Friday, September 01, 2006

Vermont Journal 2

While in Vermont, I scribbled down a list of things I wanted to remember, things that a week or two later already seem very far away. They include:

Vermont Journal 2
  • Sitting on the porch of our cabin, looking across the pond at the hill on the left. Seeing loons paddle and dive and hearing their calls to each other. Shivering a bit in the breeze, clutching the coffee mug ever tighter. Watching B swim to the floating platform in the mornings and sun herself on it against the backdrop of tall hills and sky. Reading Primo Levi, Martin Buber, Michela Wrong, Rory Stewart, and the older pages in this journal, dogearing them all, mind buzzing with bits to remember and record. After writing about the need to move on to a place unknown, looking out at a tree right in front of the pond, its branches backlit in bright sun, and finding it suddenly so easy to pray: "Help me to know." "Help me to know."
  • Canoeing with A up to and across the beaver dams. Beating out the others, fording the dams in record time and with suitable panache. That habit of turning everything into an expedition or a deed of derring-do. Where did that come from? The family and I have been doing it as long as I remember. Paddling past water lilies and the waxy, firm yellow flowers that often accompany them. Heading into Upper Symes Pond and seeing it open up into a deep V of near green hills, distant blue ones, and wide, bright sky. Looking over into the clear rippling water at the bottom several feet below, and watching tiny fish darting everywhere. The sun hot on my back, face and shoulders. Coming back into our pond, glancing up at the sky and seeing a huge, thin cloud, fissured into fragments like clay that's been baked by the sun.
  • The plants along the road - goldenrod, Queen Anne's lace, black-eyed Susans, tiger lilies, day lilies, a mauve flower that looked something like a rose, an anemone, or a mallow. Blackberries and what might in a different season show themselves to be blueberries or cranberries. Fallen trees with new plants springing up around them, growing all over them. The thin white birches. Small, horn-shaped orange flowers on short bushes. Ferns everywhere.
  • A's excellent cooking, G's bowel-disturbing yet delicious chili, corn roasted on the cob. Breakfasts of muesli and coffee on the porch. Wine at dinner, with the candles lit. Tipsy Trivial Pursuit (may the most sober win!) Watching Rushmore, or at least trying to. Getting texts from N far away in Cambridge at midnight and six in the morning. Sitting around a wonderful fire and having absolutely nothing to say, resorting to campfire stories and dirty games.
  • The snatches of poetry and prose that keep coming back. "Hashivenu" running through my head at odd, frequent intervals. Hashivenu Adonai Elecha, V'na-shuvah, Chadesh yameynu K'kedem. "Turn us to you, O Lord, and we shall return. Renew us as in the ancient days."
  • Another half-remembered quote: this time, the psalm that begins "I shall lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help." According to the BCP, it's actually a question: "I shall lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth." I do love the idea of help coming from the hills, of lifting one's eyes in expectation of assistance or blessing from these wise, ancient, lovely forms. Maybe, like the Van Doren poem, I'll keep on misremembering this one.


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