whistlestop caboose

The view from the back.

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Moonbeam drawer: O! Eau!

Snow at melting point, darkening the honeyed stone underneath

The many faces of water

The most magical thing in the universe is one of the most universal, and I pity people in deserts their scarcity of it. Water is good for us, but its richness lies in its generosity: it is good to us. Water comes in one form and then another. Its constant transformations, especially in winter, are an inspiration. I am this but I could be that. And that, and that.

I have always loved the French word for water, eau, which can only be said correctly if you transform your mouth, normally roughly horizontal, into a suddenly rounded thing out of which springs an exclamation (technically, an ejaculation, but let's not snigger). O! is what the French really say, but compressed and pushed through the little tunnel their lips have formed.

When I moved to France in 1980 I stared at the mouths of older women. The undoubtedly thought it was their lipstick I was studying, if they noticed, but it was the lines around their mouths - so very different from lines on an older American woman. It was the O! eau! effect.


Early this morning it was relatively warm and I was trying to read Jamaica Kincaid's wonderful book about gathering seeds with nurserymen in Nepal. I was distracted by a steady plop, plop just outside the window. Snow was easing its way to the eaves. It dripped as it became water, a series of silver streaks I could almost, but not quite, see. It was too early to capture them with a camera, without flash.

Out in the garden water was rushing out of the earth into the small pond we built. The stones form a kind of French mouth out of which flies the O! eau! and the water shoots across the pond to the edge of the rock.

It grasps and clutches at air as it falls to the stream. Some of it has caught on older, colder drops that have paused here for the cold weather, in the form of small icicles.

The sky is cloudy, the peaks are snowy, the water races and freezes, and thaws.

The watershow is magnificent, and this is before we even make morning tea and coffee with it.



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