Sunday, May 31, 2015

giving blood, good “grief”!: a long pea picklin’ diary

Monday morning
Recovery day. Steady light rain, upper 50s, watching yesterday’s Cubs game, reading The New Yorker. Memorial Day. Recovery Day.

I am exhausted. Over the past few days I’ve suffered several bouts of grief for no particular reason. I call it “grief” for lack of a better word, for lack of a clear diagnosis, for lack of any diagnosis. It just happens, kind of like a spell descending from on high or creeping up from below, and at one time these spells occurred with some regularity, if not quite on a schedule, so I tried to chart them by moon phases, by the time of the month, by things like oh, was I too happy just before? But I have yet to discern a pattern, establish a connection. Sometimes there are triggering events or dates, but sometimes not. What it seems like is that every so often it’s just time to grieve, to grieve for all that’s been lost, for all that there is not, for all that I wish there was; to lament that which has become and that which has not.

Atop the river bank looking south, away from the river.

When in the throes of this grief it makes no difference all that I have, all that I see I have and all that I am and all that I am grateful for day in, day out. It makes no difference that I am sheltered and reasonably sane and reasonably happy with people I love and a few who love me; it seemingly makes no difference that I have a good life with much freedom. I wonder. How can that make no difference? And I ask: Who am I to grieve?

But this has been happening now for, oh, maybe six years or so, and this is what it is: A cocoon of crying, sadness, despair. It can rack my body until I am exhausted, until I can cry no more. There is little to assuage it. I have lost my battle with it on beautiful days walking through peaceful woods; I have lost my battle with it on stormy days ensconced in a comfortable chair in front of a blazing fire. I have lost it in sunshine, I have lost it in rain. I have lost it in crowds, I have lost it in solitude. I have lost it while adhering to a strict routine; I have lost it in the midst of going with the flow.

I have thought it of me, of something deep and woeful inside me, this thing, this sadness; and I have considered it shallow, meaningless, pathetic, a mere knee-jerk reaction to petty circumstances. I have thought it organic, a physical thing, and I have thought it somewhat spiritual, as if an ethereal emotion were wrapping me up in all suffering, the suffering of us all, the whole suffering of being. Sometimes I think it’s just me crumbling under the daunting task of facing life alone.

But I have no idea what it is. This time, I call it grief.

Sometimes I take two aspirin and it abates, calms, and I am thankful if I can read a bit and fall asleep. Reading can help divert it, but just for a while, just as being with others can divert it, but just for a while. Once, going out for an ice cream cone helped. Work of any sort diverts it for a bit, but to summon energy for that work, that’s the trick. It talks, this grief, it talks like mad like an evil Chatty Cathy in my head, and it can write like mad. I may be able to silence it for a minute or two, or even an hour, but once present, it sneaks back around, all of a sudden there, with more to say.

I seldom talk about it, about this, am not sure I have ever told anyone the extent of it, the absolute miserableness of it, but a few have told me that it’s no big deal to cry and feel despair, that they cry, too, quite frequently, perhaps, but is it like this? Is it like this consuming power that just comes upon you and you don’t think it will ever let go? Even though you know, from experience, that it will end, that you will be fine, that you will go on, in a day, maybe two, but right now, while it has you in its grip, it cannot end soon enough, and maybe you even wish you were dead.

Some might say: You need help. But.

I started a jigsaw puzzle.

After two or three days, it disappears like a bad guest. I have energy again, positive energy, and I go on, or maybe it lingers, somewhat, having taken a bit more out of me than I can readily snap back from, like this time. I was not expecting it. It has been a while, quite a while, but there it came, this thing I am now calling grief, hitting me upside the head and eventually flattening me so now, today, this holiday with steady light rain and temperatures in the mid-50s, this day of stillness but for the hatching, exploring mosquitoes, I take to recover. With tea and a ballgame and The New Yorker, on the sofa with Josie snoring at my feet. I am exhausted. Perhaps starting a pea-picklin’ diary will help bring me back.

