All the Blues

Monday Morning Musings:

A gull seems to play in the river waves. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Today the gray has strayed, and sunlight deepens–
a color called cold water blue–
unfrosted are the ripples
where gulls and geese sway
and gather on the shifting sand
to sleep and talk and play.

Today there is no fog,
nothing obscured in the grayish gloom,
or hidden in ash-tipped cloud-rooms—
today is clear, the sun is bright

though not with summer heat, or spring’s promise
not even pastel frosted pink—but think
of what today may bring

joy, despair, most anything–
one day, one night, one vote, one
note of kindness can make a change, so

today I’ll take blue
water and sky. And the hour in between
dusk and night, dawn and day,
the color of jays, stones, and glass
robin’s eggs and midnight sky–ask
when the moon sings a silver lullaby
and forms a halo ‘round her face,

what is that place? And can we go?
Perhaps, in dreams. I don’t know,

But today I’ll take the blue of peace
and ripples that go on forever,
one making another, another making one,
lines merging in changing colors, sometimes grey,
but today it’s blue and sun.

I went down a rabbit hole of blue yesterday reading Brainpickings and then following the links .
And then today, the river was blue instead of the gray or tinted-pink it’s been.
I haven’t been anywhere or done anything special in weeks, so I can only muse about this. I am happy that there were no big violent mobs yesterday, though I’m still anxious. I hope all goes well on Wednesday for the inauguration.

I have cooked and baked though.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched One Night in Miami (Amazon Prime). It’s an excellent movie based on a play by Kemp Powers, who adapted it for the screen, and directed by Regina King, in her movie directorial debut. It concerns a meeting in 1964 between Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown right after Clay won the heavyweight title. The main, crucial moments of the movie take place in Malcolm X’s motel room where the men discuss, argue, explain, and try to make sense of their private-public lives. It feels like a real “room where it happened” historical moment. The movie is fictional, although the meeting did take place. The movie seems particularly timely right now.

Beyond

A foggy January morning. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Say there were shadows—there
whispering beneath the fog—and–
say there were blue-sprayed shapes
watching with silent sea-tongues
who wanted you to see

~beyond~

and after,
and if, the bitter blows come,
there is still the luscious scent of summer rain
and a dream of light,
of moon-song’s lingering silver after a storm.

Today’s message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. She always knows. The photo is from my walk earlier this morning.

Dabs of Color and Light

A frosty January morning.

The January sun is slow to rise
she shakes her flaxen head,
then dabs a bit of light—

there some color, bright
against grey, wheat, white,

the silvered-lawn sparkles–behold!

What’s to come? Black crow calls—more cold–
before summer blooms in colors bold.

A quadrille for dVerse, where De asks us to use some form of the word dab.

Rising, Setting, Rising

Monday Morning Musings:

Sun rising, moonset
another day to fret

we can’t forget
ever, not yet,

the agitation in the nation–
whatever the frustrations–

instigators and insurrectionists,
racists, and white supremacists,

in armed rebellion to overthrow–
it really happened—and they must go.

They should be tried for their crimes—
spreading lies, hate, violence, and plagues—sad times

for our country, for the world, I cry
for us all, for those who’ve been lost—the wind sighs

with their ghosts. This is not who we are, some say,
yes, it is, but we can find another way.

Some will always be lost to hate,
leave them to their fate. Deflate

what is possible, build from the ashes, anew.
See there—the sun rises–golden beams reflect on blue,

in rosy haze, the geese take wing, then land—
and like them, I hope we can have and stand,

with leaders who try to serve
the many, not themselves only—preserve

out of many, one—come together, the sun rising, just begun.

Sunrise over the Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’m sure everyone knows what happened this past Wednesday—insurrectionists, incited by President 45, attempted to overthrow the U.S. government. He, the GOP lawmakers who supported him, and those who engaged in sedition should be arrested, removed from office and jobs, and tried. In addition to hate and sedition, they also most likely spread Covid. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Rising Sun chair. It’s the chair George Washington sat in while presiding over the sessions of the Constitutional convention. James Madison later wrote that Benjamin Franklin said of the chair, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I… know that it is a rising…sun.” You can see the chair here.

I also thought of how thousands, including me, have marched in peaceful protests.

