By W.S. Merwin
Climbing in the mist I came to a terrace wall
and saw above it a small field of broad beans in flower
their white fragrance was flowing through the first light
of morning there a little way up the mountain
where I had made my way through the olive groves
and under the blossoming boughs of the almonds
above the old hut of the charcoal burner
where suddenly the scent of the bean flowers found me
and as I took the next step I heard
the creak of the harness and the mule's shod hooves
striking stones in the furrow and then the low voice
of the man talking softly praising the mule
as he walked behind through the cloud in his white shirt
along the row and between his own words
he was singing under his breath a few phrases
at a time of the same song singing it
to his mule it seemed as I listened
watching their breaths and not understanding a word
From this week's New Yorker.
I had a very quiet Monday with nothing of interest to report except that I've had nice long e-mail conversations with two people I lost touch with many years ago: my college roommate from France, who moved back there after a year in the U.S., and my first friend in Chicago, who had moved to China for many years. Plus I read the blog of my friend who's a major in the army and deploying soon to Baghdad. And I waited for LiveJournal to work for half the morning while the Halloween decorations were holding things up, and I burned a bunch of DVDs to clear up space on my hard drive, and I watched with amusement while three cats fought over who got the nice warm fishie cat bed. And I read more of my son's novel.
The Pig on the Northwest Tower many stories below the tower where Darth Vader lives.
The Birdwatcher, named in honor and carved in the likeness of a patron who could often be found with binoculars in his hand.
The Frog, at the eighth bay of the South Nave just outside the gift shop.
The North Nave's Iguana, a native American animal.
This is Decay, the skeleton of a winged animal with a snake emerging from its skull like the Dark Mark.
The Missouri state bear with St. Louis's Gateway Arch.
The South Nave's Avian Gardener, created in honor of an English gardening enthusiast and bird watcher.
Sarah Connor was off this week for the World Series. We watched Heroes, which felt really long to me -- I kept thinking it was over and trying to put on Boston Legal. The episodes with Hiro and Ando as comic relief sometimes seem trivial, but I like them better than the episodes without any comic relief at all. I miss the grownup women of this show - Niki, Nana, and especially evil controlling Angela. I don't need another show about a cabal of evil controlling fathers, X-Files ran that into the ground and then some, and there are so many young blondes running around at this point that I wonder if they bred out brunettes (other than the needy psychotic murdering Latin American) when they started breeding heroes.
Then of course it was time for my favorite hour of TV while it lasts, which keeps finding new depths of utter rabid insanity to plumb. This week, Alan and Denny go to a dude ranch, Shirley is stuck representing Catherine Piper, and Katie tries to get Carl to loosen up. This episode is worth watching just to see what Alan and Denny wear on a Utah ranch -- denim shirts with big flowers embroidered on them, cowboy hats with light-up brims -- and for Denny's romantic scene with a sheep. Not to mention Denny's erection while sharing a tent with Alan, but more on that later.
Alan's vacation is almost ruined by the presence of Melvin the "this is gonna be a hoot" lawyer, who has apparently come alone to this ranch that other men pay a fortune with their friends to visit to be cowboys. One of those men, Ian, has a pretty wife, Irene, whom Denny hits on immediately in fairly insulting terms ("all the sheep were spoken for"). Ian is furious and the ranch owner tells Denny to behave or he'll send him packing. Alan wants to go home, particularly after being humiliated as a phony cowboy by Melvin while singing campfire songs (though as Alan rightly points out, the songs are as inauthentic for cowboys as he is). And Ian thinks Melvin is gay; the fact that they're from Massachusetts just clinches it.
Meanwhile, since Alan is away, Shirley visits Catherine in prison and learns that she has been arrested for arson and attempted murder, having tried to destroy the office of the doctor who prescribed a medication for dialysis-related anemia that nearly killed her. Shirley plans to plead temporary insanity, which has the advantage of very likely being true, though as she is explaining this to Carl, Jerry comes in dressed as Little Bo Peep. Turns out his calendar had Halloween on the wrong day. Jerry is devastated, thinking this will hurt his chances of making partner, and Katie is irritated at Carl for suggesting that the office is too grownup a place for something as juvenile as Halloween.
The details of Catherine's case aren't worth reiterating, since we've already had a case on this show about big pharmaceutical money and how it's bought doctors as well as the FDA and Congress; suffice to say that the doctor prescribed a drug produced by a company that was giving him a rebate, Catherine took it and had a heart attack, and when she recovered, she was so furious at having her life threatened by someone whom she had trusted that she set out to punish him. Shirley does a fine job asking the jury to put themselves in her place, imagining having a heart attack and thinking they're going to die on their own kitchen floors because their doctor wanted his rebate. Of course Catherine is found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity, because this is Boston Legal.
Meanwhile Alan just wants a cigar, which the other cowboys for the week think may give them cancer. Sulking in the tent, he wants to go home, but Denny has bigger problems on his mind, quite literally: he has had an erection for more than four hours and wants Alan to take a look at it. Alan shrieks, Denny goes out to piss, sees a sheep and a crime very nearly occurs, but Alan talks Denny into coming back into the tent. And then a crime does occur: Denny sneaks out, seduces Irene while Ian is away, and is then trapped inside their tent when Ian stumbles in drunk and snuggles him. Alan comes in to help Denny sneak out, Irene comes in and screams, and in the morning, the dude ranch owner -- who is also a constable -- arrests Denny for adultery under Utah law, and Alan for aiding and abetting.
Katie keeps after Carl, asking him whether he was always proper and stuffy, which Carl resents -- he thinks he was quite the hipster in high school. Shirley tells Carl that she likes him as a fuddy-duddy -- if America elects John McCain, after all, we'll have a Fuddy-Duddy in Chief, Elmer Fuddy-Duddy -- but Carl wants to talk seriously both about his own mother's death from an untested ulcer drug and about the future of the firm, which he thinks is in big trouble for as long as they excuse Denny's behavior as all in good fun. Back in Utah, Alan wants to represent himself and starts ranting about how dare Utah prosecute just one side of an adultery case when they ignore polygamists; the judge tells him that he can't represent himself, so Melvin steps in, telling the judge that he doesn't like Alan or Denny much but after taking on the Supreme Court and winning, they're certain to walk all over Utah. The judge dismisses the charges and says that Alan and Denny are banned for life from the state. (Eh, gay marriage will probably never be legal there, anyway.)
Alan and Denny arrive home just in time to see Carl, Jerry, and Katie heading out to a Halloween party...Jerry still dressed as Bo Peep, Carl as a French maid, and Katie as a sheep. Denny promptly flings himself on Katie, whom Jerry and Carl valiantly defend, Jerry thwacking Denny with his Peep staff. On the balcony, Denny tells Alan he's glad they got to spend time together, though Alan protests that Denny only had eyes for the sheep, and demands a real vacation. They agree that they looked hot in their cowboy outfits, which Denny is still convinced Irene appreciated. Alan says Ian and Melvin will never have a best friend like Denny, saying they're blessed, which inspires Denny to apologize about the erection. Alan declares himself over it, still waxing rhapsodic, saying they're the best couple he knows. And they only get better, adds Denny as they poke their cigars high into the air over their mouths.