Monday afternoon
Every hour or two Josie and I have gone outside, I yet in my pajamas and robe, teeth unbrushed, and the longer that goes on the better it feels. I was going out to bring in the bins of candles left in the van after Saturday’s market. There are sixteen bins, and each outing I lugged in four or three or two, did a quick inventory, made my list of candles to make for next week. Some outings I kept my slippers on. Some outings I slipped on my rubber boots.

After the ballgame, which the Cubs lost, we watched “The Sagebrush Sea,” a PBS Nature program, and Josie and Elliott were interested in the birds: the eagles, the ravens, grouse, bluebirds, the owls. Josie also liked the pups—coyote? fox?—that yipped and howled. It reminded me of when I was a kid watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins. That was on Sundays before Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, and that was the one night of the week we were allowed to eat dinner in front of the TV. Hamburgers, chips, carrot sticks, a glass of milk. A wild kingdom, a wonderful world.

There is a hollow space inside where energy should be.

View from a bridge.

Thursday
Fog this morning, rather ordinary, but beautiful and mysterious. The air is thick with green and moisture and mosquitoes, with tight flower buds waiting to burst, with wafting beech fluff and dandelion seeds. There’s a heady scent of blooming chokecherry and damp pine.

I have been working all week on a “grievance” list—meaning a list of that for which I grieve. I realize, of course, that naming my recurring bouts of sadness as “grief” does not make it so, but it gives me a new way to look at this thing and to work with it.

Part of the puzzle.

Tuesday
I gave blood today because my father was the first person to pop into mind when I began my grief list. I first donated blood shortly after his death and found so much to like about it, it became a routine. A routine I fell out of a couple years back.

So what’s to like about giving blood?

It starts with the questionnaire, all the yes-or-no questions about your diseases, drug use, which countries you’ve been in and when, and then about your sexual partners. It makes you think about all these things you could have done, that might have happened, that didn’t, that weren’t. A person then looks over your questionnaire, sticks a thermometer in your mouth, makes small talk, wraps that cuff around your arm and pumps it up to measure your blood pressure, and my blood pressure tends to be low so that can spark a comment such as once: “Wow. Are you sure you’re alive?” Now there’s something to think about! And there’s plenty of time to think while relaxing with your feet up, drinking juice, watching someone stick a needle in your arm and then watching your blood drain out through a clear plastic tube. My veins are good for this. They stand out like two hoses (I am told) just waiting to be tapped, and the nurses, the ones drawing the blood, are pleased. When it’s all over, there’s this serene lightheadedness and you get a cookie. So, all that for just one pint of blood! One little pound of something you will never miss that might help someone somewhere, someone you will never know. Seriously, what could be better?

I wonder if perhaps grief is not linear.

See the mice?

Wednesday
Time for bed and Elliott wants in and Josie wants out so I open the door and Elliott drops a mouse at my feet and I scream a bad word (or two) and the mouse darts back and forth in the doorway and Josie gets excited and Elliott gets befuddled and the mouse runs inside, across the room, disappearing, and I shove Josie out with my foot and slam the door and scream another bad word (or two) and realize Elliott might best catch this mouse in the house so open the door and Elliott is streaking around the corner of the cabin, disappearing, because he does not like it when I yell, and Josie runs in, over to where the mouse might be but then he seems to think the mouse has headed up the stairs which certainly he (or she) has not (I hope).

Friday
I’ve been given two words to mull over this week, ordinary words that appeared in correspondence from friends. The first word: Reality. The second word: Wonderment.

Home.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

when josie writes a poem

Josie: I feel a poem.
Me: What?
Josie: I feel a poem!
Me: Okay.
Josie: Write it down?
Me: Sure.
Josie: With pictures!
Me: Okay.


