Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Winter and Spring

This winter, I’ve been thinking about curling up in the snow. It’s been a terrific season for snow and I think now as I look out of doors, I can see a good heaping five to seven inches of it. The garden is in a lull under it. Snow is soporific for the plants. They stay quiet and idle and dream about the time when they open their flowers, continue on with their lives.
    I’ve been wondering what it must be like to crawl under the snow and be a woman under the snow. Would my eyelashes turn to black ice? And then the irises of my eyes turn to blue ice? What would someone think if I rose out of the snow, the cracking of frozen ice accompanying as I stood up? Would they think I was dead and now alive? Or would they think I was the Mistress to Jack Frost and they knew he had a woman all along.
    I think I would be a bit spooky if I laid under the snow and then came up, breathing foggy air. I think I would like to catch the glimmer of the sun now and again, see a warm human face. I would take a walk, fold my arms together, click my tongue. I would go down Lincoln Ave and then cross McKee and then Wilson. I would walk to my favorite street and head down under the crabapple trees, barren and still. There’s no destination on my favorite street. I just like the situation of a few of the houses and the three crabapple trees so close that their branches intertwine. In the summer, they’re all different colors, rose, mauve and white. I have truly fallen in love with those trees and dream about them all the time. Someday too, I might have three crabapples, so close, their fingers intersect. I would put them in a tight row and they would be three odd ducks together, all different colors in the springtime.
    Springtime…that word would wake me out of the cold and dust. I would rise up, and a woman would gasp and a car would drive off the road but I would rise up and head down the sidewalk, to the house that has a thousand bluebells in their yard in the springtime. I would head down to those crab trees and stand for awhile, first on one leg and then the other, looking up. The trees would look down at me and then I would be forced to climb the middle one, high as I could. I would sniff the wind and even in all the frost and cold, I would catch the merest thread of spring. Then I would kiss a budding branch and head back down. I’d cruise back down that sidewalk, taking care to keep my arms close to my chest. I’d breath easy and then fall back into the yard, rolling, burying into the snow. Like a mole. My breathing would grow slower and slower till it barely was.
The trees pop like magic in the spring. They could really, raise anyone out of the slumber of cold and death.

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Ouroboros in the Park

Japanese anemone flowers open blush pink petals in the park.  Their tall, delicate stems hold up the tender flowers, and in the centers glow tiny pistil-laden suns. Furry carpenter bees buzz in a frenzy, adoring the tiny suns. Like all true worshipers, they circle round and round the yellow centers, smearing themselves in joy and pollen.

I also circle a center, but the object of my adoration is the park itself. As the path guides me around and around, my body, full of the usual tensions and distresses, takes the cue, finds the beat and the measure and walks to it.

The English Romantic Poets of the early 19th century were great walkers and believed that walking was essential to writing to poetry. With the body busy, the mind can walk freely, investing in its visions and tunneling down into what were previously subterranean thoughts.

This small park is my open field, my verdure, my ramble through hill and dale. My feet move on, sometimes slowing to a near pause, other times hurrying, suddenly propelled by a new and vivid notion.

About the fifth time around, a sort of mesmerism occurs and I fall under the trance of the day. The circle becomes a mantra uttered by my feet—knees, hips, shoulders, and arms follow along and we head down the path. I must walk, I must keep walking, I must continue to walk and the resolution becomes a reassurance as a cool breeze fills my lungs; I am alive and refreshed.

I pass under the oaks and dodge their falling acorns. Sometimes I entertain the notion that squirrels are hurling them, but when I catch sight of their small triangular faces they look as startled as me. It is the oaks themselves that are throwing the acorns down. I momentarily consider bringing an umbrella, opening it when I walk under the oaks, but this an old consideration that I’ve been contemplating for years of autumns and I’ve never acted on it. Instead, I dodge and the squirrels stare hard.

Finally I have to go but the revolutions and bees in the park stay with me even after I leave, continuing  with their wheeling. They pass through the days and nights, rapturous and serene, monotonous some days and a miracle on others, and on most days both. They exist in the circle that is sometimes opened, sometimes closed. Within the circle, everything changes and nothing changes each time we pass through.

 

Kazuaki Tanahashi, Miracle at Each Moment

 

Pocket-Sized Photo Diary

There are small moments that must be filled. They open and expand while waiting in doctors’ and dentists’ offices; in long, slow moving grocery check-out lines; or in those few, empty moments before leaving the house or office for another destination. Staring into space is my favorite pastime and generally fills up all the minutes given (and much more), but there are other waiting times when my spirit needs a gentle pick-me-up without doing much conscious work.

That’s when I open the Photo Album on my phone and start scrolling. I discovered this delight quite by accident while lounging in my therapist’s waiting room one afternoon. I was feeling flattened by living with PTSD and other health issues, and I wanted muster up a little hope before I went into my session. So in a despondent, weary way, I opened up the photo album app. To my surprise, I was greeted by pictures of flowers, landscapes and book excerpts that I had busily taken days ago and had already forgotten. I scrolled back farther and it was much the same, mixed with pictures of friends, family, pets, and friendly dogs I had met on my walks.

I discovered my photo diary which had been my pocket all this time. “I never travel without my diary,” Oscar Wilde wrote. “One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” It still holds true; nothing is so interesting as what we took notice of days ago, weeks and months ago, be it written in a journal or snapped with a viewfinder.

As days spin into weeks, months, and years, it is hard to catch hold of any kind of underlining rhythm or purpose. A photo diary offers a kind of consolation. There’s nothing sublime there, it simply marks changing seasons, interests, travels, and friendship. But perhaps on the difficult days where everything is too much including our own thoughts, a photo diary is a moment of gentle release. The lightness of ephemerality eases the heavy load of living.

 

“But life itself is short, and so you are terribly agitated by everything that is eternal.”

–Eileen Chang, On Music