August 13, 2013

Moving My Shards into Elul

And so the wheels of introspection move forward.

On a walk along the towpath with the dogs this morning, I spotted a great blue heron on the path ahead of us, just perched on the ground by the side of the canal. Billy finally noticed and charged ahead.The bird let him get about three feet away and then hopped in one single laugh of air to a log in the middle of the water. Three feet away. As if she knew that Billy only steps into water to lie down for a combination drink and mud bath.

And around the bend, another heron sitting on a rock in the middle of the pond. And yellow coneflowers. A network of groundhog (or anaconda) tunnels. Giant sycamores wound in some kind of ivy, with their bark shards ringing the ground. And drops of rain just here and there. I noticed everything around me and I got the message: I am part of it all. Connected. And perhaps that means I don't have to fight with life so much, just fold in. Just go, as Jude says.

I came home to start a project that has been on my list for approximately four summers. It starts with this:

These boxes contain broken bottles and shards of china that I have dug out of trash heaps in ghost towns throughout the West, from the surf at Deadhorse Bay, and from a really good midden that we found just across the river when I was trying to coax Himself to take up walking. Leave it to him to look down and find an ivory cuphandle sticking up under his boot, which meant we had no choice but to run home for our trowels and gloves. Which meant he never did have to go for the walk and, now that I think of it, he probably planted all that stuff there the day before.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, sorting shards by color so that I can enter them into The Permanent Record by making a mosaic on an old cafe table. I felt for the memory in each piece. And I felt the women who had tossed them into the trash. The one who put her mother's cobalt blue platter back in her china cabinet after Thanksgiving, the one who dusted ivory porcelain cups on a piece of lace on the shelf over the piano, the one who always hated the ochre vase her mother-in-law gave her and was SO happy when the cat knocked it over.

The woman who perhaps loved this:
Then there was my own collection of shards-to-be.
I used to have my little girls throw our broken ceramics into the field over the fence, planting shards for the archaelogists of the future. Just like all the other women?  Now, I save them for this project and today, I took a hammer to them...and folded them into the boxes with their ancestors.
 All one. All connected.