It took me until the end of March to realize the lovely calendar my husband gave me for Christmas to tack on the door of the cubby serving as my desk, offers more than front porch photographs I want to step into. The stunning monthly pictures are accompanied by quotes from literature, each snippet a word-match for the vision above. Once I discovered this, I had to stop and page through, feeling like a cheat as I exposed future months, swallowing the words in great gulps then writing down the books they were excerpted from to add to my reading list.
Beneath January’s photo of a white cotton hammock and a driftwood grey table situated on cement slab overlooking the flat, teal ocean, I read:
Every birthday I’ve ever had has been here, in this house. There are pictures of my mother sitting on the porch pregnant, with a glass of iced tea and a wide brimmed hat, and there’s me, insider her belly. There are pictures of the four of us, Conrad, Steven, Jeremiah and me, running around on the beach—I was naked except for my birthday hat, chasing after them. My mother didn’t put me in a bathing suit until I was four year’s old. She just let me run around wild. From The Summer I turned Pretty, by Jenny Han.
In February’s offering, cushioned white wicker chairs circle a screened gazebo. The worn painted bench sitting in front of a pillowed loveseat, hosts a pitcher of pink roses, a stack of porcelain plates, a full glass of lemonade and a ceramic bowl mounded with plump blueberries. Below it:
I toted tubs full of roses to the back porch. Drew buckets and buckets of well water to pour over them. And about the time the first rays of sunlight hit the back steps, I sat down out there with my grandfather…While I trimmed off the lower leaves and thorns, Grandpa took a big split-open croker sack and poked each rose stem into the loose burlap, weaving it in and out, then in again, like a pin being stuck into cloth. In no time at all, he had him a solid blanket of roses. It was beautiful. From Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns.
For August, two solid Adirondack chairs sit atop a wood planked deck, just short of a picket railing suggesting a resting place for sandy feet. Beyond the fence an offshore breeze pushes white clouds and ocean toward the horizon, where they meet at the apex of blue and aqua, grey and white. Underneath the image, this paragraph, from Empire Falls by Richard Russo.
What Grace liked best about the cottage was that in the early morning when the wind shifted, they awoke to the sound of pounding surf. Miles knew how far away the water was, but the waves crashed so hard that every morning he went to the front window to make sure the world hadn’t tilted during the night. He half expected to look out and see the waves foaming right up to the front porch steps.
I could go on, but I’ll spare you. I’m just delighted with another example of the power of language. While brilliant photographs produce images that draw us in, my calendar delivers proof that well-crafted words trigger visuals that can be equally as effective.