July 25, 2014
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Some good music and good laughs and with Mr. Sundberg on his way to Michigan and the kids out at the drive-in with their friends, it was just me and the radio, and after the show? Off went the radio, and it was just me. I got to thinkin' about how good it feels to just be quiet for a while and how much more of the world I notice when I don't speak or sing or make noise for a stretch.
A lot happens in a day. In an hour, even. I hear the kids' conversations, the hum of the refrigerator, the neighbor hollering at his dog (or his wife, not quite sure but I'm hoping it's the dog. It's not a vicious holler, more of a blowin' off steam holler, but still.) I hear the wind rustlin' up the birch leaves, and some little kid a few blocks away blowing a whistle, and planes and trains and the Schwann's truck stopping by the corner. I hear the tick of the living room clock. And now I hear Elvis singin' "Love Me Tender" over on the radio, and the very familiar crackle this bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms makes every time I reach inside for one of my all-time favorite candies. I don't think I have it in me to be quiet for a good while every single day, but when I'm so inclined, I enjoy it, and feel relaxed and as if my senses have had a tune-up.
I believe it was Mr. Edward Hopper who said, "If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." A subtle argument for silence now and then. Imagine all the lovely artwork that wouldn't exist if people kept yappin' away 24/7. I remember, long ago, when our oldest daughter was a wee one and couldn't form a sentence, I covered the basement floor in long pieces of newsprint from a roll I picked up at a garage sale. I stripped her down to her diaper, gave her a bucket of blue paint, and let her have at it. Wasn't long before she'd painted not only her own chubby face and belly, but the bulk of the floor, too, in a fine assortment of swishes and splashes and blobs. An expression of who she was, covering the basement floor. It was something to behold. Calls to mind an article I read not too long ago about the paintings made after people coated themselves in paint and made love on giant canvases. Odd, perhaps, but my gosh. The beautiful prints that came of all that fun speak volumes about our bodies, how we move, and how we love.
Animals do it, too. They manage to get through their lives without saying a whole lot of words (except for a bird here and there), but they're communicating left and right, in all kinds of ways. A dog will stare a person down if there's something he wants. A cat will let you know she'd rather not participate but will happily observe. Our pet rabbit goes leaping when he has a bit of freedom. Joy, I tell you. And I saw a video recently, elephants holding brushes with their trunks, painting away on canvases, making flowers and shapes and all kinds of art. Even the trees have expressions to share. Someone somewhere attached markers to the long leafy branches of willows and put canvases on the ground, and I'll be darned if those trees, with the help of the everlovin' Wind, didn't draw some breathtaking pictures.
I love words. I thrive on them. They're my fifth food group, my magic carpet, my all-time favorite dance. But I love silence, too, and that's where you'll find some of the most real stories ever. Fairy tales, adventures, and truths about what it means to be alive. No pronunciation to trip you up, grammar to stumble through, or the right word for which to search. Give it a try sometime.
Build a campfire, invite people to gather 'round, and sit awhile in silence. Or take a walk with someone you love, and do so in silence. Give your dog a paintbrush dipped in purple paint. Or invest in sidewalk chalk, the deluxe box, 48 colors and give the driveway a sweep before the cousins arrive. Suggest they draw the history of people, and see what happens. Not a lot of chatter, I'll bet. But visions, yes, unedited. And something you never thought of before. That's what happens when we stop talking. Something else takes over, something elusive. Something for which, after a while, you'll find the words.
There are winter desserts and summer desserts, and this is definitely one for a hot July day. Perfect for a luncheon or tea, or simply set it out on the picnic table and give each of the kids a spoon.
Mrs. Sundberg's Mother's Strawberry Angel Food Dessert
2 3 oz pkg strawberry Jell-O
2 10 oz pkg sliced frozen strawberries
2 T sugar
2 pinches salt
1 angel food cake, torn in pieces
1 pt whip cream, whipped
Dissolve Jell-O in 2½ cups boiling water. Stir in thawed berries, sugar & salt. Cool until Jell-O begins to thicken. Fold in whipped cream. Cover bottom of 9x13 pan (glass one works best) with half of torn cake. Spoon over half of berries & cream mixture. Make another layer using the rest of the cake and top with remaining berries and cream. Refrigerate 4-5 hours to set. Add dollop of whip cream or fresh strawberries when serving.