Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Monday I volunteered at an event full of farmers, for an organization that is focused on protecting threatened farmland and sustainable farming practices. This is a thing I am interested in anyway, and since I am also interested in eating delicious food made by famous chefs and trying things I wouldn't normally do, these sorts of events are made for me. It's lucky for me that I know so many people who are committed to the realization of interesting ideas, and who are open to letting me help out sometimes. I like being helpful.

In any case, during dessert there was a panel that involved some farmers and a chef and their collaborators, and it struck me that the narrative behind how all of them got to this place was simply that one day they realized that strangers were making their essential decisions for them, and the only way to be sure of what they were putting in their bodies was to make it themselves, to create a network of people all working toward the same goal. And now that they have done all of this work, the question has become who will take it on next. How do we ensure that there will be new farmers ready when the old ones retire?

I spend a lot of time thinking about all of the things we are building, our webs and bridges and our vast empty spaces. What goes away, and how and where. It's good for me to be reminded sometimes that while I am thinking about these things like they were a TS Eliot poem there are people out there actually working on it, quietly burying their hands in the dirt and securing everything that is to come.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My trip in August is slowly collapsing, and I have been trying to navigate the decisions appropriately. I have a tendency to over commit to follow-through, to do what I have said even if it is no longer the best decision, to be true to my word even in the face of overwhelming conflicting evidence. And so I am trying to be thoughtful instead of stubborn, but it's all difficult and disappointing. Everything is always so hard--I need an intern, or a life coach, or maybe a personal shaman. A time machine. A puppy. Something.

We welcomed the summer this week by throwing out our usual routine and spending the solstice on a series of boats. It's a thing that people with sailboats do, I guess, racing around the lake and then tying their boats together in the middle and having a party. It's lucky that there's so much fun to be had while so many other things are crumbling, all the strangers to make friends with and hilarious dinghy rides to take. Life is a lot smarter than I am, even if it is also sort of a dick.

Monday, June 20, 2011

They say that cattle are colorblind, so it's not the shade of the cape you are waving that makes a bull mad but the fact of the waving at all. It's just us that need a signal for what is about to happen, that shortly there will be something dangerous. Otherwise we might miss all of the action.

I dawdled home yesterday in the waning parts of the afternoon, thinking about Stendhal and an article I read recently about a neurological basis for crystallization, how our brains re-wire themselves to find perfect what would otherwise be something less. I read a book last year that is basically how our creative actions predict what it turns out our brains already know and this seems to me to be obvious, how inside of our heads are universes that our bodies struggle to mimic. Often I get distracted by the every day and now and again, but sometimes alone in the soft evenings everything draws back enough for me to remember looking at the moon last summer, hanging like a jewel up there all this time. I talk a lot about the moon but that was the first time I slowed down enough to examine it rather than its motions and the ways that it draws on everything else. Everything changed then, lightly, turned just a little toward something new, and my brain reconfigured itself to recognize as beautiful something that had always just been there. Colorblind, or moonblind, or both.

Monday, June 13, 2011

In the kingdom of forced metaphors there are a few rules, depending on who is guarding the gates. Communication only through lemon juice and flames, new art only scrimshaw or made from wood found on wind-scoured beaches. Regular removal of the head that wears the crown. The usual things.

In Greek there is a phrase, "istories me arkoudes", that literally means "stories with bears" but translates more closely to the sort of narrative that is so wild it almost can't possibly be true. Those bears, though, they're everywhere, courting mayhem and raiding the honey pot. They're the ones behind all of this everything that can't be true and yet somehow is. Bears under the ice in Antarctica, going all lumpy and making everyone re-think how glaciology works, bears sunburning hands and hearts with a variety of different lamps. Bears everywhere.

Yesterday I sat at a table with a tiny two-and-a-half year old girl (although she tried to convince us that she was five) and a cup full of strawberries, much too adorable to possibly be real.

Monday, June 06, 2011

My airplane tickets are bought, and so I am officially going to Nicaragua for a couple of weeks this summer. Because it's a research trip--have I mentioned that I will be finally finished with graduate school this year?--most of my itinerary is already roughed out and full of meetings. There are a couple of days at the end of things where I plan on doing little more than sitting in hammocks and wandering around volcanoes in Granada. The difficulty with having a full-time job and a regular course load is that there is not a lot of time for relaxing, so I am looking forward to the whole thing. To using my brains instead of mostly just my patience, and making new friends. Running my eyes across whole new horizons.

It's a lot easier to be calm and wait for all of the things that may happen next when I have an adventure on the horizon. This, at least, is a thing I have some control over.

Friday, June 03, 2011

I spent so much of the winter listening for the funny shout of my hummingbird neighbor, listening closely to make sure it was still alive, that I have started to hear the hummingbirds scattered all over the city. It's funny because people tend to think that my feeder is a set piece, a pretty addition to my garden. They don't hear what I hear, a city laced with tiny grouchy jewels, hovering only long enough to be noticed and then darting away somewhere else. Turns out, they're everywhere. Miniature friends who flicker past for just a moment. I find this comforting.

Tomorrow I am chaperoning a high school prom. This is especially amusing since I couldn't even be bothered to go to my own prom. But I know some of these kids--I have spoken to their class, and some of them have written me very entertaining thank you notes--and so somehow I agreed to become a chaperone. I like nature documentaries, and this promises to be essentially the same thing.