Saturday, August 30, 2014

This Feather Floating

This hour along the valley this light at the end
of summer lengthening before it begins to go

W.S. Merwin, Seasons

I read these lines this morning and find in them some consolation for the days that are passing, that are spinning us so surely into fall.

For how better to face the next turn than to capture what is fleeting, to pin it down on the page?

this whisper in the tawny grass this feather floating
       in the air this house of half a life or so

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Friday, August 29, 2014

ISO Abacus

I noticed this morning that yesterday was my 1,400th post. A nice, tidy number, with those fulsome zeroes so easy on the eye and the mental calculator. Plus for those of us religiously inclined, a multiple of seven. No wonder the number is pleasing to the eye.

Speaking of numbers (which I hardly ever do), this week I had another page-count panic. The magazine that I edit was coming up two pages long.

This time there was an easy fix. But with the previous issue the confusion was even greater. First I thought we were short, then long, then short again.

Which is why, after resolving this issue's overage with the designers, I told them that for my next birthday they could give me a calculator. Or an abacus.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Invisible Community

It was the hour before dusk on a day that felt more like summer than fall — prime walking time.  I drove past fast-walkers, slow-joggers, stray commuters like me, just heading home. I thought about the community of walkers, one that's often invisible to the amblers themselves but, ironically, quite obvious to the drivers.

The car-bound cover more ground. Their range lets them see the patterns in the strolls, the commonality of purpose. In one block is a lone faithful runner. In another, an old couple strolling slowly. They may not run into each other, but they are all there.

Since almost anyone who walks in the suburbs drives in the suburbs, we have many chances to see beyond our routes, to know that even if we feel alone, we are not. There are others hitting the pavement too. And in some strange sort of way, we are one.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Residual Delays

This was one of those mornings on Metro. Not the worst, certainly not the worst. But a lurching, stop-start, running-late kind of morning.

Often when this happens the explanation is "we are experiencing residual delays due to an earlier incident." So I've been swirling that phrase around in my mind this morning. Residual delays. Residual. Delays.

In this case residual means what is left after the larger part is gone, of course, but there is another definition of residual, one used in the entertainment industry — payments for past achievements.

What are the residuals of riding Metro? It's greener and healthier — I drive less and walk more — those two come immediately to mind.

But aren't there delayed residuals, too? Metro gives me time to write and read and think. A friend of mine, a poet, has completed a book's worth of verse in her last few years on the Red Line. I write in my journal, rough out essay ideas, edit articles.

Though it often tries my spirit, there is no doubt that Metro nurtures my mind. Not shabby for a delayed residual.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Midday Rush

It's what I'm in today, this moment. Despite best intentions, the silent prayer before rising, the attempts at perspective. Some days, even gorgeous ones like today, even early in the week, are stretched before they begin.

I knew my day was headed for this when I couldn't open my office door because of all the page proofs stuck beneath it. Knew it when I saw the lines I'd have to cut from several pages. (Strange and old school to be saying this in digital space, where lines don't much matter — though characters do.)

Just barely time now to lift my head, make the list, complete each task as carefully and methodically as I can, then move on.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

A Little Enchanted

Like many children, especially now grown-up ones, I spent hours reading fairy tales. I don't remember special favorites, only the joy I knew at the covers of the books, some of them still vivid in memory. Those stories took me to another shore, and then, when it was time to come home, they deposited me safely back again.

I know there are theories of why fairy tales are good for children, that they allow kids to face fears and work out complex feelings. But over the weekend I read the best explanation yet of what fairy tales meant to me. It comes from an essay by C.S. Lewis:

"Fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted."

So here's to the real woods I walk in that will always be touched with magic, and here's to the magic of this lovely explanation why.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Where the Rain Begins

Last evening, after a long day at the office, I was sitting in the car waiting to turn left from the park and ride lot when I saw the rain begin. It was less than 50 away from me. I could see it sheeting the cars paused on the other side of the light but it hadn't yet reached me.

At first it was like that infinite pause between when you cut your finger and you start to feel the pain from the cut — there's often a lag there. On the other hand, there was a fellow-feeling with those cars drenched before mine, a sympathetic pain, almost flinching from rain that was not yet there.

Then I watched the rain advance across the pavement, fat drop by fat drop until finally it was pounding, pouring, a deluge.

I drove the two miles home with the wipers on full blast, and then, by the time I pulled in the driveway, it had almost stopped again.

I love the mercurial weather of summer, its flightiness, its lack of steady intentions.

And last night I loved watching the rain begin.

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