motherhood, stray thoughts
comments 6

To penetrate the familiar

Viburnum in the snowSnowy branches

Penetrating the familiar is by no means a given. On the contrary, it is hard, hard work.
The Situation and the Story, Vivian Gornick

There was a morning last week when we woke to snow. We hadn’t been following the forecast, and so to us it was all a beautiful surprise. When I write early, climbing the stairs to the loft room, the sky is still dark, but that morning it was like entering a cave — the windows covered with a layer of snow. Writing there I felt like I was encased in cotton wool. There wasn’t much; it was gone by lunchtime. But there’s nothing like seeing the world dusted in white to make the familiar seem somehow magically transformed.

The weeks go by & we try to keep the rhythm. Next week, a break again: half-term and the Moose’s fifth birthday. Today has been about errands: renewing our parking permit; phoning to arrange a new mouthpiece for T’s clarinet & then driving to pick it up. There was a trip with the Pip-Pop to the park where it was cold & empty and we spent half an hour alone as he raced between the train and the fire engine and the slide. And, after school, it will be swimming day, and there will be rushing and changing and waiting and changing and tea and baths and bed. We try to keep the rhythm, though sometimes I feel like the rhythm is keeping me. I liked this interview with Björk. “Women are the glue. It’s invisible, what women do.”

Snowy roof


  1. That invisible work, the holding together that’s noticed only when it’s absent – is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. And yes; sometimes I too feel the rhythm is keeping me…Enjoy the change of pace next week.

    • Sarah says

      Thanks, Kate. Sometimes it’s good just to know that I’m not the only one. Here’s to keeping our own beat when we can & dancing with grace when we can’t.

  2. Your post really resonated with me too! That all to familiar rhythm … so powerful, it can sometimes carry you away from yourself.

    Beautifully written!

    • Sarah says

      Thanks, Nicole. There are times — that first year or so with a new baby, for example — when I think that all we can do is go with the rhythm that life dictates & know that it isn’t forever. It’s hard though.

  3. That first photo: wow!! love it. And thanks for the reference to Gornick – must look that up. Reminds me of I think, a Harold Bloom quotation, which I’ll botch, something about how men go on quests and women run errands. Disparaging, obviously, but something to turn on its head, too.

    • Sarah says

      Thanks, Shawna. So funny — I was thinking of you & all your beautiful photos of decaying flowers when I took that one. I was hoping our neighbour might have a rose left, but it was just the viburnum in flower. (Come to think of it, the snow was probably reminding me of your photos too!). Glad something of that came through! (& thanks for the inspiration!)

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