New moon for you

Lily and I walked the trail to a frost-covered field the color of bone, of yellowing teeth. And she talked of her world view as it’s grown, now 16, of crystals and moon charts and social justice. And back home the perennials were starting to reemerge, the tiger lilies and others I could not name. They had the same nascent qualities of what they’d be when they bloomed, and it made me think of those old pictures of the kids when they were small. You could see who they’d be one day, and I wondered what special powers they’d discover when they bloomed.

I set about the yard picking out dead leaves and branches by hand, reminded of my uncle who worked for a body shop, who buffed out blemishes restoring things to new. He had trouble sitting still and no tolerance for germs or dirt. Mom and I remarked, these COVID times aren’t much different for him as he always used a paper towel to touch door knobs and that type of thing. I wondered if that strain of focus came down to me too, as I pulled out each dead leaf wishing the blower would make faster work of it but somehow favoring the manual nature of it. There was a kind of therapy in stripping out the dead, a queer fascination like picking at dried scabs. And this year weeding, restoring patches of earth, took on new appeal. We too could reemerge.

Weeding and editing have parallel qualities for the persnickety. I spent my week doing both, immersed in a thousand word piece of marketing collateral. It feels good to strip out words you don’t need so the ideas can flow better. Maybe it’s giving each individual idea more space on its own. Well designed gardens give us a sense of calm, a kind of balance, an element of control. I try to achieve the same in my writing to share a feeling of reflection, the wonder in the beauty of the banal. And if you can wonder in it, is it really banal?

I did all I could in the yard and ended my day with a fire and a non-alcoholic beer and country music on the portable speaker. It had all the trappings of the days when I drank except it didn’t make me feel removed. I peed by the chicken coop and picked up more dead leaves from the shrubs, more fallen limbs: I put them on the fire, then revolved around the flames and smoke. Night was coming on and with it the frogs. Gray and brown, the size of my thumb. I wanted to be out there all night with it but I went inside to check on the others and wind down. All these days stacked on top of themselves. I would come back here one day starved for more.



Categories: Memoir, writing

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27 replies

  1. A keeper, Bill – love this! “Weeding and editing have parallel qualities for the persnickety.” Persnickety. That would be me, too. (I once named a cat Persnickety – I felt very synched with her!) I prefer hand weeding any day – may be less efficient, but it’s also less noisy! And the tactile satisfaction is worth the subsequent stiffness from all that bending toward the ground.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve often observed that being a picky, obsessive editor is the only time anyone thanks you for those qualities. I like your take on it as a kind of weeding, a winnowing of the dry, dead material. It’s something I’d like to do with the ‘stuff’ in my life, but never kind of get to.

    Thanks Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A sublime new moon and great beauty in the banal

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i really get the ‘stripping out words so that words can flow’ phrase. well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “The wonder in the beauty of the banal.”✅ (That means ‘box-ticked’, or you done did it.) And if you can wonder in it, is it really banal?” Very Zen of you, sir. Very Zen indeed.

    Great last lines, as usual. I’m wondering if your closing sentence is you projecting yourself into a future where you are no longer located where you are now, and imagining coming back after a long absence, to feel these things again. As is your wont. (And mine.) ?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love editing. Cutting out excess words, finding better ones, trying to hear the rhythm in the sentence. But I’ve been resisting all that in my current writing. My first novel I edited as I went, chapter by chapter. I had more of a road map as well. This time, I have less of a destination so I have to give the characters room to find the way, and that feels like I need to let them say what they have to say and move on before I lose the thread. That said, I lose the thread a lot! Glad spring has arrived. We’re still a couple of weeks away. Cheers! (0.5%)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey that’s neat, the editing process and letting the characters breathe. If I’m right I think Stephen King did both didn’t he? Like, didn’t know where it was going but also finished each chapter before moving on. It’s like one of those kids games stacking sticks and seeing how high you can get it before it falls down. Or is it? I don’t know! Thanks for reading, missed you last Thursday (suckah)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Holy Fertiliser Batman!
    I reckon my writing feels more like the work of someone who mistook the rules of Tetris for a writing guide rather than the work of someone who enjoys stripping out words so that ideas can spread out and flourish.
    Thank you, Bill. I enjoyed this piece very much.
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why thank you David! Very happy for your company here and hope your trip to the coast was lovely, sounds like it was. I’m a bumbling fool with the pen but good to know your medium I guess. Thanks for the note, appreciate it!

      Like

  8. Finished last leg of holiday at a place called Ocean Grove, which I hadn’t visited in more than 40 years. Dramatic coast line, gentle estuary and plenty of bourgeois comforts. I’m planning the next trip already.
    DD
    PS a wonderful rythmic feel to your opening para by the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. A brilliant composition Bill. I can relate with this: Weeding and editing have parallel qualities for the persnickety. Trust me it’s the most painful aspect in my writing and right now, on a temporary assignment. So you can understand and even for my long form of blog fiction, going to weed the whole thing to make it peppy and fun is such a task. Happy Sunday,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Weeding the whole thing, yuck! I can relate to that overwhelming feeling of looking at all of that minute work and knowing how long it will take. But you know, focus on little sections and you will make progress quickly and it won’t be so bad. Happy Sunday to you too friend, and thanks for reading…

      Liked by 1 person

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