Here in Seattle we’ve been getting snow, snow, snow, and now that the snow has melted, we’re still getting bright sunny days and cooooollllllddd temperatures (for Seattle!). In the 30’s (F), which, for us, is a bit teeth-chattering. As much as I enjoy our lush green Pacific Northwest surroundings, and as much as I understand that our winter marine-rain climate makes that greenery possible, I have discovered how uplifting it is to get up in the morning and be greeted with a bright clear sunny day. It sneaks up on you, that feeling of optimism when you’ve had a number of sunny winter days in a row. Those of you in Phoenix or southern California – Australia? – and other tropical places know what I mean!
In the early morning of a super-sunny day, it seems even more relevant to think about spending time on the things you want to do with your life. It’s as though a gray winter day makes one feel like slipping into pajamas, making a cup of hot tea, and finding something cozy to do. (Watch old movies? Read a book? Chat with a friend?) But those sunshine-startled days are different. As the sun pours across our green-green landscape of firs and evergreens, a little voice in my head says, “What do you really want to do with your life? What really matters to you?”
I’ve been thinking about how I want to write, what I want to write, and about how I would like to tailor my writing process so that it is even more meaningful. This mullling-over of how to write reminds me these lines from the Mary Oliver well-known poem “The Summer Day”:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"
(If you’re not already familiar with it, her entire poem is worth a look , and you can find it here, at the Library of Congress. )
It’s the things that stay with us that become part of our identity. On a beautiful sunny day, it feels like the world is full of possibilities.
And here is a fun piece I wrote last week!
The bottle of wine had sat on the shelf too long. “It’s gone vinegary,” one clerk would say to the other. And if a customer came in, cast eyes up toward the bottle with its vintage gold and green label, the red cork-neck wrapper, the beguiling curve of glass containing its reclusive liquid, if a customer looked up at it, the clerks would redirect them quickly to a more suitable choice, on a shelf in the regular part of the store.
Why the owner kept this bottle on the shelf in a special position behind the counter was not clear. The wine would never be drunk for pleasure, it being too old and it having gone sour. But at times the old things are not the things you get rid of. Something old may still have value even if not for its original purpose.
The wine would cling to this hope. Wine itself is a hopeful thing. It begins as a grape popping off the vine of a treasured vintage. The sun had developed its sugars, the cool nights have set them into the flush of the grape. Moisture in the grape can make electricity in a microwave oven, that’s how magical a mere grape can be. The grape has been picked, plucked off the twisty sinew of its vine, placed into a vat and crushed, its juice spraying into life as an intoxicant. Then comes the vintning process, the intelligence and knowledge of generations of winemakers poured into the grape’s substance, never carelessly, never without thought or attention. This is the crucial element. After creation the wine becomes a poured liquid, into a bottle that will contain and convey it into the final place in which it will be imbibed. Perhaps a bar, perhaps a fine restaurant. Perhaps the table of a couple who will, afterward, make love. Or the family sharing a Thanksgiving dinner. There is nothing but hope in the process. The hope that the grape’s sweetness will be properly grown, the hope that the winemaker’s talent and skill will be borned out in a fine flavor, the hope of a customer purchase of a wine to toast their loved ones, or to romance a sweetheart. The wine has become a thing of hope in all this. Sitting on the shelf, object of curiosity and admiration in customers’ eyes, symbol of a thing lost, or found, a story yet to be told from the mind of the owner of the shop.
Take care and good writing,