Anne Horrigan Geary: Brain freeze

Saturday January 26, 2013


I just shoveled the driveway in this single-digit weather. I’m sorry to report my brain is frozen and I can’t string three sentences together in a moderately coherent way. So here are a series of musings from which (it is hoped) you will be able to extract a nugget or two of golden wisdom.

Perhaps from that you will spin your own essay. Story starters we called them in school. I wish you all greasy luck (which is what whalers were wished when they sailed from port on a perilous journey).

Seeing the shadows. When the slanting sun paints your wall with unnoticed objects, bent and juxtaposed in unusual ways, what are you really seeing? A six-inch-tall impatience cutting has rooted in its plastic cocoon and reveals a microcosm of summer on a winter windowsill.

Which is your favorite season? Last year’s calendar still hangs on the wall, a reminder of a year’s worth of joy, sorrow, unfinished projects, unmet needs. Review the past or preview the future year.

A collection of treasures. On a framed wooden tray there are: four rectangular colored glass paperweights, two votive candles in violet holders, one chunk of brain coral from the Caribbean, two rocks, a green ceramic basket full of seashells, a slice of blue agate, a bird carved from a mushroom, a clothespin, and a small plastic plate holder. What can we make of this accumulation or learn about the collector? What do you collect?

Baskets. Woven baskets are a product of the basketweaver’s art. They are useful and often very beautiful containers. Why is it so difficult for beauty and utilitarianism to coexist?

The Kerry ram is staring at me. My collection of stuffed toys includes: four Beanie Baby bears, Queen Celeste from the Babar stories, and a Kerry ram. Kerry was made in County Kerry, Ireland from scraps of wool -- some plaid, some plain. He has white button eyes and is topped with a thatch of fisherman’s wool yarn. He’s one of my treasured companions and writing buddies. What do you treasure?

I bought Kerry on our first trip to Ireland, after waiting half an hour past the posted opening time for the shop where he resided to open. From the owner of the shop I learned my favorite Irish motto: "When God made time, He made a lot of it." Like some Caribbean folks, the Irish have an expansive view of time and how it should be used. When we are there, we adopt the "don’t hurry, don’t worry" attitude also. What situations allow you to relax and slow down?

"Mohawk" is a word with many meanings. It’s the name of a Native American tribe; but here in the Berkshires we are more apt to think of it in connection with the famous scenic route over the mountains called the "Mohawk Trail." I see the word every day, etched on a green quart soda bottle sitting on my windowsill. Mohawk Beverages was a local soda bottling company at which several of my Horrigan family members labored. Think of a word which has a special, personal meaning for you.

Music. Music wakes me and shakes me. After listening to the Boston College "Screaming Eagles" marching band perform in the Inaugural Parade Monday, I rooted out a music CD of the band. I also have a CD from the UMass Minuteman Marching Band, in which one son played. Marches make me want to move around the room in time with the drummers’ cadence. Who can hear the tunes of John Philip Sousa without feeling the tempo right down to their fingertips? Why is that?

I know I’ve asked a lot of questions today, and I hope you can take a crack at answering some of them. Writing is not a spectator sport. Jump in!

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.


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