Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Ode to the Ordinary

Last weekend, I got to go to a writing group.  We've been together for 20 years, maybe more.  Some of us are in our 60s now, some of us are a little older.  All women, all fabulous, fabulous cooks. A lot of our meals are singular, creative, and vibrant.  The real reason for our longevity.  Our writing prompt this weekend:  write an ode to an entirely ordinary object.  Here goes:

You only need three things to
achieve good cooking,
a sharp knife,
a cast-iron skillet,
a wooden spoon.

If I had to choose,
I'd choose all three.

But the most enduring, endearing
is a wooden spoon,
worn smooth with
decades of deep stirring,
sometimes with the heat
turned up  high.

It's a miraculous chemistry,
cooking is, but it bears
a watching.

Every pot I've burned 
has come at the behest
of distraction,
when I've wandered 
off just before the flames.

Because I had to peel
the cat off the piano,
or some fun was to be had,
so I had it. 
or a dream was Whistling
Maybe there was a good 
idea, fierce enough to require
attention and, maybe, consternation.

And then the fire alarm went off.

It'll take weeks to get the pot
whipped back into shape.
But the spoon is fine as it is,
coming through a burning or a boiling,
back for more.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Portent, Stillness, and Vision

January is the deepening, the moving into the realms of meditation, stillness, and  listening.

Oh, there's plenty to keep us occupied, the Super Bowl, the Oscars, the Olympics, a season of superlatives.  But more and more we are drawn into our own hearths, our own hearts.  The weather can take a wicked turn (we had ours before Christmas), but the cold itself is a spiritual state, one of grandness, beauty, memories for which there are no words.  But there is also no small amount of hope.  At base, we know it'll all get better, fairly dang soon.   So we tough it out when we have to; we look to see what's out there—when there's an outside chance.

Maybe it's a Western thing, maybe a Northern thing.  The snow on pines, the drifts against a brick wall, the circling of geese, the kitty snuggled on my lap, a beef stew on the back burner, winter has it's lovely moments.  This piece of life is incredibly seductive, calling us, calling, calling, calling.  We walk, sometimes down paths that weren't available to us when things were easier. We look wistfully out winter windows, laden with hoarfrost, to watch a milky dawn, and then put the water on for tea.  There are worse things than being at home by the fire.

It's the time our stories speak to us; when our dreams are insistent, when our hopes take flight, and some part of us advances toward adulthood, existing joyfully alongside the kid with a snowball locked and loaded. Adolescents are not the only ones who are unsure about what part of themselves is all grown up and what part is still a three-year-old.

We only have about a month of this left.  Then the first daffies  poke their heads up through the frozen soil in our gardens, reassuring us that everything is going to be all right.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What I Wish for You

I borrowed this from somebody on Facebook today.  I love it.

1.  That at some point, soon, you make perfect sense to your children.

2.  That you still look good to your spouse, no matter the pounds, no matter the years, no matter what.

3.   That your creative projects mesmerize and amaze you, carrying you through to completion.

4.   That there would be games you love to play and games you like to watch, and worthy athletes to admire for both their physical prowess and their sterling character.

5.   That you find one new thing to learn this year, some one thing that requires practice and perfection, a sensibility of play and freedom, attention to detail, cooperation with your peers, and some amount of personal growth.

6.  That you discover the one book that alters and enlarges your sense of reality, the one book that grabs you and won't let go, the one book that creates, inside of you, space for a grand story.

7.   That you find and work toward the perfection of a service to your community, some one thing that is utterly necessary to children, to people who are alone too much of the time, to people who are scared out of their very own skins, or so poor, they literally do not know what tomorrow might bring; it helps to help.

8.   That you laugh, hard, every single day.

9.   That there is a grand sustaining passion in your life: baseball, the making of pies, being outside, finding a snuggle bunny, animal or otherwise, the telling of your stories, being part of a community,  the art of play, the glory of music, the delicious nuture of our lovely children.   Or all of it at once.

10.  That you find a spirituality and a spiritual community that encourages you to view everybody with kindness and sweet understanding, that allows you to not take yourself too seriously, that fosters generosity and exploration of great ideas, the home ground of a God that makes love possible.