Beauty surrounds us. It’s a found nest, tossed from the trunk of an old oak. It’s innocence and a lack of sophistication. It’s crocus shoots breaking through frosted hardpan or a child’s scribbled note. It’s a falling star and the crush of rose. It’s kisses and rain, the words of a poet.
It’s simple and magnificent as most true things are.
The succulent, dressed in a paper bag. The discarded nest, a home for moss covered bulbs. Titanium snow and Magenta blossoms. It’s birdsong at dawn and the scribbled note you framed. It’s the hive of memories you keep.
~I See Flowers And Smile
The San Joaquin Valley is an endless canvas. Fields of emerald stretch for miles. There’s a cow. Gone. Sheep drift and settle like clouds. Gone. Wind whips my face. Palm trees appear as if out of place. I inhale the sweet smell of citrus.
Is this Heaven? I don’t believe in God. Somewhere else there’s a war. What’s this holy feeling pressing down on me? If God exists, he’s hiding in those mountains. I’ll pray for all you suburban squares and do gooders.
This is truth. The southern sky laces crimson before it turns dark. At this pace, we’ll roll into town ahead of nightfall. Hills bank and the road snakes on. Up and down, up and down. This is life.
My buddy Jack, shouts above the Indian’s drone, “Long, hot summer ahead.”
At the last moment, he’d dropped his tools and joined me on the road. People don’t ask too many questions. We travel light and fast.
I nod. Freedom, man.
There’s no itch for smokes or shots. Cruising an open road is enough of a high. We’ll find a tavern where the drinks are flowing, somewhere after sunset.
~Summer of ’51, ‘tidal prose’
Gratitude. Years ago a thoughtful neighbour brought me a clump of peony roots, dug from her colourful garden, divided for another. On a walk, I pause to admire the show of beauty blooming so splendidly in her garden. My eyes covet the peonies, the genus Paeonia, buds wrapped tight, stalks gently holding the shy, unfurling blooms. Some garnet, pink, and as if this isn’t enough beauty to behold, two weeks later, the white flowers show, shining through the dark night.
On the cusp of autumn, she placed three small bundles at the doorstep. They patiently wait, still, wrapped in brown paper, tied with twine, for me to discover. Cradling the bundles, I take them to my garden, gently hand them to the earth. Planting the woody clumps into the soil, I wonder at the magic these simple bundles of wood and roots would conjure. Seasons changed, the little woody clumps slept snug underneath an earthen blanket.
The following spring the roots anchor, stalks push through the soil’s surface, evolving into small bushes covered with compound, deeply lobed leaves. Three garnet peonies bloom on one of the bushes. Two weeks later, the second bloom opens to reveal the purest white petals. Years later, these small clumps have mothered five beautiful bushes.
Gorgeousness. Some believe peony compounds have the power to heal. Inhale their fragrance, touch the soft petals with a finger tip, breathe in as your heartbeat slows under this intoxicating spell. I wonder at such beauty.
Cashmere, the mention alone, beautiful to speech. Cashmere, pronouncing it, the syllables, smooth, clear, luxurious, as the unit of spoken language rolls off the tongue. Cashmere. Cashmere. Cashmere. Say it; repeat it for surely, you will fall captive under its spoken spell. A fine textured fiber, light, strong, and soft, shorn goat’s hair. A garment made from cashmere is certain to provide excellent insulation and instant appeal.
It was at a Nordstrom’s sale that I spotted the cashmere wrap, my fingers gently caressing the soft fibers, wondering if, perhaps? Walking away, uncomfortable as the sales clerk loomed too close. After all, I am not really the confident cashmere type of woman or am I? A woman who elevates jeans and basic tees with faux pearls. Sipping a latte, imagining myself wrapped in the luxurious cashmere, dreaming, perhaps.
It was the allure. The light, soft touch of the fibers that drew me back, the seductive charm of the soft weaves. Choosing the wrap with the diagonal, cable knit pattern, as it must look different, unexpected. An ordinary, predictable cashmere wrap would never do. Choosing the shade of grayed, west coast, wintery clouds, wrapping myself in bespoke luxury, I could not resist the self-indulgent purchase of cashmere. For I was buying an emotion if one can even do that, capturing a sentiment.
Wearing it felt divine. Suddenly, no longer just another woman in a crowd. “Who is that woman wearing the cashmere?” It is simple, casual. When tossed about the shoulders, the weave gives the wearer an elevated look of effortless elegant glamour. I can attest to the warmth.
My mother is opening her gift, delighting in the patterns on the delicate tissue papers that envelope it. “Oh my goodness,” she exclaims. There is a pause of silence. Do you like it, Mom? Don’t worry, mom. If it needs dry cleaning, I’ll take care of it for you. My mother whispers, “ I’ve had two cashmere sweaters in my life. Your father bought me one. I was about seventeen and he bought me a cashmere sweater for my birthday. It was very beautiful. Smart looking. A dark navy with a small collar.” My mother gestures to her neck. “So lovely. We went skiing and I wore it.” For a moment, my mother, a vision of youth in all its splendour, her petite frame, classical good looks, widow’s peak of raven hair, coiffed and flipped, one so beautiful in navy cashmere set against the winter white wonderland. “We went skiing and I got soaked. We hiked to his cabin and your father lit a fire, hanging the cashmere sweater over the stovepipe to dry. The heat from the pipe burned through the back of the cashmere. That was the end of it. This is beautiful, Grace. Dark navy. I’m so grateful.” It’s black Mom, you deserve it. “No, it’s dark navy, it’s the colour of the sweater your father bought me so many years ago. Thank you, you’re too good to me.” Capturing a sentiment.