First snow on the tip of the Cape. Tiny stars of flakes that have grown larger in the half hour I’ve been watching them, drifting in a dance of their own. No wonder Tchaikovsky composed the Nutcracker, because the snow today is a child-like ballet, full of quiet wonder that captivates as it builds to scene after scene. The snow remains delicate, twirling–a most extraordinary snow or am I watching drift?
No, having stepped out, like an explorer on her suburban terrace, I confirm the weather: snow, as verb, active.
It is grainy, not the texture I remember from Boulder where the flakes were enormous, and signaled storm more than scatter. Here, I think of ice, but that is because I think of car, and the roads here that seem like San Francisco’s (sort of, because as a friend from Cali once said, oh, people on the East Coast always refer to hills as mountains.) I think of ice only in anticipation of tomorrow, but not being in Colorado, but seaside, I should probably not anticipate. In general, anticipatory worry is good to put aside.
Dance. Snow. Small flakes. Season of lights, sugar plums, winter naps.
Having returned from reading Bhanu Kapil’s brilliant Was Jack Kerouac a Punjabi blog, I realized how far I’ve come from the planning of my days to a semester’s schedule. At this time last year, or even this year, if I were teaching in Illinois, I would be handing in my final grades, asking a friend to water plants, and heading home for the holidays with a copy of my Spring syllabus and some books to read. I will still be heading home to New Jersey where there might be a tree or two, starry skies, and maybe snow. There has been no snow on the Cape so far, and this December has felt like October–bracing, if not balmy at times. Isn’t another definition of balmy Global Warming?
It’s quiet, though, unlike October; the leaves have fallen, and the crowds have become weekenders. It’s still; time slows down, even if it’s Sunday. It feels like I am caught in a moment of hover.
It’s only three o’clock.
I think of Fanny Howe’s book, “O’Clock” which is a perfect holiday gift to give everyone.
I think of Murakami’s 1Q84 which I will read in January.
I think of the new Kate Atkinson I will take to NJ with me.
I hope this time I’ve got my niece the shell she wanted.
The reason for my move to this seaside town is that my name was pulled out of a hat, real or metaphorical, as one of two recipients for three-year residencies courtesy of The Fine Arts Work Center, providing affordable housing for artists and writers. I’m told only four people applied for the two spots, which gave me a 50% chance, but in any case, more ex-Fellows ought to apply because the place is quite nice.
To be honest, I must plan everything a bit more here because there is no plan, except the large ones. Teaching had always provided me a structure to my days, as well as the constant interaction with reasonably bright and intelligent young students. Now I find I miss the way my days were ordered, although I could, say, follow my old schedule for class: write instead of teach for an hour and a quarter, have a fifteen minute break and stretch, and continue on until lunch. Then I all would have to do was get through the two o’clock to four o’clock afternoon–always a rather dreaded abyss of time for me, but once it was four o’clock, ease returned. Now, that abyss has gone, along with the strong sunlight of that time in the West, but then so has the 300 hundred days of sun, the mountains, my sangha. Now I wonder, what exactly am I doing here? Writing yes. I find myself taking jaunts to town where I introduce myself as newcomer to shop owners. A gentleman proprietor told me, seeing right through my apparent interest in beautiful things, that the hard work would be the work, and told me he wanted to see a novel completed in a year’s time, and a Pulitzer.
Today I read some of Edward Hirsch’s forward to The Everyman Library edition of Keats poems and letters (Edward Hirsch forward to John Keats) and felt exhilarated and connected to a world of words. This is how it happens. We read words and get ready to write. We remember Annie Dillard and look to lay out a string of words. We untangle knots, smooth out the lines, discard the hopeless, attend the Muse.