Connie Spittler is a member, as I am also privileged to be, in a dynamic Work in Progress writing group. Recently she shared this story with us and I was so moved by it, I asked her permission to repost it here. Connie’s bio follows her unforgettable story.
Years ago, I met a man who noticed lint. After Reinhold Marxhausen watched his wife clean the clothes dryer screen, he began to collect this peculiar stuff. He did not see throwaway material, but rather, texture, color and invention. A Professor of Art at Concordia College in Seward, NE, he layered the multi-colored fibers under glass, forming abstractions that echoed landscape. I bought one, as a reminder to look more closely at my immediate world.
The philosophy of lint, I called it, a way of noticing beauty in the simplest of things, which was Marxhausen’s intention all along. Value the commonplace, he meant. See the abstract cracks in the asphalt. Appreciate the symmetry of dead branches and the last soap bubble in the tub. Watch the pattern of light and shadow playing on the wall.
It was this way of thinking that made my husband and I notice the passage of light in the kitchen, as I cooked supper in the afternoon. The sun journeyed through the paned window, rays casting lingering patterns on old lace cloth or red paisley runner. We watch arms of the sun catch swirls in green glass plates that belonged to my husband’s mother or wash over the oriental designs of chipped blue and white china. Fading brilliance turns the copper bowl of yellow coyote gourds from the nearby wash into a renaissance still life. The effect of sunshine on our table remains remarkable. Transitory. Free.
It took a while, but eventually we noticed the spear of light that began to move through the kitchen to the next room. The more we watched the daily shift of sun, the more intrigued we became. Months later, we discovered that twice a year this piercing light traveled through the kitchen, the next room and down the long hall leading to the bedrooms, coming to rest on the linen closet door. With hints of Stonehenge on Equinox, we reveled in time’s transitions marked in the heart of our house by an intense, narrow beam. Was it planned? Over thirty years ago, did the builder envision this phenomenon before or during construction? Unlikely, but we wondered if other occupants had seen the seasonal ray that split the late afternoon air, seeking the depths of a dark and narrow hallway? We’ll never know. But we see it. The sun in its cycle announces either that summer will soon be over or spring is on the way in celebration of the art of noticing, my philosophy of lint.
I think of the people in the world with no dryer, relying on the sun and wind to do the job. Even without lint, noticing sun and shadow is universal. If you were in my kitchen, I’d empty the dryer screen and offer you its soft treasure. The other option, of course, is for you to have your own festival of lint. Or simply celebrate the light and shadow that falls upon us all, traveling around the world. Cheers.
Connie Spittler’s essays, short stories and poetry appear in over 20 anthologies, journals and magazines. She wrote and produced The Wise Women Videos, featuring multi-cultural interviews on philosophy, the environment, and aging. The series was selected for Harvard University’s The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.
Her latest book, The Erotica Book for Nice Ladies, is an award winning fiction that involves an ancient stolen book of herbal cures. While it may sound like an erotic book, it is not; rather the author uses quotes from classic authors like Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jane Austen, etc. A review of this delightful and unusual cozy mystery is here at Story Circle Book Reviews.