January 8, 1975 Wednesday
A million things to do today after working Monday and Tuesday. Laundry, bills, banking, vacuuming, housework, and letter writing. Found Teddy, the hamster, who’d escaped the night before. His eyes were all stuck with mucous—washed them with boric acid and one is clear now. Must attend to him again. Talked astrology on the phone this morning with E.
Raining at present with periods of wet snow that blanket the air in shifting patterns. The alders at the edge of the clearing across the street are gray and ghostly. Oh, hurry, hurry, hurry. Too much to do and too little time.
4p.m. It’s snowing for real. Rumor has it that we’ll have between 4 and 6 inches tonight. If it does, will want to take Nush to walk in the woods.
Up much too late for a school night. Am just out of the shower and with a wet head to dry yet.
Finished reading a book Kinds of Love and was thinking, as I bathed, about the cry of the young city boy—one of the “new generation” who repeated–”I just want to be, to live. Exploring this a little further, it occurred to me that being is linked to doing. Life demands it. Equally necessary are the twins of patience and meditation. Through them, one’s actions and experience are digested and assimilated. Life is a composite, I think. Maybe that’s one of its “secrets.” The realization that existence is a series of phases.

January 9, 1975 Thursday
Snowing. Very little accumulation during the night so the kids went to school though buses were an hour late. It’s 32 degree exactly. The mud flat where the woods used to be is frosted white. There are pockets of snow on rocks and shelves of earth. Chimney smoke from the house on the hill is trailing off in a big plume to the southwest. I teeter on the edge of trance mesmerized by the sweep of falling snow. Sleepy too as I didn’t sack out until 1:30 a.m. and then Pickwick clawed on the bedroom door, waking me at 5. Staggered downstairs with threats and curses to put him out, jammed my sore thumb in the dark—then back up at 7 to find school would be an hour late.
Now have more letters to write and more books from the library to read. Biographies that look fascinating.
As I go through these days, I think and think, wondering, probing, and examining life and events. Things flash into my mind that I want to put into this journal, but the moment passes and the recollection seems too lengthy, and so it vanishes into the recesses of memory, perhaps never to be consciously recovered.
Evening of the 9th
Well, Judge Surica let Dean, McGruder and Kalmbach, Nixon’s personal lawyer, out of prison—wonder what he’ll hand out to Mitchell, Haldeman, and the others. A strange coil this Watergate mess. Guilty, convicted, pardoned. No wonder Justice wears a blindfold.

Published in: on December 2, 2018 at 2:38 pm  Comments (2)  


