Tag Archives: saturday series

saturday (spring)

I had a post on food and cooking mostly put together, but sometime last week I stopped feeling it, so I moved it to the drafts folder for another Saturday. Instead, I moved outdoors into the chilly but sunny day, in search of spring. I read portions of the three books I’m currently reading. I planted myself in sun rays and closed my eyes and soaked it in. I walked and walked and walked, filtering through all of the things that are weighing on me in the moment, looking for new buds and tints of green.

I’m carrying so many things at the moment, like many of us do. The kinds of things that require appointments and meetings and discussions and slots of time in an already overflowing calendar. If I listed out all the major categories in my life, something major would fall under each one of them – individual, yet so interconnected with timing and direction and money (always), that it’s impossible to break them up into manageable pieces to mark, one-by-one, off the lists. Most are more analytical decisions to be made, but all touch an emotional base to some degree, which further complicates the matter.

But it’s more than that – it’s this overlay of tension and frustration and anger and grief that is so draining, and makes it feel like the season of winter has somehow divorced itself from the regular turn of the natural seasons themselves. What do those tender green shoots in the ground really matter in a world so divided and caustic and wedded to power? Can the sight of that first clump of daffodils ever take away the sting of the massacre of yet another group of people gathered in community prayer? How do we live in a world with both? How does that ever settle into our souls as normal and necessary?

I looked for signs of hopefulness in a chilly wind, under the bluest of skies, and they were there if you were looking for them. It just wasn’t enough today. The grief and despair and frustration is too much for daffodils just yet.

saturday (reading)

There was a time (not long ago, hanging head) when I barely read at all. There was a time before that that I read all the time, starting long before kindergarten and stretching through the years into adulthood. I read so much that I got in trouble for it. Frequently. I read by the sliver of light from the hallway through the crack of the door, upside down in my bed to catch it on the page. I stuck books in my choir book (got in trouble), on my lap under the dinner table (more trouble), and I brought stacks of them to shove into my locker and rent to other seventh graders on Free Choice Fridays (I only got stopped from profiting from the endeavor – I was still allowed to hand out books to all the kids who couldn’t be bothered to remember to bring their own books from home.). I read all the time – quickly, efficiently, and with gusto.

I don’t know why I stopped, but I did. At some point I must have decided that I didn’t have time to read books anymore, and so I occasionally bought a book or borrowed a book, but I rarely cracked them open. I can’t even tell you how long the hiatus lasted – maybe it was a relatively short time in the girls’ early years, when I did in fact read – just mostly to them. I just vividly remember seeing a list of books that an acquaintance read THAT MONTH and the stack of titles was larger than I could remember reading over years. Who reads like this, I wondered? How do they work? And care for children? And go to meetings? And occasionally shower, or maybe sleep?

And after I got over feeling incredulous, I really had to revisit the absence of books in my life. I was purchasing them as gifts, and listening to reviews on NPR, and recommending titles to others, and visiting the children’s wing of the library weekly, and somehow it had just never occurred to me that I could still just sit with a book (outside of vacation) and read it? So I decided to change that, and I picked up right where I left off.

I’m still in awe of how many books people read – people I know who are busy with just as many things as I am. They are likely fast readers, but so am I. They probably get sleepy at night midway through their second chapter, as I almost always do. Some weeks I feel like I’m crawling through my current read, while my library holds expire and my nickel fines add up.

But I’m reading such dense work right now – deep and complicated and often difficult texts that require reading and re-reading passages, and sometimes just sitting with the words in silence for awhile before moving on. I tell myself to mix it up with some fast-moving easy reads, but I’ve opened some sort of door into books that start to fill in all the gaps that I grew up with – and I just can’t stop. It feels like there is so much that I need to know, and want to experience, and that’s the part that feels just like it did when I was a kid and that hidden book felt more important to me than all the other stuff around me.

My latest deep dive has been into Zadie Smith’s Feel Free – a collection of essays that initially felt so manageable in their length and subject matter – a 450 page tome already parceled into easily digested portions I could slide in here and there between the rest of the stuff that fills up my life these days. And then I started them, and was engulfed by them, and I’ve read and re-read them to the point that I’m no longer opening my email reminders from the library.

