Made a journey down a winding road, to see an old friend, and a dog named Luna. Near the ocean we stayed, watching the waves, come and go.
On the morning walk with the dogs at the beach, the tilting fence glistened in the sun, with sand at her feet, and budding rose bushes of the dunes scattered round.
Time was approaching the hustle and bustle of beachgoers.
The afternoon sun beat down, where the children frolicked at the shore, with mother and father at their sides. They built castles in the sand, unfettered by the rough play of canines of the early morn.
What was Luna thinking, as she lay at home?
Luna spent the day, dreaming of her four legged friends, from whom she would steal balls and sticks, and of how they rolled raucously in the sand.
Then a swim!
Daybreak returned and Mother Nature called Luna back out to play. Alone she could not go, so she got up and wagged her tail, and sniffed and licked the sleepy face of my friend, to start another day, all over again.
A speck on the ground.
Rain falling down.
The sky is warm.
Gray cold clouds, at bay!
Bare bone trees,
The morning’s hue,
Like a small boat,
Tow in the young day.
Reading can bring back memories, help to understand oneself with respect to the past, the present, and even give direction in life. It can stimulate the imagination and desire to create outside of a story, and make one’s own stories. “The Song of the Lark” strikes many such chords for me. Through Cather’s quiet introspective narrative tone, we watch the character, Thea Kronborg, grow into herself.
In Part II of the novel, Thea, with the encouragement of Doctor Archie, goes to Chicago to complete her musical education. While she takes piano lessons from Mr. Harsanyi, a Hungarian immigrant, she simultaneously sings in a choir for a church. Only by accident does Mr. Harsanyi discover that Thea is also a singer, possessing a beautiful, but untrained voice.
Life for Thea in the city takes on an aspect of drudgery and loneliness, feelings she never experienced growing up in Moonstone. She is the daughter of a Swedish minister and nonjudgmental mother, who believes in the power of fate. Back in Moonstone, Thea was a free-spirited girl, who carried around with her ‘under the cheek’ that inexplicable sense of innate happiness. Now in Chicago, that feeling has since dissipated, and been replaced by the routine of her music practice, and daily living.
One scene which recalls a memory for me is described in the opening passage of Chapter V, Part II:
By the first of February Thea had been in Chicago almost four months, and she did not know much more about the city than if she had never quitted Moonstone. She was, as Harsanyi said, incurious. Her work took most of her time, and she found that she had to sleep a good deal. It had never before been so hard to get up in the morning. She had the bother of caring for her room and she had to build her fire and bring up her coal. Her routine was frequently interrupted by a message from Mr. Larson summoning her to sing at a funeral. Every funeral took half a day, and the time had to be made up. When Mrs. Harsanyi asked her if it did not depress her to sing at funerals, she replied that she ‘had been brought up to go to funerals and didn’t mind’.
It’s this last scene that struck home with me, because I too was brought up going to funerals, to sing the Requiem. You see, the school I went to was attached to the Catholic Church. The best part of each classroom were the very large windows that looked out onto the grass and swing sets. The children could also watch the cars that drove by on the driveway, as they circled the school and the church. When there was a funeral the procession with the hearse and all the cars filled with mourning family members would also go by. This was our indication to go into the church and sing. We went to Mass every morning anyway, and sang in Latin, but when someone died, it was different. It was a solemn time, and we had to show the greatest respect.
Like Thea, going to sing for a funeral was not a task of drudgery, and even though I look back and realize it wasn’t what most normal children had to do, I didn’t mind. I enjoyed singing, that much, and looking at the beautiful stained glass windows inside the church. Similarly to Thea, these frequent interruptions to go sing at a funeral, were a real part of my school day life. As school children, it was our place to attend to the matter, give our voices to the sad family, and then get on with life. We learned to take the good, with the bad, and the sad, with the happy, and always had that something under our cheek to keep us company, even if it seemed to step out for awhile.
