Saturday, July 26, 2008

August

My favorite month, August, is on the horizon. I've already bought corn, and Jersey tomatoes are starting to be available. I also want to make a crisp of peaches and blueberries. Such abundance! My life is feeling very abundant as well: good friends, rewarding work, new possibilities, many pleasures large and small.

I can never eat corn without remembering what an event it was at home when I was a child: my father would peel the husks and corn silk from the ears he had gotten, freshly picked, from a local farm stand. My mother had the water boiling in the pink enamel former baby bottle sterilizer (true to New England thrift, not much got discarded--I seem to have picked up this habit as well! There is a New England saying: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.") Then a few minutes later our dinner was ready--we just ate corn, nothing else. Preferably slathered with butter and pepper--still my preferred way of eating it. We might have had ice cream later, but I only recall the corn.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

February Musings

I'm recuperating from the flu/bronchitis that laid me low last week--it really was a knockout punch! However, I had a lot of time to think about things, which I don't usually have, so that was good. What emerged from all my ruminations is a lesson I've had to learn many times, namely, that no matter what you do, other people are going to be who they are, not who you might want them to be. Also, that it's a stroke of luck when one meets folks who have a generous spirit, truly able to give of themselves. I've found that most people are self-centered and that's been hard to accept. Recently, I was out with a friend at a play and she took out a candy from her purse, unwrapped it, and popped it in her mouth. She didn't offer me any nor say, "I don't have any more, sorry," or any other acknowledgment of my presence. Such behavior makes me wonder what the world is coming to.

All I can take from these experiences are lessons of how NOT to behave. Gandhi's dictum "Be the change you want to see in the world" really hit me recently with a force I've not felt before. All one can really change is oneself.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The New Year

The excitement of a new year was dulled for me by the sudden passing the last week of 2007 of a colleague and friend who was the same age as I. She struggled for many years with multiple sclerosis, but was passionate and determined to live as good a life as possible. She adopted a child from Bulgaria when she was 45, and mothering was a great adventure for her as well as the "hardest thing" she'd ever done (her words). Her death has put a pall over my usual mood of anticipation for the new year, as I imagine other losses to come.

I have also been feeling a bit depleted by a slow-moving virus I've had for nearly 2 weeks--it's almost out of my system now, but it did cut into my holiday delight and partying (probably a good thing, for since I couldn't taste food as well as I usually can, I didn't eat as much).

I sent out this poem as a new year greeting to some friends:

A BRIEF FOR THE DEFENSE
by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Happy New Year to all.