Took this journal with me into the snow country yesterday but never wrote a word. Too busy. Paige begged off skiing so the boys and I dressed for warmth, letting fashion run a poor second. Yesterday’s rain storm, or I should say the-before-yesterday’s storm, of course, generously produced snow in the higher elevations. We left bare pavement about 5 miles before our journey’s end, creeping past lines of motorists chaining up. We had snow studs on our rear tires so ignored the warning – “snow chains required.”
Reached Summit where A-frame ski shops were over-run with winter enthusiasts. School and church buses disgorged hordes of apple-cheeked youngsters. The closest parking was about a quarter mile down, so our walk to the ski rental shop was made against hard pellets of snow. As luck would have it, another trip was required as I.D.s were needed for rentals. I’d taken only cash, having locked my purse in the car trunk. When we were finally in the customer line, we fell into conversation with two friendly blond boys, neither apparently affluent; one tall, one short, but both with merry eyes and smiles easily earned. They too were uninitiated in the art of skiing.
Struck by this similarity, we mirthfully exchanged prophecies and pledges….such as calling ambulances or undertakers should this prove necessary. The tall boy was Jay and the shorter, Paul. By the time we reached the counter, boots in our sizes were out of stock though Jay offered to try an 11 over his usual 10 and Paul opted for a 4 instead of his regular 5. Wishing them well, we gloomily wended our way through the crowd of snowy, laughing people, noting especially those clad in regulation outfits, zippered nylon pad-pants and jacket, matching caps like World War I flying aces complete with goggles jauntily turned up and, most significantly, wearing the clumsy, thick, status-symbol—ski boots!
Another shop proved a bust. A third could be seen about a half mile down. It was snowing like crazy and I was getting antsy, suddenly afraid of being stuck on the mountain. As one grows older and becomes responsible for other people, one’s adventuring takes a beating. The glory of conquest and lust for experience is often over-shadowed by more-than-likely consequences. Perhaps, that’s why bachelors and “spinsters” make the best explorers. Although that may include married people who retain a oneness of self –
The boys were dashed and I was sorry, so we checked in at a kind of Swiss Alpine ski shop. We got equipment there but at $10 apiece, not the $4.50 that Summit offered. I felt a very scrooge-like crunching of willpower that peaked on hearing the ski lift tickets were to be purchased separately.
Off we trudged to Multopor Ski Bowl – wearing those much admired ski boots that resembled their medieval counterparts, the iron boot. Snow everywhere, great drifts banked beside the icy roads. We finally got to the ski center, climbing past a rope to get tickets at $3 a piece. The smallest slope looked damn steep to my uninitiated eyes. As children whizzed past us, we knew we were outclassed. Still, we struggled into our rented skis. Any slight depression sent me skittering downhill in odd positions; sideways, front ways, and backwards.
Novices who periodically cracked up were now looked upon with a kindling eye of sympathy. PJ took the downhill first and wiped out, halfway down, skis up and orange hat frosty with snow. Once vertical, he completed the descent with only one other spill. Joey cruised clear to the bottom, but on trying to stop, went head over tea kettle. Awed by this display, I only watched their efforts to use the rope tow. “That’s the hardest part of it,” they told me later.
Standing at the top of a small hill off to the side, cross-country skiers tracked past me, as well as a young couple instructing their infant. When two youngsters pulling sleds appeared, I stood aside to watch the older boy glide down. Then, as the younger readied himself, my skis began to slide. I fought vainly but was unable to stop my downward trajectory. Dreadfully, one ski picked up both child and sled, rolling them aside. I continued, upright but covered with humiliation. Returning to the top, I spied the snowy little victim cheerily climbing out of a drift. He greeted me with a smile and a friendly hello. He was either accustomed to such eccentric behavior, or he didn’t recognize me.
The huge, white slopes above held daring athletes doing the slalom courses–the trees were heavy with mounded snow – lovely to see but clearly beyond the novice. After several, less dramatic cruises down “my” modest hill, I noted the cold increasing and time passing. Retrieved the car keys and money from PJ’s pack and stowed them safely in my mitten. Told the boys to meet me at the ski rental. Then, summoning a kind of desperate courage, decided to risk the big one as I had to get to the bottom of the run anyway. After waiting for a relatively clear course, I took the plunge. But halfway down, my acceleration became alarming. Hoping to slow my frantic descent, I dug a pole in, an act that resulted in a spectacular somersault. My right thumb was yanked backward while my skis kept going. After an ignominious trip to the bottom, I limped to the shop where I turned in the whole shebang.
The bliss of stepping into my waffle-stompers was exquisite! The free movement of ankle released from the cruel grip of those iron ski boots! Joy! The boys were still to be tracked down as they hadn’t showed up at the appointed time, but once reunited, we crawled into our snowy car and drove home. As the snowbanks and fields receded in our rearview mirror, it seemed as though the whole day was already fading into memory. Reality rose to meet us in the rain wet streets of the valley.
Well, it’s Sunday morning and everybody is in bed. My right hand is worthless and there’s a twinge in my left thumb in certain positions. I wonder how I’ll do as a waitress tomorrow!!??

