Speak not to me of silks, satins, delicate tatted lace or perfumes stolen from hothouse flowers. Speak instead of the green of leaves against a summer-blue sky with soft clouds rolling toward a flashing storm. Do not offer me diamonds, rubies, or sapphires bright, but bring me a mason jar of lightning bugs, fireflies to light a world of dreams from childhood onward. Bring me love, and bring me to my home.
Each day is a journey. We know where our lives began, an
d we can plan all we like for tomorrow, yet today is the reality. The past, merely tracks in the sand and vulnerable to time, is not worth dwelling on. The past feeds no one, the future is a dangling bait never coming closer. It is in the here and now that the stories of age show on an elder’s face, that a child’s laughter echoes off the hillsides, that a bright bird in a blooming garden brings joy with its song. The taste of chocolate or a crisp, firm apple, the scent of morning’s coffee. These things are the present, the reminders of the elusive past and a suggestion of an even more elusive future. Embrace what is, and if the sun isn’t shining where you are, don’t worry. It will. Furthermore, it’s always shining somewhere. Just smile and do what needs doing. The rest will come, with faith.
We visited a notable structure today, one designed to carry sound in a dignified form. Curiously, what was once a church morphed into a postal office for the community. It is now a free clinic for those the Affordable Care Act and expanded Medicaid left dangling.
I whistled softly, listening to the delicate reverberation, echoes of fluid music rippling throughout the lofty ceilings, across marble floors, and wondered at the stories such a place might tell.
Once upon a time, people used it as a religious social center. Then it became a communications center. Now? It’s a place where both former applications have failed those who depend on it.
History flows into a fractured future, utopian plans endlessly becoming someone’s echoing dystopia.
I wonder, flawed organic creature that I am, if it will someday shelter refugees from the weather or other stressors, or if someday its marble, musical interior might become a communal workspace. There is no seer to ask, no way to guess what might one day occur.
Build your walls. Build your stories. Someday, if they’re strong enough, someone else will make a very different use of them. That, my dears, is dystopian nonfiction.
I sit half-listening to the patter of raindrops on the heart-shaped leaves of a young redbud, a tender tattoo as if ethereal fingers played a tune. The light emerald is touched with shimmering gold from a brief flash of sunset promising more of the same tomorrow.
This music of nature that pleases me so also terrifies the cats; they huddle beneath my knees as if I am the only safety they can claim. I turn the pages of my heavy book, mind half-engrossed in the details of life during the Revolutionary War era, but reaching to touch soft, warm fur now and then. It seems to be enough.
The scent of fragrant oolong tea and ginger snaps mingles with the bruised green odor of wet forest and printed pages. A neat, white-velvet paw wraps around my ankle, stealthy but trusting, and I can feel a tickle of whiskers and steady breath against my bare heel.
Turning another page, I am careful not to move my feet, sanctuary that they have become, and quietly breathe deep of evening birdsong and mountain clouds.
© July 6, 2017, by R. Lee Tipton
A snapshot from today’s perambulations:
Yes. That is a Vietnamese Potbelly pig. A large one. (Please, no bacon jokes. This creature hogs the stage today.) It was free in the front yard of its home, when I took the picture, calmly eating a little grass near the steps, making no attempt to come near the road. I’ve seen dogs less well behaved… ahem.
Having a live pink piggy for a yard ornament isn’t for everyone. If the little fellow could talk, imagine the stories it might tell.
There’s going to be a time when the hero’s sidekick needs a nap. When that happens, it’s time to let go, take a break, and even take a walk.
Visit the neighbors. See if they have dinner plans.
If the children are visiting, though… maybe it would be better to leave them to it.
Whatever the stress, enjoying the scenery is calming.
The wild spaces are places to recharge the spirit and renew the soul. All things are connected in some way, each defining and enhancing the whole.
Look for the stories. Everything in nature has a story. From the stories around us all, beautiful books grow. Some are mysteries, some are dramatic, even tragic. All contain some romance. The best stories tug at our hearts, sending our emotions dancing with joy, sorrow, sympathy, anger… the varying notes of the song of life. The wildwood choir is of crickets, frogs, owls and hawks, the sharp yap of a fox or the nerve-shattering squall of a bobcat. From a farm nearby, a mournful sounding band of pet donkeys may contribute, or someone’s old ‘coon hound may lift its voice.
As summer’s daytime force fades into cool evening laced with smoke from grills, a deep velvet blue sky is studded with a sparkle to rival diamond chips. Below is its perfect echo: a day-green meadow turned shadow-purple, where fireflies swirl in a golden, flashing marriage dance.
The earth is a book all on its own, a book with an ending we cannot yet see.