Lund Retreat Autumn 2007 (6)

Woke up at 5:30 this morning, eager to start the day probably from anticipation: dinner party tonight, Lucien coming to cut firewood”company. But also solitude: the sensation of the warm bath, reading, meditating, and returning to this journal. Researching granite and moss, liverworts and lichen. Photoshopping pictures of the rocks with the sequence I came upon yesterday: filter>artistic>cutout>4.4.1 and 4.10.1.

And searching for Knoll House journals in the computer.

Back to the day of the dead: excerpts from Court Evidence transcribed in the blog of two years ago: Glimpses of Kenneth.

A 1998 poem and reflection about Ellen’s coming death.

June 21 1998

Amazingly you’re back
And still “with no deficits.”
Each message feels like my last,
And yet there comes an answer.
This is what war was like:
Someone at home writing
To a soldier on the front.

Why is it that death interests me so? The only thing worth writing about. The only relationship really worth pursuing–with a woman who’s got one foot in the grave. “This is it,” she wrote in an email a year ago. This is it.

And a sonnet to her dated May 10 1964, my first year in grad school.

Indifference has only one cure that I know
The solution is obvious but hard to apply
Cold shoulders and hearts must be warmed up with snow
Not answering in kind will produce a reply.

The icier my silence, the sooner you thaw
But you freeze when my temperature rises.
“Nothing from nothing,” declares the old saw
Yet here nothing claims all of the prizes.

Passionate pleadings and drunk declarations,
Whatever displays my feelings, my fire
The overwrought products of late lucubrations
Won’t further but frustrate my ardent desire.

Though I realize restraint would be much more effective
Still I’ll send you these lines and forsake my objective.

The song playing in the morning darkness: Eric Clapton’s “Drowning in a River of Tears.”

A poem to Jan written a month after we met, preserved in a 1992 Journal:

May 10, 1966


This morning I awoke from sleep
And smiled although you weren’ there.
Exuberant with gratitude
That I’d returned from solitude
Back to a world we share.

The bed I lay in still was warm
With the languid memory of your breast
And sense with fancy subtly blent
The sweet trace of our mingled scent
The room itself was blessed.

A dumb indifferent world transformed
Into a friendly welcome place
Reminding me of last night’s kiss
And promising the next night’s bliss
Denying time and space.

The taking of the vitamin
Acquired a sacramental drift
My imitative ritual
That answers to the purple pill
Which served to pledge your gift.

And later in the day I found
The promise of the early hour
Fulfilled again when sight unseen
My ugly, lonely brown machine
Was changed into a flower.

Morning meditation: noisy but with a buzz. Sounds of rain hitting roof, hard to distinguish from sounds of fire and stovepipe. The inside temperature always changing. The outside world without color.

Shore pine, Pinus contorta. Bundles of two needles. There’s lots around. Someone once told me it was worthless for firewood. I cut a stick out of a windfall with the handsaw and put it in the stove to find out. Seems to burn nicely. Check with Dick. He says, “Jack Pine, its great firewood.”

“Short to 20 m. bark moderately thick, scaly or deeply furrowed into plates, dark brown to blackish¦ Restricted to dry rocky areas with shallow soil, not because this habitat represents optimum growing conditions for it, but because it is intolerant of shade and connote compete with other conifer species in the more favorable habitats.”

The sun is lighting up half the sky and droplets in the wire mesh on the deck railing.

After two hours of cutting, splitting and loading wood into the shed with Lucien, it’s close to half full. We took down two trees. The top of one came within two feet of the house. The other bent his chain bar, but he was able to unbend most of the curve. Both mishaps resulted from following my advice.

Michael comes over at four and completes the dinner preparation he’s been working on since yesterday afternoon.

Company arrives soon after 5. Lucien brings a huge bag of Chanterelles he picked in a favorite spot after this afternoon’s woodcutting. Sophia loves Ethan’s toys and the slideshow on the computer. Don comes with Paula, the one person here who wasn’t yet family. Peter B. brings a packet from Margaret who’s on Savary with her woman’s group: a new signed copy of Sheila Munro’s biography of her mother”cost $19.50, not the $450 asked for by Amazon. Mara’s birthday adds festivity. She looks little changed from the Mushy who lived on the Funny Farm in 1971. While everyone delights in his dinner, Michael recites Robert W. Service poems with a professional actor’s presence and range.

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