"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Monday, September 12, 2011

Displaying the Colors

The ten year anniversary of September 11th has come and gone.  Each year, during the year, the memories fade to the background and I begin to believe that day is turning into just another event in my past and in the past of America.  Invariably, however, the mere sight of an image from that horrible morning or even an event that memorializes it with a simple bowed head brings a lump to my throat and it is like it all happened just hours before.
This seems appropriate.  The younger ones who didn't experience 911 will see it as a distant memory and that is to be expected.  I watch films of the aftermath of Pearl Harbor with interest and compassion but I don't experience the event as our people did at that time.  I am not the crucible of those memories.  911 is the bubbling, molten metal of my generation and, God willing, will never be displaced by another national event of similar horror.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been doing some substitute teaching for an elementary school art class.  OMG, they are cute as bugs and busy as hummingbirds.
Several asked me if I am a witch.  They assure me this is a good thing and I am bemused that Harry Potter has so changed our cultural image of witches. 

I took that as a great compliment, considering. 

A little second grader asked me if I lived on a farm.  After a clarifying question or two, it turned out that she wondered because of my accent - I have a very heavy Texas twang that stops people in their tracks if they aren't used to it.  She and I agreed that living on a farm would be wonderful.

A third child asked me if I lived in the forest because I just looked like the kind of person who would live in the woods.  No, it was not because of my hair or my voice or clothes.  He didn't know why someone like me should live in the forest but it just seemed like I should.


Mr. Wonderful (who has an engineer's odd brain), was perplexed at this comment because this is ranch and wheat farm country so obviously I don't live in the forest. 


I am just going to chalk it up to a child's perception that someone "like me" should live in the woods and not think about it much beyond that. 

That kid had my number. 

At any rate, on Friday morning they had their weekly assembly and the topic of the week was remembering 9-11.  I've been so busy trying to stay awake/upright as a result of the fatigue associated with teaching all day that I hadn't been thinking much about the coming memorials. 

Unexpectedly, the assembly brought me to my knees, emotionally.  Seeing those earnest, innocent faces - few were even born ten years ago - reading poems and essays they'd written took me back to watching the Pentagon burn, and further, to my own childhood.  Quite a few of them have parents who served, or continue to serve, in the military and they were proud of their parents and confident that America is a wonderful place to live.  It reminded me that although events like 9-11 change the psyche of individuals and the culture of a nation, the children are still children and the horrors of the past are more like stories than trauma.  Thank god.  If we adults do our jobs right, we teach them what they need to know but don't burden them with the emotional tolls of the ages.

Over the years, I've spent 9-11 in a variety of ways.  In the early years, I sat glued to the television watching the images and stories of that day, reliving my own pain and determined to learn and remember the people who lost their lives that day.  As the years passed, I began spending more time in quiet contemplation, considering the loss of those lives and the grief of the families and loved ones who are surely still suffering.  Spiritually, I have been wearing black in mourning on this anniversary and this seems right, to me.

But like all mourning, there comes a time when you stop wearing black and clothe yourself in colors, answering the call that life sends out to all of us.  This year, we decided to turn off the television and go to a small town rodeo where the America looks and feels much like it did in my youth.  I took a lot of photos and apologize that most aren't very good because of lack of light and sufficient skill behind the camera:
It made me feel young again.

We saw kids in cowboy hats:
 Pink is big:
Kids without cowboy hats:
 But hat or no, the kids had fun:
Cowgirls with cell phones:
I think the cellphone gal is adorable.  What a sweet face!

Cowgirls without cellphones:

Powerful horses:

 Fearless cowboys:
And cowgirls:

Babies on horseback:
This little cowpoke worked the whole rodeo rounding up stray livestock:

Babies on foot:

Babies on sheep (for awhile):

Stadium lights and flags:

Good friends on horseback:
Good friends afoot (this guy lost his hat and his cow  - and his buddy thought that was a hoot):
What would we do without good friends to laugh at us and hand us our hat when we land on our butt?


It was grand.  I had on my favorite cowboy boots and trudging through the sand was a workout.  I would have much preferred to have a horse.  The estrogen and testosterone literally oozing off the young cowboys and cowgirls made me laugh.
I find that it is just as much fun to watch their sweet silliness as it was to personally drown in the hormones.  I think that is one of the most delightful surprises of getting older.
And I started a new Quilt in honor of 9-11 and, without thinking about it, was drawn to colors:

I think it is just time.

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl