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This Untrimmable Light

 

John O’Donohue says, “Light is the great priestess of landscape.”

 

Today is the second talk of our Giving Motherhood a Voice book tour.
We are in my homeland of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
My sister, classmates, neighbors; college pals, teachers and new friends are in the audiences.
The authors from An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, Kathy Drue of L’Anse, Michigan and Monica Devine of Eagle River, Alaska are joined by Terri L.Bocklund of Sykesville, MD here in Marquette today at 2 and tomorrow in Ishpeming at 6:30.

 

To describe the joy of doing these talks in this place would take more words and time than I have here today. Last night, in Escanaba, Terri described the genius loci of Lake Superior, the great vast “sweet sea” as the first French explorers called this place. Genius loci is the protective spirit of a place. While Lake Superior and this wild remote land can be harsh, offering winter winds that battle with all that is man made, there is also a densely beautiful grace to this location. Just this morning, cedar and birch, a Bald Eagle, 3 crows sitting close on a branch and a gaggle of turkeys greeted us.

Mary Oliver’s poem, Mindful, will say for me, what I cannot yet say.

Thank you for all your good wishes for us here.
I am off to put on my party clothes and get ready to talk.

Mindful

by Mary Oliver

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

“Mindful” by Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early. © Beacon Press, 2005.

Listen to Mary Oliver’s read here.

Find John O’Donohue’s book here.

 

Find me at the Peter White Library.

Best,

 

S

 

Dragonfly Time

Spruce Lake Dragonfly  by Suzi Banks Baum
Spruce Lake Dragonfly

This pain in my stomach and the tears that brim, if and only if I stay quiet long enough, but really, I’d rather write, are all about my children today. One is supposedly leaving for college on Saturday. Aside from purchasing extra-long fitted sheets and a plastic basket for his toiletries, there are few signs that he will be ready to leave this house at 7:30 AM. The other is off at work where she can clean and wipe and do all the chores that she ignores here at home. She snipes that we don’t have guests any more so she can sleep on the guest bed in the living room. Now, not only do we have her shoes cluttering the floor wherever she pauses long enough to pull her feet out of them, we have her balled up shirts and crumpled newspapers on the couch, as if this room where we’ve celebrated Christmas and Solstice and Hanukkah, birthdays and meetings is now just an extension of her impenetrable bedroom upstairs.

The boundaries here are wobbly today. I took a bath and lost myself reading about damselflies and dragonflies. While soaking in water laced with Epsom Salts to sooth me, whatever part needed soothing I could not name, but I needed it, I identified the Twelve Spotted Skimmer that landed briefly on the purple phlox just off the back porch where I wrote this morning. My writing time extended in to three hours out there in my jammies because even though this is the day when I am protected from distraction, even though this is my Art Day as it has been for the past 3 years, even though I had directly stated last night and again this morning that I really need time to focus and work today because tomorrow will be busy, what with packing and all the rest, I was interrupted out on the back porch about 75 times. This included searching for the bike lock for my daughter who was in a rush to bike one hour to her driving lesson and it became my fault she would be late because I insisted on the lock. Then she left not knowing the combination but at that point, I was considering walking off the back porch myself and locking myself in the little playhouse in the back garden where no cheerful children play bagel drive-through with me anymore as I weed the red currants and winter berry. I could surely be secluded out there.

Elsa Dragonfly
My sister took this shot of a Dragonfly in Wisconsin.

I emerge from the tub and the house is weirdly quiet. While I think they have left, all to their aforementioned pursuits, my worry is such that I think they have all hauled off to family therapy to consult over my not being ready, willing and able to ditch what has become my work and be fully available. Wouldn’t it all be so much easier if I slipped back in to my 24-hour Mart Motherhood? Let us not forget that I have contributed mightily to the going-to-college effort and steadfastly stood by while decisions were made what weren’t mine to make and pitched in my opinions where they were called for. I have hung wash, folded wash, delivered wash in tidy piles. I have helped with the list making and conversed about the schedule.

But at this point, I am pretty sure it is up to him to pack his own bags. I said that. And he did not like it. He felt offended that I would stick to my Art Day while he went off to have two lunch dates, neither of them with me.

So I am convinced that this quiet is all of them at therapy talking about the fact that I just don’t do what I am supposed to do anymore. I make boundaries and consult with them about the calendar, which they always forget. Except my husband, who never forgets, so that when a sudden thunderstorm rattles the teacups, he darts around the house closing windows and is startled by my presence on the porch because wasn’t I supposed to be at a lunch meeting. No, I say, that got canceled yesterday and I forgot to mention it.

