February 23rd, 2010

talks to wolves

"You will choke, choke on the air you try to breathe..."

1. Days of grey ahead, the sky spitting snow and rain.

2. The last two days have been a sort of retreat. A couple of days ago, I looked back at December, January, February— at everything that has and has not been done, at the stories written and the deadlines missed —and was so overwhelmed that I asked Kathryn if we could just spend Sunday out of doors somewhere, anywhere that wasn't the place I write. She agreed (I think she was relieved that I would ever make such a request). So, on Sunday, despite the cold and winds gusting to 24 mph., we crossed the West Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island, then drove south through Jamestown to Beavertail. It was too bitterly cold to be on the western side of the island, but there was shelter from the wind below the cliffs of slate and phyllite on the eastern side. Amid those rocks half a billion years old, we watched a flock of Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus), a species neither of us had seen before, in amongst the gulls and cormorants. Right now, there's a wonderful variety of ducks and geese at Beavertail, including eiders (Somateria mollissima), brants (Branta bernicla), and Black scoters (Melanitta nigra). In the cliffs, among the boulders, there were pools of ice, frozen meltwater draining from the land above the bay, and lingering banks of snow. The day was beautiful and calming, and even so close to home, it was easy to pretend there were no other human beings anywhere on the planet. I sat in the brilliant sun and made notes in my Moleskine. Later, we headed farther east, to West Cove, where we hunted beach glass and bones washed up with all the flotsam. We stayed almost until dark.

And then, yesterday, we went back. It was a little warmer yesterday, and there was no wind to speak of, so it felt much warmer. At Beavertail, more birdwatching, and then we hiked along the steep cliffs, as far north as the great sloshing chasm at Lion's Head, about half a mile northeast of the lighthouse. Later, we went back to West Cove, and Kathryn found an enormous piece of dark blue beach glass (one of the rarer colors). We found the bones of birds and fish in among the cobbles and pebbles. We listened to noisy jays and crows. The world and all the crap it foists upon us felt very, very far away. This morning, I'm quite sore, bruised, and slightly sun-burned, but think perhaps I've rediscovered some much needed clarity. There is no comfort in all the world like the sea. And, between the two days, we took about a hundred and fifty photos, which gives me photos to post for several days. I'm even in a couple. Here's the first set, from the eastern side of Beavertail on Sunday:

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3. Rhetorical question: Is it not bad enough that I've had to despair for my own screwed-up generation, but that I have to also despair for all these increasingly screwed-up generations that have followed after?

4. Today, I'll begin the second piece for Sirenia Digest #51. I've shelved "Persephone Redux"; it was simply too ambitious for the time allotted. However, I do intend to finish it someday, and will be including the first section in #51, as a sort of bonus bit.

5. If you've not yet pre-ordered The Ammonite Violin & Others, that's easy to remedy. The platypus and the dodo are of the opinion that it's going to be one of my best short-fiction collections to date. I am not presently inclined to disagree.