‘Only—if you care for a thing long enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t that the whole point of things—-beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?’ ~from The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
5 little miracles from the past few months:
The yellow butterflies following alongside as I rode my yellow bike through the cemetery.
The one little cosmos that appeared after months of digging and weeding and watering. One tiny pink bloom from many, many, many bags of seeds.
The blue jay feather I found in front of the library when we were making reopening plans.
The purple hyacinth bean seed that sprouted weeks after I thought they had all rotted.
The fuzzy orange caterpillar spotted when I was outside watering the plants.
This was a fun list to create. And looking it over, I saw that each one was centered around a different color. Color has become a big part of my life. I think about it in the morning when figuring out what outfit expresses the way I’m feeling or is somehow suited to the day. I think about it in the evening as I break out my watercolors to create more postcards. And I think about it during the day as my eyes drift to different unexpected combinations. My latest pairing: pink and yellow (and maybe a little orange thrown in for good measure.) I guess this might be some strange throwback to Spring and Easter, but I’ve seen it in several places (quilts, book cover, outfits on Instagram) recently and it makes me smile.
These aren’t colors I would gravitate to normally, but I bought a new yellow t-shirt and wore it with a rhubarb colored sweater last week. I was surprised by the bold choice, but as the day went on, I felt myself sinking into it.
I think it started with the watercolors. I’ve been throwing different colors together on the paper just to see what happens. It’s freeing in a way I didn’t know I needed. The movement of the brush, the intensity or paleness of the colors. Create something and then set it aside to dry—move on to the next. Each one a chance to make something new. I love this one, the wavy imperfections, the way it hearkens the sea to me.
Thinking about the act of creation I went looking for my beat up copy of The Goldfinch for this quote. Paging through there were sentences that rose out of the paragraphs. Familiar phrases that reminded me why I love it so much. I thought about rereading it again. Maybe that’s what I’m in need of, sinking into something that has proven itself. A chance to dive deeper and maybe discover something new. Books offer that to us, especially the books we keep near us. And not just the words on the page, but the physicality. Holding a certain one in your hand, the weight and heft of it.
There is a quote from The Lost Garden that I wanted to revisit so I went in search of that book today. I started paging through and realized I had already marked it, as if a past self knew this future self would come looking someday. The main character, Gwen, has been given a set of gardening books from her mother. It’s really the only thing she brought with her when she was displaced by the way, and they are very heavy. She has this practice of lying under The Genus Rosa and wrapping her arms around it. I have imagined this scene hundreds of times, the thought of that weight bearing down and bringing comfort.
Sometimes on Sunday mornings I sit in bed with all of my journals and the books I’m reading for fun and the books I’m reading for work and I let myself dip in and out of them in whatever fashion strikes me. Sometimes I pile them on top of me, sometimes I let them spill over to M’s side. I don’t know why, but this brings me so much joy. It’s a strange sort of Sunday morning ritual, but I look forward to it all week. When I was little I attended Catholic mass with my family. I would sit with my grandmother near the front on the left hand side and my grandfather sat on the right near the back. Afterwards we would go to their house and eat soup. It was the same soup we had every week, but we never tired of it. My grandmother was a devout Catholic and I loved her for that. Organized religion was a cornerstone of my childhood, but has not been part of my adult life.
And yet, when I ride my bike to the lake, I detour through the cemetery. There are certain graves I wave to as I pass by. I always look at the church and take it in, as if in some way it is mine, if only for the fact that it is part of the ritual of my ride. Isn’t it funny how some buildings or trees or certain landmarks become ours, just because they are part of our paths from one point to another. But do it often enough and it becomes a vital part of the experience. I feel that way about our library, sometimes I wonder if there are people who never come in, but still think of it as theirs.
Today as I passed the church on my bike, two planes took off from our little airport I watched them go and felt something in me lift. I think these days have been so overwhelming, so crazy and chaotic, fraught with trauma and pain for others in this country. It’s not that I am numb, but it’s figuring out where to put my attention— how to act, what I can do, even if it seems so small and inconsequential at the time. I think the painting frees my mind and the books ground me. They add the buoyancy and gravity my days have been missing. I am forever grateful to these practices. Maybe when I look back on this time, I’ll see that the painting and the gardening, the bike riding and reading, were the things that gave a sense of purpose, a feeling of joy and helped forge this next version of me .
Dearest a, your word for next week is: Foot.