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The Day’s Delight: Cold

The sharp cold. The snap of the wooden decking beneath your feet as you go out for one last look at the moon. The deep stillness of the trees, all root energy, all listening, all underground.

The heat of your own inner furnace turning icy white at the tips of your hair, the curling edge of your dark scarf, the fringe of your hood.

This is the burrowing into oneself that every small animal knows. This is not the weather for Resolutions, for bootstrap pulling or the determination of Achievement.

This is another doggedness entirely: the hold we each have on life, to keep living it, despite the cold, despite our smallness, despite the end that inevitably comes.

Here is the darkened den. Here is the beam of sunlight, hot on our paws, our wan faces. Here is the rush of blood to the skin and the knowing, by contrast, exactly what we want and that we are still very much Alive.

The Day’s Delight: Emmaline

I held a baby today. A toddler, really. A petite and precocious 16-month-old.

It’s been ages, pre-pandemic, since I have.

I used to turn down holding babies– they felt precarious, and would often wake up and cry once in my arms, sensing my hesitation. (But a room full of four-year-olds? No problem! Give me some puppets and I was set for 45 minutes.)

Then I had my own, and I thought, “Oh… This is why people do this.” And then, to my surprise, still didn’t crave holding other people’s babies. I’d offer, because I knew from experience how often a mom just needs a break, just a little bodily autonomy. But I didn’t become a GIMMETHEBABY lady.

But every now and then there’s a child who is so cute, so magnetic, so magical, that I want to snatch her up.

Emmaline sure is.

And that weight– nothing’s like the heft of a twenty pound pre-verbal human on your hip, part sack of potatoes part koala. The way they lean in (or spontaneously out, trusting you completely to compensate for gravity), the dance it puts your body into, the feeling of providing ballast and balance for some small and sacred thing.

It brings up the physical memory of my own child asleep on my chest, cinched close in the sling, hugging my back on a hike, curved like a kitten against my body in the middle of the bed.

I’m very happily done bringing babies into the world, very satisfied to be learning what Mom-ing an almost eleven-year-old feels like… And also so glad to steal someone’s tiny human now and then and catch a whiff of whatever came before all This.

The Day’s Delight: Knowing

The knowing of another person.

The one’s you’ve known for twenty years and still come back to, a place in your own inner landscape: here, this is where I learned X, there is where I first knew Y.

The peripheral orbits with which you intersect, swinging closer for a moment or a season and feeling your own refection off their celestial surface: a new sense of yourself, a new point from which to triangulate and journey on.

And the new ones, the surprises, the ones that came out of the blue but now, looking back across time and space, whose ripples are unmistakable: always coming to break in soft white waves on your shore.

Now you walk along your outer edges, collecting driftwood from some far-off and familiar land, and light a fire that can be seen from space.

The Day’s Delight: Nail Polish

When I was a kid, every six months or so my Alaskan cousins would send an enormous box of clothes they didn’t want anymore. My sisters and I would put on immediate fashion shows, feeling the richness of it all– and, at least for me, a little anxiety: what if someone else tried to claim my coveted item?

When I went to Savers this week, I bought three mixed bags of nail polish. A few years ago, when I finally purchased nail polish for the first time in over a decade, I was shocked and rather horrified that it was no longer $1.25/bottle; $9 for more than a dozen colors, and some very random purple body glitter, felt much more like what I was looking for: That sudden, surprising richness– of the cousins’ hand-me-downs or a babysitter’s manicure stash.

What is nail polish but pure indulgence?

Tonight my son and I sat down to try them out. He wasn’t at all interested in me giving him the salon treatment– much to my surprise, as I remember some hazy instance of the aforementioned beautiful, teenage babysitter painting my nails as I held my breath.

He painted with abandon. He broke rules I hadn’t even known I knew (namely, draw the brush straight along the nail from cuticle to tip, not at an angle on the diagonal!). He didn’t care at all that he colored outside the lines. He was thrilled to have black with red glitter on top. (He was, at least, impressed by how little I got on my hands).