Me: Wait. Are you “gambling” or “gamboling”?
Josie: Yes. thump thump thump


Me: Wait … a minute. Oh, never mind.
Josie: thump thump thump


Me: Uh  …
Josie: What?
Me: “Swoon”? Again?
Josie: thump thump thump


Me: Uh …
Josie: What? What?
Me: Nothing. Nothing. Go on.
Josie: Where was I?
Me: Flying higher, higher than a kite can!
Josie: Yes.


Me:  sigh  
Josie: What?
Me: Nothin’.


Josie: thump thump thump
Me: So. The End?
Josie: Yes. thump thump thump What do you think?
Me: Well, now, Josie, I’m not one to know much about poetry, and you could hardly call me impartial, but …
Josie: Yes? Yes? thump thump thump
Me: Well, Josie, I love it.
Josie: Love is good?
Me: Love is good!
Elliott: Good grief.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

if the question is not ‛to mow or not to mow’, then what?

Now Josie and I walk alongside the road most mornings but if the morning is cold and damp then in the afternoon. Some of those this week. One morning everything lined with drops of dew, drops of rain.

A murder of crows gathered high in a beech, made a lot of noise. A lot of birds made a lot of noise. I could not see them all, but I could hear them all. A thousand-piece orchestra tuning up.

I was watching the grand finale of America’s Ballroom Challenge. Out the window a wake of turkey vultures circled high in the sky. First four, then six, then seven. Their circling and soaring seemed to match the dancers’ circling and soaring, the flow of the dress, the flow of the wings.

Sometimes I think thinking is sorely maligned.

But then there is something I have been thinking about that feels downright stupid to be thinking about. At least thinking about so much. Letting it become a dilemma. The meaning of dilemma being, I think, “thoughts getting caught in the vise of indecision.” I was thinking about mowing, and not whether to mow or not to mow, but how to mow. Oi vey. I hate mowing. And here I am all wrapped up thinking about … mowing. Again! We all should be so lucky! To have such a dilemma! To have such a piece of turf to call our own! One that grows greener and greener and taller and taller (in certain months, that is) and, oh, no, so now we gotta mow! Again!

One morning a band of mist.

Last year I paid some guys to mow the lawn. Most often it was just one guy. The nice thing about it, of course, was that I didn’t have to mow, though I did mow once in a while as this guy couldn’t always get here between one rainy week and the next, and there is something about a shaggy lawn that just makes you want to mow it down. This guy mowed the lawn farther out from the cabin than I ever had, way farther out, exposing new topography and yet more old trash and pushing back the bugs, though I am beginning to think that is a rural legend, this idea that keeping the grass mowed also mows down the mosquitoes and ticks. But this year, I have not heard from the guy, and, anyway, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go that route again because for a while I have been thinking I should join the real world and buy a riding mower.

Howdy.

I could see it, you know. I could see sitting on a mower, riding around the property, maybe with headphones to protect my ears from the noise, getting it done, getting it cut, all at once, just one afternoon or evening every week or two, shaving that grass, those weeds, bouncing along, almost like a carnival ride, and I can still see it, imagine it, there I am now, mowing my driveway, whistling a happy tune.

This is not my fantasy.

While in California, I made a list of things that were, quite simply, making life here—here being a cabin in the proverbial middle of nowhere not to mention in the middle of big old fallow farm fields—challenging. “Yard” topped the list. (Really? That’s my biggest challenge? Again with the oi vey! Though the list may not have been thoughtfully ranked, as “isolation” was the last item on the list, just below “Flies.”) You see, a reel mower, which relies on human power, is the only type of mower I have ever owned, which does not mean, of course, that it is the only type of mower I have ever used. But you would have to go back to my childhood and pull out the electric mower my dad was so keen on—so keen he let me use it every week while he putzed around the yard picking up sticks and scat! But, believe me, he kept a keen eye on that mower as he directed me, waving me down whenever it was time to empty the bag or to flip the 50-yard cord, to get it out of my path, lest I, in my daydreamyness, run right over it, thus putting a fritz and fizzle on the proceedings. We were a fairly well-oiled machine, my dad and I, but not without our quibbles. But I believe that’s another story.

