29 April 2011

My back yard

One of this spring's benefits I had not anticipated has come my way by virtue of my lending Tal more of a hand with the yard work.  The physical labor has given me sore muscles and increasing endurance, no doubt.  It also gives me time for observation of all sorts of things from a given task's progress to the amazing variety of what lives all around our home.

The restlessness I have almost never been without during my life has on occasion been stilled of late (and not solely by exhaustion).  There is something about being outside, about the breeze ruffling my hair, about coming across a bird's nest, about marking new growth in the pine grove, about a fern's unrolling that is the equivalent of -- maybe even better than -- the most liturgically proper benediction I've ever pronounced or received.

To my wonder and delight I have determined that I don't need to go to the North Carolina mountains to enjoy -- and identify, photograph, admire -- wildflowers. I am managing very well to dog ear our Audubon wildflower book without once starting the car.

One of the most beautiful flowers is the diminutive and shy
Solomon's Seal, the blossoms hidden by the gently leaning stem.
Have I simply missed them in previous years or is our woods
gradually becoming more supportive of them?

Clearly, I am seeing our yard through newly appreciative eyes.  It isn't "just" the yard, space ever in need of tending.  Neither is it merely several acres of flowering sweetness. 

Increasingly, there are times when a walk along the promenade, through the pine grove, into the deeper woods reveals such surprises that the yard seems more like a foreign country than the familiar plot on which we have lived for some eight years.  Enticing and life giving?  Yes.  Startling and unexpectedly unsettling?  Yes.  Interesting?  Always.

A wildflower this isn't.  But, it IS wild -- an Eastern Eyed Click Beetle.  About two inches long, it collided with my head and then obliged a photo op when I located it in the grass near my feet.  The Orphan Annie eyes are decoys.  The actual eyes are forward and low, just behind the antenae, which it kept hidden until it began to move.

Eyes.  Mine are seeing differently these days.   I don't suppose they operate solely on their own.  More likely the guidance of what amounts to a new heart is making the difference.

24 April 2011

Not a requirement

Again, I find myself at the end of a period not having written a single essay.  If I am honest with myself, though, this may not in actuality be an end.  This bit of writing could be a single entry in a longer expanse of silent, commentary-free meanderings for me.

After all, there is nothing saying I must write every day.  Save, of course, my wanting to be disciplined at some aspect of my life.  There is a minimal routine to it all.  Meals are prepared, some of them carefully involved, and some of them favorite fall-back creations.  The house remains, though not always free of dust or of the outside tracked inside, presentable enough.  There's now the greened up and growing grass to keep trimmed.  Remarkably, we've not yet run out of underwear.

For weeks -- particularly through our physically demanding pine grove period -- keeping up with Meanderings was relegated to the end of the day, the very end.  The result was a sense of heavy obligation and an unwillingness to retire for the day until the entry was written, proofed, previewed and posted. 

I was up too late too regularly.  And, something which I had set out to do -- to stretch creative muscle, to explore self-expression, to engage existence -- turned into something else.  The term "bounden duty" comes to mind.  I was missing the point.  So, I stopped.  Embraced sleep.  Took a rest from the blog.

I know.  I know.  The volume on that adage I grew up hearing (you probably did, too) isn't much toned down.  Always finish what you start.  It's a good rule, one I honor mostly.  But, it's not law.

Even it it were law I hope it's one I will not fail to continue to break on occasion.  Discipline is one thing, as in pursuing good and productive and interesting tasks.  Persisting at making every endeavor arduous and complicated and even unpleasant, which I accomplish entirely too well, is another.  In such instances, not only can I but I will stop before I manage to finish.

07 April 2011

Spring time views

The coming of spring means the coming of regular yard work.  And, at the end of the day, it's worth it. 

While spring is not my favorite time of year (I know, that kind of southerner am I?), the two weeks the large-flowered white azaleas bloom fill me with a contented joy.  The photograph to the left is of the front of the house, a view I particularly like.

The worst of the pine pollen is over.  We will reopen the screened porch tomorrow, giving ourselves another room to enjoy and a view of the backyard and pond that's hard to leave.

View.  Contemplate.  Behold.  Such a good concept.  And, an aspect of spring I do appreciate very much.     

06 April 2011

Group shot

Writing the past two weeks or so has become increasingly difficult.  For some reason, even though there are words and thoughts which I could form into a post, I am less and less inclined to make the effort. 

I think at least in part the reason for my inertia has to do with the outside work Tal and I have been doing.  In itself limbing the pine grove and clearing away underbrush is not more than I can do.  But that, combined with the house and meals and dealing with bills and incoming mail, does add up to a certain amount of physical weariness.  Plus, my practice had become to stay up late to write.  That could only go on for so long.

We've been away.  It was a special time I don't want to let slide past without note.  And, it was a time of wonderful focus beyond the normal everyday.  My mother celebrated a major birthday last week and the weekend saw a gathering of family at Pawleys Island all dedicated to honoring her.  My three siblings, three of our four spouses, Mom's brother and sister-in-law and Mom went meal-to-meal from Friday dinner to Sunday breakfast.  Food is a basic way we humans express our love for each other isn't it?

This photograph was taken at Brookgreen Gardens at mid-day on Saturday
(a week ago tomorrow) --the ten of us at a bench placed in a lovely spot
overlooking the Dogwood Pond in memory of Dad.
I look at this photograph and see, in a manner of speaking, my whole life, people I know the best and have known the longest.  Relationship tried and true.  That short of anchor on a life make the ebbs and flows less troubling -- the writing to the not writing, even.  It'll all be OK.

05 April 2011

A night for purple prose

Early this morning while an intense storm wailed outside our house I actually wondered about who wrote the words I was thinking.  You know the ones:  It was a dark and stormy night ...  Of course, I know it as typed by Snoopy in Charles Schultz's comic strip, Peanuts.  The book Snoopy worked on as he sat hunched over a manual typewriter on the roof of this dog house always began with that line.

It was stormy.  Probably the worst weather we've had since we moved into this house almost seven years ago.  It was dark.  The electricity went out with the first violent surge of wind.  Lightening flashes illuminated the bedroom.  We felt small and solitary.  We watched and waited. 

After the storm abated, it was quiet.  No refrigerator, no HVAC, no ceiling fan.  Just our breath.  Four sets of lungs doing what lungs do.  And, then we slept.

After the electricity was restored and after breakfast I satisfied my mid-storm question.  That famous line of purple prose came from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, appearing in his 1830 novel, Paul Clifford.  It was well-received at the time of its publication.  And, it's available in several editions on Amazon.  For all its Gothic atmosphere and for all the ridicule it's received, being in print some 180 years later is a pretty good statistic.

It's not likely I'll order a copy.  Snoopy's more appealing.