Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation. ~ Graham Greene (Ways of Escape)
I held a blue flower in my hand, probably a wild aster, wondering what its name was, and then thought that human names for natural things are superfluous. Nature herself does not name them. The important thing is to know this flower, look at its color until the blueness becomes as real as a keynote of music. ~ Sally Carrighar (Home to the Wilderness)
I don’t want to sound too cosmic or anything… but I think that music is a spiritual experience. … Music is true. An octave is a mathematical reality. So is a 5th. So is a major 7th cord. And I have the feeling that these have emotional meanings to us, not only because we’re taught that a major 7th is warm and fuzzy and a diminished is sort of threatening and dark, but also because they actually do have these meanings. It’s almost like it’s a language that’s not a matter of our choosing. It’s a truth. The laws of physics apply to music, and music follows that. So it really lifts us out of this subjective, opinionated human position and drops us into the cosmic picture just like that. ~ James Taylor (Performing Songwriter, May 2002)
Sometimes a thought train follows me through a day. The other morning the folks at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford posted one of her quotes on Facebook that caught my attention:
I’d love to put the experience of fifty years at once into your young hearts to give you at once the key to that treasure chamber every gem of which has cost me tears and struggles and prayers. ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe (Letter to daughters, Eliza & Hattie, 1862)
It seems to express a wish that is common to all loving parents, to spare their children from learning things the hard way, to let their children benefit from the parent’s experiences. But parents somehow know that this is not always possible or even to be desired. Children will have their own struggles choosing paths to follow, finding their own adventures in the world. Some of the hard-won gems in our own hearts are simply non-transferable, being unique to our individual personalities and the way we have come to terms with life as we find it.
In the middle of the day, I found myself pulling out a well used book my grandparents gave me when I was very young, two and a half years old. Wondering what gems my maternal grandparents were hoping to give me… A love of poetry, certainly. When I graduated high school, they gave me Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I soon found myself photographing the words my grandmother left on the title page for me to treasure some future day, which has come. When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne was my first volume of poetry.
Halfway down the stairs Is a stair Where I sit. There isn’t any Other stair Quite like It. I’m not at the bottom, I’m not at the top; So this is the stair Where I always Stop.
Halfway up the stairs Isn’t up, And isn’t down. It isn’t the nursery, It isn’t the town. And all sorts of funny thoughts Run round my head:
Well, I’m a sentimental sort, so I smiled at reading: “The beginning of a wonderful adventure – with Milne.“
Halfway Down was one of my favorites – how much I identified with that little person with all sorts of funny thoughts running round her head! When I was three years old we moved into the house my parents built themselves, and there was a staircase with a railing halfway up, open to the dining room. My sister and I were the youngest cousins on my father’s side of the family, and his relatives were a loud, boisterous and rather scary bunch, at least they seemed so to me, a frail sickly sensitive little girl, small for my age. Since relatives were packed into all the bedrooms for the duration there was no place for me to escape the over-stimulation! During their visits I sat on that halfway down stair for hours on end, except when required to eat or go to bed. I could lean back and hide behind the wall or lean forward and “spy” on the activities through the railing. On that stair, sometimes reading a book, I could “be” somewhere else instead.
By the time it came to start cooking dinner I was humming a Cat Stevens song from my teen years… Oh Very Young. Hmm — it would seem the day had a theme. There are days when I wonder what gems my grandparents would try to give me now, at this juncture in my life, if they could. Mid-life is kind of like that halfway down stair. I’m not old and I’m not young. I suspect there is no other stair in life, up or down from here, quite like it. A chance to stop and be anywhere, or somewhere else instead… Fading up to the sky like a pair of favorite old blue jeans…
Oh very young, What will you leave us this time? You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while And though your dreams may toss and turn you now They will vanish away like your daddy’s best jeans Denim Blue fading up to the sky And though you want them to last forever You know they never will – you know they never will And the patches make the goodbye harder still
Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
~ A. A. Milne
(The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh)
One year ago today I started writing this blog. Changes…
…I use those little dots a lot…
I think it’s because, as the amazing Polish poet, Wisława Szymborska observes:
Every beginning is always a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.