Merril’s Movie Club: Last night we watched Elizabeth is Missing, which features an outstanding performance by Glenda Jackson. It was shown in the U.S. on Masterpiece. Some may not wish to see it because Jackson portrays a woman with Alzheimer’s. It was somewhat upsetting to me in that it made me think of my mom. At the same time, the movie and her portrayal are so accurate and sympathetic, that I felt myself thinking that’s how it must have been for my mom—except that she was nearly blind and far less mobile than Jackson’s character. The story, however, is about Jackson’s character solving two mysteries. The present-day disappearance of her friend, and the decades-old disappearance of her sister.
We’re about to start Season 2 of Occupied (Netflix). Season 1 of this Norwegian series was excellent and exciting. I also finished Bridgerton (Netflix). I probably don’t have to say anything about that. Binge and swoon. (But if you don’t know anything about it, it’s a period piece and a Shonda Rhimes production. My daughter described it as Jane Austen with sex.)

Book of Days

Monday Morning Musings:

The first sunrise of the year. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

The last moon of 2020 reflected in the river. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

The days blend together—
mere words on a page, turned,
the end of one chapter, becomes the start of the next
without pause, the action, or lack thereof continues

one walk becomes another,
but still full of wonder, and sometimes surprise—
the truth in beauty, and I the Sylvan historian–

if I ask why on a dreary morning,
a voice within says look, listen—
the sky wakes with a slow, secret smile. . .

and it does.

This first Monday in January is grey and dreary. I haven’t gone anywhere or done much of anything in the past week. I keep forgetting what day it is. New Year’s Day felt like a Sunday. On New Year’s Eve, we did a Zoom meeting/dinner with dear friends. We ate Chinese food, as we’ve done for decades on New Year’s Eve, and we opened a bottle of champagne, too. I got a somewhat ominous fortune. I made a spicy black-eyed pea stew on a round loaf of bread for New Year’s Day, thinking the year needs all the help possible.

We’ve been catching up on shows. The Good Lord Bird, based on James McBride’s novel, is excellent—funny, sad, and timely. Ethan Hawke as abolitionist John Brown is wonderful, and equally good is Joshua Caleb Johnson as Henry “Onion” Shackelford, a young man who Brown thinks is a girl. Both my husband and I thought the show was good—acting, music, and the Fargo-like sly humor—but we weren’t really caught up in it until about half-way through, when suddenly we were. We also watched a French mystery, Frozen Dead (Netflix) (hoping there’s a second season), and started Occupied (Netflix), a Norwegian thriller set in the near future. The first few episodes are quite exciting.

I’ve read a few novels in the last couple of weeks: Kris Waldherr, The Lost History of Dreams; Cat Winters, The Uninvited; David Gillham, Annelies: A Novel, and I’m currently reading Susan Ella MacNeal’s The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent (Maggie Hope, Book 4–I think I’ve read one and three). I’ve been able to get all of these through our county library’s contactless pickup system. I also have a bunch of books on my Kindle for just in case. 😏

One Breath

Light through the clouds. The beginning of a new year. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

One breath—a cloud-blush
and almost away, a fiery, fever-dazzle
wakens, though you remember the ghost embrace,
you are given morning, one, then two–
each a secret unfolding–not always, but if,
a window opens to sea scent and wind-kiss,
linger in its whispered blue,
wait for the caramel light–and after
the soft laugh of stars.

The Oracle seems to be offering messages of hope at the start of the year. As usual, she knows everything. I looked out at a gray morning, but as I started walking the sun came through the clouds.

Beyond this Holiday

Gulls catching the cold wind currents, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield.©️Merril D. Smith 2020

Monday Morning Musings:

On Christmas Eve, sugar-rushed
to cookie-coma amidst twinkling lights,
we settled, sofa-snug, with snoring cat,
as the wind locomotive kept rushing past
tumbling the tracks, but traveling on,
and I finally slept–

waking to coffee scent and gifts,
traces of dreams, trailing, falling,
like the rain, silver-streaking the windows,
before evaporating,

and now beyond grey curtains, the pale Christmas sun,
waits to make her entrance,

rising with hopes–
not if, but when—
we see each other again,
as the days grow longer
and the light grows and flows
through clouds to dance on branches

and brush the river with shimmering glow—
then, I hold this beauty close—the unexpected gifts–
that warm my soul within,

and I watch as a spirit flies from tree
on white heron feathers
winging toward dawn . . .

My shadow is a tree spirit. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

and a new day begins.

