Archive for the ‘time’ Category

The sun glistens on the catkins of Salix discolor—the pussy willow—shining as the overnight frost melts.

Soft, tactile, and strong, the catkins uniformly pack branches of a tree that rivals a nearby spruce in height. Years ago, I harvested its bouquets of catkin wands and gave them away at local schools during the early spring. Over time, I realized the catkins that remained turned brilliant gold as they fill with pollen, offering the first feast of spring to hundreds of beneficial insects.  I do not harvest the wands anymore.

Like so many, the pussy willow has its roots in memory.  This tree is an echo of one I sprouted from a wand and planted in my mother’s garden as a child. I have always felt her in the deep wood of this bush that resides in my garden. But no more.

My mother died in the winter of her life, in the season just passed.  I realized today that her presence has also exited the willow.

Far from empty, the willow is transforming again—from bare branch, to catkin, to flower, and eventually into summertime leaf. Willows are known for their vigorous roots and this bush is well planted.  The wood is no longer of memory, but of self-agency.  Pure life in its own right, unwound from story and seeking the sun and moon of its own journey.

I think my mother would have appreciated that.

Read Full Post »

Lucy Atop the Clock

Lucy waits each day away

Darling Reginald came not to play.

Nor even say “hello.”

The sun has come and sets again

Each morning Lucy rises alone.

Read Full Post »

The dried seed head of Allium cristophii is the size of a small cantaloupe. In bloom, the silvery violet florets create a globe atop a single stem that bears a strong resemblance to stars.  The common name of the bulb is Persian onion or “Star of Persia.”

Dried, the flowers that formed the sphere give way to a multitude of spokes, each ending in a star-shaped array that nestles a tiny niche of seeds within.

One such seed head resides in my office.  Dust is caught in its starry arms, even as its seeds quietly wait.

This seed head was once a magic wand in the hands of my youngest. I remember the last wish he conferred before he grew up and blew away in the autumn wind. That was years ago.

Only the wind can restore magic to this wand, and the seed wishes that remain. Stepping outside, leaves impatiently rustle under foot, the wind is high under a grey sky. I ruffle the seed head. The spokes break, the seeds are released from sleep to continue their long-lost journey, and the stem drops to decay.  Last wishes.

Read Full Post »

About 4’ in height, the garden spinner has three wheels of descending size.  Polyester ribbons affixed to each wheel were once brightly colored.  The flag at the base of the spinner, a stitched red ladybug atop a green leaf, points to the direction of the wind.

For the last 20 years, the spinner has held court in the corner of the summer vegetable garden using the breeze, or the winds blustering through, to proclaim its presence. A gentle breeze moves the largest of the wheels first.  A thunderstorm madly propels all three. 

The spinner delighted young children playing in their sandbox or tending the garden. It gaily provided ornamentation at their high school Open House celebrations.  And it stands now, bereft of color, but still fit, in its garden corner.

The spinner has welcomed and harvested the winds of two decades.  It awakens in the Spring, grows quiet as Summer goes to ground in Autumn, and dreams away the Winter in the garage.

At first glance, it is now a tired old spinner whose day has passed.  Is it an artifact too long held for its memory?  While it enjoyed its sunny days, the bluster that overtook this place blew away its color and its more nimble nature.  Visiting this summer, my oldest remarked on its longevity and rightful place in the garden.  Just now, a puff of air moved its wobbly wheels, as it easily pivoted to reveal the direction of the unseen quality that powers it.

The spinner remains.  As stalwart as the day I assembled its plastic and polyester pieces, it fulfills its purpose to translate what is unseen to the visible world.  Not as pretty, but still a structural, kinetic marvel that defies a date with the landfill.

Things change, and sometimes, things remain.

Read Full Post »

Glistening clouds of snow blanket the ground, the roof, the roads.

You may know these mornings.  Quiet, a dog barking in the distance, conifers silhouette a deep blue sky brightening before an orange-stroked sunrise.

Winter storms pass, leaving moments of unsullied stillness. Beneath the blanket and cold, some things sleep, some perish, some wait – much like memory. Other than the energy of our blood and bones we are only memory. Some memories finally pass, others will only pass when we do.

The sun will soon dazzle the landscape with its untrammeled brilliance, blinding thought to anything but glory. Then the blankets will fray to fluid and reveal again what lies there. 

Read Full Post »

Have you noticed?  You are getting older.  So am I.

