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The Day’s Delight: Wet

Let’s say the sad things out loud. Softly, constantly, so they fall upon themselves like breakers on the rocks, sliding their wet fingers over and over and over the same rough places, the same sharp edges.

Salt purifies. Water makes all bodies smooth. The run-off churns brown with silt and tannins, but water is water: one, instantly and always. And the sky is vast with a blue that can’t be used up.

I’ll tell you my truth and you tell it back. We’ll take turns being wave and shore, inlet and sea, evaporating cloud and soaking rain. These words are one, the same, all rising and falling, vapor to liquid in an unending cycle, telling the same secret that everyone knows (whether they know it or not) for the rest of this life, until the day the tide stops.

The Day’s Delight: No Remorse

The hedgehog and the child are not that different:

On the way to the bathroom I found: a buff, a yellow shirt (that still smells like sunscreen and thus has not been washed since the sailing trip), a pair of black pants, two socks, and green minecraft underwear (inside out), all laid like breadcrumbs from the piano to the bathtub.

“I got the idea from Calvin & Hobbes. Calvin tells his mom, ‘I’m taking a bath,’ and she says, ‘So I gathered.'” (Later, Ennis was totally surprised to find I hadn’t, like Calvin’s mom, picked up all his clothes).

And the hedgehog? Hippolyta explored her way right off the bed and landed with a gentle thud on the rug! Despite my warning noises and admonishments, If you can believe it. Just like a toddler she went back for more and I had to dive to the end of the bed to save her from herself.

Did anyone learn anything? Why, yes, I suppose they did. And by “they,” I mean “I”: animals and children have comedic timing that is not to be missed. And I’ll happily play the straight man to both for at least a while longer yet.

The Day’s Delight: Ronia’s Woods

Jag gick med Ronja i skogen– hon som har varit inspirerande hela mitt liv: med äventyr och modighet och at leva uti skogen, och att vara arg (och skrika när man måste eller bara vill).

I walked with Ronia in the woods. Near the place where I want to live. I asked her about what she would do, this figure who I’ve kept half an eye on for so much of my life as an example of ferocity and bravery and pride and wild broken heartedness.

I often think that I should learn at least basic phrases and names for flora and fauna in Ojibwe, but today since I was talking to myself– and to Ronia– I spoke Swedish.

The trees didn’t mind. Neither did the moss that is so vibrantly green right now it is more real than the rest of the world. The birch bark lay in sheets on the ground, as if the trees have all started writing new drafts and are too rich with visions and ideas to even bother throwing the old ones into the fire.

Catkins dangled like party decorations off a young birch. My friend’s mountain rose up beyond the river. (Though as Birk tells Ronia, it’s the foxes’ woods and murktrolls’ woods and the wild horses’ woods— to which she replies, tell me something I don’t know already, something I don’t know better than you, or shut up.)

It’s a frightening thing to love the woods– what if they don’t love you back? Why should they? Wouldn’t it be better to stay in the safe grid of the city, in the tidy blocks of the town? To pretend that the wild isn’t the way of things, that it isn’t creeping, always, reclaiming everything that isn’t constantly wiped down?

My friend Jon says, “You can have Magic or you can have Predictability, but you can’t have both.”

I think maybe you can have your soul or your safety; your fresh, wild life or the illusion that death will never come for you.

Jag frågade Ronja, skulle jag bo i stan eller här, vid strömm och träd och okänd farlighet? Och Ronja svarade, Jag skulle endast leva här.

Shall I be tame or wild?

Ronia tells Birk, Cover your ears, my spring yell is coming! Birk tells Ronia, This summer is going to live with me the rest of my life.

The Day’s Delight: Iris + Rose

“I don’t know if this is still Roseabelle, but I’m at Gooseberry for the week…”

An old friend from another lifetime (one of my favorites– lifetimes and friends) is “in town,” aka an hour and a half down the shore. But it’s a non-parenting weekend for me, and what’s a little highway time over twenty-two years?

Everyone was older, and everyone was the same. The kids were all grown up, but I could see the baby faces I remember from back when I was their age and they were just barely in school.

A covid marriage and a covid divorce between us. Photos of cats. Questions about who else we’ve kept in touch with. We ate supper together and it was like I was eighteen again: up late, talking and half-watching CSI (I think), a quilting project in progress, shoulder massages, ice cubes clinking in glasses, talking about guys we like and if anyone has “seen” either of the ghosts lately (Ruby and Norm, the house’s first owners).

The kids and Colleen played Farkle. Tina and Iris and I talked and talked. The rain came and went. The sky got dark.

“You can stay over if you want to– we have comfy recliners. I’d say you could join me and my husband in the bed, but I don’t think he’d go for it.”

When we were both dropping out of college I’d go over to her grandparents’ fabulous house in Edina while she was house sitting, and we’d drink tequila and do other less legal things and sit and smoke in the conservatory while little birds flew around above us, and finally collapse into bed, snuggled up together the way theatre kids do, the way teenage girls do, the way I wish all my girlfriends and I would still do, now. A tangle of limbs and a mild hangover and the incredible ease of being at home in ourselves and our lives and each other– two artists, two actresses, two flower girls: Iris and Rose, so very close and sweet and easy together.

