Sunday, September 29, 2013

letting go, holding on, or, just another day at the marquette farmers market

When Rebecca’s market tent rose up, blew north, tipped, landed legs up in the parking lot, I knew it was trouble. The tent was followed by a paint can filled with 40 pounds of concrete, painted bright blue. Attached to the tent by a rope, it flew into the air and landed like a dead fish in the nylon blue waters of the tent’s canopy. I thought: Someone is going to get hurt. On any other Saturday that tent and paint can would have smacked into two or three cars, but for whatever reason, at that moment, no cars. And Rebecca, her daughter, and her daughter’s friend were all okay, perhaps a little stunned. I could do nothing but gape. My tent was trying to fly away, too.

Ah, another fine end to another fine farmers market.

On my way to the market I had dawdled at a rest stop on the north side of Lake Michigamme.

The view just before sunrise.

I arrived in Marquette a bit later than usual, got set up, soon the market was bustling. It was sunny, warm, and as predicted, windy, but the wind was manageable, causing no greater harm than an occasional bag or scrap of paper getting caught up in its frenzy, blowing about. I swear I even saw some dollar bills floating by.

Overall, it was a rather jovial day.

Early on, the husband of the maker of the best cinnamon rolls in the world planted the thought of cinnamon rolls in my head using this very effective method: “Hey, we have cinnamon rolls today.” For the next hour or so, try as I might, I could not shake the thought of cinnamon rolls. I listened to stories of Rebecca’s goats and cats and ducks and beagles and something to do with swans and an eagle, but I was a poor listener because I was thinking about cinnamon rolls. I sold candles and talked to people and finally, realizing I was telling a customer how I could not get cinnamon rolls off my mind and how I was really trying hard to get cinnamon rolls off my mind because later I was going to have a root beer float at The Drive-In, having seen in the paper that The Drive-In was closing for the season after this weekend, I said, “So what? It’s Saturday. Why not cinnamon rolls and a root beer float?” The customer seemed to agree with me, and I knew it was time for a decision.

I pulled a five out of my wallet and headed over to … drat. Hold on. Here comes a guy. I know this guy. Nice customer. Okay. Chat, good, chat chat, okay, oops, better help these people, dang ... It looked like I wasn’t going to get a cinnamon roll any time soon.

Helping customers at one end of the table, out of the corner of my eye I saw a cinnamon roll being set down on the other end. Walking away with a wave of his hand was the customer I had babbled on to about cinnamon rolls.


Now there’s a good trick.

So you see, it was a nice day.

A while later a family was asking me about the pieces of beeswax I sell—the fish and turtles and daisies and butterflies. I went into my spiel about all the things one can do with beeswax and it’s many fine attributes ending giddily with what has become this year’s big—drum roll, please—finish: It floats! Ta-da!

The boy in the family said, “You mean in mid-air?”

Wisenheimer. Now that would be a good trick.

All day people in green aprons were milling about, scribbling on scraps of paper attached to clipboards.

Around one o’clock the wind picked up. It often happens this way—the weather toys with us for four hours and then in the fifth and final hour it ups the game. The manageable wind starts rattling its cage, hinting, just hinting, mind you, that it might be time for a jail break. But how do you know? How do you know that a 20-mile-per-hour wind is suddenly going to gust to 30 miles per hour, or increase to 25 miles per hour and gust to 40? There are no clouds to portend a storm, no drizzle of rain, no flurry of snow. Just wind.

To hold my tent in place, I use store-bought weights, 10 pounds on each leg, which isn’t much, and two of the weights have broken so only three legs are weighted. On windy days I secure the fourth leg with a concrete block. Others use the paint cans filled with concrete or something similar. We are on pavement, so staking the tents is not an option, and the tents are not made to withstand wind, anyway. One year, in a good wind, the side braces of my tent snapped in two. These tents really are nothing more than 10-by-10-foot umbrellas, made to sail.

It was about ten to two when I grabbed onto the southeast leg of my tent once again as a big gust got under it, lifted it, moved it a foot or two. Next to me, Rebecca and her crew grabbed on to their tent. There was an odd pause as the wind blew, tents stayed put, the wind blew, now harder. What do you do? Let go? Hold on? If you let go, what happens? If you hold on, what happens? How do you pack up and get out of this? Should you try moving the tent away from your table to fold it up first, before putting product away, and if so, how? Who can help? Who isn’t holding onto a tent? Or, will the wind die down so you can let go, start putting things away, get lucky, get out of there, you hope, with nothing broken.

