Gladdening Tasks: A Writer Wednesday Post

November 26th, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (4 Comments)

 

Sunset grassSunsetGrasses, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden

To listen to this post, please click here:Gladdening Tasks

The sun is setting on the growing time of year and the time of inward turning arises. Yesterday John and I squeaked in the very last moments of winter preparation before today’s predicted snow. (At present the flakes are not flying, but sinking, soppy, thick and compactable, into perfect snowman-snowball snow.)

We set the ladder and changed the battery on the outdoor clock;  safely housed the ceramic birdbath and wrenhouse; gathered split firewood, stacked and tarped it; pulled up, trimmed and scrubbed leeks and celery root. The gift of fresh roots, gently pungent on the dinner table—see how they throb with life, how glad they are to join us inside.

 

Roots

Today my heart swells with thanks for such simple physical tasks, some of them ancient as agriculture itself. The feeling is strong indeed—the whole heritage of humans husbanding the land and securing their homes upon it fills me to bursting with something deeper than nostalgia, broader than language.

As Thanksgiving descends on wide and fragrant wings, may you enjoy humble tasks, shared with one you love, tasks which gladden body and spirit, tasks which are not at a remove from life, but are life itself in a land of changing seasons.

 

 

 

ShaddieShaddie, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014

Long talks with family, friends and colleagues; many classes full of eager and rambunctious third-grade poets—my purse of words is all but spent this week, and I have scarce enough to caption shadows.

And yet I have enough.

Join me for a short spontaneous woods-walk I took awhile back. My shadow spotted a single rock near the path, prompting hijinks of her own. Third-graders might approve.   

Forward Pass

 

Forward Pass.

Balance

Highlands Globetrotter.

Moon Birth

Moon Birth.

Handupon

Handupon.

Publication News: A brief reminder that the book signing/release party for  Connecting: Celebrating the People and Places of the Hudson Highlands happens tomorrow, Thursday November 20, from 6-8 at Winter Hill in Garrison, NY. My essay on the arts appears within. Hope you can make it!

Uncle Johnny's FlagUncle Johnny’s Flag, photo & all text ⓒ Irene O’Garden, 2014 

I remember so many people with special love on Veteran’s Day: my father Don, my father-in-law Len, my brother Dan, Uncle Johnny and the countless others who offered the gift of their service. Today I want to introduce you to Eleanor, mother of Scott (my most long-playing friend) and his beloved sister Andee. Over the years, I was privileged to spend time with the remarkable Eleanor, enjoying her joyful fashion sense, eating her beautifully prepared food and witnessing firsthand her powerful love. Her stunning military funeral inspired the following poem.

(It is cast in a form I created a few years back: the “fulcrum poem,” in which meaning twists on repeated phrases. Since the ear loves repetition but the eye does not, I have placed the fulcrums in superscript. These words should be read twice.  If you like puzzles, read the poem. If you’d rather listen, please click here: Sergeant Eleanor

 

 

SERGEANT ELEANOR IS LAID TO REST

In Which a Bird Appears.

 

Sergeant Eleanor is laid to rest

in fields of blooming yellow mustard eggs

in silver buckets later at the salad bar thoughts

of army women in the service Sergeant

Eleanor was happy. Fought for freedom

and was happy giving and receiving orders

of nuns almost army women in the forties served

a god-shaped army in peacetime

couldn’t use this soldier on did

 

Sergeant Eleanor: husband, baby. Twice.

Third man no better. No matter.

A daughter. A son. Lives to guard, honor

Sergeant Eleanor, who fought for freedom

when divorce drew fierce artillery

of shame as well in purplehearted sacrifice

of factory work of loneliness like flaying

bayonets stripped from barrels by the honor guard

at her grave  looks on the veterans; warring

 

Sergeant Eleanor wore costume jewelry,

turquoise and magenta, fought on vodka,

cigarettes, bedtime stories, in combat

with doctors, bankers, teachers.

For these kids. That clear? Motherhood:

a hundred thousand acts of bravery.

And a helluva lemon meringue.

 

Sergeant Eleanor made herself goddam heard.

Three shots shock like broken eggs’ shells fly

from soldiers’ rifles lay a soldier

in the grave salute flag folded wings

 

 

Sergeant Eleanor’s daughter and son

open the car at the crossroads of dust shrieks

from a rust-ringed feathered throat

Kildeer at the right front tire,

fatherless her dusty nest a gravel patch.

Two speckled eggs warm with life.

 

 

 

 

Publication News: I am pleased to announce that an essay of mine appears in the Connecting: Celebrating the People and Places of The Hudson Highlands, a glorious, freshly-published, coffee-table-worthy book of sumptuous photographs and essays. (I was asked to write about the arts here.) There is a celebration and book-signing at Winter Hill on Thursday, November 20, from 6:00-8:00 pm. I’d be so happy to see you there.

Speed

SpeedingLight, photo & all text ©Irene O’Garden, 2014

I get as speedy as anyone, but when I found this thought in an old notebook this week, it slowed me into a long morning of design.

Notwithstanding my recent post on retouching, I thought you might enjoy a little peek behind the curtain. Here’s the photograph on which it is based:

dark

I snapped this picture of our malfunctioning water-treatment unit to email the technician.

We all have to deal with maintenance, chores, errands. But taking our time– with a scribbled thought, a homely image, or the dailiest of tasks– is what sweetens our time.

Have a sweet week.

Publication News: I’m happy to say that in honor of Thanksgiving, Untreed Reads, is offering 30% off the price of my Pushcart Prize-winning essay, Glad To Be Human when you buy it from their website. Some people make reading it aloud part of their festivities and it’s a welcome gift .

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