My weekly column owes thanks to David Kanigan–he posted Hannah’s soft things first–and I ran with it:
Sometimes we need to stop and take stock. Take stock of those things that we enjoy, that please us, that make life more than a dreary “to do” list; those things that we feel, notice, think and taste. Blog writer Hannah Nicole in her post, “A List of Soft Things” does this. And inspired by her list of “soft” things I am going to explore some of the soft things that keep me from going crazy (or crazier). But first I will share some of the little “gifts” that she finds keeps the crazies somewhat at bay:
“…This is what I wait for. Gray light before the sun rises. Waking up at the lake. Musty smoke from a campfire thick in your hair, on your skin, shaken from your sweater. Earth under your fingers. Green things growing. The sound of blueberry pancakes sizzling, crackling in a buttered skillet. Laughter, when you are incandescently happy. Finding a relic. Freckles. Grilled peaches and sweet corn and watermelon juices running down your skin. Light falling through trees on a pathway empty of anyone but you. Hearing the waves. Waking to a quiet house. Coffee stains. Lipstick marks on a cup. Your spot. Being recognized. Shadows…Wonder and thinking you are something bigger and I don’t know, that somehow it will be alright. Being okay. Eating all the raspberries from the patch and going through the day with red fingers… Beginnings. Not endings. Maybe endings sometime. Words like honeysuckle and diaphanous. Smells stirring a memory deep in your mind like a stick in thick muddy banks, stirring up the water. Mud under your toes and you are five. Clear water. Green water. Blue water. Gray water more light than liquid. Sitting on the front of the boat and closing your eyes to the spray on sunburnt skin. A perfect song. An imperfect memory. Fragments…. Hearing someone hum. Watching a time happen and thinking, I will remember this.”
I love many of her soft things: waking up at the lake (of my sister’s cottage in Quebec); the sound of pancakes sizzling (and the incandescent bubbles that form telling you to turn them over); waking to a quiet house (and putting on the coffee before anyone else is up and enjoying the aroma of the just-brewed elixir); laughter (there is nothing better than shared laughter); and smells that stir up memories (even if they are imperfect).
Sometimes our imperfect memories are our best memories. Usually they are corroded by time; their edges softened; and we are left with only a deep and lingering nostalgia that the past only held good things. We know in our minds (but not our heart of hearts) that this is not true—but I like to hold onto only the good memories—and let the other remembrances fade.
Hannah’s soft things include the gray light just before the sun rises. I love the pink light just as the sun starts to rise—before it shows it face and is still only a lovely, subtle glow. I love clear and blue and even green water (as long as it is just a reflection and not algae blooms) but I particularly love the silkiness of still water—waiting for a hand to create small waves or toes to dip themselves into its calmness. I love the initial feeling of the coolness of water and its gradual coalescence when you no longer feel the difference in temperature between it and your skin.
I love my “spot” even though like our cat, Kitty Bob, it changes depending on my whims. Right now Kitty Bob is in love with our coffee table, and luxuriates on the soft cloth that I have covering it. But this too will change and he will find another favourite spot. I have favourite spots all over the house and migrate to that spot when I am in a particular room. In the living room it is my red chair in the corner; in the dining room which houses my home office—I migrate to the black chair in front of my laptop (my magical space); in my bedroom it is my side of the bed—with books strewn on the other side (which I do move when my partner in crime a/k/a my husband climbs in). These are my “at home” spots; where I am most me.
“Soft things” help smooth out the sharp edges of life. They consist of all the quiet thank yous we do not utter aloud. Maybe we should start shouting them from the rooftops.