Category Archives: Summer

Animal presence

Dahlia Messenger from the Moon, 2017?

We had a blackout today which was explained as “ animal interference.” Had a squirrel chewed a wire, albeit a very important wire? Had a raccoon got trapped inside a transmitter, or a bird? Had a fox simply had enough, and pulled the switch?

It is kind of marvelous that an animal can control our lives. I don’t mean rats or fleas and the plague , but just a little outrage to throw us off kilter. We perhaps need a reset. A time out that isn’t pandemic-related.

The heron has reappeared.  It probably never went away, but when I do not see it in the mornings, I feel it is hiding until the tourists lessen.  This is my sense that seasons are changing, though in fact we are not at midway in this last hot month of summer.  And it has been hot, with an apalling lack of rain.  

Since March, we have been somewhat sequestered, probably less than strictly useful or healthy.   With summer tourism, coronavirus has risen as it must.  No one wears masks at the beach, which I guess is becuase of the idea that open spaces are safe.  Yet the common passageways, where strangers might pass one another are vulnerable points.  

I observe my annoyances and irritation, bury myself in books.  I have read some ninety novels in isolation, which hardly seems possible.  Somewhere thruways, detective stories set in the nineteenth century, or in the thirteenth.  As always, the hummingbirds provide diversion ad delight, and always flit away before I can reach for my camera.  

The mourning doves–have I yet said?–are once agin nesting, incubating two brand new eggs, their third brood.  This time, they too have sequestered themselves under some chairs, near a Tupperware box full of gardening tools.  I worry the space will be too small, but they must know what they are doing.

Mornings provide relief from the heat.  A change is coming, isn’t it?




Waiting for the Storm Isaias

Indira Ganesan, Before the Storm I, 2020

I am watching the changing light from my balcony window.  The color shifts from bright yellow to darkening threat, and back again.  The trees rustle like silk saris, and as I watch, I sense a downpour.  We could use the rain.  Elsewhere, Isaias has struck with the force of a hurricane, ripping through the Carolinas, leaving all of NJ in a state of emergency.  My mother texts, We have had no power for four hours, and no sun.  An hour later, All is well, with the power back, and the sunshine.  It is late in the day here.  I am reheating pizza on a skillet, and idly wondering what in the world am i doing in a town where after nearly a decade I know hardly anyone well.  Everyone in town is a neighbor or a stranger.  Yet if I go to my local market, I know I will receive a warm welcome, and if I were to wander, in pre-Covid days, into the radio station, I would receive the same.  If I hop in my car, and drive ten minutes to the next town, I can find old friends.  And right here, in the distance, on the horse farm, two horses with identical coats of chestnut stand side by side; all that is different is their size; one is a miniature horse. How priviledged, how lucky am I to live in such proximity to nature, to a farm. But I wonder about this life.  So much of it is spent looking out the window.

i am not a walker, or a sun-worshipper.  The beach has little interest for me beyond the shape of the waves.  I dislike summer, though i loved it as a child because it meant I could read.  Now, I am grateful for the farmers markets, and I know that if one were to live someplace during a pandemic, a beach town is pretty capital.  I have been to some some amzing concerts locally, seen great films, and attended superlative dinner parties.  So what is it that I am missing?  I wondered aloud to a frend if i had become a shut-in, but her reply was that we are supposed to be shut-ins at this point in our lives.  The mourning birds returned to coo, and I wonder if they are thinking of a third brood.  I hope they will wait for the storm to pass.

When I lived in Long Island, a friend said that we don’t have communities anymore exactly, except for what we cobble together of far-flung friends.

The storm still has not arrived.

What would it be like if my balcony were in Venice, or Delhi?  Yet one always packs a little loneliness, it seems. All is well.

Indira Ganesan, Before the Storm II, 2020


Reading Recovery

Published in the year of his death from cancer, Henning Mankell’s After the Fire is a slow examination of a seventy-year-old’s confrontation with solitude and loss.  The protagonist, a retired doctor,  lives in a archipelago being visited by an arsonist, and we begin at the site of the first fire. Finding the arsonist is relegated to the background, as what it means to live in a community where trust is replaced by wariness is explored, even as death and old age is the larger specter in the forefront.  Yet this is an optimistic novel, where friendship and family, however distant, is embraced, sometimes gingerly, sometimes with affection.

This was the one of the last books I read before I broke my wrist, but not the last book I’ve read since.  There was a fatalistic stoicism in the narrative that strikes me deeper as  I now try to fill my days with no-impact activity.  Thus constrained to cat care, lackluster weeding, a great deal of sighing, a fascination of one-handed bottle opening techniques, elevating my arm on pillows, watching repeats of mysteries, instagram, I am reading with an awareness that my situation could have been worse.  The Great Believers by the quite brilliant Rebecca Makkai, a Claire Messud novel, Elif Safak‘s Forty Rules of Love,and a wonderful novel by Caitlin Macy called Mrs. Now, biding my time, easing insomnia, I am romping through Kevin Kwan‘s Crazy Rich Asians, which will become a film*. it has an all-Asian cast, for it is story about Asians.  Apparently, one filmperson wanted the heroine to be re-cast white, but no.  She will be a wary non-rich, non-crazy Asian woman portrayed by an Asian.

Sometimes  the fates shift the balance.

*the book is different than what the film preview shows, from dialogue to fashion, alas.