this is what i see if i turn my head to the left and take a glance sideways to my front door: a simple but effective sturdy old screen door that opens out to a narrow porch. every morning, the sun spills across the wooden floor boards, if it isn't foggy or overcast or raining, and do a little dance if the breeze is blowing, or if the resident wren happens to be jumping about in the branches (or, on my wind chimes, and if that is the case, i'll hear her presence with an instant tinkling of the glass). it is a pleasant sight, and wonderful thing, this screen door, that lets in the sounds of the katydids and birds, the breezes, the sun. aspen flakes out there in these insufferable dog days of late summer, where the entrance tiles are cool and he can snooze until he sees me wander into the studio - and then he follows me and plops down in the one remaining square empty spot of floor space so that i'll have to step over him, bless his aging heart, every single time i have to get up and down. that studio, thankfully, is the coolest spot in the house, which makes for leisurely productivity these august days; i can sit with a tall sweating glass of iced lemonade at the table, the rotating fan's breeze hitting me every few seconds, and ponder over a necklace design without wanting to leave that little room for the bulk of the day. thank goodness it isn't in an attic space, where my past two studios were tucked away.
i found this lovely poplar leaf (click for closer detail) while walking aspen out back yesterday, and was touched by the tiniest amounts of green still left there surrounding the dark spots near its center. the yellows have overtaken the bulk of its body, and traces of brown lace along the veins. it is a thing of truest beauty, but one that saddens me in a bittersweet way: here comes fall, right smack dab in the middle of august. i love autumn - love the changes of the seasons, and they are so very magnificent here in the mountains - but i want to be able to extract the fullest amount of sensation that i possibly can from each and every day, and season, before they begin to fade into the next. where has the time gone?! it has looped, i tell you, and twisted itself, and blown this way and that, and through me and around me and way up over the mountains into whatever's coming next.
lately, i feel that i write about nothing. that i tell you about my quiet days here on firefly road, where i pick up leaves at my feet and beetles on the screen, or toads at the foot of roy's door, and prattle on in so many words and photographs that may or may not matter to anyone but myself. many of you have written me to say that you've begun to stop and look at the moments surrounding you - the quiet things, the details of life - with a different eye, now that you've begun reading Ornamental. i can't help but feel a sense of accomplishment with that, then - that if anything, i've taught a few of you to not take the little things around you for granted. they aren't little, or insignificant. they are what make our life what it is. i always remember a story from a time in my life, just after i had graduated from college, in my early 20's. i had moved back to my parents' house, and with an english degree, had no idea where i wanted to go with a career - so at the time, i was working, of all places, in a hospital laboratory as a lab clerk, from 3-11pm. i grimace as i write this, for i was the poster picture of utter misery. but - one of the med techs was attempting to get her pilot's license, and invited a couple of us to join her one early, early morning at sunrise to fly, in a cub plane, over to calloway gardens for breakfast before returning for work at 3. when walking out to the plane, we were crossing some gravel, wet with morning dew, and i commented on how lovely the wet gravel sounded crunching under my feet. this woman, the aspiring pilot, turned to me, and with a sneer on her face, stated that i seemed to find pleasure in the most ridiculous things. i've not ever forgotten that comment, yet can not tell you what the ride over in that ridiculous small plane was like. i took it as a great compliment, this statement that i knew she meant as a piercing insult.
i don't know why this passage from alice sebold's incredible novel The Lovely Bones comes to mind, so long after my having read and finished it on a nearly empty plane high above the earth and clouds on september 11, the year after the horrors that happened in new york; but the words did come to mind, and here they are. now, go out there and smell the air and touch the leaves and trees and please come back and tell me how it made you feel.
"So there are cakes and pillows and colors galore, but underneath this more obvious patchwork quilt are places like a quiet room where you can go and hold someone's hand and not have to say anything. Give no story. Make no claim. Where you can live at the edge of your skin for as long as you wish. This wide wide Heaven is about flathead nails and the soft down of new leaves, wild roller coaster rides and escaped marbles that fall then hang then take you somewhere you could never have imagined in your small-heaven dreams."
i write this post today in the honor and memory of charlie mayer, who would have turned 23 this month. xo