|Preliminary sketch for a larger piece|
Someone once said that the people who get ahead in life know when to say "No." That may be true but I have tended to say "Yes" instead. Yes often leads to too many choices, all of which would be fun, creative, or challenging. All make me think "I want to do that!" All have led me on a merry path of awakenings, learning new skills, finding shiny objects that divert my attention, and a life that has been full of interesting people, places, and experiences. It has left me in the mode of a beginner's mind, as a Zen teacher would say, with expertise showing through from the repetition of practice, which makes me think of another Zen maxim about paying attention to each detail and to good, slow work.
I digress from my chores and look out the window. It is sunny and warm, no rain in sight, but a beautiful time in California to be in the sunshine with the long cast shadows of autumn. I'm surprised to see photos of snow on the ground in other places.
We've been taking small steps to prune our stuff in the house to find things we no longer need or can't remember where it came from, or we haven't hung on the walls for the last ten years. We wonder why we still have them. Some things when touched bring back memories of the people who gave us the item or a place we have traveled. I pick up a pottery vase made of two slabs joined together with a small opening for just two or three stems. Cherry blossoms are painted on the front and remind me of our time in Tokyo and the thoughtfulness of the person who gave us the vase.
I have a collection of rabbits. They have proliferated all through our house and rest under the top tier of side tables, perch on the high shelf in the kitchen, or act as bookends peeking out from my journals. Why did I collect rabbits? It took me a long time to make the connection between them and my dad's drawings. Other objects we pick up puzzle us both. Where did this porcelain lion with a coat of arms come from? We shake our heads looking for a memory to drop out, but instead, it goes in a box with others for the White Elephant Sale for the Oakland Museum of Art in the Spring.
And what about our clocks? Bill found several at Parisian flea markets. They are delicate and mostly keep odd hours. I have one in my room whose shape I love. It stopped working a couple of years ago and the clock repair shop couldn't fix it. It still stands on my shelf, reading the right time twice a day, its smooth metal curved shape adding a simple design element to an increasingly cluttered workroom.
|an ornate clock and candlesticks from a Paris Brocante|
I stop what I am doing and go for a walk. I look for signs of late autumn on the ground and in the trees though most of the leaves blew down in the wind last night. I am at Osage Park where I find hedge apples. Do you know what they are? They are about softball size and are the fruit of Osage orange trees. I see them spattered over the ground on my walk around the oval park. It is a perfect walk, documented to be one-seventh of a mile around with every 50 steps or so changing the view from a play structure to rose gardens to baseball and soccer fields to the next 50 steps around a middle schoolyard full of kids running track to a memorial rose garden and arbor to a batting cage to a fence that runs along a creek where one year a mountain lion ambled by causing warning posters to be plastered on many surfaces in the park to more rose gardens with each bush carefully labeled with botanical names to picnic tables and a small building which becomes a concession stand during ball games and finally the last 50 steps ending back at the playground.
The hedge apples fall near the concession stand and are peculiar looking with their lime green mottled skin and a dry interior with seeds clinging to the center core. At first, since I often found them broken open, I thought they were part of a game someone brought to throw back and forth. They don't look edible, though I see squirrels spirit away broken ones. I tried researching them and found they are related to mulberry trees (though if you have ever seen the fruit of a mulberry tree, you would wonder how they could be) and they used to be prolific here. Now, not so much. No one I knew had ever seen one before.
I pull my attention back to my work at hand and look for other small steps I can take to get back to a more normal life. Today has been just another day to say "YES."