Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beauty Beheld

I watched the sun set over the fence the other day.  The snow was purple, the sky crimson pinks and reds, seen through the dark lacing fingers of the maples.  As I stood watching I felt a thin little boy lean against me.

"It's beautiful," he whispered quietly, respectfully, and then he screamed, "Nick, come quick, the sun's setting and it's really cool!"

Nick lumbered in, interrupted and skeptical, and his face lit up and he sighed.  Together they watched - two minutes, five?  I don't know, I don't think it was my Time.  As you may suspect, the sunset spread even more gloriously, more purples, pinks, and ink black trees.  It was the perfect few minutes to watch a sunset.

And I missed it.  But, it wasn't my sunset.  It was for Nick and Zack.  And I watched them watching their sunset, and it was more beautiful than any setting sun or rising moon I have ever seen.  I watched their cheeks blush in the reflected blazing light, I saw the branches and fence rails sketched perfectly in the bright shine of their eyes.  I sensed a momentary, uncommon, welcome calmness in them, a stillness.  It was like seeing a sacrament.  It is most holy to watch the face of a child as they come closer to grace.

And then Nick screamed, banshee-like, shoved Zack and ran away with Zack on his tail.  Balance.  I get that.

I've come to realize that I may do that more often than I knew.  For instance, when Zack left this on the table and I randomly looked at it before I sent it on its way, I didn't see what it is - an odd trading card sort of thing that the boys do... a lot - but rather, I saw what it represented.  Imagination.  Creativity.  Whimsy.  Hope.

Oh, my...  Do you ever inappropriately crack up when everyone is being serious? 

I just did.

He seems to be a nameless "Root Dragon" and his magical power is "Control weather Lokate hidden paths."  That's handy, and sort of obscure.  He can "throw voice" and, there in fine print, "See future."  Wow.  His battle cry is "AAiia" and his scared cry is the sad, elongated, "Eroobababa."  I pretty sure his carved from a burl.

On the reverse side are some notes he took, before he made the trading card full-sized sheet of paper card the trading sheet.  In his character notes here, among other details, a Root Dragon "Does not understand leftes (lefties)," "forgits memery" and loves "exirsise" a good joke and pears.  And, there, near the bottom are some ideas of good names for one.  Zack is left handed and often feels misunderstood, an interesting insight.  Actually, after some thought, Zack is a Root Dragon.

Now, this is all very interesting and informative and creative, but what got me off track was that blocked out writing in the center.  It's Nick's handwriting and it says "Shockwave SuperCyborg livestock from outer space."  I can't imagine why.  But I think it's hilarious and silly and somehow perfect.

I really don't see how I can get back on track now.  Nick drew these two fish and, well, I wondered what they were doing.  He said they were "hugging" and they most certainly are.  My son drew a picture of fish hugging - oddly, that pleases me.

I was planning on talking poetically and deeply about this one.  On the importance of education, how Z seems to get that; about podiums and perspective; about pomp and circumstance; about...  Yeah, it's a "CYCLOPS Gradiation" and one-eyed-Groucho-dude got a cigar diploma.  Silly is as silly does.

And, the other day, this happened when I was splitting wood.

A piece of cedar split into the two halves above.  One had two knotholes...

...and the other had the stumps of two small branches:

The two fit together like, well, your imagination will do, yes, a yin and a yang.  I set them aside because I thought they were beautiful, elemental, worthy.

The other day Nick found them leaning against the porch woodpile, and, in seconds, had put the two together marveling at how they snugged together so sweetly.  He showed it to Zack and they both thought it was cool, as I had.

And then, I had the honor of watching Nick's face as the wonderful realization came over him, and I watched him say, "it's the colors of a snowy sunset."

Indeed.  Grace landed nicely I'd say.  Two moments of beauty linked, by a child.  My child.  Your child.  Every child.

From Marci's "...... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

"Well, too bad, you're going to have to live with me for most of my life ."

 That's just harsh...

It's nice when you stop by, even if I am chopping wood on the porch, I still appreciate it.  I am sorry it got silly there in the middle, these things happen.


  1. Great post full of moments, Bill. Silly works just fine when surrounded by grace or cedar. I have to say that the cedar with two branches growing through it seemed a perfect metaphor for you and your sons. I love how it fits and I love the colors.

    1. Thanks for coming around, Eric. "Surrounded by grace or cedar" is a lovely thing to say. And, yes again, a metaphor.

  2. That's some beautiful cedar. The (former) woodworker in me wanted to resaw it and make a jewelry box. Or take an axe to it. Balance, right?

    1. Or burn it, right? The color has gone from that split now, faded to grays and umbers, oh well, at least I have the memory. Thanks for coming around, Brian, it is readers like you who keep me writing... I mean that.

  3. "Silly in the middle" could be a description of life. I certainly wouldn't begrudge you—or anyone—such a moment. Or several.

    1. Thanks for putting down your Sharpie for a while and stopping by, jesteram, I know who you are - and I love your blog. (Check it out fellow travelers.) Yes, my life is indeed silly in the middle, and around the edges... well, everywhere, really.

  4. That cedar is BEAUTIFUL. We have red maple in the garage from the tree out front. Part of me would like to strip it, clean it up and somehow make a head board for the bed from it. But it will likely end up in the fire pit this fall.

    I have wee teens... they threaten to live with me FOREVER. :)

    1. Juli, so kind of you to come around. The cedar will be beautiful when I make something out of it... or, in the fire. My best to you, thanks.

  5. I don't get around here as often as I'd like these days, Bill. But there's something comforting about knowing that when I do, I'll be rewarded.
    Liked this a lot. We're nestled against a mountain and don't as often see spectacular sunsets 'cause the sun disappears behind the mountain at least an hour before sunset. Makes me think about getting out somewhere that my little and I can watch one together.

    And as I'm reading this, I'm thinking about fireworks, and the awe that kids have seeing them, and how there's awe watching sunsets, but it's slowed down; it's contemplative; it's process-related instead of product-related. Anyway, happy birthday, Bill.

    1. Thanks for having a stroll over my way, Neal, I am always glad when you do. As I am sure you know, the Beauty is everywhere, especially in the wild places. I would guess your daughter is getting it shown to her, you most certainly have.

  6. Bill, when you write a book, I will read it. You explain situations like few people can, this was a great post to read!

    1. Thanks, Mike, that's high praise and I will cherish it. The book is being written and you are kind enough to be reading it. Thanks for wondering over and leaving a note. (Hey, is a great blog, friends, check it out if you have a moment.)