So, pondering them all at family therapy, I eat lunch outside again because that storm has passed. My stomach feels only slightly better. I take my vitamins, and then decide on an ice cream bar for added comfort.

I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. That is all there is to this making a decision and sticking with it, my work, this work, this writing and art and time with my door closed, thanks to Virginia fucking Woolf who did not have children and I am very aware of that when, on the 76th interruption something quite beautiful happens that I would not have missed for the world.

It was a call to swim. “Can you be at Whale Rock in ten minutes?” I am thinking the rock about 3 blocks from here, sure, I can bike there. But no, he means the Whale Rock at the river, so I have to drive and I am there in 13 minutes and I even finished the row of knitting I was doing when he called me.

Would I have missed that for writing?
Would I have not painted one stroke for that dive in the head chilling waters of the Green?
Would I have exchanged his long strokes admired by two boys under ten, watching my boy the same way he used to watch others, emulating the swagger, the technique and the tug of the shorts just so?

No, of course not.
No, I would not miss that.

But, I will let him organize his own wardrobe. It is clean. There is plenty of it.
And I will be ready to drive him to school on Saturday.
I will be here when she returns from Driver’s Ed. And I will be nagging her about a helmet for as long as I live.
And today, I will stay behind this closed door because that is the agreement I have made, a family contract which may appear, as I have always appeared- flexible, resilient, malleable, changeable at the drop of a text or a hat or a tea cup.

This all makes me itch, but at least I can work now, my stomach has settled (hurray for the ice cream sandwich and the bathtub biology lesson).

The dragonfly, (mine a Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella), is the symbol of metamorphosis and transformation. When a dragonfly appears, perhaps just twelve inches away from you on a morning where your tummy is tight and passing clouds gather stormy between your ears, “Its lightness inspires those who have the dragonfly as totem to use their ability to be flexible and highly adaptable in any situation.”

Perhaps.
Perhaps I have to haul myself in to the river to chill or to the bathtub to soak. What will be the benefit of this watery existence?

Maybe a moment’s fluidity? Maybe the ability to keep a light, positive outlook on the impending metamorphosis of our family? Maybe I can emulate the dragonfly’s aerial lightness and take things lightly? Maybe even when the clouds gather?

I am willing. Virginia and me, we are willing to be changed by this watery existence. Sadly, she ended her life in the river. Me? I see my life begins there.

Permission Slips 6
Go ahead, download and copy this image. Glue it in your journal. Make a sign on your closed door with it.

Happy Friday you all.
I am packing and patient today.
With love,
S

 

 

PS I haven’t said this in a few posts, if you like what you read here, please subscribe. If you are already subscribed and got an email from AWeber about your subscription, please respond to it. I am updating my mailing list and would love to keep you on it. I send a newsletter once a month, except, well, this month because I am leaving on a book tour to Upper Michigan, where, I expect, I will see many dragonflies. Please stay in touch. Comment. Share this site with a friend. Be well.

Dragonfly Time: on sending a son off to college this fine summer day

Spruce Lake Dragonfly  by Suzi Banks Baum
Spruce Lake Dragonfly

This pain in my stomach and the tears that brim, if and only if I stay quiet long enough, but really, I’d rather write, are all about my children today. One is supposedly leaving for college on Saturday. Aside from purchasing extra-long fitted sheets and a plastic basket for his toiletries, there are few signs that he will be ready to leave this house at 7:30 AM. The other is off at work where she can clean and wipe and do all the chores that she ignores here at home. She snipes that we don’t have guests any more so she can sleep on the guest bed in the living room. Now, not only do we have her shoes cluttering the floor wherever she pauses long enough to pull her feet out of them, we have her balled up shirts and crumpled newspapers on the couch, as if this room where we’ve celebrated Christmas and Solstice and Hanukkah, birthdays and meetings is now just an extension of her impenetrable bedroom upstairs.

The boundaries here are wobbly today. I took a bath and lost myself reading about damselflies and dragonflies. While soaking in water laced with Epsom Salts to sooth me, whatever part needed soothing I could not name, but I needed it, I identified the Twelve Spotted Skimmer that landed briefly on the purple phlox just off the back porch where I wrote this morning. My writing time extended in to three hours out there in my jammies because even though this is the day when I am protected from distraction, even though this is my Art Day as it has been for the past 3 years, even though I had directly stated last night and again this morning that I really need time to focus and work today because tomorrow will be busy, what with packing and all the rest, I was interrupted out on the back porch about 75 times. This included searching for the bike lock for my daughter who was in a rush to bike one hour to her driving lesson and it became my fault she would be late because I insisted on the lock. Then she left not knowing the combination but at that point, I was considering walking off the back porch myself and locking myself in the little playhouse in the back garden where no cheerful children play bagel drive-through with me anymore as I weed the red currants and winter berry. I could surely be secluded out there.

