Olive Ayhens’ ONTIME / Grand Central at 100
In the New York Transit Museum at Grand Central Station.
Great Designer, we give you thanks for the Beaux in the Arts, the clock in the center, the station grand and central by design, the tick of the clock rushing us to track 19, leaving no time to buy a Zabar’s or an oyster or a slush. We give you thanks for large visas in crowded places, for the way Apple has snuck its logo into a logo free place, causing us to admire that massive energy that made way for trains.
For the 100 years of the grand centralizing station, and all the people we have met under its clock, we give you thanks. So often our prayers are pastel with nature. Today we thank you for the black and grey of industry within industry within industry, for the lanyard of it and the way we coil to make our train and uncoil when we have made it. So many things are made small by what they exclude and separate. Thank you for letting the grand and central Includer continue to gather and connect. Thank you for the grand in the grand. And get us to our next train with time to spare. Amen.
Aging and Seeding and Seasons
As I age, I want to notice what I think I have already seen. As the planet ages, I want us all to notice what we think we have already seen. Otherwise, we go to seed without seeding.
Once, I saw the deep blue wine berries of fall differently than I had seen them before. Often considered a weed, they are blousy and fat, dominating and unplanted. They look like those shelves in antique stores where blue glasses and vases and pitchers cling together for color. They have a way of getting whatever nourishment they need wherever they are. More leaf than berry, you have to sleuth the blues. They self-plant and self-seed, the way Vandana Sheva says Indian women did before Monsanto tried to criminalize their sustainable skills. The same weekend I had seen fall watercress in the market. I hadn’t seen watercress for years, not since one Pennsylvania dawn when the green challenged the white snow on the ground. I realized that I know joy in the morning and the watercress, the weeds and the blues. When I give myself the time to to notice what I have already seen, I often get to the refreshment stand, where I can drink gladness without paying for it. The green of watercress and the blue of wine berries may be all I need to remember. That plus my time and place, my here and now, my then and again.
So many of us have spiritual Alzheimer’s. Many of us fear we are the last generation, with the last seed. We remember when the mail came in envelopes or you had to get up to change the TV channel. We even thought of eventually writing a memoir. Then Arianna Huffington announced she doesn’t want to write a memoir because dead people do them. And Momofuku adds, “Memoir is written from leather armchairs with scores settled.“
When blue wine berries and green watercress can still surprise us, we aren’t dead and our scores aren’t settled. We are just saving our seed. I may be 66 but I am an early feminist. I may be an aging hippie but I prefer the title Senior hippie. I was well advised to tell my grandchildren to call me Bubbe instead of Grandma. “Grandma” would make me feel old, “Bubbe” would amuse me. You get my drift, coded in apologies for having gotten old while I wasn’t looking. I still want to be the next Verlyn Klinkenborg. I want his perch as a country writer to whom city people listen. Or to be the chaplain at Google and let them know how much pastors know about privacy and confidentiality. I want to retire without becoming retiring, age alert to blues and greens. I want to know season as well as a fall wine berry does. I want to emerge from the cold with the courage of the water’s cress. I want to be able to remember without distortion and to save seeds, knowing one time and place is always yielding to the next.