we have been – knock wood – quite lucky lately – knock wood – during a period of time that tornado watches have proliferated weather apps across the country, including here. the words “tornado watch” make me uneasy. ok, truth be told, i find them slightly terrifying. i am not one to take these watches and warnings lightly. i plan ahead…important papers, phone and laptop cords, keys, wallets, purse, dogga leash…all in a safe place. and then i listen – intently – to the wind.
i didn’t use to have this kind of reaction to storms, but since the flat-line-windstorm of 2011, i have turned into a wuss. yes, wuss. period. somewhere around 750-800 trees were felled in that storm in our neighborhood, pulling roots from the ground, heaving sidewalks, falling wherever they fell. all in a matter of minutes. it was scary. and yet, i know it was not the destruction that a tornado can leave behind.
we have read each article about the tornadoes across the country, our hearts sinking for the loss of life and home and property. the weather is more extreme than i ever remember it. and it is not getting better. climate change is here – not a amorphous thing of the future. and, with the ocean temperatures rising, i suspect that this will not ease up. these storms are here to stay.
and so i wonder the best things we can do to pay attention to this good earth, the best practices, things to avoid. we are all in this together – despite the warring of peoples on big fronts and little. there will be nothing to celebrate – or fight over – should we ignore these signs. we’ve been relatively lucky as a world so far – knock wood.
and in the way that getaways slip into the wind, i know that this one will as well. time spent in the snowy up-north will slowly peel off and fly, seeds for the next time, the next few-days-away, the next memories.
this weekend we’ll have dinner with our son. he owns a new home – his first – and this will be our first actual viewing of it. i can’t wait! time spent with our adult children flies all too fast. already it’s been six months since i have seen our daughter; already it will be three months since we saw our son. their lives are busy and active and they are not in the same town. their homes have been anywhere from an-hour-and-a-half to twenty-seven hours away. it takes time and planning. and life is full of things – many things, for all of us – that take time and planning.
in what will feel waytoofast, our time spent together will zoom by. visiting and catching up and doing the yes-of-course-i’m-staring-at-you-i’m-your-mother will be followed quickly by goodbyes at the door and me, as ever, wiping happy (and wistful) tears as we drive away. and the tiny layers that comprise this time will feather, drifting into air streams where our mind searches for details and they are just a little further out than we can reach.
the wind brushes past us and time passes in its grasp. we – as ever – attempt to hold its filmy contrails, but time and vapor cannot be held. they are part of the wind that swirls and we simply are witnesses to its magic. we experience, we create memories, we stand next to those memories and gaze back as time’s half-life multiplies before our eyes. on friday, we are astounded by a long week’s end. on our 60th birthday, we are astounded by the six decades. as we sit at our child’s table, we are astounded by their maturity and place in the world, their mark.
we – and the stars – float in the basket of the hot air balloon of the universe and – if we are wise enough – glory that we are part of it.
iowa and kansas were full of summer-on-its-waning-edge, the sun streaming into the truck making merely having windows open not enough. the highway noise was loud and the air conditioning a welcome buffer so we could talk and ponder what the next days would bring.
we saw it from a distance and assumed it was farmers plowing in dry fields of dirt, billowing cloud dust across the horizon from afar. and then we drove into it. in minutes, touching the window glass cleared up the mysterious billowing. the beyond-blustery front was bringing cold air and as we drove from kansas into colorado, the gusts delivered autumn.
we walked into their living room this morning and the fire was lit. there is nothing like a cup of coffee by an early morning fire. the day is cool and the sun is out. those of us who traveled for yesterday’s celebration of columbus’ life and are still here will gather later around a fire out back. in the meanwhile, we’ll walk and talk and have a little quiet time after much visiting and catching up till later last night. the service is over and next follows.
when these flowers were blooming, they were vibrant and gorgeous, spilling over the old fence along the sidewalk. the petals started to drop off as fall started to arrive, dropping in little by little. bright yellow pistils started to turn mustard then cocoa brown. the picture begged to be taken – beautiful and fallow on its eventual way.
as we drive back to wisconsin, we’ll again pass fields of corn waiting to be cut down, plowed over, vast brown rolling land. we’ll miss the green, we know, even at home, even in our little gardens, on our little potting stand.
but we know that time just doesn’t jump from one season to another. it actually shows signs as it comes, gives fair warning, allows us time to process a bit and adjust. it transitions and gently encourages us to move on, into the next season.
summer yields to fall and we will bring home a little wisdom harvested from the side of the highway.
