Tunes for a Monday Morning
A bluebell reprise

The things that save us

The Kitchen Goblins at Weaver's CottageSome of the goblins in Weaver's Cottage kitchen. These were  painted by Brian Froud.

Reflection on the subject of "homesickness" after Monday's post got me thinking about loss and change and all the things we leave behind us as we journey through our years -- which are never truly lost, in an artist's life, for all of those places are "alchemized" into our writing, our paintings, our music...and into the most vital creation of all: ourselves. I carry all the places I've loved inside me, for my bones and breath are formed of them. It seems to me that I've been a slightly different self in every town, state, or country I've lived in -- but each of them lives within me now, a chorus growing larger, louder every year. My task, as an artist, is to find harmony and not cacophony in the music they make together.

Inside Weaver's Cottage

When I lived in my last house, Weaver's Cottage, I had a wise, lovely neighbor who was in her mid-90s. It was she who first pointed out to me that a good life doesn't diminish but thickens with age. She didn't mind growing old, she explained, for she carried each one of her younger selves with her -- all the lives that she'd lived, all the people she'd known. And that gave her twilight years a richness that youth could not possibly match.

Weaver's Cottage

For me, I think, those past selves are firmly attached to places I have loved -- to houses and towns and mountains and cafes -- more than to chronological age, for the various stages of my life have been marked by my intense engagement with the land below and the view outside the window and the walls around me. Now here I am this morning in my "Bumblehill Studio stage," my Bumblehill self, with sweet Tilly close by, looking out the studio doorway at the sun-lit Devon hills...while all the other selves inside me are looking out too, and enjoying this fine morning along with us.

Tilly in the studio doorway

Sitting here with my morning cup of coffee, I've been thinking about my life-long habit of tumbling out of bed at an early, early hour, eager to start the day. During this period of convalescence, however, getting up has been (unusually for me) more of a struggle, and too often right now it's only the promise of a good cup of coffee that gets me up and out. I'm suddenly reminded of a line from a Jonathan Carroll novel that I associate with my "Weaver's Cottage stage" of life, for I painted it over a kitchen window there:

"Sometimes it is the smallest thing that saves us: the weather growing cold, a child's smile, and a cup of excellent coffee."

And sometimes it's the weather growing warm...a dog's goofy grin...and a cup of excellent coffee.

Comments

Terri,
Your post has really moved me this morning. I am very much in the chrysalis stage of my next self and your words are heartening.

Warmth, my dog and excellent coffee … what else is there!

Dawn.

I've been resisting inevitable change, but your words give me strength and the realisation that it's probably ok to move forward! After all, there is no other direction :D

I love the idea of looking on with 'all my selves' at new stages of my life. What a powerful way of looking forward. I will ponder this for weeks and strangely I feel less alone!

Such beautiful thoughts. You are so kind to take the time to do the blog. It's such an inspiration. The small things count. Thank you.

Whenever I stop by your blog, you always seem to have written the message that touches the very thing that I'm struggling with - which is adjust from the move from the rural home that I loved to my "in town" home, which I'm trying to love. Your post helps me see this differently. Thanks.

This. Exactly this.

Tis the same me that stared blue eyed, innocent so long ago
the same me looking out with dimmed sight, and more insight;

Tis me who smiles through less generous lips, cracked. Yet
straight is the wandering way I've come through time to here.

Tis my old heart beating still, perhaps more arduous in labor,
yet no less loving, fuller too, for life gave such abundance.

Thank you so much Terri for this really thoughtful and sweetly melancholy muse...I have visions of moving to a place and location I love within the next few years and yet I know that there will be a wistfulness as well. Being ill is one of the hardest challenges of life and I love your quote and the beautiful and simple pleasures to be found. Every morning I look forward to the perfect cup of tea with honey that bees make depending upon the seasons and flowers. I give thanks to those sweet small pleasures.

Another one for my "inspiration wall".
Thank you - once again.

Oh! What your neighbor said--oh! I've been learning that, but hadn't known it, exactly, or maybe hadn't known that the lesson I was learning was that one. Thank you.

such wise words well wrought, thank you Terri
you remind me of the words of an old mentor, Anne Dybka
"You get to live many lives in this one lifetime"

I'm with emma - your neighbor offered you and us something truly wise - she described something that before I couldn't exactly grab onto, though I knew it somewhere deep. I hope if I get to 90, I'll be able to offer up some such wise words.

Terri, your words came to me like an arrow, for I need to find a new home and discover myself in a new setting. Also want to mention to you a book I think you'd enjoy, if you haven't read it already: Leslie Marmon Silko's "The Turquoise Ledge," a memoir about her life in southern Arizona on an old ranch. She lives in harmony with the snakes, lizards, coyotes, dogs, and birds--and what a fascinating story she tells about how the harmony is continually being rebalanced. I thought of "The Wood Wife" while reading this. Leslie has a magical POV.

Thanks

Oh I needed this too! I'm percolating ideas on this subject, there might be another feast ahead!

"...harmony and not cacophony..." sublime and so poignant. Lord how I wish I could write as expressively and beautifully as you.
Thank you,

Dear god ... this post hit me like a ton of rocks.

Thank you, Terri, for shining a light on the small things that see us through times of seismic change.

Icarus!

Gorgeous. Thank you for the gift.

I love that book too!!!!!

Thank you for your kind words, everyone.

Thank you Terri for sharing these wise words.

Thanks Terri, I really appreciate these words of wisdom. Sometimes when I shed old skins I trip over them as I try to shake them off. It's good to remind ourselves to let the past and present find their own balance within ourselves. Too often I lose time and energy wondering "Who am I? Am I the person I was yesterday, or the person I felt I was when I woke up this morning?" It really is the little things that help - I write a poem, play a song on my ocarina, make a fresh batch of coffee, or just do something concrete like the laundry, and suddenly I forget the troublesome questions.

I cannot tell you how this post has moved me. Your 90-year-old friend's wise words expressed what I have always felt and could not adequately describe: to revel in all the seasons of your life, but especially the one that is here and now. Thank you so much for the beauty in this post.

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