January’s a fresh start. It’s also a cold, unembellished, minimalist reality.
Branches stretch tall in a cold winter sky. The way they’ve always done. Like some fabulously strong declaratory sentence.
Sometimes those trees come down. I’ve seen them come down, and that’s a sad day. But when I look out, I see strength. The ancient strength of magnificent trees who throw all caution to the wind and stand between me and the heavens. As is their way.
Tall white pines and a path that takes you. It doesn’t lead you, it takes you.
Do you know the long soft needles of a tall white pine? A pine tall enough to meet the sunny sky in the last moments of a December day. North Country meets Norwegian Wood meets what? I don’t know. It’s gentle. Or it’s pain, or it’s a place to leave behind.
When you choose your favorite lyrics to a Dylan song, it’s hard to find THE lines. I have this thing – sort of a pretty unimportant guiding principle. If I single out the same musical lyrics more than once, if it’s a sequence of lines or a few words, if those are the words I remember or I want to remember after I hear a song, then I guess I love those words.
In the darkness of my night In the brightness of my day
Bob Dylan works a magic with images nobody else can do. And in the middle of all that you find words you plainly love.
Life comes down to microseconds. Minutes, hours, seasons. Ordinary time. Weekdays, weekends. Occasions that come and go, and events that don’t seem consequential. It’s a blink. An instant we bring something special, something that breathes life into us. The marrow of our life blood. The sum and substance of our existence.
faded scenes and sinking dreams, missed connections, and narrow streets in all directions, immense, impending structures, intense, irrational stares, dizzying stairs in random rooms, that lead to rooms, commanding, tangled thoughts, unravel reality, erase familiarity, hands sweaty, legs heavy, breathless, and thready, turning, reverting, blurring, escape, escape …
ahhh, yes … awake … yes … awake.
Do we all have pieces like this? Words we write, and we re-write, and re-write. It never feels complete or just right. I have at least five versions of this one. I’m not comfortable with this style of writing, but the words don’t fit well in sentences and paragraphs. Just maybe … it’s the sort of thing that should take me out of my comfort zone.
I just completed a small collection of written pieces and photos to give as presents this holiday. I did this last year too, and although the project is always surprisingly time-consuming, the end results are gratifying. This time, I tried to bring in plenty of bold colors and some of the dreamier layers of life. This piece is probably atypical, in terms of style, but it was one of the bits I included.
It was the posture of Princess Leia. She stooped and reached toward R2D2. Then she turned the dial and recorded her desperate message. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.
Two young girls, maybe first-graders, stood at the edge of the sidewalk, facing a small wooden fence post. Their heads close together, both leaning in to look closely at something on the fence post. The girls seemed to be on the way to school, and other kids and parents were on the move in the area too, on the sidewalks and streets. I drove slowly, as my timing and the situation warranted, and saw the girls there, on the sidewalk. What were they studying?
I came to a traffic stop near where they huddled. What could be so fascinating?
Ahh, of course. Someone had tacked a placard there. It was a have you seen my kitty flyer, with a big picture of the kitty.
I drove on, and they hadn’t moved at all. I’m not sure they were old enough to read, but they were still stooped and studying that flyer.
~~~~~ Photo’s from a different fence post on a different day.
Walks are good for thinking. They’re settling. You get time to spend pondering whatever’s on your mind.
There’s something I can’t quite bring to focus. And it’s not what I’d expect.
… I’m ready for cold …
I’m ready for a cold December morning when a few flakes of snow float in the neutral nothing of a dismal day, or whatever they do when it’s December and not yet the hard bitter cold of January’s winter.
I can’t imagine anyone not liking my Italian teacher.
I see her at the front of our class. A first floor room with opened, screenless windows. Trees outside, and a warm September breeze moving the air in the room.
She was maybe 23, from northern Italy, and she’d only been in the US two days. You wouldn’t say she was beautiful, but she was everything you see when you think sweet and sexy. Her hair was almost blond, she had soft blue eyes, and she wore glasses that weren’t exactly flattering. I think they had fancy light blue frames. She was built cute as a 23 year old can be built, and she wore dresses. All of us were in sloppy jeans, and there she was in a sleeveless dress, a cottony kind of fabric in an A-line shift that came to the top of her knees. And she didn’t shave her armpits or legs. Yes, she was cute and sexy in some kind of 23 year old, stylish, old world, northern Italy, kind of way.
She hardly spoke any English. She could say, hi, and, thank you, and she joked about us teaching her bad words.
Today. Yes, today. Today, it’s an October evening and I’m looking for my old Italian grammar book, and my mind wanders to an image that’s just easy. For life as it is, for the worries and challenges, there’s a picture from the past that’s just easy.
Those classes were wonderful. They weren’t hard for me. After years of Spanish classes, I did some American blend of Italian/Spanish, and she understood. She smiled, behind those glasses, and it was cool. It’s hard to explain how some people are easy. Easy in a wonderful way. There’s not a person reading this who wouldn’t absolutely love my Italian teacher.
If someone did a Top Ten list of plants that inspire, ferns would be there. Mayapples would be there. Giant oak trees would be there. Flowers that show up on their own, and bloom at the edge of a paved street, for sure would be there. I’m talking about plants with personality, plants that stir the imagination, plants that make you smile. Plants that make you write a story. It’s a short list.
A field of wildflowers, as far as the eye can see. That kind of imagination.
Ferns. A stegosaurus stomps the ‘earth’, the way we imagine the earth looked millions of years ago. With each step, the ground thuds as the dinosaur moves past vegetation…huge, prehistoric ferns. Yeah, that kind of imagination.
So, ferns. This is what I love about ferns. Well, for one thing, they hang around all year. They survive the winter. Like we do. They’re not fresh and robust when they meet the first light snowfall, or the last cold icy storm. But they don’t dry up and wither away, or lose all their leaves like some bigger, stronger, more impressive ‘plants’, otherwise known as trees. Buried under January’s coldest, iciest cover, the fern hunkers down, close to the ground. You scrape away the slush and snow and hardened icicles. And there’s a fern. I have respect for that.
Is there another plant that comes to life with the charm and charisma of a fern? I know, somebody’s gonna come up with some mushroom that pops up overnight in an interesting way. Nope, forget it, not good enough.
You can smell the scent of ‘earth’. And take in the filtered light shining from above through the branches of those tall awesome oak trees. Peculiar little mayapples cover the leafy-rich surface. And fancy green ferns unfold.