Sunday, July 27, 2008

FIELD NOTES: If you can feel like a color...

Sunday morning at the window, July, 2008 colors today are sage and periwinkle, all earth and sky, palely trying to hang onto what I love about summer – a refreshing, sweet-smelling breeze tumbling over the sill and through the sheer bedroom curtain, birdsong and baby-song in the near distances because the window can be left open today as the remnants of a pre-dawn thunderstorm sink down into the yard like a giant body on a chaise lounge, fresh plums, vine-ripened tomatoes, a Vidalia onion and one aging peach like a spilled still-life on the kitchen counter…and toast and coffee on the deck ...and I feel like painting the blue sky and puffy clouds (lost due to repair) back onto the hallway ceiling.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

FIELD NOTES: I blow my budget in the first row but...

Sunday morning in July at Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market

at the end of my tour, I confirm that if I had to choose two things, it would be the two things that I am actually walking out with – a Tibetan bracelet and a recycled caterpillar garden ornament. I found the bracelet sitting on top of a heap of delicious looking blue and green jade necklaces in a wooden box. I have a small wrist that is difficult fit to because anything of quality clunks around annoyingly like a free weight. I look for serpentine designs that can coil and cling at any portion of my arm and this one is slim like silver wishbones jointed by black faceted beads with gold flower bead caps, finished at either end with soft silver tassels of fine chain link that gently brush my skin. I should have bargained – that’s expected at the flea market – but I made the fatal error of being an enamored buyer. “Fifteen,” he said, “and the necklaces are ten apiece.” I could have looked skeptical, it was still young in the day, but I fell into enchantment. As soon as I pulled out the twenty from my pants pocket, I knew I should have asked the dealer to throw in a necklace, too. In a short distance, I found myself enamored again and chatting with a welder with five daughters. He uses re-bars and tool parts and grates and – well, NOT junk, he emphasized, but recycled material – to craft tables and benches and shelves and decorations. He quips that when he was a young man, he wished to always be surrounded by beautiful women, so be careful what you wish for! “Oh, yes,” I concur, “you have to be very specific!” He also relates the story of how one daughter asked when she could start working with him and he replied ‘right now!” as he handed her the broom. I couldn’t resist a souvenir. The caterpillar is made from two metal rake heads, a broken bed knob and two bent screws from the furnace in which he burns scrap to heat his home. His thirteen year-old daughter welded it with him, curving its tines into a body and then painting it green and yellow. “Well, thanks for hanging around!” he says as I leave with the caterpillar, picturing it in my garden as proof of the power of girls and wishing I knew how to weld! Another row is like another country. I wonder about the display of over-sized brushes and the dealer materializes to explain that they are calligraphy brushes from China. “So large?” I say. “Why, yes, they are used on walls and banners. And the crowds will make a clearing in the square where political messages are written with water.” I ask what they are made of and find out the brush is horse hair and the handles are carved from wood or stone. They feel absolutely beautiful in my hand, a fine addition to my studio, but they are seventy-five dollars. My youngest son’s tuition bill and the home heating oil bill in the same day’s mail give me pause. In light of the Beijing Olympic Games beginning in a few weeks, I look up at the dealer and comment that here I am in America, holding a Chinese calligraphy brush in my hand with a Tibetan bracelet wrapped around my wrist. He nods with uplifted eybrows, a chance moment of mutual clarity found at a flea market.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

FIELD NOTES: I made a point of finding my way back to the hammock...

A Saturday evening, July 12th, 2008

...dinner done. Saturday nights are usually the only times when I can cook leisurely. I do not come from a ‘cooking’ family and only pull off the illusion of cooking to my family because I get a kick out of messing around with herbs and spices (either fresh from my garden or more reliably, ordered from Penzey’s whom I consider to be one of my kitchen gods). My younger son left the hammock out, so before I take it in away from the chance of rain, I sprawl on it. I lay on my back like a flipped turtle, nowhere to look but up. The lanky, overgrown locusts are almost able to hold hands with the ancient oaks on the other side of the yard. The breach in the canopy has gotten disconcertingly smaller over the years; branches frequently tumble down and one night, a giant oak collapsed entirely, thundering down like Goliath for no apparent reason! I have taken to planning an escape route every time I recline in the backyard, calculating whether it would be safer to run toward the falling tree or away from it. Or, if I don’t have time to slip on my flip-flops, will I be able to leap over the split-rail fence into my neighbor’s yard without getting scratched up? But tonight I wonder about something different. Birds are traveling overhead. Their dark silhouettes appear from the south side of the canopy and disappear into the north side or appear from the north side of the canopy and disappear into the south side. It is a veritable freeway. Where are they going? A medium-sized pair urgently flaps straight across as if they are late for some engagement. A tiny couple randomly circles around a bit, the aviary version of cruising on a Saturday night. A large party of birds (perhaps starlings) fills the sky like a gang spoiling for trouble. Where are they all going? I am not going anywhere.

Monday, July 7, 2008

FIELD NOTES: It was the skirt that gave me buoyancy...

A Monday for fun, July 7, 2008

...a simple Willie Smith design bought on discount at TJ Maxx, and I noticed I was smiling to myself with absolutely no reason to. Except, the skirt is new to me…and also never-worn. The cotton fabric is crisp because it hasn’t been laundered yet. The yellow-black-white-grey graphic floral with the self-tie belt at the side fits perfectly around my hips, gently flares out and ends at my knees. In the kitchen…and in front of the hall mirror…I spin in it. It might attract the bees!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

FIELD NOTES: I stooped on my way, the front path was...

July 6th, 2008

...sprouting weeds again and, again, I remembered I had forgotten to write myself a sticky note about clipping the peaking lavender at evening for drying and there on the white pea-gravel and flagstones was a dead bumblebee, curled and dry, lying among all my inattentiveness.

Friday, July 4, 2008

FIELD NOTES: My pretty bell-shaped verdigris path lights stopped working...

The eve of the 4th of July, 2008

...seasons ago and, lacking the energy to dig up the wires to find out whom perhaps chewed the electrical wires that run under the thick mat of pachysandra, the shade garden remains dark. I stepped out on the deck to admire my recent session of weeding, trimming and mulching my ethereal walkway to the kitchen compost. Above all the lush greenery – the hosta I divided, my fern collection, the accenting columbines and bleeding hearts – fireflies were standing in for the dysfunctional path lights, quiet fireworks in a miniature world, a world that seemed more my size, more at my level of management. It was something to celebrate.