Tuesday, August 31, 2010

generate

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things i want to do this season:

pick apples, bake blackberry pie, make cider, go to Italy, see a good movie (on a big screen), eat chestnuts, pick mushrooms, drink milky chai, hold my sorrow by the hand, write a novel, run a creativity workshop, write one poem a day, start a women's circle, roll around in dry leaves, laugh a lot, read poetry, knit myself a hat, talk to strangers, walk in the rain, lie by the fire, look at bright-coloured paintings, sit in cafés, and find out what love and autumn have in store for me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

gratitude

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oh! what a team we were, summer, love and i.

the songs we sang, the steps we danced, the stories we told, the strings we played... and everywhere we went, the earth spread flowers at our feet. and the sky laid its silky blue shawl over our shoulders at night. we took the moon for a spin, we folded the sea into a cradle. we played hookie with the stars, and tickled the roots of trees. oh! how they shone, the eyes we looked into, how it hummed, the skin we touched. we were made of sheer magic, and spread like perfume.

but time ran out on us. sand between our toes. standing on the beach in the sunset tonight, love and i looked disconsolately at the swirling foam where summer used to sway. our empty hands still trying to hold on, hold out, hold fast... hold that which is already gone.

except they are not really empty, these hands. they are filled. with the memory of humming, and the humming of joy known. filled with gratitude too, to all of you out there, too many to mention, who helped make this summer a summer among all summers. thank you!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

signs

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they say the rain will stop soon, that next week will be warm and sunny. they might be right. and it's true that the sun (when it's there) is still hot enough to burn, the grass still warm enough to lie in (though only if you have a woolen coat on), the sea warm enough to swim, the sky dark blue between the clouds, and the trees thick lush and green.
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and yet... the signs are clear. isabelle and i searched for and found some. she wanted me to photograph the absence of wild flowers, i wanted to photograph the mushroomy mouldy sweet decaying scent of the undergrowth. but absence and scent, powerful forces that they are, are notoriously hard to catch with a nikon...
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3!

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my lion, my knight, my bear, my sweet, my manlet, my brokkel. thank you for shining your light on me. thank you for bringing into my life your strength, your softness, your laughter, and your taut little belly. it is so sweet, sitting with you today, watching you be loved. by so many people. already, after only three short years in this world. it's because, as a wise woman said, 'it's so rewarding, loving that boy!'

Saturday, August 28, 2010

hard to master

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cycling back home tonight, i lost one of my shoes on the way (i can hear you thinking now, 'how does a person lose one shoe?'. something to do with trying to live barefoot, but with a back-up plan...). in view of the fact that i only have the one pair, in view of the reality of our doubly unemployed budget, and in view of the fact that i simply love these shoes, it felt like a disaster.

it also provided the most perfect introduction to today's poetry...

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop

Thursday, August 26, 2010

a reminder

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Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

a reminder

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The Bridge

This bridge will only take you halfway there
To those mysterious lands you long to see:
Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fairs
And moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
So come and walk awhile with me and share
The twisting trails and wondrous worlds I've known.
But this bridge will only take you halfway there-
The last few steps you'll have to take alone.

Shel Silverstein

Sunday, August 22, 2010

good-bye

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we spent the weekend in belgium, with our dear friends, who are leaving this week for the US, with no intentions of coming back anytime soon. it was a bittersweet experience. the last time in those woods. the last time those dead blue beetles. the last time that house, that guestroom. and for my sweet little girl, possibly the last time with her beloved and faithful four-footed friend... i am just not good with endings, despite not believing in them anymore.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

2429

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...is the number of flowers on this dill twig. just kidding. it's the number of days that i breast-fed my children. (i didn't manage to take a decent, loving, respectful photograph of my breasts, so you get to look at the dill instead). this week, Toini lay down in bed next to me, put his hand on my breast, turned his head in the other direction and fell asleep. which concludes a marathon of 6 years, 7 months and 25 days. i am really happy, and really sad. you know, transitions, closure...

Monday, August 16, 2010

of mermaids and philosophers

while walking on the beach tonight, i met a man, neither young nor old, who stood by himself, looking out at the sea. he told me that he had come to the beach to read a biography of Nietzsche (he said he was interested in philosophers, but didn't have time to read them, so he figured he would read a biography, and he had found this one), but he couldn't concentrate on his reading because the sea was so beautiful. so there he stood, in real confusion, half-way between his backpack and the water, struggling. i told him if i had to choose, i would always choose the sea. 'why?', he asked eagerly. 'because she is a much greater philosopher than Nietzsche' i answered. 'oh', he said, 'maybe... but at least Nietszche wrote down what he thought, and the sea doesn't say anything'. i replied that the sea speaks all the time. 'well, what does it say then?' he wanted to know. so i told him some of her stuff. and as i was choosing what to tell him, i realized that all the insights i've had this past year have come to me from, and in the words of, the sea. she has been, still is, my greatest teacher.

and then, rather appropriately, at the Lorelei festival (of all places), i got married to myself, and regained my virginity. i tell you, i really am turning back into the mermaid i once was...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

premature

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it looks like autumn, it feels like autumn, but it's not autumn yet. there are still some goodies to be shaken off summer's tail. i am going away this weekend, for the first time in seven years, sleeping without my babies up against my flank. Sam and i are going to the Lorelei festival, and the theme this year is earth and grounding. just what i need. just at this very moment. so that the summer can settle, in preparation for autumn's work.

oh, but just imagine, 270 women. and not a single one of these

long live the sisterhood...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

parlez-moi de la pluie

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one of life's forgotten pleasures: warm summer rain. there is nothing quite as exhilarating, quite as sensually pleasing to me, as cycling at full speed through the puddles, under a torrential waterfall, bare-headed and bare-footed, singing at the top of my lungs, with the raindrops jumping off my face, my soggy water-filled skirt holding on to my inner thighs with the insistence of a lover's hands, and the water flying off the pavement, washing my feet in its surprising warmth. oh, and then there is the smell...

why, why is summer rain so incredibly good? does anybody know? Brassens thinks he does...

(for those who need a translation, see here.)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

harvest

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harvesting is not always hard work. sometimes all it takes is the courage to sit down, stay put, relax, and let the gifts of the work of your hands fall and settle in your lap. sometimes, what falls into your lap is the work of other people's hands. and then it takes courage and humility to accept the gifts.

it's been a rough, exciting, scary, hard-working and hard-playing summer. i am ready to sit down now, and do some harvesting...

(yesterday, we spent the day in our garden with friends, and were rewarded with dahlias, salad, home-made cookies and the pleasure of picking at a fresh sunflower. not to mention the brilliant company and our own harvest of gherkins and red carrots...)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

bounty

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the domestic goddess in me, who the last few months has been most conspicuous by her absence, has deigned visit us today, albeit only for a few hours. just long enough, in fact, to clean the kitchen thoroughly and to 'do something' with the 3 kilos of gherkins that our dreadfully neglected vegetable garden managed to produce (and speaking of the gherkins, does anybody know where i can find horseradish? i don't mean prepared in a little jar, but the actual root/plant?).

three days to wait and they will be ready. four days to wait, and they will be all gone. yep, that's how much we love salted gherkins around here...