Winter in the Summer House
By Robert N. Watson
Home is a place we never notice
Needing much repair, and coming back
Year after year, the separated man
Filled the cracks in the hardwood floors with his own dust.
The house no longer creaked, or he no longer heard it;
The walls were painted but not covered;
Tiles of flint lay crossward on the lawn;
The trees were a silent siege; the heat went on.
As if he were custodian, he kept his tools
In pegboard tracings; sawdust neatly piled
Along the jagged band; a vise in waiting,
Capable of holding till the glue was dry.
The same old Dodge still lurched from neutral
Into gear; old leaves hissed in the vents;
Backing out was the only gamble,
And by now he knew this road so well.
Deadpan breakfasts, cakes with molasses—
All that remained from his little version
Of the triangle trade, with its casks of whiskey,
And captives in the hold who salted the Atlantic.
As if to prove he wasn't still at sea,
He put dramatic lights up in the branches
And all the same old people in their places,
Triumphantly discarding in an evening game of hearts.
If only he had made a little room for her,
Or made a play; if, in between the deals,
He'd made a modest bid; a run in suits;
Or cast away a hopeful flush to keep the pair.
From this week's New Yorker.
It was a quiet Monday around here enlivened by washing and folding laundry, a bit of online fall shopping -- though older son is still going to have to be dragged into a store to replace the things he's outgrown -- and the arrival of my prizes from a contest by the author and artist Kris Waldherr of The Book of Goddesses and two of my favorite Tarot decks, who created two decks of cards based on her book Doomed Queens -- one a poker deck, one an advice deck. I would undoubtedly have bought these for myself anyway, so it was really nice to win them, though I am going to buy the poker deck as a gift for a couple of people anyway.
Otherwise our only excitement was tracking down the first episode of Sherlock, which I enjoyed with some reservations. As I think I said the other day about Sherlock Holmes, I'm not particularly a fan of Conan Doyle -- my son has read far more than I have -- so I don't have much of an agenda when it comes to the settings, adaptations of stories, etc., but my usual TV-watching preferences apply, and while I know that a certain degree of sexism is canon, I'd hoped that in a modern adaptation, there would be a stronger female presence right from the start.
Okay, I like the landlady not being sure if they want one bedroom or two, but she's clearly the kindly motherly get-tea figure, and adulteress-mediocre cop could turn either villain or policegirl to be consistently outshown by Holmes if she shows up again, and that's about it. I did enjoy all the "we're not dating" mistakes and some of the dialogue ("That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever done." "And you invaded Afghanistan.") ("I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high functioning sociopath.") and I like both the lead actors, though I keep seeing Arthur Dent with a short haircut chasing after Merlin's older brother. I'll see how I like the second episode, I suppose!
The Potomac River wasn't anywhere near flood stage yesterday in spite of the rain, however; we could see the constructed cement channels around Olmsted Island.
Kayakers were launching from the Virginia side of Great Falls to ride the rapids...
...and trumpet flower vines grew right over the rushing water.
This great blue heron was fishing in the C&O Canal.
There were many insects in the tall marshy grasses, including butterflies, moths, bees, beetles...
...and huge, beautiful dragonflies.
These are the mules that pull the canal boat through the lock. I bet they appreciated the cooler weather.