Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On the Street Where You Live

Yesterday in my physical therapy session, I realized I had healed from the sprained ankle that occurred a couple of weeks ago and had set me back. Yesterday the pain was much less, I was able to balance on the injured foot (the same one that had the surgery), and my walking was much more even than it had been since the sprain.

So this morning, for the first time since December, I decided to get up and go for a walk, the way I had begun so many mornings before having that surgery done.

Usually I walk in the park, but this morning that would have meant moving my husband's car to get mine out. And since I'm just not sure I have the coordination yet to manage the clutch with this foot, I decided to just walk up and down our street.

I felt a little disappointed, because the park is so beautiful, and I miss those morning walks.

But I decided to keep my eyes open and enjoy the beauty of a little city street. And  before long, I found myself taking pictures, because here is what I saw, walking less than a mile up and down my own street.

I wonder if squirrels or fairies swing here? So tiny.

So thankful to live on a street with shade from many large--really large--trees.

From a time when those who laid sidewalks were acknowledged for their work,
and I imagine took more pride in it. Most of the street's sidewalks are still intact.

Plenty of these little guys around.

I wasn't expecting to see the moon.....

....and then looked up and even saw stars.

Moss breaking the stereotype, growing on the east side of the tree.

And in the cracks of the bricks...I just love it.

No place like home.

(And nothing like looking at it from across the street to give you a new perspective.
I had never noticed that silver, crooked pipe thing up there by the chimney!)

"the trees still heartrendingly asparkle"
(read in a poem by C.K. Williams)

They aren't exactly sparkling, but the light coming through
is heartrendingly beautiful when you stand there and feel it....

Childhood helicopter memories!

More stars asparkle.

Beautiful vinca.

And the younger, more intense purple.

And the beautiful sight of my own feet walking, and really not struggling too much with it.

While I still look forward to getting back in the routine of walking in the park, one could hardly wish for a more beautiful first morning walk. So much joy comes with being open and noticing what is all around us, rather than so often wishing for things that are not.

I'm reminded of the line in Thornton Wilder's Our Town--
"Does anyone ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?"

And, "Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you."

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Violets, the Heart Cure

They decorate our front yard right now like little jewels scattered in the night by some unseen generous giver. Today a storm was on its way, and I came home just before it was supposed to begin raining. The winds were already strong.

All these sweet little violets were out there to face whatever was on its way, and I just wanted to bring some in with me, in case they all got smashed by the rain and whatever branches would fall.

So with the wind pushing against me, and my still-in-recovery foot and ankle protesting slightly, I bent and squatted as I could and picked as many as I could without starting to actually hurt.

Since my surgery, I've been thinking more than usual about how amazingly intricate and wondrous the natural world is. How our bodies are put together and most of the time function so well. How everything is put together--and most of the time functions so well.

And then there are things like flowers. They aren't like feet or toes or ankles, there to do a job and doing it well. Of course they do, I suppose, provide nectar for bees and some kind of nutrients for the soil. According to what I've read, in the medieval period and earlier they were used to treat heart disease.

But they are also just beautiful! Just wonderfully beautiful!

And cute! Who can look at these little things out in the grass and not smile? So sweet, so gentle, so....well, cute. Like "cute as a button" cute. have read that according to legend, Venus and Cupid had a conversation that went bad and resulted in Venus flying into a rage and beating her rivals for beauty until they turned blue...and turned into violets. Horrible story!

I much prefer the story that has come down, that these flowers blossomed when Mary said to the angel Gabriel, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord," and so they have been called, "Our Lady's Modesty" by those familiar with this story.

They remind me of childhood, and I read that they tend to be associated with childhood and innocence, and in some places and times the graves of children who died were covered in violets. It makes sense. They seem capable of comforting a broken heart and beautifying a great sorrow.

They make me think of the little song we sang when I was little, and that many of my piano students have played, "Lavender blue, dilly dilly...." even though it's about lavender, not violets. They make me wonder if children today learn all those little folk songs we learned, that are so connected to flowers and trees and birds and nature? When children spend the vast majority of their time inside, can they continue to sing such songs?

They make me think "This is my Father's world..."
"He shines in all that's fair....In the rustling grass I hear him pass..." 
And so these little tiny violets serve as a reminder that "though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet."

I realize that many people do not look at violets and feel reassured that the world is ultimately in good hands. But I do. It has to do with the connection between truth, beauty, and goodness,
and I don't believe I can explain it in a quick blog post in which I really just wanted to say,
Look at these! Just look at these beautiful little flowers,
flowers that we did nothing to deserve.
They just spring up, year after year, out in the plain old grass that we didn't plant,
that we don't fertilize and hardly ever water. It's just there as a gift,
and they are part of the gift.

They make me realize that there are gifts all around that I don't see because I don't bother to look a little closer, or because I've just gotten used to them and take them for granted.

I think those earlier people had it right, that violets are good for the heart.

I think they had that right.