Lund Retreat Autumn 2007 (2)

The morning is dark and overcast, the house cold. I get up three hours later than usual. The bad smell in the bathroom is back. This time I look high rather than low and see a swatch of fur protruding through the insulation panels in the ceiling. After coffee and a new fire in the stove I return with pliers, lift the panel, clasp the dead mouse by the tail and cremate it.

Since I’m offline, no new input here today. Writing about yesterday, when nothing really happened, has already taken up six hours. If I were online, I’d be interrupted every few minutes.

I eat soup and empanada at Nancy’s bakery and bike back up the hill to M’s place. Since returning here a year ago after 21 years away, he lives alone in his trailer, works on his subdivision plans and his art. He seems healthy and happy, but how does he handle the solitude and lack of stimulation? The TV is on, next to his internet computer. We talk about old times.

Peddling up the steep driveway in the dark I meet neighbor Dick in his diesel pickup on the way to dump his compost for the bears down below the rock bluff. He tells me that our tenant last year showed him a photograph of a cougar sunning himself on the moss near the deck.

I meditate from 7:30 to 8:00, the silence of this place amplifying the static in my head. Usually it “settles down” for the last few minutes, but not now that I’m doing it twice a day in this perfect spiritual retreat. Nevertheless afterwards, I feel clearer and more optimistic than before. I read till ten, finishing My Year of Meats, carrying on a conversation with the author, as if she were the protagonist, Jane Takagi–a Japanese-American documentarian filmmaker. Though a DES child, Jane wants a baby and gets pregnant. Then loses it with a “missed abortion,” a form of miscarriage involving carrying a dead fetus for several weeks. That rare term awakened long-dormant dark personal memories.

The truest material for me in the book’s somewhat contrived denouement is expression of grief for this loss. All the happy endings—Jane’s career success, the defeat of the feedlot hormone conspiracy, Akiko’s pregnancy, her escape and welcome in America, the rekindling of Jane’s romance with Sloan—don’t mitigate its pain.

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