Novembering: Clasped hands, love anchors, and the beauty process

Keane's Thanksgiving Sunset, Thanksgiving Eve 2013.

Keane's Thanksgiving Sunset, Thanksgiving Eve 2013.


This view has not once let me down. Each day, I look out of my front windows to find a different version of its majestic form. Like a lyric that unfolds new meaning after years of singing it, the landscape here keeps coming out with new arrangements. This one came on the eve of Thanksgiving while I chatted with my sister on the phone. She in her home in Redlands, the kids audibly wrestling in the background. Me from the kitchen table on Via del Turello, in Barga with the typical high-volume Italian of my clan clanging. From the warm side of the glass I took note of what I now call Keane's Thanksgiving Sunset.


The Beauty Process

Normally, I would grab a nearby camera and go outside to absorb the scene. But this one would play in the background of a conversation with my sister that I was not willing to interrupt. And I have to admit, I was sure some other fanatic* was making the most of the color, the light, and the spatial transformation. He definitely did. We are never alone in appreciating beauty. Take the fleeting event of a sunset firing down: each of us has a unique stance from which to give it perspective. This idea was reminded to me recently by a photographer friend in California who has mapped his way to beauty across the United States just to frame it with his lens. 

Lately, in this place that I so adore with my eyes, my palate, my memory and other sensory receptacles, a thought keeps coming to me in various forms

we love what we see and live to remake it over and over again

with our thoughts, our art, our love for others, our desires to capture the present and survive into the future and on into more and more beauty, art, desire, love

beauty gets used as fuel for the process of making more beauty

such rendering reveres our being here to share in all of this, giving thanks



Love Anchors

In this month of "novembering" there is warmth as the northern hemisphere I know cools down. This year, I'm camping out on the backbone of the Italian Peninsula with a view that sends me down multiple branches of my memory. This is where I fell in love; with another, with a place on earth, with my own life. A friend of ours who recently lost her husband, the love of her life, to cancer, unknowingly reminded me that when love starts it plants an anchor into the physical, visual surroundings...

How many anchors do you have? I'm counting mine today; thankful for how they hook me in and tether, yet free me. 

On this Thanksgiving, some family is near and some is far. This is our life: shortening and widening the physical gaps between our family of four and the people we love at distant points on the map, adding love anchors here and there as we move, settle, depart. 



Clasped Hands

The day here is done. All are in bed. My family in California is just getting ready to sit down and give thanks for their food, their togetherness, a gracious God, and all things loved. It is a ritual that I carry with me and honorably try to remake. In that imminent prayer, beauty will be made over around the table as it was around ours tonight. And just as it was for little Davide today, some will not want to let go of hands once the prayer is said and done. They will wonder, as they let go, as to the next joining with those particular hands, the next sharing of food at that special table. I remember many an extra squeeze as hands unclasped after prayer. I've stored them up over the years. As I offered my hand tonight, I imagined all of the hands I've held and how they've contributed to the way am able to remake what I love. 

Holding hands now, here we go, let us all give thanks 

for family, for friendship, and good food, and memory

for the gift of life and the freedom to praise that, each to our own heart's content

for a hand to grasp while we tend to the knot in our throat as our turn comes around the table, "this year I am thankful for... Papa', le carote, stare insieme a voi, questa bellissima giornata..."

for being included in the prayers and thoughts at other faraway feasting tables and so, redefining togetherness as an internal acknowledgement of connectedness and love

for being here in the place i feel most at home and for knowing I have many places to go that would embrace me

for the courage to write and share this with you



One of the few photos I took of Keane's Sunset.

One of the few photos I took of Keane's Sunset.

Thanksgiving Day Walk 2013

Thanksgiving Day Walk 2013

*fanatic noun - marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion. In reference to Keane, the photographer who shot the main photo in this blogpost and who is also a painter, a journalist, a community organizer and a cultural visionary here in Barga.

Connect with Keane's work at