Tag Archives: inspiration

Icarus Flying


Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew. It’s the same when love comes to an end, or the marriage fails and people say they knew it was a mistake, that everybody said it would never work. That she was old enough to know better. But anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

~ Jack Gilbert, “Failing and Flying”

I’ve never been one to enjoy studying Greek mythology. Somewhere around the second or third name of a god my attention span skids to a halt and my brain refuses to entertain another piece of information. Always has been that way.

Except for Icarus.

The story of Icarus always fascinated me. Perhaps it was the idea of his ambition, his desire to fly further, farther, closer, even at his own peril. Perhaps it was pride that sent him falling. Perhaps trying to flee, or trying to be free. Perhaps it was my interest in aviation and flight.

Most often the story and images focus on the fall of Icarus, the failed attempt. Bruegel’s painting above is one of the most famous. I first encountered that work after reading a piece by W.H. Auden who commented about the work:

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster, the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green water,
And the expensive ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Honestly, I think it is simply the desire, the quest, that appeals to me. Why I like the lines by Jack Gilbert so much — most people often forget that Icarus did in fact fly.

[This post is #9 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please click on the button on the right side of the page for more information about the challenge or to locate others participating — there are more than 1600!]

Previous A-to-Z posts:
2012: Inquiring Minds
2011: Indulgence

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We have descended into the garden and caught three hundred slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike. ~ Evelyn Underhill, Letters

Growing up on a farm, I suspect, predisposes one either to love or to hate playing in the dirt. I am a lover of dirt. Playing in the dirt was a childhood regularity, and I’m grateful for parents who encouraged and supported getting mud-luscious. My mother, although not fond of them, never squealed when I brought home the stray garter snake or crawdaddy. My father, the farmer, probably had a permanent layer of dirt on him.

But the smell of it, especially newly turned or just after a rainstorm. And the feel of it, moist not wet, crumbly but not dry. Black sand beaches of a different sort.

Every now and again that urge to play in the dirt takes hold and I attempt to garden. In most recent years, that has been confined to pots on a patio, such as my efforts from last year in the picture above. This year, for the first time in probably 15 years, I will be planting a real garden.

No big expanse of land, mind you, but a little square of earth in which I may grow what I please and be pleased with what I grow. My employer offers staff space in their community garden, and I managed to score half a plot to myself. I’m already late to the game, thanks to my fun weekend, and I’m still plotting what to grow and when to plant in our new climate. Last time I gardened was in the Midwest, so learning what will work here in Virginia is a process.

But I’m excited, looking forward to dirt under my nails and the tender talking to leaves and shoots as they punch through the dirt and reach for the blue sky above.

So, how does your garden grow?

[This post is #7 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please click on the button on the right side of the page for more information about the challenge or to locate others participating — there are more than 1600!]

Previous A-to-Z posts:
2012: Good Gravy
2011: Gladly Beyond


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Monday Moments: Memorial Day

cleaning up cemetery placing flags

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~ From a headstone in Ireland

My father was a quiet man. Not just in tone or in spirit, but in nearly everything. In part, I’m sure, this came from spending much of his time by himself, out in the fields or working in the timber. He was far more content to sit and read than to listen to the radio or watch television. He was never one to make a fuss, or to want a fuss made about him.

Our primary piece of farm acreage was old family property. The remains of an old schoolhouse were barely visible under the growing timber and brush. Remnants of the old family cemetery were strewn about one section. Every winter, when he couldn’t be in the fields, he was in the timber. He’d clear out dead trees and provide firewood for the fireplace at home. He’d beat back the ever-encroaching brush from the edges of the fields. And he would work on the cemetery. He’d try to match old, long-broken tombstones with the right bases, and he’d try to set right what weather and the occasional vandals took down each year. One of his quiet actions in life was cleaning up the cemetery, year after year, stone after stone.

He did this as a labor of love, to his family, to the people buried there, and to the families of those who were forever wedded to that piece of land. Without fuss, without caring if anyone knew or noticed or helped. It was his task. His remembrance. His service. He was a young child when the U.S. entered World War I, and by the time World War II rolled around, he was exempt from the draft as a food-producing farmer. He never talked about not going to war, like he never talked about a lot of things, but I always believed that he wanted to do more, give more, for the country whose history he taught me. So he did what he could, quietly. But occasionally someone would notice and say thanks. letter to the editor about my father cleaning up the cemetery He’d stammer and get uncomfortable, but he appreciated the sentiment. And each Decoration Day, as he always called it, he’d help put flags out on the graves of those who served.

Now living near a very active Air Force base, I see people every day who serve quietly, without seeking honor or notice or attention. Because it fills them from the inside out. Because it’s just what they do, oftentimes without notice. So today, as we should do every day, take a moment and express your appreciation to someone who willingly serves, who has lost someone who sacrificed themselves for what they believed. Who lives each moment to make sure we have our freedom.

A friend of ours, Adam White, who happens to be a very talented filmmaker, put together a marvelous tribute to those who volunteer, those who serve. Please take a couple of minutes to watch the clip, and to remember all those who have served and those who now serve.

Today and everyday.

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Sliding Down a Rainbow

rainbow across cloudy sky over plains

Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow. ~ Douglas Pagels

*waving hi*

Hello, my friends!

My apologies for being away so long, but for the first time in 4 –yes, 4– weeks, I finally have a weekend with two whole days off! Each of the past 4 weeks, something work-related crept onto my weekend calendar. I’ve done two major road trips, both related to job and work things, each more than 1000 miles and done in less than 48 hours. One trip I was by myself, the second with my boss. I spent one Saturday with a lovely group of donors, about 65 or so folks, talking about their collection, listening to stories, and adding new materials. One week, my work hours totaled more than 80 (counting time spent on the road). And on Mother’s Day, I worked in our reading room all afternoon.

Please note these are not complaints, just facts. I’m thrilled to have a job that I love, especially in this economy. But every now and again, the calendar gangs up on me, and the past month, that has certainly been the case. Sometimes I just can’t avoid it; it just happens. But I’m always grateful when weeks or months like that pass into the “completed” category.

So today is for reading and rainbows, for time off and spending an entire weekend with my husband! I hear lunch and a matinée are on the schedule, as are getting out and enjoying the beautiful 80 degree day, complete with blue skies, that awaits outside our door.

I. Can’t. Wait.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend in store for you, and that you enjoy every possible moment of it that you can. Feel free to share your plans here; I love hearing all the creative things you peeps are up to!

Now go find a rainbow and pick a color ~ Happy weekend!


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zinnias in the garden

Another gorgeous photograph by Sonny Carter

The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him. ~ Auguste Rodin

To me, there is hardly anything more beautiful on this planet than the wide variety of flowers which give it beauty. I try, spring after spring, to grow marvelous crops of flowers across my patio, some years with more success than others.

But even in the cold of winter or the heat of summer, I know where I can turn to find the beauty of the flower gardens at my fingertips — in the gorgeous photography of Sonny Carter. While I am enthralled by his cats, and luxuriate in the rich landscape photographs he takes, it is his flowers that warm my heart. Every Friday, my morning email is blessed his newest Friday Flowers photograph. Each on is breathtaking and so real you’d swear you smell it through the screen.

Please take a moment (or an hour) to walk through Sonny’s flower garden of photographs at his website: http://www.sonc.com/friday/index.html. You will find a virtual greenhouse of flowers through which to wander.

If you visit, and I highly recommend it simply for the peace it brings to the heart and soul, let me know which one was your favorite. I have too many to list…..

[Note: This post is #26 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button at the right of the page for more information.]

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