Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

drama queen finis

Well. We put down Abby yesterday. And I cannot stop sorrowing. She was with me for nearly eleven years- my brother found her in a tree on the farm when the rest of us were off in Toronto. I was eighteen then and I'm twenty-eight now. She always chose to be around me, preferred my lap, my bedroom, Me. So when I married, of course she came along! And she was always my darling pet, very pretty, very floofy and quite funny. And now…she doesn't sit in my lap when I pull out my knitting. Nor will she watch from her perch on a kitchen chair when I'm cooking. Nor will she watch me write or try to lie on my paper while I write. She was constantly around me, she followed me through the house nearly all the time. She tended to be wherever I was and she picked up funny little habits and then dropped them every few months or so.

And she's gone! My brain is having a devil of a time parsing this. We chose to put her down partially for the expense and partially because of her terrible reaction to the vet's the first time a month ago. I mean…she stopped eating for awhile afterwards and I just wonder…well, anyway. It's over. Her suffering is over (because she was suffering. She was drinking constantly and had bad diarrhea) but…is it? What is on the other side of this life? I can only hope, so quietly, very quietly, that she doesn't disappear into nowhere and nothing. She doesn't become blackness, blankness, nothingness. That's she's off somewhere else without her ailing, dying body and that someday…I'll get to see her. Because we were friends. Excellent friends and connections like that just don't die. Not even with pets, I so quietly hope.

So here's to my tender little friend whom I loved and love so much. I wish you didn't have to go, Pud, and well…goodnight, sweet princess, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

 

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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.