The sky was fire and tropical ocean and newborn skin this morning. A front is moving in to what has been clear, crisp Autumn weather, and the sun rising east of the clouds made a spectacular display of the bowl over the world as we drove to school this morning.
Ravel’s “Pavane For A Dead Princess” happened to be on the radio, providing a lush soundtrack to what should have been a hectic, little bit late drive, as cars swirled around the school like angry bees. I couldn’t seem to get agitated, though; the world around me made me grateful for the excuse to get up, even after a night with too little sleep. We moved through the streets in a peaceful cocoon, cresting a hill and exhaling as the trees opened and the sky surrounded us.
Sunrises are fleeting, changing with each moment, and by the time I dropped my daughter at the curb at school the sky was just a pale, morning blue with gray clouds moving in. I should have taken a picture when I could, but I simply didn’t think about it. The moment was all there was. It’s a little bit like raising kids, I guess. The beautiful moments are fleeting but change your outlook on the whole endeavor, enriching what otherwise would be an ordinary existence.
Perhaps the weather will turn colder today, perhaps it will rain. It won’t make any difference to me. A little bit of this morning’s skyfire will stay with me throughout the day, simply because I was up and witnessed it.
Forsythia in bloom. Grass greening. Ground softening and loosening. Branch tips fattening into buds. Neighborhoods awakening and children outside playing for short spells. Garden plans being made. Squirrels and bunnies and birds cavorting in the yard. Easter decorations in stores. Ice cream stands dark all winter starting to open for business. Ball fields full and runners charging around the bases. Sunshine and showers in equal measure. Snow.
April is a fickle month. One day coatless, one day searching high and low for the mittens I misplaced. Today we have blustery winds and snow showers, which puts a little damper on my sun-worshipper within. I know we are moving forward, though, so I refuse to let a little frozen water change my hopeful mood. I’ll move through the cutting wind with my chin in my collar and my eyes squinched mostly shut, thinking of warmer days soon to come and planning my summer vacation.
Spring will eventually stop being so capricious and linger. Tomorrow, maybe. That’s not what the meteorologist is predicting, but I’m hoping.
It is always days when I have too much on my mind that I have nothing to write. The distilling process in my brain hasn’t had enough time, and decisions need to be made or changed. I go to write down one thing, and the scene changes. I adjust, and it changes again. The act of thinking too many things stops me in my tracks sometimes.
There are days when I would just like to wipe the board clean and wait silently for whatever new will show up. This seems to be one of them.
Anyone Can Whistle – music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Anyone can whistle,
That’s what they say-
Anyone can whistle
Any old day-
It’s all so simple:
Relax, let go, let fly.
So someone tell me why
I can dance a tango,
I can read Greek-
I can slay a dragon
Any old week-
What’s hard is simple.
What’s natural comes hard.
Maybe you could show me
How to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free.
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me.
My head feels a size too small, like everything inside is the same but the wrapper has shrunk. Pressure behind my eyes, at my temples, even at my jaw line. The world is a little too bright, even though it’s overcast outside, and the intermittent rain just fits my mood.
I’m sipping coffee, infusing a little caffeine, and staying quiet until I see which way this thing is going to go. The house is blessedly quiet, I don’t have anything I really need to do until later, and I need to take it a little easy. Trumpet practicing might have to wait until this afternoon, and I need to be sharp for a rehearsal this evening. That may be a bit much to ask.
I’m not really good at these days. If I have to lay around, I’d much rather do it on a beach in the warm sun with a cold drink in my hand, sound of the waves in my ears. If I have to keep my eyes closed, I’d rather be asleep or in a dark concert hall, listening to a lush performance. If I have to move slowly and carefully, I’d rather have it be because a baby is sleeping or I’m on a heeling boat, cutting through the water.
In fact, there’s a lot of things I’d rather be doing. If I’m going to have a headache all day, at least I should have had a wild party the night before.
