There are so many days I don’t know what to write in this space. Or I feel like I’m saying the same thing again and again–or worse, that I’m not saying it well. Some days I feel like I’m circling the truth, never getting to the heart of it. It makes me edgy and nervous to hit publish when the energy isn’t there and it doesn’t feel like my voice is coming through.
I have drafts saved from days where the energy is bigger, truth waiting in the wings. But using something I wrote on a different day betrays the purpose of the project. I’m in one of those low-energy, voiceless slumps right now. Creativity ebbs and flows. This process is a daily reminder of the simple truth that the most important thing is just showing up.
We’re on eagle watch every day around here. Sometimes all we have to do is look up in the sky, and there they are. Chris is the dedicated one, photographing them every morning and every evening. He even went out during the storm two nights ago to see how the nest was faring.
The eagles have been working on two nests, one in a tall pine in a new location, and the one pictured here, in the original woods not far from their old nest. Initially it looked like they would take up residence in the pine, but over the last few weeks it’s become clear they’ve chosen the nest in the woods.
The eagles spent so much time and energy creating two structures (and Chris suspects a third, a ground nest in the marsh), but they may only end up using one. It struck me as a metaphor for writing, the investment of time and energy. Building and building, uncertain of the outcome. That’s how I’m feeling right now; I’m putting in the hours, but I can’t be sure how it’s all going to turn out.
My only experience with The New Yorker was the time I won a cartoon caption contest. Bob Mankoff selected my caption for his cartoon. Humor writing isn’t my strong suit, but I do love the challenge of a caption. And I’m in awe of writers who make me laugh out loud.
It’s an odd process finding one true thing to say about myself every day. Truth can be simple but doesn’t come easy. Possible threads drift through my thoughts daily, but I don’t always want to write into them. I was twelve years old the first time I ever boarded a plane alone. I believe that singing a song you love at the top of your lungs can be a form of prayer. I talk to trees and plants. Zoos and other places that imprison wildlife make me weep. One of the reasons I stay home with my toddler is so that she can be in the dirt and fresh air, on the beach and under trees. I struggle with the way writing pulls me away from my daughter and my husband. When I was twenty-one, I visited Cezanne‘s studio in the south of France, crouched on a hillside with my canvas while the wind blew dirt and twigs into my oil paints, and I painted my own Mont Sainte-Victoire.
“Literature is my religion. Books have been the thing throughout my life that have offered the greatest consolation and enlightenment and illumination and all the things that we go to religion or spiritual practice for.”
This weekend we will celebrate Easter without church or religious ritual.
We will hunt for eggs filled with little dinosaurs and finger puppets and animal crackers. We will spend time with family and eat lots of good food. Togetherness and gratitude as forms of prayer.
Every Easter my mother gives us a container with caterpillars. Dark, unremarkable insects that move very slowly. We will watch them grow fat and eventually make their way to the paper at the top of the cup. They will shed their skin for the last time and reveal chrysalides. We will carefully transfer the chrysalides to a netted butterfly house. In the stillness their bodies will break down into imaginal cells and form an entirely new shape. Eventually they will begin to twitch and break free, emerge as bright winged creatures. After a few days of feeding them honey water, we will take them outside and watch them take flight. A tangible reminder of the power and possibility of transformation.
The thing I love about baking is the way you can count on it. If you have a reliable recipe and follow all the steps, you will have a near perfect result.
When the unexpected keeps popping up, a little predictability is nice.
There was a popular article circulating on social media a few years ago, before I was a mom, called The Mom Stays in the Picture. I couldn’t relate to it back then, but it left a strong enough impression that it surfaced from memory this morning.
Somehow I am always behind the lens, never in front of it. The article is written from a postpartum perspective, and I can relate to dodging the camera during those puffy-faced, leaky-boob days.
Now I no longer dodge the camera, I just forget to include myself. In the swirl of distraction, I remember to take a few photos of my daughter with her grandparents and with her dad, but I always forget to ask someone to take a photo with me in it.
This year I will remember to get in front of the lens, maybe even before I snap the photos of everyone else.
I wish I had a lovely photo of our Easter eggs colored with homemade beet and tumeric and cabbage dyes. Yes, I actually did that last year.
But we haven’t dyed any eggs, and it’s not looking like there will be time. I remembered to hard-boil a few this afternoon and then popped them in glasses with some old food-based dyes and vinegar. No child participation, just a big rush.
The lead-up to the holidays always feel like a scramble. In my defense, our holidays involve a minimum of two events but usually three, travel, and a good amount of baking. It will all come together. If only I could find a way to feel a less frantic…
When the season changes, I start to rearrange little things around the house. Yesterday I took down all the wall art in the living room. Ahhh, goodbye visual noise. I swept almost everything from the mantel. And during dinner, I began to impulsively paint a mirror frame white.
I can’t wait for open windows, daffodils, and leaves on the trees.
I’m pretty easy-going, but I’m totally that person who’s going to rearrange the dishwasher after you load it.