Patti Smith – M Train

Patti Smith

 

I’ve just finished reading Patti Smith’s M Train and three days later I am still feeling empty and sad that it’s over.  This book  is billed as a memoir but it’s so much more than that, brimming with poignancy, wise but careful observations and a  simple, child-like take on the many things that she encounters in her everyday life. And, let me just say, that the writing is exquisite.

Consider the following:

We want things we cannot have. We seek to reclaim a certain moment, sound, sensation. I want to hear my mother’s voice. I want to see my children as children. Hands small, feet swift. Everything changes. Boy grown, father dead, daughter taller than me, weeping from a bad dream. Please stay forever, I say to the things I know. Don’t go. Don’t grow. (page 209, M Train)

It was also surprising to me that Smith is perhaps not the “angry” poet I was expecting as some of her earlier punk music/work might suggest; rather, she looks after her cats tenderly and is clearly a gentle and devoted mother. Her way of seeing and reporting beauty in the everyday is very Buddhist to me and her rapt devotion and understanding of all things Bloomsbury (she’s actually photographed and stayed at Charleston House and Monk’s House – both lofty ambitions of my own!) also resonates with me since I absolutely share that fascination and am no stranger to cherishing a special piece of rock or a translucent piece of china with a cheerful, chintz motif myself.  Continue reading

Gardening on the Long Weekend

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I was reading lately that gardening fills a void for some women as they mature and become “empty nesters.” This is a term I personally loathe but it’s an economical way to get the point across. As I was kneeling in my garden today, gratefully breathing in the heady scent from my two lilac trees and allowing myself to pause, whenever I liked really, to admire the iridescent navy-blue throats of the grackles that everyone seems to despise but me or to visit with the tiny toad who crossed my glove and then became very still, one foot up, one foot down, in case I had seen him (which I had and was delighted) I thought how different this experience was from an earlier version of my-gardening-self some ten years ago when it was imperative to get those vegetables planted, perennials divided and seeds planted in a kind of dizzying Operation Desert Storm long weekend which bore no resemblance to the calm, contemplative, almost Zen-like experience I enjoyed today. Continue reading