Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Calm: Gratitude

What I’m grateful for today:
  • the blossoming fruit trees
  • a gift of coffee beans
  • the promises of Friday
  • al fresco cocktails with coworkers
  • my lambswool sweater
  • favorite comfy jeans
  • aromatic wood lotion
  • walnut flaxseed bread with white Vermont cheddar
  • my old Thesaurus
  • batik bag to hold my edited pages
  • rosemary
  • wooden benches dappled with sun
  • John O’Conor’s piano recordings
  • a free weekend
  • my healed heel
  • my hooded bathrobe
  • getting the griping out of my system
  • junkos
  • Gaston de La Touche
  • everything calm, calming, calmed 

image:   Pardon Breton, Gaston de La Touche

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Fine Line

It occurs to me to consider the fine line
  • between patience and procrastination
  • between enthusiasm (or great love) and obsession
  • between calm and lethargy
  • between hunger and gluttony
  • between content and discontent

between so many things.

I see us all carefully balanced there, like tightrope walkers (Elvira Madigan, walking to Mozart’s lovely music, before coming to her desperate end).

Or, like my other favorite image of the moment’s chancy hesitation there on the fine line, Rodin’s amazing capture of the “Spirit of Eternal Repose,” the statue poised at the very angle of toppling, but somehow, just there, a fine line short of it, finding that perfect, precarious repose.

image:  Kelly Valentine

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fortunes and Friars

Looking for fragility, I come across fortunes, and friars, and fragrance, and fou—remembering while turning pages of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations just why searching books is far more satisfying than the Internet.

And in the end I find the perfect quote from Shakespeare to accompany the picture above, which I immediately fell in love with.
“…nature’s fragile vessel doth sustainIn life’s uncertain voyage.”
(from Timon of Athens)
And in the meantime I’m baking walnut and flaxseed bread in a bright yellow Dutch oven borrowed from a friend.  I’m trying the no-knead variety, the rising dough smelling like yeast and Cretan thyme honey and abundance all night, rising in the only warm room we have, off by my mother’s rocking chair and a tangle of slippers, while we were sleeping and dreaming of the afternoon’s Mozart.

In life’s uncertain voyage all these things are sails filling with wind and sky, and I’m intensely grateful.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

To My Valentine

“But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.”
—Pablo Neruda

image:   Paul Sérusier (French; Post-Impressionism, Les Nabis, 1863-1927): Mignonne Allons Voir si la Rose, 1910.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

You've Got Mail

The sun is out, and Valentine’s Day nears, and I’m thinking of letters waiting in all kinds of mailboxes around the world.  And other missives—postcards, royalty checks, pictures of new babies, hesitant declarations of love.  Of longing and absence and joy, at any age.

The images that come to mind are
  • mailboxes shouldered along a country road in Nambe or Tesuque
  • the pig-pink mailbox in the heart of Kona coffee country
  • these turquoise mailboxes on Canyon Road outside an artist’s studio (and just a block or two away from the low-ceilinged restaurant and bar with the smouldering flamenco guitar)
  • the mailboxes at the end of Thendara Lane, under the pines and a thicket of oleander, in these hills where everyone has come from somewhere else and writes to and about home in those distant places

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Canyon Road Mailboxes

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Giving Way

The first picture I saw this morning was taken at Hovenweep, six prehistoric villages on the border of Colorado and Utah, and showed the “the moon giving way to the morning sun.”

In my sleepy state, on the border of dreaming and waking, before my decaf Sumatra and warm croissant with olallieberry preserves, I started wondering about the idea of giving way—my dreamy morning hours giving way to rain and midday obligations, winter beginning to give way to spring, and everywhere, examples of this continuity which makes up life.

The meaning of it, giving way, is ceding, passing the baton or the torch, letting the other have its turn.

But beyond that, giving way is allowing passage, enabling a journey, leading to or even carrying.  The stairs give way.  A train gives way, as does a horse, a mule descending the Pololu Valley, or a donkey climbing the steep rise of Santorini with its sheer white cliffs.  A wheelchair, graciously, gives way to those whose only way is that.

And in a further sense of that, the spritual, it’s causing or inspiring a creative path.  Claude Monet wrote “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”  The flowers by their very nature gave way to Monet’s paintings of them, which in turn give way to the viewer’s pleasure, sharing the flowers.

The meaning of that first moon and sun “giving way” is yielding, but that, too, has several sides.  Yielding as in letting someone else go ahead of you, as in losing yourself to temptation (both implying a kind of lessening of self, a ceding of one’s place in the landscape or moral world); but also as in producing—offering—yielding fruit or flowers or some other rich and generous bounty.  Giving of yourself to others, to the world, with natural and voluntary grace.  Not losing anything, but gaining everything.

Finally, the giving way reminds me of the Navajo Blessing Way and Beauty Way, another way of healing and of finding harmony.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Stairs (York)