Wind is common here, and this week has been windy. Morning breezes have changed to afternoon and early evening winds. A friend here wrote in an email, “I’m always concerned that the earth has stopped rotating when we don’t have a windy day.”
Two Ideas from Recent Issues of The New Yorker.
“Maybe it’s my imagination. But whatever’s in our imaginations, I think, is part of reality.” (Sibyl Kempson, quoted by Sarah Larson, “Gig Economy,” May 18, 2020)
“…there are no perfectly ordinary adolescents…each of them is strange, and bewildered, and in mourning, because they’re all in exile from their childhoods, just as they always longed to be.” (Fiona McFarlane, “Demolition,” story, May 25, 2020)
Crossword Puzzle Fun.
I enjoyed working out these answers, from Puzzle 151 by Mark Feldman, The New York Times Tuesday Crossword Puzzle Omnibus, edited by Will Shortz. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.
Clue: Guinevere to Lancelot? Answer: LADYOFTHEKNIGHT
Clue: Shopper for woolen goods? Answer: KNITPICKER
Clue: Universal tie? Answer: KNOTFOREVERYONE
Notes on Reading. Fiction. Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) and Other Stories. Signet Classics, 2000.
This edition’s “Other Stories” are set in the fictional town of Dunnet Landing, a sea coast village in Maine, the setting of the short novel, with the same central characters. The works exemplify the local color movement in American literature in the mid-to-late nineteenth century.
Local color writing emphasizes setting and character. What plot there is is the story frame (a writer visits the village for a summer of writing), her interactions with characters there, and the stories told her by the townspeople. The reader gains insight into the ordinary lives of the people and the geographic details of the area. The characters are primarily old and primarily women. Most of them know loneliness and isolation.
The style is plain and slow-paced. There is attention paid to small details. Jewett is a master of dialect.
This was my first re-reading since I read the book in a course in American fiction in college. I have returned the book to the bookcase and look forward to reading it again in the long, long nights of next winter.
Walking Rosita Avenue in Westcliffe.
Rosita Avenue parallels Main Street and goes by the sides of things. On one end is the bank; at the other is the county’s Search and Rescue headquarters next to the Sheriff’s Department. I park at the bank and walk east up the avenue.
There are a couple of blocks of open fields on both sides of the street. Slowly and surely they are beginning to green. There are a few dandelions at the sides of the road.
On the left, one of the fields backs up to the parking lot of the grocery store. There is a hitching post for Amish horse and buggies.
Across the street is All Aboard Westcliffe, the historic depot, with the Engine House Museum. Both are closed. The depot building is painted yellow, and in front and beyond it are wagons used to carry baggage; one is a push wagon. The other is horse-drawn. Three wooden railway cats sit on a rail.
The depot is painted yellow, and there’s an inviting Ticket Window. At the window is a thermometer advertising Lionel Trains. In front of the building is a large bulletin board. There is no information about the organization. There are maps advertising twenty-two sights in the Scenic Bypass Areas of Highways 69, 96, and 67 and recreational opportunities of the areas.
At the corner of the next block is the two story Golden Corner Suites. I pass by the side to see five suites on each floor and room doors facing outside, each with chairs or a bench or a table and chair for folks to relax when not in the rooms.
Across the street is the historic stone Wolff Hotel (1877), on the National Registry of Historic Places. It has been recently bought, and around the front on the window is advertised Rejuvenated Luxury Day Spa with a phone number, in case one is interested.
I pass by the side of the Thrift Store, with its porch for drop-off donations. Above the porch is a kite with a friendly-looking dragon head and long tails of bright red and gold.
There are a couple of blocks of residents, mostly one-story frame constructions. Some face Rosita Avenue; others face the streets crossing Rosita.
I pass the side of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, established in 1879. The side yard has three large mature aspen trees. Two of them intertwine.
Another block, and I pass by the side of the Catholic Church. There is a large parking lot behind it, which I will pass before reaching the highway.
Across the street is the Sangre de Cristo Wellness Center, which has offices for a chiropractor, two massage therapists, a practitioner of acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition, and a therapist for anxiety management. Not bad for a town of six hundred people.
Next to it, and cross from the Catholic parking lot, is the side of the United Methodist Church, with its slogan, “Open Hearts / Open Minds / Open Doors” painted on the side. I expect this congregation will split from the United Methodists. That would be good, or “Open Hypocrisy” would be appropriate to add to the slogan. Pastor Vette will be leaving in the next couple of weeks to go to graduate school for a M.Div. degree at Texas Christian. I will miss Pastor Vette.
I cross the highway and walk past the side of the county Courthouse, a stone building from 1929. Behind it is the newer Sheriff’s Department, and to its side the building for the Search and Rescue facility.
On the walk back to the bank, I enjoy seeing spring beginning. There is a lilac bush, fragrant, just starting to bloom, and on the next block I notice by its smell a honeysuckle vine.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod. Arranged with notes by Dudley C. Lunt. Introduction by Henry Beston. Illustrated by Henry Bugbee Kane, Bramhall House, 1951.
I enjoyed anticipating my re-reading of the book. I think this was my third reading. I looked forward to Thoreau’s natural observations, humor, depiction of characters of the area (especially the lighthouse keeper and the Wellfleet oysterman), and thoughts about life. I looked forward to the well-done illustrations and my annotations, particularly about humor, from past readings.
I do not tire of Thoreau. While others claim The Good Book for inspiration, guidance, and ideals, I go to Thoreau: Cape Cod, The Maine Woods, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Walden.