Published in: on November 23, 2018 at 11:43 am  Comments (2)  

Journal -Crossing into 1975

December 28, 1974
Have been tramping about the game preserve for a couple of hours. Fixed a big breakfast late in the morning for the boys and all. After dishes and beds, got ready for my freedom march. My headache is finally gone, at least almost.
The sky is filled with a diaphanous gray overcast. Nush continues to be my faithful companion though twice I have put out my hand and called him Chip.
I’m sitting on a rock at present in the clearing I always think of as being a natural site for a cabin. Pools of water in a nearby rocky basin reflect tree and grass. The damp is penetrating but the air is as bracing as a cup of well water. As always, after long absence, I wonder why I have not been walking. The somber gray shapes and funereal greens of the firs and cedars are beautiful and austere. This doesn’t mean the scene lacks elaborate detail and even the unexpected. Some slender trees display tiny buds on their branches—or perhaps these are only bushes—but no matter. Their skeletons are brimming with spring plans and their secrets are showing. The Oregon Grapes are purple-red like summer plums, though some leaves are dull burnished green as well. Saw a few snowberries, a scatter of scarlet rose hips, and the sprouting of yellow and brown mushrooms. I love to be out here alone with my dog. It roots me in a soaring kind of way.
Last night went to sleep contemplating a great theory—probably acknowledging what psychology has already explored. How one’s childhood is so instrumental in the developing personality and that the kind of memories we hold on to, can tell us something of what we are, what we mirror in in our approach to life. A happy, confident childhood, I think, would tend to perpetuate some inner belief that helps us face failure and keeps hope alive. And yet there are those with resilient spirits who are beacons of hope no matter their childhood sorrows. I could go on and on, but am now too cold and sloppy to continue dripping down incoherent impressions.
The gray sky is darkening, so guess I’ll pack up my journal and head for home.
January 1, 1975
Have failed to write a lengthy introspective entry for the last day of 1974, but will at least compose a few notes for the first day of the New Year.
The boys scattered last night – Joe going to John’s and Pete to Tony’s, while Paige went with K.M. to a New Year’s Eve celebration. Friends dropped by for a brief visit and invited us to visit them this summer at their home in Nehalem. A pleasant enough prospect providing it occurs before I’m busy writing. The summer will I hope, see me in a fury of creative joy comparable to that experienced when working on Volunteer. But until then, have a lot of research to do and I must get to Salt Lake for that.
I see my characters from a great distance, but they are alive and moving. Now I must maintain my place until I have the necessary background to move into a close-up.
Watched It’s A Wonderful Life on TV last night. I won’t spend time outlining the story, but it did send me to bed full of thoughts. The story made me wonder how the lives of those around me, family and friends, might have been if I hadn’t been born. Or if they hadn’t. This exercise brought the realization that perhaps our individual and unexceptional lives are important, and even positive. And, oddly enough, that our less desirable deeds can sometimes, in the fabric of life, be put to positive advantage—though one should obviously try to the best one can. But it might be a psychological exercise that those who suffer from depression should try. Most of them, I think, would feel much better afterward.
“Feeling seems to be the root out of which thought comes.” Van Dusen/Persona to Person – The Problem of Being Human by Rogers and Stevens.
January 3, 1975
What a rain storm tonight! Thunder and lightning and occasional wind gusts tossing hard driven rain and hail against all things outside our cozy house. I’m taking the kids skiing at Summit, providing the roads are open. Paige went with K. today and did very well so we’re all going to try it except for Pete. I’ll begin work at Hook on Monday, 10 to 4, four days a week (sob). But it will save money, and so ease the pain.

Published in: on November 11, 2018 at 10:06 am  Comments (4)  

