Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

autumn brings some quiet…

I’m pretty sure Jeff and I successfully made it through a move followed by a week trip over to Paris. No one got lost for too long, nothing got broken during the move, everyone and everything is accounted for. Except perhaps the wonderful 20 pd bag of bird seed I had for the birds this winter. It turns out that chippies are able to get into our new home’s garage and they ate that 20 pd. bag in a week. It’s strange because they left little behind. it’s almost as if I moved an empty bag to the garage…and never was it ever full…

So it’s day two of being back in the States and certainly the rhythm of life is very different here than in Paris. What I’m really grateful is coming back to my own home (no apartment dwelling now! whee!) and having this big yard to ponder over. I’ve been sitting outside on the privacy of my own deck and just watching the sky…which is about all one can do when suffering from jetlag.

The cats are very possessive of us now, never letting us getting out of their eyesight unless, of course, they’re asleep! I wondered if they would remember us and they did and they do, very very well, which is rather touching.

So I’m here and I’m back and it’s been a long long ride. I’m glad the summer is closing because this summer has been very madcap. Every month since May we expected to move here to this house and every month it got moved back till finally there was a week till Paris and something had to happen. And it did. We got in and then we left. But now we’re back and I think I’ll unpack very very slowly and just relish this Non-rushing about. I’m not a very good rusher anyways.

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The Willows Converse Among Themselves

I look across the river and catch sight of the willows, lost in their own world. They have no regard for me. They are speaking to each other in whispers so I hear nothing clearly but I see their long golden-yellow chains wavering over the water. It reflects their light.

There are presences in this world that are not human but sometimes, a human being comes across one of these presences and this is when poetry happens—when we interact with the strange divinity that moves through the world.

I caught sight of the willows and so complete were they within themselves, so beautiful to behold, that my mind stopped dead in its tracks and my heart eased. In the presence of an Other, human commotion becomes impossibly silly and pointless. The past and future converge into the present and there is only now.

I exhale the stress I’ve held this morning as I watch them. The willows, their long hair hanging over their faces, disregard me totally and completely and talk in their slow tree way, something to do with the air, water, and earth. I cannot hear much but what I do hear makes me recall there were other beings on this earth other than myself, older than myself. They exist in this time, in many times, living, dying, always reappearing. The willows hang their hair over the water as they have done for centuries, listening to the currents and moving with the breezes and eddies of the wind.

With a gratefully diminished self, I thank the universe for the ancient poetry that is the willow tree and move forward, reborn, into the bright day.



the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling


(Trans. David G. Lanoue)

Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.