Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

five small things

I thought I might join in since one of these memes is floating around.

5 Things You May Not Know About Me:

 

1. I'm a heavy reader of 19th century literature, English, American and Canadian. It's a deep interest that began as a teenager and has never let up. It's gotten to the point that I'm heading towards more obscure authors and have had to get a book or two from England. Lucky for me, that writing novels was prolific in the 19th century. Some of my personal favorites are Yonge, Montgomery, Gaskell, Eliot and Hawthorne.

 

2. After leaving college, I almost stopped entirely listening to music. I've only recently started again and I listen mostly to Mozart and Bach. Jon K. always sends me wonderful mixes and so I listen to those as well. I'm not sure why I stopped listening but I think it has something to do with a deep need for silence.

 

3. I am the seventh Catherine on my mother's side. I might even be eight or nine but my grandmother never got far enough on the geneology records. That's a lot of Catherines. And they all started their name with a C.

 

4. I biked across Vermont and Massachusetts when I was thirteen. I was part of a small school and the tutor was from Vermont. All his children biked across for Vermont and so we had to also. It was mostly awful (I was completely out of shape) but also wonderful- I could eat two Snickers bars a day and still lose weight. We biked around 60 miles a day.

 

5. I want to live on a small farm someday (I'm not sure where) and have animals there. I sometimes I wonder if I could handle it…but I think I could.

 

Okay! Let's see…if you read this, that means you're tagged.

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The Willows Converse Among Themselves

I look across the river and catch sight of the willows, lost in their own world. They have no regard for me. They are speaking to each other in whispers so I hear nothing clearly but I see their long golden-yellow chains wavering over the water. It reflects their light.

There are presences in this world that are not human but sometimes, a human being comes across one of these presences and this is when poetry happens—when we interact with the strange divinity that moves through the world.

I caught sight of the willows and so complete were they within themselves, so beautiful to behold, that my mind stopped dead in its tracks and my heart eased. In the presence of an Other, human commotion becomes impossibly silly and pointless. The past and future converge into the present and there is only now.

I exhale the stress I’ve held this morning as I watch them. The willows, their long hair hanging over their faces, disregard me totally and completely and talk in their slow tree way, something to do with the air, water, and earth. I cannot hear much but what I do hear makes me recall there were other beings on this earth other than myself, older than myself. They exist in this time, in many times, living, dying, always reappearing. The willows hang their hair over the water as they have done for centuries, listening to the currents and moving with the breezes and eddies of the wind.

With a gratefully diminished self, I thank the universe for the ancient poetry that is the willow tree and move forward, reborn, into the bright day.

 

茶の煙柳と共にそよぐ也

the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling

Issa

(Trans. David G. Lanoue)

Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.