So we sat there, cardboard protecting the table, unscrewing tiny bottles that were of no use to anyone else but were a delightful Why Not? to us. We watched “Hilda” on Netflix while the polish dried.

So, there was beauty in indulgence, in color, in the thrill of a bargain, in the marvelous boy who lives in a culture that allows him to have fun with a stereotypically feminine thing. And there was beauty of all the little moments that linked up: cousins and elegant teenagers, and choosing bright colors at home in the winter dark.

The Day’s Delight: Fingertips

The particular roughened tenderness that comes when you’ve picked up your guitar a handful of times in the last couple of weeks:

The hint of calluses, the pressure, like the tightness of new ice skates snugly laced. And the return to familiar mudras: C, G, A, D, Em.

The feeling of a chain dropping down and down through decades: this is the guitar you got from that first serious boyfriend, the luthier, who rescued it from a basement and repaired it himself.

This is the guitar you used for lessons– so you’d stop being so impressed by and then dating musicians– and it worked.

This is the guitar, and these are the fingers that stopped writing poetry and started writing songs.

Hold this curved, small body and you return to the summer of the pixie cut when you were the most qualified counselor at summer camp to accompany the nightly sing-alongs: D G A D! Nothing with bar chords!

All those moments live in the fingertips, the close hug of old wood to ribs.

Everything returns anew, and everything starts again.

The Day’s Delight: Haircut

Rapunzel’s hair must have hung heavy on her: not just maintenance and standard of beauty, but a ladder for her witch-mother and her lover, the only way to bring the distant and dangerous world up to her tower.

That’s a lot for a good girl to carry.

I sheared off a few years yesterday: the quick blade, the good conversation (littered with friendly f-bombs), the touch of someone else’s hands on my scalp– all the lifting of a great weight.

I left it lying on the floor, for some good cindermaid to sweep up, for birds to claim for next spring’s nests, as proof of what I no longer require. And I stepped into the world as light as Rapunzel, never looking back to see if the tower fell or not.

The Day’s Delight: Prodigal

I saw someone today I “barely know,” someone I’ve only talked to a handful of times.

She’d been gone for a while, a couple of months? And then, there she was, walking through the door, a little harried and bashful, but still the same beautiful soul doing her fierce best, discovering truths and talents in herself, and showing up, walking in more than one world at once.

Have our souls met before? Does the wound in her side remind me of my own? My family’s? (I want to put my hand there, feel the realness of it, and help in some way).

She was gone– not lost, but looking for something– and now her path has crossed with mine again, and my heart is more tender and awake because of it.

The Day’s Delight: young woman in yellow

A poet whose name I’d never heard of and whose words slid through my memory like birds I couldn’t hold, but which made me gasp and nod and point every now and then.

A young woman in a bright yellow coat with enough sense of self to say, “no thank you, Oprah, I like the one I chose myself.”

A young artist at the beginning of things who belonged in the thick of ritual and institution, who said to me: art belongs, youth belongs, woman belongs– without apology.

And a flawed and biased system that took the very small but still significant step of passing the mic and listening to her bright voice.

The Day’s Delight: Sea Smoke

The cloud bank above the lake this morning was dark and almost slate blue, looking more like rain than clouds tends to in winter.

The sky above it was light, non-descript in comparison, as it can be at the start of these still-short days. Below, the water was silvery, a Fae color.

And between the pale water and the dark clouds, sea smoke lifted in whisps so substantial I could see them on the horizon line. They looked like ghosts rising (gently), like old, slow spirits resurrecting from water so deep it rarely freezes.

How does something so cold steam? Only when the air, austere and Januarial, is colder still.

006 Ada & the Three Spinners

 

Four friends go to the Emerald City in search of answers,

A stubborn spinner gets some unusual help,

Two disagreeable cousins discover the magic of a secret garden.


Storypoem: Oz

Folktale: Ada & the Three Spinners

Recommended Reading: “The Secret Garden,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett

 

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