Monday, October 6, 2014

Manna in the Morning: HOME

Manna in the Morning: HOME: HOME
I love a fire in the morning, like the one I just lit in the old fireplace with a little leftover kindling and a couple sheets of yesterday's New York Times. I think it was a portion of the weekend arts section, with a photo of a bright blue toy train on a track. Need to take the chill off from last nights rain. Manna seems to enjoy it as well, as I sit here stroking her head waiting for today's issue to be delivered to the front lawn by the lady in the red pickup. It gives me time to think about how the elements of this old house, at least for me, have a life of there own. How many fires have been lit in the hearth the last 87 years, and who were the people who lit them? Did they feel as I do a strange comfort when walking on the hardwood floor, listening to the creaking chorus of time inlaid in it's bones? A mother who, in the early years of the depression kissed her two children goodnight in the back bedroom and closed the door with the glass doorknob, the one with the purplish hue. Those children now well into their age if they still live, do they remember at this time of year how the 7 AM sun broke through the east living room window, the distorted and diffused light cast diagonally on the wall through the wavy glass? A son, home at last after a long and harrowing 18 months in the Navy in the south Pacific, 1944, sits quietly alone at an old wooden table in the kitchen, a cup of coffee in hand, looking out at the oak tree. He senses the importance of coming home as he rests his arm on the window sill, the same one I sometimes rest against. The man who lived here alone in 1959, his children grown and gone, would open the glass paned door to the side porch and collect the two bottles of milk delivered there every morning about this time. Now books are installed in the glass cases  on each side of the fireplace, replacing the vast collection of blown glass animals and figures that once was proudly displayed by the lady who lived here before us.

I wonder if Manna, her heightened canine senses alert to all that surrounds her, subtly inherits these ghosts of time. We certainly do, though what and who they were is actually a mystery, the above caretakers of this house coming mostly from imagination. But that in a way provokes ever more wonder and mystique to these surroundings. You could say this house is nothing special, a small bungalow set in the midst of hundreds of others, but I think that would not be present to the way lives unfold, as down through time we live so much in the pockets of those that came before. They made this house special from their presence in it, within their own pocket of time as we now do..

 The children we raised here have gown and gone too, but their running feet and laughter will somehow always sing within these ancient boards, along with the ticking feet of puppies. After we move on to other places, someone else will sit by this fire, and instill their own legacy within the fabric of this house.

The sky has lightened, last nights rain has moved on. A chill lingers outside, but not in here.
Posted by James Scott Fleming at 6:42 AM
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1 comment:
claudia dixon said...
Hello the house! Makes you pity all the folks in their crisp new condos with all the modern conveniences and the still fresh smell of new paint, forced air heat and often no fireplaces. Maybe there is a view, but that only directs your thoughts away from your house, and the life inside it. A hearth in an old Craftsman makes you think about the simple comforts and inconveniences experienced by the ghosts of the past. There are ghosts in our house too. Thanks for reminding me this morning that an old house can be a blessing and a comfort, especially if you take the time to situate yourself within the flow of the history it must have seen.
February 9, 2013 at 7:34 AM
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A Place Apart

We have been in Berkeley, Ca., a little over a month. C has started Seminary here, and I am practicing Architecture the best that I can. It is a new chapter, a new space on this world to explore, and we are loving it. It has been quite a while since my last post. So many changes, so many splayed roads to get here, yet they are slowly converging into one.

Manna and I have found a new avenue of exploration. The Berkeley hills are full of surprises, and so full of beauty. We have walked the winding streets before the sun has risen over the hill, chilled by the morning air off the bay. San Francisco just appearing from a fog shrouded envelope of night, white and orange in the new sun, its' streets just awakening to the long shadows of an approaching day. C still snug in bed, though awakening now I suspect, to move toward a day of classes and knowledge I will never know.

But Manna finds her own sources of God, standing as still as ice when she spots a wild turkey crossing the road, or a deer, down from the hills, feasting on someone's garden while they still lie still sleeping, unsuspecting in the terraced houses of redwood, stone and cedar. I walk this early hour, along the redwood trails of Cordornices Park , and emerge from the emerald canopy to look at the sun-tinged crescent of fog on the bay below, pearl and citrusy colored in its half awakened state.  At the terrace above a rose garden, a man stands with a cup of steaming coffee, his face alight with new found day, surveying the cobalt Marin County hills just appearing now out of the dawn. Manna stands looking, gives herself a shake as if breaking the night's final bond of closely held arms, and looks up at me wondering why we are standing in this one place for so long.

