The woodman came this morning. The Songwriter helped him arrange a hefty load of logs in a corner of our front porch, and another beneath the eaves behind. This is the same woodman we've used for years, accompanied by the same dog - a big, black fellow we are always warned against approaching, an admonition that is easy to obey. We dread the day that dog won't be found sitting proudly in the front seat of the wood truck, and were happy to see him there again this year, even as we only waved politely from a good distance away.
There isn't much in life that better signifies security and preparedness that a stack of aged firewood. The knowledge that no matter how harsh the winds of winter blow, the fire inside will still crackle and blaze, and we'll stay warm and safe: that is valuable knowledge indeed. Bring your worst, we are ready.
Throughout this ridiculously difficult year, our hands have consistency been slapped whenever we reached for the usual comforts to lift our wounded spirits. A gathering of friends? No. An escape to a faraway shore? No. Even a head-clearing session at the gym? Nope. And probably most painful of all...a big and bearish hug to squeeze out the worry and the fear? Not a chance. Like so many, I tried to see this time as a gift, a time to write clear and consistent prose, a time to reflect, to grow. But my focus was so often inferior to that of a cricket. Little by little I learned to be a bit kinder to myself, for as we all heard ad infinitum..."these were unusual times".
The skies seem much clearer since this past Saturday, and as newsman Van Jones so eloquently stated on that day, so many of us feel like we can breathe again. Hope is palpable on my street, and we have so much to be grateful for, even as we mourn all we have lost. Grace and beauty may may wither in bad weather, but they'll never be stomped out, no matter how big the boots that try, and it was grace and beauty that continue to take my hand to lead me through the past months. Cooking beautiful meals. Perfecting chocolate chip cookie recipes. Taking long, long walks through the changing seasons. Knitting Christmas gifts. Talking to friends. Writing a new story. Watching my new novel begin its journey into the world. And reading...lots and lots of reading...wonderful books.
Here are just a few of the books I've read over the past months, books that brought me knowledge, joy, and laughter. Books that planted a germ of empathy, as all good books do. And books that reminded me of my holy responsibility to work at making the world a better place. I hope you'll find something here to life your spirits. Better days are coming, my friends!
PS.... I've linked each book to an independent book store across the country.
They need our support.
We need them!
And, for pre-order!!
Painting above ON THE SANDS, by Harold Harvey