Tag Archives: W.B. Yeats

Observations: Words and Photos

Note: Since I last posted on November 21, 2020, about 60,000 more Americans have died of the Covid-19 virus.  Despite the title of this article, I don’t have any words or photos able to deal with that.  I do, though, have the need to keep on– to crouch here close to the ground and reach upward–and to feel (much of the time) hopeful. So, here are the words and photos I do have.


Sentences

On Wednesday, I heard the Kings College Choir, Cambridge  rendition of  “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” including the words, “peace on earth and mercy mild.” Of course, I know the lines–I have been singing that song for over 60 years.  I can see myself in my bedroom back in Detroit singing carols alone in my bedroom. I don’t know why the words like peace, mercy, silent, holy, gloria, and the rest seemed so important to my earnest little self, but they did.  What struck my heart this time around were the words  “mercy mild.” In this year and in this time of year, I am wishing for mercy. The word sounded fine enough when I was a little girl and I didn’t understand it; now I believe mercy is what all we humans need. Mild, too–what a concept–for these dragon-ridden* times. Mild like the touch of a little dog’s leg reaching out to pat my arm. Mild like the rustle of oak leaves on a walk through the woods in Shenandoah. Mild like the sounds of children playing outside.

holiday CDs**

leaves, Shenandoah National Park

Tom and I having been spending a great deal of ( I might say, “too much”) time at home, but it has been okay.  We have Zoom meetings with our children and others. Tom plays bridge online once a week with friends. We’ve also started playing games at the kitchen table that we used to play at campground picnic tables: Upwards and Boggle.  On the table we have a tiny hydroponic garden, which gives off a full spectrum, but mild, light. Tom has always been an excellent cook, but now he is outdoing himself.  For example, last night he made Pati Jinich’s tacos bravos and Sam Sifton’s chile crisp green beans! All I can say is that when we can host guests again, we will be ready.

Zoom platform

garden and light, December 2020

tacos bravos and chile crisp green beans

Tom and I  watch more TV than usual, but we also read, volunteer, and exercise (most days, I take walks and/or do my weights and stretches, but maybe not today).

planting black chokeberry

I hope you have happy holidays, and a more merciful and mild new year.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

*”Dragon-ridden” just came to mind. Then, I realized the word came from a favorite poem from my favorite 20th century poet: “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” by W. B. Yeats. I recommend this poem in reference to Two Thousand and Twenty.

**For an agnostic, I have a surprisingly large collection of winter holiday music!

Link
Transept Canyon from Widforss Point

Transept Canyon from Widforss Point

Of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, our friend (and best man) Art says there are, “Absolutely no words.” I think he’s right, but I am going to sprinkle a few among the photos.

North Rim, AZ

North Rim, AZ

 

Grand Canyon Lodge

Grand Canyon Lodge

towards Bright Angel Point

towards Bright Angel Point

Roosevelt Point

Roosevelt Point

Our friend Paula DeLancey–gone unto another plane these 30 years and more–said we were “lucky ducks” and so we were to live together there on the rim.

cliff rose

cliff rose

forest floor

forest floor

butterfly and flower on the Widforss Trail

butterfly and flower on the Widforss Trail

When I am at the rim, I think quite a bit about William Butler Yeats.  Hard not to with the bee-loud glades in the sunny meadows among the ponderosas and aspens. Right now, I am thinking of  “Easter, 1916”  where Yeats lists those he won’t forget. Along with Art and Paula (above) and Sally (below) I don’t forget:  Chef Floyd and Bertha of the pantry, Leah and Karen–the sisters, Bill of the Mozart horn concertos and Kentucky bourbon, Anita and Becky–cousins and my roommates, Terri–so earnest (one of my favorite character traits), Keith and Pat–hippies among the Mormons, Sue–courted in moonlight by a wrangler on horseback, Richard of the trail and pantry, Jim–sweet baker, Howard–dear friend, and all the rest. Thank you.

Kaibab ponderosas

Kaibab ponderosas

Aspens in the Kaibab National Forest copyright Lynda Terrill

Aspens in the Kaibab National Forest

This photo is for Sally, mule girl, friend, and maid of honor:

mule desk, North Rim

mule desk, North Rim

Yes, I said maid of honor.  In three days, Tom and I will have been married 40 years. In that time, we’ve shared many lunches.

lunch

lunch

Lucky ducks, indeed.

Flexibility, Part 2

In my last post, I noted that I thought my physical flexibility was lessening somewhat.  I am not happy about that, but my chief concern is that I remain (or maybe the correct phrase is become more) mentally and emotionally flexible.

