Monday, March 4, 2013

19 people, 19 teabowls

They arrive, their cheeks flushed. . .

after dancing through snowy landscapes

and trekking up the slippery path to the cabin.

it is warm inside.
i have been tending the fire since early morning.
i help them off with boots, coats, scarves, mittens
and ask them to choose a bowl . . .  


then we sit, face to face

as i pour tea

and we drink 
looking into each others' eyes,
sharing a few moments.
We are surrounded by images of other hands
from previous encounters
 each pair of hands holding a bowl.

And we listen to their stories 
and to the sound of tea being poured.
We talk of tea memories, 
of those we've shared tea with 
mothers, fathers, lovers, aunts, grandparents. . .
of those who came from other lands. . .
from Ireland, England, Russia, Korea, Azerbajian . . .
where tea time was precious . . .  
a time to connect
a time to relax
 a time to share the day
to laugh, to cry, to comfort, to celebrate . . . 
nineteen people
five minutes with each.
a brief connection. . .
but each one profound.

and as each person moves on.
they leave behind a trace,
a memory,
a bit of themselves

 that i continue to carry

into the day,
into this day.

each person,
each encounter,
so very precious. . . 
and still very much alive
in this heart.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bowl 36: Anthony

he was sitting on a bench with his friend Lynnette,
enjoying the sun
bedding and belongings neatly packed next to them  . . .

Lake Eola, it is important to note, is not only home to swans
but also to people who have no other home . . .

we talked about the economy,
of hostess (and wonder bread and twinkies)
of how old, familiar business are disappearing . . .

he told me he hails from Cranston, Rhode Island
and arrived in Orlando a year ago via Naples -- Florida, not Italy.
she called out to a passing stranger, 
"I like your outfit! I have a leopard pillow like your scarf."

they admire the bowl,
and i wonder where they will put it
in the bulging packs that hold all their earthly possessions;
and i think of all the things in my life
accumulated over the years, holding memories, associations, history. . .
and wonder what it would be like to be living
with only a pack to my name
and a pillow to call my home.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bowl 35: Ruby

In her pink bicycle helmet
she is eye to eye with the swan,
and in thrall to a potent mix of excitement and fear
drops a dime at its feet.

I make a grab for it,
also noticing both excitement and fear,
and tell her, "not food. it's not good for the swan."

She is nonplussed.
"Bird," she says.
"Yes, a bird, a kind of bird called a swan, and it can't eat money."
She is unconvinced, 
but we continue talking and looking at birds -- 
ducks, pigeons, ibexes, seagulls.
She sees birds, and I probably have more words than I need.

Later she holds tight to the bowl,
and doesn't want to give it up for her mom to put safely away. 
I love her independent, feisty spirit
totally engaged with whatever is happening around her.

As I say goodbye, she's become a blur of pink,
pink shirt, pink helmet, pink bike,
circling the swan, very much in command,
and thoroughly enjoying the ride.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bowl 34: Claudio

I am walking along the lake shore surrounded by swans.
White with orange beaks.
Black with red beaks.
Graceful in the water, they are ponderous on land,
their huge feet making slapping sounds as they wander the paths,
like old men walking in slippers several sizes too big.

We stand side by side
gazing at a black swan who is clearly practiced in posing for the camera.
He admires my bag and I offer a bowl.
Not because of the compliment,
but for the willingness to engage.

Actually I offer two and ask him to choose.
He selects my favorite, and then offers a bracelet that he takes from his arm.
The sun is shining, the water sparkles, all is beautiful.

He and his sister Claudiana have the day off and have just come from lunch with friends.
We chat about this and that, and part with lots of smiles and hugs.

My heart is light as I move among flocks of swans and people,
wandering aimlessly this beautiful afternoon at the lake. 


Monday, January 7, 2013

Bowl 33: Jordan

"Hi," he said as his mom helped him from the car.
His smile was glorious!
"I hope you're having a good day. Which one is your car?" he continued.
I was entranced, and followed them into the cafe.
After a brief chat with mom, I went to the table where Jordan waited.
"How old are you?" I asked.
"Five," he replied. "Mom, am I five?"
"Are you in first grade?"
"Mom, am I in first grade?"
"No, kindergarten."
"I'm in kindergarten!," he beamed.
His hands went carefully around the bowl.
Turning it round, feeling it's heft.
I pulled out my camera.
"You will need to take that off," he said pointing to the lens cap.
"ah, yes," I said, "something I often forget to do."
"Did you get my shirt in the picture too?" he asked.
and I showed him the photos . . . 
"You did," he said, and his eyes sparkled.

How easy it is to fall in love.
In just a moment the heart is captured,
suddenly head over heels, 
on a cloudy day in a parking lot
just like every other parking lot,
just when you least expect it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bowl 32: Pam

She had welcomed me warmly the evening before.
I arrived in Emporia -- which I kept thinking of as Euphoria -- 
after driving for twelve hours 
through eight states 
with quick stops for gas, coffee, and rest rooms.

She told me she usually worked the morning shift,
but took the night shift so she could spend Christmas morning with her kids.

She asked if I had any discounts -- AAA, AARP . . . 
and when I shook my head she said, "I'll give it to you anyway . . . 
and, you can have the handicapped room, with the king-sized bed,
 and you won't need to walk upstairs."

At 7 am she was still there,
looking fresh and rested,
still welcoming,
still interested in the people who arrived and departed,
still touching people's lives with care, 
as she had 
day by day,
for eighteen years
from behind the desk of the Best Western in Euphoria, Virginia..

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bowl 31: Amy

We're walking the trails of the Emerald Necklace,
together and apart.
She is accompanied by her trusty Scout.
I walk alone ...

beneath my feet the softness of eons of life
that have emerged only to disintegrate and emerge again.
around me fallen trees silently transforming,
lichens and mosses hastening the process of melting back into earth.

it is one of those almost solstice days,
the sky is still blue
but there is the feeling of evening settling in despite the early hour.
there is deep silence, 
somehow undisturbed by the distant hum of the first bloom of rush hour traffic.
there is peace,
despite the heartache of the suffering that has been all too present in recent days.

She gazes silently as Scout drinks from a pool . . . they are clearly comfortable companions,
at ease after walking these paths together over many seasons.
"Scout barks at people," she tells me . . . "the rough bark of a hound -- it's not so pleasant."
But he doesn't.

Perhaps he too is hushed by the nearness of the dark and the quiet.
Perhaps he too is feeling this time of turning inward.
 Perhaps he too is quietly waiting for the return of the light.