Monday, December 29, 2008

Ozarks 26.7.04: Joe-Pye Weed and Tiger-Marked Butterflies

At the cabin. We’ve yet to name it Kats Rest. The old sign, Wildernest, still hangs by the roadside, flaking and cracked from gunshot wounds (as I started to write—but can a sign be wounded?).

Or would Katsmere be more appropriate? It’s that mere, constantly moving as water falls into it and wind passes over it, that’s the heart of the cabin.

Wind, water, heart, movement: religiously charged words. Hebrew makes no distinction between breath and spirit/Spirit: ruah serves for all. God’s breath passes constantly over the world, causing it to move with delight. Send forth thy Spirit and we shall be created . . . .

And as Kathleen O’Hara said to me so many years ago, to have a soul like water so still, it mirrors back perfectly sun and sky. Or a soul instantly malleable to God’s breath, to life-giving water flowing in constantly to replenish it.

Steve said it was 62º when we awoke. Amazing for late July. We slept very comfortably with only the fans, and in fact, I got cold in the night. It’s now overcast, heavy rain clouds scudding by but dropping no rain.

Thoughts of Philander constantly. I must shut it out of heart and mind and let inner work clear my soul enough, this vacation week, that I’ll know what to do. Anything I think now leads to a mathematical equation that’s like a vise: quit, and preserve sanity and integrity, but have no health insurance or salary, leaving Steve with the whole burden, and playing into their hands. Fight, take pride in doing so, but know it’s a losing battle, and self-destruct even as I fight. And how fight there . . . and at Belmont . . . and at RAIN? What’s left of me, for me, except all fight?

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Still thinking of that recent dream about Sophia. Is this a specific wisdom dwelling inside me? The specific wisdom that is an ancient Celtic or Druidic presence in my soul—if passed on from Kate Ryan to Hattie Batchelor, then Celtic?

It’s perhaps that old woman—perhaps even an actual ancestor—that I saw once in a dream, walking up an Irish field to a byre in mist; she turned her head, shrouded by a shawl, and I looked her full in her blue eyes. Or she’s the fey old woman, Nora Bonesteel, in Sharyn McCrumb’s novels.

I contact this wisdom here in a landscape so like ones my Irish, Scottish, and perhaps English ancestors would have known: the lichen-covered rocks, the tree-clad hills, the waterfall. Poulnassy waterfall is very near Inchacarran, whence the Ryans came here. I think often of Val Ryan when I’m here, and of the stone on which he carved or had carved Bridget’s memorial. It looks to have come from the mountains.

At the opening of his chapter on beans, Thoreau speaks of how he was actually re-visiting a childhood scene, in going to Walden. His flute was waking echoes of the very waters he had seen first as a four-year-old boy.

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The butterflies have been working the joe-pye weed from—when? sunup? certainly from full sun—until now, about 5 P.M., when I see them no more. They’re all shapes, sizes, colors—black with yellow marking; black with blue (iridescent) patterns; ditto with swallowtails; creamy bright yellow; a startling blue purple—the latter two very small; tawny orange with tiger markings.

They love to sit on the sun-heated sandstone and fan out their wings. Why, I wonder?

Oh, I misspoke. Here’s a latecomer, small, black with orange spots. It’s landing on a tad of paper on the porch. Brassie takes offense at this and snaps, repeatedly, thankfully not catching it.

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