"Wherever you are is the entry point." --Kabir--
Half eaten bowls of oatmeal on the battered tabletop, a steady rain falling outside, the same skinny-tailed squirrel I have been watching for days making acrobatic leaps from branch to branch--scampering over the soft wet tree bark. Neighbors' houses stream thin rivers onto the sodden grass, windows still dark with their late-morning dreaming this New Year's Day. A pair of hawks circle at a distance in spite of the weather--beating their black wings. This is where I am as I type these words...this is my entry point following a month of photos without words.
Last night, we passed the time at the home of dear friends of ours...our children playing with their son, a small gathering with casual conversation--beers on ice--and a bonfire in the soft intermittent rain. We came home again before midnight fell, indulged in chocolate fondue together with sticky mouths, then smacked spoons against pots and pans in the sleeping street. Holidays passed, now we march straight into Winter and the stark season.
The experience of blogging without words was wonderful for me. I got a chance to flex my creative muscle and see exactly what I could do when my usual tools were stripped away. When I sit back and look over my December posts, I see the odd bits and pieces that assemble my life. It strikes me with such gratitude for what I have, when I see the mundane magic of the everyday distilled in this way. The volume of posting was sometimes a challenge, as I am not used to that level of frequency. But, it was a fascinating process to try to pick out which images would tell something about the day, the emotions, the events. It also was an opportunity for me to see a core group of readers emerge and follow along, even when I wasn't reaching out with words--I appreciated your comments and insights very much. In those comments on different days, questions emerged and I wanted to answer by giving a short-hand of the pictures I shared.
DAY ONE: writing day in one of my favorite cafes...cover some fiction and a poem explodes on the page with the line "Today I decide love can save us all" embedded in its center.
DAY TWO: before my Saturday morning session, a man tried to force his way into my car as I parked on the side street in the city...I am shaken, running scenarios of what "could have happened" through my head as I deal with police and security, teach my class, then shoot these three pictures out the window.
DAY THREE: waking early to write in my notebook, then recording the first hour of my children's morning and the streaming light, the events of the day before still fresh in my head.
DAY FOUR: holiday decorating begins and I notice the red of the holly matching my Rosie's favorite shoes...then, the ornament reminds me of the ethereal full moon outside in its nest of branches.
DAY FIVE: Self-portrait holding the beautiful little gift I won for knowing the lyrics to Sugar Magnolia by the Grateful Dead here.
DAY SIX: after getting the children all off to school, I take a quick walk before settling in for a couple of hours of writing until work and find these frosted leaves in my garden.
DAY SEVEN: Boy-o in his new sneakers...he is difficult to photograph, in constant motion and reluctant to "pose"...so I catch these shots as he is leaving for school by telling him I am taking pictures of his shoes, which he loves.
DAY EIGHT: another writing day at my cafe...the holiday displays nearby always sparking my interest.
DAY NINE: taking the long way home as I leave work, addicted to the sky.
DAY TEN: more neighborhood wandering and wondering over the graffiti stop sign and the "free Willie" mailbox up the street.
DAY ELEVEN: morning walk before the writing session sandwiched in between teaching and children...laugh to myself about the battered angel and the suspicious pitchfork.
DAY TWELVE: Self-portrait with the idea of tail lights on a dark road in my mind.
DAY THIRTEEN: knitting before dropping off my grades, trying to finish my sister's holiday gift...
DAY FOURTEEN: my take on found poetry using images shot all around the house...and out, including a tombstone of an Irishwoman named Delia who died in 1802 and reminded me to live out loud for a day.
DAY FIFTEEN: cafe day--the side of a building I always notice when I pass by.
DAY SIXTEEN: stepped out of my car to see this tree gleaming with rain and my breath stopped.
DAY SEVENTEEN: decorations around our house in anticipation of the holiday--and a painting by Petunia.
DAY EIGHTEEN: Rosie's holiday show...a day I am feeling like I am moving uphill against gravity, in a blur of motion. I drop my camera, lose my wallet, am stuck in a section of my writing.
DAY NINETEEN: another self-portrait...this time inspired by the controlled deer hunt in one of our favorite parks. Though I understand the necessity of this act, I am angry anyway because they are putting up two new neighborhoods not a quarter of a mile away and I wonder about the decision that these animals are the ones who have overpopulated the area. I pull my Faulkner book off the shelf--it happens to be red and titled Sanctuary, and echoes my thoughts.
DAY TWENTY: the amazing pendant I bought from Thea arrives in the mail and brightens my day.
DAY TWENTY-ONE: devouring poetry by the mouthful and photograph a plant gone to seed in the backyard.
DAY TWENTY-TWO: ornaments on our tree, including a favorite of Petunia's and my very first one.
DAY TWENTY-THREE: family outing to a Sixers game...in the penthouse, compliments of my brother-in-law...delighted children and wonderful company.
DAY TWENTY-FOUR: stop light and one way sign--only way out of the holidays now is through them...feeling stalled, worrying about my mother's stomach flu which sidelines our usual festivities.
DAY TWENTY-FIVE: my mom's silver tree...the children opening gifts on Christmas morning...my mother-in-law's golden one in the evening.
DAY TWENTY-SIX: the stomach flu strikes me down with a vengeance...I take photos of Rosie's quilt in the late afternoon because it reminds me of comfort, which I am sorely needing.
DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: the family falls like dominoes to the flu...all but boy-o, sick as we've ever been.
DAY TWENTY-EIGHT: photo of my hand in the early morning light to go with the poem I have been repeating to myself for days about ordinary miracles.
DAY TWENTY-NINE: gratitude for our return to health and wellness...take wildies to a park for a December picnic and we pass hours at play and climbing in the tall pines along the edge of the field. I catch the moonrise and a sense of silent awe before we head for home again.
DAY THIRTY: working working working on the new laptop M. gave me for Christmas...his investment in the computer is just one of many gestures he has made in support of my writing and I am so thankful as the words stack up on the blank screen.
DAY THIRTY-ONE: our long morning walk over the trails we frequent...I am shocked by the bare, architectural quality of the woods after this past Summer's lush abundance. I also take the photos here at our friends' house...the neon sign, the hippies only entry, and the bonfire where we waited for the passing of an old year.
The rain is still falling, the year is still new to us all, and I continue to follow the threads of words and images woven into my life. I find myself thinking of the quote I have written on the front of several notebooks and even shared here a year ago...
"It's lonely. Writing. But so is practicing tennis or football runs. So is studying. So is waxing the floor and changing the baby. So is life. We are less lonely when we connect. Art is a connection. I like being a link. I hope the chain will hold." --Nikki Giovanni--
...Happy New Year...here's to getting what you are hoping for in 2007...