In Paul Auster’s latest, Winter Journal, written in the second person, he lists his 21 permanent addresses–or, acknowledging the inadequacy of the adjective, his stopping places. Enclosures, habitations, the small rooms and large rooms that have sheltered your body from the … Continue reading
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
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.
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.
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.
“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
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”
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:
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.
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:
Columbus, Georgia, has had 11 consecutive days where the low was below freezing and the high has not exceeded 47 degrees.
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.
I thought if I wrote about it here either I might figure it out or maybe one of you would. You see, I’m working on my third piece of fiction where he tries to make an appearance.
Which he in fact did last night in Columbus!
In a 2001 (early, early) draft of my first novel, I opened every chapter with a few words from a Jackson Browne song. In July of that year, Howard Norman in a writing workshop said ever so gently, “Man, I just love Jackson Browne. Those quotes really took me back. But they’ve got to go. Your writing has to stand on its own.”
Perhaps you’d like to see what he was referring to:
Chapter Thirteen: “Whatever it is you might think you have/You have nothing to lose/Through every dead and living thing/Time runs like a fuse/And the fuse is burning/And the earth is turning.”
Chapter Fourteen: “And the heavens were rolling/Like a wheel on a track/And our sky was unfolding/And it’ll never fold back/Sky blue and black.”
Chapter Fifteen: “Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder/Where the years have gone/They have all passed under/Sleep’s dark and silent gate.”
Then there was a draft of a story I sent through my writing group in September where two characters were listening to JB in the car. Not working was the consensus.
Last night I was beside myself, as the saying goes, in my front row seat. At 7:30 Jackson Browne appeared out of the darkness onto a stage set up with 16 guitars and a keyboard. He was wearing dark blue pants, a dark blue shirt, and black shoes. His long straight hair is tinged with gray.
He had no setlist but chose songs that appealed to him from those that the audience members shouted out, commenting late in the show that we were “a fractured group.” Several times he commented that he was concerned with trying to string the songs together in the right way, that he wanted everything to be “just so.” Then he said, “Really, when I think about it, it is ‘just so.’”
With the exception of a fifteen minute break, he played until 10:00. 1-Barricades of Heaven 2-I Thought I Was a Child 3-Looking Into You 4-Jamaica Say You Will 5-Running on Empty 6-Don’t Let Us Get Sick written by Warren Zevon 7-Naked Ride Home 8-For Everyman 9-Late for the Sky (better than I ever heard him play this before) 10-In the Shape of a Heart 11-Giving That Heaven Away 12-Rock Me On the Water [break] 13-Something Fine 14-Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate 15-Going Down to Cuba 16-Lives in the Balance 17-Redneck Friend 18-Time the Conqueror (which he endearingly forgot the words to) 19-new song for a movie Here Without Her (title?) 20-Doctor My Eyes 21-These Days 22-Just Say Yeah 23-For a Dancer 24-The Pretender, and for the Encore: 25-Take it Easy (which he also forgot the words to), and 26-Our Lady of the Well.
He was amazing. See for yourself on my first (and shaky) YouTube video:
*the sneeze at 38 seconds belongs to my husband : )
This new piece of fiction that I started six weeks ago? Yup. “Running on Empty” is the name of a little coffee shop where Angelina likes to stop after work. Maybe this one will work, and I’ll be cured.