A Little Bit of Narnia

March 28, 2018

Yesterday’s sunrise was pink and blue.

March 27, 2018

The day before it was orange and yellow.

March 1, 2018

I take so many pictures of the sunrise. I’ll be at the pool and one the ladies swimming will say, “Ooh! Sally! Get your camera!” I’ll grab my phone and step out the door into the cold for yet another sunrise photo.

February 23, 2018

It never grows old.

February 19, 2018

Here’s one of my favorites, looking in a slightly different direction:

December 4, 2017


I’m reading excerpts of Lamentations for Holy Week. Feeling the sadness of the Jewish people as they lament the destruction of Jerusalem sets the tone for the sadness Christians should feel as we approach Good Friday. I love the way C. S. Lewis,  in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, described Aslan walking to the Stone Table

…one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion. But how slowly he walked! And his great, royal head drooped so that his nose nearly touched the grass. Presently he stumbled and gave a low moan.

“Aslan! Dear Aslan!” said Lucy, “what is wrong? Can’t you tell us?”

“Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan.

“No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so that I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.”

And the girls did what they would never have dared to do without his permission but what they had longed to do ever since they first saw him — buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fur, and stroked it and, so doing, walked with him.

That part of the story is almost unbearable to me. Because even if I picture burying my cold hands in his mane, I know that soon the lion will be gone and my hands will be colder than before. It’s an awful feeling.

But Lamentations 3 holds one of my favorite passages — and arriving at it is like arriving at Easter morning.

21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Every sunrise holds that promise for me. His mercies are new every morning. In Narnia —

There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane… stood Aslan himself.

The Narnian lampposts that line the driveways and parking lots at the pool extinguish themselves one by one every morning and I am left with a glorious sun. Even on the grayest days, I know it’s there — and it brings me hope.

 

Change

Some of my swimmers dabbing at practice. I love these kids.

When I walked into the pool area yesterday, one of my swimmers was waiting for me. She looked up at me with doleful eyes. The corners of her mouth were turned down. Way down.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, crouching down to talk with her.

She pressed her lips together and I could see her lower lip quivering.

“Is this because you moved up?” I asked. Technically, she wasn’t my swimmer anymore. She had moved up to the next group.

Almost imperceptibly, she nodded yes.

“Aw, Genna*,” I said, “we talked about this the other day. You are so ready to be part of the Orange group. Plus Coach Katy is super-fun, so much more fun than I am.”

She looked up at me doubtfully.

“Don’t worry about the warm-up. Coach Katy will tell you what to do,” I told Genna. “It’s different from ours, but you can do it.”

I was running out of encouraging/reassuring things to say to this sad little girl who obviously didn’t like change.

“Coach Sally,” she finally said in a tiny voice. I leaned in to hear what she had to say. “Coach Katy doesn’t have lollipops like you do.”

I laughed. At the beginning of the season, Genna had hung back, hesitant to try anything.

“What can I do to motivate her?” I asked her sister one day.

“Candy,” she replied.

I bought a bag of dum-dums. They were magical.

Yesterday I whispered to Genna, “I’ll give some lollipops to Coach Katy. Would that be good?”

Immediately her face brightened and off she went with her new coach. I sighed and headed to my lanes where my swimmers were already warming-up.

I studied the swimmers who were in the water. “Where’s Bern*?” I asked.

Bern had just moved into my group. Katy spotted him and brought him over to me. He stood shivering beside me, chewing on his goggle strap.

“They’re finishing their warm-up,” I told him. “You can get in and do 100 freestyle. We’ll be moving on to something else soon.”

He didn’t respond. His expression was inscrutable as he stared at the water and chewed his goggles.

“Do you know any of the other kids in this group?” I asked.

He took his goggle strap out of his mouth. “I don’t want to warm up,” he said.

“Warm-ups are important,” I said, and was about to launch into a mini-treatise on warming up when his mother came into the pool area and called him over.

Bern went over, stood in front of her, and immediately burst into tears.

I backed away. I had a dozen or so kids in the water who needed attention. Mom could talk to Bern.

I handed out kickboards and explained what we would be doing.  The kids started their kick set. Every so often I looked back at Bern. He and his mother were having quite a têteà-tête. Finally I saw Bern drying his tears.

Soon his newly-dried face wouldn’t matter because he jumped in the water and started swimming. He did fine.

At the end of practice his mother told me, “Bern doesn’t like change.”

“Neither do I,” I told her.

She said, “He told me, ‘I don’t care about swimming fast. I just want to swim with my brothers.'” His two younger brothers were still in the group he had graduated from.

With that, I appreciated Bern so much more.

We all hold onto things that are sweet and dear.

For Genna, it’s candy.

For Bern, it’s his brothers.

For me, it’s a thousand little things I want to freeze in time instead of watching my father age.

But time marches on, and change comes with it.

It will be okay.

 

*not their real name

 

 

October Gratitude

On October 29, I am grateful for these — collected over the course of the month.

  1. Harvest time
  2. A few stalks left behind
  3. Airports
  4. A full-circle rainbow seen from above
  5. Tennessee sunrise
  6. A quiet place to stay
  7. That bald-headed guy resting his arm on the chair (below)
  8. The woman in the middle in the greenish shirt (above) (Her eyes always sparkle.)
  9. Dining with friends
  10. A new book
  11. An afternoon walking around a mall with a friend (sorry, no picture)
  12. The Dalek I saw there
  13. A bald eagle sighting
  14. A new job
  15. Chipmunks in the house (only the tail visible here)
  16. Mice trapped in an empty can and released into the wild
  17. Beautiful sunsets
  18. A girl to take the picture for me while I drive (rearview mirror)
  19. Late autumn colors
  20. The way the afternoon sun hits the hills
  21. Concentric spiky circles
  22. Apples
  23. Pears
  24. Hallmark movies
  25. Family humor
  26. A funny sign
  27. A visit from my grandson (the walker isn’t his)
  28. My father and my grandson playing together
  29. A military funeral (no photo, but a memory I’ll hold onto)

How has your October been?

