Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

warm winter sweaters

It feels like living when old things that I have always loved come back the forefront.

I've been listening to Sixpence again. I went to the Chicago Botanical Gardens with Jeffery and pulled out my old drawing book again. I haven't been writing (like the good little scout I ought to be) but I have been getting interested in life again.

Jeffery found out there was a lecture at the Chicago Botanical Gardens on English roses the day that we could go. I bounded around a few times and then pondered if my father had managed to kill all the English roses that we had had (You know its bad if something dies on my father. He's very careful about these planty things). All our roses were dead but who cares?!?! This lecture means life.

I had never been to the Gardens. The architecture was cool and soothing. It reminded me in some ways of Bethel. Bethel had been designed by a Japanese architect. They couldn't afford what all his designs called for but they tried to remain somewhat true to what he planned. The Botanical buildings had the coolness and lines that comes from Asian beauty meeting the Midwest landscape.
Something else that came into high relief…the care bestowed on the plants outside. Every tree and bush had been so carefully pruned and tended. I've been in gardens that have been cared for but this was different. Masses and masses of trees and bushes and every single one carefully and precisely cared for. There's a lot of love in the Gardens. A lot.

Our lecturist turned out to be a sassy middle age woman who was enthused not just about roses but flowers. And not just flowers but life and living in this life. She gave us a website to order lady bugs from (!!!!) and other nifty things. I'm on a high level of enthusiasm and planning. This year…definitely a new triad of english roses. they will live! they will!

and speaking of living…life with Jeffery- what can it really compare to? It's the life I have always wanted. It's talking about things that go deep down into the sea and move in those far away currents. It's like when I go on walks and the beautiful is so spectular that it hurts my eyes and I have to turn away for a brief moment. It breaks my heart and makes me live bigger and stronger. Slowly, slowly, my eyes are getting accustomed to so much beauty.
We walk and we talk. We lazy around and we talk. We watch movies and we talk. We nap and we talk. We just talk!
The future looks so good. There's things to work through but they are being worked through! and not waited to work on a “better day” or “when there's more time.” They are in progress and they are progressing.

So…l'chaim! that's where the snow falls.

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The Taste of Tea

A favorite film of mine, The Taste of Tea, centers on an eccentric family living in the Japanese countryside. They spend a great deal of time sitting outside, sipping tea and staring into space. They sit as a family, alone, or in a small group and no one talks. They just stare out into the deep green that is the summer. And then they get up and go on walks or go off to work.

The first time I watched The Taste of Tea, I was shaken and delighted that the film gave space and respect to one of my favorite pastimes: sipping tea and staring into space.

When spring grew warm enough, I was inspired by the film to sit outside and stare into my backyard in the early morning. The Taste of Tea had given me a sort of permission to leave stress behind and take this time for one of my deepest desires: to enjoy and contemplate nature while sipping tea.

I named my new practice “Sipping Tea and Watching the Grass Grow.” I felt ridiculous whenever I mentioned it to anyone but that hardly mattered. I was doing what I loved so much, watching plants grow, watching the birds and small animals moving through it all, and sky glowing blue and serene over us all.

 

Grass grows slowly, imperceptibly but after each rain, it leaps up by inches. The violets came in May and they lasted for weeks. After that the dandelions bloomed and I lost a little bit of my heart to them. The wind picked up their seeds and sent the white fluffs floating into the air in sweet, downy clouds. After that, small wild strawberries, glowing like fierce red gems, appeared in the lawn. Now at the end of June, a luxurious, emerald green covers nearly everything. It reaches up from the ground, covering fences and stones or it high overhead, green leaves moving in tall, imperceptible breezes.

 

The heat has settled in so now even in the mornings, I pour sweat while drinking my tea. On some mornings the birds are noisy and busy and on other days they are not. Sometimes a great big bumblebee comes tumbling along, droning in that low, hazy buzz as it investigates every surface and flower. And then sometimes it does not come. Some days the clouds are like fluffs of cotton, other days there isn’t a cloud in sight. Each day brings a new configuration, nature is never still. I watch it all and at other times, I close my eyes and listen to my breathing. I’m not alone, never alone, a part of a whole.

A Tale of Two Worlds

I walk past a window on my way to get a glass of water and note the snow falling outside.  As I fill my glass at the sink, my thoughts have already turned back to my work on the computer. I’m wrestling with the household budget, when I’ll fit some reading in, how to get on with my writing work, when I’ll exercise, when I’ll catch up with email correspondence and the list goes on and on.

Anytime I stop my work and look up, past the chatter in my mind, the snow catches me off guard as if it’s the first time I’m seeing it. I debate whether I can put off the grocery store to avoid driving in the snow.

This is the world of the everyday. It’s full of a thousand petty cares, some essential to living, others not as much but all in a lump group, tugging us along.

But there are times my mind needs something more refreshing, and it’s time to take a break. And that’s where music comes in—as powerful as Circe creating a circle of magic with her staff. I pick out music without words (or words I don’t understand). Today is Rimsky-Korsakov, tomorrow might be the film Phantom Thread’s soundtrack, or a piece of jazz played by Lucky Thompson.

As Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden starts, the circle opens. I come out of the everyday world and enter somewhere extraordinary, where beauty converges with life and cares and worries exit for a time. And all it takes is a little music, a little snow, and entering the moment that is now.

I watch the snow falling, noting the wind direction as the snow blows southeast and then drops and then exhales again southwards. I note the density of the snow, how it’s light and sparkling and then downy, heavy, and wet.  My thoughts finally still and I turn off the music. A heavy relief passes over my body and mind and I am still, watching the beauty of the world.