Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Musings, 16 August 2014

Good morning,

When I first awakened, hours ago, I couldn't tell if the light above the tress was the sun or the city.  Hunger rumbled in my stomach.  The scar tissue inside my artificial knee had knotted itself. I could hear the dog pacing in the kitchen.  If I strained, I could feel the cat waiting on the stoop.  I ignored it all and drifted back to sleep.  My mind takes over.

I'm in a car, heading from Jasper to Murray Valley in the mountains above the town.  Chester drives.  We round a bend and he pulls into a driveway.  We're stopping to see friends of his.  The husband, David, works as a carpenter in town and I think Chester hopes to get a little work.  

Their dwelling rises above the roadway and nestles against the curve of a hillside.  We skirt the vehicles and pallets between where we have parked and the steps to their front door.  David's wife waits in the doorway, a small brown wren of a woman.  She gestures; we pass her and enter the pleasantly cluttered home with its hanging plants and many bookcases, no doubt hand-made.  Their shelves gleam; their contours fit the angles of the room.  I touch the top of one, feel the heat of the hackberry, the smooth of the finish.  My fingers linger until I feel self-conscious and hastily remove them.

I've not caught the wife's name.  I smile to cover my embarrassment.  Dave bounds around the corner from the kitchen, tall, with wild crazy hair, fuzzy hair on his chin, and an endless smile.  He wears a white T-shirt, jeans, and hiking boots.  His wife takes his place by the stove and pours coffee from the pot sitting on a burner.  I haven't seen a stove-top coffee pot since my childhood.  It fascinates me.  

Chester and David have fallen into the kind of talk that interests those who work with wood.  I like wood but I find myself drifting away, looking at the bits and pieces that comprise their decor.  Stained glass, pottery, weavings and crystals.  Lots of crystals.  I see a wooden bowl of them in the middle of a table pushed to the back of the small living room, a table on which I feel sure they eat their meals, write letters, and plan their adventures.  I stand, gazing at the lovely pieces, until I cannot resist:  I reach into the bowl to touch one.  I do not realize that David and Chester have fallen silent to watch me.

As I touch the topmost crystal, a flash emits from it and sends a charge through my hand.  I stop but do not pull back.  My eyes raise and meet those of my host.  "That crystal seems to be yours," he says.  He moves, lifts it from the bowl, and places it in my hand.  He tells me that some times a bit of electricity from the earth remains in the crystals, lingering, until something releases the energy.  He holds my gaze and says, gently, that I had been the catalyst for that momentary spark.  I ask him if it will happen again.  He says, "It's not likely, these are very small crystals and they don't hold a lot of energy."  I close my fingers around the crystal and feel its jagged edges.  We remain silent, until his wife moves towards us with heavy mugs of steaming, fragrant coffee and we all sit, on hand-made chairs, around a hand-made table, in the home of a carpenter with a deep understanding of the forces of our world.

Several years later, after my marriage to Chester self-destructed, after I met a jazz musician with dreamy eyes and became pregnant, when the child who would become my son lay heavily in my slender body, I visited Jasper.  I sat in the home of a quilter, Mary Olson, talking about the Ohio Star pattern that I wanted for my son's quilt.  David's wife, whose name I still could not remember and only now speculate might have been Elizabeth, came visiting.  We embrace; she touched my belly, as women do when one carries a child, and she told me that she and David would gift me with a cedar chest in which to store my baby's things.  I tried to dissuade her, though without much conviction.  

She asked me if I still had the crystal which her husband had given me.  I told her that I did, although, in truth, it was mixed in an oriental bowl with several others and I was not sure that I could distinguish it from any other.  She nodded.  I felt as though I had failed some test, but she had too much kindness in her heart to tell me.

David made the chest, and Mary made the quilt.  I have them both, still, in my second floor room with all of its wood and oddities.  The bowl of crystals sits on a table in my office, but here at home, amid the other memories, I keep these two gifts safe to give Patrick when he has a child, or when he settles somewhere.  Until then, their presence comforts me.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.