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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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.