I haven’t abandoned this blog, despite appearances. I must have written a dozen blog posts in my head, missives directed at this site, in the past several months, like letters to a lover light-years away. You know they’ll never get there in time but you want to write them anyway, if for nobody but yourself. Unfortunately my barriers weren’t time and space but an extraordinarily difficult, rewarding, frustrating, backbreaking, amazing semester. I’m including not just academia but life in general. I feel about 300 years old in multiple ways and perhaps 3 years old in all the ways that are important…
For instance while wrestling with the major issues of life, mundane and otherwise, I find myself fascinated by a wildflower in my crazily verdant back yard. It is so small that I can barely see it, a pinprick of bluish-purple amidst a roseate of green leaves, suggesting intricate structure that my mere human eyes cannot resolve. It makes me wonder what kind of creature might drink of the nectar inside this minute cup — or whether it is wind-pollinated, which I somehow doubt. But mostly I just like to look for the tiny constellations and fuzzy galaxies of this wildflower amidst the tall grass when I take my dog out in the back.
It has been raining forever and ever, or so it seems. The sound is immensely friendly and familiar, one that I learned to love as a child, but I am not used to cold rain. Still, there is a ceremonious quality to it, like a grand purification ritual, which is beyond metaphors for those of us who suffer from pollen allergies. I have been trying to befriend the oak tree whose pollen causes me such anguish every springtime, in a whimsical attempt to convince my body that it is not an enemy. Washing dishes at the window in the kitchen I compose litanies of praise to the tree and its offspring. Call it what you will but this late into the allergy season I’ve not had to as yet resort to anything more hard-core than over-the-counter antihistamines, a record of sorts for me. My body’s defence mechanism knew friend from foe much better when I lived in India — when I came here in my twenties, something came amiss and it started to lash out at harmless innocents. We’ll see how long the current situation lasts.
The rain is best heard when one is eating in the kitchen. We love eating in the kitchen although it is always cramped and often messy. Most days the radio is on, which lulls the dog to near dreaming, and we might talk of anything and everything, from the inhabitants of distant planets to the political situation in Egypt. Then the rain is almost part of the conversation, drumming away on the other side of the window, dripping from the trees.
Somehow I have also become fond of driving in the rain, at least when the rain is slow. This may simply be due to necessity, because it has been raining so much. But I’ve come to appreciate how the raindrops move on the windshield, sometimes apparently defying gravity, and the way the whole warm, sheltered coccoon of the car reverberates with the music of it. It is best when the dog is also with us, riding in his soft crate on the back seat, because there is a sense of completeness, of all of us together in this strange little spaceship, sheltered from the elements but not divorced from them. We often have the radio on, mostly public radio talk shows but often music, from classical to jazz. Western, of course, because my CD player is broken and three of my favorite Hindi music CDs are stuck in the innards. It is cozy in here like it is in the kitchen, and the mess — whether of car or kitchen — is far less important than the sense of contentment.
As the rain falls, dancing on the grave of this semester, I still haven’t registered that it is over. I have to reflect on the semester, to derive lessons from it, to work on the ideas I’ve got from the experience of it, but also I have to open up in my mind the notion that now I have time to write. All semester I have been hoarding writing ideas like a miser collecting and counting precious stones, unable to do more than look at them once in a while, and that has become a habit. Those characters talking in my head, the scenes and situations playing out as though on film that keeps subtly changing, all those things have to be given the freedom to run out of the prison and play. Or if you prefer another metaphor, the seeds have to be allowed to fall on readied ground so that I’ll have something to harvest before the next period of extreme busy-ness begins. I am like the farmer who keeps holding the seeds in her hand, counting them, clutching them, making sure they are there. Time to toss them to the winds.
You can never tell where a seed might plant itself or what will grow from it. I’ve been telling my daughter a series of long and increasingly complex adventure stories about the space pirate Vira who, it turns out, first made an appearance as a character in a favorite book of a character in one of my stories. I keep thinking I should write these stories down, and maybe I will one day. They’ve taken on a life of their own to the point where the people in them seem quite tangible to both of us.
The rain has stopped and I suppose I must as well. More anon.