Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Distant sound of a pile driver…

Ah, yes. Summer means construction. Construction here in Batavia, IL means a new bridge to replace the 100 year old one. They like to do the loud work at night. It doesn't bother me at all and adds an unusual back sound. Lots of booms.

Today, after starting out a bit rough, I dithered and hemmed and hawed and shuffled back to bed a few times but in the end, I got myself together and worked on a few projects.

It's always shocking when I work on a project. If you know me, you might know I have many projects. Vast quantities of 'em all at different stages. I don't believe in finishing projects. I just like to have them around like some people like having kittens, puppies or children around. It feels good. Sometimes though (many times) those kittens, puppies or children get going crazy and then being overwhelmed, overworked and hunted down comes into play. I go between liking my projects, to hating their guts.

In an attempt to enjoy instead of hate , I forced myself to focus on one project. This project is a bright idea from the Purl Bee. Swatch Portraits. Now that we've moved to a new place, I need to decorate. I like decorations. I don't like starting to decorate. I like little corners. I hate big walls. There's a couple of big walls here so after laying out what I have in the area of wall decorations, I decided it was time to try out the Swatch Portrait project. A few days ago I got the wooden hoops and pulled out what fabrics would all look very purdy together and now I was going to try.

But wait! I wanted to make coasters out of cloth today too but I needed the right cloth to semi-go with the living room but then I needed bias tape but I also needed tiny alphabet rubber stamps and then ink that works with fabric to stamp on the bias tape that goes on the lower half of the coasters and this was all at Jo-ann's…and…and…see how it is?

I managed to Not start another new project. I started the swatches. They're terrifically easy and fun. So I did a few and I'll do a few more tomorrow.

And then…after I did a few swatches, I decided to really roll up my sleeves and I made Cannelli Bean Soup (delish!), Miniature Meatball Paninis (they go great with the soup) and a big pitcher of Sunshine Iced Tea. Jeff and I watched "Flushed Away" while eating this splendid meal. And Abby? Here she is. 

She wanted her share of the meatball panini as well. Sorry, cat!

Also…I've been reading "The Vicar of Wakefield" illustrated by Hugh Thomson. I'm in love with my 1890's copy. Beautiful books with beautiful bindings are a joy forever. It's forest green with gold embossing of leaves and a few birds. A picture of it will come soon.

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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.