January 29: I stifled one of my Vesuvian sneezes during the quiet recovery of shavasana. My face filled with riotous angels flinging themselves around under a disco ball. The dancers yielded to tiny carbonated bubbles. And then peace. It was lovely. (But honestly, Kevin, if I smothered one of my sneezes at home I would explode.)
January 30: Friends chatted, and the notion of preeminence arose. Someone said, “Like ‘One Ring to rule them all.’” We nodded, thinking of Hobbits. Then a woman closed her eyes and intoned,
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
We were charmed. Found, brought and bound for that moment by her gift of Tolkien’s poetry.
January 31: I caught up on The Nome Static, the monthly newsletter from KNOM Radio, which broadcasts from Western Alaska. I learned that in the White Mountain village of rural Alaska, winter weather impedes even weekly postal service. I admired a Name That Tune radio program where the station plays Alaska Native music recorded at dance festivals or potlucks — and asks listeners to call in with information about the songs. I celebrated with two teenage brothers from Nome who scaled four-mile high Denali and with a man in the village of Savoonga who was named Alaska Rural Water Association’s Wastewater Operator of the Year. I read about a Tribal Justice Summit and a Talking Circle of young men (including the Denali-scaling brothers) discussing violence against women. I may never get to Alaska, but I feel like I have neighbors there.
February 1: Without showy leaves and colors, the winter tree unveils its soul. Perhaps its branches are delicate and imploring. Perhaps they are athletes, arms raised in triumph. Perhaps they are poetry, with branches and twigs flaring in soft, miraculous symmetry. Or they’re perfect geometry: This morning I saw a tree whose limbs pointed in the four cardinal directions at right angles both to the trunk and to each other. And each set of four was spaced proportionately from the set above or below. God’s Tinkertoy.
February 2: In our old office building, each ladies’ room is different. Some of have cautionary signs involving plumbing. Others have lotions and sprays. Today I saw a sign for Henry the Hand reminding us to scrub up. “She’s in college now, you know,” a woman at the next sink marveled. I looked closer to see the paste ripples, uneven scissor cuts and child-size hands right there under Henry.
February 3: Our grocery store is tucked under an apartment building. About 9:30 am Sunday morning I met a young woman leaving the store as I entered it. She was clutching a cereal box to her chest. The splendid purple of the box perfectly matched the color of her vibrant patterned pajama pants. I almost shared my delight with her, but she looked too sleepy.
February 4: I stood again at the train’s front window, leaving my purse on the seat behind me: who can worry about a wallet when the train tracks are like arms of gold reaching toward the dawn.
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