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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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.