We writers are a curious bunch. Curious about the world. Curious about other people. Curious to hear their stories.
A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.
Right this minute, I’m curious about African artist Raina Mazwiembiri and her Seedpod Birds.
Her talent is making birds and the seeds they dine on become one.
Mazwiembiri gives the seed pods twisted wire feet, adds putty beaks, and paints the quirky creatures in resplendent colors and patterns.
I just had to know her story. Seems that Raina’s husband, George, started making seedpod birds to earn extra money. A few years later, Raina joined him and together they sold their birds at local craft shops and markets. When her husband moved on to other things, Raina took over and now works with two of her daughters.
The seedpods come from the Ulumbu Tree, the star chestnut (Sterculia rogersii). Raina and her daughters travel seven hours to the Bulawayo area to pick them and then travel back home. The trip typically takes three days. (I’ll be googling that, I bet there’s a lot more to it.)
I’ve never heard a boring story or met a boring person. When police question neighbors after a crime occurs, often the reply is he’s always been quiet, comes and goes at the same time every day, hardly see the guy. Sounds like he was a boring person but clearly there is something to discover, a story to uncover.
I’m loving the Owen Canfield holiday stories. He’s a local man-about-town who writes short pieces about a bike hike or a falling tree, Velveeta cheese or potato pancakes. Trivial items, maybe, but not trivial topics. Everything has meaning, doesn’t it?
Every Christmas I reread the stories, poems, and essays in Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book. (It was new in 1977. It’s still new to me every year. Aren’t I lucky?)
It’s one plum pudding of a book. 200 pages of literary love. Ogden Nash, Laura Ingalls Wilder, O. Henry, Charles Dickens, Taylor Caldwell, Louisa May Alcott, Langston Hughes,Christopher Morely, Robert Frost,W.H.Auden, Booth Tarkington, Mark Twain, John Milton, William Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and of course, Clement Clark Moore ~to name a few~ release small miracles on every page illustrated by Norman Rockwell.
The book even includes Fannie Farmer’s Menu from 1896 with recipes.
Roast goose with potato stuffing? Consider this: you need to singe, remove pinfeathers, wash and scrub with hot soapsuds, draw, wash, stuff, and truss before it hits the oven and maybe comes out looking like this.
Rockwell’s Christmas book is happiness for a crystal-cold night. Serve with a hearty Cab and a couple of crooners.
*Curious about Smiley Blanton? Me, too.
*Header quote by Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist