Sunday, January 23, 2011

Using our resources

When the zucchini crop begins to multiply like cells dividing we give the squashes away, to co-workers, neighbors, we set them out on a table in the church hall, some preserve them, others grate them for breads and muffins. Their abundance is put to use.

On her blog Melissa Shook wondered what she might "do" with the 50 inches of snow that have fallen already in January. Mine is the reverse question: is there something beneficial I can do with sunshine?

Our apartment building, constructed around a courtyard, has two patches of what might be called land in the center. From one grows a jacaranda tree. The other has rose bushes inside an 18-inch-wide frame of lawn. The plantings next to the building are mostly in perennial shade. I will not be raising tomatoes or herbs here.

Obvious sun benefits are Vitamin D, our solar-powered water heaters, warmth, a balm for aching joints, good light for art projects - the colors are more true in natural light. I have made some unappetizing choices when working under incandescents. An Ott light helps, but as a second choice.

It seems that something so plentiful, so rich as an element in song and story, could be whisked like egg whites into a frothy meringue, creamed with sugar and lemon into a piquant curd to spread on toast. Could it be captured to fill quilts and pillows and mattresses, fluffy as polyester batting, lighter than air?

Such a blazing gift could surely be converted to a form that would heal our inner darkness. Compressed into tablets with no side effects, see its glow spreading along tired limbs, brightening glum thoughts, sparking like a jumped battery to restart a discouraged heart. Perhaps what ails us is the inability to ingest pure sunlight. It may be that we need to breath it in, not swallow. Every particle, nourished with oxygen and sun, if only it worked that way.

Dark days come, unannounced and unwelcome. They may or may not have any connection to real-world events. It could just be time for the inner rivers to crest, for the flood of uncertainties to sweep away yesterday's optimism, the goals so nearly achieved. A commodity so limitless and bright must have value in the soothing of our great or small sorrows. Even knowing they are temporary, possibly untrue, does not make them easier to bear in the moment.

In lieu of whatever magic it would take to transform day after day of benevolent sunshine into medicine, I can see why faith in its countless forms is turned to for respite. Whether it is trust in some underlying universal force, a more organized religious belief, the strength and suport of those who love us or intentionally choosing to see the glass as half full, grim imaginings are better faced in company.

But when the occasional shadows fall across what is hard-won and placid and I stare out the window at evidence of dispelling light in endless supply, I wonder how it is possible to stand beneath its radiance and still shiver. This may be why I so often draw the sun. Over here, I think, just enough so I can see the good outcome.

21 comments:

Artist and Geek said...

Ancient Sol
Revered for giving life
to carbon

Laoch of Chicago said...

This is beautifully rendered.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Ah, to your fine geek aspect...giving life to carbon. That is it.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Thank you for your always gracious comments.

Donna B said...

Ahhhhhh...you make me feel like I watched a beautiful multi-colored leaf dancing on a breeze...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Donna - Thank you. Don't you love the way words, even a single word, can transport us? Good writing to you, my friend.

susan t. landry said...

i like this idea, marylinn, of conserving the sun (preserving the sun? sun jellies or jam?): bottling sunshine for a hot-bath soak; weaving a blanket of sun rays...
i read melissa's blog yesterday, too, and altho i empathize with her desire to find a "use" for snow -- it is her thrifty artistic nature to want to do something constructive with it -- i am content to watch it fall and softly mold the landscape.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I have come to believe that much of what people embrace about religion is not it's tenants but the fellowship that comes from being accepted as part of a group. A few things bear this out in my mind: first that many religions people, as evidenced by a recent Pew Center poll, do not know much about their own religious teachings. Secondly, though non-believers outnumber the largest religious denomination (Catholic) in this country, few Atheists get together for social support.

There is a group of we Atheists who congregate monthly here in town, we number usually less than 20. Yet there are dozens of churches, a synagogue and a mosque in our town which draw thousands weekly. But according to the poll numbers, the non-believers when all together, should fill a stadium. The "fellowship" of religious commitment I think is the attractive component, in my opinion.

melissashook said...

such a big question -- is the glass half full?
thank you...
tried to e-mail you, but couldn't...of course it's fine to spin off...
Hostas grow in shade, endless hostas, different types of hostas, more hostas...
I love zucchini ....

melissashook said...

thank you for posting the Bly comments..

Kass said...

I love days that are cloudy and gray and the sun is straining to push through - that glimmer of hope - the persistence of light and our ability to find delight in it.

You've captured my feeling about this very creatively.

Vespersparrow said...

Dark winter, deep snow, more on its way, silencing the heart, the breath caught in one's throat with a kind of dread--how wonderful to think of sun jellies and soaks in tablets of sun thrown into bath water. I've found that the days which are hardest are those when the inner and outer weather are terribly different. A glorious sun and blue sky gives no relief when the shadow is over you, and the pain in that makes one want to draw the curtain completely on the whole thing. And a bright blue and white sunny day with 50 inches of snow and more to come can cheer one immeasurably, for no apparent reason. I guess it may not be possible to store up goodness for a dark day, though the wish is very strong. If we weren't such inveterate and insistent metaphor-makers, we wouldn't be thinking these things, would we? Writers! xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - Sun jellies and a hot=bath soak, what a product line it could be. Worth writing a fantasy story to weave that in...during my brief residence on the East Coast, I was hypnotized by snow falling in the city.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - I think it is too hard to be here, having this human existence, without something sturdier to lean on than one's lone self. Community, in my experience, can be formed with any shared interest or intention, such as I believe many of us have found, surprisingly, here through our blogs. I am sure that fellowship is a substantial part of religion-based community...whatever draws people together.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - Thank you for permitting the link and for the thoughts, however fanciful, about what to do with whatever we have in abundance. Camellias grow well in our shade here, though I don't think the gardeners have tried hostas. Zucchini, me too. And you are welcome for Robert Bly and his heat.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Thank you...a process of transmutation, shining that specific light where it is most needed. Inner peace and healing seem to be very high on my wish list lately.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - Indeed, when the shadow is upon us...sometimes the deep clouds feel protective. They are the close blanket and the open, bright sky too vast, too easy to become lost or overwhelmed. To save up goodness, cheer, from any source for the darker days is the task, isn't it? xo

RachelVB said...

I'll trade you ;-)
Maybe if you have a little of my snow and I have a little of your sun, the world will be right again. But then again, the world seems to right itself when it wants.
Either way, you wouldn't believe what a little sunshine does during the gray winter months over here. People stick their fingers out the windows eagerly when there's a break in the clouds.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - I doubt that I'd fare well in serious winter, but if we can think of a way, I'll happily send sunshine as a gift...commenter's bonus. After our earlier 7 days of rain...unusual...you'd have thought we'd been snowed in for a month.

Artist and Geek said...

Lacking your impressive wordsmith skills, I offer a bad haiku and science. :)
What we are experiencing is El Nina and an active solar cycle. It should peak by 2015.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Some of our fellows may be popsicles by 2015, if things go along as they are. Science really is at the root of it all. (Repeat of BIG BANG THEORY last night in which Sheldon attempted to teach physics to Penny.) Still, a fanciful spin on science...sun jellies...I'D buy some.