Wednesday, January 07, 2009

January 3, 1982

January 3, 1982, 3:45 PM

This book frightens me. It is too perfect. Already, I have made an error. My writings are too hesitant, too awkward, too groping to be put into such a beautiful book.

I am sitting in a secluded spot overlooking Osprey Bay and Osprey Point from the shore of Second Home Lake. The lake is frozen and snowclad. There is about four inches of snow beneath my feet. I am sitting on a log, on my old red ski parka. I hear chickadees and nuthatches. The have come to feast at our feeders, nearby.

I have three dogs with me, Shiloh, Buffy and Charlie. I had wanted to come alone, but they need to go out, too. Shiloh has proceeded to defecate, urinate and roll. He is distracting my attention by jumping in my lap. He also tried to run away. Sassy is in heat . . . he wants to visit her. Charlie is already gone. Buffy is hanging around.

Shiloh hears a very loud chickadee and tries to locate it in the hemlock. I see two there now . . . one dives down through the branches with amazing agility. Shiloh I crunching snow, chewing it audibly, loudly, to get the water from it, I assume.

I hear a sort of high-pitched warbling tweet—a single drawn-out yet short note, followed by a lot of soft twitterings. It may be the chickadee, but I don't recognize it.

I seem to be in a very wild place. From where I sit, I see no signs of man. If I strain myself, I can see our house through the trees, or far off, see Henderson's house through the trees across the lake. Neither of these is easy to see and I could be in a vast uncharted wilderness, but for the car sounds.

It is a dull late afternoon. The sky is monochromatic pale grey, almost white. The trees are also grey—dull, darker grey, the snow grey-white. Only the hemlocks and pines are green, a dull grey-green. There is no wind, no movement save the dogs. I can no longer see or hear any birds. The place seems desolate. It is cold, but not bitter. The air is fresh, damp, and slightly woody. Several large oaks rise behind me, their bases covered up to about 5 feet with patches of dull dark green moss. The large sugar maple beside me has no moss, just a small creeping poison ivy vine starting up at its base.

There are a number of dead Norway Spruces of varying sizes around me, and behind me, to the West, the plantation of spruces and pines marches up the slope.

Shiloh has tried twice more to sneak off. He tried to dig up a small log. Buffy is yapping. Charlie, who has returned, is dancing around. They want me to play with them. Almost directly before me, near the shore of the lake, is a bittersweet nightshade with red berries. In this light, they are dull, almost black.

I'd better go back home and work on supper.

1-15-82 Yesterday, I snowshoed down the canoe trail to the lake, carefully avoiding a fresh fox trail in the snow. I followed beside the fox prints, watching where the fox climbed up beside several trees and up only a beaver Lodge. I was careful not to harm the trail.

Today, I returned on skis. A light snow had fallen. All that remained of the fox trail were tiny, almost invisible indentations in the snow. If I didn't see it yesterday, I would not know what it was today. No one else had come this way to see the trail.

- - -

These journal entries were written in a gorgeous hardbound journal decorated with lovely paintings of birds. I prefer to do my journaling in a beat-up spiral notebook where I can cross off and start over without defacing the book. Other than one poem, there was nothing else in the book except all the bird paintings. The book had been in the basement flood and is ruined and I am going to throw it away now. I believe I have already typed up the poem (may years ago). I feel sad throwing away what was once a beautiful journal. Over the years, people have given me many beautiful journals and most of them, like this one, have an entry or two—or none at all. I feel as if I should scan some of the bird paintings so they don't go to waste, but they are prints anyway, and more such journals were manufactured, and people who like that sort of thing must have enjoyed them. I am sure I enjoyed looking at them when they were given to me.

All photos are of art from the journal these entries were written in. I could not find the name of the artist, and I have now thrown away the journal.


Nadine said...

This is interesting and makes me feel slightly less hateful about our current winter weather.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thanks. I didn't mind winter as much when I lived at Beaver Lake and snowshoed or skied to work.

BerryBird said...

I, too, enjoyed reading this. I can see why well-meaning folks would gift you with pretty journals -- those bird illustrations are gorgeous, and certainly seem like something you'd like. I guess I can also kind of understand the pressure you felt to match the beauty though, like a crueler writers block... no wonder they never got used. It's kind of sad.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

It is, it's very sad. I felt terrible throwing it away, but it was grossly moldy and falling apart and I could only photograph a few of the center drawings. They are ALL so pretty I feel guilty and terrible I never used it, but I'm kind of a wallower when journaling and messy with lots of cross outs etc and I feel like I'm spoiling the pretty journal. It's terrible (and I have more pretty, unused journals.) :-(