Sunday, March 2, 2014

deedlie bum bum: in the twilight zone in search of pearls

Wednesday night I went out on the porch to get the ash bucket and heard coyotes howling. I stopped to listen, thought it might be wolves, hoping, I suppose, that it was wolves, but then the noise became an undulating music, a somewhat maniacal medley that can only be coyotes letting loose, coyotes talking and yakking and howling and cracking up all at once. It came from the river, all up and down it. It was softened slightly by a veil of snow.

Here’s a pile of snow.

Thursday the high temperature was zero, and it was sunny. I walked to the river and saw the coyotes’ prints trailing up and down its middle. There was one place where separate paths converged like threads coming together in a knot, and I wondered if the dogs had all come together, pawing at the ice, searching for water. I saw no open spots of water from any of the various vantage points along my 500 feet or so of river, and usually there are a few open spots, particularly at the bend where the river swirls around a sometimes island and a mass of trees that have slid down the bank.

I took pictures until the camera froze.

Here’s my front walk.

Thursday night I awoke at one-thirty and got up at three. It was 25 below zero. The cabin was cold. It was still and clear; when I went out on the porch to bring in another armload of wood the stars were brilliant. Elliott and I sat by the fire huddled under blankets. He had had a spell of craziness, running in circles up in the loft, but now he was settled. Occasionally a loud pop from outside startled us both as wood contracted or expanded, I don’t know which, nor why it makes such a crack like a shotgun. Each loud crack unsettled Elliott, sent him off to a hidden spot, but only for ten minutes or so.

I watched an episode of The Twilight Zone, and there was Ron Howard. From 1959, Season One, Episode Five.

Here are leftover ’shoe prints from Wednesday.

I worked on the orphan train story, which has gone off to places I did not expect, and the mass of words becomes a tangle, the knot I paw at. Over the years I have fretted so much over whose story is this? and now writing through it, it is just my story. Perhaps as a writer this is my failure, or maybe it’s my strength.

I wrote some emails, mostly about it being 25 below. This kind of weather always get a good reaction from my sisters, and Friday (which Thursday night eventually became) was no different. It was good to hear from them that there is rain in southern California.

Here’s my driveway.

Friday the temperature climbed above zero, went from -25 to almost 10 in just a few hours, and without sun that seems no small feat. Yes, it was cloudy. Grey. I tried to sleep, but could not. Late in the day it snowed, a drizzly looking, sifting snow. I opened a can of chicken noodle soup for dinner—a hearty variety—and watched another episode of The Twilight Zone.

“You are about to meet a hypochondriac. … ”

Not to mention the devil.

“About my soul. You say I won’t miss it?”

Now why would a hypochondriac seek immortality? And once he’s got it, why would he go around throwing himself under trains and buses and then drink poison, trying to kill himself. For this he sold his soul? The episode has that twilight-zoney underlay of humor but overall, for me, the episode fell flat.

“A little man with such a yen to live.
Beaten by the devil, by his own boredom,
and by the scheme of things, in this,
The Twilight Zone.”

The chicken soup heated on the woodstove and let loose a delicious aroma. I tossed in some croutons and ate. Another episode began, about man and loneliness. It was filmed at Desolation Canyon in Death Valley, because the desert, I guess, looks a lot like an asteroid.

Outside the snowflakes grew large. They swirled, they danced.

Here’s a little picture made by snow and wind.

Earlier in the week I’d been reminded of a guitar hanging in a nursery somewhere out there in the desert, and it brought to mind a favorite lullaby my mother used to sing. I searched for it on YouTube, found it, was surprised. My mother had sung a simple little ditty with just a few words bordering on the nonsensical. What I found was a full-fledged song, sung by Nick Lucas, who, it turns out, was the man who inspired Tiny Tim. In the mid-1990s, I saw Tiny Tim perform in Chicago at a North Side bar. I still have a CD recorded at the event. My ex-mother-in-law loved Tiny Tim, and I remember she got one of those CDs, maybe for her birthday, or Christmas. But Tiny Tim didn’t sing the deedlie-bum-bum song, this favorite lullaby of mine that had also been remembered in January, on my mother’s birthday, as my sisters and I sat at a table with her having lunch. (Tiny Tim did, however, sing “Highway to Hell.” It is on the CD.) Someone asked my mother if she had any pearls of wisdom to share, her being 94 and all, and she said no, she had dropped all her pearls long ago. So we picked our brains in search of those pearls and I thought of this lullaby and how she would sing, “Open your heart, let the music in.”

Twenty-three below this morning; same predicted for tonight. Yikes. Is this really March? Or is this just the scheme of things, in this, The Twilight Zone.

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