it dwells, as too many things do, in the back of my old blue station wagon, the one so old it pre-dates the cupholder as standard feature.
it once was a wedding present from a friend i dearly love. for years and years it covered our bed. then the bed of the boys who came two and 10 years after the wedding. then it started getting so holey i thought it might wend its way around the little one’s neck some night, so off the bed it came.
in the back of the car it landed.
which, it turns out, is a most essential thing.
the blanket, now, has a much more important job than keeping arms and legs and little pink toes covered through the night.
the blanket, now, is in charge of instant, spontaneous, unanticipated (have we sufficiently pounded home that point?) taking time out. the blanket, indeed, is for emergencies.
emergencies of most essential non-essential nature.
see, the sad thing about me–or one of them, at least–is that i am not a natural-born heehaw girl. no, no. that would be some other self, a one i’ve never truly caught up with.
i remember long, long ago being home for spring break and being holed in my room for like 10 hours straight, memorizing every blessed function in the human body for a doozie of a physiology exam. i remember my papa, a man known to keep his fingers to the keyboard for sessions that routinely went late into the night, i remember him coming to my room, practically nabbing me by the scruff of the neck, offering forth one of his famous gene-isms: “the wise man says, a nose to the grindstone only leads to one thing, a sharp nose.”
and so he ushered me out the door, down the stairs and off to some silly movie.
i still need prompts. i still need post-its stuck around my life, reminding me that not every hour need be for getting something done.
i still need, basically, someone to grab me by the neck, point me down the stairs, turn me in the direction of silly movies.
my papa’s not around, so i keep my blanket near at hand. you, like many who’ve glanced in the back of my wagon, might wonder why i travel, 12 months a year, with my holey blanket.
well, the reason, one of them anyway, made itself duly apparent yesterday when me and the ol’ wagon and those two boys turned in at the lighthouse parking lot instead of driving by. i lurched the car into park (if you’ve ever driven with me you know i don’t choose these verbs randomly, they are plucked with true precision), slung backpack over shoulders and, while wondering eyes absorbed the shock, i hauled blanket from the back.
“c’mon boys,” i shouted over my shoulder, headed down the hill. “we’re going to the beach.”
mind you, our beach was less than a mile from our house, but we fell into communion with all those around the globe, many of whom started out from here, the town that’s been deserted, stretched out on sands, slathered under sunscreen.
oops. i forgot the sunscreen.
ah well, the blanket, you recall, is prompt for unintended fun. it has no duties in the practical department. that would be another post-it i’ll need to leave around: don’t forget the sunscreen.
before i leave you stranded on the beach, though, my whole point in bringing up my blanket is the most essential grace of stopping time sometimes. hitting the proverbial pause. even if, especially if, you’re not a million miles from home, and you’ve not packed a suitcase.
the zen buddhists teach us well, and muslims too: take time out of your day. carve deep places for quiet contemplation. and don’t forget the prayer of the unplanned picnic.
to gather on a beach, to bury legs in sand. to watch the waters ebb and flow. it can be a holy moment. the sacred sound of laughing with your children, or anyone you love.
there is unending grace, it seems, in allowing an ordinary moment to turn itself inside out, to expose the whimsy of an hour when all that really matters is that you’re not doing the thing you thought you would have been.
so here’s the prompt: be ready in an instant. don’t leave home without your holey blanket.
tomorrow: what happens when you stretch out on holey blankets.
photo credit: my sweet will, armed with camera, whereas i was not, indulged me–and all of you–with the image up above. sumptuous, is it not?
and now, your turn: how do you remind yourselves to take time out for unadulterated joy? are you, unlike me, good at skipping class?
That was a delicious piece! Those Divine interruptions in my life, when something so wonderful, and unplanned, happens. My favorite is when my “best laid plans” are failing, the day is a dud, in my estimation, and here comes a knock on the door, the cell phone rings, and somebody draws the best out of me, or just plain blesses my socks off. And my heart leaps!That reminds me of Pullupachair. Always there with a delightful surprise, to challenge and embrace me. Thank you!
First off, the beloved blanket made me think of a few things. I just returned from St. Louis, where the humidity was a bit higher than Chicago. This Northern Minnesota girl loves sleeping with the windows open and blankets piled high. I was not anticipating humidity in St. Louis in March, nor the need for an air conditioner, but I gave in to the electronic waves of coolness after getting one restless night of sleep. I am now back in Chicago where I want to have atleast one more day with my flannel sheets before they are put in the cedar chest. Can I have both the flannel sheets and warm spring days?The blanket also reminds me of a pair of plain white sheets that accidentally were washed with a blue ink pen. Needless to say, when the sheets were put on the bed next, there was a bit of a blue surprise. Now after washing those sheets many times through, the blue spots are mere shadows. It makes me ponder all that washes away and how many times I have laid on those sheets and dreamed the night away. So here’s to the gift of well-loved and well-worn linens whether they are on beds, station wagon seats or beaches.i think my mind has been focused on too many serious things as of recently. Today’s table gathering reminds me that the lakeshore is calling and I can’t be late for a run along the lake. Maybe I will even stop for a moment and dip the bits of my toes in the water.
The photo is amazing … truly like something you’d see in a magazine, as are all of your photos. It brings to mind pictures in the great magazines I dive into and have a tough time getting out of (Mary Jane’s Farm, Country Living, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, etc.). Spectacular job, Will.I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one clinging to thread-bare blankets and quilts that I love more with each washing. There’s something so comforting about wrapping yourself up in a fabric so familiar and friendly. I guess it’s my grown-up version of a blankie.
I really learned the art of spontaneous picnics in Sydney Australia. We were there 6 years ago for 3 heavenly months. Everyone it seems keeps a picnic rug tucked in the stroller, car or under one’s arm. The playground was always littered with brightly colored blankets or “rugs”. We treated ourselves to one…billabong picnic rug… brushed wool on top, rubber coated on the bottom. No soggy picnics for us! It travels with us everywhere. It is warm when we are cold and makes a great place to lay and watch fireworks, rolling waves, kites flying or children running happily.When we have a ” proper picnic”, we actually place a small table cloth in the middle of the rug where the food in spread and we sit around the edge. It is delightful. We have a lovely arboretum a mile from the house (no beach that close) where we often meet my husband for a picnic supper in the late spring and summer. Can’t wait to begin that again….thanks for sparking the memories and sharing the beautiful photo, Will.