Sunday, March 27, 2016

All That You Want from This Day

On this lovely Easter morning, I am drinking good Sumatra decaf with a smidgen of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, and breakfasting on tamales as if I were in Santa Fe with thick adobe walls and turquoise doors.  I cleared the St. Francis water basin of the overgrown grasses, in hope of birds, but so far just one towhee has come by, hopping in and out of the washer & dryer alcove, looking for strands apparently for a nest.

I've found this perfect poem for the day, this little interval (and vast) to breathe in now and keep for life.  And then a memory of another day I've kept, a light-filled doorway in Treviso, in a centuries-old church.

I gather into a nest of my own these strands of then and now and yet to be—New Mexico and California, Italy and places still farther away that I will know only by rumor, reputation, coffee beans.  A nest in which to harbor new beginnings, new and better intentions, a hushed and holy way of starting and of going on.  A brave mixing of metaphors and images into a unique Christiesque whole.

Happy Easter, happy spring, happy remembering!

You Reading This, Be Ready
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life--
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

(William Stafford)

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Treviso Church

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Stringing and Unstringing

As a follow up to my last post, I add these wonderful (sad) lines:

     The song I have come to sing
     remains unsung to this day.
     I have spent my life
     stringing and unstringing
     my instrument.
     —Rabindranath Tagore

And the photo is appropriate, since it is of kilims I didn't buy in Santa Fe—beautiful, old, beyond my price range.  But I can love them from afar, love them this way, in memory, and not feel too regretful.

As with the song I came to sing, since I think I've just hummed along with several others.  I've had no shortage of music, my heart is glad to say.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Kilims

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Road Not Traveled

The road not traveled, the path not walked.

I am quietly lamenting those, on this first day of spring. 

When we first moved into this little blue cottage on Thendara Lane, the lane then lined with pine trees, I was delighted to learn there was a map of all the trails I could explore—"Seventy-five miles of pathways meander through the hills and valleys around Los Altos Hills, perfect for hiking, jogging, or horseback riding."  I went to pick one of the maps up at city hall (in the country), but couldn't get one because they'd run out. 

Like everything, I lost sight of that map for months and years, remembering from time to time that I meant to go back and get one.  In the meantime I found a trail or two, and followed them, most interrupted by a street or house I couldn't get around.  I spotted horses on the roadside trails, and up the hill beyond Tesla.  I was enchanted by sightings, but didn't walk deliberately to visit, as I used to at lunchtime up the fat hill, Cerro Gordo, behind my school in Santa Fe.  Horses might happen, trails might come along, but I didn't go find them.  I loved walking through pine shade down our lane, to pick up mail or just enjoy the sunlight sifting through the evergreen needles.  But I didn't do that often.  And now the pines are gone, slaughtered this year. 

Finally a year or two I got the trail map, which I opened once or twice and lost again. 

I've been telling myself I want to walk—something I've loved; I want to go see the horses.  I do choose to drive past one of the stables on my way home, when I remember, and I always want to spend more time in good equine company.  I love to see them grazing on the rolling hills, especially when the hills are green, as now.  I long to get closer.  To get back to the person I was at lunchtime in Santa Fe.  The adult I might have imagined myself being then.

But will I?  Will I let another spring of opportunities go by, this one perhaps the last, without going on pilgrimage even that far?  I'm never sure what's stopping me—some kind of strange procrastination that allows me then to complain about lack of time, about things lost irremediably.  But time is NOW, and fleeting as we know, so I must  simply put my comfortable shoes on, go get another map, and walk and walk and walk.  Grateful for all those miles of paths yet for the taking.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Paths, Cheddar Gorge

Thursday, March 17, 2016

My Traveling Artmobile

It is as if the rain has washed all my color away, along with my bird companions.

In compensation I envision my gypsy tea caravan instead a gypsy art caravan, traveling among the needy, bringing a desperately lacking dose of Bonnard and Mozart, seedy raspberry jam, the fragrance of just-baked bread, the presence of an otterhound (my new dog daydream), comfy slippers, sensual treats, joie de vivre.  Just like the old-time peddlers used to bring around all of the things a household needed, and bookmobiles bring literary wealth to remote areas, I'll be a traveler in spiritual provisions, drive a joy jalopy down the dull back roads where bright moments are in short supply.

Or maybe just the art—the intoxicating colors of Bonnard and Gauguin, Dufy and Macke, Matisse and so many others, and tubes of pigments, coffee cans of brushes, great rolls of paper to unfurl, so people can come up with their own spontaneous combinations, like build-it-yourself ice-cream sundaes, or a taco bar.  Some days need a large scoop of teal or turquoise, a little garnish of crimson lake, a second helping of burnt sienna, a serving of Egyptian blue on the side.

image:  Raoul Dufy, Interior with Open Window