Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Hour of Our Pearl

"It is the hour of the pearl—the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself." - John Steinbeck, Cannery Row.

It is the hour of our Pearl, our June baby who is finally here born a few weeks ago to this very tired and absentee blogger. Her middle name, Elizabeth, chosen after my own mother. I liked the vintage appeal, beauty and simplicity of Pearl. I read it was a top 25 name in the late 1800s.  Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of my favorite authors who wrote of her childhood in that era, had a sister, Grace Pearl. Soul searching for names had me thinking of the origin of my own name, Catherine, and I'd asked my mother in the past why she'd chosen it (in part because it was a name they would know in her native Switzerland). Do you know the origins of your name and why it was chosen?

I wonder what passions of mine Pearl will love too? Only time will tell. Grace, our toddler, currently loves herbal tea, books and time in the garden, as do I. She has a favorite thyme plant she carries around, pictured below, and loves to smell all of the herbs. I'm already bringing the scents of herbs to Pearl's little nose. Will any of these imprints take? My mom remarked that while so many young children everywhere are glued to devices (I've even seen infants with a screen plopped in front of them), our daughter looks at the flowers and the sky for the moon, an interest of Steve's. I've never looked at the moon so much in my life since Grace started pointing it out, and she finds hearts everywhere. She's been my teacher on my path too, as Pearl will be. Whatever passions they pursue, I hope above all else they are lovers of life.

Will they find beauty in simple things, like laundry drying in the sunshine? Baby laundry seems to me especially cheery.

I was in the hospital for five days and had no television. Aside from not wanting to pay the $12 daily fee, I longed for the peace and quiet I recalled from my hospital stay when I had Grace. We were in our own little nest, a respite from election fatigue and the tabloid times we live in.  With now two children to take care of, and as I recover from the birth which has forced my body to rest,  I'm reminded of how precious my free time is and how I want to spend it in places that are good for my body and spirit, like the garden, and among great storytellers, or even just catching up on restorative sleep. I never spend time reading, outdoors or napping thinking that I'd wasted time. So much of my online time surfing seems like precious time gone forever. With the exception of watching a few favorite programs or films, television is often wasted time too.  As I had to adjust my diet during pregnancy for a healthy baby and am trying to maintain it as I nurse, I'm on an internet and television diet too.

I chose Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth to read in the hospital, drawn to the shared name of author and baby. Spending time with Ms. Buck was so much more gladdening to the spirit than another day of election coverage...

"Moving together in perfect rhythm, without a word, hour after hour, he fell into union with her which took the pain from his labor. He had no articulate thought of anything; there was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods. The earth lay rich and dark, and fell apart lightly under the points of their hoes. Sometimes they turned up a bit of brick, a splinter of wood. It was nothing. Some time, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses stood there had fallen, and gone back into the earth. So would also their house, some time, return their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth." - Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth

I think of how Buck's character of Wang Lung always longed for the land. His soul seemed so dissatisfied when he was apart from it. My mom and I visited a local farm with Grace before I had Pearl, and after walking through the magical greenhouses, my mom remarked afterward that it was like going to church. Maybe that's why time in nature feels like a religious or spiritual experience.

"Heard a fella tell a poem one time, an' he says, 'All that lives is holy.'" - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

It's hard not to see the beauty and wonder of the world, even the holiness, words, in flowers, in my children's eyes. Do you see it everywhere?


  1. Congratulations! Glad to hear your new little one has arrived and you are both doing well. Rest and enjoy!

    1. Hi Amy. Thanks so much! Doing fine, just exhausted. I hope life is treating you well. Happy summer. Warmly, Catherine