Elsa Dragonfly
My sister took this shot of a Dragonfly in Wisconsin.

I emerge from the tub and the house is weirdly quiet. While I think they have left, all to their aforementioned pursuits, my worry is such that I think they have all hauled off to family therapy to consult over my not being ready, willing and able to ditch what has become my work and be fully available. Wouldn’t it all be so much easier if I slipped back in to my 24-hour Mart Motherhood? Let us not forget that I have contributed mightily to the going-to-college effort and steadfastly stood by while decisions were made what weren’t mine to make and pitched in my opinions where they were called for. I have hung wash, folded wash, delivered wash in tidy piles. I have helped with the list making and conversed about the schedule.

But at this point, I am pretty sure it is up to him to pack his own bags. I said that. And he did not like it. He felt offended that I would stick to my Art Day while he went off to have two lunch dates, neither of them with me.

So I am convinced that this quiet is all of them at therapy talking about the fact that I just don’t do what I am supposed to do anymore. I make boundaries and consult with them about the calendar, which they always forget. Except my husband, who never forgets, so that when a sudden thunderstorm rattles the teacups, he darts around the house closing windows and is startled by my presence on the porch because wasn’t I supposed to be at a lunch meeting. No, I say, that got canceled yesterday and I forgot to mention it.

So, pondering them all at family therapy, I eat lunch outside again because that storm has passed. My stomach feels only slightly better. I take my vitamins, and then decide on an ice cream bar for added comfort.

I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. That is all there is to this making a decision and sticking with it, my work, this work, this writing and art and time with my door closed, thanks to Virginia fucking Woolf who did not have children and I am very aware of that when, on the 76th interruption something quite beautiful happens that I would not have missed for the world.

It was a call to swim. “Can you be at Whale Rock in ten minutes?” I am thinking the rock about 3 blocks from here, sure, I can bike there. But no, he means the Whale Rock at the river, so I have to drive and I am there in 13 minutes and I even finished the row of knitting I was doing when he called me.

Would I have missed that for writing?
Would I have not painted one stroke for that dive in the head chilling waters of the Green?
Would I have exchanged his long strokes admired by two boys under ten, watching my boy the same way he used to watch others, emulating the swagger, the technique and the tug of the shorts just so?

No, of course not.
No, I would not miss that.

But, I will let him organize his own wardrobe. It is clean. There is plenty of it.
And I will be ready to drive him to school on Saturday.
I will be here when she returns from Driver’s Ed. And I will be nagging her about a helmet for as long as I live.
And today, I will stay behind this closed door because that is the agreement I have made, a family contract which may appear, as I have always appeared- flexible, resilient, malleable, changeable at the drop of a text or a hat or a tea cup.

This all makes me itch, but at least I can work now, my stomach has settled (hurray for the ice cream sandwich and the bathtub biology lesson).

The dragonfly, (mine a Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella), is the symbol of metamorphosis and transformation. When a dragonfly appears, perhaps just twelve inches away from you on a morning where your tummy is tight and passing clouds gather stormy between your ears, “Its lightness inspires those who have the dragonfly as totem to use their ability to be flexible and highly adaptable in any situation.”

Perhaps.
Perhaps I have to haul myself in to the river to chill or to the bathtub to soak. What will be the benefit of this watery existence?

Maybe a moment’s fluidity? Maybe the ability to keep a light, positive outlook on the impending metamorphosis of our family? Maybe I can emulate the dragonfly’s aerial lightness and take things lightly? Maybe even when the clouds gather?

I am willing. Virginia and me, we are willing to be changed by this watery existence. Sadly, she ended her life in the river. Me? I see my life begins there.

Permission Slips 6
Go ahead, download and copy this image. Glue it in your journal. Make a sign on your closed door with it.

Happy Friday you all.
I am packing and patient today.
With love,
S

 

 

PS I haven’t said this in a few posts, if you like what you read here, please subscribe. If you are already subscribed and got an email from AWeber about your subscription, please respond to it. I am updating my mailing list and would love to keep you on it. I send a newsletter once a month, except, well, this month because I am leaving on a book tour to Upper Michigan, where, I expect, I will see many dragonflies. Please stay in touch. Comment. Share this site with a friend. Be well.

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