A0, B0, C1 are missing. entirely. gone. they have disintegrated and have dissolved into the ashy dirt of the piano. it is likely that if we planted the forget-me-not seeds we received when our beloved babycat died, tiny blue flowers would grow, for this spot – the lowest on the keyboard – seems rich soil. though we do not see A-zero, B-zero, C-one, the tones are still there, the timbre of these lowest notes ever-present, the grounding of all else still grounded.
“wherever you are, that’s where i will be…” is needlepointed in an old black frame on the wall in the bedroom. in the way that notes forever linger in the air, that frequencies dance waiting for us to listen, i know that this is also true: those whom we love surround us any where we go, any where we are, they are a whisper away. i plant virtual forget-me-nots each time i speak of or ‘to’ my sweet momma, my poppo, my big brother, dear ones who have gone on. i plant virtual forget-me-nots each time i hold close in embrace or in mind those whom i love who are here, whether near or far. the garden is lush with these tiny blooms, the wind a symphony, even maybe a gentle cacophony, of harmonics, seeding my steps each day.
in the midst of it all – changes and challenges, absolute joys and abysmal sadnesses – all that has been whirls around us, all that will be beckons us. we pick and choose the bouquet each day…our words and actions, our intentions. we learn and grow and send roots while at the same time becoming tall and independent and resourceful and capable of blooming.
yet, the wisdom of the ages, the ages themselves, are where we are. the notes play and the harmonics ring. the flowers blossom and spread and the wind takes on seeding, propagating on breezes and stout gales, encircling us. the universe cheers for us. we try to believe it is, ultimately, on our side. as albert einstein encouraged, ‘the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.’ we can bring nutrients or malnutrition to the garden.
the low notes swirl. still there. and all those who have loved us, all those we have loved, all those who love us, all those we love, the greater spiritual power in each of our lives – there. always with us. rich soil for our every single day.
magical. the starry tufts of white floating on the breeze. seeds from wild flowers, they are on a course not of their own volition. white filaments of dandelions, designed to fly and leave a wake behind their path, fluff past, on their way to parts unknown. part of the wind. dandelions’ wispy seeds can be aloft over a half mile before parachuting their way to the ground. no gps, no triptik, no maps or intended destination.
much like how it feels right now. a part of the wind.
in this time of global pandemic, of racial protest, of economic strife, of political chaos, it feels as though the wind has taken me. battered to and fro, it feels as it there is no determined destination, no way to avoid the headwinds, no escaping the jet stream. the wind just picks me up and takes me, each day, to a different place. never physically far from the place of origin, it makes me feel just enough of a lack of control that i am ill at ease, never quite settled, never quite sure, always a bit tentative, always wary.
and instead of letting the breeze blow and riding it like a standup board in a serene lake, i resist. i find the need to know – where am i going? – too pressing, too unnerving. i paddle against the current, seeking ways to see, to move in a direction that makes sense. but it’s ineffective. i tire and give it up to the myriad of air currents swirling around me.
it is what it is. we are, indeed, a part of the wind. just starry tufts.
at a time when i couldn’t afford paint and knew nothing about painting, i painted. i was drawn to big canvasses and the household cans of black and white paint in the basement workroom. there were housepaint brushes on the workbench, many with twisted brushhairs and dried wall paint from previous projects on the handles. they felt good in my hand. i didn’t know what i was doing, but i was compelled to do it.
and so, my paintings are black and white. layers of white on black and black on white and white on black on white and black on white on black. i brushed on paint; i stood back and spattered paint. i kept going until i felt “stop”. when i ran out of canvas i taped off a rectangle, ventured out with the leftover from a can of khaki interior paint, and painted on the wall, later framing the box with a clearance frame, broken but not obviously so.
in that time of a compelling need to paint, to preserve emotion-in-black-and-white-on-a-canvas, i wonder what my paintings would have looked like had i access to all the colors in between? where would i have gone with mountain meadow green or razzle dazzle rose or canary or cornflower or atomic tangerine or fuzzy wuzzy brown?
anyone who has merely stood outside and looked up at the sky knows that the colors of life are as transient as breath. they morph and change in the moments that go by. capturing color is like capturing the wind. one cannot see color without light reflections, refractions, wavelengths, shadow, absorption. they work together so we might see the twilight sky, rainbows and unicorn horns.
is black black without white? is white white without black? is cerulean blue without scarlet? is any spectrum complete without all others in the band of light, without all the wavelengths? any spectrum at all?
do we actually realize that none can exist without the other?