My dad got the electric mower, if I recall correctly, because it really teed him off tugging that little starter cord on the gas mower and having it go blipt blipt blipt blipt – nothin’ over and over again. I’m not absolutely sure about this, but maybe. My dad wasn’t much of a tinkerer, except with words, and maybe in that way we are alike. I don’t know. But I can tell you that the bug-a-boo I had about purchasing and using some new type of mower was that it just seemed too darn complicated. So even though I had that nice fantasy about a riding mower, the reality was: too complicated.

More misty morn, clearing.

So I’m thinking about this while the grass is growing like, well, weeds. And the weeds are growing too. So I hauled out the old reel mower. The blades were a little dull, but maybe, just maybe I could go back to doing this, this little clack clack clack in the middle of 18 acres …

When I was married and living in a funky little house in Chicago with a big front yard and then later in a suburb, my husband did the mowing. I loved it. He used a reel mower. The sound was wonderful. Clack clack clack clack clack. He wore a white T-shirt, green shorts, white socks and tennis shoes, a red bandanna around his neck or sometimes his forehead. Our dog Queenie loved to bark and jump around the mower, and if she was inside and heard that clack clack clack clack clack she’d jump and yip until someone let her out so she could jump and yip around the mower. She was part border collie. Does that explain it?

After we bought a house in the U.P. our ways parted, and I started using the reel mower. One time, early on, I was using it on a short slope of grass, really yanking it up and down this little weedy bank, and the next day my lower back hurt so much I could not move. After a day or two I thought I was done for. There I was, all alone in the U.P. Surely somebody someday would show up, find me dead on the floor, because lying flat on my back on the floor was the only way not to be in pain. So here I will die, I thought, kind of just as my mother worried. Not by falling off the ladder or drowning in the river, but killed by a reel mower on a grassy slope.

Josie and Elliott wonder: Will our yard ever get mowed?

The yard at that house wasn’t so big, but this yard here is huge. And there is a 500-foot (or is it 500-yard?) grassy driveway. Not to mention the trail to the river, which is much nicer when mowed 2-feet wide. But, of course, mowing the drive and the trail is not necessarily necessary. When I moved here I figured I would get a different mower, but then I started mowing with what I had, the reel mower, and kept on, even as it kept breaking, popping these things called C rings or E rings or maybe it’s ARG! rings, anyway, these very small, thin, two-third circles of metal, two of which are absolutely necessary to keep the whole dang handle on the mower. When a ring pops off, the handle pops off, all of a sudden like, which, as you might well imagine, really pissed me off (pardon the expression). I was popping rings all the time. I learned to keep a bunch on hand, thus out-smarting the Powers That Prevail Over Reel Mowers.

I get the feeling I’ve written about this before …

Which is why last year someone else mowed the lawn, and now here we’ve come full circle, maybe, almost, because how can I be going on and on about mowing? Anyway, so I was mowing the other day and suddenly I’m veering to the left because the mower’s neck, its handle, cracked clear through, well not quite clear through, but enough to put us off kilter. Now, if I had had duct tape in the house things might have turned out different, but I did not have duct tape, just wire, and as a fix for a broken neck, that doesn’t work, so I had to admit this reel mower was dead, as far as I was concerned, and as the grass was growing right before my very eyes, a decision had to be made. Go get duct tape, try to resurrect? (And what? Persist in a lost cause?) Riding mower? (Hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars!) Gas push mower? (Yanking and yanking that infernal cord!) Electric mower? (Who’s going to make sure there’s no fritz and frizzle?) Or … and it came to me in a flash.

A reel mower.

Isn’t she a beauty?

The next day I had to go to Marquette, so I stopped at Menards and got a brand-spanking new reel mower with a cushioned grip and sharpie-sharp blades. I put it together in about 10 minutes and knew exactly how to work it. I even made an outline of one of its E rings so I can stock up on the right size. (Yes, they come in all sorts of sizes.)

