Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Old made new again…

Now that autumn is rolling in, all cold and rainy, I’m reminded of school and Betsy Ray. That’s right! Thinking of school always reminds me of Miss Betsy Ray from Deep Valley and how much I need to take a trip to that world.

The Betsy series actually starts up when Betsy’s a little girl and book after book carries us through grade school, high school, a trip to Europe and finally marriage. I have to say that though the books about Betsy’s childhood are sweet, they don’t hold much for me anymore. What I truly still get into are the books about her high school and then adult years. Betsy is a highly autobiographical character and there’s no doubt about it, the author, Maud Hart Lovelace, loved life and people with a happy zest. And it’s such a wonderful view to get into, especially on these dark and coldish days. I also love the time period it’s set in, the early 1900’s and seeing what teenagers did for entertainment in this era. Fudge and singing and dancing! And instead of women being irked how long clothes took to have made, everyone seems to anticipate finally getting a lovely new dress or skirt and waist.  There’s something to be said for anticipation. What I also like is how Betsy’s agenda is always about having a good time and how she struggles to grow further than that and the set backs and victories she has. She’s a social bee, no doubt about it but she’s also a writer and she has to find a way to balance the two. She also has a kick-ass quirky family and I’m glad they exist forever on the page!

And then there are the books themselves…I battled internally over getting old used copies or the new trade paperbacks where two books are packaged in one. I settled for the new because of the new still have the awesome old illustrations (yes! there’s illustrations!), the cheerful happy covers and I want these books to stay in print! so it’s always good to buy books that are really worthwhile.

Comments (1):

  1. Cindi, Mom, Me

    October 8, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Now I want to read them, too.

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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.