Monday, May 23, 2011

Damp and chill, gray all day, and everywhere the landscape is green, mercifully a little less so - or rather, shorter - in our yard since D had a chance to do some mowing yesterday. We've given up on trying to keep the entire place mowed, for a mixture of practical and environmental reasons. The strategy now is to mow edges, such as of the driveway, flower borders, and house; to carve out discrete lawn areas, especially around trees so that they stand out; and to forge a mower-width path (more companionable double-width would be preferable, but is that much more work) that leads through the property, creating a very pleasant circuit which I walked last night, cats in tow, following me in delight now that they were again taller than the grass.

The garden looks much better, even if many portions remain untouched, turning to meadow. Let butterflies and bees enjoy the wildflowers that will emerge in these areas essentially closed off from human use, like rooms shut for winter to save on heat. It's ironic that the garden feels more expansive in winter, when a blanket of snow - monolithic as a suburban green lawn - flattens and levels everything. Though now that I think of it, most of this winter the snow was two or three feet deep, so it wasn't easy to walk around the yard. I had posted a photo of Rafe making his way through a shovel-width canyon that D had cleared - the path as narrow as a luge run, with high banks of snow on either side.

Darling, and now a jumble of thoughts compete for attention, and my fingers stall out as I think. So I'll just jot them down so that I don't get hopelessly jammed with "shoulds," of what I "should" write, and especially, of what I "should" polish. Anyway - yesterday, had a half-price certificate and took myself out to a lovely (though outrageously overpriced) lunch in a lovely restaurant on Warren Street. I dined by myself, on grilled salmon (served improbably, and to my taste inadvisedly, on a bed of pickled cabbage - the discordant combination suggesting to me an overly frugal - considering the $17.95 price - adaptive reuse of leftovers) & a single glass of cool white wine. No matter - it was fun all the same, it's a pleasant space, with a bit of people watching - a treat, made affordable with the discount.

Afterward I attended a lecture at Olana, on the subject of Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War, in conjunction with this season's diminutive but expertly curated gallery exhibit upstairs in the magnificent main house. And now here's where my thoughts are tangled... I thought so much of you, because there were many references to Church's Heart of the Andes, and you, or maybe the other you, often lands on my blog (delighting me no end) via an image I once linked to of that painting. And I glimpsed a headline today that President Obama is in Ireland, and that the Icelandic volcano (the "islandmountainglacier") is acting up again. The lecture was fascinating, very well done. I hesitated to attend at first, given the speaker's seeming pedigree - he's at the Met Museum - I was afraid that he would be one of the "exquisites" (which, actually, I love exquisites, and yet somehow - well, one can have enough of them). No, this man was spirited and normal and middle-aged and completely wrapt in his subject, blessedly and refreshingly without pretentious trappings of any sort, either in his manner, or dress, or simple unabashed enthusiasm for his subject (he's an expert on Church). It was a very great delight to listen to him, and to learn so much. (Though I was so achey afterward, and in need of the virtual hot tub as I wrote, because this body has a hard time sitting for any length of time on small hard plastic chairs.)

And then as to the substance of the man's lecture - just a few notes - how Church was a masterful observer & painter of natural phenomena, and as the Civil War erupted and developed into the overwhelming, cataclysmic, drawn-out conflagration of upheaval, destruction, and death that it turned out to be, Church transformed & transfigured his epic landscapes - in light of his spiritual inclinations as portending and reflective of national events - into highly charged, apocalyptic visions. I wondered too, during the lecture, about Emily Dickinson, if some of her poems (more than commonly thought) written during the Civil War are in fact coded & veiled with reference to the conflict - that she's not insensible to it (as in a criticism invoked against Jane Austen (that serves to trivialize her, unfairly so I firmly believe), that in her writings with their focus on domestic details & affairs of the heart, she barely alludes to the concurrent Napoleonic Wars).

And that's enough for now, dearest, just setting down a couple of notes, very unpolished. But just in the sense of, I do worry a lot about our country - a very very very very great many of us do, of course - and ---

well what do you do?
just keep setting down one's thoughts as best one can
a glimpse of a day

anyway, that's it for now - enough - without the benefit of having an actual conversation, where you might comment, and I might respond -

I can't even possibly wrap this up poetically. So - in case it's very late, way past bedtime where you are, I'm slipping by your bedside in the darkness, adjusting your covers, kissing you while you sleep, and whispering - Śpij z Bozią -

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