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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Friday, July 04, 2008

Father Far and Away: Part V

The Meaning of Cozy
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I have shared in other pieces that my mother had the gift of childlike glee. These spells of high-pitched enthusiasm came at predictable times: the first snow fall of the season, the first sign of spring after a long winter, and the first day at our favorite beach after a chilly spring. They also happened whenever she got something big and new with Dad‘s approval--especially if it had been a long time coming.
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(If she bought something “big” without Dad’s okay...say a new vacuum cleaner...she would be more frightened than giddy because Dad liked having a say in such things; he studied up on them the week before, could tell Mom all the pros and cons of each model and tell Mom why his choice was the best buy. But Mom would occasionally come home with a "big" purchase based only on a statement like, "I liked it better than the other one they had," and Dad would just shake his head as if quoting P.T. Barnum to himself. Mom often said that she lacked Dad's confidence, but actually it takes quite a bit of confidence to buy "the one you like"... what she lacked was confirmation...
but I digress...)
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A few times in her life really big and new items came to Mom almost like gifts for no occasion, like her new fruitwood piano or her maple dining room table and chairs. She couldn’t help but smile each time she sat at them. It took years for the giddiness of such things to wear off--in fact, I'm not sure it ever did until the table sat empty and the piano fell silent near the end.
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But the times I remember Mom’s childlike joy most were the times she‘d step into a place and chirp with glee, “Isn‘t this cozy.” It typically happened the first dozen times she stepped through the zipper door of our family tent when our camp site was finally set up for the week. It would happen again each night when it was time to turn in. We’d all be side by side in six sleeping bags, staring at the faint shadows of branches in the moonlight on the tent roof, soaking in the smell of the canvas, listening to the crickets chirp, and Mom would say in the dark… “Isn’t this cozy!”
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To this day for me, cozy is not merely the feeling of comfort found in a feather bed with flannel sheets and a patchwork comforter on top; it’s not a cabin with a fireplace. Cozy must be shared. It can happen anywhere except alone. Perhaps it's a feeling that begins in the womb and is subconsciously recreated whenever loved ones huddle close against the elements or some subtle unknown force.
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Cozy may be four kids and a mom sharing three towels on a beach blanket when the wind switches and a cold breeze comes in off the lake. It may be the whole family tangled together on the couch because no one wants their feet to touch the floor during a scary movie. It can be two silver-haired sisters, in the twilight of their years, together again on a front porch glider with a lap blanket on their knees.
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Cozy is whenever the lost time, a lost cause, a change of winds or fortune is trumped by the single most important fact: we’re together, safe and sound, and that‘s what matters. It’s the scene at the end of Peter Rabbit, when Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter, after a long day of work and misadventure, are watching their mother make chamomile tea?
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When we came in from the pool that night, with our car still up in tractions across the way, we stepped into the simple room with two double beds and a roll-away all in a row. There was barely room for the five of us to walk. Jim dove on his bed, rolled over, crossed his legs at the ankles, laced his fingers behind his head, and grinned as if in the lap of luxury.
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“Isn’t this cozy?” Mom chirped.
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Dave and I just raised our eyebrows. It had been years since we shared a bed, and cozy wasn't quite the feeling generated by maintaining an invisible line down the middle while trying to sleep, but after being away for a year, we couldn't help but smile at Mom's familiar line. It confirmed what Dad’s surprisingly pleasant mood had already suggested: we’re together, safe and sound, and that‘s what matters. My little brother Jim was 7, Dave was 21, and I was 19, but whether we would admit it or not, you're never too old for cozy. It was the first time in our lives to stay in a motel with Mom and Dad.
I slept like a rock.
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To be continued...
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18 Comments:

Blogger Dr.John said...

And a happy fourth of July to you. May it be a cozy one.

4/7/08 2:20 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Dr. John,
It was actually... we're at my sister-in-law's lake house. The nephews did their fireworks show then we watched some real fireworks on the water and had a bon fire. Fun with much of the family gathered 'round.

4/7/08 10:23 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Sad as it sounds Tom, cozy does not, nor never has, computed in my world.

6/7/08 3:49 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

TWM,
I thought about not writing this for two reasons: first, it makes Dave and I sound like "Mama's boys" when we were actually far from it (Mom was just always glad to have the kids who had been far away back with the family and it made her feel that way like when we were young.) The other reason was an awareness that some people have had a different experience. (Some people may be alone, and take offense that I said this feeling cannot happen when you're alone, etc.) That's why I added the "To me" in that middle paragraph.

It doesn't mean that one person's experience is better than another's, but I decided to include it because it is a reality for many, but I suspect it's true for fewer and fewer families so if nothing else, it will remind people that the vague feeling I've tried to describe is as real as feelings of fear, independence, pride, grief, etc.

