my heart, strengthens my resolve and makes me smile. Is there anything as enchanting, visually fetching and "happy making" as a fragrant cup of flower tea and goji berries?
A little Mozart is wafting through my headphones, and it completes the invocation nicely. No matter what the cancer clinic tosses my way today, I will be ready for it, just hope the painful stuff can be kept to a minimum. Wish me luck!
Sunday, April 23, 2017
We sleep, allowing gravity to hold us, allowing Earth—our larger body—to recalibrate our neurons, composting the keen encounters of our waking hours (the tensions and terrors of our individual days), stirring them back, as dreams, into the sleeping substance of our muscles. We give ourselves over to the influence of the breathing earth. Sleep is the shadow of the earth as it seeps into our skin and spreads throughout our limbs, dissolving our individual will into the thousand and one selves that compose it—cells, tissues, and organs taking their prime directives now from gravity and the wind—as residual bits of sunlight, caught in the long tangle of nerves, wander the drifting landscape of our earth-borne bodies like deer moving across the forested valleys.
David Abram, Becoming Animal
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Honor Earth, the Old Wild Mother of us all.
Plant trees, milkweed for Monarch butterflies or start a bumblebee garden. Give up nasty critter killing pesticides. Go earth friendly in household cleaning products. Say no to GMOs and factory farming. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Walk a little (or better still, a lot) more lightly on the planet.
In light of proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA's Earth science study programs and public broadcasting services, consider making personal contributions to such agencies and groups. They need us now, more than ever before.
Reject the power of collective delusion. Be a caring steward of the little blue world we are all walking around on together, not just today, but every day.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Blue skies and fluffy clouds overhead, birdsong, avian courtship rites and nest building birds everywhere - the village is opening out and greening up before our eyes as Spencer and I potter about and peer into hedgerows. Spring does not make a quiet entrance this far north - she comes over the hill with an exuberant bound, reaches out with a twiggy hand, and everything bursts into bloom. When we went off to the park a few mornings ago, the first daffodil of the season was blooming in a sheltered, sunny alcove, and we both did a little dance.
How can this week's word be anything except bloom? The word originates in the Middle English blo or blome, meaning to open up and flower lavishly, to glow with health and well-being, to be as sleek and glossy as an otter, as dewy and flushed with sunlight as a garden tulip or an early blooming orchid in a wild and wooded place. There are probable connections (or roots) between bloom and bhel in Proto-Indo-European, the hypothetical common ancestor of all modern European languages - in that ancient, oral and unscribed tongue, bhel means to grow, swell, or unfold, to leaf out or come into flower.
Perhaps a better word for this week would be sex, because that is what springtime's lush colors, alluring fragrances, velvet textures and warbling ballads are about - the Old Wild Mother's madcap dance of exuberance, fertility and fruitfulness. Every species on the planet seems focused on perpetuating its own heady genetic brew, and the collective pleasure in being alive is almost tangible.
Forsaking appointed chores, we poke around in the garden, lurch about in village thickets and contemplate the blue sky for long intervals. It's simply a matter of blooming wherever one happens to be planted. Spencer is already a master of that splendid Zen art, and his silly old mum is working on it.