We shall walk these edges of life for a while now. We are here to begin a new chapter. I do not know its outcome, and yet, that is its beauty. That is its song that plays so empty at first, but fills and fills with lyrics we shall come to know so personally, so completely, so universal in its acknowledgment of our own fears, yet will reveal I suspect, a life that is worth what we thought.

 Manna is ready to head home. A fresh cup of coffee in hand for me, a treat to slip a lip over for her.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Hot One

Summer came upon us gradually this year. It seemed the hills browned a little earlier than usual, and the coastal eddy flow of early morning overcast lingered through the month.

This morning Manna woke me at 5:45. (An early beach run with her is most likely). And as I stand on the front porch, it is the kind of morning that begins its song low and deep, afloat on the stillness of the hour. As the eastern light ascends higher, the song grows in intensity, like a choral of voices slowly rising, hinting that the cool air of dawn will not linger long, and will be replaced with the kind of day that will call for any respite we can briefly hold. Summers' song will ring out loud and true, and greet us with the solid grip of a hearty hand.

We have no choice but to flow along in this stream of season. Wether we are revelers of the sea and sand, waders in cool streams, seekers of shady parks, or dapplers of deliverance in cool icy drinks, together we are parties to nature's grand scheme, and the long Summer ahead. Manna is certainly ready for it, as she waits impatiently for me to finish the paper and head for the beach. It will still be cool for a time there, a lingering fog hesitating to leave, the water curling pea green in glassy reflection of the rising sun. Later we will come back home and be alive to this Summers day. I will find my refuge in a shady spot under a tree with an icy drink in hand, she will find it lying on the cool tile of the bathroom floor.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Manna in the Morning: SEE YOU DOWN THE ROAD

Manna in the Morning: SEE YOU DOWN THE ROAD


A late March morning, Spring turning and raising a hand for one last farewell to Winter as she disappears around the bend in the road. We will find her again in due time, maybe she will be sweeping up some last autumn leaves into a pile. She will invite us in, as if we are old friends. Maybe a cup of steaming tea in front of a warm fire will do to break the ice as we discuss the wonders of last Summer's sparkling sea, and how good Autumn in the local mountains tasted, like a slice of crisp apple pie mixed with cinnamon laid over with an ample helping of gratitude . We will laugh as she brings out a plate of cookies laced on top with white icing and silver sprinkles, about why Spring had to show off so much this year wearing that dress so loaded with flowers, and how Summer played hard to get by giving June Gloom only a passing nod well into July.

Manna has gone to sleep by Winter's fire. I take her leash in hand and bid Winter goodnight, thanking her for the foggy glass we will note in the early morning kitchen windows, the stark play of storm clouds from the sea that will leave the drape of night cold and dripping for us to wake to at the tip of morning, as well as those few balmy December days to come that I noticed entwined in the tapestry she was knitting while we talked, the ones that remind us of the Summer's long lazy days sometime ahead. As we take our leave, she hands me a bag tied  closed with string, telling me not to open it until the light begins returning to the earth. I pull my coat around me against the coming chill as Manna sniffs the air,  stepping out under a sky of wheeling stars, out on a path lit with the mystery of moments.

A late March morning. Manna is now waking at around 6 AM instead of 4:30, so we celebrate the new light and time with a freeze dried chicken strip on top of her breakfast kibble. It is the simple things you see. One does not always need to travel far to be in paradise.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Manna in the Morning: IT'S THE NOSE, STUPID

Manna in the Morning: IT'S THE NOSE, STUPID


I think a dog collects scents like a child collects memories, storing them up in the tumbled attic of the brain to pull out for future use. Probably white shelving is used as support for clarity and easy cleaning, each item catagorized and neatly aligned. I suppose that some attics are a little more cluttered than others, some a wee bit more carefully arranged, but all seem to get the job done.  It must be a huge space I imagine, as when a dog is walked, or running free, it's nose is the constant rudder of it's hull, steering sharply from here to there in quite an unchartable course. Never mind the tall buildings downtown seen across the canyons, white and new as if just sprouted overnight in some celestial garden , or the lacy spring trees  sporting a  transluscent coat woven of light and air soused with the aqueous air of morning. Nope, but this bush once had a rabbit brush by it and boy, I just cant get enough! And over here, in this patch of grass that looks just like any other to you, theres one spot here that I'm just about to die for. Whatever THAT is, i'm taking that puppy home!