The tent next to you rises up, sails a few feet north, falls on its head in the parking lot followed by 40 pounds of concrete on a rope. You can’t do a thing to help because you think if you let go of your tent it too will fly into the parking lot. So you hang on, and as another gust of wind comes through you brace yourself and your tent and there are 30 or more others doing the same thing.

Then suddenly, there is help. People come. They hold on to your tent, ask what they can do. You tell them. In a minute or two your tent is down, folded up, so now you grab on to this or that as the wind is picking up and moving everything this way and that way and in a matter of seconds things have fallen perhaps broken blown here and there but also much has been packed and stowed away safely and still people are helping or maybe they have run over here or over there to help someone else and maybe there’s a crash and more people rush over and it is two o’clock and the market is over.


While one of my guardian angels finished gathering and organizing my stuff, I went to get the van. On the far side of the parking lot a wooden dining room chair skittered east to west, traveling 30 feet or more in an upright position across the pavement. It appeared from behind one thing and disappeared behind another.

Okay. Is this a Fellini film?

I’m ready for my last meal at The Drive-In.

Just three miles ahead!

The Drive-in is off US 41 at the south end of Baraga. You pull in, cut the motor, roll down the window, a high school girl comes over and takes your order.

Here we are.

Mine is a small root beer float in a mug, to start, then a fish sandwich with small fries to go.

Have the root beer float first, while waiting for the sandwich and fries.

Home is now only a 10-minute drive, a perfect time to eat the fries, reminiscent of McDonald’s fries, thin, a little greasy, lot of salt. If I could wait, I would dip them in catsup, but I cannot wait, and I have this vague memory of learning not to eat fries with catsup while driving. Once home, eat the fish sandwich.

Earlier in the week, a big blow from my past blew through my mind, and we all know how easy it is to find one’s past on YouTube.
Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Quateman.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

elliott & the river, or, wanderlust by moonlight

Elliott disappeared.

Not poof disappear in a puff of smoke, like in a fairy tale, although earlier I had been thinking that I live in a magical place. But more like
Hmm. Have I seen Elliott lately? Did he come back from the river? I wonder where he is? What time is it, anyway? Hmm. He missed his afternoon meal …
Elliott: lost?

I last saw Elliott that day around four, four-thirty, down by the river. We had walked together, “together” being a rather loose term as Elliott always lags behind, so I dawdle, wait at the top of the bank, and together we descend the steps that go halfway down, mosey around, take our time exploring under the cedars and birch and spruce. The shade is cool, deliciously cool and dappled on a warm afternoon in mid-September. Leaves are turning ever so slightly, falling ever so slowly.

Elliott and I go down to the water, sit on a log, watch the water bugs. The river is shallow and clear, cold to the touch, ever-moving, and I see every pebble in the stream, every little dam of sticks and stones, every sunken leaf. A turtle scurries to the opposite bank, swimming and running, lightly touching the riverbed, each step raising a small sandy cloud. On the far bank, asters bloom.

Eventually, I head back up the bank, stop, wait for Elliott. He has wandered off, gone a different way. Suddenly he is in a chase, heading back toward the water. It is a snake, a small black and yellow garter snake that falls into a snug crater in the wet sand, coils, hunkers down. I take a picture, distract Elliott, the snake gets away.

The snake snug in its hollow.

Heading back up the bank, but Elliott turns back to the river. He stares at a space under a log. It is late afternoon on a perfectly pleasant day. I leave Elliott to his pursuits. A few hours later, as the sun sets, I wonder where he is.

My last look at Elliott?

Cats come in neat little wrappers, so self-contained. No less loving than any dog I’ve known, but showing it in such a different way. So less obvious about it. And they have this uncanny ability to be themselves, to follow their own lead. They straddle domesticity and wildness with such apparent ease, sliding between the two as if there were no difference. Elliott kills critters and eats them, every bit of them, as far as I can tell, then he comes in and eats canned food from a bowl on the stairs. He sleeps alone out in the tall grass of the fields along the creek, and then he sleeps inside, next to me, on the bed, every once in a while snuggling under the covers. I wonder which he prefers. The wild? The domestic? Or, does he simply make the best of both worlds? Maybe, to him, it’s just one world. One big, crazy, magical world.

