Waking. I like to awaken to my own laughter. I dream and laugh or chuckle in my dream, and the happiness awakens me.
Mastication at Church. From my seat in the choir loft, I watch two women during the sermon. One is a slightly built woman with dark hair who chews gum continually during the sermon. Once in a while she blows a demure bubble. It is blue gum. Three rows behind her is a heavy set woman who chews energetically and continually. Her enery is amazing. How does the minister concentrate?
An Officer Visits. The doorbell rang late morning Saturday. A police officer from the town introduced himself and asked if I had a minute or two. I inivited him in, asked him to have a seat. He said that the police here liked to make visits with people, to ask if everything were all right, to see if there were any questions, to meet them. We chatted about ten minutes. He said that if I saw him in the police car in town, be sure to wave. I’ve not lived in a place where policemen make home visits to say hello. I’m not surprised. Local firemen hauled limbs to a tree taken down in a storm to the street in my absence. Small town life, yes.
At the Gastroenterology Office. A man sits opposite me in the waiting room. He is at least my age, short, wiry. He wears a baseball hat that says, “Jesus is my boss.” I’m glad that Jesus didn’t boss him to talk with me. The insurance filer, the nurses are friendly and knowledgeable. One of the insurance processors had a “Jesus” emblem on her desk. Bible Belt, yes.
Weather. The days are alternately cold and bright or cold and wet. We’ve had much rain. Rainwater stands at the back of my yard. The rain is a blessing for the new trees.
Bachelor Hall. I’m glad when I return home late at night–whether the weather be cold and bright or cold and wet–to arrive at a warm and lighted house. I’m glad I left on the lamp on the piano, the ship night light from my childhood days in the bedroom, and the floor lamp on dimmest light in the den. In the past in winter I have not liked coming home to a dark house. I don’t like or use my front porch light. I continue to dislike the street light on the corner and the neighbor’s pole light.
Steinbeck and Mysticism. It’s a topic in which I’ve been interested since reading many years ago the chapter “There Is a Hole in Reality Through Which We Can Look If We Wish” in Sweet Thursday. I’ve enjoyed reading for the first time the novel To a God Unknown (1935). The book begins with a poem from the Veda. The idea of mysticism is presented through the association of the main character with energies of nature (in the form of a vale holding powerful energy and in a tree he associates with his father and family) and with the energies of the people of the community, especially in the dancing at a fiesta he gives. The novel contrasst the power of the worship and practice of earth worship with the worship and practice of Protestant and Catholic religions. Christianity is presented as deterimental to the natural impulses and happiness of people. Hearing the main character’s belief in the power of nature, the local priest says, “‘Thank God he has no will to be remembered, to be believed in . . . else there might be a new Christ here in the West.'” The plot is an engaging story. It traces the struggles of settling new land in California through a family who moves there from New England. The characters are well-drawn and convincing. I see elements of later novels The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. It is a novel that should be better known.
Poetry. One of the best collections of poetry I’ve read in a while is David Ferry’s Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (2012). I will re-read the book before I write more about it. On first reading: There is skillfl use of language. Ideas are expressed in reflective thought. The translations of poems from Horace, Cattulus, Virgil, Montale, Rilke, Cavafy, and Anglo-Saxon impel me to read works in their entirety. Ferry is a master of syllabic verse. I have much work to do–and what good, fun work it will be–to write about these poems.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave comments. Enjoy these last good weeks of winter.