Looks like Josie in a port hole.
Note: Drawing not to scale.

This new mower doesn’t go clack clack clack but rather whirra-whirra-whirra, and you should see the grass blades shoot up behind it! Every once in a while it even catches and tosses the head of a dandelion.

So I’ve been out mowing, and even though I still hate it, I’m kind of lovin’ it, too.

R.I.P. But if you are interested, she may be
out at the end of the drive, yours for the taking.

Meanwhile, hummingbirds have returned from their winter vacations, and Josie chased a porcupine up a tree. To hear him tell it, life has never been so exciting.

Porkie in a tree, snacking.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

old photos, happy mother’s day, and say it again, Butch: Who are those guys?

It’s Mother’s Day and I wish I were with my mom in California, sitting in her room or wheeling her away from bingo, taking her outside, Josie doing his best to pull us along, to get to the koi pond first, where we all like to sit, my mom in her chair, Josie and me on a glider, unless there are palm nuts on the ground for Josie to snuff around in which he does, perhaps eating a few, whether he should or not. But I came home and my mom stayed where she is and that is, as they say, life. My sisters are there and at some point this will be read to her and all I’ve got to say is: Hey, Mom, who the heck are these people?


We’ve done this before, many times, I am sure, so I am confident of your answer. “Hmmm. I don’t know. Could that be Grandpa Morris? … 

Well, if you don’t know, I don’t, and if you do know and you tell me, I’ll soon forget.

Then you’ll say, “Someone should write it down.”

Is that your Grandpa Morris? The whole Morris family?
Before they adopted Daisy? Maybe circa 1890?

These photos come up because I have embarked on a slow, methodical cleaning out and organization of my cabin, starting with the six drawers in the kitchen, one of which is for utensils: your knives and forks and spoons and bottle openers and such; one of which is for recycled plastic bags, cloth napkins (mostly inherited), dish towels, twist ties and such; and one of which is for storage containers such as empty tea boxes, empty cottage cheese tubs, a few odd pieces of heirloom Tupperware. Yes, I am my mother’s daughter, so I guess a granddaughter of the Great Depression, but I do pare it down occasionally and draw the line at stockpiling tiny soaps and showercaps and notepads filched from resorts and motels.

But back to the drawers. There is one for pens and pencils and rubber bands and thumbtacks and paper clips and the like, and there is one for receipts and envelopes, blank cards and stamps. And then there is a file drawer. Its organization got lumped in with that of the four-drawer file cabinet in the loft, and that’s when this pile of old photos got spilled, for in front of that file cabinet, on the floor, was a red accordion box file into which I had dumped, a month or so ago, upon my return from California, this most recent cache of photos to have made its way from somewhere else to here.

Two guys on donkeys.

Who the heck are these guys?

Two guys in a donkey cart.

Now there’s a man I know, the one in front, that’s my grandfather, my mother’s father. Apparently he liked these funny photo postcards you could make way back then. I’ve seen others with his likeness, including one where he and his buddy are behind bars, locked up in a fake jail somewhere for cattle rustling or some such, or so he writes. I never met him, just have these pictures of him. He came from a large clan of Treloars in Iowa, the clan originally from Cornwall, England. He liked horses, and here’s a more recent (relatively speaking) snapshot of him and his horse King, on a street in a small town in Illinois.

Giddyup, Grandpa.

And here’s a picture of my mother, from the late 1930s, when she and some friends made it to the Continental Divide. Apparently, that year, big, round, white buttons were all the rage.

The only one I know is on the left.

But say now, who are these gals?

I know no one in this picture.

Photos similar to this one pop up again and again, in one group of old photos or another, and we are all very curious about what is going on and who these people are. Is it some kind of small town, Midwest, feminist cabal? A benign church group? A scary religious cult? What’s with the spears?

And now I can hear my mother saying, once again, with a touch of exasperation: Oh, I don’t know.