Christmas 1974

Christmas Day 1974
The children are playing “Oil Well,” Christmas carols shake the radio, and the fire keeps time with crackles and snaps on the hearth.
Woke in the night with a ticklish throat so got up for lozenges and to put more wood on the fire. I ended up sleeping on the couch. Wept over a lost and bedraggled puppy in a dream and then 7 o’clock thundered in my ear.
I opened Dad’s gift first, the big box yielding a most divinely elegant evening coat of black velvet fastened with black “frogs.” Gorgeous! And a perfect fit! He was delighted to get my phone call and enthusiastic thank you’s. He is a treasure! So many boxes to unwrap, most for the children but some for me. A white and purple robe from Paige, steam curlers from the boys, and various other objects. Games for P.J. and Joe. Mostly clothes for Paige. A ring from Pete under the tree. I bought it with the money he gave me, so it was no surprise, but I like the simple green jade cabochon set in the plain gold band.
After getting the turkey in the oven and breakfast dishes washed, I called Anne. {my eldest sister} Wanted to reach out to my own first family—to know the old circle is still there when we were the kids—symbolic of nothing more than fellow beings irreplaceable and unique. Honoring the common ground from which we sprang—bound by memory, tradition, and blood.
I would have called middle siblings too but didn’t because I must be aware of long distance charges. The phone bill with its cruel January face always appears devoid of holiday cheer.
December 27, 1974
Thunderous rain overnight and into the early morning. Now, in the evening darkness, the moon splashes silver puddles over the parked car. It’s been one of those divided days, chopped up with people dropping by, being lazy, and then going into great activity. Paige had another date with K.M., a black haired, black-bearded young fellow but she is as cool as a September river—deceptively beckoning but chilly. They went to Timberline and out to dinner but she refused to go for the evening as well. So a half hour after he brought her home, she was off to see her girlfriends! But am glad to see her stand-offish rather than boy-mad. Her mind will decide for her when she marries. One hopes the heart will follow. I was the opposite. Heart first—then the outraged mind screaming protest.
The boys and I went to Portland yesterday and I exchanged the curler set for the curling iron which I used today. Rained buckets again. Got two books on astrology—one a table of houses.
Finished reading the biography of Mark Twain and now am 2/3’s through the one of Tolstoy. A fascinating but contradictory man–bursting with spiritual conceit while alternating with periods of self-abasement and remorse. He seems to exaggerate the “typical” Russian character. His photos show him to be a handsome, brooding man—high cheek bones, fierce smoldering eyes, and a powerful leonine head. In fact, he resembles a huge panther or African lion. One can imagine him a great cat transformed into the semblance of a man, for he has many of their characteristics—the periodic dissipations with women and cards – (tom-catting, then losing interest—cat and mouse games). There is the seismic energy and hypnotic belief in his own prowess—dislike for anything not self-generated—his fickle interests for all but himself. It seems so logical, that in theory, I could almost believe my fantasy fact.
The biographer seems somehow unsympathetic and yet, faced with the man’s own autobiographical writings and diaries—his veritable history—it would be difficult to maintain the respect and admiration one develops on the reading of his books alone. What a revelation to see Tolstoy as a man driven by furies yet able to maintain a supreme self-regard despite his acknowledged fault—and excesses.
*note: In later life Tolstoy found religion but his book, Resurrection, lacks the wonderful insights of his early works. The hero, once he had embraced religion and abandoned his charming and idiosyncratic personality, became a pale and disappointing character. This reader was not inspired to read further.
Now the Russian writer, Ivan Turgenev, seems a person of solid stature. I’ve seen his Fathers and Sons on a library shelf. I must read that as well as his biography.

Published in: on November 4, 2018 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

