Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just another buggy, bloomin’, rainy, sunny, moony, mowed down & oprahfied, pea-picklin’ week

Sunshine and a stiff breeze, outside going at the unmowed lawn with the scythe, a steady swing back and forth, clover heads and daisies and trefoil flying. And what is this weird thing with the two-foot-tall skinny stem topped with a skinny head of spare white spikes?


Every time Josie went out in the yard he got lost in the yard and came in with a coatful of ticks, and I think it was the tick that blew up like a helium balloon on his chin that made me bless this sunny breezy day that allowed me to go out with the scythe and that old reel mower and have at it with the lawn without getting soaked by rain or leftover rain and without getting bugged to death either. There is nothing better for temporary mosquito abatement than a good wind. And cutting the grass keeps the ticks down. Or so I think. The irony is I am paying someone else to mow my lawn this year. They must be busy elsewhere.

Rain! Rain! And more rain! Then … a little mist. A good day for a fire. Temperature steady at fifty degrees. A good day for candlemaking. A good day for writing a letter. A good day for finishing that Hemingway book. Though that’s a little depressing. He loses it—“it” being, I think, himself. To depression, delusions, obsessions—of course, how would I know, really. Just what’s in the book. One morning he shoots himself; he is dead at 61. Everyone knows this, I suppose. His father also committed suicide.

Rain has stopped but clouds remain. Josie and I go in the old van to the post office. I have two packages from booksellers. I almost forget to mail the letter, a postcard, and the payment for airport parking. We leave the van at Jerry’s (he fixed the van’s rusty, falling-off muffler the day before I left for California, but it still needed a part, a hanger or something, to which I said well, maybe I don’t need that part, because I’m driving around OK, which made Jerry laugh and say no, you need that part). Josie and I walk home, and it is pleasant to walk with him. He’s not the kind of dog to stop and sniff and pee on everything. He hardly stops at all, just forges ahead.


We pass by fields tall with hay. Many fields have already been mowed, the hay bundled, but not these fields on this road between my cabin and the post office. It is a mile-long stretch with plenty of time for thinking and resting the eyes. There is a gentle breeze. The fields sway.

At home I fix tea and open my packages. Three books. “A Farewell to Arms”—perfect timing. “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.” (So much I haven’t read.) And “The War of Art.” The last because my sister has cable, so that Sunday morning I was there I ended up watching Oprah’s network and she was talking to this guy Steven Pressfield who wrote this book. There was something he said about fear, hesitation, not moving forward, creativity—maybe just the same old stuff we’re always trying to figure out that Oprah taps into so well—that made me look him up on the internet and then buy this book. I guess I will now have to read it to remember what he said that I found so compelling.

Some days dawn clear and bright, like a proverb. It is a new day. Josie and I will walk to Jerry’s to pick up the van; I will finish this week’s candlemaking; I will wash the jeans that got mud-caked earlier in the week when Josie and I slid down the riverbank to the river; I will write. I will not mow the lawn—my lawn guy came last night and took the encroaching fields down to nubs. Now we live in the middle of a well-groomed park, the wilds at bay. The robins like it. Josie likes it. Josie seems to like most anything.

I read the “The War of Art.” I now know what I probably have always known. It does not matter what you think about doing, what you talk about doing, what you say you will do, what you imagine you could do, what you intend to do, what others say you should or could or couldn’t or shouldn’t do, what you would do if only if. What matters is what you do. And you can put that up against this Hemingway quote: Never confuse movement with action.

It can worry me when I find myself aligned with Oprah. I mean, I liked “The War of Art.” And yesterday I discovered that there is a recent documentary about the Hemingway family, its troubles, its suicides, and Oprah Winfrey was the executive producer.

Oh, to be along the river again. Still very buggy, but the water is cool and clear. And the riverbank this time not so muddy, but covered in daisies. Josie hurries past the flowers, anxious to get to the water’s edge. We creep through bramble to get to Fisherman’s Island. I throw a stick in the water to see if he will go after it, but he stays on shore, following it from there, letting it go.

josie riverside

I seem to know that I will be leaving here in October, at least for the winter, maybe longer. I will go to California, and I don’t know how it will be, being in California, looking for a place to live, a place for Elliott and Josie and me, staying temporarily here or there, trying to work, all of that, so I am a bit afraid. A bit wary of the whole thing. A bit anxious. Change, for the sake of change, is no longer something I am interested in, and change in anticipation of something … well, now, that is something I no longer trust. So, how to approach it—that is the difficulty. A part of me is ecstatic at the idea of joining my family along the Pacific Coast and of being closer to my friend Louis, who is inland in the heart of the Mojave, but another part of me hesitates, measures the risks, hangs back, knows indeed, there are risks.

Rainy day. Josie learns to high five.

Sometimes that song from “Annie Get Your Gun” pops into my head.

“I got the sun in the morning …

sunrise over keweenaw bay

… and the moon at night.”

moon over pea pickle farm

There’s nothing quite like arriving at the farmers market, sun just up, Springsteen blasting. Unless  it’s right here, right now.


  1. Would hate to see you leaving the Yoop, perhaps permanently. I enjoy your sense of place, descriptive talents and rambles. Yet there may be open horizons (Sigurd Olson, a favorite) which need to be explored. Best wishes

  2. And I suspect you know this one, but could your tall white spiky flower be White Sweet Clover?

    1. I looked it up once, now can't remember the name nor find my source. I think it was a type of clover, but it's not white sweet clover. It has one flower on one tall stem -- the "flower" looks like thimbleweed before it blooms. But the leaves are kind of like a clump of grass at the base of the stem. I'm pretty sure it's all gone now, but will check in the fields today ... I am also a fan of Sigurd Olson.

    2. English plantain -- -- and it's running rampant once again.