Category Archives: time

He does not try to pass the time.

Another paragraph from Out of Africa:

Natives dislike speed, as we dislike noise, it is to them, at the best, hard to bear. They are also on friendly terms with time, and the plan of beguiling it or killing it does not come into their heads. In fact the more time you can give them, the happier they are, and if you commission a Kikuyu to hold your horse while you make a visit, you can see by his face that he hopes you will be a long, long time about it. He does not try to pass the time then, but sits down and lives.

-Isak Dinesen

gl-tuli-safari-landscape

photo of Kenya from Internet

Out for a walk.

flowerMonteryThis morning I took Liam (4) and Laddie (2) for a walk in their new neighborhood in Monterey, on California’s Central Coast. It was foggy and cool — it never gets summery hot here — and we enjoyed the flowers in the gardens we passed. This succulent with wild magenta flowers is one I am not familiar with.

We stopped at two different parks with playgrounds, where we pretended the stroller was a train, and I taught them the Hokey Pokey.

Nothing monumental or philosophical happened, but it was very meaningful to me. The last time I took Liam for a walk in a stroller was when Laddie was the new baby. This time the new baby is Brodie and he and his mom were napping at home. I’m grateful to be involved in their daily life for a few days.

Last week I discovered this poem about a walk:

THE PINNACLE

Both of us understood
what a privilege it was
to be out for a walk
with each other
we could tell from our different
heights that this
kind of thing happened
so rarely that it might
not come round again
for me to be allowed
even before I
had started school
to go out for a walk
with Miss Giles
who had just retired
from being a teacher all her life

she was beautiful
in her camel hair coat
that seemed like the autumn leaves
our walk was her idea
we liked listening to each other
her voice was soft and sure
and we went our favorite way
the first time just in case
it was the only time
even though it might be too far
we went all the way
up the Palisades to the place
we called the pinnacle
with its park at the cliff’s edge
overlooking the river
it was already a secret
the pinnacle
as we were walking back
when the time was later
than we had realized
and in fact no one
seemed to know where we had been
even when she told them
no one had heard of the pinnacle

and then where did she go

-W.S. Merwin, from The Shadow of Sirius

What summer is for.

Do you know how hard it is to pick up just one book at the library? I managed to do it twice this week and I felt my self-control as a great freedom; I didn’t even go into the used bookstore that is off the lobby. But since then everything has changed.d76bf-beefromside

“People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.” –Saul Bellow

When I was a child we lived ten miles from the nearest public library, and I never visited it until high school. I had lovely hours in the library in Berkeley when in the summers I visited my grandmother, and she would leave my sisters and me there for a while, and come back later when we had picked out a stack to take home. I remember checking out Anna Pavlova and Little Men when I was ten, and lying outdoors on a cot in the afternoons, in the mountains with Grandma at the Berkeley City Camp. When not at Grandma’s, our summers were too hot to manage much activity, so I sat indoors in an easy chair and read a book every day in those carefree days of youth, supplied by the bookmobile.

I think one of the books I read then was Seventeen by Booth Tarkington. When Bellezza wrote recently about Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly, I thought that was it, and I bought a used paperback and have been reading it, but it’s not what I remember. So I hopefully borrowed Booth Tarkington’s Seventeen from the library (closed stacks), and it’s waiting for me now. In no time at all I should be getting to it, because the Daly book is hard to put down. How can that be?

The backdrop of the story is the most luscious and lazy summer imaginable, evoked very effectively by the author’s prose. But when I’m reading it at night I don’t fall asleep, and one morning when I was still in recovery mode (She says, wondering if she will ever again not be in recovery mode…) I picked it up from my nightstand and read for an hour before getting out of bed. It is a book that makes me feel something of the leisure of my youth, when there was no need to hurry. Absolutely no need.14110-beeonflowerfrted

The worst way to read, he said, is with the thought that you do not have enough time. The only way to read is in the knowledge that there is an infinite amount of time stretching ahead, and that if one wishes to taste only a few sentences per day one is free to do so. –Gabriel Josipovici, Moo Pak

Last week on my way home from visiting my children I listened to Mary Norris reading her own Between You and Me, a book that has made me laugh out loud countless times, all by myself in the car. I’m so glad she narrated her own book, and I love her voice and her humor. She reminds me of the women in my father’s family. I could not be content, though, to only listen to it — I must have my own print copy. So I ordered one online. But I could not be content to wait for that to be shipped, and I discovered that the local library had a copy, so that was the first book I picked up.

