A View of March. (1872)
“We like March. / His Shoes are Purple– / He is new and high– / Makes he Mud for Dog and Peddler, / Makes he Forests dry.” (Emily Dickinson, from Poem 1213)
On a Walk the Last Day of February.
As I set out, I thought, lovely. It’s not a word I use much. Some overuse it, and I don’t like its abuse. But the only word to fit the day was lovely. As defined in Miriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition: “delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace: attractive.” Mid-morning temperature was high 60’s. There was little humidity. The well-appointed neighborhood I chose for my walk had blossoming trees and flowers, in beds and in borders. There were red, yellow, purple, white throughout the neighborhood. Songbirds sang. There were fragrant smells, and a couple not so fragrant.
One was the stench of blossoming pear trees, like rotting fish guts. The white flowers are beautiful, though. I soon noticed the smell of tobacco smoke.
An attractive young woman approached me on the sidewalk. She had brown hair and wore blue jeans and a blouse with flowers. She was smoking. A number of paces from me, she took a big drag of her cigarette, and as we passed, she smiled and said, “Hi!” She exhaled smoke from her nose and mouth when she spoke. Dragon woman.
The welcome banner at one house read, “Mimi and Papa,” a couple who have ceded their identities to their grandchildren or grandchild.
One house is painted dark blue-grey with chartreuse trimming. In the yard is a large metal abstract sculpture. By it are several flamingos in a group, red, blue, green, pink, and orange. On a wall at the sidewalk there are four large garbage bags with a sign, “FREE FABRIC.” In the driveway was a vintage VW Bug with splattered paint of many colors, like a Jackson Pollock canvas. Colorful, generous people live there, I’d bet.
A medium-sized dog, black and white, bounded from the house, saw me across the street, and ran to greet me. His owner, a middle-aged woman with mousy brown hair and wearing bedroom shoes stood of the porch and called, “Pepper? House!” People would rather have me pet him than return to the house. “Pepper? House!” she said again. “Better go home, Pepper,” I said. Meanwhile the owner padded out, crossed the street, came to me and Pepper and apologized. I assured her that I liked dogs, that Pepper was a fine looking dog. “Yes,” she said, “but he sometimes wants to do what he wants to do and does it.” “Like all of us,” I said.
And doing what I wanted to do, I extended my walk by a number of blocks, relaxed, and enjoyed the lovely day.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Abigail Tucker. The Cat in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World. Simon & Schuster, 2016.
This interesting and entertaining book is all about cats. Topics include evolution, anatomy, domestication, psychology, hyper-predation, legal rights and protective agencies, toxoplasma and other medical problems, excessive pampering, breeding, and internet popularity.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier. Cesar Millan’s Lessons from the Pack. National Geographic, 2017.
Millan, a noted dog trainer and psychologist, explains that the object of the book is that humans should emulate qualities that dogs naturally exhibit: respect, freedom, confidence, authenticity, forgiveness, wisdom, resilience, and acceptance. Each of the qualities is the title of a chapter which explores how Millan learned and applied the quality from dogs. Millan gives readers suggestions of how to incorporate these qualities into their lives. It’s an interesting approach to autobiography.