Friday, February 1, 2008

Patterns and Rhythms by Weedle Montre (Caviness)

An old copper-bottomed pan with a dented lid sits on the counter beside the sink. And when they remember, which is practically never, or when they're reminded, which is often, the kids grudgingly scrape their plates, pushing baked potato peels, french toast crusts and all the green beans they can get away with into the pan, clamping the lid on tightly afterward. If they're feeling particularly virtuous, they may then put the plates in a stack, removing the silverware first, and dump unfinished drinks down the drain. I watch this process with some anxiety. The truth is, I want to do it myself. If I'm not careful, I find myself saying, "Oh that's all right, guys. I'll take care of those."

Anyone who comes to my house for dinner may think I'm just being polite when I gently stop them from scraping and stacking and rinsing off the dishes. And if they persist, they may come to the conclusion that I'm just a little odd when I say, "No, really,, I like doing the dishes!" As a last resort, I may even force them to listen to my childhood story of pulling a chair up to the sink and asking my mother to please let me do the dishes; all this, as I gently but firmly propel them from the kitchen, and turn with a grateful sigh to the sanctuary of a sink full of hot water and dirty dishes.

I always wash glasses first, then bowls, then plates, stacking it all in the other sink. The silverware comes last, because I really don't like washing it all that much. When it comes time to rinse, the pattern is exactly backward, except the silverware's last again, because I don't much like rinsing it either.


The corn is ready. It waits silently in the dawn, yellow and pink tassels stirring in the sunrise breeze. They all go get it and shuck it, but I don't do that part, and I don't want to; I just like to look at it. Before long they are lugging it into the kitchen in bushel baskets, ice chests, even grocery sacks, and setting it anywhere on the floor there's room.

I have the boiling water ready, the steam escaping around the edges of the old roaster lid, and the ice water coldly glitters in the sink. An old baking pan on the table, awaits the scraping of the cobs. From the baskets to the boiling water, and the corn turns a brighter yellow there, the pattern begins. Three minutes later, I use the tongs to lift the corn out, into the colander and then the sink. It makes a delicious splash as the icy water rushes through the square holes onto the corn. The scraping board sits above the pan, and the corn falls off beneath in slaps and rows and little lone kernels. When the pan's full, I fill up the bags and lay them on racks in the deep freeze. It takes all morning to do the corn, and I begin to feel like a machine, going from one task to the next and back again and again. I feel the rhythm and pattern deep inside.

Laundry in jumbled piles on the bathroom floor. I've shown the kids how to separate colors, delicates, whites, how much soap to put in, and all that, but the fact is, I wish they would leave because, again, I want to do it myself. The washer really does all the work, of course, but then I get to hang it outside on the line. Sometimes I really don't want to, but I do it anyway and I'm always glad later. I like to have my clothesline organized-shirts hung in a row on one end, always by the bottoms, never the shoulders. Jeans, skirts and dresses on the other end, and underwear by twos in the middle because the clothesline always sags. It's true, nothing smells better than clothes that have spent the day in the sun and breeze, and sometimes I just hold them to me for a moment, longing for that magic, alive smell to touch my sadly ethereal soul.


I feel my spirit in me, moving lightly and secretly, sometimes close to the surface of my skin, questing, interested, sometimes gathered tightly, powerfully, right in the middle. It reminds me of changes that have swept over me, and whispers of changes yet to come. And since my childhood, it has gently told me to look for the little patterns and rhythms of life, for they will sustain and comfort and heal me, and make me whole.

From Well, Well, Well (transcribed by Laurie Ward)

1 comment:

Dan Bentley said...

If anyone has a copy of the old Well,Well, Well newsletter with Weedle's essay about her brother I would gladly transcribe it to this site. Dan'l B.