Layers

~ vintage blanket
~ vintage blanket

 

It snowed this weekend and the world became just a bit more enchanted. Layers of water and ice glistened over the street. Ribbons of snowflakes tumbled and bedecked the boughs beyond my window. Lights twinkled, evermore bright, as darkness dropped a veil atop the blanket of white. A hush settled upon the land. The world was beautiful to behold.

I’ve learned to look closely, to appreciate the layers of a life.

Everything layers. The snow that buries treasure. The cut pine boughs that house an errant spider. The branch of Winterberries that feed the birds. The words we write; the silences we keep.

Look closely.

My eyes scan the room to view a mother’s treasured sideboard. Once it stood stained and polished, waiting for Sunday. On that sacred day, she’d set out the silver and china serving dishes. Her best effort. And we would celebrate family.

Look closely.

A patina of paint and wax covers the oak sideboard. The top sanded, the edges worn. The silver stands in a cast iron urn, a twist on up cycling.  The china serving bowls rarely make an appearance. I see the candle burning down. A daughter’s attempt to hold on, let go, to illuminate the night.

Look closely.

My fingers lift a gilded frame. The sepia photograph is of a woman. I trace her portrait.  She is standing on a deck, leaning against a railing, looking out to sea. Dressed in her finest clothing, her fingertips hold a hat. A lady always wears a hat. She was a believer in proper etiquette. Beyond her rolls the Atlantic.

Look closely.

I recall her eyes, shades of indigo grey. Behind their depth is another layer. Doubt. I imagine her pausing, pondering, “Should I leave England?” I dust off worry and discover bravery. Carefully, I lift another layer to expose joy ~ he is waiting for her to cross an ocean.  On another continent, he goes about his life, planning, constructing, beholden to a dream.

Look closely.

A certain magic fills the room. A whispered breeze kisses my forehead. I see my Grandmother; she is still beautiful. Time has gently taken its toll. Her once bright eyes have paled. They  glimmer, wet pools of faded blue. Her finest dress, threadbare. A pin of pearls is elegantly placed beneath the collar of her blouse.  Beside her armchair a weathered curtain hangs, the faded Irish lace rustles.

Look closely.

Everything is layered, weathered, chipped, cracked and broken. Be still. Pay attention to the forgotten. It is within glorious imperfection that we find beauty. Lift the layers gently, see beyond the cracks. Everything and everyone has a story to tell. The magic of the world works in whispers. You only need a heart that feels to see the wonder that surrounds us.

Autumn Light

Kissed by autumn’s softened light

I sit at my desk

Writing, wondering

The moment simple, quiet

Surrounded by words and thoughts

Tucked away memories

A gentle sadness, softened by time

Rustles

As I cast a spell of silence and peace

 

The wind whispers your name

Rock a bye, rock a bye

Siren’s sing you home

Rock a bye, rock a bye

To a land suspended in time

Rock a bye, rock a bye

Hush your weary mind

Rock a bye, rock a bye

Do not fear the journey

The stars, your compass

 

Memories flutter like cranes

Lifted higher upon the wind

Your love is true

Rock a bye, rock a bye

Our souls shall meet again

On the other side of time

Rock a bye, rock a bye

 

 

 

Elegance

Mahogany Cabinet redux~ annie sloan chalk paint
Mahogany Cabinet redux~
annie sloan chalk paint

 

The elegant bones were the give away. Once hers held richer presence. Austere yet luxurious, polished and shiny, shades of auburn and chestnut beckoned.

She stood behind a door, snugged against a wall, opposite a front window, preferring to stand in the light. The overcast  days cast too many shadows. Yet it was from behind the door that she listened.

Beauty fades, even hers. Bought on time; she should have seen the coming settlement of account. She was disposable. The carpenter’s base upon which she stood once solid, now broken. The scratches, scuffs and scrapes of time, earned and more than paid for.

