Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Face of 2018

The jade face of a Buddhist statue on a bookcase absorbs the morning light across from where I sit and write on my couch. When I look up, the Japanese monk’s Mona Lisa-like smile seems to me as if it approves of my work.  In these last few days of 2017, an unsettled year, I have been thinking I might try cultivating a new look.  I think it might resemble that of my jade statue – a face that appears serene and wise, but amused. 

The statue has had its share of unnerving events and ought to be a worthy model for me.  It is after all an immigrant to America, of a revered religion - but not Christian - does not have white skin (rather a pale green), has a chipped foot – a pre-existing condition – and was once suspected of being a terrorist weapon.  Any of these might have gotten it in trouble during the year of 2017.  Particularly the charge of a terrorist weapon. 

“What do you have in your bag?  A weapon?”  Scanning the x-ray of my carry-on bag back in the 90’s, the security guard mistook the Buddhist statue for a cudgel or possibly a gun.  He unwrapped the jade monk from a t-shirt and set it on the brown tray.  Accused of being a potential assault weapon, my dear statue stood stock still.

“Oh,” said the security guard, disarmed by my monk’s smiling face.  Even that man, I could see, was relieved not to see another gun.  (What is with all these guns?  Isn’t the faith in the bounty of spiritual dialogue sufficient to solve most of the world’s problems?)  My monk dispelled all tension with his quiet grin.   

When my Aunt Margaret told me to choose one thing from her possessions in appreciation for helping her move from Virginia to North Carolina back in the early 1990’s, I immediately sought out the Buddhist statue and cradled it in my arms.  As a nurse, she had received the gift from a private patient.  I was uncertain as to the statue’s sex.  Male or female?  Its hair was in a bun, so female?  It held a stick with a mop-like top and wore a gown or a robe.  For some years, until I knew better, I called it my Mop Lady.  My monk endured the altering of its sex and my mocking with its smile.

So, this coming year, regardless of threats, of insults, of tweets, of sex scandals and more killings with guns, my monk and I will persevere with insistence that the unfortunate turn of events of 2017 will pass, and we’ll smile together knowingly.  2018 might just be a good year for putting on a new face to the world.      

Sunday, December 24, 2017

"Merry Christmas" in Mouse

"Merry Christmas" in mouse said the tracks between my shed and the Ponderosa pine. Yesterday morning, I had gone outside to read the night's traffic report.  A handful of deer had been kicking aside snow to get to ivy, a rabbit had hopped towards the road, a raccoon had meandered through, and the mouse trails rounded every building.  The scratchings of bird feet made delicate marks in gatherings where the snow met the edges of dirt under the pines, as if the birds had been dancing at dawn.  My yard's fresh snow was bisected with so many animal trails that it resembled a Seattle freeway grid.  Such is the winter commute to my holiday abode by my wild guests.

I am home this year for the holiday season.  Like this elk I spotted from the end of my driveway, my feet are grounded in winter.  I didn't even bring a tree inside the house.  There are trees all around me.

I put the string of bubble lights in my front window instead of on a tree like in the past.  Leaning against the cold panes of glass, they can't seem to get warm enough to bubble consistently.  I don't mind.  The color is sufficient.  Have you spotted the deer by the car yet?

Lizzie and I curl up inside.  The temperature was 11 degrees last night.  Although she wears her wool coat, she doesn't like this snow on her feet.  When Art and I took her for a walk along the river a few days ago, she refused to walk far and had to be carried.  (Sometimes, I question whether she is actually a Scottish-English breed or not!)

With glorious sunlight on the newly-fallen snow, I took a short walk up the river.  Without Lizzie. 

And without Art, who was hiking the loop high around a knoll across the way from the cabin. He was up where we had heard a cougar on Thanksgiving Day.  He saw the tracks of that elk above, but heard no cougar.  He saw no animals, just clouds drifting across the mountains. 

I have celebrated so many winter holidays, but this one seems particularly memorable.  Tomorrow Art and I will sit to a meal of cornish hens, zuchini, sweet potato balls, brussel sprouts and an orange cake.  Tonight I'll go to sleep with dreams, not of sugar plums, but of frosted trees, the sound of a river and images of the tracks of wild animals.  Glorious stuff.

Before I retire on this Eve, I wish all of you:
"God Rest Ye..." in raccoon.