“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

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Portsmouth Sunset

Sometimes gold is everlasting and sometimes it touches down to earth and then disappears into darkness.

Sunsets lately have featured bursts of blinding  gold that quickly dissipate to orange and into black.   I often watch them while touching the unending smooth circle of Jim’s gold wedding band.

Jim and I lived in many homes together, from our first 500-square foot Boston apartment to the home where we raised four children and tried mightily to moderate the extremely  destructive exuberance of one of our beagles.

Every place we lived was known in marital shorthand as “the nest.”

“Nice nest,” I told him on our first night in the old home he always knew he wanted, looking through the thick glass windows towards an October sunset as it washed over gold maple leaves which wavered in the wind and formed a lace-like overlay on our view of the church across the town green.

Jim grinned.

When our first daughter was born, we took her to a conference in California.  While we were there we visited Jim’s cousin Chris (who memorably remarked upon how “well-marbled” our baby was) and his parents, Uncle Donald and Aunt Ruth.

Uncle Donald touched the aforementioned plump pink skin of this beautiful bare-footed newborn  as Jim propped her up on his knee in the California sun.

“These are the golden years,” Uncle Donald said to us with a smile suffused with memories of his children as babies. Continue reading ““Nothing Gold Can Stay””

Learning Curve

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December 2012 (c) SMG

Last January one of my daughters shepherded me through the relatively minor technical work needed to begin this blog, giving me a nicely calendared progression of posts upon which to reflect.

Recently I found on my husband’s computer the 500 digital photographs–among tens of thousands he took–that he rated highest.  I studied them to try to discern exactly why these were so special to him.  Some were obvious: pictures of all our children, and other family members, and me (I am a very reluctant subject and he cleverly captured the latter from afar, without my noticing); pictures of nature–from an up-close tiny blue newt on our daughter’s shoe to panoramic mountain ranges–from three continents.

Some–like some of the favorite photographs I am posting here–may require a little bit more interpretation.  One I took at a farmer’s market after depositing a child at school on a gorgeous late August day; another was taken at a wedding, on a boat in Boston Harbor; another, an observer would be unlikely to know, is of flags waving atop a white picket fence in the aftermath of a murderous shooting spree just up the street from our home last spring.  Our little town’s police chief was shot to death, and four other officers grievously wounded.  The town’s lone elementary school’s parking lot had become a staging ground for an armed standoff.

Sometimes the story behind a photograph is nothing like you would imagine.

I decided to take yet another cue from Jim and try to wrap up this year on the blog by finding one photograph and post from each month of this blog’s brief but extremely therapeutic (for me) existence: not necessarily technically the best photograph I took that month, or the best-written post, but the ones which have some special meaning to me.  I may not even know yet why, but I’ll take a stab at it.

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January Sky (c) SMG 2012

January is a close call, because the single poem I would want everyone I know to read, Kindness, is found in another of the month’s first dozen posts (The Other Deepest Thing).  But the post to which I return most frequently is The Things He Carried.   The title is a take on Tim O’Brien’s novel (with the intriguing narrator of self-consciously dubious reliability), and writing this post about the few small things my husband–who was not tied to material goods in the way most people are–carried to the end truly helped me to think about the ways in which an object without any monetary value can be rendered priceless, imbued with stories, with love and friendship and the fondest of memories.

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February 2012 (c) SMG

I had the sense that I wrote nearly constantly in February, although in fact it appears that my roiling winter mind churned out only a few more posts than it had in January.  Again I have a close runner-up (Renewing Rituals), but it was closely followed by Coletanea de Death Cab–the post in which I reflected on being alone–but not entirely–during the long drive back from a memorial service in New Jersey. Continue reading “Learning Curve”

A Broken Link

Summer Sky (c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon

I went back in time, through many dozens of posts, after being alerted that one of a post’s links no longer worked.  In repairing the link by finding another iteration of the same late-in-life Kurt Vonnegut interview, I could not help but re-read the entire interview.

What can I say?  I like to read.  Especially when drudgery beckons.

Strangely enough–given a much more recent post–I realized Vonnegut had mentioned Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, and how it “is one of his best and most realistic comedies, but there are some interesting tragic elements.”

I of course had been mentally reclassifying the same play, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, as a tragedy.

I paused at the line in Vonnegut’s interview I once had meant to revisit but long ago forgot: “Only a person of deep faith can afford the luxury of skepticism.”

It describes Jim so well.

Continue reading “A Broken Link”

Fever’s Edge

A few nights ago I was running a respectable fever and was utterly miserable.  The plates of my skull seemed to shift; fireworks went off behind my eyes; the supply of tissues was exhausted long before my sneezing fits ebbed.

It was a solitary pity party.  That is to say, it ranked well below one of my parades of drudgery.

It may be akin to the sound of a tree falling in the woods if there’s no one to hear it; it’s not much of a pity party if one’s whining is all directed inward.

(I considered titling this post in a more blatantly self-pitying way, with the entirely accurate recounting of the night that “I was a Single Helix at a Doubles Party,” but that shall have to wait until another time.) Continue reading “Fever’s Edge”

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