Each day comes bearing its own gifts.
Untie the ribbons.
~Ruth Ann Schabacker
Because my weekdays are filled with to-do lists and have-to’s, I cultivate a sense of slowing down on the weekends. The walks I take are longer. The pauses to talk to my cats are more frequent. I smell the air like a wild animal, not sure what the day will bring. It is a time of coming alive again, of thinking different thoughts, of letting my mind roam where it will.
In a way, I become a different person, a weekend person, looking for balloons flying high in the sky, listening for children’s laughter, and anticipating the smell of good coffee as I enter a cafe.
We all have the ability to look closer: when we do, our world becomes a richer place.
Mindfulness helps you fall in love with the ordinary. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Cracked volcanic rock, almost elephantine in its folds and crevices, lined a short walk on my way back to the Museum of Northern Arizona near Flagstaff.
What delighted me about this canyon was the overabundance of lichen, profligate in its blooming on this rough cliff wall. I wondered about the partnership between algae and fungus which produces lichen, and about its role in our modern world as a signal of pollution. Like the canary in the mine who only sings when the air is pure, lichen bloom only where high mountain air is unpolluted by industrial fumes.
And lichen are ancient. Some lichen colonies can be over 9000 years old. And older still is the rock to which they cling.
Nine thousand years from now, what will be our human legacy on this earth? Will our species still be as beautiful as these volcanic partners?
I’m on the final edits of the fourth Pegasus Quincy novel. This one is called PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE and gets its title from a poisonous plant prevalent in Red Rock State Park near Sedona, Arizona.
Soon it will be LIVE in both Kindle and paperback versions.
Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing There is a field. I’ll meet you there. ~Rumi
I once went exploring a side road on the Navajo Reservation leading to Leupp, Arizona. The road went up the hill following its own inclinations, sometimes bearing left to miss a pothole, sometimes right to veer around a creosote bush.
The road knew where it would end up. I couldn’t see that far ahead. But I believed it would take me where I needed to be. And it did.
Sometimes we can’t direct where our life will take us. We only can follow what seems to be the best path, hold on, and trust.
I’m a mystery fan, but typically don’t read historical mysteries.
I’m glad I gave this one a try.
The author, Barbara Hambly, has a master’s degree in medieval history, but takes her research skills in another direction with this first-in-a-series of about sixteen Benjamin January mysteries set in pre-Civil War New Orleans.
One of the things that makes this novel so strong is the richness of the writing. This is not a book that you can zip through, but if you take the time to savor the details, the author can transport you to this time and place.
For example, take her description of one of the run down sections of historical New Orleans called The Swamp:
“Most of the grog shops were open, barkeeps dispensing Injun whisky from barrels to long-haired flatboat men across planks laid over barrels, white men grouped around makeshift tables playing cards, and small groups of black men visible in alleyways, on their knees in the mud and weeds, shooting dice. In several cottages the long jalousies already stood open, revealing seedy rooms barely wider than the beds they contained, the women sitting on the door sills with their petticoats up to their knees, smoking cigars or eating oranges, calling out to the men as they passed.”
Ms. Hambly is particularly adroit at describing the class system that ruled New Orleans at the time: the French-Creole at the top, followed the “colored,” mixed-race individuals, and on the bottom rungs, the Black slaves and American flatboat men.
Benjamin January is a classically trained musician, a skilled surgeon who studied in Paris, and a former slave. When he is accused of murder he must discover the real killer before he is tried without a jury or worse, sold back into slavery.
A riveting tale! I am delighted that there are so many more January mysteries ahead of me.
Bird flight is a miraculous event. I once had the privilege of watching two golden eagles in mating flight over the Red Rocks of Sedona. They swooped and swirled, and at the very last moment the female turned on her back in mid-flight and they joined, the male carrying both of them with his strong wings. That numinous vision has remained with me to this day.
I sat on the back porch at dawn the other day, watching the sparrows dive in to the feeder, while the hummingbirds performed aerial acrobatics overhead. Even the pigeons, so clumsy on the ground, soared and gyrated in the morning air.
As a species, humans have always wanted to fly. It’s the only motion of the animals that we can’t do ourselves: we can walk, crawl, swim, climb—but not fly. And we want to. But it is a particular type of flight—the flight of the angels. Not for us the flittering, bare-skinned flight of bats and pterodactyls.
No, we want wings! And feathers! Or better yet, nothing at all. Think of the magic when Peter Pan first shows Wendy how to fly, just by holding on tight. Or when Superman gives Lois Lane that first breath-taking ride over the city.
My heart stopped at that sword fight among the bamboo branches in Crouching Tiger, Flying Dragon. They had to be sorcerers, to stop time that way, in midair. Yes! That’s what I wanted, too.
We’ve tried to copy it the best we can, through airplanes. But traveling enclosed in a metal cocoon with windows that don’t open is like comparing a sedate freeway bus ride to swooping down Highway 1 along the coastline of California at 90 mph on your Harley with no helmet!
We know what we want: That startling adrenaline rush of being in total control of our own destiny. We yearn to soar through the air on the wax wings of Icarus, and yet we crash just as inevitably to the ground. We want the ability to fly. And that’s just what we can’t have.
Some people cope through complacency and forgetting. Peter Bruegel once painted a picture of Icarus plunging into the sea while a plowman nearby focused on his fields and the ships continued to sail by as though nothing important was happening.
Some people cope by dreaming. We fly only in our dreams, in our imagination, in our flights of fantasy and creation.
Maybe wanting what we can’t have is a good thing. And maybe that’s why we can’t fly.
That inability becomes both a lesson in humility and a rainbow to the future.
As long as that desire exists, the hoping and the wishing that is the most quintessentially human of virtues continues to vibrate through our species.
It pulls us forward, helping us to grow, allowing us to dream of the someday when perhaps we can fly!