"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dishwashers vs. Memories

Thanksgiving is coming.
And I am so thankful.
Family will be gathering here in our little house.
Our trip to the airport in Austin will be one of much excitement and anticipation.
Four generations together once again.

Jack and I filled our grocery cart last night.
He, in a thoughtful gesture, held up a plastic wrapped package of sturdy disposable plates.
"This would make it much easier for you," he suggested.
I kindly refused the offer.
"Let's just get some more detergent for the dishwasher,"
I replied, much to his puzzlement.
You see, my dear family crowded around our table is a most special and infrequent event.  And, in my mother's heart, it is all about celebration and memories--both reaching way back and actively moving onward.

These memories involve dishes that I ate off when I was a child.  Our small family of 6 sat at my grandmother's NYC 5th floor apartment where my father had grown up.
The table was small and full and traditional foods were served up with love and effort.
The Macy's parade marched on the small black and white TV
(hard to imagine today, isn't it??) and my mouth watered from the delicious fragrances in the kitchen.
It seemed like time stood still and that turkey would NEVER turn golden 
as my hunger grew.
Looking back, I can't imagine how a turkey even FIT in that small, apartment-sized oven.  But, it did.
And dinner was devoured--on these same china plates.

My mashed potatoes and turnips will be served in the same covered casserole, though the cups have such fine cracks that coffee can no longer be poured into them.  And there are only 5 plates left.  Not bad since theses dishes are over 100 years old.  They most certainly won't see the inside of a dishwasher but will lovingly be washed and dried.

As I stir the pumpkin pie filling, more recent memories are also being stirred.
 Back in the 1970's, my friends and I decorated our country houses (is that the correct terms for second hand and shared furnishings?) with corn husk dolls.
These old girls have weathered the years better than I.

This ceramic turkey held fresh flowers when he arrived at our house, presented by one of my patients from the cancer center and her husband who came to share dinner with us.
Although sadly she did not survive another month after their visit,  I smile to recall her life, our friendship and their presence at our table.

These stuffed little pilgrims and the lady Indian were bought at our small town local pharmacy/gift shop/convenience store.  
(This is where we called the pharmacist by his first name and he had been known to open his doors in the middle of the night if the need arose.)
The "boy" Indian wasn't available when I bought them that day, so she continues to stand alone.  My children and I played with them, enacting the first Plymouth Thanksgiving.  The figures show signs of wear from those days but that just makes them more dear.

These little pilgrims were intended to be candles but I could never burn them up!  The wax coating has chipped and they aren't particularly pretty anymore.  But they, along with the wax turkey candle, were given to my wee ones by my mother and dad for one of the early Thanksgivings.
We had packed up the little ones and Jack drove 7 hours through the night since children sleep more than fuss when the long car trip is made in the dark.
I recall the thrill of arriving at the Long Island house,
decorated and ready for us.  My dear mother was often in the kitchen, making great magic happen.  These little candles were placed on the laden table, one sitting at each child's plate.

That is why convenience and disposable plates are not really part of my idea of Thanksgiving.  And when my son teases me about the battered pilgrim candles (and he will)--"Why do you keep all this junk?",
I will just smile and not bother to argue or defend.
When I finally take off my apron and sit down at the table with a sigh of relief, I will look at each person, eyes bright in the candlelight, tummies grumbling, and know we are making new memories.
And I will be thankful.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Take a Breath. Now Another.

I have a favorite resting place.
Hidden within the small copse of trees
just behind the house.
Tucked in the shade of the cedar elms, this spot lets me swing comfortably, even on the hottest of days.
I feel rather invisible to the world around me as I pull up my limbs and mold myself into the woven cords.
Suspended in a womb of sorts.
My mind grows still here.
My breathing slows.
And deepens.

I often begin reading a book,
but soon set it aside and begin to focus on my surroundings.  
I let my eyes wander upward...

                                      and outward. 

Noting the shadow and sunlight patterns
with an absent-minded, dreamy focus.

The gentle breeze cools me and then entertains me
 as it plays among these old chimes.

In the hush of this place, my closest neighbors make not a sound as they draw near.
I watch them through the framework of the cords that suspend my woven chair onto the tree limb.

It is as if they don't even see me curled in this swinging chair.
Or it doesn't matter.  
They wander around so close that I could almost touch their softness. 

Underneath me grows this unobtrusive plant with the most unremarkable blue flowers.  Not much.
Yet, as its name "Butterfly Mist" describes,
it is covered with the prettiest orange butterflies
this time of year.  They flutter from bloom to bloom.
Lovely and silent.

 So much of my life involves multi-tasking and
list making.  I get satisfaction as I check off my lengthy to-do lists.  Audio books let me enjoy "reading" without the sitting still.  I usually have music playing throughout the house.  
This life is my choice.

And yet...

the moments I spend hiding in my tree swing
are so--
Healing.  Restful.  Peaceful.  Quiet.  Soothing.

Even necessary.

As a matter of fact, I think I'll turn off this computer and head out to the trees for a little while before evening comes.
I wish you could join me.