Saturday, November 22, 2008

The need to say it~

I live happily in my own head, content and entertained by my own ponderings and observations. This outward look/inward analysis serves the writer in me well.

I'm a bit isolated during the time it takes to transfer words from head to paper. The process requires uninterrupted time while the download takes place.

Usually I listen to the words in my head and type them-- an easy flow from mind to lap top. Who needs a pen and paper these days? I ignore a multitude of distractions around me to the point that my husband will complain, "You don't remember a thing I tell you."

Huh? Has he spoken?

It's not that I've forgotten, exactly; it's more like I never heard him in the first place. I could well have looked him in the eye while he told me he had a meeting at six o'clock, but my look would have been the vacant stare of a sleepwalker. I may even have nodded and given an affirmative mmm, hmmm, but I didn't absorb a thing. The thread of my own thought was still running in my head, blocking anything else from penetrating. And it must be that way, or I'd lose everything I need to say.

Need is a strong word, but it feels like a need. I write, and in the process clarify something for myself. And the best of circumstances what I need to say resonates with a reader who lets me know.

Today I got a hand-lettered envelope, rare in this day of email and junk mail. The note, a thank-you, read:

Dear Ms. Douillette:

A dear friend, 87 yrs. young, ten years older than I, always gives me her old CSMs and I am reading the September 23 issue today. Your article Citrus-Scented Love has great meaning for me. Thank you for writing it.

The way the brain remembers fragrances and associations connected to them is a beautiful mystery of life.


She included her email address, but I'll send her a real note like she sent me-- the old-fashioned pen and ink kind. I'll tell her how much it means to know that she felt what I needed to say. And I'll pay it forward when another writer's words resonate with me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You really do not see~

The Tree on the Corner
By Lilian Moore

I've seen
The tree on the corner
in spring bud
and summer green.
it was yellow gold.
Then a cold
wind began to blow.
Now I know--
you really do not see
a tree
until you see
its bones.

I came across this poem years ago when I was a new teacher. It was perfect for young students with its simple words, and simple expression of the sequence of the seasons.

I printed the words on chart paper, using the appropriate color for each season's verse. I drew a bare tree, branches reaching and dividing and running off the paper, and leaves on the ground around the trunk. I hung it on a bulletin board every year in November. The children loved its rhythm . . . like the rhythm of the seasons.

I left this poster behind, along with many others, when I retired. But the words remained with me when I left.

Today I walked into a hospital room to visit my mother. She'd broken her hip yesterday and was waiting for surgery.

Pale, slack-faced in sleep, her form looked small as a child's under the white blanket. The skin on her arms and face was as wrinkled as bark . . . and I thought, "You really do not see a tree until you see its bones."

I looked for a long time hesitant to wake her.

This is her winter.

But when she opened her eyes, and reached for my hand with a smile, and said my name with pleasure . . . I saw she still had spring inside.

“Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple tree.”
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Monday, November 3, 2008

The tough get going~

I took a picture yesterday morning of frosty leaves on a prickly vine. Not fine art, or anything, but the sun sparkling on the frost caught my eye, so I took the picture. I posted it on Flickr with the title: "When the going gets tough."

The plant will succumb soon enough to the cold by dropping its leaves and hunkering down in survival mode for the winter, but in the meantime, it was hanging in . . . the tough get going.
When the going gets tough~
The title now seems a bit prophetic after I answered the phone this morning. An older son issue. Again. The kind that wrenches a mother's gut and calls for maternal toughness. Again.

So I need to be strong when I feel anything but, act decisively when I have no clue if I'm doing the right thing. Time will tell. I can only take one step at a time. Each one takes me to a new vantage point, another decision to be made.

One step at a time, day by day. This works.

Somehow I've learned to stop worrying about where I'll be called to step in the future. When I get to that point, it will be clear to me. Or as clear as it ever is.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Frosty leaves on a prickly vine. Come spring the vine will burst forth with tender new growth. I can count on that.
Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles. ~Alex Karras