Monday, December 11, 2006


beach walk 1, originally uploaded by patryfrancis.

When winter's not white, it's frequently silver. That's what I discovered while walking on the marsh with Ted and the dogs. It was extremely windy, and I tried to take a picture of what the wind does to grass and water and sand, but instead I came home with winter's silver trapped inside my camera.

silver 2

I also wrote a little poem yesterday. Not a real official poem on paper, just a string of words I said in my head while lying in bed in the morning. But it's so short and simple, maybe I can repeat it here:

When she was twenty, she asked:
Do you love me?

The world took in her sinew and flash and smiled:
Always and forever.

When she was fifty she asked:
Do you love me?

The world hesitated:
I find you useful. Is that love?

When she was eighty, she asked:
Do you love me?

The world appeared confused:
I'm sorry; have we met?


beach walk 3

I also found out yesterday that there's this thing called Twitter. Have you heard of it?

The point seems to be quite simple. You log in and announce to the vast impervious world what you're doing. And then maybe you even do it. Or maybe you just keep checking back to see if anyone cares, and in the process never have time to actually do anything.


And then I found out that you don't have to do things the way you've always done them. After we'd set our Christmas tree in its stand and woven our little hopeful lights throughout the branches, I went down to get the usual decorations. But before I put them on, I noticed the berry-laden twigs I'd brought back from the marsh, and decided that maybe I would stick some of them among the tree branches. Turns out, they looked so pretty that it seemed a travesty to add another thing.


silver 5

And the final thing I found out yesterday was the Blog Discovery of the Week: Aphra Behn: the danger of eclectic shock. All I can say is that it lives up to it's marvelous name.


Anonymous said...

Oh, the 'do you love me' answers become very sad!

I love your description of winter as silver, and of the berried branches in your Christmas tree.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking today how December without snow is grey. Does the fact that you see it as silver mean your more optomistic than me?

No link to "Twitter?" I don't guess it's anything like "twitterpated?" Remember from Bambi?

Off to check out the blog link find....

Anonymous said...

I'm laughing and nodding with Colleen - twitter pated is the first thing that popped into my mind as well. Can you give us more information? Is it something like a Flickr account?

The poem is so sad, but unfortunately holds a lot of truth in today's society.

I like the idea of a Christmas tree decorated with twigs and berries - Nature's ornaments.

gerry rosser said...

I'm sleepless and up at about 5 and perusing blogs and trying to dump the negative thoughts which annoy me when I lie in bed awake it's more those thoughts that make me get up than the fact I can't sleep.

Thanks for your post, sad poem, silver winter and all.

Anonymous said...

Love the poem...sadly true... As for Twitter...I peeked...but oh dear god, I cannot tackle one more social networking thing...I don't even keep up with the ones I'm already in. ;)

Sky said... gets harder as we age. eventually i suppose, we will find the environment of even our routine living unfamiliar as we then face a world we used to navigate with various levels of ease finally in weaker bodies, with less agility, with decreased endurance...feeling like strangers in our own world.

gosh, i wish it weren't so! but, it is. or that is how it looks to me as i look around my own life and then at my parents'.

wish you would post a pic of the tree. sounds enchanting.

Anonymous said...

"when winter's not white, it's silver" I like that.

Kay Cooke said...

Those photos are very special somehow - something seems to be there in them - is it that they seem to be asking a question? Hope the 'silver experience' helps you with your writing. I have enjoyed catching up on your posts - as inspirational as ever.

Left-handed Trees... said...

"Nature's first green is gold"--winter's silver? Robert Frost leaps out at me (you've got to watch out for that guy, he's known to do that sometimes). I loved your post--the pictures are amazing. I hope you post some of the berry-laden tree as well...
*ah, New York indeed!*

Anonymous said...

So much going on here! Poem - I disagree with the sadness - the world simply doesn't recognize us anymore because we are no longer wearing our familiar masks - we have dropped them and become truely who we are - and who we are does NOT need the world's approval. (see the Glass? overflowing!)
Love the photos, especially the one of the upside down cat's eye - love those shells - where do you live that you have morning walk access to those shells?!
Finally: twitter - I agree with above - not one more social site; and the blog for the day, well, I've had to add it to my favorites so I can check back in. Wonderful!
Thanks for this wonderful bounty this a.m.!