At my annual physical recently – a systems check of moving parts. cardiac, respiratory, gastrointestinal, musculature, neurological, and dermatological.  Blood pressure — the force at which blood courses through veins to keep major organs fit.  Blood pressure is a Goldilocks statistic — neither high nor low is just right.

In concert, these systems create the song that is you. Regardless of age, the collaboration of those systems, and that song, is changing, even now. The breath and thought of today cannot be the same tomorrow.

The pithy slogan “Change Happens,” reminds those with concretized views that change comes to each life.  The deeper truth is we are change, conditioned upon those beautiful physiologic systems and the environments in which we find ourselves.

Sudden or chronic illness, or accident, drives home the message. If lucky, we are allowed to live within the one body granted us until it ages out of the game. Generation after generation until humans are no more.

Life is anguish for some, joy for others, maybe most of the time somewhere in between. Bridging the space between sky and earth, our bodies are the gift that allow us to feel, express, reflect, participate. They ferry us where we want to go on the planet, in its waters, and above.

Experience is the natural and sometimes hard-won aim of biological life.  When systems fail and the body slumps, the kernel that is us trills on, star stuff once again. The drama, accomplishments, losses, and possessions mean naught but as the memories of others that will fade in time.

At dawn, noon, or dusk, mind the blood, mind the body, and enjoy your glorious time while it lasts.

Read Full Post »

Some are pushed by the past onto the road of their lives.

Still others drawn forward by a subtle half-light image.

The aims of each will be different.

One pulled by the future, one pushed by the past.

Which, I wonder.

Read Full Post »

Spring Forward

A single gull wends eastward against pink clouds underlit by the rising sun.

Perhaps it is Jonathon, dropping in for a visit to try a few new moves.

Read Full Post »

I watch my hands finger the small bootie once worn by my children. The tag inside reads “6/12 months.” This was a first shoe for two toddlers just learning to walk.

I see my fingers move, thinning, loose skin on the back of my hands piling up and relaxing. These are ‘doing’ hands.  I have thoughtlessly relied upon them forever.

My children are decades into their lives now. One grew into shoes he used to walk completely out of my life.  The other wears shoes that keep him in motion, learning, building, and exploring.

And here remains the small bootie and the hands that helped those tiny feet touch down on the earth so very long ago.

Read Full Post »

It is older than me, taller too.  The silver tree, aluminum fronds, plain pink and silver ball ornaments.  Just the right kind of ornament to reflect the changing colors cast by the slowly rotating color wheel a few feet away.

I have not put the tree up in years.  Not since I became afraid my youngest would damage it when he became angry, as he often did.

2020 has broken lives, families, and created a historical scar on this planet.  People die that should not.  Souls flee failing flesh. I cry by the numbers.

The holiday spirit is in short supply for me this year.  My neighborhood, and this small town, has more holiday lights up this season than I ever remember.  The three-mile treed boulevard through town is festooned with lights strung on every tree. It is a sight. Light a candle against the darkness.

A week ago, I clambered high up in my garage to find the boxes holding the tree pieces. The light hardware and ornaments are stored in a Norbest turkey box. 

The silver tree and the Norbest turkey box are characters from a bygone era.  When companies handed out turkeys to employees as a seasonal boon and aluminum trees standing amid cotton clouds were the latest thing—well over 50 years ago.

Tonight, watching the tree, green to blue, to yellow to red, I remember the first year I was allowed to hang a ball ornament using both small hands, on a shiny limb. I recall the family parties by its light, then the teen parties I had.  One day, years in the future, I coincidentally stopped by my parent’s house on the day they dropped it at the curb for the garbage. 

Those people, that place, are gone.  The years of work, marriage, children, divorce, and youth long gone. Decades flash by.

Tonight, the scratchy sound of the color wheel is familiar.  Maybe working a bit harder given its age, but I understand. The tree and aluminum fronds stand straight, shiny, and untarnished. It is as it was when I was five.

I was not sure why I put the tree up this year, although the angry child in question is grown and gone.  Given the ignorance and infectious zeal that has taken and transformed our lives, I had thought to sideline the winter holidays in deference to the darkness. At this moment, I quietly understand the tree came back to open a window to the past, and perhaps the present, as it is all any of us really have.

I see the tree now as I did then.  My life is lived and the colors still change.  I remember.

Read Full Post »