More of December’s Journal; 1974

December 18, 1974
At my desk upstairs, looking out at the creek with its white ruffles. The world seems compressed, composed of green and gray. Only a few tiny dots of yellow save it from total sobriety—it’s like a pheasant hen—somber color etched against the sky, or perhaps like a Quaker at prayer. I had planned a walk, and had even taken my jacket from the closet, when a sudden wind sprang up, tossing branches and leaves in an invisible surf. I left my ambition at the door and napped instead.
I hate feeling tired. I stay up until 11 or 12 and then suffer from want of sleep at 7. I miss my accustomed energy and would be resentful if it didn’t require additional effort.
Later: bearding the lion in his den for all the good it will do.
December 20, 1974
I have a fire going, music playing. The cats are fed, and coffee is at my elbow.
Last night I again imagined I would take Nush to the woods, but a look at the weather has changed my mind. Rain and periodic wind gusts—not the invigorating kind that makes you wild to run, but the sort that unpleasantly splatters rain on your face.
Will bake candy cane cookies and get Paige and PJ to do one household chore each since they’re staying home from school.
Yesterday, Nelson Rockefeller was sworn in as vice-president after Agnew’s disgraceful exit. Saw it on TV and was surprised to see he held his pen between his middle fingers when he signed his oath of office. Have never seen anyone write like that before. We now have a president and vice president who were not elected. Thinking of ancient Rome and how precedence was broken when Julius Caesar was asked to be dictator. While Ford is hardly that, it’s a definite change in business as usual and may begin a long spiral downward.
The children sleep beside the tree. This is traditional and I’m glad they haven’t outgrown it. The tree is lovely with glass balls, curious ornaments, “gingerbread men,” and ginger houses, tinsel and light strings. Christmas lights are entwined down the entire length of the staircase.
December 21st 1974
First day of winter. Drove through snow to Woodburn though it was only sticking on the ground near Springwater. The sore throat flu has me again! So to bed early.
Christmas Eve, 12/24/74
In bed and if I had any sense, would put the light out and go to sleep. We are all in the grip of the cold. Joey’s tonsils very bad and being medicated, while the rest of us struggle with Nyquil and other remedies. Paige is the healthiest. Pete views me as a “typhoid Mary” and mutters darkly about my proximity. Sorry!
Additionally, he has broken his pact to moderate his drinking. The lesson now learned is that I cannot win either by fighting or silence. So I lean on my newfound sword and indulge in observation. But perhaps wisdom cannot be achieved in regard to the behavior of others or circumstance alone. One must fall back on whatever means are available to deal with one’s self.
I didn’t want to be philosophical tonight but have been unable to sleep for hours after going to bed. My intense thinking and delving disturbs my sleep even when I doze off.
The tree is a splendor, and the children are sleeping around it like large cherubs. The clock is set for 7 a.m. as I must open Dad’s gift first of all and call him at 7:30 before he leaves for his stepdaughter’s. (Note: Dad is my father-in-law).
It was cold throughout the day – the creek began clearing itself of wind-hurled debris.
Read out of the Christmas Carol to the kids while Pete napped; and then read my “Christmas Memoirs” –-not very interesting, this last. Beaten out at top speed with no thought of content or form last week.
To bed. To sleep. To dream.
Merry Christmas!

Published in: on October 29, 2018 at 12:24 pm  Comments (4)  

December 1974 Journal Excerpt

December Journal Excerpts – December 1974
December 9, 1974
Addressed Christmas cards and wrote notes on most of them. Took Pickwick to the vet because of his sore tail. Prescribed treatment: Time.
Just finished reading Dream Interpretation and Healing. Starting a new book on dinosaurs. So far, so good.
Fire blazing and the Rams due to play the Redskins. Boys shooting baskets at the school and Paige listening to music in her room. Back to my dinosaurs.
December 10, 1974
Partly cloudy this morning but the light has a silvery look. We met Mr. Miller who was part of last night’s spirited “town hall,” regarding the school’s stance on whether [a teacher] should be fired. Pete got into a fiery recapping of points made at the meeting, but fear his audience was unmoved. I told him later he was like another Parnell agitating for Home Rule, intent on placing burrs under the saddles of power-conscious conservatives.
But on to other matters. A few days ago, the conviction arose as I was washing dishes that I’m not going to finish ASTIT. (A Stitch In Time). Instead I intend gathering material for the book about Great-grandmother Eliza Frances. Feel anxious going against Mr. Fierst’s advice. (note; a literary agent supposedly marketing The Carriage House and who counseled cutting Volunteer for Glory as it’s too long.)
However, I can’t write something that doesn’t move me. Why waste time on such endeavors? I have no guarantee of success no matter what I write, so feel it’s wiser and more creatively honest to please myself and be damn well pleased!
December 16, 1974
Saturday the boys and I went Christmas shopping. The stores were mob scenes, people gliding up and down the aisles with trancelike expressions and the occasional hysterical (?) grin. But we spent our money with a fine hand, lunched at Ferrell’s, and finally came home about 7 o’clock.
The tree has been installed and mostly decorated. We wrapped presents with personnel shifts so the utmost secrecy could be maintained. Paige came home to add some touches to the tree and participate in the gift wrapping. A satisfactory day all round.
December 17, 1974
Gray and damp outside with beams of sunlight suddenly slashing across the somber landscape.
Full of trepidation regarding husband’s drinking. I can’t seem to effect any change in his behavior. And what of mine? I realized in the dead of night that we are prisoners of ourselves; iron bars are not more confining than the spiritual and psychological barriers we forge ourselves.

