June 29, 2014

I Built My House Near Where Others Dwell


I built my house near where others dwell,
And yet there is no clamor of carriages and horses.
You ask of me "how can this be so?"
"When the heart is far the place of itself is distant."
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
And gaze afar towards the southern mountains.
The mountain air is fine at evening of the day
And flying birds return together homewards.
Within these things there is a hint of Truth,
But when I start to tell it, I cannot find the words.


-- By T'ao Ch'ien,
translated by William Acker

June 12, 2014

Father's Day, and a Mud Puddle

I'm well aware that not everyone has the benefit of having an active father in their lives, so this weekend, I'm going to try extra hard to be grateful first for my son's papa, who wrestles with El on the ground in a way that's all testosterone and gleeful abandon, and second for my own dad, who taught me, among other things, about the joys of being out-of-doors. I have an essay about him up at Literary Mama, right in time for Father's Day. It starts like this:
You were never much of a hunter. Pheasants, yes. Squirrels and chipmunks, I suppose, when you were younger. But you never came home from a weekend away with a buck in the bed of your truck, because you never had much interest in deer season and you owned a sedan. I imagine some people from other places can hardly conceive of a Midwestern man without a shotgun over his mantle, a closet full of blaze-orange jackets, a copy of Field and Stream next to the john. And yet when I think of you, I do see an outdoorsman. I see you paying attention to landscapes, to the shapes of clouds. I see you teaching me to love the world.
You can read the rest here.

And in other news, my son found a mud puddle this week. I had a moment of, Oh! White shirt! But then there he was, stomping, mud squishing into his shoes, filtering through his socks, covering his feet with wet flecks of earth, and I thought, Isn't this exactly what I hoped for? A dozen seconds later he wanted to be even closer, even more coated with rain and dirt and grit, so he sat, and we both laughed. It's going to be a messy, beautiful summer, friends. Here's to all the reasons for those piles of laundry. And Happy Father's Day!