A cairn of small stones

Inspired by friends in the blogosphere, I’ve been participating in the January 2012 River of Stones project. The idea is that every day you write a short burst of prose, some sort of observation of the world, and then either blog it or tweet it. I’ve been confining mine to less than 140 characters so I could stick them directly up on Twitter under the #smallstone hashtag. Now that January’s over, I thought I’d pull them all together into one post and put it up here for safekeeping.

(I like the image of each of these bits of writing as a stone. Like you could pile them up and get a cairn. And I also really liked the habits of attention that this project encouraged.)

Hopped off the bus and into the blue hour. All downtown soaked in a wash of cobalt, interrupted by streetlights & lit windows.

A crop of spiky gumballs still hangs on the leafless sweetgum tree outside my office window.

Dashing between buildings on a bitterly cold day, face averted from the sun’s bright, remote, warmth-free glare.

On my walk home, church spires catch the last light. Two joggers, in matching navy sweats, emerge from the deepening twilight.

A dozen or so birds flying northwest in a ragged V that keeps shifting into a line, a loop, a shapeless huddle. Entropy.

Two men vehemently arguing on a New Haven street: “You wanted cappuccino! You wanted cappuccino!” “No, I did not!” “Yes you did!

Pink sunset light on the underside of blue clouds picks out an inverted landscape of prairies with the occasional plateau.

Constant micro-adjustments to the indoor temperature. The thermostat nudged up or down. The fleece slippers & fingerless gloves.

Burst of bright color through trees; looks like fall again, but it’s an orange-suited arborist on a cherry picker.

Two enormous raccoons outside my building. Suspicious muddy paw prints running right past my front door. Suddenly I’m nervous.

The arborists’ completed work: a tree lies in perhaps two dozen neatly made sections on the grass.

A thick disc of milky-opaque ice, raised irregularly in the middle, in my landlord’s birdbath this morning.

Distant church bells overlay the thumping bass from a passing car’s radio.

Yesterday night’s snow, this morning’s slush, this evening’s damp and vaguely slippery sidewalks.

Swaying gently in my chair to a glam-rock spreadsheet-editing soundtrack. Trees outside sway a little more briskly in the wind.

Freezing morning air took <5 minutes to insinuate right through the fingertips of my gloves and the cables and ribs of my hat.

Dusting of snow last night. Tree branches catching the morning light look like they’ve been lightly dipped in cream.

Pleasures of a snow day: walking in the middle of the street. For once, more pedestrians than cars. We grin at each other.

Three loads of laundry hastily done at the end of the weekend. The smell of clean, heated cloth pervades the apartment.

The waitress brushes crumbs from the table with a solicitous gesture. Through the wineglass the restaurant gleams ripplingly.

On a passing oil truck, the words “MYSTIC FUEL.” It’s from Mystic, CT, but the image of fuel for mysticism is irresistible.

Bibimbap in a stone bowl too hot to touch barehanded. All through dinner it radiates heat. I scrape the last of the sticky rice.

The man in the airplane seat next to mine slept for much of the flight, his thumbs moving as if texting in his dreams.

A woman, giving directions over her cell phone, points one way and then another along the route she imagines for her hearer.

Glimpses of people’s lives through windows at dusk. A glowing fish tank, a TV turned on, a refrigerator covered with pictures.

Weird contrast of mild, benignant weather & a lingering sense of wrongness: too-early daffodils sprouting at the end of January.

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