Published in: on October 22, 2018 at 12:43 pm  Comments (2)  

November 1974

November 17, 1974
A gray, wet Sunday. We stayed up very late last night watching movies. The children are out of the house today. Their overnight guests up and gone along with my contingent. I remember the lovely liquid hush of rain drumming and sliding, slipping and tinkling over everything outside.
But at this moment, I’m enjoying a lovely, lazy morning, although I did chop onions for chili before settling down with coffee, the newspaper, and my trusty journal.
Item: A new unit of matter has been discovered—something smaller and quicker than the atom and its components. How exciting to see science and metaphysics approaching a common denominator!
The creek is muddy and I have a strong desire to go wandering. I want to breathe in the clean, sharp air and revel in the sights, sounds and feelings of fall. Leaves, stricken from the trees with the onslaught of rain, carpet the yard in green, yellow, and brown. Chip’s—darling Chip’s marker–is white in the woods. I’d planned to put plastic over it to shield it from the weather this winter but the season has been fair and dry, I never got round to it. Hope it isn’t too late.
I should answer the several letters awaiting me, but I cling to procrastination. No dilly-dallying on Monday. Snap, snap, house cleaning, shopping, and banking as well. Safe on Sunday, I am free to love the lazy hours that end the weekend. I’m like a swimmer floating—not obliged to stroke lest I sink. Able to drift and contemplate in perfect ease of mind and body.
November 19, 1974
Almost midnight. I ought to be cozying down for some sorely needed sleep instead of scribbling at my desk. Rain on the roof glistens in crystal strings from the eaves while the brook chatters like a madman in the dark.
The Buddha incense burner meditates on Dad’s little copper box. Am so glad I have that from him. It’s homely and bent at the corners but has an unknown, mysterious quality that speaks to me of him. My Chinese chest and pencil holder keep the Buddha company, and even the blue and white glass decanter has an Oriental design. A black and steel crucifix lends an occidental note while the clay head of my unfinished centurion brings thoughts of Rome and high school. Why am I describing these things?
Perhaps to read in future, when such memories have faded…and, like Yeats’ poem, I am “old and full of sleep, and dreaming by the fire”? But that is a long ways off. Back to the present.
Baked bread today and one whole loaf was demolished this evening. I love the smell of yeast in the kitchen. All things domestic drift into the mind upon scenting it.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 11:25 am  Comments (2)  

Journal Entry: October 23, 1974

October 23, 1974
The wind is stripping the cedar fronds, hurling their golden fragments across street and yard. I heard the wind blowing in the dark when I went to bed. The sighing of trees was so loud and breathy that it could easily have been the voice of a larger-than-life goddess a’crying through the night.
Had a bit of fever in the evening. Taking vitamins to discourage the old ship from being dry-docked but the barnacles may get me yet.
Scratched a sorry bit of poetry down in the near dark of my bedroom about midnight, inspired by the wind and deep thoughts. I shouldn’t record it here as it hasn’t been polished and I’m not good at refinements of verse.
I wake at night to rain,
And warm in bed, hear
The cedars sigh in the wind’s embrace.
Fir needles tip-toe, dry and drunken
Across the redwood deck.