Although, I haven’t finished the story yet, I imagine that Thea has a lot of growing to do, that she will have to struggle even more; But if I know Willa Cather, her heroine will overcome, whatever steps in her way. Thea will undoubtedly be rewarded for her struggle, and be resurrected to an even more dignified level of being.
While the grogginess of waking comes over me, on this gray rainy morning in early October, an autumnal mood hangs in the atmosphere. Yesterday, we were forewarned of the coming of Joaquín. Beware! A huge hurricane was riding the waves of the sea! Relieved, we were spared from another big one.
With the season in our midst, I remember the occurrence of Hurricane Gloria, at the end of September of 1985. Coming from the Midwest, this was the first hurricane I experienced in my life. Similarly, my husband came from the Ring of Fire, where earthquakes are the norm. In light of the newness of it all, fear was not on my agenda, having lived through many a Wisconsin tornado and blizzard.
The morning before Gloria’s expected arrival, on the advice of a vigilant neighbor, I hurried out to buy batteries, only to find every store, wiped out of supplies. No new batteries, and no duct tape, to secure the windows. Making do with the Duracells, found around the house, I prayed the panes wouldn’t break. Well, the storm, a lesson in science, was proven to be an all day process, moving into the next. As I stood, looking out the divided lights, I saw the trees bend and sway back and forth. They moved 180 degrees, from one side to the other, like sticks of licorice. The daunting speed of the wind caused the trees to crash to the ground around the house. One, two, three and another, uprooted from the base, they fell with a huge thump. The house was being spared, except for the electrical box. Without warning, a trunk like branch from a tree fell on the wires extending to the street, and the metal case was abruptly severed from the clapboard siding, strewing live wires all over the ground, outside. Then, an incredible stillness enveloped the air as the eye of the storm passed overhead, only to be followed by a more gently flowing wind. Nearing the end, Mother Nature had orchestrated a tremendous performance, with her emissary; The great and powerful Gloria!
Life was disrupted for several weeks into the month of October. The clean up was slow going, and the crews worked morning and night to restore electricity. The public waited patiently, as fleets of trucks, were sent from Quebec. They were like the Messiah, coming to bring everyone out of the dark. A heavily wooded state, storms inevitably pose a problem for Connecticut, and its residents can pretty much expect to cook with propane, and burn the lamplight oil.
Well, we survived. I look back, with gratitude that I had no small children to watch out for, and, there was no loss of life, at least that I know of in Connecticut, or New England.
Sitting on the Atlantic Coast, we wait patiently, and ponder, as hurricane season descends upon us. Will the brewing storms perish at sea, like Joaquín, or should one “batten down the hatches’, before it’s too late? In my quest for enlightenment, I ask myself, “What kind of a sailor will I be in the next storm? Will I have duct tape and batteries, and jugs and jugs of water? Will my bathtub be filled, and overflowing?” The question is not; Will another storm blow in? but rather, How can I ever be prepared? Having not the answers, with affection, and humble regard for the unknown, I recall the beloved words of E.B. White. “I cannot not sail.”
The day is waiting! Dawn passed before I awoke, and the sun is getting too bright for comfort. Alas, one mustn’t begrudge the sunshine, though there is nothing like a rainy day to set thoughts in motion.
Having awakened with a clean slate, alongside one of many chores, and things to do, I ask, “Which will prevail? Meandering my way through unprescribed discovery, or following the rule of accomplishment, and purpose?” Balance is the prudent course.
To open the day, here is a poem by a Finnish artist, named Eeva Lisa Manner (1921-1995). The title, “ASSIMILATION”
Assimilation that I have travelled. I will show you a way that I have travelled. If you come If you come back some day searching for me do you see how everything shifts a little every moment and becomes less pretentious and more primitive (like pictures drawn by children or early forms of life: the soul’s alphabet) you will come to a warm region it is soft and hazy but then I will no longer be me, but the forest.