Anonymous said...

I'm curious: why do you think "do you love me" isn't a poem? I enjoyed it very much, if "enjoyed" is the right word; it's possible to enjoy the blues.

Bernita said...

Frequently silver.
Thank you.

Patry Francis said...

marja-leena: Not so sad once you accept them. To me, being useful is better than being adored, and being disowned by the world is preparation to be claimed by something larger. Glad you liked my silver winter!

colleen: Whether you see silver or grey probably just depends on the quality of light outside your window.
grey + sunlight = silver. (Who says I'm no good at mathematical formulas.)

tinker: Wish I could remember twitterpated. I think I was so traumatized when Bambi's mother got killed that I blocked the entire movie out of my mind. I like the phrase "nature's ornaments". I'm going to use it on my kids the next time they complain about the absence of their favorite decorations.

gerry: I was lying in bed this morning thinking about that Twitter thing, and when I asked myself what I was doing, I composed a paragraph quite similar to yours.

marilyn: I agree with you about the social networking thing. My publisher wanted me to set up a page on Myspace. At first I balked, but now I'm addicted.

sky: My grandfather used to say that the most difficult part of aging was the losses. I remeber him, in his upper nineties, looking at phographs from his wedding: not a single person who attended was still living.

irene: Hey, it's momster! Happy to see you here.

Patry Francis said...

chiefbiscuit: I was startled by those photos, too. My reaction was punctuated by an exclamation point. Silver! But I can see there is a certain mystery in them that could also ask a question.

d: I'll have to look for that Frost poem. He does the seasons like no one else. I took a picture of the tree, but the light was all fuzzy. Will try again later. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying your red series!

tammy: I agree. At first, I looked at the poem and thought it was negative, but then I realized that if you accept the stages of life, it's really not. I love what you say about getting to the point of not needing the world's approval. And I love your overflowing glass.

michael: Thank you for your kind words. I guess I thought it wasn't a poem because I hadn't written it down until I put it on the blog. It was a poem in process maybe. As for the blues, I enjoy them in whatever form.

bernita: The silver is beautiful, but I'm longing for SNOW! Even dirty snow would be a marvel to me right now.

Laini Taylor said...

Your tree sounds beautiful -- you must post pics. And the marsh looks like a lovely place to walk dogs; near my parents old house in California there was a wetland where I used to walk Shiloh when she was young. Once, a whole migration of pelicans had set down there for a rest. They were SO MUCH BIGGER than the regular resident birds. I thought Shiloh would go crazy! Now that she's an old old doggy, she still gets her daily walk, but just around the boring neighborhood. Wish we still had a marsh nearby!

Anonymous said...

How extremely and exceptionally kind.


robin andrea said...

Winter is gray without snow. Your eighty year old woman is gray without glitter. My mom is 81 years old and sparkles like freshly fallen snow every now and then. It is possible. I have silver hair at 54, sometimes the world still recognizes me and finds me useful, but mostly not.

off line said...

Beautiful photos. The tone of this post is quite winter: rather quiet, with chilling insight as in the answers to "do you love me"--and yet i sense comfort as well. Don't know what that says about me but there it is.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

What a cynical poem! I think it might be true of some aspects of society, but as for the world, the real world underneath all the human sham -- I thnk it knows and loves the 80-year-old very well.

JP (mom) said...

As ever, a post filled with many thoughts, ideas and inspirations (you are touched more than not in this area) ... a silvery winter dream, do you love me? mmmm...very nice. Much peace, JP

Patry Francis said...

laini: Most days my dogs walk around the boring neighborhood, too. But at least once a week in the off season, we take them to the beach or the marsh.

aphra behn: I'm glad that you are pleased--and even more gratified to have discovered your blog!

r.a.: My mom is 83 and she sparkles, too--though too often, the world does not see. Your comment is a poem.

edie: I mean the poem to be comforting in its way. Glad you saw that.