Beyond my window
The brook flows dark
And narrow over ragged stones.
Hold me through the moaning
Of trees.
Hark instead to love whispers
And let us
Sleep a little longer.

I shan’t apologize for failings and faults which are privy to one’s diary.

November 2, 1974 Saturday
Cloudy again after brief morning sun. If we don’t get a cold snap soon will have to plant the rest of my bulbs somewhere other than in the brick planter and geranium cart. The geraniums and petunias are blooming like mad. Yellow leaves on the Mountain Laurels show here and there as they do among the peonies. The honeysuckle vine has little bunches of red berries.

Published in: on October 1, 2018 at 8:26 am  Leave a Comment  

October Thoughts – 1974

October 13, 1974 (How a grumpy morning can end in gold.)
Nushka and I are in the fragrant gold and green sanctuary of McIver. No hunters with guns to worry about. Read until 2 o’clock by the fire when I’d finally had enough and tottered off to bed with that curiously unreal sensation one has when overtired. Dreamed but with a thread of worry running here and there…about the boys and their dad [on their big fishing trip}. Afraid to take the phone off the hook because they might call – and suffered two early wakenings because of that. Surrendered at 10:30 and heaved myself ungraciously downstairs for coffee, additionally soured because Tom Cat had messed in the bath tub and I had to clean that up before performing my own morning ablutions. Also cross because Paige, exiting for work, had exchanged one nuisance for another. She let Tom Cat out and Pickwick in, so he had growled and purred and trampled my sleep wracked frame until that, combined with the phone calls, persuaded me to abandon ship. With coffee and the bloated Sunday paper, I felt somewhat restored though my eyes were like puncture wounds from last night’s TV and the reading of practically 3 books! Nush barked whenever car wheels crunched by, and I muttered maledictions and curses to turn away unwary guests. “No people!” I repeated darkly, aloud. “No people today, darn it!”
But once showered and groomed, I appeared surprisingly civilized. Presentable. Not a misanthrope at all. The gray sky had thinned and the blue linings were shining through. Ought to do something. Not read. Eyes too far gone and those must be preserved. Being blind would be horrible – or having to wear spectacles. [I snicker as I copy this.} Must put letters in the mailbox; all written except for finishing the one to Dad.
Nush leaped all over me at this activity. Full of health – no bugs left worth a hoot in his system. Guilt, guilt. “Slob,” I scolded myself. “What’s the matter with you? Can’t you take your poor dog for a walk? Getting too old? You didn’t treat Chip that way!”
I was beaten. Packed my canvas creel with necessities, such as this book, doggy treats, and a large green apple. Caught one inning of the 2nd World Series game. Dodgers ahead 1 to 0. then cleaned up Nushka’s garbage dump on the far side of the house. Ick! I should treat him good? But off we went for the walk – Nush so sunny and joyful, rushing, leaping, jumping back to worship and welcome me – I am reformed and restored. The forest is my temple, and Nush, like Chip before him, my devoted attendant and fellow pilgrim.
We’ve taken a side path, one newly revealed in the wilting sere undergrowth. A beautiful cluster of young, smooth skinned maples rise in the sparsely wooded clearing. Brown leaves are down, green ones up. The colors are not so brilliant this year as it has been too dry. The dogwoods, many of them, are crackling and parched –gypsies turned from laughing color into faded mummies. Birds disport themselvesas though I were a ghost. They ignore me and Nush too. We’re resting – white flags up. A peace party.
We’ve tramped through a maze of cow paths and/or deer trails and have enjoyed a whole new scene. Points up how routine can get you on neat little tracks that by-pass whole areas of your life. Areas you never explore or realize. Of course, some may be pretty thorny or otherwise unpleasant, like the deceptively attractive red-leafed vine climbing a tall fir I just passed. The vine is a socially motivated bit of poison oak.
Have now come upon a silver log, airily arched and upholstered with green and gold moss; all to provide me with a sweet chaise lounge. Lucky me. Alive and healthy in the sun drenched October forest with Nush at my side and a fat green apple still uneaten.
Still Later
Almost to the fence where I slither under via a favorite chuck hole. Sun slants further southwest and the leaves that tremble loose from the trees sound like furtive footsteps. The bushes are still thick with black berries, some fat, sweet and lustrous; though others have dried into little gnomes. Thursday night’s rain has left scant trace except for a lingering dampness in sheltered areas. My god, I do love the forest! And the open woodlands. They are so beautiful if haphazard to the civilized sense of exterior order. But they are gracious, maternal, benevolent. Nature offers all things without bitterness. She tucks me into her wooded embrace as tenderly as any seedling, any nesting bird, or spotted fawn. She does not ask my antecedents or my loyalties. She takes me to her breast and sings her sweetest songs. She offers her tallest trees for shade, her grass for a bed, her berries for food, her beasts for companionship, and her flowers for adornment. Barriers of thorn, stone, or fallen limbs are only to whet the appetite for adventure and to crown the explorer with the delight of discovery.
Weather is more to be likened to the father. He punishes and he blesses, or is indifferent; and one must accept and conform. The father is reckoned with; the mother lived with.