Late December Sunrise at Red Bank Battlefield

I know this is a very sad time for many people, and I know I am fortunate for what I have. Although I missed being with family and friends, I did have a good holiday. On Christmas Eve afternoon, we saw our younger daughter and her husband and puppy in the afternoon (when it started to rain, son-in-law came up with a creative idea), then we had fondue for dinner and watched Love Actually. In case anyone is wondering, you can use leftover flat champagne in fondue. I used the leftover bread to make baked French toast that we had for brunch on our post-storm Christmas Day, as we streamed a Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas special. It was very relaxed—the upside of no visitors and not having to be anywhere is that we had no schedule and didn’t have to worry about the house being clean.🤣 We Zoomed with family later in the afternoon and evening.

Winter Solstice, Light Again

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

Crystalline sky turns grey, and again,
the sun holds sway, briefly a queen,
till retiring her light in longest night,

John Heinz Wildlife Refuge Center, ©️Merril D. Smith 2020
Sunrise on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, December. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

thoughts flit in shadows, reappear
to soar on broad heron wings
toward faint morning’s misty glow, and slow

the brightening, diffused through pink-tipped clouds. But–
do you hear the river’s tongue, lapping up the shore,
waking the day? Watch, stay

there, from a tree a cardinal chirps and robins sing,
remember spring. And here, amidst festive red and green,
we recall summer bright

and keep its flames burning in candlelight, reflecting out
across the miles, ever fainter, like the stars
that gleam, while

the moon hums a silver sheen
across the snow. And buried below,
are seeds and dreams, waiting–

and so, it goes. Again, birth to end,
spinning earth, time flows, and light transcends
us all, singing, winging across and beyond space

that shimmering star glow.

So a quick bit today for the winter solstice because I’m behind on everything, including reading others’s work. I apologize. I hope to catch up this week.

My birthday was last Tuesday. We took a long walk at the John Heinz National Wildlife Center at Tinicum. I will post more photos another time. It’s a wetlands sanctuary. The day was cold and there was ice on the water, but the sun was shining, and it was beautiful. We tried a new to us Indian restaurant for take out dinner, and it was great! (And we had it for two more dinners!). Younger daughter baked and delivered a chocolate-salted caramel cake. We celebrated the rest of Hanukkah this week, and I started on Christmas baking. Santa Claus drove by on a fire engine (no, I can’t explain it)—but in this time of Covid, everything is exciting.

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We streamed The Wolves for my birthday. An excellent production by the Philadelphia Theater Company. We watched Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a terrific film adaptation of August Wilson’s play. Nuanced and powerful performances from all, and an especially fine performance by Chadwick Boseman in his final role. This is an intense and beautifully filmed movie. We also watched Enola Holmes, which was perfect, lighter viewing. It’s a lot of fun. Both movies are on Netflix.

Constant Turning of the Light

Monday Morning Musings:

“Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the water of the heart
Push in their tides;”
Dylan Thomas, “Light breaks where no sun shines”

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield early morning. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

Seek the stillness in the storm,
as grey consumes,
delight in light, within cold blue,
find warmer hues

Geese flying toward the light. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

aglow in candle flames;
await the glimpse of golden glimmer;
delight in company–and dinner–
watch the shimmer

of sun on water; and if time
flows, listen for its shadow-wings
that soar and circle back, to bring
song from stars, soul-stirring

heart-burnished flickers. Rejoice in blood-pounding,
and surf-tossed waves; a symphony blend
of love, life, light begin and end,
the past returns, and over again

in the passage of indigo night
to rose-tipped sky
find all is right, in the lullaby
of the moon, the gentle sigh

of wind recalling
earth-yearning, and the constant turning
to find the songs and all the light, burning.

Mid-afternoon sun already low in the sky. William Heritage Winery.

Last Thursday marked the start of Hanukkah. In this pandemic year, we could not be with family, but still we celebrated. I bought my sisters, daughters, and myself a bracelet that says “kvetch.” It seems appropriate.

As we move closer to the winter solstice, the sun sets earlier and earlier, but our weather has been crazy. We’ve had storms and sunshine, and the temperature was in the 60s F yesterday. We met my sister-niece to exchange gifts and walk on Forbidden Drive along the Wissahickon. We met younger daughter and her husband at William Heritage Winery for an early birthday celebration. Right now, there’s a steady rain. We’re supposed to get snow on Wednesday.

Do you recall?

Shadows and reflections on an overcast morning in December. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

Come, ask for color—
a fired sky, a dazzle-day,
brilliant blue and champagne-clouded

like kisses of joy
falling–

go fish for them
in the vast sea of the universe,
storm-tumbled

secret voices, lingering
in ghost-whispered rhythms
exploring

all, how, when,

and if roses recall summer–
and if you do.

Today’s message from the Oracle with a photo from this morning. It’s unseasonably warm, but it was damp and foggy earlier this morning.