Thursday, October 27, 2011


How we have risen in the world, from the flappy old screens of feed-store giveaways, bent with vigorous use, hanging behind everybody’s door, to shapes and colors and materials of another age, while the flies go merrily onward, unchanged in a million years.

My long-time e-mail friend in Arkansas sent me a picture of her fly-swatter, a little grab-bag gift from one of those home parties, and she asked one of those “Do you remember the time . . ?” questions about our high-school days---this one concerning homecoming, a flat-bed trailer and miles of crepe paper.     I replied with quite a few memories of such and similar fun small-town outings from my own bulgy memory banks.

Then, somehow I segued into fly-swatters themselves---about as dry a subject as a regent's horsehair chownree---but I enjoyed delving into the little silly memories.   All our Grands have just LOVED them, beginning with Gracie quite a few years ago.   I bought a hot-pink one, fresh and pliable, for her use when she was still chewing drippily on everything she could raise to her mouth, and wanted so badly to get those itchy little gums on the big one hanging in the utility room.

So she had her own never-used, never-flapped one, and she gnawed it stem to stern, even leaving little tooth-dents all up the handle after she sprouted incisors.

THEN she discovered a horde of little moths which had invaded the house about this time of year---they somehow arrived, swooped about the downstairs, lit on walls and other pale surfaces (the more stupid they, since they are most visible and killable there).    She named the bugs FLOOS for some reason---sounds reasonable to me---and chased them for DAYS, dispatching them unmercifully.   She’d go get her floo-flapper and have at it.  She climbed chairs, she jumped and swung, she left gray smudges on every wall in the house.   

I followed her from room to room with a Lysol spray and a handful of paper towels.    Now I wish I’d left just ONE little smudged reminder.   I could have just hung a little picture over it, so as to uncover and remember now and again.

She did NOT, however, use her dear Pinkie for this purpose.   It is still sacred, and hangs on a special nail, high up in the utility room, so no one will use it by mistake.  It has taken on the status of a well-loved bankie and will probably travel with her to college and into her first home as part of her trousseau.

I, on the other hand, have a first-class green one, a gift from Chris when he saw her enjoyment of hers.   MINE has teensy plastic teeth like a very delicate single line of Astroturf, sticking off the wide end, and is to be used as a fly-scooper-upper, in conjunction with the too-too precious two-inch dustpan which snaps on just where flap meets handle.   It is the Rolls Royce of flappers, with its own little Susie Homemaker Barbie tools.  

So, my friend has a fun bit of froufrou; Gracie has a piece of history from her infancy, and I, the plebeian bug-getter, have the utilitarian work-horse.   

And now Sweetpea has had her own for quite a while---a little doll-face in a stiff bonnet.   No flies for her, either---Flappy sits erect and attentive in her small chair as Sweetpea teaches numbers and letters to all her compadres from the toy tub.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


In these days of hustle-bustle and going our own way and looking out for our own, with reports of passers-by just passing on by, even in the face of need and danger and injury---I’ve been thinking of a sweet little memory I have of a visit to England.    It was an everyday little happening---a fleeting thing-of-a-moment, but it’s stood as one of my fondest remembrances of the trip.

We were walking down a little street in Bristol, and my three companions stopped in a store.   I sat down inside a handy bus-wait shelter to get out of the proverbial noon-day sun---one of those huge clear molded plastic half-rooms, with a plastic seat molded in, and a perfect spot for people-gazing.

We were right outside a good-sized grocery store---one of the purveyors of choice in all the towns and cities large enough---their version of a supermarket, containing quite a few other types of items, as do our own.    It’s the mesh-bag-with-carrot-tops type of grocery, though they also offer 400 cheeses and more types of wine, but many of the customers emerged with the green plastic shopping bags imprinted with the store’s name in the most refined script.
I watched the crowds approach, go up the two steps into the widewide door, and my eye was caught by a pair of perfectly British ladies clad in skirts and tucked-in blouses and cardigans, their stockinged feet in entirely sensible shoes and their shopping bags hanging neatly on their arms.   One came toward the store doors smiling, looking upward at someone standing out of my view.   Her fresh-shined face with its unrestrained eyebrows, and the ever-so-small smudge of lipstick parted over her slightly-protruding teeth just gleamed with gladness to meet the unseen person.

