Sunday, May 22, 2016

Magpies, Bees and Saws

My backyard is not a silent place this time of year.  As I trim bushes, cut flowers for the house and rake, I'll be called from the task by the raucous sound of a magpie flying up the creek or a bee near my ear.  During one recent morning, I heard bumblebees, the baby ducks, a magpie and mourning doves.  The stream gurgles around the rocks; its sound rising to my consciousness when I shift from my task to noticing some specific event like the first arrival of the dragonflies this season or the blooming of the purple allium.  I forget that I can record the sounds, but here are photos of this noisy place.

I have been tossing rocks into this stream to hear their lovely "plunk" for years.
The silent willow attracts the birds.
Some years I have few bumblebees.  So far I have heard four this spring.
The bleeding heart was transplanted from my last house.  It hosts the bees.
This rose called "Playgirl" had a million aphids but the sound of a rain storm seemed to have washed them away. 
The noise of this photos is one of chopping rhubarb for pie and the sound of sniffing the smell of iris.  
The title of the blog post mentioned "saw".  This is the source of the saw noises.  This is where I am spending most of my time as I get the house ready to sell.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Eight Steps for Mapping the Topography of Grief

                                       Eight Steps for Mapping the Topography of Grief

11.)   Begin by naming places on your map that you do not want to forget.  The name of your loved one, the beginning and the end.  You have become a toponymist now, a namer of places.

22.)   Draw the elevations, the ridgelines, and deep, deep canyons.  You will need such places from which to scout a route or to hide on those wicked days of sorrow.  The proximity of the curving elevation lines will determine which routes will be too steep and which, even on difficult days, will give you a sufficiently wide ledge upon which to lay, contemplate, and pray.

33.)   Add cities, suburbs, flash-by-towns, tree houses, trailer courts - places where you might find commiserating souls.  Mark them.  Coffee shops, internet cafes, libraries.  You will need details.  Start with one location.  Two.  Color-code your options for levels of hopeful contact.

44.)    With permanent ink, illustrate the location of the cemetery or with dashing and swift lines show where the ash and bone fragments flew from your hand.   Footnote the epitaph.

55.)    Add the rivers and the seas.  Find where the tears flowed in streams and eventually washed onward, beyond you, joining others in the salty waters.  Designate the lowlands where tears seeped back into the earth, nurturing fresh life.

66.)   Design roadways, byways, lanes, and paths.  If your grieving is brief, then you will need only one super-highway upon which to hurry off to other pages of your map book.  Otherwise, draw your roads crisscrossing.  The spaces inside the grid design will look like sticky-notes.   Leave them blank until you have regained your interest in details, in observations of hilarious and obtuse facts.  It will happen.

77.)   Draw a rectangle.  In it, put the title: The Key.  Grieving causes forgetfulness.  Map keys are important to maintain your sanity, to remind you where you have put things of significant import and feeling.

88.)    Lastly, sign your name at the bottom and date the map.  One day this map will be stored and then, only occasionally, will you take it out to reexamine it.  Noting its date, you will realize that time has passed and you have left the Map of Grief and traveled onward.   

Preface to Mapping the Topography of Grief - a Travel Memoir