Debra Darvickenhance your now in word and image
KIDS @ HEART
Monday evening I did something I haven’t done since Covid, and maybe even a few years before that. Some girlfriends and I got together to assemble welcome baskets for guests of a friend’s daughter who’s getting married this weekend. The bride asked us to be environmentally mindful — no extra tissue, no plastic water bottles, no extra wrapping. After two plus years of fraught deicsions over masks, vaccines, boosters, plane rides and socializing, choosing between granola bars and pop corn, chocolates and trail mixes was a balm.
We organized everything assembly-line style — bags, labels, water boxes, treats, ribbons, and a group gift for the bride. Before setting to work we did something so very commonplace pre-Covid: we shared some pizzas, salad and fabulous homemade almond cookies (thank you, Tim.) It was a thrill to catch up with one another, weaving our shared excitment into an embrace for our friend. Her husband is quite ill; our joy is also threaded with strands of sorrow.
In our card to the bride, we thanked her for getting married and giving us an opportunity to celebrate her joy. Within the void of what Covid has taken away, assembling welcome baskets was burnished with even deeper joy.
We stopped at the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Farm outside of Tucson to feed all the creatures. Ostriches bite. Bunnies nibble. Goats lick. Donkeys snuffle, wetly. And the larakeets? Oh, the larakeets peck at the seeds in your hand, fluff their rainbow wings and tweet. It was heaven. Pure kid heaven. I could have stayed all afternoon. How lucky am I to have a personal photographer who delights in capturing my own delight as it takes wing!
It has been snowing since yesterday morning. The news inflates and catastrophizes the forecast, “Biggest snowfall in 35 years on its way! Fourteen inches!” Not even close. This is Michigan. It’s winter. A six-inch snowfall shouldn’t be astounding or frightening. Snow is what should be happening.
This girl’s been outta the South for more years than she wants to count. But snow will always be magical. I love how it hushes the world. How the sky is so white, and full of what’s to come. I don’t know if there’s a weather-word for a sky full of snow, but pregnant comes to mind. Even last night, as we got into bed, the sky was pale with snow to come.
We’ve shoveled and have taken out the snowblower. Our sweet young neighbor bought a huge snowblower last year and blew our driveway clear last night and this evening as well. Martin and I have just come in from another quick sweep and shovel. It’s light snow now. Not laden with the ice and weight of this morning’s fall.
When the snow chore was done I laid down and made an angel. The sky, having snowed herself out, was darker than last evening’s. The tree limbs spread in a tangle above me. Two leaves, brown and crisp yet still hanging on, rustled as the winds passed through. It was such a glorious moment — exhilarating, cold, and cozy all at the same time. Sixty-five years on the planet and I’m grateful I can still get down and up to make a snow angel. I’m even more grateful that such a simple thing can still bring me such joy.
Martin and I visited Como on our recent trip to Italy. After a wonderful boat ride around Lake Como, we and our guide began a walking tour of this lovely town. As Francesca shared with us Como’s history and landmarks, a shop window caught my eye. Quicker than you can say George Clooney, I veered in. Francesca followed. Martin did too, although with less excitement.
Everywhere we looked were elegant tablescapes featuring gilt tea sets, rainbows of crystal goblets and aperitif glasses, and vintage dresses. Against a huge white ostrich fan, A sea of jeweled earrings, rings and strands of pearls nestled against a white ostrich fan. A Victrola and a small TV from the 50’s stood guard beneath a stone arch dating back to who knows when. Perhaps even back to 1400 when Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, planted mulberry trees around Lake Como to feed the silkworms. Everywhere I turned was another fantasy of color and sparkle. Every item had been arranged with a superb eye for design.
Owner and curator Maria Grazia Lopez, hosts small concerts, poetry readings and other cultural events in her shop . Taking inspiration from her merchandise, she might offer an evening on the theme of pearls or even a color. Imagine attending amethyst night, sipping violet liquor from a violet crystal glass and listening to music and/or poetry inspired by the same hue.Maria Grazia insisted on making us cappucino, strong and delicious and the perfect foil to the cookies she served with it. An added bonus to the utter charm of the experience: Maria Grazia’s 92-year-old father bakes the cookies every morning.
It was soon time to leave. There were sites to see and gelato to sample. But not before buying a pair of amethyst crystal glasses and a small bottle of violet liquor.
On Sunday this dogwood tree was festooned with small red berries.
On Monday, bluejaws flew back and forth having their fill, squawking at the just-as-hungry robins and the more timid wrens and sparrows. “OUR TREE! MINE! MINE! MY BERRIES!”
On Tuesday the robins moved in. They tussled with one another in a whir of wings, to and fro, to and fro. It was marvelous. I went out to try and photograph the berry frenzy but it wasn’t possible. So I simply stood on the patio and watched in delight while the robins ate one, two, three, four berries at a time before flying to parts unknown and their winter troves. It was marvelous seeing Nature take care of itself. From blossoms to berries to bird sustenance.
On Wednesday the tree’s entire crown was bare of berries and by afternoon the only ones remaining hung from the bottom-most and lightest branches. By now the sparrows and wrens had joined in, sneaking away the ones on the ground. They had to tussle with the chipmunks a time or two, but it was rather civil.
This morning the tree is nearly bare of berries. My heart is full of wonder and gratitude. The memory will feed me through the winter.
…and the Heavens listen. This is a “stop the presses!” moment.
Our daughter-in-law texted late last night that today at five would be a good time to read to Olivia and do music*. When Martin told me, I realized I’d need to get to the library for some new books to read. This morning I received a delivery from Amazon. At the bottom was a book I don’t even remember ordering.
I reached for What Do You Know? by sisters Aracelis Girmay and Ariana Fields (I mean with names like that they have to be magic women!), opened it, began to read, and tumbled into that special place of mine where gratitude spirals from my very depths like the best fireworks you’ve ever seen. Gratitude for these talented women, gratitude for my capacity to feel so deeply, gratitude for the years (two) and conversations (1000) that brought this book into being.
From the blurb: “What might a bear, a farmer, a historian, some goats or courage respond when love askes, ‘What do you know?’ ” Turn the page and be surrounded in wonder and astonishment. Reach the farmers’ pages and delight in the illustrations. Read the answer of courage and know that when you read this book to your children and grandchildren you will be teaching them life’s most difficult lesson in an unforgettable way.
That’s all I’ll say. Except for this: Order this book today. Visit Enchanted Lion Books. They are an amazing publisher of the art and philosopy we call children’s books.
* Martin finds incredible music videos to enjoy with Olivia. Their repetoire spans opera, Broadway, ballet and symphonies. One of their favorites is Shostakovich’s opera The Nose which contains a scene of dancing noses.
I have classified this post in three drawers: Grandlife, Bookshelf, Kids @ Heart because the book is so wonderful I don’t want anyone to miss it!