Sunday, April 28, 2013

Build, harvest, brew, be human

When I clam, I put a couple back. I know there will always be more when I do this. I am also keeping a promise to my niece, who has a habit of returning more quahogs than she actually rakes, though she eats them readily enough. (Hi, Claire!)

When I build something permanent, I try to get it right. Wood is forgiving, to a point, and it will last past a lifetime if cared for properly. The tree has already given up the ghost, and I will soon enough.

I obviously need sunscreen on my head now, photo credit Leslie

Every piece of wood I ever worked with had its own personality. Cedars tend to act like cedars, oak like oak, but even within a species is just enough variation to keep things interesting. 

I stacked together hundreds, maybe thousands, of rocks back in my early twenties, to build a wall that would outlast my life. I built it carefully, and I hope someone acknowledges as much a hundred years from now. No way to know, of course, and in the end, the admiration of someone who has yet to breathe is besides the point.

That's me, being by Leslie again
What matters is caring every moment we have.

Not sure my students grasp why I do half the things that I do, but by this time of year, they trust why I do them. It's a good time of year to be a teacher, if you've been doing this right.

And for all the errors I make every day, I mostly do this right. 

And all we have is moments.
I have a chance to write for a national organization, and I may yet, but I need to do it for the right reasons.
In the end, why we do things matters almost as much as what we actually do.


lucychili said...

I think you should write for them. I think you inherently have the right intention re teaching and science and that kind of perspective could do with some airtime. =)

doyle said...

Dear lucychili,

I may have the right intention, and I may do it, but will sit on it a few days. Right now I write mostly for Leslie and for me--perhaps selfish reasons, but this is my joy.

Unknown said...

I don't build stuff. I reached a point where I failed too much. And I married someone who can build and fix better than me.

I'm beginning to believe on a deeper level than ever before that the whole "two become one" thing is real.

But I do feel that what you describe is how I feel about art and cooking and gardening and so many things I do that have nothing to do with the economy.

doyle said...

Dear John,

You write novels--that's building.

The two become one" gets more and more real the longer you're together.

Art, cooking, and gardening have everything to do with the economy of life. The word comes from "oikos," or home. What could be more home than those things?

Leslie said...

I sure do hope novel-writing is building! Because I'm definitely behind in the porch and fridge rebuilding around here. (I'll take some of the cooking credit, though Michael's cornered the market on clam-cuisine.)

cope said...

In my seventh decade of animation, my building days are less frequent than they once were. This past weekend, I spent 7 hours installing an outside light mounted under the soffit of my garage. Much energy was expended and many oaths were hurled. In the past, I did many things to cars, tiled 2,000 square feet of house, built fences and generally made myself feel useful around the house. Now...not so much. My plan is to spend more time reintroducing myself to my Fender 12-string.

A student brought a very nice Ovation guitar to class the other day and I could not resist taking it up and playing. While playing and singing an Irish ballad of criminal mischief, I looked up to see a veritable paparazzi of students recording me and taking pictures on their phones. I hope that doesn't make it into my yearly evaluation.

As I ease on down the road, cooking, music and maybe some kind of writing will suit my desires to build. At least those are things I should be able to do pretty much to the end.

doyle said...

Dear Leslie,

I love you!

Dear cope,

I am delighted to hear these words--I am nursing a very sore hip, and am not sure how much longer I can pretend to play carpenter. Decline is hard.

My oath to substance ratio, however, remains forever young, and your words lifted my spirits.

Thank you!

Barbara said...

After 50 years of being a tugboat captain, my father retired. He loved his job and he missed it. He puttered around the house, he fixed everything and most everything he did stayed fixed. Then he needed something else to do so he took up woodcarving, in the extreme. He was 70 at the time. Only hand tools, not even sandpaper. Dad couldn't draw, but here he was carving all sorts of beautiful figures out of blocks of wood. And after that he stained them into glorious pieces of art. He did this up until about a year ago when he was 85. They have lived on after him and will live on long after I am gone. I found some unfinished pieces. I wonder if I should try my hand at it. I might sacrifice a thumb. We'll see.

I haven't built anything lately, but my cooking is getting better and my three offspring are flourishing. I think I did that right, at least.

doyle said...

Dear Barbara,

Maybe "builder" is the wrong word. "Creator" or "maker" work better, and you and I have both created a few lives that make the world a better place.

Tell you what--let's celebrate that on June 8th!