Two days later Seventeen became available, so I went back for it. Today a dear person sent me a link to a Naomi Shihab Nye poem, “Different Ways to Pray,” and reading it confirmed in me the feeling I’ve had that I need to calm myself and sink into some poetry. I began to read more about Nye and her books. I saw that my local library had a couple of collections by her, and I also ran across this that she said:

There is a Thai saying: ‘Life is so short, we must move very slowly,’ ….Being busy has become our calling card, our sign of success, our obsession—but poetry doesn’t want us to be busy. When you live in a rapidly moving swirl, you can only view your surroundings with a glance. Poetry requires us to slow down, to take time to pause.

So I hurried over to the library and found 4c80e-gjreadhobbitwo27dellcrpthe one children’s book by Nye that I wanted…. and then I found a few more children’s poetry books to take with me; that’s probably the level that I am most likely to access currently.

Then on to the adult non-fiction and another book by Nye… but I could not make myself leave as quickly as I’d come. There I was with shelves of poetry and literature towering on either side of me, and I had to scan some titles, and take a few books down, and notice that a couple of my favorite poets were not even there! The armload I carried to my car included Robert Bly and W.S. Merwin.

Now, will I manage to sink in and let the poetry teach me to move. very. slowly…? I am finding it difficult to quiet down today; it seems that the effort to truly rest is wearing me out. Maybe that’s because I was awake past midnight reading about Angie, whose life before cordless phones and TV served up a flavor of time that we can hardly remember the taste of. Angie speaks of doing “leisurely things like ironing or peeling potatoes for dinner.” (Hinting at an attitude among teens that also may have become extinct soon after this book was written.) If she hadn’t recently fallen in love she’d probably be reading on the porch swing in the warm afternoons, too.

After all this rambling around the subject, I feel I must leave you with at least a little piece of a poem. So here are some lines from Nye’s children’s poetry collection titled Honeybee. They are from the poem “Girls, Girls”:8ec4e-beeinshadowlambsears

When a honeybee is alone–rare, very rare–
It tastes the sweetness
It lives inside all the time.

What pollen are we gathering, anyway?
Bees take naps, too….

The calendula lasts longer than this moment.

hopbush may 2016 close
Hopbush – dodonaea purpurea – right now

 

What a strange day… starting with a strange night, during which I was awake for four hours. What? At first I tried to pray and go back to sleep at the same time, but after an hour or so of that I switched on the light and sat in bed writing in my journal. I didn’t turn on my phone – yay for me! But if I had I might have been able to talk with my dear cousin who was wishing from the East Coast that she could talk to me, as she wrote, “I wish you were not still asleep.” Little did she guess that I was not.

P1040490
Mexican Bush Sage

 

 

 

Eventually I slept a little more, and got up late. Today is sunnier than in a long time, and I noticed out the window the hopbushes that line the fences, also looking brighter than ever decked in their flowers. I took my lunch outside to eat under the umbrella, with my back out of the shady area and baking, but as in a very slow oven, so I remained in place.

I conversed with friends blog-style about moments and fleeting time and what happens to those moments: Are they like the picture Annie Dillard paints in words for us, “…a freely given canvas… constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream….” ? The violence of her image doesn’t set well with me now, but just a few months ago its tone would have matched what I was feeling, not about a moment but about the entire lifetime of my husband.

Now here I am, in a lovely moment, a warm and springy afternoon with birds and insects crossing paths in the  air around me. The bird bath has water in it and the towhees are taking advantage of that — or is it just one towhee who has a daily bath, and a long one at that? He splashes around for about five minutes while I watch and wait from the kitchen window, because I know that when he’s satisfied I will need to refill the bowl.

Near the birdbath is one of my two remaining Mexican Bush Sage plants. The old one at which I used to watch hummingbirds out my window for several months of the year was dug up and divided into six plants. The one we transplanted into the new garden died, and the others spent the winter in pots, three of which I gave away on Freecycle this week. I always forget until I get up close, how furry the flowers of this plant are.

Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit May 2016
echinacea – Cheyenne Spirit

And the echinacea are already blooming. At this time I have six of this variety, but no traditional purple ones. I was planning to buy a purple one to replace one that was eaten by snails, but didn’t find one anywhere.

As I bask in this moment of an hour or more I am writing, yes, because that is what I do with many of my moments and minutes and hours. It isn’t often that I am enjoying a space other than my computer corner while I write, but today I’ve written in two other places. Because I took the trouble to move myself out here to the spot in my garden where I have the wide view of everything from Margarita Manzanita to the bird feeders to the greenhouse, my moment seems to expand into deliciousness. And this isn’t the time to wonder where it has gone, poof!

P1040475

 

I was planning to sit out here and read this book that I haven’t given up on by any means, but have been neglecting. Then I looked aside and saw the first calendula flower, and this is what happened. But now I will get down to business.

 

 

Solar Flashback calendula May2016
calendula – Solar Flashback