There are a few things that make life enjoyable, things that really don’t contribute much to the good of the world around us. A lazy Sunday, for instance. Closing my eyes and raising my face to the sun. An afternoon nap. Success on a difficult etude after days of work. The pause in my mind just after I finish a good book. Laughing over something silly. Serendipity. The discovery of a purple flower in the brown garden. Waking in the night to a quiet house. Saying something at just the moment someone else does, mind on exactly the same wavelength.
Sometimes I get so caught up in the mundane operational details of life that I forget to just enjoy those around me and enjoy the time I have with them. Conflicts arise, schedules interfere, mistakes are made, moods change. Things are ever shifting and I cannot get back time and experiences, but I’m learning to slow down a little and appreciate what is here every day.
Some days are certainly less enjoyable than others, but if I look hard enough, I can find at least one little thing to enjoy. The hard part is to remember to look, but I’m getting better at it.
There is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy the interval.
~ George Santayana
Well, it may be presumptuous, but I did a very contained Happy Dance when I noticed a trio of robins pecking at the wan grass in my backyard. The snow has mostly melted, the sun is trying to shine, it seems like something is about to burst on the scene, and there is definitely more activity amongst the wildlife outside.
Inside, I still have my fleece on over my sweatshirt, so I’m not really dancing yet. In the north, winter isn’t ever really over in March. I have been on this train of thought before only to have it derailed within the hour by more snow showers, so I’m almost afraid to look at the weather forecast to see what’s coming.
Wanting to avoid looking past my backyard has become a matter of self-preservation in ways beyond weather as well; there seems to be so much natural and political unrest in the world right now. If I don’t turn on the news or read other blogs or talk to any friends, I can believe that this is just a normal Spring approaching, and that robins in my yard are the best thing that could happen. I can pretend that there are no labor disputes affecting friends and colleagues, no more people losing their jobs, no conflict in other countries, no natural disasters to live through and recover from.
The world has taken a disturbing turn lately, but I suppose it’s no good to ignore what is going on in the wider picture. Lessons can be learned and support given, and we can be both empathetic and thankful that we are half a globe away from some of the disasters happening right now.
The view from my window is pleasant today, but it’s narrow. That can be a comfort in a troubled world, but sometimes it’s good to know when a storm is coming.
Last night there were no time constraints and nobody had to go anywhere; there was no need to put dinner on the table at a specific time. I could finish whenever I finished, so I gathered all my ingredients from the refrigerator and laid them out, working from one item to another, cleaning up as I went. I arranged a taco making station full of empty bowls and set about filling each one while the rice cooked.
As I moved from peppers to tomatoes, to onions, to olives, to lettuce, chopping all the components for tacos took on a meditative quality. Each stroke of the knife was a separate and discrete action, requiring no thought beyond the next stroke, needing no justification and no reason behind it. I had offers of help from several family members, but I turned them all down. Other nights, when I am fighting to have dinner done before one of us has to rush off, I gladly put people to work, but they didn’t seem to mind my good-natured refusal this time. None of them were very interested in the proceedings beyond offering to do their share and were busy doing other things, so they continued on. So did I.
The taco fillings I had made earlier stayed warm on the stove, sending a spicy, savory aroma to fill the kitchen that I breathed in as I worked through the crisp vegetables. The sound of the chop on the board, the cool feel of the veggies in my hand, the repetition of each action, and the satisfaction of seeing each bowl fill up with beautiful colors and textures became mesmerizing. I was almost sorry when I finished shredding the last chunk of lettuce just as the timer rang, indicating the rice was done.
I set out the hot pans next to the cool bowls, and called the family to come and combine the bounty in any way they saw fit. The mix of crunchy and soft, cool and warm, creamy and spicy always satisfies us on many levels. I stood back, leaning against the doorjamb, and watched my children build their tacos, jousting for turns at the full bowls and then carrying their laden plates to the table.
I made my own and joined them. There is more than one way to bring peace to the household.