After the sun sets, a nearly full, pale moon creeps up through a clear sky. I go down to the river, calling Elliott’s name, which is, more accurately, a sing-song of his nickname: Eeeeeelliiee Beeelllll. No answer, no sign. Along the river all seems hushed, quiet, just a soft gurgle of water over a haphazard dam of sticks and stones.

The moon that rose that night.

I wake up the next day with a plan to first walk along the river’s shore as far as I can both ways. The water is shallow, there are many things Elliott could grab hold of, if he’d fallen in, a log or even an island that short ways downstream. Then I’d look along the road, check with neighbors up by the road. I would call for him, and I would wait. If there’d been trouble with a coyote or a wolf, well, there was nothing I could do about that until I found him. But the first thing I would do would be to get up, open the door, see if maybe he was there, on the mat, waiting for me.

But no, he isn’t. I stand on the porch calling softly into the dim light that comes well before dawn. Then I hear it.




I see a dark shape moving leisurely across the lawn, coming toward the cabin from the direction of the path that leads to the river.



He comes inside, he eats, he goes back out.

A friend asked if I could imagine two-stepping through the dance halls of Texas, and surprisingly enough, I could. I imagined it feeling like wanderlust, like Elliott, maybe, following a lazy afternoon along a clear flowing river, listening to its whispers, and dancing to its moonlight.

Be sure to check out the new page, The Magical Spud, as it may be up for only a short while.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

feeding the water bugs (and other stories)

Quality of Light
The painted window caught Monday’s light in such a way that I paused, realized it would always be changing.

The lower end of the window.

The Five Sunflowers
Tuesday I started wondering how it is that five sunflowers all planted at the same time in pretty much the same spot and treated equally over the same period of time could turn out so different from one another.

The Five Sunflowers. (Hey! Good name for a band!)

Starting from the left, sunflower No. 1 is not in the picture because it croaked early. I don’t remember how.

No. 2 grew the tallest, about nine or ten feet, and was the last to bloom with a flower facing southwest.

No. 3 grew to be six or seven feet and was the first to bloom with the largest flower, but it bloomed so long ago the head has been drooping for weeks now, and the flower is turning to seed.

No. 4 is about eight feet tall with a nice westward-looking face. It bloomed before No. 2, after No. 3.

No. 5 was the tallest until it got beheaded just as it was about to bloom. I guess the metal edge of the roof is kind of sharp. The unbloomed flower now hangs by a thread from the top of the severed plant.

From time to time the sunflowers were tossed about and blown over by westerly winds (that might be how we lost No. 1), and after the first windy bout all were secured to the planks of the garage with twine. No. 4 broke free once and spent a day lying on the ground; No. 5 broke free but stayed upright. Both were re-secured with rope.

When I planted the seedlings back around Memorial Day, I imagined a symmetry of sunny faces at a common height of six or seven feet blooming all together with a westward face sometime in July.

If The Five Sunflowers had a hit single it might be called:
I Ain’t What You Were Expectin’, Babe.

Feeding the Water Bugs
Riverside Wednesday watching water bugs—striders, I think they’re called—about a dozen or so alongside an old log. They drift about in a bit of dappled shade and a slight back current. They look like little space ships. Four wire-thin legs spread out akimbo from blackish-grey, pod-like bodies. Their feet are tiny pinpoints resting gently atop the water. They make the slightest of impressions, just tiny, shallow dimples that cast the merest speck of a shadow on the sand a foot below, a shadowy speck surrounded by a watery halo. The water bugs have two shorter legs, or maybe those are antennae.

As I settle on the log the bugs skitter away, shooting left and right with a swift pinch of their legs. Then they drift back. A dragonfly drones low overhead.

A yellow leaf gets caught in the current and floats back along the log through the flock of bugs. In swift spurts they propel themselves away from it. I feel a mosquito biting my arm, now it’s on my leg, I smack it, flick it into the water. Two water bugs notice. They drift toward the dead mosquito, then one shoots forward, knocking the other out of the way. This water bug, the bigger water bug, scoots forward again, latches onto the mosquito. The other, smaller water bug drifts away.

Later I return with my camera. The water bugs seem to recognize me. They gather around. Two mosquitoes bother me, and the bugs wait.

A well-fed water bug.

