Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Notes for a Commonplace Book (28)

Charles Dickens:

I had no thought that night — none, I am quite sure — of what was soon to happen to me. But I have always remembered since that when we had stopped at the garden-gate to look up at the sky, and when we went upon our way, I had for a moment an undefinable impression of myself as being something different from what I then was. I know it was then and there that I had it. I have ever since connected the feeling with that spot and time and with everything associated with that spot and time, to the distant voices in the town, the barking of a dog, and the sound of wheels coming down the miry hill.

Bleak House

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

At the equinox

This ill-starred year grinds towards its end but still has ample time to accumulate additional misfortunes. My body remains on summer schedule, attuned to neither the clock nor the sun. I lie in the dark and wait for signs of daylight, then rise and perform the little rituals of waking up the house. I draw curtains open, put water on to boil, make breakfast. Outside I've already pulled up the tomatoes and summer squash, and the okra is bearing more slowly as the daylight dwindles and temperatures begin to drop. I wrap up the butternut squash fruits in pillow-cases at night to keep the deer from eating them before they're ready to cut off the vine. The resident hummingbirds still buzz around their feeder, but the swallowtail butterflies that feasted on our zinnias all summer have moved on.

Gardening plans, early morning walks, things not accomplished, will have to be deferred. There's a sense, in general, of being balanced on the cusp — but of what? Winter's grim days and long nights can't be avoided, and spring now seems very far away.

One late afternoon I came across a barred owl at the edge of a wood. I wasn't looking for it, nor it for me. It settled on a branch and looked me over, but not so intently that it couldn't be distracted by a hawk calling in the distance. Somehow it will probably make its way through the winter. I'll keep an eye out for it next year.