Sunday, April 10, 2016

cold & snow & the deer ballet with sergei marinoff and ... laura petrie: fouetté fouetté fouetté

In April now here we are and waking up to the sound of snow sliding off the roof schwoosh kerplop & quiet. We are not freezing thanks to the snow, not freezing like those other mornings dawning on a clear overnight with temperatures sliding down about as far as they can go come April; nine, ten, twelve degrees by dawn so we wrap in blankets, sit by the fire, in April, well, nine degrees, it’s cold.

Along the cedars.

Josie goes out first thing as always and now them deer are up close in the yard because, I figure, the short dry grass of the yard and whatever little shoots may be underneath are for the deer nicer than whatever is out there where the grass and flowers are never clipped, just flopping over, laying down to the elements, and them deer this morning—the snowy morning that was not so cold—are near enough to be pets, but Josie is flying, wasting no time, motor turned high and the scene is suddenly little dog sounding like a dead engine rrerr rrerr rrerr tearing flat out against the snow and the deer in the yard in one swift movement going from heads down gnoshing, pawing, gnosh paw-paw to heads up ears up leap pirouette tails up fly, or, is it ears up heads up pirouette leap fly tails up, and maybe I’ve got it all backwards—in memory the deer leap in unison, all happens at once, three deer leaping gracefully away from the cabin westward circling round to the north and east in high long arcs, deep dark fluid against snow-white, silhouettes drawn with a narrow nib, black ink across a milky white Christmas card sky embossed with big fat snowflakes—no two are alike.

The deer stop at the edge of the gully. Josie stops at his own self-imposed edge making an arc now bringing him back to the yard. He sniffs with rapture at mysterious paw circles.

Not even tea yet.

Them deer have left the yard all splotched and messy. I see it when the light comes up—within inches of the cabin the yard has been pawed into a Jackson Pollack. They know when we’re sleeping, I guess, but also I know it’s the Blonde One.

The Blonde One.

The night before we had been watching an episode of Midsomer Murders. These are murder mysteries of the excruciatingly boring kind set in quaint English villages peopled with nuts and snobs, greedy sods, every-day philanderers, blackmailers, and ... murderers. I get a bit impatient but am also hooked, and the good in all this is that I can hit the pause button most any time, haul myself off the sofa, walk away, see what it is that’s exciting Josie, which lately is them deer, though one day it was those wild turkeys. Josie wanted out so I opened the door and out he flew and of course there were two deer in the yard, heads down, gnoshing, pawing, gnosh paw-paw, then heads up ears up leap pirouette now tails up fly, or, is it pirouette leap fly tails up and maybe I’ve got it all backwards—fouetté fouetté fouetté—but the deer spun westward stopping just past the tag alders. Just shy of the alders Josie swept into his arc, rounding second, heading home, when out of the blue north came the Blonde One bounding across right field, cutting through the northwest corner of the infield, stopping on the dime of a neighborhood play where the other deer had been gnoshing, and so very near to Josie, who had come to his own stop to investigate paw circles.

Well now.

Hullo.

Josie looked at the Blonde One and the Blonde One looked at Josie. Nothing much seemed to happen. Josie made a few feints this way and that way. The Blonde One took a step or two forward. Then they just stood there looking around, not at each other, so I called Josie in and we got back to Midsomer Murders. Netflix synopsis of episode 20:
In the village of Midsomer Wellow, someone is killing off the bell ringers of the parish church in the week before a big bell-ringing competition.
At one point I paused, hauled myself off the sofa, looked out the window. There were deer in the yard gnoshing, pawing, gnosh paw-paw.

Live and let live, which may be our motto
but certainly not the motto of Midsomer.

After the predawn dispersion, the deer regrouped at the far end of the north field, walking and snacking along the line of trees that top the riverbank. Josie watched from the upper deck, his head thrust between two slats of the railing, and Elliott watched from inside, hunkered down on an ottoman in front of the sliding glass door. One deer was underneath a clump of cedar. Several times she reached up, stood tall on her hind legs, grabbed a bough in her mouth, hauled it down, and after a second the bough would snap back up, shedding its load of snow over the deer.

View From Upper Deck with Deer.

That day I got a phone call from a woman who said she was from the Kingdom Hall of Something or Other and they would have visited me today but for all the snow and I thought quietly to myself “Thank God.”

And that day Vera Caspary’s autobiography was waiting for me at the post office. The first sentence is: A specter haunts my ego. Later, in a fit of laughter, I had to put the book down. In the 1920s Caspary is in her early twenties working in Chicago in advertising. She creates an ad for a correspondence course in ballet. There is great response to the ad—many want to sign up for this one-of-a-kind course—but there is no such course. Not yet. Caspary must create it from scratch including the instruction manual (currently available on Amazon for $196), the costumes, the phonograph records, the ads—she even creates the great Sergei Marinoff, the dance class master. People bought the course, of course, in droves, and it wasn’t long before Caspary would meet those in the dance world who claimed to have studied under the great master himself, Sergei Marinoff, in the flesh.

After reading the pitch, I’m ready to sign up.

It snowed six or more inches that day, a very wet snow, almost like rain, but not. It snowed and snowed and got cold and colder and then snowed and snowed some more.

Fouetté fouetté fouetté.