Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Think it’s too early for Christmas?

It’s never too early for Christmas! I feel incredibly lucky to have born near Christmas because it’s my favorite holiday of all. Of course, that begs the question, why do I love it? Because of my birthday or because of the holiday itself? And just like the chicken and egg question, it can never be answered.

Last year, I did a great online craft class by Elsiecake, one cool girl, and while I ripped my hair out over a few crafts, I really did enjoy it. *Note:  it’s only being a perfectionist that makes me rip out my hair while doing projects, after all.*  The class got me to steadily craft, at least for a few weeks and that was an entirely new experience. This year, I want to start the crafting mayhem again and I’ve started to rev my wheels. Of course, there are a few things that should be done before I start complete and utter crafting. One is stripping off all this ugly wallpaper and two is painting afterward. Three is painting a darling,  peeling stand-alone cupboard and four is painting a shelf for the wall. See how everything comes down to painting? And I have no compulsion to paint so I’m just going to have to craft. Maybe some painting will get slipped in there but that’s doubtful!

For this year, I’m thinking gingerbread. Gingerbread ornaments for the tree down in the finished basement and a gingerbread farm for…gingerbread farm animals, of course! I lived on a farm for a good part of my life and while we never had as many animals as I hoped for, this one will have The Animals. I kid you not. And of course, there’s many many presents to be made and decorations to come to life and so you see…painting just isn’t an option.

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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.

 

茶の煙柳と共にそよぐ也

the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling

Issa

(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.