March 2, 2014 § 3 Comments
While the planet continues to shift, rearranging the northeast into some kind of Arctic replica, I took some time away, letting my muse wander among talking dolphins, small dragons and lazy hammocks under a hot, shiny sun. Had a cheeseburger in paradise, looked for Jimmy Buffet’s lost shaker of salt (thought it might be in the old Hemingway home, but no). And I pondered which island on the horizon might be the one that my mother purchased years ago.
Yes, my mother bought an island. She would, not often, but on occasion, do things like that. Buy a convertible when a station wagon would be more sensible. Write a letter to the Queen of England. Buy an island. Maybe to defy an orderly life, to make dreams real, to remind herself during times of inevitable routine that she was more than laundry folded and meals on the table; to remind her four children that our dreams were also valid.
We never saw the island. I’m honestly not sure she ever saw the island. The island that might one day be a family gathering place, or an artist retreat, or a healing place, or who knows what ~ a dream without limits. It could well be that the island was no more than a single palm tree on a lump of earth bulging from the Gulf of Mexico. Or it could have been a small but bona fide piece of paradise. It was sold, so we’ll never know ~ but the idea of it ~ the loveliness, the throw-caution-to-the-wind of it, the hopefulness and cheer of it, lives on in me.
An Island Lost
Stars like freshly polished gems,
Close enough to touch –
A sprinkling of stardust
Soundlessly rests on giant palms
And sweeps across the sea,
A silent chime,
The whisper of a song
With familiar, forgotten words from
The language of dreams.
How far the distance between then and now?
A heartbeat? A century? All of time?
A story unfinished, a vision unseen
Green and blue on sandy shores
Ripe with adventures not taken.
A red sail, a setting sun,
Flowers in our hair.
An island lost awaits
A barefoot waltz,
Promising secret treasures.
But instead, a more reliable path.
Feet on solid ground. And yet ~
A cactus grows in winter, and
Mysteries breathe in hickory trees
Where cardinals, red and fit,
Watch from lofty branches.
A poem from the future.
Stars liked freshly polished gems,
Close enough to touch –
Stardust falls on me,
Then, and now,
There, and here
Inside this sky
Where dreams wander
And Prometheus plays
And Shakespeare sings
And Copernicus soars
And hands are held
And laughter swells
And love is forever
~ P. Saxton
February 13, 2014 § 8 Comments
“Be of love a little more careful than of anything.”
~ E. E. Cummings
Ah, Cupid. Fickle, passionate, whose darting arrows don’t always hit the target … we celebrate you nonetheless.
I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite holiday, but I can count a few memorable, especially thoughtful, and even romantic, Valentine’s Day experiences. Unfortunately those went all wrong in the end (beware the man who writes you poetry, a friend once told me…), so I turn to the unscathed memories of shared Valentines from grammar school, or the hand-made kindergarten ones we gave to our parents, with big red construction paper hearts and white lace around the edges, filled with unabashed adoration. And those we give our own children marked with a thousand x’s and o’s.
But despite what might seem a dose of romantic cynicism, I am a true believer. In love. Love is everything. Every task we do, everyone word we utter, every hand we shake, is more meaningful if there’s love in it. Love is the root. Love is the cause. Love is the purpose. Love is all.
And so I welcome any reason to honor love, and wish a “Happy Valentine’s Day” swarming with roses and chocolates to all husbands and wives, young lovers, old lovers, all who have ever felt the exultation ~ or the sting~ from Cupids’ arrows of desire, have felt their heart swell, their color blush, their energy soar and their selfishness cease.
And to everyone, with or without a “Valentine”, I say fill your hearts with love. Love for self, love for others, love for your pets, for your garden, for your books, for your bicycle, for your favorite chair. Even for the guy trying to make a left turn on a busy street. Raise up the heart quotient all around, and feel the peace that settles in when tension is replaced by unbridled love.
Your heart will be happy that you did.
February 3, 2014 § 2 Comments
It always surprises people to learn that I like snow. You see, I hate to be cold. My body was built for the tropics, I’m convinced. I absolutely love to be warm and unencumbered by the bulk of clothing that winter requires. Warm is free, light and easy. Cold is a nuisance.
But, I am an appreciator of beauty, and there is something quintessentially lovely in falling snow. Purity, refreshment, a marvelous stillness, the world, and time, stopping.
I even like driving in the snow. Before the sand and plows get there. Like this morning, we were inconveniently low on a couple of essentials (milk and ice cream); I admit I got a little bit excited about trekking out where few dare to trek. (This apparently is my current version of adventure; but let’s not examine that too closely, alright?) Affirming my skill at maintaining the right speed down a hill and then maneuvering the turns “just so”. Being sure to stay in the snowier parts for better traction. Hardly anyone out and about, the roads all white, the trees dressed in their Sunday best. What can I say? It’s a winter wonderland.
And then, of course, there’s a winter fireplace. Snow outside, fire inside = cozy. And then, of course, there’s hot chocolate.
So, as I often say, if it’s going to be cold, there might as well be snow and we might as well make the best of it.
February 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
January 31, 2014 § 2 Comments
She had me hooked by the third paragraph. As it should be.
A friend of mine taught me the art of judging a book by its very first line. Of course, while that is very telling, we generally give it a little more time ~ at least a full page! Sometimes a lot more than that. But the truth is, I’ve become more discriminating over time. If I’m not adoring a book, I’m less apt to finish it than in years past, when I felt mysteriously honor-bound by some kind of self-imposed commitment to follow through. But no more. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of good books, so all this haughty discernment works in my favor.
