Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Slat figures gamboling in the dawn breeze

[inline:1] Ok. It's been awhile and jeff laid out a lovely lovely new blog layout for me so here goes.

I saw Pride and Prejudice opening night. I believe my first coherent thoughts were
1. being skinny in Regency England made you look ass ugly in those dresses. Keira Knightly looked like she was wearing sacks (though I believe some of that was to denote her “boyish” nature. ew.) and for the first time in my life, I realized how unappealing a woman without a bosom can be. Also It's a pity they picked a girl to play Lizzie and not a woman. Besides having sparkling eyes, Knightly was little more than a slat figured tomboy, frolicking through the dawn and twirling on a swing that was situated over a farmyard of mud.

2. My second coherent thought made me startle.- This is a script that Charlotte Bronte got her hands on. I believe I concluded this after words like “bewitching” or “incandescent” were spoken by Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. That's not the right era for those words! And Mr Darcy striving manfully through the foggy sunrise and Lizzie standing on the edge of a cliff, her boyish coat streaming in the wind? These things are not Austen- they're Bronte! Charlotte Bronte hated Jane Austen but it seems like she got her revenge after all.

3. Besides using the words “bewitching”, “incandescent”, etc., the screenwriter screwed with every precocious line of Austen's that deserved to stand on its own. I flinched whenever it happened- happy lines were usually tweeked at the end, a latin based word thrown in. To sound more intellectual? I hardly know. And not only that but they used language and thought we use today! Charlotte Lucas cries out in a passion, “Don't you judge me!” Can anyone really imagine an Austen character saying that? No! The fact of being “judged” would never be alluded to. Charlotte would painfully be congratulated and she would look down and voice some thankful line about Mr. Collins good position with Lady Catherine in response. Never ever would she yell out, “Don't you judge me!”

Hmmm…but I could just be terribly cranky about it. I did after all sit in the second to front row and could only watch one part of the screen at a time. For awhile I would watch the right side and for the other part, I would watch the left side. This all left me a bit queasy.

So despite my judgments, I believe I will go again and sit in a much better seat and criticize.

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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.