She was a perfect complement to her companion, a twin in wide glasses and square-cropped hair---two from-the-pages denizens of St. Mary Mead of any era, both looking up pleasantly at the still-out-of-sight person perhaps a foot above them.  First Lady reached the door, stood at the foot of the steps and reached upward, and since both of the ladies right in front of me were of a certain age, I assumed that someone upon the top step had reached down to assist her up.

She kept smiling and spoke to the unseen one, then helped an even-more-delicate and aged dear soul to descend the steps, as she slowly and carefully put one laced-oxford foot down beside the other.   That dearie was smiling in return, and when she was safely deposited on the sidewalk, beamed back, “I’m ev-va so grateful deahr,” and made her way down the sidewalk with her own mesh bag containing two oranges and a cauliflower.    The lack of further conversation led me to believe that they had not met before.

It was just a tiny moment, but forever cast in amber for me---a memory of a time and place which may soon be as past as the tumbled wall which repelled the hordes, and now is hearth and home.   Just that beaming smile, the pleasure on her face in meeting a friend, or perhaps just someone who needed her at a time when her own need was to BE needed.   I’ll always remember her cheery little uplook-smile with the little teeth just peeping out, and the small moment of gratitude expressed by the recipient.   I wish them both well, and may they feel a warmth from a stranger’s memory and impression of their kindness and lovely manners.  

Monday, October 24, 2011


Last weekend, we took Sweetpea to see The Lion King, and I'd never seen it.   Sitting there in the 3-D glasses like Fifties Folks, eating ten-dollar popcorn---we were UPTOWN! (Plus, it took us the third time's charm to GET there---first week, Chris had to cancel for a service call, second one, we stopped to kill time before the movie at a lovely playground and locked the keys in the trunk).   
 I LOVED it, for the pictures and all the little colorful moments just flying out into your face---took me back to my childhood's deepest COVET---a Viewmaster.   Despite the different characters and setting, it was kinda like being right inside "Cinderella" again.

You put in the little round disc with the dark shiny panes, put your eyes up to that magical machine, and were transported into the most enchanting realms of storybook characters and fairytale tales.   And they STOOD OUT.   They had depth and color and a shine past understanding, right there in the two inches before your eyes---like being inside a big sugar Easter Egg.    Faberge’s exquisite jeweled craftings for the czar had no such appeal and beauty as those bright vignettes inside that hunk of black plastic.

The glasses, contrary to those punch-out cardboard Fifties models with one green lens and one red, were big ole Buddy Holly models, a pale gray tint, and whatever magical polarization or prescription or pane, they were absolutely wonderful.    The creatures and characters took life, flying out of the screen, swooping out two rows ahead of you, and I imagine there was some ducking and flinching going on, but I was too enraptured to notice.  

 Do not use these in place of sunglasses, read the little blurb on the outside of the packet---which also admonished us to return them when the movie was over, but after we’d paid thirty dollars for two seniors and one four-year-old (before popcorn), plus three-dollars-each for the glasses, we just walked right out with all three pairs.

Maybe we’ll wear them again someday, just to look kewl.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Thank you, Beverly, for hosting this delightful place called

Tonight's the night to bring in all the pots from from the yard and patio, to spend the long cold times inside.   This little girl is especially precious, for she was a Mothers' Day gift from Sweetpea and her Mama and Daddy, and has bloomed her little heart out all Summer.

We've been battening down and storing up, and these cold nights are just perfect for the afternoon-long simmer of a pot of pinto beans and ham, filling the house with their scrumptious scent, til it's time to sit down together to warm bowls with crusty cornbread.

