Winter Koan.

I stop in at the former Hardwick Gazette building, now turned into the Civic Standard, an organization trying to figure out itself. An acquaintance and I stand at the windows in the building’s rear, staring down at the Lamoille, where ice feathers only along the edges. The water is low enough that the rocks are mighty in the rushing current.

I drink coffee and sit crosslegged on the couch, and we talk for hours. I finally vaguely inquire if we haven’t had enough of our own words, and then we go on and on again. The building itself seems marooned in the 1970s, and even in 1972 the building likely felt stranded in 1957. An old printing press hulks beside us. One of us has an Hungarian immigrant family, and our conversation inevitably weaves in the first half of the 20th century.

December in Vermont is as good a time as any to ponder the Zen koan chop wood, carry water in the pieces of my life. Sunlight on the living room floor. Kim chi and brown rice. Reading Ruth Ozeki’s The Face on the rug.

Sunday afternoon, light snow sifts down, the sweetest gift, its fresh cold sweeping away our stale human layers of mind and emotion. I carry in an armful of wood to feed our little stove for the night. The snowflakes melt in my eyebrows. Finally, I think, finally, a scattering of snow. Then I quit thinking, close my eyes, and listen to the falling snow.

“The past is weird. I mean, does it really exist ? It feels like it exists, but where is it ? And if it did exists, but doesn’t now, then where did it go ?” 

— Ruth Ozeki

10 thoughts on “Winter Koan.

  1. Thanks for bringing to my awareness to The Face, a book of Ozeki’s I’d not heard of! Do you know her A Tale for the Time Being?

    For me, it was nearly earth-shaking. I listened to it in audio CD version. She reads it herself and really makes it live. It’s changed my understanding of time.

    • I loved that novel! When I worked at a bookstore a number of years ago, A Tale for the Time Being was on my staff picks shelf. The first book of hers I read was My Year of Meats (a very strange title, but a book I loved). The Face is a very short nonfiction book, essentially a long essay (also recommended). I didn’t realize she was the voice of her audiobooks. I’ll look into that…. Always nice to meet a fellow Ozeki fan. 🙂

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