Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

So I was lucky enough to have Hollywood make a mix for me. And is it one of the best mixes, I've ever heard. Well, I should say so far. Because I've only listened to four tracks. And have replayed them over and over. I'm slow sort of listener and like to savor my music and then move on with time. Anyway, it's a fabulous mix and I look forward to the time ahead as I slowly listen to everything and think it all over.

I have to say though…it's odd listening to a certain sort of music anymore. I loved it when I was in college because I resonated with it so well and I still love it. But the resonation isn't there anymore. I think there's a song on there from the group Xiu Xiu's La Foret and they're really tight and really good and they have that sound. I'm trying to think of another band that has the sound of I'm thinking of but I'm not quite sure- it's a feeling that runs under lots of bands, and bands that are very different from each other. Like at the drive in and radiohead and Death Cab (sometimes) and Pinback (at times). There's the tight feeling that comes from good music but under that, there's a turmoil. A tight sharp turmoil. Very pretty, very well done.
And while I still enjoy that sound, my heart isn't there anymore. And I find that somewhat of a shock and almost odd.
Now that I have the time and the love to be at home and do things, I find that these things are helpers to the condition of myself. Knitting, drawing, gardening, writing, cooking- all these things, which I do nearly everyday and improve in every day, all these things mend, resolve, evolve the state of myself.
And the turmoil…it just seems to pass away. I sit on a bench and draw a teahouse, using brown and green pencils and the inward grind slows and relaxes. I cook with green and red peppers and they come out wonderfully- things loosen inside. Break down and come apart and I eat in rest. My words march along swifter and smoother and everyday they march, my seedlings in the kitchen break through the soil and start to grow, just all these things, everyday, they change everything. Everytime.

**There is perfection nowhere but everyday there is improvement. I think that must be the life of an artist- this improvement. This ascension. I don't want perfection. I just want to improve. And that is possible everyday.

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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.