Monday, August 31, 2015

Woman in a Hammock

At the end of summer five years ago I referred to whiling away the hours in a hammock—and in Mallorca after the first writers' workshop I did just that, hanging suspended in the late golden September air under Aleppo pines, the sound of goat bells carried up to me from the valley. 

Cradled, rocked—letting go the earth—confiding myself to weighlessness, an insubstantial element—all strange to me, and very hard at first to do, though mine is one of the air signs ("I was not born under a rhyming planet").  Heaven, I found, when I gave myself up to it.

And now again the siren song of the hammock is calling, though I have nothing to hang one from.  I have become earthbound again.

image:  Henri Lebasque (French, 1865-1937): Le Pradet, Young Woman in a Hammock (Nono), 1923, I Require Art

Friday, August 28, 2015

Now We Are Six

Happy August birthday to Writing with Light.  

Six whole years?  We are no longer a toddler . . .

image:  Ernest H. Shepard

Thursday, August 27, 2015

In the Days When Purple Was New

In the Days When Purple Was New
Ralph Pomeroy
Neverless, the Doge must have thrilled, filling his purple vestments,
As he entered that dazzling morning to marry the Adriatic.
Imagine the shock of that first raiment
(Stolen, in a way, from the sea itself)
To the shining water and the expectant crowd.

Purple Asters
Robert Morgan
Down by the branch, grass
darkens the same color Charlemagne had
his Irish scholars dye their pages for
jewelled lettering to play on like cities
in the desert sky.

Purple, the royal color, makes me happy.  I love these passages from poems that show it in all of its regal splendor and gladness, like a fanfare of trumpets in Mozart—a celebration, a robing of kings, an alchemy (miracle, even) when first the color was extracted from mollusks, sea snails, in ancient times by the Phoenicians, the name Phoenicia meaning land of purple.

What it would be to live in a land of purple, with those Irish scholars and the Doge, and my jaunty—gentile—flowers from last summer.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Purples

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Places I Would Rather Be

The last two days have been spent trying to decide where to go, while my little patio is overrun with house painters.  I've hung out at the public library, looking out on the apricot orchard; at the Stanford golf course, under a sprawling oak, with Maya hot chocolate and notebooks; in the art store, picking out textured rice paper and a chocolate brown brush pen; driving through campus tempted by art museum and café and the sun-dappled arcades of the quad; and at a shaded sidewalk table at the Anatolian Kitchen, meeting with a friend over spiced lamb kebabs and a confetti salad bright with purple cabbage and red radish.  I've been discombobulated and am ready to settle, though maybe all of these should be in my routine, like bits of colored glass in a mosaic—the ancient millefiori.

image:  Joaquín Mir Trinxet, aka Joaquín Mir (Spanish Catalan, 1873–1940): Orange Trees in Majorca (Paisaje Mallorquín con Naranjos), I Require Art

Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to School

It is the time for going back to school, and everywhere are scared and hopeful young faces, new satchels full of pencils and notebooks [that surely dates me!], and anxious parents hovering, encouraging, ready to say goodbye.

I feel as if I, too, am going back to school.  Ready to learn new things, this new phase of my life.  Laid off.  Retired.  Words to add to my vocabulary, sounding the syllables, testing the meaning, feeling the weight.

I, too, have my arms full of books.  I've bought new colored pens for drawing.  Emerald green.  Peacock blue.  Santa Fe turquoise.  Green Gulch pine.  I've pulled out my lovely Nuremberg diptych, with its wind rose and sundial, telling both Italian and Babylonian hours.  (I like to think that I am entering that time, the time of Italian and Babylonian hours, instead of the usual 8 to 5.)

I am scared as I begin this journey, but excited too—full of the love of learning that has drawn me ever since I was one of those young children dropped off in my first classroom with hinged wooden desks.  And now my classroom is the world, my heart, a clean slate of blackboard I must write my future on.

What will I learn?  Will my teachers be kind, and wise, and patient as I stumble over everything that's unfamiliar, hard to grasp, impossible to understand?

I wonder.  I am full of wonder.  As my friends' card said of me, quoting Henry James, "She had an immense curiosity about life, and was constantly staring and wondering."  Something happily to be going on with.

image:  Lili Butler reading at the Butler house, Giverny, 1908.

Theodore Earl Butler, (1861–1936) -American Impressionist.  Seven Arts Friends