Behind a glass exterior were hidden her best kept secrets. Evidence of coveted treasure and tales from a far away land. Slipped away whispers of hushed conversations as the china teapot passed from hand to hand.

Yet she stands whitewashed, transformed.

Through Her Eyes 2

 

Late in the afternoon a door opens and a small woman steps out.  She tucks a lock of auburn hair behind an ear, pauses to inhale the salt air that blows off the ocean. Waning sunlight announces the end of day. Her blue eyes rove the landscape in search of beauty. Today she’ll walk a familiar route home, a route she knows by heart. There is time and light.

The fence comes into view. A solid structure of  connected mid century modern blocks. She stops and recalls a moment from her past. A craftsman sets the blocks into place, trowels a row and begins again. This memory elicits a smile. The open squares fenced a perfect hideaway, a spot to peek and play between the tangled ivy. For a moment she pictures two children; their laughter rings through air. Her fingers graze over the blocks, trace the roughness.

The woman covets beauty. Not perfection. Rather, she prefers the imperfect, the missing and broken. She finds beauty in the everyday objects left among fauna and man. Slowly, she lifts the camera from her bag and aims it at her subject. One last shot. A story  in the making.

 

It’s time for some good byes. Winter’s sighed one last cool breath and left a namesake, Winter rose, a gift for tender Spring. As the visual softens and blurs, she notes the rows of Helleborus beneath her feet. These evergreen perennials are neatly placed within shaded borders. Petals open bluish purple to blotched, maroon pinks. Pale green, bell-shaped flowers reach from underneath variegated leaves.The shutter clicks. She imagines the ire  of roused, rosy-cheeked woodland sprites, iridescent wings whir beneath sunbeams.

Suddenly, the woman senses a presence behind her. The spirits of her ancestors stand united. Souls whose calloused hands dug soil and transported the woodland plants by wheelbarrow to this very bed. Their whispered voices sound as peaceful notes; their words carried back and forth on the back of a cool breeze. She imagines them kneeling as they arrange the plants before her. The woman sighs, it was so long ago and she is weary.

It is time for Spring, she thinks, a time of new beginnings.

Along the walk back home, her beautiful mind deconstructs the objects. Drawn in by their elements of shape, form and colour, she pauses to scroll the photographs before her. The lens of a camera is the conduit through which she takes simple to majestic. A finger points to push the button, a frame clicks and a moment is captured in time. She imagines these images altered by subtle shifts of light and placement.

It’s a shame, she thinks. Blindly, we rush past the everyday. One day we realize. That which we forget, is forever lost.

 

The Cradle

Annie Sloan~ Pure White Chalk Paint
Annie Sloan~ Pure White Chalk Paint
IMG_2493
Cece Caldwell~ Santa Fe Turquoise Chalk paint
IMG_2495
Grandpa’s Barn Red paint peeks through the sanded edges of the cradle.
IMG_2496
A coat of Annie Sloan Soft Wax slips over the paint.

Grandpa fashioned the wooden cradle by hand and painted it Barn Red. I remember that afternoon; his hands set the cradle onto the linoleum floor. My small hands reached forth, rocked the cradle. His gentle eyes looked into mine,
“For your doll, rock her to sleep,” he said. He turned to my mother, “I found the pattern in the newspaper.”

I recall the cradle was the colour of a shiny fire truck. Grandpa used any old paint, whatever was on hand. Barn Red sat on top of the work-bench, so Barn Red it was. It wasn’t about beauty or matching decor; it was about finishing up a project. It was about frugality. It was about the hand-made gift, lovingly bestowed on a young child.

Over the years, the doll’s cradle was set aside. My sister and I grew older, chose other forms of play. Somehow the cradle survived several moves, furniture purges, life changes, re dos and pure neglect. Yet, I always knew where to find it.

A few days ago, I thought about the man who fashioned the wood into a doll’s cradle. An urge to sit awhile in his space, hold to a memory over took me.