 

Little Things in Dubrovnik

“I suspect many of us walk past true gems every day without considering where they came from and what journeys they have endured.”

Richard LaMotte, Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems

After our morning swim in the Adriatic Sea, Leah set about collecting sea glass. She gathered quite a few pieces in her hand and then left them in a little pile on the beach. The fun for her was in the finding.

Sea glass from the Adriatic

I imagined some child coming to the beach after we left and being delighted by the little collection of green, white, and amber bits. The pieces had lost the smooth shimmer of new glass,  but they had a better beauty given to them by the Adriatic Sea.

For me the lesson was in leaving it behind. I am a saver from a long line of savers. We save everything. In fact, I took a few pebbles from the beach home that day. They were so pretty and I wanted to remember that morning.

They’re still in my bag, though.

And the snapshot of the sea glass is enough to help me remember.

I need to learn to let go — of stuff.

On the sea glass morning, when we got back to our apartment, a small turtle poked his head out in the garden.

A little turtle in the garden at our Airbnb

One of the biggest lessons from my European travels is that Americans need to slow down. We’re always in a hurry, always watching the clock. So much of the world takes life at a more leisurely pace — and it’s wonderful.

It’s good for the body.

It’s good for the soul.

Take a walk with a turtle and behold the world in pause.

Bruce Feiler


My friend, Renee, tagged me in a photography challenge that involves posting nature photos (taken by me) for seven days. She did it on Facebook, but I’m going to do mine here, starting with far away places and moving closer to home every day.

Today, Day #1, is from Dubrovnik, where I was 4500 miles from home!

I’m going to tag some of my favorite bloggers to take up the challenge too. If you’re tagged and don’t want to do it, that 110% fine with me. I totally understand.

Anna Brown — I’m tagging you first for three reasons.

One — because when I first discovered you, you were in MONGOLIA. Talk about the farthest reaches of the world. Plus, I think you’re still pretty far away — somewhere in the wilds of Canada.

Two — you’re somewhere in the wilds of Canada (did I already say that?) and I think Canada is absolutely beautiful.

Three — I love when you write, and you haven’t written much lately, my friend. (nudge, nudge)

 

Dr. Purple

Last week Mary and I went to a “talk” at the library.

I had seen the sign posted at the grocery store and taken a picture of it so I would remember to mention it to Mary.

But on Tuesday, March 14, everything was shut down in honor of Snowstorm Stella. I didn’t leave the house except to shovel for two days. By Thursday, the travel restrictions had been lifted and I made a trip to the grocery to pick up essentials. Someone had crossed out the date and handwritten Thursday, March 16, above it.

It turns out that someone was the local librarian. He went to every poster and changed the date.

And I was fortunate enough to see it in time.

Mary and I drove in to town and parked in front of the library that night. The snow was piled high and very few people were out and about — still. Stella was a doozy.

It turns out that Mary and I were two of six people, one of them the speaker, who ventured out that night.

We met at a rectangular table. One of the men quipped, “We need to change our name.”

The rest of the attendees were men. All over the age of 50.

Mary felt a little awkward, I could tell. They all knew each other. They talked about this and that, things familiar to them. Mary and I spoke in low voices to each other.

“You okay?” I asked her.

“Yep,” she said.

We’re both the kind of people who like to sit in the back unnoticed, but that was not going to happen at the Nights at the Round Rectangular Table.

The speaker spoke about different types of local histories, using books pulled from the library shelves for examples. A memoir. A book of old photographs. His own scholarly work about the history of a local township.

At the very end, he asked the librarian about checking out his book.

“You’re checking out your own book?” I asked.

He reddened slightly. “I’m in the middle of a move and all my books are boxed up.”

Before that, when he had finished his prepared words and taken a few questions, he asked, “Now I’d like to know why you came to this.” He turned to the man at his left who gave some answer that indicated that he was a regular at these affairs.

Mary was next. She looked like she was feeling more than a little awkward. She had already been put on the spot a few times during the discussion because she was so obviously the youngest person in the room. I tried to help her out.

“She loves history,” I said. “I saw the sign at the store and asked her if she was interested.”

They wanted to know what kind of history, what era, what she wanted to study. I think the whole reason the question had been asked in the first place was to find out what would bring a 17-year-old girl out on a snowy winter night to a talk about history.

“She brought me,” Mary said, pointing at me.

“And I came because of her,” I said, pointing back at Mary.

We both laughed. The men around the table chuckled. “I guess they each blame the other,” one of them said.

“Tell them about Dr. Purple,” Mary said.

Few topics are as interesting to me as Dr. Purple, a physician in Greene, NY, in the 1800s. When I first learned that Greene had a physician named Dr. Purple, I thought it would make a great children’s book. I started researching him.

One of the men at the table said, “Dr. Purple from Greene? That sounds like a children’s book.”

“That’s what I thought,” I told him, and I launched into telling them some of the interesting things I had learned about the man.

His life was messy, imperfect, but ultimately good. He was much loved by the townspeople.

Telling the men that night about Dr. Purple — and seeing their interest in his story — fanned the little flame of interest I keep burning for him.

The speaker gave me some suggestions on how to write such a book.

Maybe I’ll pull out my notes again and start organizing them.