Monday, December 29, 2008

Lost Gifts

The caption at the top of my blog is a quote from Wendell Berry: Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away. I placed it there so long ago, that I have forgotten its source.

Now I know why.

Justin gave me a Berry’s A Timbered Choir as a Christmas gift. This is a collection of Berry’s poems from 1979 thru 1997. He calls them his “Sabbath Poems” as most of them were written while he took Sunday morning walks about his Kentucky lands – his weekly walking meditation, observing the world through his poetry. One of his poems from 1993 ponders life’s ebb tide, clearly told from the perspective of someone who has many years behind him, but still knows there is much more ahead:

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.

The poem ends with the lines at the top of the blog, words of grace and spiritual giving: we have less and less reason not to give ourselves away, to ‘be generous toward each day that comes.’

I relate this with some embarrassment, as I have received this gift once before. Kent Busman gave me a copy of A Timbered Choir as a thank you for working with the Camp Fowler Capital Campaign Committee a couple of years ago. He put an inscription on the inside cover. It was my introduction to the simple power of Berry’s words. I cannot find that book, and it saddens me because it came from someone who personifies the grace of giving one’s self to others.

Sorry, Kent. And thanks, Justin.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ice Storm

The regular Saturday cleaning could wait. There was nothing normal about the day. The gallery was open outside and demanded attention. Sunlight poured out of crisp blue, and the trees were wrapped in diamonds.

The temperature stayed below freezing, so nature’s canvas did not melt. A slight breeze pushed heavy tree branches into gentle swirls. The highest and most brittle limbs became baby rattles, their blanket of ice creating a rustle that faded like a wave into the distance. It was a visual and auditory picture. Ice chips broke off and scattered across the roof and on the driveway, providing a crunchy pathway for my boots.

Pam took a mid-morning drive with her camera. She picked up Marge and headed into the hills around town. Their view changed, depending upon how high the road climbed. Sometimes the layers of paint were just the opaque ice covering each brown limb. In other places, snow added a blanket of dust to the trees.

Everywhere, the sun made the picture glisten. The bright rays reflected and bounced against the icy forest, scattering the light and adding another element of motion to the picture.

Normally, a mid-December day would warm gradually by noon. The sun will get high enough in the sky and thin layers of ice will begin to drip. But today was different. The storm had started on Thursday, and the temperature went down with the sun that evening. The rain turned to sleet, freezing rain, and snow , spreading across a wide swath of our corner of upstate New York. It stopped by about noon on Friday, but by then, over 200,000 homes had no power in our area.

The full moon provided the only light that night, and it showed us what the storm had left behind: an incredible layer of ice on every surface. At dawn, the light show really started.