Anne Notations

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Connecticut reunion

Becky, me, and Dagmar in the gazebo

August seems to be a month when I reconnect with old friends. Today, as we have every summer for the past seven years or so, we got together with my sophomore roommate Becky and her husband, William, and their daughter, Kamaria, at the rural eastern Connecticut home of Becky's parents, Cliff and Dagmar.

Dagmar is one of those lovely, earthy older women who seem ageless and are fun to be with. A breast-cancer survivor herself, she is coping with Cliff's Alzheimer's disease day by day.

Cliff, a retired professor at UConn, is amazingly sharp about some things, yet his short-term memory is almost nonexistent. The family joke is: "Sit down and let Cliff ask you where you live." And indeed, he asks just that, over and over, earnestly and with great interest in your answer.

Kamaria, a beautiful girl, is heading off to the U. of Michigan next week. This seems impossible, but time is slippery and coy, I find these days. I wonder how Becky will deal with an empty nest... because I wonder how I will cope when that time comes five years from now.

Melinda and Michael in the gazebo

Becky's husband William

We had a late lunch of sandwiches on the picnic table under a tree, then drinks and dessert in the gazebo. A breeze cooled us all afternoon. It had to be one of the most glorious days of the year. When the air is clear and fine like this, I can only describe it as "delicious," which makes my family laugh. In the country today, the air smelled sweet with cut grass baking in the sun.

Kevin -- child of the corn

Garden spider, photographed by Kevin

Kevin went with Becky's brother to see the huge, beautiful garden spiders in a clump of plants a short distance from the house. By late afternoon we had to leave. Hugs all around, and wistfulness about the infrequency of these visits.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Rain and roses

Late this afternoon it rained, blessed relief after two months of drought. My late-summer gardens look refreshed and radiant in the evening light.

On Saturday, my Pennsylvania friend Jeannie and I drove to Maine to help Liz and Ralph celebrate their 35th anniversary. Dogs (seven!) and humans had a fine time. Theirs is an extraordinary marriage, based on love, gentleness, and respect.

Liz and Ralph, at home in Maine.

This evening, my flowers and a glimpse of clearing sky ended the weekend on a sweet note.

Coral tea roses by our front porch.

From the driveway next door: balloon flowers in foreground.

In the front border gardens.

Black-eyed Susans amid a forest of ferns.

Impatiens on the back deck.

Our first tiny tomatoes will be picked and eaten momentarily.

After the rains, a glimpse of sky above Hope Street.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Not in the wind, nor in the fire

Storm clouds over Missiquoi Bay, August 2003. Photo by Michael.

This morning I was the lector at 9:00 Mass, and the first reading moved me greatly. The Hebrew prophet Elijah is on the run, seeking a sign of God's succor from his enemies:

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
"Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by."

A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD--
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake--
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire--
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a

A "tiny whispering sound" - wonderful! Elijah recognized God -- not in spectacles of might and power, but in a sound like the wings of a moth.

With our constant need to declare our presence -- via cell phones, stereos, iPods, blaring televisions -- with all the NOISE of simply being in today's world, who among us will attend? Who will hear the tiny whispering sound affirming that God is present?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Island girl

Our daughter Melinda is not from an island, although she wears one on her tank top. She is from Colombia, a gorgeous country blessed with beautiful people.

But as I was looking at this photo of Melinda in Vermont last week, modeling the Kenyan necklace she'd just bought at a flea market,

I found myself thinking of Gauguin's paintings of Tahitian women. Like this one:

I Googled Tahiti and spent some time gasping at the dramatic scenery and deciding that, like Gauguin, I'd prefer to die there, watching the sun set over the water in saturated hues of magenta and orange while improbable towering clouds rose to one side. I also came across this model in a Tahitian liquor advertisement (below, left); her rounded facial contours, almond eyes, dark long hair, valentine chin, even the shape of her nose, brought me back again to our Melinda, la linda.

Pretty women!