I think we finally got the subscription tool working on the blog again. WordPress found an obscure problem at their end; it took a while, and I believe it’s successful. If you’re still not getting anything, email me (email@example.com). Many thanks to Silvana Gravini, the tech consultant who worked through weekends and evenings to rectify the situation. I don’t know what I would do without her help. And she continues to do her best to make things work. If you haven’t re-subscribed, please do so, it would be great to have you back, reading this blog at no charge (you can also read it on Facebook and my website).
Those of you who didn’t follow the blog this summer—there’s a lot you missed, but maybe not. I got sick for about a month, hospitalized for a few days along with 2 visits to the Emergency Room due to anaplasmosis, a tick-borne illness. Feel terrific now. Then drove with Aussie up to Grand Manan, an island off Canada’s New Brunswick coast, to visit friends Peter Cunningham and Ara Fitzgerald, and am still blogging from there. I missed one week of blogs when I was ill; otherwise, disloyal as ever. You’ll find those blogs on my website if you wish to catch up.
Now I’m writing from The Shed, the wharf which I described the other day, providing mooring to the faithful little motorboat Fogseeker as well as the bigger fishing boats. Grand Manan is not a resort island but rather a fisherman’s island, with people born here or else from over there or just plain visitors. A shipyard next door hauls up huge fishing boats for maintenance and repairs. I’m as comfortable as could be here among coils of orange, black, green, and yellow ropes, not to mention the buoys hanging from the wood beams above.
Which brings me to the topic of silos, which Ara and I got into this morning after Peter left to drive back home. You know how it is with friends, you get up to take your shower, Aussie banging her tail in encouragement and hope that after that it’ll be walk time, and instead someone says something, you say something back, and the next time you look at your watch two hours have passed. One of the bonuses of vacation.
I told the story of traveling cross-country, and somewhere on I-70, I believe, middle of the Plains, I see a sign saying “Downtown” with an arrow. I follow the arrow with my eyes and see it pointing to one silo in a sea of tall grass, nothing else. Tailor-made for a photo, only there were no I-phones at the time and stopping anywhere on I-70 in snowy March between distant exits was not congenial to one’s health and safety. But that picture has stayed with me ever since.
I think of the silo of my own life in the woods of Western Massachusetts. It’s a beautiful one: a home, a terrific housemate, lilac trees and forsythia, and a green cornucopia of trees we walk amidst with gratitude day after day. Health, too (with the exception of several weeks in July/August). No covid, no asthma attacks. Zooms with students and fellow teachers in the Zen Peaceker Order, phones with friends, brother, sister, throwing balls for Henry the Chihuahua and arguing with Aussie the whatever.
And it can all be a silo that reinforces thoughts and belief systems regardless of how often I chant the mantra: Let it go, let it go, it ain’t true, let it go. Habits and opinions form, voices like a dour Greek chorus (I told you to be careful! I told you so!), things get solid and unbreakable against all laws of nature.
Silos can be nourishing, Ara reminds me. They hold grain, they feed people. I think of Emily Dickinson in her Amherst room, rarely emerging from the house, content to entertain family and a few visitors, looking out the window at a world whose unrelenting mystery she caught in those silo-protected verses. I think of Solzhenitsyn hunkered down in a little Vermont town for years so that he could write his Gulag opus. Ara is right, we need silos. And some of us need something else, a flip of the page, a brand new street corner from which to cross.
I hesitated coming here. I haven’t traveled in years unless it was for work or family. And this time, I reminded myself primly, I’d been sick and lost all those days of work. What was I doing, going away for 9-10 days? After all, I live in a place where people come for vacation, I don’t need to go anywhere.
But I did, I did. I needed to go to sleep with the smell of salty water in my nostrils. I needed to walk in fog that brought sea and shore together. I needed to munch on cheese and drink wine over a table made of lobster traps (I don’t even eat lobster) and hear fishermen talk boats, catches, children, weather, and when the season starts. I needed to hear island poetry, peer at blue stones and orange shells that found resting places on the beach and remember that Native Americans warn you not to move things around because everything has its place. I needed to meet men and women who follow different clocks from me (we are in a different time zone from Massachusetts) but mark the passage of time in faces a lot more sunburnt and furrowed than mine. Who maybe don’t struggle against dying as I do.
I can almost feel the brainwaves change, my body’s lines and curves conforming to the lines and curves of the island.
Even Aussie, who at first wouldn’t set a paw in salty water, goes right up to her belly in the low tide under the pier, even takes a few sips, and will race the waves if we start walking along the shoreline again. She becomes an island dog and will give me a fight when we get back on the ferry, tomorrow or Friday, to go home.
Home. Right now, the word conveys a settling in, a narrowing down, a routine, homework. Sit feed dogs light incense make coffee check birdfeeders news emails calendar take dogs out blog prepare class teach write some more get things done done done done.
But how else to get things done? Discipline has its virtue, but where does it meet infinity? Wait till I walk out at night before bed, searching for the moon? Hear a new language, or just a couple of words put together in a way I never imagined?
So much to do back home, including posting a back-to-school supplies list for the children of immigrant families. Have the list but didn’t want to do that yet because of problems with subscription tool, but mostly because I wanted to write about Grand Manan. I will do so soon, just wait a day or two even as the voices clamor in my head: What about the children? What about this country? What about losses and grieving friends? What about the climate? What about the world?
Not yet. Not yet. Soon, but not yet.