Those who aren’t severely affected by wildfires to the point of being evacuated temporarily or permanently from their homes, and who continue to go about their usual work, might still be vaguely or acutely affected by smoke. Some of my family in northern California and southern Oregon have had weeks of smoke that keeps them indoors, makes the sky dark and the air muggy. Even here, my eyes are scratchy. It all has a distracting and depressing effect, though one is not always fully conscious of it.
But this morning my daughter Pippin exclaimed, “Today, the sky is blue!” and sent a photo to prove it. I had recently joined in one blog draft a photo she took in England and a poem, which I’m publishing in celebration of blue skies. They are currently a welcome background for sheep or clouds or what have you.
When I came forth this morn I saw
Quite twenty cloudlets in the air;
And then I saw a flock of sheep,
Which told me how these clouds came there.
That flock of sheep, on that green grass,
Well might it lie so still and proud!
Its likeness had been drawn in heaven,
On a blue sky, in silvery cloud.
I gazed me up, I gazed me down,
And swore, though good the likeness was,
‘Twas a long way from justice done
To such white wool, such sparkling grass.
-William Henry Davies
Pippin Pic of Yorkshire Dales
“Some people read for instruction, which is praiseworthy, and some for pleasure, which is innocent, but not a few read from habit, and I suppose that this is neither innocent nor praiseworthy. Of that lamentable company am I. Conversation after a time bores me, games tire me and my own thoughts, which we are told are the unfailing resource of a sensible man, have a tendency to run dry. Then I fly to my book as the opium-smoker to his pipe. I would sooner read the catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores or Bradshaw’s Guide than nothing at all, and indeed I have spent many delightful hours over both these works. At one time I never went out without a second-hand bookseller’s list in my pocket. I know no reading more fruity.
“Of course to read in this way is as reprehensible as doping, and I never cease to wonder at the impertinence of great readers who, because they are such, look down on the illiterate. From the standpoint of what eternity is it better to have read a thousand books than to have ploughed a million furrows? Let us admit that reading with us is just a drug that we cannot do without—who of this band does not know the restlessness that attacks him when he has been severed from reading too long, the apprehension and irritability, and the sigh of relief which the sight of a printed page extracts from him?—and so let us be no more vainglorious than the poor slaves of the hypodermic needle or the pint-pot.
“And like the dope-fiend who cannot move from place to place without taking with him a plentiful supply of his deadly balm I never venture far without a sufficiency of reading matter.”
-W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), “The Book-Bag,” Collected Short Stories, Vol. IV
You were transfigured upon Mt. Tabor, O Jesus,
And a shining cloud, spread out like a tent,
Covered the apostles with Your glory.
Whereupon their gaze fell to the ground,
For they could not bear to look upon the brightness
Of the unapproachable glory of Your face,
O Savior Christ,
our God Who are without beginning.
You Who have shone upon them with Your Light,
Give light now to our souls.
My post of last night seems melodramatic today. I wanted the main point of it to be courage, because that is the aspect of God’s grace that seemed to be given, and that is a positive and going-forward kind of energy.
Today I enjoyed housework, and as I was beautifying my house I thought about how I would like to spend more time on housework than I have been doing. My next thought was, How is that going to work with your desire to spend more time reading, and walking, and more time in the garden? And writing letters and book reviews…. ?
I didn’t waste time on such practical questions, but I vacuumed and dusted and wiped and scrubbed for a few hours, to the point where it was obvious I only had one more bit of housework to do: bring in some flowers. That, as I soon realized, created more mess, because I don’t have a cutting garden.
After I wandered around the paths I had a big jar full of a wildflowery kind of assortment, from which I made a couple of wonky “arrangements,” and in my wake, on more than one horizontal surface, were wide trails of litter: pieces of lavender stem and echinacea petals and parts of lambs ears that were dried and falling off. At least one tiny spider and one ant jumped off and ran away somewhere… But all in all the flower-arranging was a satisfying treat I gave myself, and I still had time for writing this little report. 🙂