Then why have you kept these pictures all these years???

But here’s a clue, regarding the photo, I mean, not why we keep year after year all this stuff in our desk drawers and file cabinets that we pretend to know nothing about. On the reverse is a poem that looks to be adapted from the hymn “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.” And you can see that this was also one of those photos made into a handy postcard.


At least, though, some of those women were almost smiling. I have found it all too easy to think of every one of my ancestors as a Gloomy Gus. Was life so hard back then? Were they all as scary and serious as they look?

Who are these people?

Of course the reason for all the frowning has a lot more to do with technology and the perception of the day than with personality, or at least that’s what I read when I google “When did people start smiling in photos?” The gist of it is, according to the Internet, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a person had to sit still for 15 minutes or more for just one photo, and it’s kind of hard to smile for that long unless, of course, you are a drunkard or a fool (try it), and, back then, if you were smiling for 15 minutes or more most people would think you were a drunkard or a fool whether you were or not, that’s just the way it was, and, since nobody wanted to be thought of as a drunkard or a fool, to make sure that you did not end up etched into eternity that way the photographer might say something like “Say prune” just as he was snapping the shutter, and thus would your face take on the desired look of the time: small-mouthed and serious, maybe even downright glum.

Prooooooon.

Try it, it’s fun.

Perhaps someday on social media there will be this thing called Pruney Tuesday (#PT) and everyone will say “prune,” post sour-puss selfies, prove that we are not all just a bunch of fools and drunkards no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. In retrospect, that is.

Fool, drunkard, or Josie?

People started smiling in photographs (according to what I read on the Internet) soon after Kodak came out with its Brownie camera in 1900. Apparently someone in their marketing department realized that smiles sell better than frowns. People do like cheese better than prunes.

But not these gals. By the way, who are these people?

This photo is a tintype, as are the first two in this post, and the entry on tintypes in Wikipedia states: A photographer could prepare, expose, develop and varnish a tintype plate and have it ready for the customer in a few minutes. Apparently too much research can muddy the facts.

For a mini-history on the development of smiles in pictures, take a spin through the “Brownie Camera Ads and Poster Page” at brownie-camera.com. Perhaps this ad from 1914 is the ancestor to all of today’s cute cat videos.


By 1937, voilĂ , babies and dogs, everyone smiling, everyone bringing something to the conversation.


But my mother likes to hear about the weather, so I’ll tell you how one day this week the wind blew so hard out of the southwest the temperature soared into the mid-80s just as if there were nothing between us and the desert. Come early evening, a wild and windy 10-minute torrential downpour reminded us where we were. The wind shifted northwest; the next day was grey and cool. Trees unfurled new leaves creating a scrim of green—light green, dark green, yellow-green, reddish green, vermilion green. The birds were joyful, and when a pair of goldfinches flitted by they stood out like brilliant notes on a grey-green score. The marsh marigolds are blooming and the trout lilies and even the serviceberry, up here called sugar plum, and the leaves of the wild delphiniums are coming up amid the roadside weeds. The ticks are yet a serious matter. At the vet the other day there was a sign posted with the news that two cases of canine Lyme disease have been reported so far in this area in 2015. So we are being vigilant. And, by the way, Elliott weighs 20 pounds, Josie 17.

This morning is cloudy, barely 30 degrees, and we have a fire going. Josie is by my side, Elliott is snuggled in somewhere, and yes, Mom, it is cozy. Happy Mother’s Day. Wish you here.

Is that you on the stilts?


Sunday, May 3, 2015

every day signs of spring and a ticklish conversation

Fisherman
“Hi Leslie!”

Washing the van, deep in thought, I spin around, see my neighbor, he’s strolling through the yard, coming from the river, a fishing rod in one hand, creel slung over a shoulder, cock-eyed hat, sweatshirt, neoprene waders, big grin.

“Geez. You scared the hell out of me.”

Sky blue, warm, cool breeze. The fish are up, some bite, some get away.


