Out the window in the night, a waxing moon is slipping in and out of the fog and dark shapes of eucalyptus and Monterey pine are swaying back and forth in the wind. I’m alone in the house with the cats, both curled up sweetly after a rampage last night that put me into a murderous rage. They must know they’ve pushed me to the limit. Today they’ve been drooping themselves across my lap affectionately, purring madly. Throttle-proofing. They’re not stupid.
I’ve been reading some family history, a great grandfather on my father’s side who sailed around the Isthmus of Panama in 1852 to San Francisco Bay and mined for gold along the Feather River. It failed to mention whether he found any. After a couple of years he went back via Nicaragua (why?) to fetch his bride in Ohio. They made their way by wagon train back across the country, first trying Kansas, where widespread malaria convinced them to keep moving, and eventually settling in the Carson Valley in Nevada, where my father was born in 1901 and spent his childhood. From their arrival in the 1700s, every generation moved farther west…until mine. We’ve all just stayed put and reproduced. No wonder California’s gotten so crowded.
Finally was able to get to the rehab pool this afternoon. It’s out by the ocean, right next to the zoo, dripping with fog, huge twisted pines and cypresses looming over the area. Sometimes you can hear zoo animals screeching and chattering. The pool is warm, 90-93°F, perfect for those of us in various stages of decrepitude who can’t move too fast. I tried different strokes, but elementary back stroke was the only one that didn’t hurt, and I kept bumping into people. So I joined a water exercise class led by a hearty woman who shouted instructions over band music blasting from the loudspeakers and three men who were loudly discussing their stock portfolios while treading water. It was kind of like a Fellini movie. But if felt great! One woman told me she’d been able to get rid of her cane since she started coming to the pool. Miracle waters.
Back home, I ate bread and cheese and pickles and thumbed through Wendell Berry’s recent book, Leavings, where I found this gem that encapsulates so beautifully the dilemma I’m always running up against when I read the morning paper:
(to my brother)
You said, “Treat your worst enemies
as if they could become your best friends.”
You were not the first to perpetrate
such an outrage, but you were right.
Try as we might, we cannot
unspring that trap. We can either
befriend our enemies or we can die
with them, in the absolute triumph
of the absolute horror constructed
by us to save us from them.
Tough, but “All right,” our Mary said,
“we’ll be nice to the sons of bitches.”
It’s been a good day