Home the Way I Want It

tiny cacti in windowI’m someone who gets energy from her surroundings. I’m a person who wants to be surrounded by beauty, maybe needs to be, most of the time, to be happy.

I feel silly, and embarrassed, to write that, because art museums make me nervous sometimes; because I gave up on being an art person in high school; because I remember the several-sizes-too-big jeans and baggy K-Mart tees I once wore; because I know how rarely I clean out the sink or even brush my hair; because for all my yearning for mountains again, mountains, Gandalf, there have been years since leaving my puppy-dog and pretty neighborhood when I didn’t take any walks just for the sake of walking and looking; because I know there are things more important than beauty, like equity and justice and peace; and because beauty isn’t a word that comes naturally to my tongue.

Of course, beauty is many things to many people. I know not everyone would agree that my apartment, with its weird, green linoleum countertops and the crooked, widely-spaced boards that make up the floors, is better-looking than the ones you find in the brand-new high rises or in the boxy, post-war apartment buildings scattered across this town. You might not call the many layers of old white paint caked onto the baseboards of my apartment beautiful, and I would agree with you if you didn’t, at least as an isolated feature.

But despite the built-in grime that comes with a rental like mine—built in 1858 and managed with minimal upkeep for maximum profit for decades, at least—for me, this apartment is pleasant, while so many newer, cleaner spaces are not. Sitting in the little grey room that used to be my office, I’d think of the windows and the gentle lamps and the old walls and the well-situated couches and my tiny white desk by our bed, and I yearned for them. Sitting in the bright, tall, walls-of-windows office I have now, I still yearn sometimes.

I gather strength from my home, from the way I’ve made it look and the ways I’ve made it mine. Continue reading “Home the Way I Want It”

Ear Cocked for Geese

A March morning is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese.   – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

sunset geese march 2016
I like the geese. I don’t like to get too close, because they’re big and they hiss when they’re being pushy, and I don’t like walking through grass littered with goose poop. But I love to see them gathered on the banks of the Huron River, and I am comforted by the reliability of their presence down in Ann Arbor’s Riverside Park, just east of the bridge that crosses the train tracks and the river.

I remember the jokes my Grandpa Bob, my father’s father, used to tell. One of my favorite early memories is of standing on the bridge to Belle Isle in Detroit with him and my brother on a cold, grey day. He pointed toward the river and said our cousins were out there. Maybe he said they were ice skating. I was little, and I wondered which of my eleven cousins he was talking about. But soon I knew he meant the geese, those big birds who fly in Vs, honking, above the land. It’s a real grandpa joke, because our last name is pronounced GEESE, and so those birds, found all over Michigan—all over the world, although I didn’t know it as a child—could have been members of the family, should have attended our yearly reunion.

Instead, the geese keep tight together every year on the same paths, from warm winter days in the south to long summer days in the north. Continue reading “Ear Cocked for Geese”