Wednesday, November 18, 2009

november glow

Okay, okay, enough brooding for now. Let me tell you some of the reasons why I love this time of year.

The sun rides low in the sky, and the light is always soft and golden, even at noon. Everything appears to be lit from within when the sun is out in November in Maine. It's been a lovely month, warmer and drier than usual, so it's easy to appreciate this quality of the sunlight. The leaves have fallen, leaving the trees bare. Granted, this can look a bit dismal against sodden granite skies, but it also means that the red fruits that remain on the trees are in starring roles. Winterberry, apple, mountain ash; the list is long. I love how stark the contrast is, sharp black branches and glowing round fruit.

A frosted apple, which will fall soon and feed the many deer that tramp through our yard. Grudgingly, we allow this. They are so beautiful, those deer. But they sure do make me grumpy come spring when they eat my tulips.

The sugary frost on the berries makes them even prettier. They sparkle and glow.

I've been working on some cards to sell at some of the craft fairs that I will be in this December. I wanted to capture some of the glory of these bursts of color in an otherwise monochromatic landscape. I didn't manage it, but they are kinda nice in their own way. At least I think they are.

I'll be at the Island Arts Association Craft Fair here on MDI on December 4 and 5, at the Atlantic Oceanside here in Bar Harbor. This is a great collection of 50+ artists and crafters from the island communities on and around MDI. On December 6, I'll be at a small show from noon to 5 at the Wine Bar on Wharf Street in Portland, with my friends Michelle Souza and Amy Reisman, among others. The following Sunday, December 13, I'll be at a trunk show at Studio, Jessi Sader's lovely shop in Orono, and the week after that, on Saturday, December 19, I'll be at the Petite Revolution Holiday Shindig at Hogfarms Studio Annex on Main Street in Biddeford. (Coco and Gil Corral of HFSA were recently featured in the new Maine magazine, which I dig). I hope to see you in my travels. I'll post more info about the more distant shows later.

And one last thing. About these new mammogram recommendations. If I had not had my first mammogram at age 40 (and there is no reason that I would have under the new recommendations), the tumors that were present in my breast would not have been detected for months, if not years. My chances of surviving breast cancer would have plummeted. I understand that this is all about numbers and statistics and cost. Individuals get lost in arguments such as these. I'm begging you, don't listen. No one wants to go have a mammogram. It's only slightly more fun than having a tooth pulled. But it could save your life. It almost certainly has mine.

Monday, November 2, 2009

beware, amateur philosophizing herein

So Halloween has come and gone, we've set our clocks back and the days are growing shorter. Time, once again, for me to examine my life and decide what to do with it. I guess that sounds a bit melodramatic, but making a living and living life in a seasonal town brings a person to extremes. One day you're racing around all stressed out because you're working 70 hours a week and the traffic is making you nuts, and the next day, almost literally, your job has ended and there's not a car on the street when you go out at 7 pm to pick up some milk. It's a crazy way to live. My friend Kristen had this Far Side cartoon on the fridge that depicted two goldfish standing beside their bowl, which was in flames. The caption read something like "Whew, glad we got out of there. Of course now we're equally screwed." It made her think of life in Bar Harbor, in the fire all summer, fish out of water come fall. (Later, when she was being treated for cancer, she pulled it out again because it seemed to her to apply to her chemotherapy treatment, too.) She had a great sense of humor. The cartoon, however, isn't so very far from the truth for some of us.

Over the years I have come to appreciate the natural break in my life, because it is impossible not to think about how I am living and what I might want to change when all of a sudden life as I have come to know it over the summer comes to a grinding halt. I haven't always managed to make the most of this introspective period, but I appreciate that it is there. I'm not sure how it is for you folks that have steadier jobs and a more even routine, because I have chosen to live this way my entire adult life. Does the shortening of the days make you think about your passing life? Does the return of the cold make you wonder if you are doing what you were meant to do? I know this sounds like the babbling of a recovering cancer patient, but honestly, I think about this stuff every year at this time. Perhaps not so earnestly as I am this year, though.

So, you might ask, do I have any answers? Well... no. Not exactly. I can identify a number of things that make me happy. But I have this nagging suspicion that I'm not doing something that I ought to do. Perhaps it's an unrealistic romantic notion, that each of us has a "calling." Most people I've talked to about this lately, all of whom happen to be around my age, think that doing things that make them happy and spending time with people that they love is enough. One friend sent me a lovely quote about finding yourself in the circumstances you are in and making something beautiful of it. I like the image of finding yourself in your circumstances, which to me implies that you can be right in the middle of them and not realize where you are. But what about the remarkable capacity that many of us have, in this time and this place, to change those circumstances? And what does it mean, to make something beautiful? Such different things to different people, and I guess I'm still casting about for my definition of "beautiful" in terms of the way I live my life.

I don't know. It seems that there must be a way to have fun and do the world some good while I'm at it. I've spent my life trying not to do any harm, but that doesn't seem like quite enough any more. What do you think?

On a lighter note, tonight I went out in public without a wig for the first time in almost four months. Okay, so it was under cover of darkness, and only to my knitting group, which is just one step away from being at home. But still. It's progress.