On ‘the Shadow of Austerity’ in Greek Poetry - The New Yorker’s David Wallace introduces readers to a new anthology, Austerity Measures, which collects Greek poets’ responses to the nation’s financial d...
Thursday, August 5, 2010
We slide towards the end of the summer and the days and nights are ravishing. Hot sun. blue sea, the sea heather and wild roses and fireweed are in bloom; we pick handfuls of wild raspberries and blueberries as we walk along, and every night eat fresh lettuce plucked from the garden.
Yesterday we spent all afternoon on the water in the kayaks. We ghosted along the rocky island shores listening to the water suck at the bladderwrack and periwinkles clinging to steep shelves in the intertidal zone.
The arctic terns have arrived and they scrap and dive; the young ospreys are learning to fly and the young gulls to fish. They follow their parents, whining, frantic, but their parents, after delivering them to prime feeding grounds, just ignore them and fly away. We laugh at this, but we are sympathetic to such plaintive suffering too--it is hard to grow up, to learn independence. Life is full of risks.
Dante, for example, has found nests of mice all around; each morning she brings eviscerated headless offerings, tender mouse morsels no longer than half a thumb-length.
Mornings, butterflies and hummingbirds hover around the house, sipping nectar from the purple knapweed blooms. A kingfisher shrieks as it crosses the cove, and three blue herons wade in the shallows.
Afternoons, the boards of the house creak in the heat, the gulls scrap and cry out, and always, everywhere, the steady rattle of bees. Clouds stack up in the sky and move on, to the east or north; the wind rises, but only a little--enough to cause sheets on the line to snap and ripple.
Then evening. The wind drops, the sun sets--the terns wings flash in the dropping light. An orange glow suffuses the landscape and then it is night. Venus rises, the stars emerge; the moon, full and nearly full these last days, has been so bright that objects--the chairs on the porch say--throw moon shadows.
It is impossible to sorrow in such a time and place and yet, there it is, I feel it, a tinge of melancholy. Already the days are shorter by 30 or 40 minutes; in just a few weeks (the blink of an eye), I'll be firmly tethered to the fixed grids and temporal frameworks of classrooms and meetings and paper grading. These are not unpleasant really--often, on the contrary, I enjoy this purposeful school-based part of my life. But for a few more days (I'll try to stretch it into weeks) I relish how little thinking I must do for others, how few the borders round my imagination, my freedom to lose myself, as the French say, in the landscape, to dream and to enter--with skin and muscles and vision and appetite--into the breath of things.
Inland fresh water lake (Muskrat Lake)
Blown out Fireweed
Rock, driftwood, bladderwrack at island's edge, Bay of Isles
Bee sucking nectar from Tufted Vetch
Porch, chair, hot day
Sheets on the line
Sunset over the pond
Marike's brandied cherries