On the porch
Evening now, sitting, glass of wine, stillness, quiet, the song of a bird, the sun yet warm, driftng down, tree branches fuzzy with buds, muted colors, white, grey, smudgy red, brown, vermilion, a soft green. (Wait a minute. Vermilion?) A long evening, a slow set, Josie on my lap, sunlight in his hair, shining, a shiny vermilion? Josie has hair and Josie has fur (or so I’ve been told), and hair grows, fur doesn’t.

Vermilion: a brilliant scarlet-red. But I’m thinking of something more like wheat … more like the color of a Manila folder or maybe soft gold.

Ticklish conversation, I
Me: So Josie, how many ticks was that yesterday?
Josie: Well, I found those two on the chair …
Me: Yes! Good job!
Josie: … and you picked two—or was it three?—from my armpits and chest.
Me: They certainly do seem to like your armpits.
Josie: And then two or three came out of my ear?
Me: At least.
Josie: And there was that one on your computer screen.
Me: Ugh.
Josie: And then you woke me up twice during the night …
Me: The worst! One on my neck and later that one on my eyebrow—isn’t that weird? On my eyebrow! And that was after I had checked the bed and you so thoroughly, got that one just walking across the sheet, and you didn’t have any! I checked you pretty good.
Josie: Yes, lots of tick checks!  thump thump thump
Me: I wonder where the ticks come from at night. Elliott was out, I had taken a shower, so how can it be that in the middle of the night all of a sudden there is a tick on my eyebrow?
Josie: You said something like What?!? Are they dropping from the %&**# ceiling?
Me: Hmmm … And after something like that, you know, it’s hard to sleep, you start feeling ticks crawling all over your body.
Josie: Yes. Is that why we’re up? It’s dark out.
Me: Yes. Oh, shoot, Jojo, don’t move …


Peepers
Evening sun glowing behind fuzzy trees, maybe it’s eight, eight-thirty, and so quiet, so still, but those peepers are starting to peep, looking for love, far off in the pond, over there, the swamp, somewhere, and the light lingers and the light fades, so slowly, over an hour, an hour and a half, and the peepers work up to a crescendo, bird song rises, to the north the honks of geese, and Josie’s buzzing around the yard barking at nothing in particular, nothing I can see.

Ticklish conversation, II
Me: Zen.
Josie: Hmm?
Me: I think it’s a Zen thing now with those ticks.
Josie: How’s that?  thump thump thump
Me: When I pick off a tick in the middle of the night it’s automatic, like sub-conscious, I mean, I don’t wake up, feel a tick on me, panic, scrabble around looking for it, make a big commotion—like when there’s a mosquito in my ear—but rather, I wake up while I am picking the tick off my neck or eyebrow or, like this morning, my hand. As I woke the thumb and forefinger of my right hand were already plucking that tick from the back of my left hand, before I even knew it, as if when I woke it was already happening, happening all at the same time, I mean. The waking and the doing. The doing and the waking. Then I just unscrewed the lid from the tick jar, dropped the tick in, put the lid back on, went back to sleep.
Josie: But we’re awake now, right?  thump thump thump


Daffodils
The daffodils have bloomed and I watch the grass greening and growing and realize how it does that without hope, without thought, doesn’t know if it’s going to survive, get enough water, get enough sun, get enough warmth, if it’s going to be nipped by frost or trampled by deer or cut back by a mower. It just grows. And the daffodils just bloom. For the heck of it. Thanks.

Ticklish conversation, III
Me: You know, Josie, some people believe that people who live alone, people who are isolated from other people, that those people slowly go crazy, lose touch with reality, do weird things …
Josie: Like what?
Me: Oh, I don’t know. Talk to themselves. Make up things. Create their own realities.
Josie: Oh boy! Fun!  thump thump thump  Can we do that?
Me: Oh, don’t be such a nut.


Riverside
The river is receding, giving back the bank and the island, some narrow sandy beaches, and the log, that come summer, we will sit on.