I was the kid who was forever bringing home strays or baby birds. Some I’d thrust upon neighbors (apparently I was hard to resist), some would hang around, and some unfortunately wouldn’t make it. I stopped doing this when I hit about 12 years old. But then in high school, my friend called me with 4 baby rabbits. From what I understand, her mother’s boyfriend had set traps and the mother rabbit had been caught in one. And now here were her orphaned babies who were clearly too young to fend for themselves.
I took on the care of Hoover (named for the vacuum cleaner, not the president). He was small enough that he required warmed kitten formula from a medicine dropper every few hours. I remember cradling him in my palm with his oversized feet sticking up, feeding him until his belly was round and his eyes drooped. It was the last few weeks of school and I carted him around everywhere in a little shoebox and when feeding time came, the teachers let me use the microwave in the teacher’s lounge to warm his formula.
Eventually he got big enough to start eating leafy things on his own. I’d take him out into the backyard and let him wander beneath the safety of a laundry basket. There was a nice little patch of clover near the garage where I’d set us up for an hour or two every day. A couple of times, the laundry basket was removed but he always hung around and let me take him back inside. Until one day he decided he knew where he belonged and darted into the neighbor’s garden.
I didn’t try to go after him. I knew it was time to let him be what he was meant to be. We saw him quite often over the summer, munching away in the gardens – clearly thriving.
I thought a lot about Hoover while I was painting this. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like a stray myself. But then I think that sometimes all we need is for someone to show us the clover. And that will happen when we’re ready to come out from under the laundry basket.
I’ve been pushing around paint for the past couple of days. If that sounds semi-aggressive to you, you’d be right. I’ve pulled out the cheap brushes and the cheap studio canvas and I’ve been just relishing the chaos. “Inner Chaos, meet Outer Chaos. I’m sure you’ll get along just fine.”
Most people looking at what I was doing right now would probably say “but Sarah, that’s just a big blue mess.” And I’d say “yes, that’s exactly what that is.” But it’s a satisfying mess. And better out than in.
Some broken things, in the right light, still shine. And in a perfect wind, the fragmentary might fly. But mostly we forget this and gather too closely the sharp edges to our chest – seeking solace in those pieces that are left.
“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” –Walt Whitman
bare feet on the damp boards of the rain-soaked porch
I try counting how many cigarettes are left
not in the packs between us, leaning on the rail
but in moments left to us in this sacred space
where we learned the measure of our lips
and the direct relation of hands to laughter
no use pouring coffee before it’s been made
this now for now, with you will more than do
© Sarah Whiteley
My nailbeds are a lovely blueish purple right now. The building has steam radiators which are controlled from the boiler room with a timer, the timing of which is still apparently being worked out. The dogs are curled up in the bed and Angus has taken to sleeping in a ball with his tail over his nose – very fox-like – in order to keep warm.
I’m about to pull on socks and shoes and my coat before I head down the hill to the library and return Denise Levertov’s collected works. I haven’t finished it, but it’s due soon and I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist in case some lovely family member needs an idea for a birthday present next year.
I discovered recently that she actually transplated herself to Seattle at some point in her life and is buried in the cemetery where I often take long, peaceful walks. A couple weeks ago, I made it a mission to find her headstone and managed it quite quickly as it has a very distinctive sculpture on top of it. She’s not far at all from Princess Angeline’s (Chief Seattle’s daughter) resting place and she’s very close indeed to my favorite tree in the cemetery – a massive copper beech with the most wonderful purple-y russet leaves.
I’ve begun to do some temp office work while I figure out what I want to do and where I want to go. The uncertainty is a bit stressful as there are other forces at play which will determine what happens in the next 6 months. But change is stressful and I knew that would be the case. We’ll make it through.
The crows have missed their daily treats – I usually leave before they’re awake and get home after dark. On Friday, Coyote happened to spy me while I was waiting for my morning bus. He rushed over, stood at my feet, and scolded me for my absence. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything in my pockets to offer him, so he went away disappointed. But not before attracting the attention of the other people waiting on the arrival of a bus. Yeah – crazy crow lady reputation justified.
I’ve been squeezing in time to write and do my little watercolor sketches, though I prefer daylight for the latter so I’m afraid painting will be a weekend endeavor for now.
Off to the library! And then home to a hot, hot shower to thaw feet and fingers.
listing off on my walk
the names of the trees
whose leaves are holding on
just a little too long –
what was golden now
giving way to brown,
tattered things that cling
complaining in the wind
there is an art, I think,
to holding on, to letting
go – and an impatience
for things which shouldn’t
but have lingered past
their welcome – strange
how we are perhaps more
enamored by the things
that rightly fall away
than by those that fight
another day to stay
© Sarah Whiteley