I started this post last evening. I was couchbound, worn to the nub after a long day, a full week, too many late nights the prior weekend, and just a lot packed into too few days. I was recharging—reading and writing—while waiting for Warren, who has had an even fuller week, to come home. Earlier I had taken a walk, an act that is often recharges me, but last night it only wrung out the last dregs of energy within me. Sitting with a pen and an open notebook was perfect.
I have been turning this post over in my mind since last weekend. It has been coming to me in scraps: scraps of ideas, scraps of observations, scraps of memories. As I have tried to give more form to it, I realize I still have just a handful of scraps.
These are just scraps, but scraps can be useful things. Out of scraps you can make a simple meal or patch a rip in a pair of jeans. You can write a reminder note on a scrap of paper. Warren uses scraps in his workshop all the time, to shim a joint, to secure a wobble.
My scraps look like this:
- Sitting through Rosh Hashanah services last weekend and remembering (I had forgotten) that the melody to the blessing upon opening the ark (where the Torah scrolls are kept) was one I used to croon to Ben as an infant (substituting my own words) to get him to sleep.
- Finishing the Penelope Niven biography of Carl Sandburg and crying at his death. Good god, the man died in 1967 and I knew that, but it still caught me in the pit of my stomach.
- Crying again Thursday morning at the end of The Fall of Hyperion, the sequel to our most recent book club choice. (This book was not one of our choices; I just had to read it.)
- Hearing the Mansfield pops concert last Saturday, playing and singing various Broadway tunes, and the strong memory of the year Ben's high school performed Les Miserablés when the performers sang "One Day More."
- A dust devil catching us as we drove the Mansfield that same day, this one spattering chopped straw against our car before it skipped on across the road. The whirling straw reminded me of (what else?) Oz.
- Baum's Patchwork Girl was called Scraps. His granddaughter, Ozma (yes, they named her that) would duck her famous identity when growing up by asking her friends to call her Scraps.
- Seeing the fields take on their bare winter coats as farmers bring down their crops.
- Missing my sons and Alise and Ramona and looking up airfares and wondering where we (or at least I) could shoehorn in a trip yet this year.
- Missing my sons and Alise and Ramona and looking up airfares and wondering whether I would have enough energy for such a trip if I took it by myself.
- A supper with our closest friends two weekends ago where we say out on our deck until late, the table and deck lit with candles that we carried out in bunches, eating Margo's good cheesecake and talking, none of wanting to break the spell of the flickering flames by moving inside or turning on harsh lights.
- The blanket flowers finally blooming, daring the nights to turn cold, lifting their yellow and red faces to the sun each day.
- Banned Book Week last week and realizing the first banned book I ever read was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- Reflecting that the blue umbrella I carried today was a long ago Mother's Day gift from Ben and Sam, and how I think of them whenever I pull it out.
As I walked downtown this morning, I looked up the street and saw a large gray door, snug between two telephone poles. It was on the tree lawn, and from a half block away it looked to be ten or twelve feet tall. At one level, I knew it wasn't really a door, but my eyes and imagination saw it as such. As I drew closer, the door resolved into a gray tree trunk, framed visually between the two poles several yards apart. No mysterious door after all.
But what a delicious thought for a minute or two. A gigantic door, appearing without notice on a path I have taken a thousand times, beckoning me to open it. Our current read in our Not Quite The End of Your Life Book Club is Was, a novel interwoven with the Oz of both the original Baum book and the 1939 MGM movie. I have written before about the magic of opening a door, starting with my very first post. I have written often about Oz, whether the movie or the book.
Oz and opening doors.
They are scraps I carry with me always.