Sep 21 2012

An Autumn Florilegium

As the days grow shorter and the slight chill weaves its way through yellowing leaves, I dream of cozy evenings, firelight, soft woolens, and holiday meals with friends.  A song that always begins this time of year for me is Winter Song by Scottish singer Emily Smith:

The leaves are falling from the trees
Farewell for now warm summer breeze
Weather has been good this year
Now the winter will soon be here
The nights are drawing into shorter days
I hear the old folk and the country people say
Don’t fear the dark, nature has it all in hand
Time to reflect and renew the tired land

So we’ll stoke the fire and light the lamp
Turn our backs in from the damp
Settle down beneath the starry sky
Endure the winter passing by

I see the frost etched upon the glass
In the morning sun he soon moves fast
But he’ll be back to claim the frozen ground
With each clear day he surely will be found
The geese fly south to find a warmer home
While the weary bull he soldiers on alone
Children’s laughter it crackles in the air
Sparks fly high and they catch them if they dare

So we’ll stoke the fire and light the lamp
Turn our backs in from the damp
Settle down beneath the starry sky
Endure the winter passing by

With carols sung, the trees been taken down
We’ve passed a dram and the bells no longer sound
Snowdrops rise with promise of the spring
There’s talk and wonder
At what the year might bring
The blackbird starts to thicken up her nest
While the early lamb, he takes a snowy step
But the north wind’s grip it tightens with his chill
And holds the buds closed against their will

So we’ll stoke the fire and light the lamp
Turn our backs in from the damp
Settle down beneath the starry sky
Endure the winter passing by

…..And you can listen to the song here.

And for another literary bouquet, join Kimberlee Conway Ireton.

Sep 14 2012

Friday Florilegium

Today’s Florilegium comes not from a century-old text, but a recent unattributed post at wimp.com’s Facebook page.

Wimp.com – credit unknown


A NYC Taxi driver wrote:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my night shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.  ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened.  A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase.

The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy,’ she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly.

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.’

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice. “‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

And for another Friday literary bouquet, join Kimberlee Conway Ireton.


Sep 7 2012

Friday Florilegium

 

It is surprising how practical duty enriches the fancy and the heart, and action clears and deepens the affections. Indeed, no one can have a true idea of right, until he does it; any genuine reverence for it, till he has done it often and with cost; any peace ineffable in it, till he does it always and with alacrity. Does any one complain, that the best affections are transient visitors with him, and the heavenly spirit a stranger to his heart? Oh, let him not go forth, on any strained wing of thought, in distant quest of them; but rather stay at home, and set his house in the true order of conscience; and of their own accord the divinest guests will enter.–James Martineau (1805 –1900), English Christian philosopher

…there come times–perhaps this is one of them–
when we have to take ourselves more seriously or die;
when we have to pull back from the incantations,
rhythms we’ve moved to thoughtlessly,
and disenthrall ourselves, bestow
ourselves to silence, or a severer listening…
–Adrienne Rich (1929 – 2012), American poet, from Transcendental Étude

All cowardice comes from not loving, or not loving well–which is the same thing. — Midnight in Paris

It’s…possible to read religiously, as a lover reads, with a tensile attentiveness that wishes to linger, to prolong, to savor, and has no interest at all in the quick orgasm of consumption. — Paul Griffiths, Christian philosopher, from Religious Reading

Oh, there are moments in man’s mortal years
When for an instant that which long has lain
Beyond our reach is on a sudden found
In things of smallest compass, and we hold
The unbounded shut in one small minute’s space,
And worlds within the hollow of our hand,–
A world of music in one word of love,
A world of love in one quick wordless look,
A world of thought in one translucent phrase,
A world of memory in one mournful chord,
A world of sorrow in one little song.
Such moments are…holiest,–the divine
And first-sown seeds of Love’s eternity.
–Henry Bernard Carpenter (1840—1887), from Liber Amoris

 

And for another Friday literary bouquet, join Kimberlee Conway Ireton.


Sep 6 2012

Every Thursday, Thanksgiving

Counting thanks to 1000 and beyond…

822. A finished paper and the lovely spaces in which to write it.

823. A night of blackberry and plum crisp making with Jack and Jane, dancing in the kitchen to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.

824. Kitty company

825. 45 days of sunshine and counting. I’ve forgotten it’s September.

826. The Sergio Leone Suite, Ennio Morricone, played by Yo-Yo Ma. I weep everytime is comes on Pandora.

What are you thankful for this week? Might you share with us 1 or 2 gratitudes in the comments so we can rejoice with you?

Join my friend Kimberlee and I as we give thanks together.

And the inspiration for counting gratitudes:

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