head for the light.
Shadows play on the walls of my living room as I sit here, tired after spending the day painting one small section of my house, autumn’s golden light playing games with me, telling me I also need to trim the rose bush that has grown across the window.
i know, i know.
Life is very needy just now, whining and begging for this and for that, most of all for my attention. Attention that I had placed elsewhere, here, perhaps, or in my heart, attention that I don’t have to give to house cleaning and house painting and trimming bushes and the multitude of other chores that appear while I’m not looking.
i know, i know.
I’ve gotten better at ignoring the needy parts of life, better at focusing my tunnel vision on the spot I want to live in. But sometimes you just have to stop and tend the things that need tending. Mend the things that need mending. Sometimes, even though there is just way too much to do, it all still needs to get done.
i know, i know.
Sleep does not come easily these days, crazy dreams, bad ones, violent ones, insane couldn’t possibly be happening ones. For a while, I blamed the cold medicine for that, and for the insomnia, lying there until one a.m., two a.m., three. The sleep, when it does come, just as my husband gets up to start his day, is filled with images and motion and offers no solace, no rest, no reprieve.
i know, i know.
When i get up in the morning, I look at sunlight and rain with exactly the same expression. When I move through the first hour of the afternoon, my thoughts lie like ripples on the surface of the evening. I see them there, proof of some liquid sentience, but I cannot pick them up, use them for anything, they slip through my fingers. When I go to bed at night I fill my pillows with decisions.
i know, i know.
I sound like a broken record these days, this too-busy time with its long to-do list dancing through my days like these shadows on the wall, not here for long, nothing to worry about, really. Just something to distract me from everything I’m doing.
i know, i know.
to find a word, that word, the one i want, the one that constantly eludes me.
the hole is several feet deep now, several more feet than that wide, and in the pile on the brink of this hole there is nothing but dirt.
i thought i found an e once for a second, but it turned out to be a penny.
and then there was a t, at least in my mind for one split second, but when i touched it, there was only a twig.
i keep hitting these rocks and they jar me, all the way up to my neck, my shoulders, my mind.
jar me into thinking this is all a mistake, this digging, it’s too much work, it hurts too much.
i don’t stop though, don’t give up, i almost never give up, i’m very stubborn. i want that word.
i dig with this small wooden shovel left by a grandfather i barely knew.
when i get tired, i use this spoon that i found by the side of the road.
my soil is not sandy, no, i am not so lucky, my soil is all clay, wet and heavy and filled with worm holes, coming up in big chunks that stick and smear, and never break apart.
and these rocks, there are so many, some bigger than my head, each one takes a day to excavate. and when that day is done, all i have left to show for it is a cold, hard rock.
but i have collected rocks since i was a child.
there is always that moment when i feel it give, that rock, and i know that one more tug and i will lift it, and that is when i pause, because who knows what might be slithering underneath.
but i hold my breath and i lift one edge, ever so gently, ready to drop it back down at the first sign of trouble, ready to fling it aside if i find that word.
but alas, not this time. no creepy, crawly, scary creatures, and no word, either.
just one more layer of cold smooth earth
begging to be cracked open.
When you live in the same house for 23 years, you get to know the way the light falls at different times of year.
The slight shift in August when the shadows grow longer, the blue tint of January daylight, the way the gold of the sun hits the top of my bedroom windows just before it sets in October.
Subtle evidence of time’s passing, these changing shifts in pattern. Things I might not notice if I wasn’t paying attention, if I didn’t remind myself to lift my head and look around me. To breathe life in, to mark each day as something other than mundane.
Of course, there are many days when I don’t notice anything beautiful, days when my head is buried in work or stress or accomplishing. Those are the days when I fail to notice the beauty of being alive, fail to notice the color of sunrise, the mist hovering over the field outside my door, the sound of a bird singing the world awake.
But on this day, I noticed this light on these curtains as I walked past my green and blue bedroom for the fifth time after something I had forgotten, or to let the kittens in, or back out, in between making supper and doing laundry.
This light reached through the doorway and caught my eye
and I stopped in my tracks, enchanted by its beauty.
Just an ordinary moment on an ordinary day
that suddenly became quite golden.
It mocks me, this list, taunting and teasing, growing exponentially while I sleep.
Much of this list I wrote myself, although there are things on it not added by me, things like a house that needs painting, a faucet that needs fixing, a dog that needs a bath.
