Bird by Bird

I love peonies so much that sometimes I forget about the enormous pleasures conferred by midsummer flowers. But my house is currently bursting with them, and the ombré of yellow, orange, and red snapdragons inject much-needed glamour into the all-work-no-play pallor of my recent days. I’d bemoan my Summer of Reckoning more but I recognize that it was a long time coming, that my predilection for the Present morphed at some point into Dissociation Nation, and that, as a lady who lunches on her own dime, it now falls upon me to catch up financially with my adult self. Still, I’ll never deny life’s small pleasures: the graceful droop of a bouquet of cosmos on my desk, the chirp of my new bird clock, with which the proprietor of The Magic Chair gifted me.

At his yard sale, the clock’s charms—a different bird representing each hour with a delightful corresponding chirp—were obfuscated by a hideous green frame. But my recent foray into home improvement taught me that anything can be transformed, and so I repainted it a sky blue that brought all those larks and cardinals and thrushes into high relief. Now the clock presides over my office, and as I write—surrounded by blossoms and birds who cheer my efforts—I feel I’m preserving my inner wilderness even as I soldier into more civilized terrain. It’s a terrain, I am learning, that I only begin to glimpse when I inch, step by step, and, yes, bird by Anne Lamott bird, into its ever-excruciating, ever-expanding unknown.

The Church of the Magic Chair

Last weekend while in the, ahem, Hamptons (they’re so tony I can scarcely type their name), I went to a bevy of amazing yardsales. Most prized among my booty was an antique wood rocking chair made by the grandfather of the man who sold it to me; when I accurately described the grandfather (who was right around us as far as I was concerned), the man—a year-rounder who worked construction—gave it to me for $10 and a hug. Such a cute person. After money changed paws, he helped me attach the chair to Sadie, my forever-on-the-blink Hyundai. I lugged it up to my third-floor Brooklyn walkup with much huffing and puffing and more than a few reservations: Ever since my apartment rehab, I’ve considered the near-emptiness of my living room to be the height of glamour. But the chair has turned out to be a great writing ally–this man’s grandpa may have harbored literary fancies of his own–and as I type in it, permakitten Gracie nestles beneath, purring to herself and squeaking in happy fright whenever I rock unexpectedly. I suspect this Grandpa ghost is blocking whatever other energy was giving her agita, and I’m glad for him, as well as for her. My Summer of Reckoning sure has produced some treasures.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy