We are thrilled to share some hand-picked readers' notes from Issue 54: The Everyday. Be sure to check out our spring issue which releases mid-March!
From Rick Kempa, Grand Junction, CO
Alerted by the crunch of her slippers in the snow, hundreds of little brown birds in the bushes quiver. Each winter morning, she hauls a pail down the steps, scoops out one, two, three cups, flings seed right and left, goes back in and emerges with a pot of water steaming like a cauldron. There’s a pie tin frozen to the earth beneath the cherry tree. She frees it with her toe, stoops, taps it against a rock until a disk of ice pops out, refills it.
We stand in the bedroom window, elbow-to elbow, and watch the little brown birds swarm, tides of them incoming and outgoing, attuned to some primal pattern. Collared doves drop down off the wire to strut and peck, peck and strut. We listen for the clarion call of the jay to thrill through the neighborhood, summoning the tribe that will arrive from all sides and scatter the LBBs in loud clouds. Then comes a squirrel and away the jays, complaining, and the dogs in their pen are crazed. By mid-morning, every last seed has been cracked open, the kernel extracted, and a film of ice has formed upon the tin, and Fern, surveying the scene from the window—the doves brooding on the wire, the squirrel on the fence, the LBBs in the bushes side- stepping and twitching—frowns.
“It’s like nothing has changed,” she exclaims. “They’re all still hungry! And cold, too.”
And so out again into the snow she goes with pail and pot to feed the huddled masses.
From Rebecca Moon Ruark, Galesville, MD
As the newest church choir soprano, I’m becoming accustomed to joining my voice—still shaky with nerves—with others. To hear the parts commingle and swell from our pews to the right of the altar, where a statue of Mary holds an infant Jesus on her lap. My own boys, twin tweens, don’t clamber for my lap anymore. I am no longer needed to keep the peace in the pew, so I joined the choir for Christmas’s glorias and stayed.
Soon it will be both Ordinary Time and ordinary time. Not every song can be a gloria; not every day a holiday, an anointing. We are all a little peaky with high notes, fats, and sugar, in need of a tonic. I remember the glorious day of my boys’ baptism, chrism anointing their pinched infant foreheads, marking them God’s and ours. But more than that, I remember the restaurant meal after, a big group of us at a long table by the windows overlooking the parking lot.
It was a Greek place in a strip mall anchored by pawn shops and cell phone stores. But the salted bread arrived warm, puffed, and steaming. Not wanting to miss such mundane bliss, I nursed the boys at the table.
From Frank DiPalermo, San Diego, CA
I am a tourist in this Caribbean ocean, on vacation from December, swimming too far from the boat where I decide not to worry for a while—about swimming too far, about my rickety aunt back home, about all the accolades I don’t receive and the money I don’t earn, about the sense of failure that plagues me no matter how much evidence I array against it.
As soon as I make this decision (don’t you dare worry!) two sharks appear, swim in slow drowsy circles over the vibrant reef, twenty, thirty feet below, seemingly unaware of me, of each other, of the magic of sunlight slanting through the water making a glinting web around me, around them and, even though they are sharks, I somehow stick to my miraculous decision not to worry.
The three of us swim and glide, together and separate, them at home and fearless, me—like I said—a tourist, marveling at the neighborhood.
Art: My Minneapolis by Miriam Rudolph
Each issue of Ruminate includes personal notes from our readers on a topic—we love hearing from our readers! For even more stories, poetry, and art from our community, be sure to subscribe.
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