Thanks for sharing this short but powerful comment, Mark.

6/7/08 8:29 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Tom, only a fool is jealous of another's experience. While your younger days and probably the days of your children are closer to the middle American ideal and mine not as bliss filled, *shrug* no one gets to choose their upbringing. No sense in belaboring the distant past, for me, I make my own "times" now.

It is a good read and no amount of looking out for your audience's feelings will stop them from relating your experiences back to their own so keep on keeping on with it.

7/7/08 3:53 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Thanks, Mark,
At the time, I don't think it occurred to us children, but I've been thinking about these things a lot this year... and writing as I go.

7/7/08 8:33 AM  
Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

Although I can relate to "cozy" from my own childhood experiences, I'm not so sure the prisoners I teach would understand. I'll have to ask, "What does cozy mean to you?" I'm sure their answers will be quite colorful, if not dark.

8/7/08 12:12 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

JRT,
That would be a funny writing assignment for your students. Over this past week's vacation, I read Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," a tribute to the unintended consequences of incarceration. I'm quite sure Dick and Perry found "cozy" quite annoying and would want to snuff it out if ever they came across it. I hope you don't have any like that in your prison class.

8/7/08 9:49 AM  
Blogger Family Man said...

I was pointed to your blog by Dr. John. I really enjoy your wiritng style. I have added you to my blog roll. I will be reading your blog faithfully. Best Wishes~
Family Man

8/7/08 9:55 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Hello, Family Man,
I like your tag. Welcome to POI. Hat tip to my friend Dr. John.
I'm just back from a week with limited (and very slow) internet. Hope to post the final chapter of this story soon.

8/7/08 10:17 AM  
Anonymous quilly said...

I like your definition of cozy. I like how you explain the way you grew that definition (it is organic, one can watch it sprout and bloom in your story). Don't apologize to anybody because your definition of personal coziness is different from theirs. That's like apologizing for having a different personality than theirs.

Your experiences are your own. Claim them with joy and share them with those mature enough to read and understand.

8/7/08 4:44 PM  
Blogger Janvangogh said...

Looks like Dr. John chose his award well.

8/7/08 4:49 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

I came to thank you for visiting my blog and ended up staying for a good while. I like how you captured the feeling of cozy...it's what I've always tried for with my own family.

Congrats on your Arte!

8/7/08 6:10 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Quilly,
Thanks for stopping by and for the good advice. I hope I didn't sound apologetic in my comments. I appreciate the diversity of perspectives on such a vague topic and rarely talked about feeling.

Jan,
Glad you stopped by. Looks like we both owe a thank you to Dr. John.

Stacy,
It's a strange topic to write about. I've never tried it before. But a few years ago, my sister and I thought it would make a good topic for a children's book. I do have one in the works that taps into these same images.

8/7/08 9:23 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I love your comment section and often learn more about you here than from your writings... if that is possible because it is a continuation!

A childrens book? I want to do that but wouldn't know where to start. COZY sounds like a great place for YOU to start!

I wrote about a "COZY" little home today in my blog... I just didn't use the word "COZY"! Maybe I should go back and add the word... the word is in my comment section but has never taken on a life of its own, like your comment section! And where do your new people come from? They appear and disappear. What ever happened to Josie?

Now back to cozy... I love your mom and I'm sure she is smiling down from heaven as we write about her here. Childlike glee- it reminds me of ME! I was a kindergarten teacher because I knew best, how to act like a child and how a child acts. When it was with glee- we were all learning and having fun at the same time!

Motel room, tents, and first, "fixer-upper" homes are all COZY and that is a blessing for both you and me!

8/7/08 10:00 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Nancy,
Thanks for the prodding. I hope to do that children's book this summer. My daughters have about three stories they want me to "put to paper" from when I used to make up bedtime stores. Some of them took on a life of their own over the years. This one about "cozy" is the one I'll tackle first, but it fit in this unfolding story about our first night in a motel with Dad and Mom the day the wheel fell off the car.

As for comments... you may recall last fall when Mom and I were conversing about the Duncan Phyfe and I was writing. Her husband Bob would print off each post, and she loved the comments section, too. Couldn't believe how people found her simple life of interest.

(There's nothing really simple about life and that's what makes it interesting.

8/7/08 11:15 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

I really, really liked this...
I remember the same kind of feeling camping as a child with my parents and sleeping on the tiny bunk bed above them, with the safety gate in place...and sometimes the accordion-type curtain closed beside me.
You always paint such a lovely picture with your words in your posts...
Blessings,
~Tammy

10/7/08 1:39 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Thanks, Tammy,
Oh,how I'd like to take my family camping soon. Maybe next week.

12/7/08 10:42 AM  

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