It was clear how to find him. I searched the cobwebbed crawl space until its rocker came to view,hidden behind the box of Christmas decorations. Slowly, I lifted the cradle. The heaviness of the plywood, the slivered edges, and the pea green paint, pricked for attention. I craved evidence from a moment.

Confidently, my hand gripped the block as I sanded the sharp and dented edges of the cradle. Each layer of paint lifted to show moments from a life. The memories that linger. The horrid pea green paint my mother applied in the mid 70’s, a wish to update and repurpose the cradle for magazine storage. Turquoise, her favourite colour from a 60’s craze to match a floral slip coloured couch, came to the surface. Still I sanded. Where was the red I remembered?

Slowly the layers of paint lifted until patches of Barn Red peeked through, evidence, it was real. I had found the moment so long ago.

This week I restored the old wooden cradle with chalk paint. Pure White by Annie Sloan covered the patches of colour that remain deeply ingrained within the wood. One coat of Santa fe Turquoise by Cece Caldwell, slip covered white. Once slipped in wax, the chippy old cradle’s patina shone restored. My hands reached forth, rocked the cradle.

The cradle’s story lives, once again made real, a grandfather’s simple loving action layered by moments that survive time. Love lives on.

A Tribute to a Lady

My Mother A beautiful lady. I've always felt my Mom resembles the actress and playwright, Isabella Rossellini.
My Mother
A beautiful lady. I’ve always felt my Mom resembles the actress and playwright, Isabella Rossellini.

 

It used to drive me crazy as a teen.

“Tell me what you think, Mom. What should I do?”

Mom would set aside her paint brush, focus her dark eyes upon mine and shrug.

Her comment was always,

“It doesn’t matter what I think; it’s what you think that counts. Think for yourself.”
Brush strokes filled a canvas.

Think for yourself. Three words that held power. Wielding clout to the choices I made.

It was my responsibility to stand at the crossroad and choose the right path. Successes and failures were mine alone to shoulder.

Mother insisted I decide my fate. There were moments in life when I begged her~ tell me, guide me, shield me, and help me. Anything, as I stood alone at the intersection called Life, and clutched an empty suitcase.

“Buck up,” she’d say, “Life’s not a party and it sure as hell isn’t fair.”

Her words, sage lyrics spoken from the heart of a beautiful, brave woman. A lady who learned late the skill set necessary to navigate through the unpredictable forests of life. She understood I was ill prepared, too fearful to fly. So she pushed me.

When lost, my mother’s words take the helm and whisper, Think for yourself. I promise you, the answer is within. Automatically my compass resets.

The Universe sets us down, gives us what we need to deal, in a lifetime. A talisman of courage when we cower, a nudge to stand tall when another breaks us down, the sparkle of beauty amidst ruins and light to shine through darkness.

This Mother’s Day I honour you, Mom. I learned to fly.

Retrospection

My lately~ has been retrospective; maybe you can relate. This morning I attacked the basement, cleaning and placing loose photos and memories into their corresponding scrapbooks with hope that one day these bits of memory will be meaningful for family. I came across a memoir of sorts, once tossed into a box, given to me by a much missed “aunt.” In it: a family’s story,the lives and loves of a family line.
It was handed to me as the keeper of sorts, in the hope that one day I would share these stories with my own children. I was too young to appreciate the message then. Instead of cleaning I opened the binder and read. What struck me was the constant thread of hope; that even in difficult circumstances, family hung on- together. This family’s story rode through tough times, loss brought them closer and their lives grew richer. They reached out, included one another, always for their children, and valued time with each other. Their circle grew stronger.
More than anything I have sought to hold family close. My wish is that one day, family will be cleaning up their basements and pick up a binder or memory box. I hope they read the stories of family or touch the items, hold to hope and love. May the message come to them at just the right moment; give them reason to pause and remember, there is

nothing that love can’t conquer.