“look it up,” my sweet momma would say. i blame her. for my word-curiosity. for my policing of spelling, punctuation, grammar. for my love of dictionaries and my commitment to learning. at 93 she was still asking questions, being curious, looking it up.
black and white composition books, of both thick and thin variety, populated my growing up, my teenage years, my college years, and ever since. though i do have a thready fondness of using My Girl’s and My Boy’s old unfinished spiral notebooks these days, we have piles of waiting-to-be-used composition books and they beckon when i open the supply cabinet in the sunlit office upstairs. places to jot poetry, thoughts, reflections, stories, lyrics, these composition books always make me think of my mom. they are places to process, to remember, to dream, to sort. they are the beginnings of stories, lyrics to ponder, the coda to the song. to someone else they are simply words on the page. to me, it is my breath that gives them life. we each have stories to tell, songs to write.
in the last few days i have had the frustration of feeling silenced. as i wrote in yesterday’s post, someone marked all five of my blogposts of last week on facebook as “spam” and that somehow triggered facebook to pull every last one of my blogposts – and any mention of my blogsite – down. every word – the simple ones, the ones that require looking-it-up – pulled down. with 650 posts, even averaging 500 words, that is 325,000 words. MY 325,000 words. gone.
in these times of chaos and unrest and pandemic, there are plenty of words out there. foul words, words of peaceful mantras, words of untruth, twisted words of conspiracy theories, imploring words, scientific words, words of wisdom from giants of wisdom, accessible words, words we have to look up, words we can hardly believe we’ve heard from various people-in-the-spotlight, words at which we roll our eyes, words we find reassuring.
in a daily email he receives, david shares a new word with me. “kawaii,” he reports, “means cute.”
the baby raccoons, most definitely kawaii, peeked out from behind the tree trunk. upon seeing us on the trail, they had scrambled from the little pond up the tree. they stared at us; we stared at them. they didn’t move, quizzically grasping onto bark and watching quietly. we didn’t move either. we just stood quietly on the trail and watched. the story they would tell about our encounter wouldn’t have many words. all was silent. all was motionless. they were safe; we were safe. for a few minutes, we shared the serene woods together, a little eye contact in hushed regard of each other. maybe, in their re-telling, in their speckled composition book, they would just tell the coda – “and then they left.”
every now and again i take out an old composition book. it’s astounding. i was so…..wordy.
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