I read one of them, and (pretended to) underline two dozen different lines I wanted to email a friend immediately. I starred another one that I’d create book club around just to discuss it with a crowd. I read her essays on other literary works and I feel like I’m back in graduate school again, in that attic classroom I shared with other students with more bookish majors. I had a gap to fill in my schedule, and I jumped the architecture ship for this class where I was certain to be found out as an impostor. But I never was, and I read books and wrote papers and never missed a single lecture. It was heaven. 

So I’m taking my time on this one – I’m done, but still re-reading. I’ll return it to the library some time this week, and pay my fines willingly. And then I’ll jump into my next book, slow and steady, making up for lost time.

saturday (love letters)

My parents found a stack of poems in my grandfather’s things. They slid them into a manila envelope and brought them to me on one of their visits. I looked through them at the time, in more detail later, and then tucked them into a drawer in my room. I few weekends ago, on a cold, gray Saturday afternoon, I was cleaning and organizing some drawers and I came across the envelope again. I opened the clasp and slid the pages out across the bed.

I had been thinking about so many things as I was cleaning. Springtime, sun. The changes coming soon in the garden. Planning details around upcoming travel. What I was making for dinner later that day. I read a few of the poems again in that moment, and the threads between his scribbled cursive four decades ago and the current tumbling in my head were so clear that I stayed in that spot until I had read every last word. I carried the stack downstairs and read a few aloud to M.

Is it possible to be so loved as to inspire these morning notes, written on the backs of discarded letters and scraps of paper? There is a daily series of poems leading up to my birth; another countdown each morning for the two weeks leading up to my first Christmas. We lived four states apart at that time – before cell phones and text messages and instant photo sharing across that span. He never showed me this writing, but he saved each one in a stack, and it moved with them from Missouri, to Kentucky; into a house, an apartment, a room.

I have never doubted how much my grandfather loved me. When we were together we took up the same space. I spread across the branch of the tree that held the hammock where he reclined. I curled into his side on the basement couch watching baseball or golf on the television. I woke early and walked down the beach with him as the sun rose when I was very little. I can conjure up an image or two from those mornings, even though I was very small at the time. I can remember driving over to his house once a week during my summer internship to have lunch. I remember the wooden bowl in the center of the table full of fruit. He peeled and sliced a piece for me each visit while I ate lunch. That bowl sits in my kitchen now, still full of fruit we share after dinner each night.

The Span

The days measure it.
   The weeks and months give it bulk.
      The years speak of the true distance.
         The generations filter the time.

And the span,
   Which reaches from me to Kristin
Tells the story:

I in years;
   She in months.

I in age;
   She in new discovery
      Of sound
         And sense.

The span is great;
But with the passing of the years
Her discoveries;
   My delight.

An Afternoon Nap
4/5/77 (Our visit to celebrate my second birthday on 4/7)

For Kristin and her
An afternoon nap
   Fulfills a need:

For her…
   A child’s sleep

For me…
   Nearness and reflections

A Morning Walk
8/11/76 – (Mexico Beach – I am 16 months old, and we are at the beach together. Mexico Beach was devastated last year by a hurricane.)

The sun had won,
Reaching the shifting sand before the two of us.
But early,
We had wandered to the shoreline
And began a meandering stroll.
She, aged only by weeks and months,
   I, by years.
She, caught be the spell of shells and sand and sea
   I, mesmerized by her.
I know, it sounds like more…
   Almost too much.
It was just a morning walk…
   Our finds:
      Our shells,
         Our sand,
            Our sea.

A morning walk
   For Kristin and me.

Green Beans and Ice Cream
(Hopkinsville, KY – 4/16/76 – we must have met up here, as this seems close to the halfway point between where I lived and he lived at the time. I’ve just turned one. This is my favorite.)

She journeyed from the east,
And I from the south.
She in the company of her parents,
I with wife and daughter.
Our rendevous was set
The menu was prepared.
Roads were traveled
The “board” awaited.
She had just turned one
My years beyond her count,
Just yet.
Our destination shared
Was an evening meal,
And so we met.
Now I do not remember what was offered
I did not tally up the fare
The time was not considered
And other company was there.

But of these things
I am sure:
Kristin came to Hopkinsville
So did her old granddad
We ordered from the menu

Green beans and good ice cream
And that is what we had.

An excerpt from An October Day – 1975
(10/7/75 – I love this whole poem – he’s written it to me on my six month birthday – it makes me think of my garden walks, and I will forever carry this last piece with me on my walks from this point forward.)

O God,
That beauty might welcome her
Each day.
And, with bounty,
Make potential real.