Archive for May 2011


Ferns, Creeks, and Wizardry

May 29th, 2011 — 2:08pm

May 29, 2011

It’s a sunny, mild morning, a day full of the promise of summer.   Earlier I took  Sallie for a walk along the bay, down Agate beach, up into Donahey woods, and then along First Creek.  She galloped along, stopping often to smell things at great length.  She was oblivious to anything but the moment–this branch, that fern, this spot in the sand.  That focus and a tendency towards joy  is one of the things I so admire about her or any dog.  I do know that it’s not possible or even desirable for people to be just like dogs, but I don’t think it would hurt to keep being inspired and informed by certain of their attributes.

I was happy too.  The sun felt good in my eyes, the lake washed hypnotically on the sand.  There are a thousand shades of green to choose from in the woods, and the Dutchman’s breeches and twin-flowers are in bloom.  The ferns have just uncurled, and First Creek was burbling in exactly the way a creek should. Just saying those words–Dutchman’s breeches, twin-flower, fern, creek–is a source of great satisfaction to me.  I like words.  Always have.  I used to read the dictionary when I was home sick from school as a kid.  Still do, sometimes.   In fact most of the things I loved as a kid I still love.  Words, books, dogs, cats, cookies, being outside, the color red, riding my bike, walking.

Down by First Creek there’s a log across the water that is like a log that crossed a creek in my childhood.  My friend Laurie and I spent endless hours there, only a few hundred feet from her house but a million miles from anywhere, too.  The creek burbled and riffled over pebbles.  Trillium bloomed nearby in the spring.   Maples cast a deep shade.  We waded in the water, crossed and recrossed the log.  Piled rocks up in mounds to what end I don’t know now.   We pretended: to be explorers, I think, and princesses, too, probably.  I don’t recall exactly.  I do remember the deep, incontrovertible happiness I felt there, as if everything was possible, including and especially magic.  Time as a constraint or threat or reality did not exist.  We just were.

That’s a state of being that fascinates me, one I’m always in search of, and sometimes find.  I found it in the bakery the other day, by accident.  It found me, really.  Something–a smell, a sound–catapulted me back to the Indianfields Public Library, and being ten or so, about to open a book by an author I loved, Eleanor Estes.  I looked her up today, and I think the book must have been “Pinky Pye.”   I remember an illustration of an attic window, a setting of a cottage on the ocean, and the word aerie–I got it confused with eerie–and wikipedia says that “Pinky Pye” involved a summer cottage and a pygmy owl, which rings a very faint bell.  What was not faint was my feeling of gladness, a deep anticipation at the experience about to come.

I stood there for a moment, amazed at having traveled across thirty five years so unexpectedly.  Happy, that’s what books have always made me.  Just purely happy.

A college friend wrote the other day to congratulate me on publishing  SOUTH OF SUPERIOR.  He said as a kid he’d always wanted to be a writer, not so much because he had stories to tell, but because he admired writers so.  They were his heroes.  Mine too.  For that wonderful ability they had to take you anywhere.  A writer could do magic and transport you.  I just realized, that must be why I’ve always wanted to write.   To do that magic.

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Broken Lawn Mower Blues

May 28th, 2011 — 3:01am

May 27, 2011

Today’s special:  A meatball sub with an ear of fresh sweet corn.

George the produce man brought us a crate of sweet corn today, as well as many other things:  red and green and yellow and orange bell peppers, spinach and romaine and iceburg lettuce, tomatos that are that very particular red-orange color of real garden tomatoes,  radishes and cucumbers and carrots and broccoli and cauliflower and oranges and lemons and limes.  So much color.  Suddenly the produce case is bursting and gorgeous and it looks like summer.

I’m not quite there yet, within myself –maybe because the weather is still cold–but I’m trying to get into the right frame of mind.  To this end I hauled the lawn mower out of the garage the other day.  Today I finally remembered to bring the gas can from home, and tonight with maybe a little too much smugness, a certainty that I would be somehow rewarded for diligence and determination,  I topped off the gas tank, pulled out the choke, depressed the handle, pulled the starter cord with confidence and gusto, and–nothing.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Jenna came out and had better luck than me, but pretty soon the engine fizzled and died.  Rick came out and did everything we had done, pulled harder than we could pull, and got the same result.  “Flooded,” he said, and pushed it away to the edge of the garden, where it will sit until tomorrow and then, maybe, miraculously, it will feel like starting.  That’s pretty much how we fix mechanical things.

So now I’m sitting at one of the back tables pouting.  I just wanted to mow my lawn, that’s all.  Was that so much to ask?  I can’t believe how miffed I am about this.   I don’t accept changes of plans easily, is the truth.  Even though life seems to be one endless change of plans, pretty much, I still kick against the fact.

I read that over and I think, How silly.  Then Rick asks if I want to take a drive around town with him and I think, Okay!, and the lawn mower abandoned by the clump of tulips in the shaggy lawn is pretty much forgotten.

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