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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Tides of Snow and Ice

This winter has been a continuous series of freezes and thaws: it’s the warmest winter on record, the tenth one in a row. A more usual winter starts with a deep freeze and then stays cold for months. Instead, snow falls, piles up and vanishes; rises up again and retreats, now falling as rain, swelling rivers and creeks. Rain and snow mingle together until everything runs with water; hillsides and flat-sides are coated in a deep, dark mud.

I stopped on my walk today, halted by a sudden flash of gold. The sunset rays were falling into a tiny puddle spanning the space between the root and trunk of a maple. The puddle reflected gold and silver on top and below was dark mud, black and brown, full of microorganisms and other tiny creatures unseen by the human eye. I briefly considered putting my hand to the shining surface. It beckoned, winking like a diamond, but pull of my walk was irresistible and I continued forward. 

Mud is for March and April, mud so thick and heavy that it can pull shoes off and make them disappear like a magic trick beneath the solemn and still brown. Mud in February is a strange slight, an awakening that shouldn’t be occurring yet. It’s all the more cruel because even though the temperatures rise, they inevitably dip into the single digits and everything freezes solid. Many times I’ve spotted squirrels and tiny birds on the creek’s ice, searching for openings to drink from.

During this particular thaw, the creek casts off ice, it’s center opening like a dark cut. The water sings as it cascades over the rocks, proclaiming it’s momentarily relief from the grip of winter. In Scandinavian folklore, there is a belief that given the proper offerings, a creek could teach a human how to play the most bewitching music. I crouch down near the creek, record a video of it singing on my phone and replay its music in the evening while lying on the couch. I should give something in return for the pleasure of its song and I consider. Perhaps some lavender buds I have stored away for a certain recipe, or a small pinecone I keep on a shelf to admire, or birch bark I retrieved from a favorite tree cut down years ago. 

The next day I return, and after waiting for a few dogs and their owners to pass by, I crouch next the side of the creek and sprinkle lavender buds into the small, clear stream. The buds vanish as soon as I drop them into the water– as if they never existed. I drop some more in and the same occurs; they’re gone before I can blink. The current flows by, washing over stones, fleeting by banks of mud, until it vanishes around the bend where the pine trees tower overhead.

As I gaze at the water, first downstream and then upstream, my own self quiets, stills, and momentarily dissolves into the landscape. The relief, though short, is palpable. Alone becomes together and perhaps that is what’s this practice of thanking the creek has been about all along.

Winter in the Time of Climate Change

There is a stream near my home and I walk along it nearly every day; I know its moods and seasons nearly as well as I know my own. We are family and our connections are pure: we’re both made of water.

Every day brings more distressing news about the environment. Big changes need to happen but whatever change that does happen is so slow. Global warming is now being felt by everyone, some more than others. I go out and walk along the stream when the news and all the unfortunate future unknowns press in too hard. Right now, it is running fast. This winter has been a series of freezes and thaws. November hit hard with a heavy, deep freeze and I expected this to lead to a  white Christmas but instead, it’s been a muddy, wet winter, full of more temperate days than frosty ones. The thermometer rides up and down, every day propelled by a bouncing ball rather than a steady progression of tiny fluctuations.

The stream locks and then unlocks. It accepts each freeze and thaw with inestimable grace. After reading the news, it is hard to know what is near or far, here and up in the sky, in the mind or in the present moment. But the stream is always present, it knows no other moment. It lives in eternity; as David Hockney said, “It’s always now. It’s now that’s eternal.”

The creek is still here, I think to myself whenever I see it, it is still living. It runs forward through this strange January, sometimes under the ice and sometimes not. Patches of green moss dot the banks nearby, beyond that the nearby plants are broken, brown, and dried. They are asleep, listening to things I cannot hear, dreaming of things I barely know of.