It Is Always Thursday

I find that meaningfulness slips away, in this strange and timeless time.

Timeless time?

It is not just that every day is Thursday—nose still to the grindstone but you’re flagging, looking forward to some future easing of the tension. It is more than that.

It is the abrupt unmooring from all of the things that anchor us to the continuum.

At the beginning of the initial lockdown period at the end of March, I turned off my alarm clock. I figured, why?

These pandemic days have their own flow. I float from duty to duty. Responsibility to responsibility. To the child. To my home. To the dog. To my work. To my body and mind, if I still can drum up some oomph.

I believed, at the beginning, that I would have so. much. time. To be creative. To engage in something new. To do something different.

But I find that much of that extra time is spent in a sort of uneasy repose.

There are regularities, to be sure. Every morning, there is coffee with the New York Times crossword (270 solved in a row, as of this morning) and word puzzles. There is the feeding of the dog and child. There is a single record, the first side spent in general straightening, the second spent watering plants (Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ this morning).

(These things are necessary. The only real routine I can commit to, for now.)

Then the workday begins.

It sounds as though that’s a late start, but even without the alarm clock, I never sleep later than 6, so I am almost always working by 9, which is also when school begins. Band is first.

The flute warmup sounds like morning.

The workday is far less straightforward. I don’t try to cram it all into an 8-hour (or less) time slot in order to finish and get home. I work until I lose focus, and then I do something else. Walk the dog. Bake cookies. Hang some laundry up to dry. And then I work some more. And maybe nap. And work. And cook.

(No doom scrolling. No doom scrolling. No doom scrolling.)

There has been a lot of doom scrolling.

There also has been a lot of sleep, at all times of the day. And often I am asleep well before 10 o’clock. More than often.

Beyond the formless days, there are so few Events to mark the past eight or more months. So very few interactions to work their way around my head. So few meaningful and useful provocations. So little stands out, and the few happenings that do adhere seem almost a dream, compared to the nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day grind.

The timeless time.

Meaningfulness slips away, and I grasp for every sense of Something More that I can get.

Yesterday morning, I opened the front door, and a red-breasted nuthatch flew so close I could feel the air it stirred. It alit on a branch of the gnarled lilac that soldiers on by the front porch.

I think I said, “Oh my!”

And then, “Well, hello.”

We contemplated each other for a minute, then simultaneously grew nervous, and it flew away.

About 20 minutes later, as I was walking the dog around the Marsh, two deer marched right out of the firebreak and came straight at me, as though they knew I would not hurt them. As though I were one of them. Unwary. The dog, a good companion for Outside, stayed very still and quiet, as always. Watchful, but unobtrusive.

They startled to something behind that I could not see, and passed us closely. Again, so close I could feel the air they stirred. The hairs stood up on my arms.

These are the Events now. These minute interactions with the immediate neighborhood, and most of it not human.

This is what to grasp and hold onto like driftwood amid these waves of timeless time.

Until there is some shore, or the waves pull us below, this will have to do.

Last

We are small astronomers, and it is our last sunny day.

There is a chill creeping in, these mornings.

You have outside chores.

I sweep. I water plants. I hang the laundry out on the line. It is my method in the madness.

But I think I get it now.

(I do not want to.)

I do.

Do not test this theory against our darkness.

Keep us in the light. Make us last.

How we make it a constant amidst the ebb-and-flow.

Let the fall take us, as it does.

We can take it.

fieldnotes 8.22.17

Follow

When you think the falling finished,
you find it’s just begun.

You changed your face,
leaned back in your chair,
turned over one hand and I was caught.

The effect of gravity —
balanced on the wire between yourself and the world,
and fanning the flame of a disastrous crash.

We put on a good show.
We say what is true,
but behind a facade.
Eyes lowered.

Kicking and stomping where no one can see I get heartsore and I mean sore of heart like a bruise tender to touch and a pulling tide so fierce I look for the rope to break.

So I lie and say what never will be,
because the never already is,
even if only obliquely.
And the cottonwoods are half gone —
at once, as it is with me.
I stopped and started giving it all up.
I stopped and started giving it all away.

We are still closer to the moon than the sun-our-one-true-love.

How you arrived in its final crescendo.
How I followed behind, in the fade.



8.22.17

(81/66, windy)

chickadees. blue heron. sandhill crane. wood ducks and grebes. bluejay. baby bunnies, still. goldenrod’s just about to pop, here. gray and lovely. cool and breezy. a catbird. little group of kingbirds. robins. hummingbird. sun for a second. fuzzy fluffy thistles. raspberries done. ghost in a daydream. indiangrass blooming. goldfinches. walnuts starting to turn. leopard frog. coopers hawk. huh… a woolly bear.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 8.15.20

The Stranger Kind

It is something to find them —
those who still look and see good.

