From Memphis Commercial Appeal Dec. 29, 2011
Treasure gift of found time while it lasts
By Lori Borgman
MCT Information Services
The week after Christmas is when nothing happens.
If you’re a teacher, you’re on vacation.
If you’re a student, you’re sleeping in.
If you work for a big corporation, your company may shut down and tell you to take the week off.
If you have a literary agent, she will tell you nothing happens with publishing houses from now until January.
Congress is on holiday.
Even the phone solicitors go quiet. They figure we’re all broke, having overspent on the holidays.
Even if you’re working, there’s a different tempo to the office. It’s a little more laid back, a lot less intense.
The week when nothing happens is one of the most enjoyable weeks of all.
It’s found time, like when friends are coming for dinner, you have everything ready and they’re 15 minutes late. It’s the best 15 minutes of the week. It’s 15 minutes of time you weren’t counting on, 15 minutes to clean out your wallet, organize your desk, answer e-mails or throw out old newspapers.
Time puts on the brakes in the week before we turn the page to a new year. The pace slows, the shopping frenzy begins to wane, the canned music stops, and here and there you find a few minutes to breathe.
You have time not only to fill the birdfeeder, but also to watch the birds. The chickadee is so dainty.
The nuthatch is crazy. The albino cardinal has returned. Surely, it can’t be the same one three years running.
There’s no need to sprint to the kitchen in the morning. The crowd is gone. They’ve left behind full trash cans, a smattering of leftovers and echoes of laughter.
You can take time to examine frost on the window if you like. Or enjoy the morning sun spilling in through the window.
You can make a cup of tea. The real kind, with loose leaves in the tea ball, and wait for it to steep instead of shaking the pot. You may even have the luxury of waiting for the tiny leaves that escaped from the mesh ball to sink to the bottom. If this isn’t the good life ...
You can linger over the cards you opened at warp speed before Christmas and threw in a basket without so much as a glance.
You might even find time to clean out your sock drawer, match the plastic lids and tubs and straighten up that mess under the sink.
If it has snowed, you can pause at twilight, watch the sky fade to pink and the snow turn to blue.
Time moving slowly, filled with simple pleasures: It’s a wonderful time of the year.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
From Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, December 7, 2011:
It was on this day in 1972 that astronauts on the Apollo 17 spacecraft took a famous photograph of Earth, a photo that came to be known as "The Blue Marble." Photographs of Earth from space were relatively new.
In 1948, the astronomer Fred Hoyle said, "Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available — once the sheer isolation of the Earth becomes plain — a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose."
The photograph captured on this day thirty-nine years ago was the first clear image of the Earth, because the sun was at the astronauts' back, and so the planet appears lit up and you can distinctly see blue, white, brown, even green. It became a symbol of the environmental movement of the 1970s, and it's the image that gets put on flags, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and posters.
The crew of Apollo 17 was about 28,000 miles away from Earth when they took the Blue Marble photo. It was the last time that astronauts, not robots, were on a lunar mission — since then, no people have gotten far enough away from Earth to take a photo like it.
What you do in your own backyard affects the whole earth.