Their pitch is loud and quick and insistent. Their voices tumble together through my door and windows that are open wide to Spring. Over and over again, their chattering starts suddenly with a burst of excitement, and ends just as suddenly with a sense of secrecy. They are tiny and newborn and nesting in the far northwest corner of my carport-turned-sitting-porch-called-veranda. They are Carolina wrens. more “Waiting to fly.”
“Oh, wow!” she kept saying, in that breathless sort of wonder that can be heard only in the voice of youth and innocence. “Oh, wow!” Her tiny nose and hands pressed against one store window and then another. She pointed to counter after counter filled with candy. And then several displays of plastic eggs. And scenes of stuffed bunnies and yellow chicks and woven baskets of every size. Even a stack of nothing more than colorful socks caused her to express delight. “Oh, wow!” she said, again and again, as her tiptoes carried her from place to place, store to store, joy to joy.
She is only two-and-a-half years old, perhaps a bit closer to three. But she is brilliantly new to the world; fresh with quickened senses and anticipation. Her name is Jane. And she was visiting my neighbor – her grandmother – just before Easter. I was delighted when Jane and her mother and grandmother invited me to come with them to explore downtown Aiken for their first time. more “Oh, wow!”
I frequently walk with dead people. I don’t see them – like in the popular movie – but I do hear their voices, their words. I listen to their wisdom and insight and observations. And they typically fall into step with me when I’m walking alone with dog Quincy in the silence of the woods, or down muted dirt roads in the horse district, or along deserted early morning neighborhood streets.
My ghost companions are writers and poets, wise women and prophets. Their presence is carried on the wind and comes alive inside its whispers. They put snippets of essays behind my eyes and scraps of poetry and songs into my ears. And we talk about the meaning of their words. And I am astounded at the connections they offer me between their generations and my own. From their distant and so different lives, flow such familiar feelings. more “Walking with Ghosts.”
I suspect it may be the reason most dogs keep us around. We can drive cars … and trucks and motorhomes and motorcycles. And, as a result, we can seemingly create the very wind itself.
To the senses of dogs riding in cars, I suspect it seems we can also somehow make all the best smells float on the air at once, with a cacophony of new and familiar sounds intertwined and changing every few seconds. We magically bring farms with fields of horses into view before they dash past us with glorious speed. We find new people to watch walking and riding bikes, and other dogs to call out to playing in yards. And we can rush past and beyond them all with great authority and intentionality. more “Dogs riding in cars.”
Seated in a classroom, surrounded by environmentally devoted students in a graduate writing class, “What if the earth loves you back?” was a question posed by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology, member of the Potawatomi Nation, and my personal favorite wise-woman writer. She describes the scene in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass.
“What if the earth loves you back?” she said. But it was not really a question. It is not really a question to me, either. I only have to walk among the thick-set trees in Hitchcock Woods, or along the sandy edges of Edisto Island, or run my hands across the velvet side of a magnolia leaf in my own backyard to know the answer. We are all reminded of it in the morning songs of birds and with the warmth of the afternoon sun; evidence of it can be found on the pollen-laden backsides of bees and in the brilliant faces of dandelions.
It’s more British than American. And it likely originated as a toast. The phrase “more power to your elbows” meant you lifted your comrades up to continued good fortune, with many more celebrations to come (so their elbows would therefore be bent in many more celebratory toasts). But now, “more power to your elbows” is most often just said in recognition of a thing well done, with hope for even more successes. A sort of quirky wish for “good luck.” more “More power to your elbows.”
I like the balance of it. The reciprocity of it. For more than a year, our children and grandchildren, our young people and youth, have had the responsibility of keeping the elders of our human “tribe” safe. They’ve separated themselves and left their jobs and schools, they’ve stayed at home and kept their distance – initially, primarily, and poignantly to protect the vulnerability of the older generations. Now, it’s the grandmothers’ and grandfathers’ turn to protect the young. more “Taking care of each other, one tribe at a time.”
It is a rather small scrap of simple cotton cloth. It is faded cream in color with a pattern of soft blue leaves printed across it. And it is fastened onto a large page of paper, along with half-a-dozen other small lengths of different bits of cloth and folds of ribbon. The page is one of many pages, bound into a very large, very old, book. And there are rows and rows of books just like it. And they are shelved and preserved within the Foundling Museum in London, England. more “Scraps of Love”
It is known as Kintsugi. And its origin is based on legend, centuries old, Japanese. It’s the technique of mending broken items – especially pottery – with gold. And in this way, the broken thing becomes something transformed – a work of art.
Kintsugi causes the brokenness and scars of an item, its cracks and missing bits, to become its points of focus and value, its visible vulnerability and history and eloquence. more “Mending with gold.”
“Little foxes,” she said.
My friend and I were walking with dogs. It was early morning, late autumn. We were discussing everything and nothing. And we were not walking too near to each other, which somehow prohibits the natural sharing of confidences. But we had been talking about something – I can’t remember exactly what – that concerned small worries, the kind that keep you awake at night and prevent you from truly enjoying a day of doing nothing. And that’s when she said: “Little foxes.” more “All the little foxes.”