Published in: on September 24, 2018 at 11:59 am  Comments (1)  

Looking Back at September 1974

September 4, 1974
Another cloudy day. Woke in the wee hours and heard the cry of roosters in the gray darkness. That is the loneliest sound of all, except perhaps for a train whistle. The rooster’s announcement heralds a day still dripping with dew and surrounding vapors. Trees and houses are dragged into that narrow sliver between sleep and wakefulness. So I lay, quivering with gooseflesh, eyes determined to remain shut, refusing to deal with the lank hours before the sun’s return. I hate that time of laggard light. Not until the sky flushes pink, shading into gold am I ready to rise.
My “last day of freedom” so naturally I’m choosing to spend at least part of it here in the woods. Nush at my side, field glasses and khaki creel about my neck. The creel holds my journal and pen, comb, nail file, and pocket mirror. I sit on a log at the top of a slope in the trail with sunlight filtering through the leaves of a goodly dogwood tree. Bits of a dogwood’s orange fruit decorate my log, telling of a chipmunk’s feast! Warm today but not the scorcher of yesterday. Cool lingers in the green-gray shadows. Sun splashes golden freckles on my summer-brown skin. Many of the deciduous trees show reddening foliage, bright as Christmas ornaments. The maples have thinned, the fat wet look of youth gone from all but the most protected leaves. Rather like Miami Beach beauties. Me, I like to lean in the shade of tall trees and flirt outrageously with Old Sol.
Hate to think I go to work at Prom tomorrow. My dread is out of proportion, but I am still buffeted by the sense of unreality that lies between knowing what will come and its actual arrival. I guess it’s the dullness I hate as much as anything. But at least I don’t have to do it year round.
Blackberries are ripe and abundant and have eaten a handful or so of them. A flat white fungus stripes the underside of a neighboring log. Water drops speckle the surface. Nush rests in a hollowed bed of forest loam. Guess I’ll ramble on.
A blue heron flies off as we approach. I see only great wing span, the incredibly long neck and long sharp beak. As it finds a more distant tree, I hear it mutter, sotto voce, a harsh, croaking sound. It’s exciting to see the wild life, to feel that one walks with the little brothers and sisters of mankind. Realizing that they were not only meant to be food and clothing for us but to be our companions as well. The birds are conversing with an agitated chipmunk.
Surprisingly, we have run into a Hereford cow. We greet one another amicably and pass on. There are not so many birds now. Many have gone south and only the hardiest remain. Again I hear the heron shrieking in the distance.
In spite of the dominant green of vegetation, the forest crackles with dryness. The dark rains of winter must still lie beneath the cracked hide of September’s drought inviting trees to dig deep for its bounty. Thinking of this, I see it like a model of a science class project that reveals the hidden workings beneath our very feet. We live on two surfaces – earth and sky—and we are amazingly ignorant of both.

Published in: on September 16, 2018 at 9:21 am  Comments (5)