 I'm calling this "cold weather" though it's 52 right now, and apt to drop another fifty degrees and more before Winter surrenders again to Spring.

Now is the kind of weather I've saved the jelly-and-preserves making for, with the redolence of sweet fruit filling the house.   The picture doesn't do this batch justice---this was a shimmery rosy potful, one of those BIGGGG papayas, about a five-pounder, cut into cubes and sugared overnight, then cooked off with a little lemon zest and vanilla.      Lovely with a wedge of Cheddar, and elegant with all the wonderful cheeses Caro chooses for the Cheese Plate on our Dinner Nights together.   

And, of course, a cold day is always warmed by a lovely corned beef brisket simmering on the stove, and made perfect by the tiny potatoes and carrots and wedges of cabbage cooked gently during the last hour.

We're settling in to enjoy all the wonderful cool-and-cold  weather cooking and activities, til Spring rolls round again.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Today's photo is courtesy of our friends Lil and Ben, whose meanderings across the country are some of my favorite adventures.    On the way to their Winter home in Texas, they stayed a few days in New Orleans, and hit one of the HIGH spots.    On this raw, cold, 40 degrees day, wouldn't a couple of these crispy, sweet fried beignets be just scrumptious right now?

And the coffee, as always---hot and scalding and perfect---rich with the flavor of centuries.

 I can just smell that hot-fried-sugar scent of Cafe du Monde, and feel that scritch-step of the sticky floors.    I've always wondered:  It's open 24 hours----when DO they mop?   And who cares?

Moire non re: our own beignet traditions

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


THE TREE in the back yard is showing great swaths of blue between all those laden limbs, and the countless bags of leaves stand like sentries against the potting shed, awaiting tomorrow's wheezy truck. 

The arbor is shaggy with overgrowth, and is slow to give up any of it---still jungly green, shady and with a chill deeper than any part of the yard.  The Summer Shade of the place is welcome and langourous, but the scant sun-peeps through this Autumn overhang leave it cold and not as inviting.    The floor is covered in brown, with very little of the outside golds and oranges making their way into the sanctum, and the chimes scarcely sing.    Even the wooden chairs have darkened, and the cheery yellow of the brick floor is subdued beneath the drifts.

But there are lovely vistas to be had---whole palettes of warmth and glow.   You could just sip these scenes like hot cider.

And this one is not upside down, but a peep from beneath TREE, into the sapphire sky---nowhere else have I seen this shade of blue.   Today is cloudy and damp, but pretty days are coming again---October never fails to surprise.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Our back-door Luck Bush is doing her ruby-red thing right now, turning in her Summer-green gown for a red-velvety number which could grace any number of Fall parties---especially the one being thrown all over the neighborhood about now.

Luck Bush was one of the few plants, other than a mighty stand of trees, which came with the house---the former owners did not care for ornament of any kind---indeed, I marveled that the real estate preparers had made the house so spic and span, with not even ONE nail-hole in the walls.    And then I found that the lady of the house did not like ANYTHING on walls or tabletops---such mess made her nervous, even when she came to our open house after we bought it and put up things and put out things (a fraction of what holds sway today, with our cluttery rooms and well-filled walls and all our propensities for just setting things DOWN and leaving them there---a glimpse of the NOW would probably send her into a swoon).

But when I started digging in the bare (especially for end of Summer) flowerbeds, about an inch under the soil, I found miles of heavy black netty stuff, guaranteed to discourage and destroy any plant life trying to push through---we’re still trying to rip it all out, or at least make holes to accommodate the hostas and other plants.

But the Luck Bush was a good-sized something-or-other, prized by her rarity in this sparse yard.    She triumphed by sheer will, I think, for her limbs seem to grow lusher and longer overnight, and have to be pruned mercilessly during the season, to avoid her grabbing at passersby and scratching car varnish.   