“all colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” (marc chagall)
the ferry raised up on the crest of the wave, angry sea all around us, the wind howling. then, just as smoothly as it rode the way up, it trounced down into the trough between the waves. the water rose over the ferry, splashing all the cars and running down the deck toward the stern. the wind kept howling.
it was a day like that. flags at 90 degrees, parallel to the ground. our prayer flags have seen many like that; the wind has tattered them. prayers have been released into the universe with gentle breezes; prayers have been thrust into the universe with forceful winds.
i tend to prefer the days without tempestuous winds. the lake has an uneven surf on those turbulent days, the rhythm as they hit shore not intuitive or familiar and one that i find unsettling.
yet i am reminded that this same wind i face down at the shoreline is also the wind at my back. it is the wind of wisdom and movement. the wind that carries me away, the wind that surrounds me with those who have gone before me, the wind of growth and courage.
and so, i welcome the wind. i watch as so.many.prayers. are freed to fly. i give thanks for the gusts, unfettered dreams and wishes, each step aided by the wind.
“…and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should…” (desiderata by max ehrmann)
when i listen to tracks i have recorded i can either picture the time i spent writing at the piano or the time i spent in studio recording. this piece drums up the same image; in a time of pronounced inspiration and the transferring of much emotion into music, this was simultaneously written and recorded at yamaha artist services in nyc back about 15 years ago.
even then, i could see the willows-bending-in-the-wind characteristic of life – it will unfold as it should, despite our best efforts to stymie it or change it or enhance it. and so i loved when ken, my truly amazing producer, added a bended electric guitar line, arching and buckling, flexing around the melody line, a musical painting. even now, and i suspect as will always be, i try to be that willow, bending as the wind takes me, allowing the universe to unfold.
“unfolding: trying to trust that life is unfolding the way it should be”(liner notes)
at 93 these words were texted by my sweet momma on her iphone, about a week before she died three years ago. she was amazing. and damn strong. “whoa!” i think, re-reading this text, “you go, momma!”
“…more than i say…more than i speak…more than you realize…” like every mom she walked the thin line between not saying enough and saying too much. The Girl and The Boy are practiced at rolling their eyes at me and, i guess, i must have done the same to my momma. so there’s that moment you dig in and, ignoring every quivering fibre in your body, you do not say anything. you notice, you think, you know. but you remain quiet. for you also know that the lives you have gifted into this world are not yours to live; they are only yours to love, to hold closest to your heart, to support in every way you can, to lift up when they stumble or fall.
“don’t. underestimate me.” so true, momma didn’t want to be under-estimated. her spirit in the world accomplished bigger things than most professions can tout. her kindness was rippling, her curiosity abounding, and her fortitude…that sisu. you don’t want to be the retail/corporate/organization recipient of the “write-a-lettuh” vindication; momma was going to win. she “wasn’t born in ny for nothin” as i say. the day after the extra surgery she had just one day after her double-mastectomy a few months before this text, she sat on the edge of her hospital bed and called us “idiots” for not getting back on the road home. she was going to be “just fine” and she was more worried about us on the road than herself. that’s a mom for you. that’s my sweet momma.
beaky dug in. she was engaged and big in the world. and her sisu made her powerful. she was wise even in silence. she knew, even if i didn’t tell her. like moms everywhere, she was tuned in, in ways that made her ever-present. i always counted on that. i still do. she is on the edges of this earth, where the wind carries her to me.
i can only hope that one day my own children realize that – no matter what – i am right there. i know more than i say. i think more than i speak. i notice more than they realize. and never, ever, underestimate me. because as their momma, i will go to the ends of the earth for them. just like my mom.
it would be 75 today. 75 years since the day my sweet momma and poppo married. and so, i am sharing two videos here today – the first is a dedication and the other is my song YOU’RE THE WIND. because i know you are. the wind. to each other and to each of us here on earth who miss and love you. always.