the end of the storm

A week ago, I was so struck, as I came up over a hill, to actually be able to see the end of the storm–see it in the sky. At its source. Rather than notice the rain had stopped or it was getting lighter outside.

Sometimes it’s easy to see the endings of things. But sometimes you don’t know it’s the end until you look up to see the next thing has started.

One morning recently, I woke to find bare branches. And I thought, so fall is over just like that.

We’re nearing the end of another year, and I’m looking around trying to see it happening.


I’m writing from the road, I had to see,
and not just know, to see clearly
the sights and fires of a single world…
~from “To See” by Adam Zagajewski
Without End

I give, from 10-29-09

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I wanted to do a post today. Usually I post much earlier. This is my fourth try.

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Each time--writing about a book, about my writing process (ok, obsessed), and even about a single picture I had taken on Tuesday--I was not happy with what I was doing.

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I kept wanting to include not one but three pictures. Just a minute ago, I interrupted my last attempt to post so I could accompany my 16-year-old to the door. He was leaving for a late basketball practice.

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As I shut the door, I saw the last light of day caught in this dogwood tree. And I thought, I give, as I went in search of my camera.

outside my window-october 28

Matisse wrote, “To paint an autumn landscape I will not try to remember what colors suit this season, I will be inspired only by the sensation that the season arouses in me: the icy purity of the sour blue sky will express the season just as well as the nuances of foliage.” I’m not sure I agree, Henri. At least not today, standing at my desk with the bold scarlets to my right.

When I was cleaning out my study, I rediscovered this journal written in 1906 by the English naturalist, Edith Holden, who drowned in the Thames in 1920, at the age of 49. I have the French version, and I wish I’d written in the book when and where I found it.

VCFA visuals #1: exhausted

the contents of my suitcase

Yesterday, I drove from Montpelier to Boston, flew from Boston to Atlanta, drove from Atlanta to Columbus, where I pulled into the driveway about 6:15 last night.

I had big plans for today, but I’m just drifting from one thing to another, not getting anything done.

11 days at VCFA, and now a series of photo posts to unwind myself, to spit me out into the world again.

what it’s like living here

I wrote a guest post for Doug Glover’s blog, Numéro Cinq, in the series he’s doing on what it’s like to live in various places. Here’s the first paragraph:

In Columbus, Georgia, the seasons change, but they take their sweet time about it. First summer doesn’t want to let go, and then the leaves cling to the trees. Not until late October do the golds, oranges, and reds sprinkle this over-green world with color.

To read more…

out my window: 8/18/10

I'm sitting at my desk, working on revisions, and I look out the window in front of me.

It's not fall yet

but a fox

“let me catch sight of you again going over the wall
and before the garden is extinct and the woods are figures
guttering on a screen let my words find their own
places in the silence after the animals”

from “Vixen” by W. S. Merwin

day dreams

Several years ago in a used bookstore in Columbus, Georgia, called “Beetlebinders” that now no longer exists, I found a very old book called Day Dreams.
It took me a minute to figure out that the formless white shape on the cover was a genie being released from a lamp. Reading is a lot like rubbing the lamp.
Day Dreams is an anthology of poems selected by Daphne Dale. One of my favorites (by an anonymous author) is titled “The Things in the Bottom Drawer.”

It was published in 1892. For Christmas that same year, Ralph Davis’ mother gave this book to him as a present.

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the old swing set

I was in my study on the phone wishing my father a happy day when I glanced out the window to see what my father thought, from my description, was a hawk on the roof of the old swing set, and I called to my son, home from college, who came in and took these two pictures.

“The day grew light, then dark again–
In all its rich hours, what happened?”
Jane Hirshfield, “Apple”

so this morning

So this morning, at the suggestion of a reader, I took myself outside before I did anything else. Up and out my driveway for a walk–to wake the mind and the body at the same time.

Seventy-four degrees in Columbus, Georgia, with a light breeze. Wonderful in the shade.

And on my walk it came to me that I hadn’t taken an essay I wrote for my last packet of the semester (dropped in the FedEx box last night around six) far enough. This is the kind of thought that’s most likely to occur when my mind is free to roam. Which underscores the importance to writing of time away from desk or computer.

From The Maytrees:

Every book he read was a turn he took…He started new notebooks without having made the least sense of any old notebook.

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rearrangement

alone on a hill

It looks like spring here in Georgia. The daffodils are pushing out of the ground. The cherry blossoms are blooming.

And it sounds like spring. I’m going to betray my ignorance here, but on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday a flock–as in 50 or more–very excited birds played in our yard. Flying back and forth, singing, having a great time. A bird party.

Just a few minutes ago, I took out my Audubon guide to identify what kind of bird it was–brown belly, dark coat. A Robin. “Popularly regarded as the best sign of spring’s arrival…”

It feels like spring. It’s 62 outside right now, but the sun is so bright, it feels warmer. Even though it went down to 42 last night, according to the weather people, it will be 72 before the day is over.

Last year, I couldn’t wait for March 1st–the day I’d designated to put color back in the header of the blog. Then on the first we had snow here, and I couldn’t bring myself to write the spring post I’d counted on. This year, March 1 came and went without my even realizing it was time.

Richard Yates wrote in Revolutionary Road, “What is spring but a mindless rearrangement of cells in the crust of the spinning earth as it floats in endless circuit of its sun?”

Rearrangement–such a small thing.

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frozen

Vermont

At 10:15, this day appears to be another one of those where I feel like my right arm is going in one direction and my left in completely the opposite, the same with my legs, and my head just might explode. I want to do so many things ALL AT ONE TIME.

Each thing I do leads me not to an end but to a new beginning. Case in point: I post a comment and the reply comes with a question. I want to make a post but it turns out I really want to make four: on the frozen state of Columbus, Georgia; on the pictures I took in Vermont; on what I did in Vermont; and on how to read a story like a writer–how to take it apart.

So often on days like this, I end up frozen and accomplish nothing.

I remind myself, one thing at a time, one step at a time:

There’s something about the sound of water–the ocean, rain, the trickle of a fountain. We don’t live on the water, but a few years ago, we splurged on a fountain for the front yard. This is the way it’s looked ever since I got back from Vermont–frozen solid, a block of ice:

Georgia

Columbus, Georgia, has had 11 consecutive days where the low was below freezing and the high has not exceeded 47 degrees.

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books to trees

Writer Anna Clark is doing a series on her blog, Isak, suggesting that we all choose books as gifts for the holidays.  Each almost-daily post in the series suggests not only the title of a book, but also who that book would be perfect for, what edition to buy, and where to buy it.

There is also a Buy Books For the Holidays website that hopes we will “make this holiday a literary season.”

I agree. I hate shopping, but choosing a book for someone does not feel like shopping. It feels like getting lost in a library. I love to give books. I love to receive books. Most hardbacks are $25 or less. Wonderful paperbacks can be found for $15 or less. And for $9.95 a month, there’s BookSwim, a kind of netflix for books. Gifts of words, of stories, of lives…

One of my other favorite gifts is to plant a tree in honor of that person. I started doing this in 1998 through an organization called Forevergreen that planted trees in Minnesota. I’d seen a segment about their work on TV. Now there’s Trees Columbus.

If you have questions about giving any of the books I’ve written about on the blog, please leave a comment and I will try to respond quickly.

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winter spring summer fall

Click here to start the music:

I've been on a musical kick lately...and here on the eve of another change,

I think of Carole King's words, which I first heard in 1970,

and which I think of often, as they reflect the changing and wondrous views outside my window,

for which I'm thankful as I sit inside with the light on.