Bush turns reddish in Fall, and was seized upon as a passable “flower” by our Gracie when she was very small and living with us for so long.     Whenever anyone, family or guest, headed for a vehicle to leave, she’d run for the bush, grabbing a leaf and handing it in through the window.   And now Chris still has an ever-crisping pile of little Luck Leaves wisping their way into crumbs in the console and ashtray, for Sweetpea took up the torch and keeps him supplied with one per exit, every day that she’s here.    And we hand her one, as she leaves us in the afternoon. 

The sitting-room windows are shaded in green in Spring and Summer, hazing into a rosy glow as the Autumn changes come.   The changing shade and the carrying on of a sweet little tradition---handing out Good Luck and Traveling Grace in the form of greenery or reddery from grubby little hands---those are family things, our own things, which make this Home.   And every time a Luck Leaf goes into a departing hand, my heart goes with it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


To the land of moorland, lochs and mountains, where the old gods ride the winds . . .

I’ve dreamt of Scotland all my life, and the seeing of it enforced my respect and admiration for those ancestors of mine---especially those GrandDams in their tiny crofts or burrows or caves, keeping their own nests in any way they could.

We’d traveled at last to the Highlands, and the mountains were beyond imagining.   They were a dullrust green---the blacky-green of heather before the flowers bloom, though in season, the lavender and purple of the hillsides is one of the wonders of the world.   Just a little purple peeped out now and again, and it seemed to be too elusive to capture with my camera.  

Think again of the GrandMothers, stretching back to Beyond, looking every day for a glimpse of promise, in their sere, drab lives.   The color was so much of a non-color, like when you were little and decided to try every crayola in your box of 16---and you scribbled and scribbled, shade after shade, all in one spot on your paper.   The blackgreenpurplenesses of those towering hills was just beyond anything I had imagined, and just exactly RIGHT.

There were swoops of stone walls ranging up and down the hills, making their own little latitudes and longitudes, marking out boundaries from who knows what time in history.   And I marveled at the energy and just plain old WORK it took to haul those things, clear from the Hadrian spot, demolishing that great tribute to Roman accomplishment with bare hands and sheer muscle.  

The walls and stone buildings seem to sprout on the slopes, but STILL---to make those even lines, those even heights, and anchor them firmly on that sloping ground---I’m still boggling.

Every so often, the ghost of a stone dwelling would appear, its parts tumbled about, and just a suggestion of the four walls or a sheepfold, a barnish building or tiny croft.   How long ago, and who, and how did they LIVE---the smell of winter-long wool and animals and humans and smoky, peevish fires for the mutton and turnips which must have comprised almost every meal.     The wooly clothing and the itch of it against bare skin, and the hands and face blistering from the cold, cracking and bleeding against the dirtywhite of the sheep as they were fed and tended and sheared.

I think often of the lives of my forebearesses in that man’s country where they were up early and late working in all weathers, scavenging food for their families, fighting beside their husbands and sons, grieving the many little ones who didn’t live out their first year.    How friend-hungry they must have been, these isolated women, whose own daughters were the only female faces they saw for years on end, and whose eyes beheld little of beauty beyond those small faces and the green and flowers on those haunting hills.

They never felt the smooth of a sheet on a mattress, or the soft of a cream on their rough-chapped skin; they never held a book or heard Mozart; they never looked out a glass-covered window.    They lived and died in an aloneness and a servitude to sorrow we can only imagine.    They must have had the hearts of lions, these Highland females, to give so much, to endure so much, and to receive only the sight of these lonely mountains and the rain and wind and fog. 

  The centuries of deprivation and hunger and cold, the waiting for the men’s return from battle, the dread of loss, of starvation, of eking out that last scatter of oats into a meager bowl for their families.   That sharp, chilling wind and the sparse landscape, with nothing between them and theirs but their own courage and work.   How they must have waited and wept, with hope fleeting as life, with only their grit and determination between them and despair.

