An Image and a Hundred Words
Got it at Roses for $5. I needed a small backpack for going back and forth to work. I could have found something on Amazon for three times as much, and could have spent ten times as much, I’m sure, to get one made of fine leather. Some people would choose the more expensive one just because it is the most expensive. Some good friends would research backpacks, check out the reviews, and choose on the basis of merit. And I am one who gets my glee from going low. If I could have found one used for $2…better yet.
I’m usually content to read one book at a time, but I’m into three right now, with a fourth unfinished one that I’ve stopped reading. I’ve finally convinced myself it’s ok to not finish a book I don’t like. There are two ways to read (probably a lot more…): read word for word, slowly, or gulp it down. I often wish I’d not be a gulper, but I am. Always that tension that there are other very important books that just have to be read, and I won’t get them read if I spend too much time on this book.
Favorites: next to restaurants, bookstores, especially those with both new and used books—or maybe even ones with just used books (like the one at the Ann Arbor Public Library). So many books, so hard to choose. My philosophy: pick out ten, or maybe twelve. Then cull the stack down to three or four. Much less guilt than starting with three or four new books and buying all of them. Of course, if the books are used, and if they cost a dollar each (hardback), fifty cents (paperback)…no need to agonize. Just buy and gloat about what you have saved.
For some it is New Year’s Day, for most the anniversary of the day of birth. For me today’s the special day. Seven years ago today an operation on my head. The pain’s still gone. Four years ago today, a stent put in the heart. The pain still’s gone. Good one cannot see ahead—both could come back. I won’t go there. Hope for another seven, then for another seven. Hope there won’t be another special day. Or if there is, a special day I can look back upon. But I know for sure there will be another not-so-special day.
Even if today I should get a telegram from Stockholm (physiology literature, or peace, it matters not), or write a sonnet that would have made even Heaney envy me, or if a friend gifts me with a Hasselblad with 15 different lenses, or if the numbers that I picked (all ten of them) match up on the lotto card (and I’m the only one), I doubt my glee will match the glee of this one who’s spent three futile weeks with training wheels and now miraculously, has mastered balance on two wheels. Oh for a day like this for me.
I recently bought a book about trees, 400 pages. First part was how to tell them all apart, based on leaves and branches and the bark. Me, one who can tell a pine tree from an oak but not much more. I told myself: I must learn to name the different trees, maybe even start to keep a list of all I’ve seen. But the more I thought about it, the more I think I’ll drop the names, just visualize the shapes and hues and textures of the bark, the leaves. See like I saw before I knew the names.
Part of me, less that it used to be, but still a nagging little splinter part, tells me I should not be here today, at Tomato Pie Café. Should instead be sitting in a pew, standing singing hymns, and then listening to man or woman up front sermonize for half an hour. But then there is the Muse sitting here next to me (can’t see her, but every now and then I feel her nudge) and she’s the same although the name is different than the one preacher talks about, I’m pretty sure. And when she talks I must obey.
He sits outside, plate glass window between the two of us. Glad that is the case. I would not chat with him, out there reading, underlining carefully, words from the Word. Once that was me, so why does it bother me so much? I could better tolerate a woman, hijab in place, rapt in some Koran text; a turbaned Hindu caught up in his Vedas; even a witch poring through some wiccan text. What he reads contains truth, better said for me, than those other books. And so I ask myself again: Why does it bother me so very much?
I made bread today. Mom, baker par excellence, and dad, the preacher-farmer man, would both have frowned I’d guess (although they would have smiled to see their son mixing dough). The flour that I used came from grinding almonds into meal, not from wheat. No thought of carbohydrates for them. And stalks of wheat are etched into the headstone of their grave. But I think that this would count, on Sunday at the table up front at the church, with the wine. I’d guess the Man who broke the loaf that night would say of what I baked, “Take eat”.