Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Weiser River Pillow Book #12
[Fans of Eberle’s Weiser River Pillow Book posts take heart—since my division of the manuscript into months involved quite a bit of guesswork, it turns out that there will be a post in December as well to complete the material. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the November entry; & you can stop by Eberle's blog for more animal adventures!]
THINGS THAT MESMERIZE
A design of squares on a linoleum floor.
The grain and knots of pine paneling.
Water stains on a plaster ceiling.
Lines of print when you are very tired.
THINGS THAT ARE PRIVATE
IMAGES THAT BRING COMFORT
Fields of tulips and daffodils in Holland.
Hibernating bears. Also, strangely, hibernating wasps. Not, however, hibernating squash bugs.
A rusted dredge in the rock fields outside an abandoned mining town high in the mountains; the snow piling up.
FROM THE WINDOW IN RENTED ROOMS
In Baltimore, past the electric candle sconces with paint drips imitating wax, a helicopter hovering.
In La Paz, the cold and writing with fingerless gloves, watching pigeons in mud niches under the rooftop across the street.
In Ohio, just room enough for a huge four-poster bed, climbing out the dormer window and onto the roof sheltered by the leafy boughs of an enormous tree.
In the nineteenth century, piano legs, table legs, all decently draped in upper class parlors.
In the twentieth century, trash compactors, stereo equipment and televisions hidden in wood cabinets; at the turn of the century, expensive wood housings for refrigerators.
In my own house, it is the electrical outlets I wish to cover up in one way or another, especially if they are unused.
EXCESSIVE THINGS THAT MAKE SENSE
A small plastic fountain, indoors, with plastic waterlilies and lights and on top a ballerina twirling, powered by the water flowing.
A garden crowded with ornaments—gnomes, deer, butterflies, wishing well, whirligigs.
A lot of broken-down cars in a field by a house.
EXCESSIVE THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE
Pasta shaped like miniature pizzas.
Sports Utility Vehicles.
ON THE WAY TO THE POLLS
At the corner, a line of cow skulls, very neat and clean, on fencepost. On the way back, a herd of cattle coming at us, turning into the old homestead I call Shangri La. It has the most falling-down buildings and equipment. Even an old schoolhouse and two small silos. No one lives at the house, where there are curtains in the windows but no glass.
It would be hard to explain the phrase "blanket of snow" to someone who has never seen snow. How the blanket is not only a visual image, but also involves the muffling of sound, a fleeciness, a sense of warmth. Also how the phrase itself is not fancy and can be used by anyone. Like a nutcracker. Some people choose the smooth metal kind, simple and elegant but slippery. There are ones in the shape of a squirrel that some people find tacky and others consider adorable. Then there is the nutcracker from the fairy tale and ballet—the staring soldier, wooden and bearded. Originally handmade for an aristocratic family, now these can be bought for the price of half a tank of gas in large chain stores that offer inexpensive imported goods. In the countries where these nutcrackers are produced they would be too expensive for the people who make them to buy. In Pernumbuco I was shown how to open cashews by placing them in an old oil can on a fire until the shells cracked with a small explosion. That was drought country. They did not have the phrase "blanket of snow" but they did describe an unsatisfying rainfall as "grasshopper spit."
THINGS THAT HAVE BECOME PART OF THE WILDERNESS
Airplanes and all-terrain vehicles.
Talking to two women whose husbands have retired. One weaves and one paints. They speak of the difficulty of finding time when their husbands won't interrupt them. They have raised children, continue to run the households, cook and pay bills. Their husbands can't bear them being alone long enough to do work they love.
THINGS THAT WINTER CHANGES
The bottle of soy sauce in my cupboard seems wildly improbable—so exotic, sitting there, as the snow piles up and the temperature outside could kill.
My cleaning frenzies are happier, less panic-struck, and have more to do with spaces than surfaces. More like a squirrel burrowing into cupboards and closets.
The pumice stone becomes a place you travel to, a narrow blue bay in Greece lined by white pumice cliffs and white bits of rock floating on the water.
The flowers on the Christmas cactus seem in motion—salmon leaping or bright birds in flight.
Seeing a wasp or even a Chargas beetle—instead of an impulse to destroy them, there is a sense of kinship, of being survivors together.
RECTANGULAR THINGS IN THE LANDSCAPE
FRAMES IN THE LANDSCAPE
Partially ruined buildings.