Sunday, August 11, 2013

last night i dreamt i saw a meteor shower

Saturday, August 10
A fog in the field across the road as I headed out this morning.

Foggy dawn.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Monday, August 5
The kind of day where, if one of my dogs had been with me, they would have stopped and stood still with nose lifted, all a-wiggle. There would have been a snort or a sneeze, then an eager prancing on. The northwest wind is decidedly different today. Spiked with autumn like lemonade dashed with rum.

Standing at Lookout Point I watched as the wind came up under the leaves of the trees on the river’s opposite bank, lifting them up, shaking them down, in no hurry, but no longer waiting. Surely there is summer left. After all, the leaves on the trees are green.

Morning ruckus. Elliott and red squirrel.

Note: Yet no flowers on the sunflowers,
those gargantuan plants on the left.

For the past few weeks I have been reading off and on a biography of Daphne du Maurier. Now I am rereading “Rebecca.” Some may be more familiar with the movie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. They both start:
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
More than half of each page, it seems, is not devoted to a narrative of what is happening, what has happened, or to setting a scene, but rather is devoted to that which is happening in our narrator’s head—an imaginary scene.
Going down to the lodge with a basket on my arm, grapes and peaches for the old lady who was sick. Her hands stretched out to me. “The Lord bless you, Madam, for being so good,” and my saying “Just send up to the house for anything you want.” Mrs. de Winter. I would be Mrs. de Winter. I saw the polished table in the dining-room, and the long candles. Maxim sitting at the end. A party of twenty-four. I had a flower in my hair. Everyone looked towards me, holding up his glass. “We must drink the health of the bride,” and Maxim saying afterwards, “I have never seen you look so lovely.” Great cool rooms, filled with flowers. My bedroom, with a fire in the winter, someone knocking at the door. And a woman comes in, smiling, she is Maxim’s sister, and she is saying, “It’s really wonderful how happy you have made him, everyone is so pleased, you are such a success.” Mrs. De Winter. I would be Mrs. de Winter.
It makes me think more about this whole “now” business, this whole thing about “being present” and “in the moment.” At the time of this fantasy, Maxim de Winter has asked our narrator to marry him, and she has not yet answered. They are at the breakfast table. What brings her back to the table? Maxim says:
“The rest of the tangerine is sour, I shouldn’t eat it,” ...
Two other books of du Maurier’s that I’ve recently read (“The Scapegoat” and “My Cousin Rachel”) are much the same—the narrator unfolds a story while spending an inordinate amount of time lolling around in his head where quite different stories are percolating. Imaginings and real events intertwine until it all gets quite slippery.

The afternoon sky.

These August mosquitoes are desperate and determined, biting with ferocity through thick flannel on a 50-degree morning. I want to call them a “rasher of mosquitoes,” but that makes no sense.

Have not seen much of the deer this week, just one visit from Sadie and her fawns. She stamped and snorted at Elliott and then they all took flight. Tonight, a young buck in the yard. Was I wrong about Mortimer and Sneed being female? I was at the table making peace necklaces for the Buddha when I looked up and saw the buck in the yard by the apple trees. His antlers, blurry with velvet, were no bigger than his ears.

What if I had spent my teen and young adult years reading Daphne du Maurier rather than John Steinbeck? Would I be any different? And why was I so obsessed with Steinbeck? There is that opening to “Cannery Row” …
Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.
At the farmers market a woman asked about the owl candle and specifically what it is that the owl represents, or what we learn from it, and it reminded me of my “Animal Energies” book so I told her if I had this book with me I could tell her.
If Owl has oriented on you, you can be certain that an aspect of your life is going to change, in a big way. Some people believe that Owl only comes to those things that are about to die. Do not fear, though, for this does not mean physical death as much as it means the letting go of some part of you that is not serving you. … Thank Owl for its willingness to guide you through its shadowy realm.
I had noticed on the drive into Marquette small patches of red here and there in the trees.

Sunday, August 11
The quiet is intense. The depth of the sky and the depth of the quiet seem equal. In the sky, stars. In the quiet, a river softly gurgling as it rounds the bend by Fisherman’s Island.

I settle in a lawn chair facing east. I am in the middle of the lawn south of the cabin having come outside at 3:30 a.m. to watch the sky. The grass is wet with dew. I am wrapped in a wool blanket, not quite warm enough, but as always, there is hot tea. I settle in, I look up.

Cloudless, moonless, and the Milky Way, straight above, a smudgy streak across the sky. And there is the W, also straight above. What constellation is that? The kind of thing I don’t remember. There are just so many stars, so many different intensities, a hundred million stars.

But I know Orion, the hunter, standing off to the north, just there above the cabin’s roof, and the first shooting star falls right through his belt. When I heard the Perseid meteor shower was this weekend and saw the clear forecast and remembered the new moon just past, I thought, ah, this is what I need.

Why do we so like to name things, to label them, to know what things are, to know what to call them, to explain, to categorize, to file? Once we name something, does that change it? Is it is what it is or is it what we’ve named it? And what if we’ve misnamed it?

Now I hear an insect call-and-response. The caller is behind me, the responder to the south. Are they crickets? A chirring insect. chirr, chirr, CHIRR, chirr, chirr. A winding up, a winding down.

A star moves slowly across the sky. Do they do this? Just move slowly? I don’t believe it’s a plane. Looks much too far away, and so few planes pass by here anyway. The slow-moving star disappears.

I do not know where to look. My God, the sky is so vast. I cannot see it all. So my eyes wander. To the south something falls, I catch its streak. The stars are fixed, in place, making these pictures, these constellations I cannot name, and then a streak, a whip-stitch across the sky, a random flight from south to north. In front of me, low in the east, a set of five stars, like home plate.

I go in to brew a second cup of tea. Elliott is excited by this change in routine. He comes in with me, dashes about with an inflated tail, goes out, comes in. Eats. I wait. We go back out.

The sky seems lighter, but it is only 4:30 or so, a couple of hours from sunrise. There is another slow-moving meteor and just below it one that streaks by, leaving a faint line of dust. The slow-moving one disappears, then a bright flash, like a faraway snapshot.

The stars, the night sky, I think maybe is like our heads. Each star is either an experience that helped shape us or a gene that has given us a piece of who we are. They are fixed, of varying intensities, and they do not move in relation to one another, but they move in relation to seasons, or … hmmm. A star, a meteor, a piece of cosmic dust falls from Orion’s bow like a droopy arrow. We are all who we are with just these occasional, random flashes of brilliance.

The trees rimming the horizon are dark, like cutouts. The cabin is dark. All is dark but for the sky.

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