Something about two jays crossing a silver sky this morning got me thinking about July*, one of my enslaved characters. How she might think about suffering: one minute bearable, the next not. The jays squawked to each other in their language of season. Their language of season does not get weighed down by human travail. A measurement of light, is all. A call to a mate. “I’m here! I’m here!” They are high enough up that they look small and the vibrant blue of their bodies and wings is barely visible. But, I hear them. I hear them. And I take heart, for in their conversation, I hear references to spring.
* * * *
* The enslaved were often named after days of the week or months of the year. This was not an objectification that came with being commodities, as one might think at first blush, but rather, an African custom. “July” actually was a man’s name and is one of the few names of record from the time period. In the fall of 1739, a male bondman named July hid “his” family during the Stono Slave Rebellion, thus saving their lives. He was later rewarded with his freedom, a hat, a pair of breeches, and shoes. Since there is so little recorded history about the enslaved, fidelity to the record in the small matter of names feels important. For now, though, I am attached to one of the bondwomen being called ‘July’.
New England quilters have been known to gravitate toward jewel tones this time of year. I know why! This little House Quilt arose from scraps left behind while finishing Middle Passage II yesterday. Sometimes these ‘cast off quilts’ are my favorite. There is a spontaneity to them that can get lost with other designs.
Here is part of Middle Passage Two. This one focuses on the shape of the sails. I will not back the panel — just edge it and supply tabs on top so that it can hang like a curtain.
My daily pages are filled with snippets of learning that I eventually will share about the Middle Passage. For now, the quiet is good. Oh so good!! The incubation of this snow is making words seem far away. Appointments still being cancelled (though on account of the DOG, not the SNOW).
It is blessedly quiet here today (school children on vacation; roof clearing crews done for the time being; snow-moving trucks beeping away elsewhere). Why fill this rare, rare quiet with some of the most disturbing history there is?
Fourteen more inches. Five more coming tomorrow?
Light as a feather — but so much of it!! Had to dig the ‘reverse moat’ again and re-establish our rope-play paths (did I mention Finn jumped the fence the day before yesterday?)
Parts of the fence have virtually disappeared. K installed wire barriers in one spot (where Finn easily and gracefully hopped over). More wire barriers needed on north side. To be effective, my ‘reverse moat’ requires digging on the other side of the fence as well as ours — an awkward maneuver that strains the elbow and arm and makes me feel terribly sorry for myself.
We are all doing the best we can! A section of our pipes have frozen. No water getting to master bath. The ceiling is leaking in the kitchen where it typically does when there is an ice dam. Ominous cracks have appeared along the yellowed section of ceiling. We need to get those ice melting ‘hockey pucks’ ASAP — or stuff cut-off nylons with ice melt, since there probably aren’t any pucks available, anywhere.
Only six people showed up in my husband’s office. Not clear if the T is even running out this far. Worst of all, Finn’s play rope (which gets buried and re-discovered in a series of gleeful digs on his part during the game), disappeared last evening and despite moving what feels like a mountain of snow —
I had no luck finding it this morning. Found it!! Much joyful playing ensued!!
In Week One of “The Artist’s Way“, Julia Cameron suggests making a list of five alternate lives (the Progoff journal method does this, too, calling them “roads not taken”). This is a simple but effective way to re-discover parts of ourselves that we may have left behind.
Cameron adds another step — to try and bring some flavor of one or all into the week.
Here’s my list:
Constitutional lawyer / social activist
Sheep farmer and weaver
What are a few of your “roads not taken” and how might you let them into your life?
I’ll let you know how it goes.
[I’ve picked up Cameron’s book over and over in the past decades — Years when I have done the ‘Morning Pages’ practice have been better than the years when I have not. Her wisdom has been more than useful to me. This time, I was inspired by Heather K. Powers — a Charleston artist and organizational guru whom I met in September at the Sea Island Indigo Workshop. She just started an ‘Artist’s Way’ group in SC, which I found myself wishing I could participate in.
I hope to go week by week without breaks in order to let the momentum of Cameron’s 12-week process build. I am already dreading the Media Fast, which will be very, very hard for me. I also hope to find the journal pages from when I did this before — to compare].
I am piecing up the tiny scraps that come with making the log cabin squares. Not surprisingly, I prefer the teeny compositions. I am intrigued by their scale and the sense of possibilities. Each could stand alone or they could be combined into a cloth that hangs together. How to decide?!!