January 27, 2010

January 22, 2010

January 19, 2010

January 10, 2010

Salem Village redux

Cold and rainy and raw. I’m holed up and snuggled in, stocked up on tea, strawberries, and a roast. It was 28 in Orlando last night. The local news notes that alcohol sales are up. I was moved to dig out an old photo album last night, and found in it a few shots of Walter and friends, circa mid-70s. I was in my twenties and in NY by then, but would sometimes summer back in Michigan. We shot mostly slidefilm in those days, so prints are few and far between...

I touch up Walter's faded cormorants

Walter approves
 Joseph offers an observation

My Cezanne hat

View to the east

House, back door


Beautiful doomed Bo, gathering eggs at our Easter egg hunt one snowy April.


Speaking of April, in the excavation I unearthed this birthday mailgram sent to me at the farm from Hetta (Mrs. William) Empson. William and Walter were friends during Walter's years abroad, and the Empsons visited the farm on occasion. 
Hetta and I hit it off. Her fabulousness was beyond compare.

Shastri, Joseph, and Agatha

When I went out this morning I could see my breath. I haven’t seen my breath in years. It was oddly exhilarating, seeing that living puff of steam... a confirmation that I exist.

January 3, 2010

Perhaps I'll listen now

A guest on an NPR program that I was listening to on my car radio a couple of days ago was talking
about a movement in Sarasota to pressure the city into allowing people with the right kind of
property to keep a few chickens. Specifically hens (they’re less noisy than cocks). The hens lay
an egg a day, the good kind. They scratch around and eat beetles. Their droppings fertilize your
tomatoes. The conversation glanced off into the cycles of the seasons, the utopia we once knew,
the possibilities in getting off-grid.

It sounded deeply appealing. It occurred to me that if I had to strip my diet down to a few
essentials, I could get along with meat and fruit. Maybe I’d thrive in the jungle. I’d want a
caffeinated beverage, though, or maybe nicotine, so I’d need a patch of Camellia sinensis, at
least. Maybe my Jane, or Jason, could gather wild coffee beans and peaches while I hunt pheasants
in the forest. Did you know that chickens are pheasants? Gallus gallus. Or fish snook from my
kayak on the banks of the Caloosahatchee.

Yesterday I happened to tune in again while driving to the hardware store to pick up a file
cabinet lock. The guest was an author who wrote a book about the imminent collapse of
civilization. He posited what I myself had concluded some time ago: when the gig is up, probably
sooner than later, the developed world, being so cut off from nature, will be hit hardest. The
endemic tribes in the Amazon, for instance, won’t notice any difference, except probably a gradual
improvement. He did mention, however, that the natural world is smelly and cruel. Let’s not get
carried away. I get that, too. Back when Cooper was rhapsodizing about nature in one of his
thrilling flights, it occurred to me, in a contrarian mood, that our appreciation of nature rests
upon having first conquered it sufficiently to have the leisure to contemplate it. Get tossed up
on a deserted island, or lost on a snowy mountain slope, and maybe nature isn’t the great smiling
grandmother we’d like to think.

Cluck. My friend Walter used to keep a few chickens at the farm. Pets. He gathered eggs every day.
I was too busy, in my callow youth, thinking about my boyfriend Bo, and the Beatles, to pay
serious attention, in those lost days so long ago, those starry, starry nights ago. There was an
ancient orchard, neglected but fruitful, on the property. His partner Joseph made summer peach
pie. Strawberry preserves. We went stalking field greens and wild asparagus, while I dreamed of
city lights. I would not listen, I did not know how.