Good black soil for our stranger seeds.

Erosion is inevitable,
but no negative force.

One sun comes and we are at odds with it.
Another sun shines on the beauty in its wake.

It is something to feel it —
how the wire lights bone and blood,
their hungry roots —
how we get hooked.

The uncomfortable predators.
The feast that can’t be forced.

One moon comes and we are taken with it.
Another shines on the beauty in its wake.



8.15.17

(82/68)

bluejays. an oriole. grebes. mallards. towhee. juvenile coopers hawk? field sparrow.
(myself to myself: if you want to walk into these dense weeds, you’re going to get wet.)
(myself back to myself: so what? you’ll dry.)
goldfinch in the thistle. bluebirds in the walnuts. dragonflies and dragonflies. more field sparrows. a catbird. fox sparrow. big bluestem flowering. smells sweet. 2 monarchs. field sparrows eating the raspberries, which are fading. not many sweet ones left. at the pond, a heron wades and turtles sunbathe. I scare some frogs. Swallowtail.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 8.10.17

Higher

I don’t like it,
but can’t pretend that nothing comes of it.

So maybe you can miss me.
Maybe you can make something of missing me.
A near miss,
and then you must miss me.

I am not stepping on spiders or caterpillars.
I meant what I said, about bad bones.
(Did you think this was shallow water?)

Is it breaking a rule to relent?
Who falls first?

(You think it is you.
I think it is me.)

That’s how we get higher,
and stay so,



8.10.17

(83/62)

prairie coneflower. queen annes lace. goldfinches. the august things. a bright yellow sulphur. catbird. bee balm. cicadas and wind in cottonwood. locusts. how august is simultaneously lazy and urgent. robins. some of the summer visitors already gone, but just beginning to get migratory. all of it. and all of us with it, were it as it should be. this is the transition. maybe this time i can weather it well. barn swallows. bluebird atop the mullein. goldenrod. my favorite. just starting to open. two hawks. bluejay. sparrows singing. purple coneflower. in the sun the black raspberries make me as sad as the cottonwood seeds. there are definitely fewer swallows. indigo bunting. a monarch. swallowtail. flicker. phoebe. sunflowers. joe pye weed. big snapping turtle. a LOT of snapping turtles. 3 killdeer and 3 swallows. water lilies. silly chickadees. indigo bunting. buggy, but much less so. bluebird. redwings also conspicuously absent. flock of cedar waxwings in their usual place. mallards. white egret. cormorant. flock of robins. little blue butterfly.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

the quarantine cocktail project (unfinished)

old fashioned. old fashioned. hot toddy. old fashioned. gold rush . gin and tonic . mudslide . martini . bloody mary . boulevardier . blarney stone . rosita . white russian . i dream of jeanie martini . maiden’s prayer . mexican madras . black russian . blue margarita . ruby martini . hot jamaican . rum swizzle . bahama mama . gold martini . cosmopolitan . white spider . algonquin . monkey gland . old fashioned. gorilla tit . love potion . french twist . hairy navel . blue shark . heatwave . pink fetish . pina colada . grass skirt . screaming orgasm (a disappointment, frankly) . heatwave. planter’s punch. la conga . woo woo . sex on the beach . blue monday . honolulu lulu . russian quaalude . heatwave. old san juan . french martini . blue hawaiian . bay breeze . gin sling . spiced rum coco martini . matador . bourbon a la creme . florida special . tidal wave . gin and sin . classic daiquiri . antibes . acapulco . west indian punch . pinerito . kentucky mule . heatwave . woo woo

fieldnotes 8.3.17

Sovereign

You were talking so much from both sides of your mouth,
you never could hear what I said.
So this is the crucible.
This, the crux.
Now,
in the golden month,
I listen to listen to the lion.
Embrace sovereign ferocity,
but tenderly,
tenderly so.
Resist, without cruelty.

I want to be in the body unseen,
sovereign.
I want to be in the body,
unseen.

Sovereign, monarchs in the milkweed,
a source of light within,
a lingering but continual movement forward
toward the source.
Migratory.
We are wind- and storm-battered,
and still unfinished.

Two faces never stopped talking,
and I wore the forked moon like a crown.
Sovereign,
I still could not make him hear me.



