Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

I wandered lonely as a cloud

An excerpt from today:

I'm sitting in my car on a very windy cold day looking out over the grey river at Fabyan Forest Park.
I have just run errands and the last one is the library.
The snow has been gone for so long- it's hard to imagine the woods with it. I can still it see somewhere in my mind- white, grey and blue.
The clouds above the line of trees on the opposite bank take on a purple grey color and I wonder if it's because of the brown trees below?
A mass of trees always put an aura in the air around it. Always, a sort of mist hangs around it even though it is no mist at all. It is just the different height of branches and twigs all delicately interlaced in the sky. So now the clouds are purple instead of merely just grey due to these brown interweavings.
And there's the tiniest big of purple in the river because the river always reflects the clouds. The color of purple in the river is so faint, you wouldn't notice it if you didn't see the trees touching the clouds into color.
I feel like I could go on forever about the trees, sky and river. A thousand years could go by and I wouldn't say it all. Not at all.
Can I know this place? If I moved away would it gain clarity and grow starbright? Or would it writhe and glower in my mind and become hidden in homesickness. This place did both when I was away in college. It gave me my best essay and it scored my heart with a hundred missing cuts and bruises. The lakes of Minnesota did nothing to satiate the need of this particular river and forest.
Why does a place do that? This place has memories in my mind from childhood but the memories are like dreams and I've never been sure if I went here with my parents and aunt or if I dreamed that I did, over and over as a child.
I am here now and I'm still not sure of those memories. I am simply glad to be here.

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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.