Lund Retreat Autumn 2007 (5)

7:20 A.M.

Forgot to meditate last night, an opportunity missed. I remembered as I dropped off to sleep. Instead I read Prodigal Summer till 10:30, the book absorbing, enjoyable but too long. Kingsolver’s characters are stagnating, but factual material about small homesteading and predation and insects is informative. I’ll have to space out this winter’s Ecolit class’s reading assignments over two weeks, while we do the short poems.

The theme of predation in Thoreau, Oliver, Austen. Other themes to pursue from the start of the class: evolution, meditation and Solitude, observation, primitivism, ecological harmony, ecological disaster, rural life, progress, natural patterns, the seasons, fertility, stages of the life cycle, the erotic.

10:58 My worry: the excitement I feel at returning here after absence, the delight in the house and the view, the thrill of seeing people like Lucien and Peter U. and Michael and Don, all are transitory and contingent. A few more hours or days and all will get stale and then the memory of the excitement will summon disgust.

I go out to the two rocks whose pictures I collected from the archive last night and take more photographs”of the moss and the lichens and the granite, of the spaces between them and the lines of their convergence, of the juxtaposition of large and small, parent and offspring. “Land Art.” But the shapes don’t please me as much as they did this summer while I cleared them.

The downloaded pictures don’t help. I try cropping. Name them them Adam and Eve? Play with the spaces between them, and their adjoining borders, remembering couples by Brancusi and Henry Moore. The only images that aren’t terrible are several of the large rock alone, massive and weighty, but with a readiness to pounce: rhinoceros.

Should I get rid of the smaller rock? I could sledge it to pieces. “Two paradises twere in one/ to live in paradise alone.” If the small rock broke off the big one, the one became two. Is two more or less? Can the two again become one? Questions for couples.

Moving the pictures around into a sequence: from the two discreet weighty masses to the negative spaces between them to their direct juxtaposition, like a yin-yang, to their combining as a single image. I’ll need a better camera with manual focus and tripod to carry it out.

Moss show”mosses on the rock. Story of the rocks. A legend of the rocks. Father and Daughter, mother and daughter, father and son, married couple.

4:30 p.m.

Back from shopping trip for tomorrow’s dinner with Michael. We looked at the dying salmon making their way up Sliammon creek, went to the Hatch-a-Bird and bought a chicken and veggies, shopped at Overwaitea. He’ll do all the work. I paid. Downloaded email at River City Coffee Shop to read at home.

Notice sent to everybody in the department with links for student newspaper profiles of Larry and Todd but not mine. I’m relieved, but saddened by that. My colleagues’ cordiality covers disdain. Also a note from JW whom I’ve had no contact with since he went right wing in 1967. He found my website and sent me a link to something of his, which I cant check out till I’m back online. Also a note about Columbia 1968 strike 40th reunion coming up. Not sure I want to celebrate that failed revolution.

After reading the email, I feel like I’m standing at the edge of a large hole, about to fall in. Novemberness. Wet, cold and dark now, wetter, colder, darker ahead. Even in the sunshine yesterday, when Lund was almost empty of people, I sensed the quiet like a cloud of nothingness surrounding whatever was there.

I talk to Jan. She’s at an art opening and tipsy on wine, people and politics. We share news of the last 24 hours. My mood lightens.

I walk over to the neighbor’s place. D. pours rum-cokes and talks about hunting. B. cooks and watches TV and says nothing. I return, defrost Renee’s soup and eat it with toasted bread and broccoli salad. I load and run the dishwasher and come back to the computer to play with images of the rocks in Photoshop. My work is desultory.

It’s close to nine. I meditate fifteen minutes. More quiet than this morning. I continue for another fifteen minutes, more quiet than before.

The story of digging out the rocks last August? Clearing the fir stump and red dirt and arbutus tree and salal around the base, the roots tearing at them, exfoliated pieces broken off by the concerted action of vegetation. Moss and lichen exude acid which breaks granite down to soil which they can grow in. The shrubs and trees thicken their roots to wedge in the cracks for stability, but the rocks split and no longer provide it so the roots spread further to regain it. The cabled fibrous texture of root is harder for me to break with pick and shovel than the rock, but yields to saw and axe. When the vegetation, soil and broken rock created by the vegetation is cleared away, the boulder’s real shape is revealed, seated not on bedrock but floating on its own detritus.

I read Michael’s crumpled menu and shopping list with affection. I ask myself to enjoy the piece of dark chocolate I break off and not just let it go by. I ask myself to look at this room and enjoy it now, as well as when arriving and leaving and away. It’s not only a room but a living space, a globe. Let me love what and whom I love while present. All moments have value, those of sadness, loss and self-hate are as fine as those of triumph and pride.

Or am I looking too hard? And cloying again? The trees intruding on the view of Savary were bothering me. Was the view of Savary bothering me too? Is being here now both enjoyment and loathing? Is all this oscillation the product of too much time on my hands? Or is time on my hands what I need to find what I seek? And what would prove it found? Written work worth publishing? I peruse my archives and come up with a downloaded pdf of last year’s Presidential Address to the American Studies Association that cites my 1989 essay on Diablo Canyon. I reread the essay with pleasure.

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