Others things are self-imposed, opening an etsy shop for my images, making jewelry for two shows in November, losing ten pounds, cleaning up my garden. All projects I chose to start, all now inscribed on my list of things to do.
And I’ve had this crazy cold for over a week now, it has not kept me in bed, but rather half-functioning, feeling like my head is underwater, making me cranky and sleepy all day long, and I think it’s feeding on my words.
I sit here in my studio while outside the sun is shining, just outside my window the monkshood are blooming, one of my favorite flowers mainly because they bloom in autumn, but also because they are purple, the truest most beautiful purple. Just now they are surrounded by pink and white anemones, all backed by the golden tones of an autumn hydrangea.
I feel like this photo, just now. A bit hazy and out of focus, a riot of thoughts and ideas, with quite a few things that need weeding out.
There is too much to do, always, and I wonder if it is me, if I am too much a workaholic, too much the over-achiever. It doesn’t feel that way, it feels like it’s all necessary, this scrambling to make a living as an artist, this life I love that I lead.
For there is beauty in my life, there are flowers and love and many blessings. There is joy and passion, art and writing, and all this living, full and round and bursting at the seams.
And there is this list that mocks me.
But it is just a list, a flimsy piece of paper filled with words of my own design. It threatens to overwhelm me, this list, beat me down with its jabbering demands. Some days its wins, a little.
Other days, it cowers in the corner.
Because it knows, this list, that when all is said and done,
it might very well be bigger than me,
but I can still take it.
Today is the day to pack up summer clothes, the skirts and tank tops, capris and shorts, and those dozens and dozens of golf shirts.
It is time to pull boots from their place ‘neath the bed, the ones I have missed and the ones I’d forgotten, and replace them with sandals, all except for that one pair of flip flops because, well, you just never know. Time for flannel pajamas and warm fuzzy sweaters, long sleeves, wool socks and turtlenecks.
It is time for winter coats, hats and mittens, sorting and searching for all the lost mates, time for scarves to be washed and hung on their pegs, time for that spring green raincoat to hide itself back in the closet.
It is time for the fans to be stored in the basement, time for storm windows to be closed, all except for the window right next to my bed, because hot flashes happen, even in winter.
It is time to split wood and stack it all neatly, four face cords across the driveway, a place for mice to hide and kittens to play, a place we will visit all winter. Time for the wood ring to be set just outside the back door, easy access when snow drifts take over the landscape.
It is time to empty flower pots long past their prime, time for garden furniture to be stacked and put into storage, time for cutting back perennials, the clearing of leaves, and for pulling those last tenacious weeds.
It is time for cozy nights in front of the fire, crisp frosty mornings and dark shorter days, oatmeal for breakfast and tea after lunch.
Time already to start dreaming of spring, begin missing summer,
and waiting, waiting for winter.
This past weekend, in the Adirondacks, this is what I saw when I woke up every morning.
I slept with the window open, all three nights, even though it was chilly and even though on the first night, apparently I stole all the covers and my husband was freezing.
But I couldn’t help it. Couldn’t help wanting to hear the wind whispering through the trees. Couldn’t help wanting to smell the scent of trees and forest and the nearby lake. Couldn’t help wishing that I was sleeping right out there, under the trees and the stars.
The stars that were visible, so visible, up there away from city lights and pollution, the Milky Way clear as day. Well, okay not clear as day, but very clearly swirling its way across the universe.
The air smells different there, clean and crisp. At home, where I live, it is the country and the air here is very fresh and clean, but, still, you can smell the difference, there in the mountains.
I lay there each night, after everyone else was asleep, lay there for hours actually, because I couldn’t sleep, and looked out this same window, in the dark, thinking and listening.
I used to be afraid of windows at night. When I was a very young teenager I saw a movie about witches and there was a scene involving a window at night that took me years to get over. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. For years, afterwards, well before dark I made sure that every blind and curtain was closed.
Look what I missed.
and so we are.
so what do i need?
it was so hard to narrow it down,
hope was the one i kept coming back to,
but i knew it wasn’t enough, just hope.
there had to be something more.
something i can’t live without.
that’s it. mostly.
around the border are other things i think i need,
or wish for, or like or want or cherish.
but if i was standing on a corner,
and you just happened to be driving by on a rainy morning,
you’d see words first, and maybe even love,
but unless you slowed down to really look,
you’d miss the hope.
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