Lint and Light

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.

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About Mary Jo Doig

At the turn of the millennium, I arrived at a cross-road that brought me to a splendid, if unforeseen place, almost as if I were a traveler on Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled. I was single again, my three children were grown and building their lives, I'd experienced a health issue and was working on an improved lifestyle. I also ached to do two other things: (1) change my long human services career in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, where winter seemed to be at least seven months out of every year, and (2) move to a warmer place in the universe. My decision: did I want to continue on the path I'd been following pretty much all my life, or could I gather my then-fragile courage and start life brand new somewhere else? These were scary thoughts for a single woman in her late 50s. Five hundred miles away, though, I fell in love with a new mountain range, Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where I knew not a soul except my daughter who was attending college in the Shenandoah Valley, and I moved. I rented a tiny cabin on a mountain in the woods and lived there in solitude for two years, working in a new career by day and, when home, communing with the incredible natural beauty that surrounded me. There I also began to write my life stories, which were aching for release. I joined the Story Circle Network in early 2001, a rich place in cyberspace for women life writers, where I strengthened my written voice and began sharing my stories. I found so many opportunities to grow: 10 year facilitator for an online writing circle of women writers across the country; thirteen year editor of the "True Words from Real Women" section of the quarterly Journal; a reader and reviewer of women's memoirs for the SCN Book Review site; program chair for two Stories from the Heart national conferences in Austin, T. Presently I'm teaching Women's Life-Writing and Older Women's Legacy workshops in my part of the world in Central Virginia and facilitating the ongoing Circle of Memories Writing Circle (formerly an OWL workshop that continued on) at the Crozet Public Library. I am blessed with three wonderful children, a son and two daughters; a small, huge-hearted family; dear friends; my beagle Addie and cat Button. My hobbies include reading, writing, editing, cooking, gardening, quilting, knitting, biking, and simply being with the profound beauty of the mountains that embrace my small two acres in the Blue Ridge. The life stories I began writing in 2001 have grown deeper with time, re-writes, and personal growth. All these years later, I'm scheduled to publish my memoir, Stitching a Patchwork Life, in 2018.
This entry was posted in Grace, Living Mindfully, Mystery, Simplicity. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lint and Light

  1. Thank you for posting Connie’s story. We often overlook the small gifts in front of us. Here’s to awareness of light… and lint

    Like

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