Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishes for the New Year

A clean slate, but one with ancient potency and stories in its fabric.

The capacity for joy.

Companions, to warm your feet and heart.

Composure within.

Time enough, and a wealth of space in which to be.

A year of promises kept.

A year of promises yet to make.

Natural wonder.

Art and music.

A riff of birds.

A stretch of water.

Lingering rosemary.

Fortune sketched in tea leaves.

Someone to help it all come true.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Mission with Oranges

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pockets of Quiet

The ocean at year's end, but hardly quiet where we've come.  Everyone had the same instinct—to get to land's end as the year too was ending, to let the spent days go, carried like other wrack away, elsewhere, by the cleansing waves.  Some sort of primal urge draws us to the water.

And there are pockets of quiet.  A deer outside the corner window, under the oaks.  A gleam of Pacific off the small balcony off the bathroom.  Raucous neighbors gone out to play.  Some of us lost in books and picnic sandwiches by the nice fire.  These words.  Others I've promised myself in the coming year.  More meditative moments.  A still center, from which to regard the unquiet world.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Shorebird

Friday, December 28, 2012

Some Color for the Year's End

A Bonnard for the last week of the year.  This young woman is looking a little pensive, reflective.  Remembering or looking forward, as the final days of December demand.  I am wearing my cheery purple sweatshirt (my Mom's) instead of a cheery striped red blouse, but the effect is to brighten a day that has little color of its own.

image:  Pierre Bonnard, The Striped Blouse

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Evening Reverie

Coming back to a favorite place late in the day, late in the year, a winter's dusk with rain still dripping from the winter trees, to find lights on, a Christmas tree—a Noble Fir—in the entry, a fireplace, a vase of lilies and carnations, warmth and welcome, and a golden gingko dripping golden leaves out on the deck where we ate wedding cake with friends, though even then my mother couldn't make it.  And we've bought books, a clutch of new mysteries, and eaten good chicken mole and cornbread and sausage, and admired the colors of the knit sweaters on their racks for just $3 each, even some Italian, in soft Italian colors.  The dark closes, and we are snug inside it, held tenderly by this place that has somehow hugged us to it.

image:  Rainy Night in June, Another Porch

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Buon Natale

I'm feeling blessed from all around the world—carols from King's College, Oxford; wild huckleberry licorice from Montana; a CD of songs from the Maltese tenor; Sicilian mysteries; linen napkins from the south of France; my childhood Christmas stocking from Santa Fe; Peruvian coffee; purple socks with a Tibetan rose pattern; my mother's red plush bear from Mexico; greetings from friends in Malaysia and my cousin in Minnesota; bounty from truly everywhere.

Happiest Christmas to all.

image: Via Da Procida during Christmas 2007 in the old town of Salerno, Italy, soloxsalerno

Monday, December 24, 2012

Joyous Christmas Eve

Joy.  Peace.  Love.

Times ten.

Times yet another ten.

image:  Christmas Lights, sjncousin

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Lights

Shopping (wild blueberry jam, olive oil soap, Sumatra decaf, French linen napkins); and a delicious oyster sandwich with spinach, aioli, and caramelized onions, though not out on the sidewalk.  Indoors, for the foreseeable future.  Lights, cheering the rain.

image:  Christmas Lights, D3B

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rivers and Their Secrets

“Great US Rivers Reveal Their Secrets” says one of today’s headlines.  I love the thought of the secrets of rivers.  Of the stories they murmur to the attentive listener.  Of the histories they scrawl out in the longhand of their oxbows.  Of the passages they have recorded, the voyages of paddle-wheelers, the treks of kayaks, the diagonal crossing of horse and rider, evading followers.

In today’s rain, here where we have no rivers, rivulets are appearing everywhere, on usually dry ground, promising secrets of their own.

image:  Winter River, GVKImages

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Still Point of the Year

The light is done withdrawing, ebbing like the tide, and now the days will start getting longer again—a little at a time.  This day feels like the still axis on which the seasons turn, the top spinning silently, beginning some kind of new motion.  And in the grayness, the dull chill rain, I am weaving metaphors!—tangled as bright threads in . . . well, in what?  A far Eastern bazaar?  A muffler being knit to stuff in someone's Christmas stocking while the embers of the pine wood fire finally gray and cool?

The holidays are nearly upon us, and I, young Scrooge left on his own at school when all his mates have gone to families and fun, am working on in an empty office, finding color where I can.

image:  Under the Christmas Tree, Franz Skarbina, 1892, Stiftung Stadtmuseum, Berlin

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Places I Would Rather Be

Today, in Venice.

Okay—often, in Venice.

image:  Venice Rent Apartments

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sacred Spaces

A retreat this weekend on a lovely stretch of coast just up from Stinson Beach made me wonder why the monasteries—both Buddhist and Christian— always have the finest views.  Because they are remote, one is tempted to say.  Because they are in and of the wilderness.  Because the fine blue distances invite contemplation, draw one unresistingly closer to the divine.

I have been in wonderful—and full of wonder— monasteries now in the remote Carmel Valley, on a steep coast on Mallorca (a hermitage, really), on the St. Bernard Pass, in the south of France, in Sicily's Erice, on the Amalfi Coast, and on Santorini—that one sheer, white.

image:  Meteora 2, Vaggelis Vlahos

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve Twelve Twelve

We are living in momentous times.  12/12/12 feels as if it ought to bear a huge, eerie significance; and just around the corner is 12/21/12, supposed by some to be apocalyptic.  Mathematicians and numerologists must be doing their sums around the world, summing up our lives, summoning and composing the planets like the hardwood beads of an ancient abacus.

(And in the meantime work goes on as usual . . . )

images:  Aztec Calendar, Digital Trends, Lia Koltyrina/Shutterstock

Oldest Known Mayan Calendar, Guatemala, CNN

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Tenth and Counting

I'm working on getting into the spirit of things, though Christmas feels so far away still, mentally and otherwise.

I've been cheered by seasonal delights—
white roses in a vase
brilliant red blankets on the horses up the hill
the thought of peppermint brownies
a myriad varieties of apples
collaging paper trees
the fragrances of sage, of pine
written cards by friends across the world

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Collage Tree

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Sanctum

Good morning from this Piero della Francesca angel.  One of my new favorite painters, with the air of serenity and grace he conveys.  I shall strive this week to model my face on those of his subjects!

image:  Piero della Francesca

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Calm: Woods

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

—Robert Frost

A poem from my deep past . . .

image:  Thyme and Again

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Be Crumbled

Very little grows on jagged rock.  Be ground, be crumbled.  Wildflowers will come up where you are.


A happy thought, in these jagged days.  Let yourself be worn down, instead of resisting.  Burst, allow yourself to burst into eventual bloom.

image:  Gentiana septemfida or Crested Gentian is a flowering plant found in Alpine and Rock gardens.  Noumenon

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Creatures of Distance

Oh today, let me be here, in the green French distance!

“Time is the longest distance between two places.”
—Tennessee Williams
“Every once in a while, people need to be in the presence of things that are really far away.”
—Ian Frazier
“And so man, as existing transcendence abounding in and surpassing toward possibilities, is a creature of distance. Only through the primordial distances he establishes toward all being in his transcendence does a true nearness to things flourish in him.”
—Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Reasons

image:  Arched Entry- Dordogne, France, SevenArts Friends