Out of all of my family, I think deepest of those Grand-Dams of mine, those centuries-back female ancestors, whose lives were grim and sere---I could see them woad-smeared and wielding weapons beside their menfolk, as easily as I could imagine their tending their smoky fires and nursing babies too soon gone. 

I am OF that place---that unimaginably beautiful, forbidding, haunting place, and its colors color the AM of me.   I’ll still always dream of it, and of them---sometimes I dream they laughed.   I PRAY they did.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I think I may have missed saying HAPPY OCTOBER!  this time.    I hope you all crisp-apple days, with leaves for looking and foot-swishing, lots of beautiful Fall goodies at your farmstands, some cool nights for hometown football, weenie-roasts and getting out the sweaters, and lovely, sunny days for just getting out and enjoying.

It's FALL, Y'all!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


A hard-won comment in the “newspaper” post  (hard-won because it’s been like Blue Heck trying to comment here or anywhere else, lately.   Most days I cannot even answer the nice people who chime in with memories and other nice things to say) spoke of my friend Mike’s own experience as a Paper-Boy.   

I’ll let him tell it in his own words (in italics):

GRIT !!! I used to read about this tremendous money maker in the backs of comic books as a kid, along with the seed pack business and joke magic cards for sale. I used to ask my parents if I could start selling GRIT and they'd always dismiss me. ("why NOT??? It says earn money for college! Don't you want me to go to college?" answer: "It's not a real paper, Mike, it's just junk to take your money.") Today is the first day in my life I have heard of a soul that has actually laid eyes on a hard copy of that paper.

There was a hefty commission, and prizes for the enterprising:

Once I came of suitable age (12 or 13) I started delivering the "real" paper on my bike. The now-defunct Richmond News-Leader. The RNL was one fo two survivors of a newspaper Darwin-fest in the 40's, when there were two mornings, the Times and the Dispatch, and two afternoons, the News and the Daily Leader. The local news-baron Bryan family owned the News and the Dispatch, gobbled up the competition, merged the circulation and the names, and cornered the news market. For a time they owned almost all the TV and radio in the area as well until the feds stepped in on that. Anyway, unless I wanted to get up at 4 AM weekdays and 3 AM Sundays, the News Leader was the only game in town.

At over 160 customers, I had the largest afternoon route

Virginia. After paying for the papers, I brought home a hefty (for a 13 year old) $40-50 a month. I'd love to say I saved all that money for college, or even my first car. But the reality is it all went for candy and pepsis and huge dill pickles out of a countertop pickle jar during the delivery, and for endless comic books, and all too soon for cigarettes. Ah, youth.

Yes, AHHHH, Youth.   The enterprising, get-up-early, hit the doorstep every time youth.   And so are titans born. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I read a daily paper until several years ago.  I'd always lived in a house where THE MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL hit the lawn while the dew was still on the grass, and the plop of the PRESS SCIMITAR landed on the doorstep about four.   Breakfast rustlings whilst the bacon fried, the scent of the fresh-opened newsprint as much a part of that warm kitchen as the stove.   Snippets broadcast by Daddy as he sat with his glasses on his nose, seeing if the world was still out there.

The COMMERCIAL APPEAL was, and is, the Memphis mainstay in the news area:

And the afternoon PRESS---a little different, somehow, like the backdoor neighbor, as opposed to a lady in a hat come-a'calling.  The PRESS had odd comics and lots of puzzles and a homey feel to it.   It was the one folks settled in with in that magical hour when chores were done, and it wasn't quite time to start supper yet.

We even “took the GRIT” from a succession of grimy little boys on bicycles on Saturday afternoons---now THAT was an interesting paper. 

If you could get past all the black-and-white drab of the front pages, the rest was a treasure-trove of puzzles and comics and countless pages of stuff-to-send-away-for and business opportunities in Rosebud Salve

and  all sorts of noisemakers, magic tricks, x-ray glasses, and fool-your-friends items for the younger set.