I like to think that, at least sometimes, I embody definition #3 for flexible: “characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements….” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flexible) This is not just some random idea I picked up on the Internet.  I did once have an actual mental health professional called me flexible (and, for the record, resilient also).  My family seems to expect me to be flexible and I think they are more or less satisfied with me on that point. I was going to write that my coworkers have generally thought I was flexible, but I don’t think that is completely true.  However, many of my coworkers/friends have found me friendly, cooperative, and non-doctrinaire.  Anyhow, back to considering my flexibility quotient:

How I have become or tried to become more flexible:  

  • I now like to listen to opera.  This is not because I’ve changed my bourgeois Midwestern spots. It’s just that our parrot friend Phoenix enjoys opera and I trust his instincts.
Phoeni

Phoenix

  • I used to despise eggplant.  I don’t blame myself.  I think when I was young, I only had tasted horrible school-lunch style eggplant parmesan. I mentioned this dislike to an Afghan student.  She said that she would change my mind when I tasted her eggplant dish.  She was right and between the baba ganoush and that Chinese dish of fried eggplant with lots of garlic, I am now a dedicated fan.  In fact, I am growing four Japanese eggplants this year (a huge crop when one gardens on 1/20 of an acre as I do).
eggplant

eggplant

  • Time was—back when I was a new gardener—just sighting a slug was cause for loud complaints and gross-out noises. There was the time I ran barefooted to answer the phone and stepped on a giant, spotted, end-of-summer specimen. I washed off my foot in the tub for five minutes.  The thought of slug slime on my foot was just too much for me to bear.  It’s been a rainy spring and early summer here and just last week, I flipped a page of The New York Times Magazine, which had been out on the patio, and found a slug making itself comfortable inside.  I took the slug outside and, with Tom’s help, we liberated it.  I don’t usually even sprinkle my diatomaceous earth around the vegetables to tear the slugs’ little bodies.  Life’s tough enough all around already without it.
diatomaceous earth

diatomaceous earth

  • About five years ago at one of our Deep Creek, Maryland family meetings, one of my sisters-in-law  introduced me to Sudoku. Not only introduced me, but left her puzzle book for me to finish. She told me that, to begin with, it was okay to fill out a few of the squares—using the answers in the back—to help me get the idea.  Well, it took me more time than I want to admit to figure out the logic involved in Sudoku, and I still cheat on every game I play.  At first, I kept playing because the puzzles were fun and because I love my sister-in-law and her book.  Later, I played compulsively to help me through a tough patch or two. Also, at the back of my mind, I remembered that pop culture tells us that doing this stuff (crosswords, playing bridge, etc.) is supposed to help keep our cognitive functioning up to snuff—flexible, that is. I have about a fifth of the puzzles in the book yet to complete, so I guess I will see whether my slow and unsteady pace wins the prize of maintaining well-oiled cognition.
Sudoku

Sudoku

  • I was the youngest of five children and so I never spent too much time alone when I was growing up.  I had roommates in college and at my first jobs away from home.  Then, for two quarters—maybe one—when I started graduate school, I lived alone in a cellar—more or less—in Salt Lake City. Some things happened there. A figure crouched at my window in the night staring down at me in my cellar. A thief robbed me of my Zuni bracelet, my mother’s brooch, and the Swiss Army knife I kept by my bed for safety. Many early mornings a greasy crone greeted me when I stumbled from my little space through the laundry area to my even smaller bathroom. I was not a success first time out alone.  So, later on, married with kids, I used to worry when my husband would go away on business trips.  I don’t know what I expected. We had nothing much to steal and, by this point, we lived in nice neighborhoods.  When the children got a bit older and life became—let’s say—complicated and, maybe, not easy, I learned something new. The scary things were no longer separate from me crouching above my bed the way they had been when I was young.  I realized that the fear, insecurity, and pain were inside of me.  I became flexible (and resilient) because I had to do so. And I keep trying most days.

Note: My husband read these words and mentioned that I haven’t  actually explained why I became flexible. I guess that’s because a) I don’t know why and b) it’s not totally true. Maybe it’s because as the youngest child and the only girl, I fit naturally into the already well-developed family structure: not too much complaining or crying or I couldn’t tag along; once a brother deemed me able to walk home from kindergarten by myself, I just had to find my way home (I did); don’t flinch when the hardball comes at you–hold your glove in the right place.  As an adult, I have sometimes taken sips from the cup of bitterness.  Happily, I never gulped.  Instead, I would remember the Bob Dylan lines, “Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now” (from My Back Pages) and it  has seemed true for me, whenever I shook loose of the bitterness.  Also, I am a stick-in-the-mud about many things–from how I put dirty dishes in the dishwasher to my politics. Furthermore, I am becoming less flexible and resilient about driving.

I don’t know whether or not my examples have convinced you or me that I am flexible.However, when I have been writing, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about some words from a W.B. Yeats poem that give me comfort.  Here they are from  “A Dialogue of Self and Soul”:

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.

From The Winding Stair and Other Poems, 1933