Thursday / a rush of wind
Cool and overcast, a north wind, little puffs of fall rushing by. Leaves a bit drier, rustling, shaking loose their green. The field makes me stop. Against its burnishing backdrop are the snow white of the Queen Anne’s lace, the pale violet of the blue asters with their bright yellow and rusty orange centers, the bright red of the leaves of a vine that twines all through the field but which I rarely notice until the flowers and grasses begin to die back and the vine kind of mistakenly shouts out its presence, the golden yellow of the goldenrod, the tawny brown and yellow of the timothy and the brome, the dusky red of the St. John’s Wort, and the sunny yellow of the brown-eyed Susans who are gathered up in groups, enjoying this fine party.

Full of Promise

All week, the Queen Anne’s lace, its broad flat flowers drawing up into long-fingered fists of brown seed, fists raised high (for the lace is not shy), and these feisty clumps, so full of next year’s flowers, or at least the potential for, confound me.

A fistful of flowers.

They are like a heartbeat, a hand, a sunset, a starry night, a morning fog, an honest answer, the light from a half moon, a mongrel, a smile, a pause, most pumpkins, a water bug, a still pond, a flowing river, an old log, a single leaf, a drop of dew, a lost cabin, a dark night, a long night, a good book, the smell of apples, the dust of fall, a friendly postmark, and winter, because they are, of course, full of promise.

The End.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

like a breath of fresh air, my father (part one?)

Then the north wind snapped her fingers. Old, stodgy air scattered and this new shaft of air poured in like a welcome rain on parched earth. Poured into, poured deep. Sleep came easily, work was a breeze, and in the midst of it all, my father rose up, gathered my presence.

My father as a young boy in the hollyhocks.

My father, dead since July 2005, has been lurking, right under my skin, and it’s been so strong lately that this week, when Finnigan’s person made a comment about the blah blah blah of baseball, throwing out phrases like “stoic humility” and “enduring failure,” my father came forth, and I had to dig out something he once said about being a Cubs fan. It is in print, memorialized in the January 1, 1986 issue of the ABA Journal. For 23 years my father worked for the Journal, the last 16 as its editor and publisher, and when he was stepping down, at age 66, the magazine ran an interview with him.
Bodine: One of the things that mystified me about you from day number one, although it became a little clearer during the 1984 season, was this unfaltering love that you have for the Chicago Cubs. You even follow them when they don’t break .500. Why is that?

Allen: I grew up in a community in western Illinois during the 1920s when radio broadcasting of baseball games came into vogue. Listening to the radio was an adventure. People listened to the radio simply to say they had listened or they had gotten station KDKA in Pittsburgh, which was a great accomplishment. Of course, the Cubs were the earliest team on radio that could be gotten in the Midwest. I think that was the way it developed, and I just always followed the Chicago Cubs since. The ’84 season was actually a bad time for an old Cubs fan because there were so many newcomers getting on the bandwagon … They filled the park—you couldn’t go out anymore and buy a seat the day of the game, which has always been one of the charms of Wrigley Field.

Being a Chicago Cubs fan is not about winning—that’s not the point to it at all. It’s being with them during the season and suffering with them as people suffer in their own jobs in life. You don’t always win everything at your factory, your office or wherever you’re working. That is really more of the charm, I think, than being a winner.

Sports competition is a microcosm. You win, lose, sometimes tie. That’s what happens in life. If you can’t be a loser, you’ll never be a winner.
In most families, I suppose, there are stories, tales that get repeated over and over, a groan for some, a giggle for others. The stories themselves are often innocuous, just snippets of time that through repetition take on mythic proportions while other snippets—those that are less amusing or just unobserved—are forgotten. And so it is with this snippet from my dad’s interview; it became somewhat of a scripture for me, for all of us.

Dad is so wise!

I photocopied the page it appeared on, cut out everything around it, and carried his words in my wallet, pulling them out whenever I needed someone older and wiser and perhaps more sober to help me defend my Cubness. It came in especially handy in 1987 when I lived in Columbia, Missouri, and the St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series battling the Minnesota Twins. (For some reason I feel like high-fivin’ Dan Gladden right now.) The scrap of paper also came in handy when sharing Cubness with another Cub fan, for unless you are going to bitch and whine the night away, poetic waxing, it seems to me, is what Cub fans share. That, and tales of the goat curse.

Over the years this scrap of paper, this scripture from my dad, became worn and tattered. Then one day I shed my Cubness and threw the scrap away. So the other day when I needed the quote I had to haul a big old accordion file out of a metal filing cabinet that is in the garage between the beeswax and the wasps.

This is Finnegan.