So, when we arrived here twenty years ago, I chose the afternoon edition, liking the nice man who threw the paper, and even came collecting, just like the hometown carriers.  It was called the NEWS---a quiet little informative, interesting paper, as opposed to THE STAR---the morning-bright edition.      To settle in for a hour while supper cooked was just the nicest thing, reminiscent of so many of my own relatives in their own quiet lives.   Sitting in the little low rocker while good scents of supper filled the house---it was a lazy form of taking up knitting or darning, somehow, in the succession of our family history---reading the paper.

The NEWS dwindled away, ceased to print, and as our life-pace quickened a bit, with family moving here, and grandchildren being added, the great piles of orange-wrapped, unread STARS in the store-room grew,  like a haystack in the Fall.   The interest was just not there, for me, in these days of forty news channels and internet.

So, no.   I don't read a daily paper, unless you count peering through the cloudy windows of dispenser-stands as we walk past to the Sunshine Kitchen or IHOP.

But the charm of the thing is imprinted, like one of those moments from a movie in which you’re in the picture, and assume that you will have that life, live in that light, experience those calm, cricket afternoons on the porch with a fresh-pressed Press in your hands, the all-around sun peeping through the wisteria, the creak of the old white glider and the soft swish of the lawn sprinkler keeping company with the gentle rustle of the page-turns.

I can see the relaxing of it---Uncle Jake settling into his flocked-maroon platform rocker, those long lanky legs knee-looped and easy, with each section of the paper read, dropped onto the carpet beside the chair, and the smoking stand slowly filling with Camel butts and the shreds off a TUMS roll.

Thomas Hart Benton---Indianapolis Museum of Art

Another older man, husband of the dear woman who came each day to see to my children while I went to work---John sat in the same posture at his own kitchen table, a mere twenty miles and a universe away from that prosperous white business owner. The shine of John’s thin dark face matched the gleam of his steel-rimmed glasses, as he totally lost himself in the news of the day---a soft snap of chewing gum and turn of a page the only signs of movement.   I can remember a gentle envy of this man who had so little---a coveting of the absolute immersion in something other than the scurry of getting home and getting supper on, and homework and laundry and family.    He was reading the paper, concentrating through those thick spectacles, lips sounding an occasional word, taking it all in, and that was enough for that moment.

I think they should ALL be Afternoon Papers.   Let us get up, accomplish some things in our days, and THEN Choose the News, if we’re inclined.  Most things are easier to face as the day winds down, I think, and the world needs lots of cushioning, right now.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


When anyone talks about sports, I know enough about the three Southern Big ‘uns---Football, Basketball, and Baseball---just from high school and college games, to sound less-dumb-than-I-am, and WAY more enthusiastic.

. . . and when the coin of exchange in our society is sports statistics, and “How ‘bout them Colts?” serves as introduction, welcome, complaint, ice-breaker and sometime pick-up line, well---I just got left out.    Neither Chris nor I enjoy watching sports on TV.   Turning on a game would be as foreign to us as our walking into sports bar and changing the channel to a performance of "Tosca" or "Giselle."     Everybody likes different things.

But the other day, a little blog poll (almost exclusively female readers---at least the commenters are, for everybody always addresses, “Ladies, or girls, or sisters and Gary.”) asked “Who is your favorite athlete?” and I responded as I always do:   Baryshnikov.    I wrote it in immediately, and on reading the comments, (mostly answered "don't have one,")  I was pleasantly surprised to find him mentioned several more times---the only name repeated.

His physical training and athleticism and absolute control of every single muscle is simply astounding, and I’ve not found an equal in any sport---professional, Olympic, or ANY.

If you’d like to see a bit of his artistry, one of my favorite movies is “White Nights,” with him and the Divine Hines.    And my favorite scene (along with the dance-off---“challenge” I think they called it) is a solo, with VERY deep, dark Russian music.    But the dancing---oh, the dancing.

