Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wandering Concentration

It's difficult to concentrate. We need the third eye, a candle flame, paying attention to our breaths. This morning as I did my breathing exercise/ mediation, I thought of the snow storm, the ants in the cupboard feeding on the bait I had laid out for them, a passage from Marilynne Robinson's novel, Home. Our minds have peripheral vision, so to speak. (When I framed this second picture through the window screen, in the view finder, the camera picked up a moire pattern, but in the final shot the pattern disappeared. I began to think about that.)

Earlier as I breathed and counted, I thought of the cold snow and the warm life of the ants. They went for the mixture of sugar, butter and boric acid. Should I leave them be, as some believe? I would have if I hadn't found them crawling on me. It's easy to blame odd things on global warming, but I have never seen ants inside in winter.

I concentrate when I'm writing and reading.

Robinson's novel was interminable, yet I kept at it, reading a small chunk before I fell asleep. It was worth it. She gives us a sensitive portrait of a minister's family and of Christian believers. There was far too much dialogue--most of the novel is dialogue--but she lets herself finally go in this description, which was also in my head as I paid attention to my breath, inhalation and exhalation:

And here is the world, she thought, just as we left it. A hot white sky and a soft wind, a murmur among the trees, the treble rasp of a few cicadas. There were acorns in the road, some of them broken by passing cars. Chrysanthemums were coming into bloom. Yellowing squash vines swamped the vegetable gardens and tomato plants hung from their stakes, depleted with bearing. Another summer in Gilead. Gilead, dreaming out its curse of sameness, somnolence.

Now I'm looking out through two panes of glass, through the screen. The snow comes down. Across the street a little boy and his mother play frisbee. The red disk flies; they are covered with snow. Now the father comes out. He is lifting his camera.


  1. lovely, your last lines, the quick sketch of a moment.
    i liked Housekeeping so much, years ago, that i have not tried to read her newer stuff. strange, but ...

    thank you, mim.

  2. Those last line: my favorite. Thank you, Susan.

  3. I have seen moire patterns many times, but did not know what I was seeing. Google offered many definitions and examples.

    When you look through one chain-link fence at another, you sometimes see a pattern of light and dark lines that shift as you move. This pattern, called a moire pattern, appears when two repetitive patterns overlap. Moire patterns are created whenever one semitransparent object with a repetitive pattern is placed over another. A slight motion of one of the objects creates large-scale changes in the moire pattern. In your case Miriam, the screen pattern on your window seems to have been interacting with the scan of the viewfinder in your camera.

  4. Hello, Bluedog: thank you for filling in with facts! While the moire is considered a defect and a nuisance in digital photography--I've seen advice about how to get rid of it--in general I like moire. Moire fabric used to be fashionable. I like to think of it as lines bending, but that's not exactly what happens. The effect is magical.

  5. Well, here's a book with mostly dialogue and not to much of that stuff i skip...description. wowweee! thanks!
    oh, meditation, dear.....something to think about

  6. Yet, Melissa, you take pictures: almost all description. But the kind you see in a flash. I think you'll like "Home."