And really, there’s nothing that compares to a settling in to a comfy chair (or the floor, which is often where I plop) with a cup of tea and an excellent book. Oh the places you go, the people you meet, the things you feel. The joy! For better or worse, I confess to often preferring a good book to live company. Depends on the company, naturally, and the timing. Sometimes the book outranks all.
But I have another confession. After years of tv drought (I’m really and truly not a tv person. I really and truly don’t know what’s current and cool to watch, and I have so much else to do! Who has time! But …), I discovered Netflix and Downton Abbey. Watched all 4 seasons in about a month. Then I discovered Breaking Bad. (WOW!) Again I watched all 5 years (or however long it was) in about a month’s time. Yes ~ I binged. I loved every minute. And instead of picking up a book, I watched. There, I’ve fessed up.
But here’s the flip side – there just aren’t nearly enough great shows as there are fabulous books, so reading is still king on my hit parade.
(Alright, so maybe this wasn’t such a dramatic confession, as the title lead you to believe. But it was a good title, wasn’t it! Go on, give me that. : ) )
It did get me thinking, though, about what makes any of it worthwhile, whether words on a page or moving pictures on a screen. What draws me in to some and not to others? (keeping in mind that I’m highly fussy) It’s the same for each medium and it’s very simply, purely and only about great storytelling. That means brilliant writing. Personable, intriguing characters. Interesting plots, invisibly rich details/filming. You’re immersed. You’re engaged. You care.
You have to care. Or it’s not worthwhile.
And thankfully there’s a wealth of it out there, because it’d be a terrible thing to be bookless.
For any book lovers out there, we gather on the first Friday of each month, if you want to read along virtually. So far we’ve read the outstanding And the Mountains Echoed (Khaled Hosseini), the fascinating The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mohsin Hamid), the not-as-compelling The End of Your Life Book Club (Will Schwalbe) ~ and now it’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things… which as you probably figured out, had me hooked by the third paragraph.
Peace, love, happy reading.
January 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
Trust is paramount. A small word with huge ramifications, trust is rock solid ~ no pie-in-the-sky fluff, no wishy-washy in-betweens; it’s something that’s earned, that’s proven, and worth more than all the world’s shiniest diamonds.
In business and in relationships it’s as simple as saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and following through with action. It’s confidence. It’s safety. It’s integrity. Trust is the gold standard of principles at the base of all principles. Without it, things crumble. With it, you can change the world.
In faith ~ in your gut, and in your heart ~ trust is conviction, belief, and letting go of outcomes. Without it, you’re dangling. With it, you can change your world.
January 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s really something, how we’re all a part of this magnificent tapestry called life… Now and then I’m just in awe of the magic and mystery, life’s worlds within worlds, the great, the small, the simple, the intricate; all the colors, the tempos, all the shapes and designs, all the laughter and tears, the hunger and thirst, imagination and rhyme, fire and ice; from the highest cloud to the deepest sandy floor, the majestic falcon to the tiniest, bland moth, all the faces young and old, all the hearts that beat … all of it a wonder; a gift best woven, wrapped and tended with love, from right here, where each of us stand this very moment.
If not for love, I sometimes think, none of this might even exist. Inexplicable, maybe so, but in the grand scheme of things (and even the not so grand), if not for love, with love, what for?
January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
She loved children and animals. She loved men. She loved, more than anything, the gorillas of Africa. Dian Fossey was a woman who followed her heart. Or, perhaps, she was discovering her heart.
I sometimes wonder how people follow that heart, that passion, with an intensity such as hers, in a way so remarkably driven that one separates from any sort of “real life normalcy” ~ and how interesting that, conversely, it has the effect of changing our “normal” world with insights and awarenesses otherwise left unknown. These are the true trailblazers. Dian Fossey certainly qualifies.
It could be that her unhappy childhood (in particular a cold, strict, unsupportive stepfather) provided a sense of “rootlessness” allowing her to leave civilization behind for the bulk of her adult life. She became wholly dedicated to primate research and conservation, living among Rwanda’s gentle mountain gorillas ~ and, I understand, a menagerie of other animals ~ for close to 20 years.
Her life’s work provided stunning, groundbreaking research about gorilla behavior and, over time, earned her a reputation for ruthless dealings with poachers. In 1967, Dian founded the Karisoke Research Centre. With the help of National Geographic photographers and countless television appearances she focused world attention on the gorillas’ plight. She began raising money to pay for anti-poaching, and in 1978 set up the first ranger patrols in Rwanda.
In the end, her passion cost her her life. She was murdered by an unknown attacker in the early hours of December 27, 1985, in her cabin at Karisoke.
An extraordinary woman who left the world a better place, Dian’s account of her extraordinary years in remote Africa, Gorillas in the Mist, was published in 1983. Hollywood made it a box office hit in 1987. She would have been 81 today.
January 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
I tend to subscribe to the notion that we’re all unique. Like snowflakes, no two of us are alike. But, science being science, this concept has been put to the test. Turns out I really enjoyed what it came up with, and I thought you might too.
January 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
What beauty we’re privileged to know in this life. I, for one, find great solace knowing it’s there, in so many varied forms ~ and I also find that I’m able to take a fresh, renewing breath simply by seeing a scene like this.
I recall woods much like these, from my childhood, and I feel glad to have wandered its humbling, secret pathways, for its nurturing my imagination and deepening my appreciation for the world we all call home.
And while this is just a picture, I invite you to take a walk inside this enchanted forest, feel the crisp air on your face, hear the doves calling and deer scampering, watch snow tumbling from a bough. Nothing more, just be there for a little while and feel a bit of hushed, invigorating peace. Your regularly scheduled life will still be there, and you, perhaps, may feel refreshed. ~ Patricia