Soft air

Today it’s 70 and the air is soft. Finn and I walked once and will walk again shortly.

It’s that time of year: when my hands are dry and my nails rimmed with dirt.

After reading two James Lee Burkes and a Louise Penny in fairly short order, it is somewhat relieving to be reading O Pioneers! By Will Cather.

Re: being a pioneer living a difficult life. One of the (minor, unexpected) consequences of living in an era of climate crisis — I now have a tendency to view the hardships of other eras as, not trivial exactly and not automatically surmountable, but not apocalyptic.

She lived through hardship which was not apocalyptic.

It is at last warm enough to shift most of the houseplants to patio and deck. Because I can never decide whether I like the house better populated by plants or the sense of space that occurs when they go outside, I am reminded of the memorable Wallace Stevens verse from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

I do not know which to prefer,   

The beauty of inflections   

Or the beauty of innuendoes,   

The blackbird whistling   

Or just after.

*. *. *.

Sights and sounds

How is it possible to walk by something thousands of times and NOT SEE it?

When K and I circled Crystal Lake yesterday, we were astonished to see two gas-lit lanterns.

What?

It seemed so impossible that we hadn’t noticed, that I went off on a riff about how easily sophisticated techniques can distress surfaces. Someone recently installing two street lights with faux paint peels seemed more plausible than our not having noticed.

In today’s walk, I actually said to my actual husband, “I stopped listening a while ago. Can you go back to the part about the hotel?”

It makes me laugh to think about. Him too. I think that probably signals something good — acceptance for starters (his boring itinerary recitations, my ADHD), but also the flexibility that long relationship with reserves of goodwill affords.

How lucky am I?

Further along, we used the Cornell bird app to identify a Northern Flicker. Besides using Siri to set timers several times a day, it’s my favorite new iPhone feature.

We saw it on top of a Cypress Street resident’s metal chimney cover. The song was throaty, distinct. The hammering must have been murder on our neighbors, that repetitive banging on the metal plate surely reverberating down the flue.

Lastly, yesterday’s celebration of my 90-year-old friend left me feeling a strange mix of melancholy and inspired. She is what you might call A BRIGHT LIGHT, the large circle of affectionate friends just one proof.

Both she and my mother were born in Brooklyn in 1933.

Experiment

Continuing the visual exploration using historic photos and MFA paintings. What I am asking is: who gets to occupy the center? Who is relegated to the edges?

Added three sections since my Instagram posts yesterday. One features a Copley painting of Isaac Royall’s daughters (from an MFA photo that I took). Another features a portrait I photographed at the Aiken Rhett historic home in Charleston. It’s a formal portrait of Harriet Aiken. The final section features Harriet Tubman (below — screen shot taken from internet on the 200th anniversary of her birth in March. Image from an Ebony article and no copyright infringement is intended).

The Royalls moved in the same circle as Eliza’s family. Elite, wealthy, colonialists. Both families owned sugar plantations and slaves on Antigua and both families settled elsewhere after a purported plot to overthrow the island was discovered in 1736.

Eliza’s family moved to Charleston and the Royalls moved to Medford, Massachusetts. The Royall House and Slave Quarters is a historic site and also the place where I attended an overnight under the auspices of The Slave Dwelling Project in 2014. I wrote about that night here.

There’s more to say about all of this (and through various characters, much gets said in my manuscript) but I have a birthday party to go to.

April 2023 in Haiku

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

4/1
Needham Street empty
even on a Saturday.
One of rain’s blessings.

4/2
Sedum clumped with leaves.
I pick them out, snap old stalks,
revealing green buds.

4/3
Mouse turds, balsam, dust.
A page from 9/11.
“I begin to cry.”

4/4
Stupid blonde Nazi
lasted only ten minutes.
I love New Yorkers!

4/5
Cars parked down the street.
The prayers have likely begun.
Gathering again.

4/6
We talk at the curb.
Three out of five in slippers.
The power’s gone out.

The power comes back
with a whoosh, click, and a hum.
Finn barks his head off.

4/7
I forgot my phone.
How can I feel this naked?
The dog doesn’t care.

4/8
Tennessee Justins —
Galvanizing, beautiful.
Their fire inspires.

4/9
Critter annoys us
storing nuts between the joists
living his best life.

4/10
Fifty-five by one.
Today the bird bath goes out.
Flapping joy to come.

4/11

Always in clumps, some
open, some closed, some pale, some
like neon butter.

4/12

Ruby maple buds
litter the ground. Strewn jewels
or kid’s cereal?

4/13
Buzzing, insistent
on the wrong side of the glass.
Hello bumblebee!

4/14
The canopy starts
to assert itself. Green fuzz,
promises of shade.

4/15
The lake holds the sky
and somehow our wishes too.
You don’t have to ask!

4/16
In my dream I sew
a go bag. Indigo lace.
Again. And for what?

4/17
Mary Oliver
lauds idleness. Someone though
was busy writing.

4/17 Bonus
Crowds out in the rain,
screaming, clapping. Obiri
pulls out for the win.

4/18
Jayland Walker ran.
Cops shot him forty-six times.
Handcuffed a dead man.

4/19
If a woman says
she has a UTI, then
she has one. The end.

4/20
To rake liatris
is to feel satisfaction.
The mop free of leaves.

4/21
No forsythia
this year. Temperatures too weird.
Will yellow return?

4/22
Twitter is trash now.
Second monied narcissist
ruining stuff. Sigh.

4/23
Too cold and rainy
for the loop. Instead we make
the figure eight. Wet!

4/24
Bluebells. Chill air. Mud.
Soon the ferns will stretch upwards
with glorious speed.

4/25
New rock wall. New deck.
Second floor ready for joists.
Changes on our route.

4/26  three today
Fresh mulch scents my block.
Animal. Woody. Have I
ever loved a horse?

Clunk and whoosh, the T
goes under the Langley bridge.
I find a penny.

New Yorkers have known.
The very day the law changed,
Carroll filed her suit.

4/27
“Share something she said.”
Years of writing together
yield jewel after jewel.

4/28
Zooey Zephyr holds
her mike high, a new symbol
of the resistance.

4/29
Who lives in that house —
the one where father then son
killed themselves. Such grief!

It’s warm enough now
for the lake project to plant.
Sweetspire! Young maples!

4/30
How many rain beads
does it take to turn tulips
into a Queen’s crown?

Still cool, the air, not me

In a matter of days, K flies to India, which just happens to be where a new highly contagious variant of Covid is running rampant. Arcturus. The last time my husband traveled, he came home with Covid.

So I’m worried. About his heath. And mine. And since I fly to visit my brother within days of his return, also about my brother’s. We may live in separate rooms when K gets back just to be careful.

When I told my brother, he was pretty cavalier about it. For some reason it took me a full twenty-four hours to remember how much risk he lives with week-to-week. His partner is an emergency room doctor.

Not related to any of that, please find a new digital collage above.

As I wrote on Instagram:

Speaking of my manuscript, I deleted another 1,000 words yesterday. I’m officially under 130,000 now!

And speaking some more about writing, Deb Lacativa and I are critical reading partners (more involved than say, a beta reader) and she has begun feeding me new scenes. Completely captivating new scenes, need I add?

In all my noodling last night, a paragraph from Prophets Tango showed up. I loved reading this passage the first time. And the second. And third. You get the idea.

I can’t share an Amazon link because I’m on my phone (?) but if you just search the title in books, all three volumes come up.