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Wednesday, March 3, 2010


caterpillar french postcard

Patches of last year's growth on the ground are showing through the snow already, light tan and white like a foxdog. The sun was out all day today and the temperature slipped above 32 for awhile. About all the snow on tree limbs and twigs is gone. It was a wet snow that piled up on fence wire too. This morning I walked out to the mailbox and crossing the road I saw the scraper had been by and left a thin layer of wet slush on the road. Then the temp was 27. I pictured it a sheet of ice from one end to the other. But it didn't work out that way. By the time I went back an hour or so later the slush was gone and the road was clear. That's a benefit of black road surface. The black absorbs the heat of the sun and the ice melts. Yesterday's snow is mostly gone. The ice of the earlier snows will take longer to thaw.

The dogs were here all day. I put out a bowl of yesterday's catfood for Martha, as she's the smallest, my first friend of the 2, and she's the one I'd been giving it to before Jolene turned up. Martha was gobbling it up like a backhoe on hyper-speed. Jolene was under the house and heard that sound. She came running full tilt and bumped Martha out of the way. It was an I-mean-what-I'm-saying bump. She used her body's weight and her momentum like one of those things police SWAT teams use to break doors down. The rate Martha goes at it, Jolene couldn't have got much more than the chance to lick the bowl. You might say Jolene entered the scene with a commanding presence.

Read a little more in the crow book and learned the author hangs her underwear outside on a clothesline to dry, and her daughter tells her it's not cool. Before I sat with it this time, I reminded myself that this is not a book about crows; it's a book about writing a book. Reading it in that light I'm never disappointed. I'm thinking the Crow in the title a word picked arbitrarily by closing the eyes and putting a finger on a page in an open book and using the word the finger touched. I think her manner of writing is called Post-modern, writing about writing the book you're reading. The sense I'm getting is she is covering up her absence of knowledge on the subject and I'm feeling like a professor of Freshman English grading essay exams full of padding and limited substance. Half way through it, I have to give her a D this far. I won't give her an F, because she is at least aware in the back of her mind there are crows in the trees outside.
What I'm allowing her, the reason I go on reading, is that she's laying the ground of context, telling everything around the subject to give the context of the subject's everyday life. Also, she is giving the context of who she is, explaining her point of view, where it comes from, why it's that way. I don't know. I have a biography of Thelonious Monk in line for next, so she better be telling me about crows or I'm going to put the book down. I've read the first few pages of the Monk book, and I like the writing. I find when I want to sit and read in the crow book, I look at it and think of something else I'd rather do. I tend to stay away from it.
Some years ago, I drove up to rural New York to visit my friend Pat I knew in Charleston, and her husband John and her two amazing daughters. We went into Vermont to go to some kind of thing having to do with Cherokee Indian "wisdom," at a gathering of some sort with Indian elders there and a mess of the driftiest white people you can imagine. It wasn't long into the 3day weekend, we were looking at each other wide-eyed over the scene we found ourselves in. The context of the context. Air-heads ditzing around like it was Wow, totally awesome. We attempted not to be intolerant, but it was thick.
The place had a garden that was planted in a spiral. We volunteered to do some weeding in the garden just for something to do besides stand around and look at hippies going about like they were in semi bliss. I doubt the bliss came from Native American Spirituality. I had short white hair at the time, like now, and happened to have a pair of mirror sunglasses at the time like highway patrol shades. I think everybody was afraid of me. The cop that doesn't talk. When we went to do the weeding, this girl about just out of high school age explained to us how to go about in the garden. Never step over a row of plants. Go around the spiral for anything. Never cross a row because it breaks the flow of the energy. We looked at each other and smiled.
Fern had this abalone shell with sage on it and wanted us to "smudge" before we entered the garden. She had a bird wing and fanned the smoke from the smouldering sage all over us front and back. Fern was somebody we never forgot. She was this little pixie hippie child of hippies telling us in such earnest about the spiral energy. I'm thinking this woman who wrote Crow Planet might be somebody like Fern who grew up and wrote a book, like energies, like wow. We left when the thing started. I think of her every time I hear the Carter Family song Sweet Fern.
I don't want to be unfair with her. I want to give her a chance to do it her way. She's a good writer. I like her prose. But half way into it, I feel a bit justified in my impatience with getting to the subject. And one part of my mind says to another part of my mind, I told you so. I didn't allow ethnic stereotyping her a valley girl about like you'd see in Julien Temple's Earth Girls Are Easy. I'm telling myself I can't be disappointed, because I already knew. With my own will I overrode it. I don't even want to finish it. I think I'll pick up the Monk book and let this "crow" book rest, maybe pick it up later. I have a problem caring anymore.

I haven't been outside today but to the mailbox twice. Don't want to go out. I like it inside where it's warm. I'm like the cats in that way. The floor where they dwell is cold all the time. TarBaby likes to get a place as high up as he can get to. He can also see everywhere and be invisible to mice. Caterpillar is on my reading chair curled up. Tapo is by the electric heater in the bedroom, one of those Italian radiator-type heaters. I like them. I took a nap for a couple hours. TarBaby was there the moment I woke wanting something to eat. Something's not right about TarBaby. He might be going to the vet again soon.
The sunlight is receding to the trees along the ridge to the east. The trees around the house send a long shadow across the meadow out the window. The dogs have gone home. A nice time of day. I see half a dozen young deer grazing in places the snow melted.

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