In the file are scraps of paper from my dad that I’ve collected over the years, such as notes from Santa, augmented with some of the scraps of paper that came from cleaning out his files after he died, such as a Certificate of Award he won in 1928 for being “Neither Tardy Nor Absent.” Also in the file, of course, is the issue of the ABA Journal that contains “An Interview with Richard B. Allen,” and after finding the quote I wanted and sending it off I felt as if I had just told one of those old family stories once too often. I wondered what I was overlooking. So I sat down, read the full interview.

Another excerpt:
Bodine: A lot of these challenges [of putting out a monthly magazine] would drive an ordinary person completely crazy. You developed a reputation for being patient, never losing your temper, and you have a very gentle kind of humor. How do you accomplish dealing with all these challenges, and were you always this way?

Allen: I’ll answer the last one first: no. As a child, I had temper tantrums and was volatile, as I suppose all children are. It’s something you have to work on very assiduously. I did have a good experience of being thrown, against my will, of course, into the Armed Forces right after I was graduated from college. That was an excellent maturing process that I couldn’t have had unless I had been placed in those circumstances from age 22 to 27.

You have to work very hard to control yourself and not say what you think at the moment. Not make a decision unless you have to at the moment. But it is acquired—people are not born with it at all. It’s something you have to work for and acquire.

Bursinger: Are you originally from Illinois?

Allen: Yes, born on the prairies of Illinois in a small town that held two corn fields apart.
My father rarely talked about the past, his past, and all I know about “those circumstances” during the war is that he was in the Quartermaster Corps, stationed in New Zealand. Or was it Guam? My sister tells me that my father’s best friend never came home from the war. How I could not know this? Or did I know, and forget?

My father and I never talked heart-to-heart, he never counseled me or guided me, he never helped me with a career decision or any tough decision that I can think of. It’s likely I never asked for his help, though surely I needed it. What I remember about my dad, among so many things, is sitting with him year after year at Wrigley Field, our heads bent over scorecards. And I remember dancing with him at an ABA meeting in Montreal when I was maybe 19 or 20, and as he smiled and twirled me around a near-empty dance floor I realized he was a bit tipsy, and I realized what the heck, that’s okay. And I remember wheeling him out of the apartment he shared with my mom just a month or so before he died, when he was so very weak, and so very disgusted with being so weak, and tired, I think, of everyone fussing over him, and driving to the multiplex because he wanted to see Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. And no matter how little was said about it, I remember always knowing very well how much he loved me.

My dad loved so many things, from bread-baking to opera. And he collected things, from every recording of every musical to Kirin beer mugs. He enjoyed a good beer and fine wine, trying his hand at making both, and there was a short period of time when it was not unusual for a family dinner to be punctuated by the blast of a bottle blowing up in the basement. And he got quite silly around dogs.

And Queenie and Buster got quite silly around him.

He loved travel and by attending meetings and conferences associated with work he was able to explore cities all over the world. And he loved Chicago. He loved its culture, its sports, its stories, its people, its elevated trains. He loved the law, words, the craft of writing and the task of editing. In the file folder I found sheets of paper on which he had typed quotes about various things, but mostly the Cubs, and in the file folder I found two sheets of slightly yellowed onionskin paper on which he had typed three poems by Robert Frost: Fire and Ice, Dust of Snow, and Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.

Those poems are the reason my father is so present right now, so thankfully present. Suddenly I know, without a doubt, that he would see nothing particularly wacky about how I live and where I live. He would understand without question that part of me is simply struck by
The way a crow / Shook down on me / The dust of snow / From a hemlock tree … 
and he would take it on faith that my choice to follow that part of myself is the right thing for me to do. He would not question it, he would not judge it.

My dad’s loving support has been there all along, of course, but like Dorothy in Oz, I lost sight of it. Maybe that’s because he became ill that first year after I moved from Chicago. He never had the chance to embrace this part of my life, and I never had the chance to feel that embrace. But now, well, this week it’s been like finding a crazy pair of ruby red slippers in a file folder in the garage. And they were there all along. My dad is no longer lurking under my skin, but rather it feels as if he’s right here, smiling and chuckling, saying go ahead, go ahead. And maybe, just maybe, I have something yet to learn from him.

Yiminey! Cricket in the garden!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

whatever it is, it’s heavier than a cricket, lighter than a rainbow

The week went by like any other, but at the same time there was a heaviness to it, a heaviness that could be attributed to any number of things, or nothing at all.

Elliott, in his own way, also felt the heaviness.