RLC: I wasn't writing about the universe or the earth or even those who've learned to love the self beneath the skin. I was talking about the worldly world which seekers disavow when they go off to pursue the life of the spirit, the world which adores youth and its particular beauty--and rightly so. Nothing is more natural and necessary than the attraction to fertility. To be disowned, and to disown this world in old age is an inevitable, and beautiful part of the life cycle.

Nice to see you here again and appreciate your frank response, even if you find me cynical.

deborah: "A silvery winter dream"--that would have been a terrific title for this post! Peace to you, too!

Anonymous said...

Your photos really captured the silver! Wow. Sometimes cameras don't always accurately collect what we see.

I'm reading all of the comments about your poem and am reminded how so much can be said — and received — in a few powerful words.

Patry Francis said...

kg: The camera surprised me that day, but also I'm learning to see things that I missed before. In fact, until I took these photos, I never saw the silver!

Anonymous said...

Patry, I think it's easy to see how the poem could be seen as sad. But maybe it's only sad when seen from a third person's perspective? I read it from the perspective of the 80 year old and found it inspiring; I trust that when I'm 80 I'll take delight in knowing that the world doesn't need me, that it can, at last, look after itself.

(Greetings from India. Sorry I've been away for a while, and will necessarily be able to visit only infrequently.)

floots said...

love these pics and words
my name is floots - i'm a twitterer :)

paris parfait said...

I like your silvery marsh photos and your Christmas tree sounds perfect. It's too difficult to reach my Christmas decorations (buried beneath furniture, etc. in the wine cellar), so today I'm doing something completely different with flowers and twisted willow branches and maybe a few new ornaments (no tree; the needles have a relentess love affair with the carpet). Your poem is bittersweet and speaks volumes about American society. I think the Europeans hold old age with more esteem - people are valued more for their accomplishments than their looks.

Patry Francis said...

pohanginapete: I have been enjoying your travels vicariously when you have the opportunity to post. Looking forward to the full richness you will create from it when you return. The poem is probably everything people have said it is: sad, harsh, comforting in its way, and hopefully inspiring. As the world disowns the eighty year old, so the eighty year old disowns much of the frivolity of the world. I'm thinking of my mother at 83. Increasingly her response to the things we hunger for is "I don't need it, and I don't want it."

floots: I love your words and your twittering. Makes me think of whistles.

tara: I admire that about Europe. Imagine what a revolution it would be if once a year all the magazine covers that regularly feature the faces of Britney, Paris, and Angelina would showcase the beauty of the eighty year old face. The only company I can think of that uses older people in their ads--and to a marvelous effect--is the Gap.

Anonymous said...

wonderful assortment of images to look at and thoughts to think about. thanksQ

Anonymous said...

Winter silver.. what a perfect description. I too have recent photos that reflect this perfectly.

Patry Francis said...

ascender: thank you!

coll: Off to go see your silver--

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it's because my monitor is dying or because my eyes are, but I can't quite make out what that second photo depicts, even when I blow it up at Flickr. What is that purply stuff?

And actually, it is always silver here compared with other places. The southwest is golden. The northwest is blue. The southeast is a brassy green. The northeast is silvery, sometimes pewter.

I'm talking about the color of the light, of course.

Anonymous said...

And what the heck is a full-blown poem, anyway? I never know. I like Dave Bonta's category of "poems and poem-like things" over at Via Negative, though. It always makes me smile.

Patry Francis said...

sara: photo #2 is marsh grass, with a nest of shells and seaweed in the center. I think my eyes are going, too, because the first time I read your comment I thought it said your mother was dying. I was so happy and relieved to come back and reread that it was just your monitor.

Maybe this one was a poem like thing.

Mindy Tarquini said...

I have a place at the Jersey shore that's on the marshes, Patry. Haven't been able to get there in winter in years. These photos made me homesick.

Jana B said...

The tree sounds absolutely beautiful!

Patry Francis said...

mindy: maybe this year?

Jana B: Thanks--though my kids did make me add some decorations in the end. Still I loved collecting those berries and adding them to the tree.