October 1: I swung off the highway to refuel car and body at the Royal Farms rest stop. Usually a bit of backwater, today the store gurgled and overflowed with teenagers undammed for the weekend from the local high school. Twelfth in line at the register, I had all the time in the world to watch their happiness. As I was leaving, I saw one girl smile and wave toward the Slurpee machine: “It’s your birthday,” she told her friend. “Get anything you want.”
October 2: My yoga class this morning somehow managed to involve lots of yogi squats, knee twists, and other moves that reminded me why I like straight-leg shapes so much. Eventually we reached shavasana, our Final Relaxation. I rested, allowing the teacher to guide my breath and body awareness. “Feel your back body melt into the mat.” I did. “Feel your ankles relax.” Yes. “Feel a soft sheep settle onto your front body.” Umm, ok. And when my soft warm kind sheep gently licked my chin, I smiled, grateful I’d misunderstood.
October 3: The first piece was brought in by an elderly man. As long as a baton and no wider than a Finger Prayer Book, the pipe rested on brass arms and a wooden stand, which in turn lay across the hand-rests of the man’s walker. Parishioners then gathered around the enormous truck, awaiting instructions to carry thousands of pipes, braces, coils and innards into the sanctuary of Saint George’s church. The church’s new organ — the “King of Instruments” — would eventually exhale the sounds of strings, horns, bells and, well, organs. For now, our excitement made the joyful noise.
October 4: I had walked past this woodsy spot two dozen times but apparently needed words to open my eyes. A hand-made sign posted by the self-identified Friends of Brandymore Castle read, “Four species, a favorite spot, refreshing.” Surrounding the sign were yards of ferns hugging the hill at the base of the trees. Now I’m eager for a sign about my mushrooms.
Want more mushrooms? You might enjoy the lovely photos on Laurie Graves’ recent post Notes From the Hinterland.
October 5: I stopped the car in the middle of the road, engaged the hazard lights, and flung open the driver-side door to stop traffic in both directions. Two cars stopped; I pointed. A turtle crept across the asphalt. We watched as it reached the curb and sniffed at the barrier, twice its size, holding back the trees and scrub. Stretching its neck every so often to test the wall, the turtle padded hopelessly along the leaf litter. At this point, the gray-haired deus ex machina entered from stage right. In moments, the mystified turtle tucked its head into its shell, ascended seven inches, and made landfall in the underbrush. . . . I dusted off my hands and got back in the car.
October 6: Although the newspaper reported a spectacular sunrise yesterday, today dawned gray, still and moist. In other words, perfect weather for the quiet day I planned. I cued up my Mickey Guyton country music playlist and put water on to boil. Three hours later, my burnished desk sighs with pleasure and my tchotchkes have elbow room. A gorgeous hand thrown teapot whispers hello. I chose to skip my cup of tea. Right now, the teapot’s beauty is its function.
October 6 bonus: Today I also enjoyed a comment exchange with Singapore blogger Ju-Lyn, who exclaimed over the painting “Wives of Sango,” which I featured in last week’s post. (Thanks to Ju-Lyn, I also overcame a technical glitch and finally successfully presented the image there.) Ju-Lyn did a little research and learned that Donaldson based his painting on a vivid (and battle-stained) Yoruba legend. You can read more here, from the Nigerian edition of The Guardian. As quoted in the article, American folklorist William Bascom said: “Oya is the favourite wife of Shango, the only wife who remained true to him until the end, leaving Oyo with him and becoming a deity when he did. She is Goddess of the Niger River, (Odo Oya), but she manifests herself as the strong wind that precedes a thunderstorm.” I’ll look for her when the next storm brews.
Ju-Lyn also posed a disquieting question in response to that post. I had said: Overheard at Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience, a new exhibit at the National Museum of African American History & Culture: A seven-year old gestured to the art work on the walls and asked her sister: “Are all these painted by Black people?” Yes. The little girl exhaled. “Cool.” Ju-Lyn wrote, “I wonder how the Little Girl would have responded if the answer to her question was ‘No.’”
As if on cue, my Mickey Guyton playlist offered this aching song, What Are You Gonna Tell Her?
October 7: I’m accustomed to packages arriving at our house, but rarely are they for me. Today, a box glistened on my desk. In celebration of the beach at Assateague, my sister had sent me a beautifully framed oil painting of a sunset over a bayside marsh. Hardly larger than a business card, the painting invites me to enter its world and gaze at nature’s blinking magnificence. Just a week ago, I was there. Now, here, I’ll have that moment forever. I thank the artist, Megan Gray, and especially my dear sister, who knows me so well.
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