welcome: making our way into the landscape of white
here is where the white begins.
white is quiet. white whispers. white welcomes you into its folds.
white is lace handkerchief tucked in my grandma’s pocket. white is pure cotton sheets, drying on the line where the sunshine and breeze do all the work.
white is the garden that gertrude jekyll dreamed of, that she planted, and wrote of, in her 1899 tome, “wood and garden: notes and thoughts, practical and critical, of a working amateur.” (oh, that we should be such amateurs.)
“snow-white,” she wrote, “is very vague. there is so much blue from it’s crystalline surface.”
as she traipses through her victorian beds, her riotous plantings that broke out of the corseted ways of the times, dear gertrude notices all of the many, many shades of white: there is milk-white, and lemon white, and, yes, at last there is clear white.
there are first snowdrops poking through late winter’s crust, banners of hope, periscopes from the underworld, looking out to see if it’s safe yet. might it be time to tiptoe onto the landscape, they ask. they dare ask.
and so we, too, come to this landscape of pure cotton sheets, of gardenia petals, of damask dinner napkins lifted out from the mothballs. of the pages of old, favorite books. of snow as it falls.
here we are, in this new place, where soon enough we will settle in, will feel like old home.
oh, sure it might take some getting used to. but i’m beginning to think of the beauties of the unfettered slate. of the wash just after its folded, when the smoothed-out wrinkles wear proudly their scrubbed-up whiteness. as far back as i know, white has been the color of choice for the papers on which ink spills. at least when the mission is words. inky black on parchment white.
we’ll give it a whirl.
and before i leave this welcome postcard, i’ve brought along poet mary oliver, who i trusted would have had something to say about white.
by Mary Oliver
in the fields
I lay down in the darkness
to think about death,
but instead I fell asleep,
as if in a vast and sloping room
filled with those white flowers
that open all summer,
sticky and untidy,
in the warm fields.
When I woke
the morning light was just slipping
in front of the stars,
and I was covered
I don’t know
how it happened—
I don’t know
if my body went diving down
under the sugary vines
in some sleep-sharpened affinity
with the depths, or whether
that green energy
rose like a wave
and curled over me, claiming me
in its husky arms.
I pushed them away, but I didn’t rise.
Never in my life had I felt so plush,
or so slippery,
or so resplendently empty.
Never in my life
had I felt myself so near
that porous line
where my own body was done with
and the roots and the stems and the flowers
please, let me know if you’re warming to white….