Backstory of White Nights:   He took asylum in the USA years ago, a tragic accident caused his return, and he's facing the woman he loves, who has been persecuted by the government for all these years, because of his defection.

Talk about On Your Toes---this is the Nth degree.

And then there's also Grace beyond Gravity.

Monday, October 3, 2011


It's a lovely October day here, cozied up by the pleasant company, all in sweats and warm shirts, and the scent of coffee singing through the house.   There was even a little pot of water with a drop of vanilla simmering on the stove when I woke, "to warm the house."

The 39 degrees on my thermo says we'll have to move the utility room around a bit today, unloading the big shelf of holiday dishes and casseroles and trays, in order to reach the furnace workin's and light it.   'Tis time.

I do want to ask if anyone's having trouble commenting lately---I've had several e-mails that readers just lost their comments into the ether of the net, and I have lost quite a few myself.    I write a cheery little note, and when I click "send"---they get SENT all right, flittering off into that File 13 in the sky, and nobody can know how much I enjoyed their postings.   It's like throwin' a rock down a well, and no splash.

The comments have been very sparse, of late, and since my own have been Return To Sender, or worse, I wish that any of you having trouble would send a quick e-mail---address is in my profile---and let me know.  I SURE AM---can't even answer the nice folks who comment on HERE.   Isn't THAT a note---when your OWN SITE won't let you in!

And if that's my only GRUMP today, things must be going OK.    Hope all's right with your world!

rachel---as usual, wandering in the wilderness

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Could there be a game called breeze boarding?  It would be played by spiders, I think, on those rare, special days of the year, when those gossamer parachutes take flight and they float to new grounds to make a new home.

I’ve always thought of those as ‘cobweb days,’ for it’s as if every spinner in the world has been working all night, to fly those impossibly-long strands from the sky, floating straight and true, to new territory.   It’s possibly a southern phenomenon, for I’ve never seen it here.

I’ll stroll outside, with just the first nip in the air and the sky that depthless blue, and something will kindle a “look up” instinct.   A scan of the sky will reveal only more sky, blue and true to the far reaches of the world.

But there HAVE been days . . . days when a little walk outside, a small chore in the yard, a drive through the countryside, will provide a show seldom seen, and a display unfathomable to the mere mind.    A teensy tickle on a shoulder, a brush across the cheek, and you’ll look up far as there is, and as far as light, stretch the strands.    There will be the thinnest silk threads, suspended vertically as high as you can see, floating silently from nowhere to wherever they’re headed.

I remember one such day---the Christmas Eve we had just moved into our new house, and I was outside, just peeking from beneath the patio where I was doing some little task.    Suddenly across the gap between my eyes and the trees across the drive moved a series of silvery lines, like thinner-than-hair platinum wire.   They weren’t THIN top to bottom, for every so often up the great length of them, I could spy a tiny fluff of cottony stuff, riding the winds as high as I could see.  

I walked out and looked up, and the sky was filled with the silver and white, slowly floating with whatever breezes blew them.   Countless flimsy lines brushed my shirt, my face, became stranded in my hair like thin-spun cotton candy.     And it went on for hours, this strange display,with the odd and beautiful threads just flying past, gently making their way onward, toward the West.

We watched that show until our necks ached and our eyes blurred from the blue brightness, and I’ve never forgotten.    I’ll be thinking of something else, as I stroll out to the car, or to the herb-bed, and suddenly, a brush of breeze or a floating leaf will touch or move past, and I’ll look up, hoping for another such performance.

They’re the stuff of THREADFALL, of Mithrail, of Rumplestiltskin’s spindles, and are one of the most magical mysteries.  I’m sure I’ve missed thousands, inside or unheeding as the days go by, and I’d like to see just one more of those---spiderwebs or cottonwood fluff or milkweed puffs, or whatever stuff-of-dreams magic that is