Standing With Another Soul

“We are strong when we stand with another soul. When we are with another, we cannot be broken.”

“…to say a person’s name is to make a wish or a blessing over them each time their name is called.”

“Afeared or not, it is an act of deepest love to allow oneself to be stirred by the wildish soul of another. In a world where humans are so afraid of ‘losing,’ there are far too many protective walls against being dissolved in the numinosity of another human soul.”

-Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves


Numinous:
It is an awareness of human nothingness when faced with a holy and powerful being
It comes from ‘numen’ = to bow the head

– revisionworld.com

The Day’s Delight: the Drummer Downstairs

There’s a drummer downstairs, and every now and I then I hear him tapping out rhythms on the walls, and I tap back. Matching, improvising, changing, challenging.

He came upstairs today, poked his head around the door: “Who is that? Is that Rose? You’re really good!”

I said, “But give me an egg shaker on stage and I’ll lose the beat.” Which is just bullshit.

And isn’t that a true delight: a spade’s a spade, and an old lie doesn’t hold up to daylight anymore.

ba-pa-ta-ba-pa-ta-ba-pa-ta-ba!

When the truth knocks and asks if you can come out and play, you should answer with a Yes.

The Day’s Delight: Telling Montana

Telling the truth– about everything that’s slant: kids and co-parents and our own parents, our bodies, our resurrection, our stumbling selves.

I said it is a sort of comfort to feel a little ill-at-ease, to ride a little on the edge, to be figuring this out: it keeps me awake at the wheel, and I don’t want to miss this view, this landscape that is like eastern Montana: it’s not what you drove west for, but of course it is.

The flatness, the strangeness of time stretching and collapsing. The eons overlaying one another so that the ghosts of glaciers crush us and then vanish before we realize what has happened.

The openness means all things are equally possible: maybe the world ends before we run out of gas; maybe it never does and there’s no destination, only the road that keeps slipping away beneath our wheels. Maybe Godot is driving and we just didn’t recognize him, and that’s the cosmic joke: this is no stranger than looking in a mirror, staring and staring, trying to see yourself blink, trying to hear yourself tell the truth all at once.

The Day’s Delight: Mammals

What is it about mammals that makes us crave each other’s company?

Hedgehog, dog, cat, human– another body in contact with yours is the most comforting thing: you exist, here and now says that weight, however small, on your feet, your chest, your lap, your shoulder.

Even to think of it: hands touching hands, noses together, the thump of a tail, the turn-and-burrow beneath the blanket. I think we all want to keep warm. We all want a beating heart beside our own, more even than we crave conversation, because the body predates language.

More than by I love you we make our home in a shared gravity. We build a fort, a castle, a cave, a life, in the space between ourselves and the ones we can reach out and pull close.

The Day’s Delight: Wind’s in the East

The damp in the air on a walk after work. The long light evening. The warmth layered with waves of cold coming off the melting snowbanks that the sun hasn’t yet reached.

The woods looked a little wrecked: trees limbed and space cleared between the plantation rows, but the smell was alive and piney, and what can you do but wish them well if you’re not going to chain yourself to heavy machinery? (Plant more trees, build your house, use both sides of the paper.)

I came across a water beetle as long and twice as broad as my thumb. I saw slick strips of birch bark. I walked on red-brown dirt that ought to be muddier this time of year, under a sky sinking with deep blue clouds– spring-storm clouds, not gray-blue snow clouds.

And now the sky flashes purple and white. Rain lashes the windows. No matter how many cold days there are, we keep moving forward, turning the wheel, churning the lake with wind, coming up green again, improvising, playing it by memory, by heart, just like every time– everyone– before.

The Day’s Delight: Painted Ladies

I took a walk in the woods by myself today. The river ran below me, loud at the cliff and muted in the trees. Gullies gurgled with the scant melt of this unusually dry spring. The painted lady butterflies were out in thick clusters– or, at least they looked decadent to me after their absence all winter.

I like that painted ladies come out so early. And I like that whenever I see a pack of them I know that these elegant, beautiful, ephemeral harbingers of spring… are eating shit.

They were– probably (hopefully!) a dog duece that had rolled down the bank of a run-off stream. I crouched down to watch, waiting for them to return. (Whenever I see butterflies or moths flying, spiraling, I think of Barbara Kingsolver’s “Prodigal Summer:” the most sensuous book I’ve ever read, including the part about moth flight.)

I like that these first bright bursts of color– orange and black and brown– aren’t sipping nectar from fresh spring flowers. The flowers aren’t here yet, though I might have helped will them into being just by the visceral force of last year’s memory: hepatica as far as the eye could see, a gentle, hopeful, sweet fragrance everywhere you went.

No, these beauties feast on the filth, the leftovers, the waste that is left behind. That’s the magic of the wild, of nature, of the truth: old shit makes good soil. The thing that makes you wrinkle your nose is the very thing that makes every delight possible.

I watched the painted ladies for a while, then hiked on, lighter– or perhaps just reminded, tromping in the mud and last treacherous ice, I was in good company.