Well, we’ve had a rainy summer so far, with temperatures below normal – that’s okay with me. I’m a cool-weather type, preferring a swim in ice-cold Puget Sound to a swim in tropical waters, and preferring a rocky log-strewn beach to palm trees and white sand. This preference bewilders and disappoints my kids, I think, since they’re sure (and have told me) that the Mayan Riviera is closer to paradise.
Certainly each heart beats faster for whatever speaks directly to it, and the lush Yucatan calls to many souls. I will join my sweet kids from time to time when they spend an afternoon snorkeling alongside sea turtles. Meanwhile, my heart beats pretty fast when I lean down and pick up an agate on a Whidbey Island beach. (And it doesn’t have to be either/or, does it? The Pacific Northwest vs. the Tropics? I only meant to explain why I don’t mind a little July rain!)
When I’m in a summer frame of mind, I resist most things of a scholarly nature. Or, better said, I resist large thoughts that challenge my brain. Little bits and pieces of things satisfy me from late June through to the end of August. I tinker, I play. Long walks are left to autumn, and the reading of War and Peace left to winter.
In that spirit, I offer those of you reading Books Around the Table today some recent bits and pieces that delighted m. One is specifically about writing, though all are about writing, since writing is basically about wonder. Links are included.
1. Did you know that a large cloud of ladybugs is called a bloom? And that some blooms are so large they show up on radar screens? What a world! Read more about it over at Atlas Obscura, which is fast becoming one of my favorite websites. For poets, that website provides so much inspiration.
2. Do you have certain obsessions? I mean the kind of obsessions that you often can’t explain? I love old flashlights. Collect them, who knows why. Love the names of marbles, keep a list of those. Always intrigued by pairs of dice. Or photos of people I don’t know having picnics. Collect old cameras in general but especially old Brownie cameras or cameras that fold in and out. Can’t get enough of true crime documentaries – well sometimes I fill up, but I’m puzzled about being so attracted to these. Another obsession? I would love to have every wall in my house papered with architectural plans. So I’m cheered by this article from the New York Times about authors’ obsessions.
3. Isn’t there always room for something about the moon? Summer, autumn, winter, spring. Always. Always. So here, thanks again to the New York Times (what would I do without you?) is something a little moonish.
4. Finally, a summer poem. Always room for a poem, too, right? Thanks to Poetry Magazine, March 2010. And thanks to Carlo Betocchi – 1899-1986 – a surveyor and engineer who built bridges and canals…and poems. He might have been obsessed with magnolia trees. Or with the wind.
And it grows, the vain
even for us with our
bright green sins:
behold the dry guest,
as it stirs up quarrels
among magnolia boughs
and plays its serene
the prows of all the leaves—
and then is gone,
leaving the leaves
the tree still green, but breaking
the heart of the air.