There was physical heaviness. I took delivery of 500 lbs. of beeswax. It shipped from Sleeping Bear Farms and late Wednesday afternoon I met the truck at Jerry’s Auto Repair in downtown Pelkie. Jerry and the driver of the truck helped me to load the wax, which was packaged in three large boxes, into the van. Back home I hauled the various-sized blocks and chips of wax out of the boxes and stacked them in the garage. While waiting at Jerry’s I’d been waving my hands around my head like a crazy woman, battling the gnats, or sand flies, as Jerry called them, and back at home I was plagued by wasps. They zipped in and out of the garage on missions of late August, crashing into me, ricocheting off my head.

The garage is heavy with wasps.

It was 92 degrees.

All week the atmosphere has been heavy. Heavy with heat and humidity. Storms. Nights with lightening flashing non-stop in the northern sky. Rain drumming down. Thunder booming. And mornings so thick with fog it was like a George Romero movie fading at noon not to zombies but to a blazing hot sun.

But the heaviness was more than that.

At night, before the rains, an insect chorus louder than I’ve ever heard. Crickets and grasshoppers with a constant hum, a ringing in the ears, an incessant whisper overlaid with broad suggestion, loud chirping, throaty trills. Over to the west, in the taller grass, a little maraca action—perhaps even a whole little mariachi band?—and off to the east a tambourine being shaken to beat the damn band.

How can one sleep with all this racket? Not me. So I’d get up and write. And write and write and write. Sometimes writing takes me through and past whatever it is, but other times it just seems to tunnel nowhere.

But the heaviness was more than that.

I took it easy on the candles, hardly mowed at all, stacked just a little bit of wood, and spent one whole afternoon floating downriver in an inner tube.

A stump in the middle of the river far from home.

Other afternoons I just went up to the bend in the river and spent time in the cool waters that swirl around the many years of fallen trees and tangled branches that get caught up in the bend. I sat on the sandy beach of the shifty old island and watched minnows in a shallow pool. A tiny bit of the river flowed into and out of this pool, spilling back out over a submerged log, creating a deeper pool at the bottom of which lay red and white and grey and brown stones. In the bottom of the shallow pool, pebbles covered with the darting black shadows of minnows, shadows as thin and fleeting as trickles of sweat. The little fish swam close to the log but never plopped over it while pieces of leaves and twigs did. A brown frog no bigger than my thumb squirted about. Looked like the same type of frog I’d seen up around the house.

I read a letter from a friend while at the post office, waiting to renew my box for another year, and enjoyed the letter so much I wrote back that very night.

Nothing too heavy there.

There was a five-legged grasshopper in the garden. I noticed it one morning on the sunflower, which is hanging its head.

Ole five-legged Hoppy.

I noticed it the next morning, too, scuttling around the broccoli.

Between the nighttime cricket racket and the five-legged grasshopper, not mention all the fully legged grasshoppers flying up into the air with every step on the way to the river, I looked up Grasshopper/Cricket in my Animal Energies book.
The gift of these insect relatives is the power of song and sound.
Nothing too heavy there, except for this idea that we are related to grasshoppers and crickets and I suppose katydids too.

Ole Grandpappy Katydid hanging out by the back door.

But so what? What if we are? Imagine the poor cricket trying to fathom being related to us.

There’s more to the entry, including a bit about pie that made me think, but I fixated on the “song” part and spent most of Saturday being conscious of the songs I was hearing, and for some reason then singing along, as long as no one could hear, and even more strangely once in a while belting it out, as loud as I could, when I could. Such a variety of song (and most of it I don’t even remember) from “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” to “Can’t You See” to “Heart of Gold” to “People Get Ready” to “Jump.” And then, “Over the Rainbow.”

Okay. What’s this heaviness about?

It’s inside and it’s outside and it’s everything and it’s nothing. It is just there. Sometimes it is just there, isn’t it?

I don’t know what it is. But it is as if I know, and something has to give. Something has to change. Something has to break free.

Right now it is absolutely calm. Fog sits. Thunder rumbles.

This morning.

Friday evening Sadie suddenly appeared in the yard. Elliott and I were on the porch. The sun was dropping low and bright in the sky; my eyes were closed against it. When I opened them, Sadie was there, just on the other side of the chokecherry tree about fifteen feet away. She came around the tree and stood off the south end of the porch, staring at us. I could see flies on her face. On her left side was a wound. It looked fresh, greyish, big as a fist and covered with flies. She kept throwing her head back toward it, rousing the flies. After a minute or two, she took off, loping westward.