OK then.
I will bide my time tightly holding on to the straining leash,
Allowing you your fill of olfactory stimulants.
I will note that bird knocking awake the trunk of the tree with its beak,
and savor the look of this pine needle strewn trail ahead,
Pretending for a moment we are on some high country mountain trail.
But leave me a moment to sit on this green bench
While you enjoy the heady aroma of what's underneath,
so that I can collect a few trinkets for my own shelves
that sag heavy with the reels of image.

I do agree though, that new mown grass smells delicious.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Manna in the Morning: One Step at a Time

Manna in the Morning: One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

Mornings. Our first step into a new world. One different than all the others lived before. Either tentative or bold, all creatures must draw a cloak of courage about them, opening a door to a new chapter however it may play out. The day shouts promises of life and love, the stars passively give way of their hold on our dreams, and we find the next turn in the road paved with new light, new vision, new hope.

This early spring has more than most delivered the fine wine of creation's bloom to my thoughts. I find myself  with eyes that want to listen more than see, and to hear through the light of life presenting itself in all it's glorious delivery. The old oak is greening now with starts of leaves in the highest reaches of its crown, the wine-red stars of buds on the Japanese Maple begin to unfurl from their cocoon, like dancers slowly unfolding their limbs to a low upwell of music, each morning more of them appear to fill the stage. The first steps of beginning anew, one step at a time.

Last evening C and I took Manna to the beach. I remember the first time not long ago, when all was new for her. A creature tasting the first food from Earth's morning table, which we sometimes take for granted. The white sand different from the black loam she was used to, the crash of waves and the unfurling skim of surf and foam running up to her and chasing her back up the sand. She, not wanting to go near this strange blue thing alive and beckoning. And yet, over the days she became one to the wet and salty rhythm. Testing it with a paw or two, tasting it, a back and forth dance of combat at first, then giving in to the luxury of its wildness.
Now, she and I find ourselves running together knee deep in a frothy dance of celebration. The water expoloding around us as we run, and I can't keep myself from laughing out loud. It all starts and finishes one step at a time.

And so this morning, after the sky knows the first watercolor brush of light, we will go outside and listen to the changing pallet of Spring, watch intently the upwelling music of life, and feel the binding  crossroads of time that link all of us, and all creation together. Striding into a new world, just one step at a time.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Manna in the Morning: ALL IN GOOD TIME

Manna in the Morning: ALL IN GOOD TIME


Tonight the clocks spring forward while we sleep. A savings of time they say. Since there are no more lines to add or take away in a circle, it's just turning the circle a bit, our point in time unadjusted. Six when it used to be five. Just the lighting has changed. If Manna's internal clock stays the same, we may wake tomorrow at six instead of five. I can be hopeful anyway.

As we balance on this ball of earth, we all experience our lives in time so differently, depending on our position on it. As the bread is browning in the toaster in this kitchen at 5:50 AM, our daughters in New York and Washington DC are already well into their morning. Possibly a late breakfast with friends at a corner cafe is in the works, or maybe heading down an avenue still lined with the snow that fell yesterday, to a bookstore or the grocery. Friends in St. Louis left an hour ago to take their daughter to  an early Saturday morning volleyball practice. They now sit on the cold wood of the gym bleachers sipping coffee from a yellow paper cup, talking with another parent or two as the squeak of a dozen pairs of busy shoes on the hardwood echos around the walls. My Brother in Santa Fe is already at his University office high on that hill, looking out the window that overlooks a tall skyed New Mexico landscape of long morning winter shadows that wake the sleepy adobe eyes of the town, and sweep all the way to the smoke blue hills beyond.

So, let the sun come in its own time. It will eventually drop by, no matter what the round clock on the wall indicates. Let's pour the coffee and butter the toast as Manna sits at the back door, watching through the fogged glass for that first hint of light. And when it comes, I'll stand here in my robe and socks and be glad I'm not one of those poor devils in Virginia who already have to be well into their work day. It's damn good to live somewhere where there is so much extra time.