Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Peabodys vs. Football

I only knew it was superbowl Sunday because the grocery stores were madhouses and I inquired of the checkout lady what was up. "Oh, it's always like this on the Superbowl." Ohhh yeahhhhhhh, the Superbowl. The guy bagging up my groceries smiled very sadly at me after her comment. Did he want to be home? getting ready for the superbowl? Or did he rue the day of the Superbowl and felt downtrodden by it all? I don't really know but I left wondering how American I really was (I've never watched a football game ever. Though Homecoming in recent years has seemed intriguing. I've never been one. never went to high school). And then I laughed at myself for wondering if I was American Enough. Since when did that ever go through my head? Lordy.

Grocery store #2 was also beleaguered though the peoples behind the meat and cheese counters seemed happy enough and asked customers who they wanted to win.

So inspite of all this (or in a carefully measured reaction), I have decided to mention the fact that I finished the lovely 400 pg. biography of the Peabody Sisters. Peabody who? Elizabeth, Mary and Sophia Peabody. Elizabeth got a hold of the transcending idea before trandescendalism and Emerson knew what was what. The reclusive Sophia married the reclusive Hawthorne and Mary married…Horace…Horace…it escapes me. Basically, these woman played transcendalist ball with the best of them. Poor Elizabeth with her awesome teaching ideas got involved with the "man of genius but of little talents," Mr. Bronson Alcott. His school she worked at ended poorly because it involved Alcott but Elizabeth went on to work with the goverment in establishing nation-wide required kindergartens. Kindergartens! I have always wondered why we use the german word, kindergarten. Now I know. Elizabeth, like most high-brow intellectuals living circa 1830's, was huge on german ideas, german everything. Kindergarten! So anyways, it was a great biography, very well written, very fascinating. When one sister's life would get not so interesting, it was off to another sister who was getting interesting. I'd like to read more on Sophia and Hawthorne, I think. They were odd ducks and I'm an odd duck observer.

But in the meanwhile, on to more Tony Hillerman novels! I'll be sad when I've read them all and I almost have. The boon of these books is all the Navajo insights that get picked up. New insights about how the world works and how we work in it allow me to walk into each day far more serene, far more ready. And they're nice plot driven books besides!

So now for all those Superbowl fans…I hope some team wins? Thank you.

 

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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.