Category Archives: animals

I pray with my fellow creatures.

THE PRAYER OF THE GOLDFISH

O God,
forever I turn in this hard crystal,
so transparent, yet I can find no way out.
Lord,
deliver me from the cramp of this water
and these terrifying things I see through it.
Put me back in the play of Your torrents,
in Your limpid springs.
Let me no longer be a little goldfish
in its prison of glass,
but a living spark
in the gentleness of Your reeds.

Amen

– Carmen Bernos de Gasztold
Prayers from the Ark
Translated from the French by Rumer Godden.

Illustrated by Jean Primrose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Mrs. Bread gave me this book “some time” ago. I did not peruse it much until this week when I was feeling the need of poetry and wondered if I had any on my mobile bookshelf here in the kitchen/family room. It was the only book of poems there currently.

When did I move it downstairs? It is a constant wonder how various boons (I did mean boons and not only books) are organized and lined up so as to come to me at the perfect time. I know Who does it, and so does Mrs. Bread, but I bet even she is surprised to find how long it took Him to arrange this one by means of my constantly re-jumbling the jumble.

If you read French you might like to read or listen to these prayer poems in that language in which they were written. Rumer Godden was very motivated to do her best, but she writes in the foreword how difficult and not completely satisfying it was. One example she gives is the use of encense in “The Old Horse”:

Ma pauvre tête encense
toute la solitude de mon coeur!

…which she understands as giving “in two syllables, the double picture of the old horse’s swinging head and a censer swinging to ‘offer up’ in the Catholic sense [I might say, the Orthodox as well] all that he has left, his loneliness? The dictionary translation of encenser, which, when used of a horse, means ‘to toss,’ is too young and gay.” She ends up writing it as, “my poor head swings.”

The old horse’s prayer, and that of the butterfly and the lark and a couple of others, are especially meaningful to me among the more than two dozen animals featured. Oh, and Noah prays as well, you will be glad to know! Certain personalities or complaints resonate with my own human self. Imagining how the animal might pray does engender a feeling of fellow-creatureliness, and their heartfelt prayers teach me how to talk to God about my longings and sufferings. The animal whose prayer I will share in closing might be the one I fly – I mean pray! – with most of all; I can always relate to:

THE PRAYER OF THE BUTTERFLY

Lord!
Where was I?
Oh yes! This flower, this sun,
thank You! Your world is beautiful!
This scent of roses…
Where was I?
A drop of dew
rolls to sparkle in a lily’s heart.
I have to go…
Where? I do not know!
The wind has painted fancies
on my wings.
Fancies…
Where was I?
Oh yes! Lord,
I had something to tell you:

Amen

When a dragonfly meets your gaze…

…it’s magic. Or if you will, a gracious gift of God.

toadflax

Wild animals frequent this space. In the past, I’d seen only the orange type of dragonflies on the property, but now, a different guy was just relaxing on a fig leaf. I walked all around the insect and talked to him, and he didn’t appear to flinch, so I stood right in front and met him face-to-face. His giant eyes did move about cartoon-like, seemingly trying to focus on my face, and his head side to side. Evidently I did not pose a threat; he remained calm, and I went back to work.

But then there was my own cabbage white hanging on a stem of lavender:

tarragon

This next garden animal is so tiny, I am amazed that I even noticed him perched on a helianthemum flower that was an inch across. He came into focus once the photo was saved on my phone.

The birds are not tame. This morning, we were sitting or standing by the kitchen windows when Clunk! a smallish bird flew into the slider, and we looked up to see only a flash of vast patterned wings, as a raptor swooped under the patio arbor and with a whoosh carried off the little bird. That is the wildest event ever.

May Miscellany

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about all the various goings-on in my life lately, but haven’t found a way to write all the loose ends together.

One dumb idea was to use the theme of Lines or Separations, Old and New. Oh, my, that was unwieldy. But a few pictures that I found might have worked with that theme.

In the back yard pool the plumbing got completely blocked with matted spruce needles from the neighbors’ tree. We had to call a repairman, but by the time he arrived and blew out the plug with CO2, B. had mentioned our problem to the neighbors and they cut down the tree! I hope they will finish off the tall stump soon.

Even now this oak hardwood is being turned into floors in our house, but I took the photo when it was sitting in the family room acclimating for two weeks.

I noticed how the lines of iron railing make an X over the stairs, as though to signify that they will not exist in their same form after they get some of that beautiful oak covering them. But in the meantime my elbow complained from pulling staples out.

The most troublesome line of all is this one, below, on the ceiling that flows without a border from the family room into the kitchen. The kitchen has satin paint but the family room has flat paint. I’ve been working hard, on a ladder several times with a brush or a little roller, painstakingly trying to get a straight line between the old textured kitchen surface and the new smooth family room ceiling. I’m not yet finished, but I hope all that’s left is to roll once more some flat paint on the family room side.

It never occurred to me to have a complete hiatus in my doll-making efforts. I wanted some wool for stuffing the dolls. It is a long story, and I can’t decide if it is horrible or hilarious, but in any case it is too painful to tell, how I ended up with ten pounds of raw and dirty sheep’s wool that is so full of foxtails that no one would believe it. Nature Girl says that if one wants foxtail-free wool one probably has to get it somewhere besides California. But I’m not asking for that; I’d just like some 90% cleaner than what I got this time.

My first picture of the wool shows it at its most appealing. If you click on the photo you can see close up the lines of golden lanolin.

I have spent hours pulling out foxtails, and I thought I got them all out before washing it, during the skirting process, but afterward I discovered a million more, and that was just in a pound or two of the wool. The next two pictures show my post-washing sorting project, and a wad of stickers I removed with wool fibers still clinging. Now I have to wash it again to get out the dirt that the hidden foxtails held on to through the first three washings.

Before I leave this topic, I have to say that I love the wool, even though I got a bad batch. Working with it before washing, I couldn’t stop sniffing at my hands with the good-smelling lanolin on them, and they felt so soft, too. Now that the lanolin is out, the wool is white and fluffy where it isn’t still dirty. Makes me think that spinning would be satisfying, too. 

When I had my new stove functioning for two weeks I baked the last of the butternut squash from last summer.

And now that the stove is in the living room while the floors are being laid, I ran over to Wal-Mart and bought a GE electric kettle so I can make tea. That’s it sitting on the new kitchen counter.

Since I didn’t want to be in the way of the floor guys, I spent a long time at church one day, making communion bread, taking inventory in the bookstore, and removing several monster wheelbarrow loads of a pretty plant that had taken over one perennial bed.

When the plant is blooming, you get an impression of purple at the tips, but they droop down a bit, so it’s vague and not eye-catching. When I cleaned up some of the mess I found these flowers that had fallen off, lying on the blacktop like flower candycorn.

May has been mostly cold and wet, with a few sunny and warm hours to encourage seeds to sprout. The gardens have some lush growth of certain plants, and the largest snails I have ever seen. I was able to fit in another trip to see Seventh Grandson, and as I type he is sitting on The Quilt playing with his toys.

Doesn’t the Bible say something about lines falling in pleasant places? I could have used that verse, wherever it is, if I’d made this post all about lines.