8.3.17

(83/65)

i am too angry to see or hear birds. but soon this place will center me again. begin with cicadas, high in the oaks. let the sound drown out the other. and now, here and there. cardinal. goldfinch. it is too bright. the birds are all just silhouettes. bird facades. I cannot distinguish. meadowlark. bobolink. blue jay. thistle and mullein and dragonflies. song sparrow. sulphur. robin. bluebird. another bluebird. dripping sweat. goldfinches fearless and close. the berries are the perfect ripe. like the fluffy seeds, I want to share them. patience. patience. towhee. goldfinches. prairie coneflower and bee balm. a very big swallowtail. mosquito bite. there will be more. anger and relenting. there will be more. unforgiven, there will be more.
and you,
you spoil me, so I miss you. cormorant. purple martin. water lilies. i get dizzy standing. you couldn’t wait for waking. and I can find you easy.
Tanager. joe pye. goldenrod almost ready.
almost ready.
say the words. say it with me.
leave me Alone.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 5.9.17


5.9.17

(61/43)

goldfinches before the trail. white crowned sparrow. rosebreasted grosbeaks. orchard oriole singing. redwings. cowbirds. cardinal. tree swallows. coyote pup! gangly. chilly. little flock of song sparrows. little flock of white-crowned sparrows. robins. is a green-gray day. spring flowers celebrate the wet. peepers.
the coyote’s growing into his feet disappears over a low hill to hide and watch.
we do not sing to soothe,
but to expose what seethes inside the frayed network
to settle in the bone and Become.
How we are incapable of premeditation,
field sparrows. baltimore oriole.
how silence seems a selfish choice.
i hope you were not worried.
i’ve been expecting the worst.
clockwatchers. mapgazers. preoccupation. preoccupation.
and i love this constant surprise.
‘you’ll be careful not to hide. i’ll be careful not to seek’
bluebird. meadowlark. everything singing. song sparrows and white-crowned again. thrasher. catbird. the air overwhelming sweet. and now dozens of white-crowned sparrows. cardinals. goldfinches. bluejay. baltimore oriole. rosebreasted grosbeak. field sparrows.
bobolinks!
scruffy coopers hawk. tree sparrows. could use some reassurance. will have to settle for muddy feet. 3 cormorants. big blue heron. palm warblers and bluebirds follow in a friendly-feeling way. walk into the woods for a pitstop and find lily of the valley. yellowrumped warblers. red trillium still. wild geranium. mayapples starting to open. big white trillium still going.
there is something i want to be true.
but i never will know it is,
will i?
still,
whether finite or not,
it is nice, for a moment,
to be embodied.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 5.5.17

Chrysalising

What was that?
I couldn’t quite catch it ‘midst my distraction.
Was it?
Seemed like hope.

I make no secret of how I am to be found.
But there’s none to find.

Tally up each stronger step.
Here comes the sun,
nectar still to sip.

And getting there is easier than you might think.
Don’t reach.
Let silence be silence,
come to fill us up again.

Someday we’ll wake
to inhabit
a new unknown.



5.5.17

(60/42)

mourning cloak. song sparrow. redwings. tree swallows. robins. redtail hawk. peepers. cardinals. blue heron. bluebird. a ridiculously gorgeous day. goldfinches. brown thrasher. cowbird. hear a meadowlark and bobolink but can’t see them. too many distracting redwings and swallows. aha! here’s the meadowlark anyway. fox sparrow. field sparrows. friendly. blue heron. couple hawks playing in the wind. bluebird. kingbird. red admiral. the mayapples have mayapples. violets and red trillium. wild geranium. ‘one night the howlin dog cries out lonely life.’ canada geese. cormorants.

Notes:
Quote 1: (howlin dog): Edie Brickell & New Bohemians / ‘This Eye’ on Ghost of a Dog (1990)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 5.4.17

Our Green Music

Waiting for this —
your healing sun —
I slipped through the door
and out into a gray wind,
but it was still just a ghost in the clouds.

It was 20 years of badluck birthday cake and blind paralysis.

We get too old and see,
but we can still swap our hands to warm them.

Mourning dove follows,
curious.
and the green is best when it’s growing into itself,
our floods not quite clockwork.

Everything that means something
means something else
and more.
We bury our motives —
bare hands in fat black dirt,
cultivated hymns,
mad chants —
when all we want is to be warm.



5.4.17

(53/44)

blue herons circling in. spring peeper. redtail hawk. redwings. goldfinches. tree swallows. barn swallow. white egret. the shyest sparrows. baby geese in the inlet. very busy fox sparrow. 2 peepers where the water is high. song sparrow. catbird. meadowlark. goldfinches are busy. oh! a bobolink! (a favorite favorite) cowbirds. bluejay. towhee. field sparrows. walnuts and some of the little spindly oaks starting to leaf out. more cowbirds. chipping sparrow. buzzy. cormorant. white egret. skunk cabbage starting to get big. marsh marigold is done. hundreds of swallows over the river. toadshade. valerian. wild geranium. large-flowered trillium. all the violets.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)