Thursday, January 17, 2013

things that still spin (august - december 2010)

Looking back, trying to look forward.  
Meanwhile, here is where we wereThese still have wheels that spin for me. 

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The Bike Report (4/5) : Recovery, Return . . . no rain!
. . . "We have to," YoungSon insists, pedaling hard behind his dad on the tandem.  "We have to. I haven't ever done it yet all alone on my own bike."

 "True," I say. "Probably we will.  We could come this way again."

"And I'll be coming home for summers," says Eldest.  "Some summers."

"Probably we'll do it again.  Maybe."

"But it won't be the same."

"Nonsense," says Fritz. "This isn't the end, guys."

 [Mostly for the pictures and the links to earlier Bike Reports with 
even more pictures of this historic and pretty fantastic biking summer.]

I thought I'd said all that needed saying about my Eldest leaving home.  When I've wondered if something more needed to be said, I've sometimes clicked back to  daughter's words that could have been my own back when, mother's words that could be mine now.  

Reminding myself.  Renewal, ripeness, times and seasons. 
Consoling myself. Patterns, cycles of all kinds, the eternal return.

What more needed to be said?  . . .


fools, old ladies, and other answers to prayers
. . . I pause Eldest's story part way -  "I want to get her picture. Do you mind?" -  because glancing over my shoulder I've seen an older woman with a fully loaded bike at the berry stand. 

Because in a life a little over-endowed right now with old ladies, 
 it's enheartening to see one who carries her own tent and sleeping bag strapped to her bike,   
long white hair braided down her back  
beneath a self-designed, self-made helmet cover. . . .

this was once your life
. . . What will you remember from all these years that you once lived in and lived through?   
We took you to feed the ducks, do you remember?  And the way the ducks would gather below Edith's Beauty Shop with its flower boxes and its bright red roof and its ancient proprietress?  Will you remember this road you've walked along, ridden along, driven along, stood beside, so many uncountable, irretrievable days in so many kinds of weather?

All this was once part of your life.  Wherever you go it will go with you. . . .

of the dust, dusty.
We've slipped in late, because  - remember?  - no need to get Eldest here early to lead the singing.   I'd thought to sit elsewhere  where I couldn't see how she was gone.  But being late, chapel full - it's easier to slip up the side aisle, toward our usual bench, open and waiting. 
I'm not aching with loss this first week without my Eldest. Not even thinking about her. Nor, though, am I thinking of matters reverential nor salvific.  The grief I'm wracked with merely horticultural.  . . .

. . . Here I am, the only girl again.  But my son now, not my brother, catches the fish I don't, each silvery catch an iridescent, dotted wonder.  We laugh into each other's faces.

What could be more beautiful than this first catch?
He watches patiently the same water I watch when I'm not watching him.  There should be a soundtrack.

Something about how water flows.  Around and through life's best-laid plans. . . .  

 small elegy
. . . But what I didn't say then, or ever while he was living, is this: 

Once I had thought he was weak - a smoother and a placater, who backed down to keep the peace - not recognizing his gentleness as a more supple kind of strength.

I had thought him unambitious.  Years back I would have thought smally of an obituary whose signal life achievement was the building by hand of a small and simple mountain cabin, but only because  I didn't really yet believe that family-building was in any way commensurate with career-building.  For his children and grandchildren, though, I have come to see - that cabin was only the most visible incarnation of an ambitiously sturdy, uncomplaining, and generous sheltering. . . .

all the things i'll never tell you now
. . . So many posts that will never now be told.  Because when I came to sit down at the desk, finally, late in the evening, I just could never see my way to words.

Too slight a post (such as, say, encouraging letters my old bike wrote me via the freezer and the answering machine, or disquisitions on the proper place of chocolate cake in the Grand Scheme of Things) and I'd be playing the fool at the edges of my dear ones' grief.   

Too heavy,  I risked swamping this rackety lifeboat I paddle in.  Because my life at sea has taught me I can't afford the interest on borrowed sorrow. . . . 


See Emma J.  She is sad.

She is not writing.  She is not happy.

Emma J, write, write.  You will like it.  You will have fun. . . .

Why is it so much harder this year, this writing?
  1. the obvious . . . 
  2. the extra . . .
  3. the technical abyss  . . . 
  4. the deathly seriousness  . . .
  5. the fear - (see Burning Houses) my constant writing companion anyway, both why I write and why I stop, this scab I pick at until I can't stand it and then cover it back up . . .

Thank You, Sarcasm
For resisting the easy and sweet in the name of thinking again.
For attending to the ubiquity of the ridiculous.
For liking to laugh.
For being that stubborn and irreducible gristle - of the mind I want to say, but it is you, Sarcasm, who stop me with your snarky eye-rolling over that gruesomely mixed metaphor.  We all thank you for that. . . . 

Thank You, Safety
Another day, Safety, that you have rested here with me.  

Another day the Nazis haven't shown up pounding at the door, the mobs have kept their torches unlit and stayed at home watching crime shows on TV.  Another day that there is food on my shelves and no fire is falling from the sky.   

Another day, Safety.  And all the days that came before this when I thought you were about to leave, but you did not . . . 

Thank You, Pillow
Thank you, Pillow.  Thank you, Bed.
Thank you, tired and aching head
that teaches me the value of
my pillow's sure restorative
therapy and furthermore
thank you, inner downy core,
thank you, soothing smooth exterior  . . . 

Thank You, Hydrangea
. . . And so I did - choosing you four sprigs because you were the prettiest of all those pretty branches.  When I offered your lady the dimes I had in my coin purse, she said, "Piff!" and waved my money away.  You are, after all, priceless.

"I'll think of you every time I look at them," I called to her as I perched back up on the saddle, beaming over my bike basket mounded over with your rosy blossoms.  And your little old lady stood smiling with a golden glint and waving until I was out of sight. . . .

Thank You, Anything
. . . Everything had been handed me.  All I'd done was reach out and take it.  Which is something - we all know that.   

Nevertheless, I looked at this girl, felt myself torn with self-justifying irritation and grudging acknowledgement that she was right . . . Life had been unfair to her.  

And yes, she had been unfair to Life.  I knew there were gifts she couldn't bring herself to reach out for, blisses and blessings she had refused.  There always are. . . .

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