Magnolia in Hand

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I’ve been carrying Susannah Conoway’s incredible image of a magnolia branch in my mind ever since I first saw it two years ago.  It’s beautiful, of course, but what is so mesmerizing to me is how vividly she has captured her experience of spring.

After prowling around this magnolia for at least an hour, looking and shooting, and trying to watch it honestly, I felt I was getting nowhere.  Realizing it was almost time to go home, I decided I would try my evening meditation in the company of the magnolia.  I sat on a bench where I could see it.  The tension, the urgency of each image I was looking started to unwind as I looked at the pink mass of petals shifting in the exhalations of a light breeze.  I listened to the rumble of skateboarders and laughter of neighbors enjoying their view the park.  I wondered, “What is this feeling I have for this tree?  What is it I want from it?”

One word rose up, clear as a bell.  “Devour.”

Just sitting on a bench in the park is nothing fancy.  Craving the resurgence of life in springtime is nothing special.  So after the timer on my phone went off, I got up and went back to the tree for a while, with my camera.  This is what she gave me.  I feel very, very blessed.

Magnolium

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I hope you like pictures of magnolia blossoms striving into clear blue heaven.  Being earth-bound myself, I can’t seem to get enough of them.

Cupfullus Daffodillus

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Here is a cup of sunny spring stars for your window sill.  I want you to have them.  They remind me of the sunny stars in your laughter, and the tender days ahead, warm with happiness as yet unknown.

Everytime you see them, think of me.

Lady of the Lace – The Beginning of the Tale

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I don’t remember exactly when, so lets say April 4, 1971.  I’m turning 7 today, and so is my twin sister, Pammy.

I don’t remember exactly where so lets say lunch at the Walnut Room at Marshall Field’s.  We are sitting ladylike at a table close, but not close enough, to the giant spring display at the center of the dark paneled room.  Mama is miffed.  She says something like “I told her, its your birthday.  We should have a table where you can really see the tree.”

Oh the tree.  Yes, the Tree.  Blossoms and twigs gathered into a towering replica of a spring hillside.  Easter lilies crammed around the trunk, hyacinth crowding daffodils, most likely a delightful family of Easter rabbits in giant scale, with baskets full of eggs –  pink, mint, butter yellow blooming below the vault of the ceiling that rises at least two stories, a sort of retail cathedral.

Let’s say Pammy orders chicken croquettes.  She always eats these, which means I have to eat something different.  I don’t know what to choose.  “Will she like the macaroni and cheese, you think?”  Mama asks the lady in the black dress with a white cap pinned in her grey hair.  The lady nods, and takes the order slip Mama has marked using the little pencil left on the table.  When we come here with Daddy, we always draw on the paper placemats using this pencil.  We have never come here with Mama before.

Lets say Mama is wearing a pretty dress, with a gathered skirt, and a supple wide black belt.  The fabric has tiny red and white checks that look like the new bedspreads for our new canopy beds.  Mama ordered it all from the Sears catalog for a surprise.  If Pammy and I had known, we would have asked for pink.  Mama likes blue better.

The macaroni arrives.  The cheese tastes tangy and sour, not like the salty orange tubes we fix in a pot at home.  Mama is a little miffed at me for not liking the macaroni.  I am in trouble for not eating it.

At last, a piece of cake arrives for each of us.  The frosting is pure white and called buttercream.  It is as dense as a deck of cards and tastes like velvet.  Mama is talking:

“When I was a little girl,”  she says, “My mama took me to the tea room at Block’s Department Store.  And for dessert they brought something special…”

Mamma’s voice is sweet and lonesome, like the feeling I have when I sneak into the hallway late at night to watch her watching television, waiting for Daddy to come home from a guitar job.  I can’t pay attention to my cake anymore.

“…there was a little china doll on top…”

Mamma makes a space between her thin forefinger and thumb.

“…and her skirt was made of ice cream…”

Pammy and I  have both stopped eating now.

“… covered in flakes of fresh coconut…”

A doll with an ice cream skirt.   My own dessert is forgotten, replaced by a picture of something so beautiful and impossible, it is like a fairy tale.  I am trying to believe what Mama is saying.  I know I can never taste or see it.  I want that doll dessert more than anything I can actually have today.  Stronger still, I want that sound of happiness to linger in my Mamma’s voice.

“You didn’t finish your desserts,”  she says, including both of us in her judgement now.  “Didn’t you like it?  If I knew you didn’t want it, I wouldn’t have ordered it for you.”  She is miffed again.

“Ok girls.  Lets go look at dolls.  Would you like to do that?”

We nod.  We know where the dolls are, two escalator rides down.  The tiaras we have be oggling are close by.  Maybe today, Mama will buy us the ones we really want.

Every Which Way Lace

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This is how it looked for a while, as if I was winding through a maze.  The walls were solid lace, so it seemed harmless to linger there.  Wandering in the maze even seemed like what I was meant to do.  It was fascinating.

I waited for the walls to fall down, or pushed against them which only made them more solid.  Then I noticed a thread and gently pulled it.   The maze began to dissolve.  Following the thread lead to the beginning.  To myself.

Lace Tangle

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There’s more to this story than meets the eye.  I’m starting with the ending.  The tricky thing about stories is they tend to tangle you up, if you hold on to their shape too tightly. On the other hand, a story might untangle right before your eyes, taking shadows and sharp edges with it, if you brush against it accidentally when your attention is otherwise engaged.

In Solidarity with April

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Proof positive, I was there when the pinkness occurred in Verona, Wisconsin – April 12, 2012.

I don’t think April likes this any better than we do.

Fool You April!

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Snowy earth, you can’t hide the garden forever.  I can make flowers and butterflies, too.  All I need is a little light and an open heart and just the right magic words, and here you go….I declare it “SPRING!”