Changes keep coming along, welcome or unwelcome, keeping us on our toes, and the Japanese scholar Kakuzō Okakura reminds his readers:
The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.
I feel like I’ve fumbled around this past year, but have finally accepted that this blog has been and is going to be a hodgepodge of anything and everything I think about, dream about, or experience, although the line between “reality” and dreams in my consciousness is often pretty fuzzy. For this blog, over the year I have tried out five WordPress themes, Coraline, Structure, Tarski, Treba, and this one, Elegant Grunge, as far as I can remember. It’s fun playing with the widgets! My favorite posts are the ones with pictures taken on my nature walks with Bernie, Beverly, Janet and Tim. Making friends with my readers, reading their comments here and reading and commenting on their blogs is the best part of being in the blogosphere!
On March 14, 2010 I started another blog, called “…select and collect all the words…,” which was at first to house my collection of quotes. Then I discovered all the art available in the public domain at Wikimedia Commons! So I spent hours pairing quotes with paintings, and wound up neglecting this blog. Finally on January 6, 2011, I posted my last quote there, and made the decision to merge the contents of that blog into this blog. It will take some time, but for now I think I’ll post quotes and paintings on the weekends. Of course, that may change, too.
On March 23, 2010 I started a family history blog for our relatives, close family and distant cousins, Rodgers Family History. (Actually we had a family history website since 2004. I created it on our own domain using Front Page 2000. But using WordPress has been a nice change, making presentation and navigation so much easier.) That “blog” has been neglected, too, but new cousins have found what is already up there and generously added to my database. Connecting with them has been so satisfying. I hope to get more of my data up there in the near future.
A slower and incomplete change has been The Change, a hormonal storm through which I am still trying to navigate. The seas around my little boat are pretty choppy, and I’m never sure if I’m making the waves or being tossed around by what others are leaving in their wakes as they sail, drift, or jet-ski through their own lives. And then there is an energy from the tides that doesn’t originate with people, but pulls from the universe through the moon. Steady and yar…
A year ago I was asking Stevie Nick’s questions:
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?
I am still asking. And sometimes answering affirmatively. Some day I hope Carole King’s lyrics will be my most frequent answer…
My life has been a tapestry Of rich and royal hue; An everlasting vision Of the ever-changing view; A wondrous woven magic In bits of blue and gold; A tapestry to feel and see; Impossible to hold.
Well, it just occurred to me that perhaps this blog isn’t a hodgepodge, but a tapestry! And with that thought, I’m off to embrace another year of writing about the “ever-changing view.”
Is graffiti art? I don’t know, though I tend to think that it is. Some of it seems very creative. I tend to think of graffiti as something painted illegally onto man-made structures like buildings and bridges, often with a negative message. But not always. How about when inspiration moves someone to paint something natural, like a tree or a rock, what might that be called?
These pictures were taken in October 2007 in the woods behind our condo complex.
We often wonder who the mysterious anonymous artist could be… What can you tell about an artist from her work and where she chooses to exhibit it?
When I was little we passed what we called Frog Rock (right) in Eastford on our way to the Cape almost every month. It doesn’t seem so big now as it once did. We’d beg Dad to drive by it slowly so we could get a good look at it from all angles.
I grew up in Storrs, Connecticut, home of the University of Connecticut. I’m used to seeing art on rocks on the campus, including on a large outcrop on South Eagleville Road, sanctioned for painting. There are new creations painted over it every time I go by, and have been for as long as I can remember. Perhaps this experience has conditioned me not to be surprised, but rather fascinated, when finding art co-existing with nature in the woods or by the side of the road. I wonder how many layers of paint on that outcrop in over 50 years???
Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his picture. ~ Henry Ward Beecher (Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit)
Here’s another bit of Connecticut nature art, Snake Rock (right) in Marlborough.
So, are these creations art? Graffiti? Or something else? I suspect that “art” cannot be definitively defined, and that like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder…