Rawe-struck

The wonder-filled life of a single older-ish mom.

Summer, A Platform

It’s been three months since my last post. In the past I’ve had seasons when my writing crop goes fallow, so to speak, and I’ve always returned to the business of farming words with heavy regret over how much time I’ve wasted. This time I’m trying to recite a different story — one of acceptance, possibly even celebration. Possibly.

For the past three months I squeezed the juice out of summer with my daughter. We swam, biked, baked, argued, snuggled, and wrestled with boredom. We travelled to make-believe places and real ones. We visited friends who are like family in Maine and dared one another to leap off the “jumping rock” into the lake. We reminded one another to say no when our instincts said not this high. We studied cobwebs and snails and moss, and I grew tired of cleaning muddy footprints tracked in the hallway. We butted heads, wiped tears from our eyes, and mopped sweat from our foreheads. It was mundane and wondrous and everything in between. At the end of the summer, we laid in the grass and said Phew, that was fun. I love you so, so much.

As a writer, I’m supposed to be “building my platform” — slinging my work into the world in hopes that fellow readers will chose to follow me so that someday a book publisher will have proof that I have something other people would be willing to hear. But to be honest, I wrestle with that. When I post something, anything, my hope is more that my little bit of the journey will resonate with someone else — that maybe one other soul out there will feel Yeah! Me too. Keeping track of the statistics about how many “followers” I have and which posts generate the most hits leaves me feeling hollow.

So this time, for the first time, I declare that I will not trade this summer of joy for the stench of shame over what I didn’t accomplish. I’ll focus on the platform that I did build . . . the one for my daughter, the one that’s brimming with memories of a childhood summer well-savored.

hose1

— Amy Rawe

Monday’s Wonder

Or maybe it should be called “Monday’s WTF?”

It was Nina’s bedtime, and she said she had to take care of something in the kitchen first. When I checked on her a few minutes later I found her spreading a massive glob of grape jelly on a PBJ sandwich. She had already made three sandwiches, and had them stacked one on top of the other.

“Why are you making so many sandwiches?!” I said with exasperation. “Are they for bed? For lunch tomorrow?”

When she didn’t answer but instead added the fourth sandwich plus a toy crown to the stack I shrieked, “What are you doing?”

She turned to face me and said proudly, “It’s for the History of Sandwich-Making Museum. I guess you’ve never been there if you didn’t know that.”

pbj

 

Slowing Down

blackberryI was impatient this morning as I watered our blackberry bushes from the hose attached to the rain barrel. The water oozed out lazily, slow to relieve the cracked dirt parched from four days of ninety-degree sun.

I moved hastily from bush to bush, and my thoughts slipped easily into the mucky rut of shoulds. “I should paint the deck, clear the clutter from all the cabinets and drawers in the house, be a better example of flossing for Nina, iron the kleenex, blah blah blah.

Then I saw the first ripe blackberry — my benchmark for the first day of summer — and I felt lit up by simple, peaceful, joy.

I laid down the hose and let the rivulets seep into the soil around the bush, imagining the water caressing the tangle of roots underground. Every summer I am amazed by the resilience of these bushes and how they bear fruit despite a temperamental winter, despite my inattention. Once again, Nina and I will begin each day with cups in hand to collect the berries and we will joke about how we will surely turn purple if we eat one more plump berry.

As I picked that first berry, I realized that I’ve skidded into this summer harried with anxiety over how I’d manage the long ambling days of motherhood while trying to find more work and finally finish writing that book.

But in the moment that I tasted the berry, sweet with a tinge of tart, I wondered if the most important thing I can really do is be open to joy. Lighten up. Slow down. Savor.

I will always have a to-do list, and it will never all be done. If I accomplish only one thing today let it be the humble acknowledgement that a full rain barrel and an embankment of blackberry bushes is a luxury in this war-torn, impoverished world — and I am grateful.

Monday’s Wonder

dying flower dressI have been studying how flowers die, such as this clematis. Each flower surrenders through its own slow-motion dance with grace, and often the final bow is as breathtaking as the opening blossom.

 

A Prayer

mother boko haram girls

Today my heart is with the mothers of the girls abducted in Nigeria.

I cannot imagine how you
must fall to your knees,
claw trenches of anguish
in the dirt with fingers
that long to braid her
hair one more time.

You brave entering
the dark forest of thorns
too dangerous for soldiers,
clinging to the thinest hope
that you’ll find her wandering,
bloodied but free,
and you’ll hear her gasp,
“Mama?”

I cannot imagine how you strain
against the nightmares that ravage
your mind about what tortures your baby is
enduring — if she is still here,
on this merciless earth.

You gather with the other mothers,
journey to the capital to protest
and are told that the Senate
is considering a motion,
that you should calm down,
that everything would be done
to secure the release of the girls
in due course. 

“Due course” is a
cruel and foreign tongue
to a mother’s heart.
“Secure” and “calm” have
already been exposed
as shams.

So you keep pounding your fists
to the tempo of your heartbeat
because it is the only
constant you have.
And you pray.

Mothers around the world
sync our heartbeats
our prayers
with yours until the
drumbeat is deafening,
calling your girls home.

— Amy Rawe

Monday’s Wonder

purple tulip 2

It wasn’t until after I took this photo of the inside of a tulip that I saw the white angel pattern. I’ve decided to begin looking for more marks of grace in unexpected places.

— Amy Rawe

Rules To Be A Superhero

I was cleaning out my desk yesterday and found a piece of paper dated 3.19.13 — “Nina’s rules to be a superhero.”

IMG_05161. Never use revenge and stuff — unless it’s for peacocks on a ship, or pirates.

2. Never use your fighting powers for killing flies.

3. Never use your powers on turtles, unless they’re as big as the house.

4. You have to have good balance and be able to walk on the curb, and you have to run fast.

5. You have to be able to kick and save people— even without a cape.

Fragility

wingI found this in the yard yesterday, just one torn wing. It reminds me that nothing is guaranteed, and that all the time I spend fussing over the future may be better spent being resilient in the fragility of this one single moment.

 

Snake

My people gifted me the name u-tsa-na-ti,
but the white ones renamed me gray ratsnake
for my color and my prey.

I sidewind-slither among the trunks of the most hallowed aged ones—
pine, cedar, laurel, spruce, holly.
These stood vigil for seven days and nights
while the Great Spirit created all that is
above, below, here, within.
The grand sentries were rewarded
with loyal leaves that refuse to fall
with North Wind’s chilled caress.

Their roots stretch in sacred Appalachian soil,
an alchemy of clay, slate, granite,
on a limestone bed made from the
shells of ancient sea creatures.
Once unscarred by man’s slashes of demarcation,
the land still wails with the sorrows of spirits past.
The Trail of Tears washed
through this dung and dirt
as the Cherokee tribe was forced to walk
with babies in arms,
with elders crumbling to their knees,
for 1,000 miles.

One
thousand
miles.

My ratsnake ancestors, many skins long since shed
to the world beyond,
still whisper their truths.
We coiled our bodies into labyrinths, they hiss,
to lure the two-footed ones in other directions.
We hung from the limbs of our guardians and tried
to snag them as they walked by.

They hiss too of the small mockingbird
which darted across the trail
from pine to holly,
an oracle calling urgent warnings in
every language she knew.

They hiss of the mighty raincloud,
sodden with grief,
that swept across the sky to rain a river
the people would be unable to cross.

But like harsh wind to the cloud,
the people were pushed on by a cruel force.
Their blood flooded the dry creek bed,
splattering the sacred holly
with red droplets.

In the wreckage of such suffering,
the ratsnake, mockingbird, and raincloud
remain a trinity of gray,
mottled black with the color of death
and white with the color of peace.

More than two-thousand moons later,
they take refuge in earth’s mossy womb,
pregnant once again with
impermanence.

— Amy Rawe

Monday’s Wonder

wahoo

While creating a photo folder of the past several years on Sanibel Island, I came across this throw-back from 2009. Nina was about 18-months old . . . this is her reaction upon seeing the ocean for the first time.

Of Rice And War

We were tucked into a plush bed long after bedtime in a lodge in the Smokies, and Nina wanted a bedtime snack — which I didn’t have. She whined, asking how I could possibly be so unprepared, reminding me that mamas should plan ahead when away from home.

We volleyed back and forth. She asserted, “You should have packed snacks,” and I replied, “You should have eaten your dinner.”

After we repeated our lines several times, I finally said in exasperation, “Nina, it’s not like you’re standing in a long line at a refugee camp waiting for a bowl of rice.”

Silence.

Then, in the darkness right next to me she whispered, “What’s a refugee?”

A backup beep-beep signal flared in my mind as I realized what I’d stepped into. I tried to explain simply, and she became quiet again.

Then, “Mama? Why do people have wars?”

Beep, beep. I faltered through that explanation as well, and she was quiet for several minutes. I held my breath, willing her to fall asleep so I wouldn’t have to bluff my way through more simplification of the complexities of the human race.

“But Mama,” she piped up, “Why do the refugees order Chinese food?”

Monday’s Wonder

say thxI walked past this beauty in a parking lot.

 

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