It’s getting to be the middle of the night. I forgot to post before we went out of town. I’ve been emailing myself all weekend.
One thing I haven’t reminded myself to write about is the strange sense that my evolving technical skill has something to do with Nate Hudson, a dead man.
He used to proudly say that some people said he drew like a machine. I never saw the reason to be proud of this, but I feel my hand becoming more steady, my lines more sure. Not a machine, but something more careful than a human hand seems to move the pencil. A human heart, perhaps.
He was a good man, ruined by his experience as such. My mother wanted to kill him for what he did. I wanted to forgive him and, eventually, thank him. The light seems brighter when you’ve seen true dark. A long story. Not for today…or possibly ever. This egg reminded me of his sketches and I felt for a moment that perhaps strange magic was at work, bestowing upon me only the best from those I’ve loved and lost, let fly away.

I knew it was early. The stars were shining their full dead light. I put on coffee, mixed it 1/2 warm with my father’s low fat milk. Sour. The dogs were dark shapes in the yard, hulking and slinking, disappearing but for the sound of their feet.
Upstairs, we fell asleep for a few more minutes and then somehow the kids were up, desperate to go to the beach, whiny and 1/2 awake. The boys face twisted from unshaken dreams and frustration at my apparent confusion. “I need some coffee.”
“What time is it?”
The windows still offered only thick dark.
My mother, looking confused, “It must be barely 5:00.”

My father came in, mysteriously
dressed. Shirt buttoned, pants belted.

Olive found the coloring books, was doing mazes with a pen.
“Oh, wait!” I saw the direction she was going, was wrong.
“No, I got it!” She was certain and a little peeved that I doubted a dead end was just where she intended to go.

The beach was monochromatic, the sky still uniformly
lit with only the vague light of the 1/2 (3/5?) moon. The lights of the pier and the Holiday Inn
looked orange and still. I knew that my father and the boy had walked away from them. South.
The dogs, unleashed, bounded ahead of me. Thrilled at the open space, at the opportunity to squat at the edge of the dunes unscolded.
The wind swept any sound away and replaced it with its own dull rush.


(2 days ago)

The land appeared to merge with the sky after the last set of beachfront homes. I knew, by virtue of logic, that it went on. I sort of wished I didn’t know that the coast continued…it would have looked much cooler if I was uncertain as to whether or not this small edge could be the end of the world.
So much of how we see things is dictated by what we know to be “true.”

The hermit crabs gather in sloughs, still around the edges until a curious hand covets their home. Then the shells come alive and dance in crazy lines, never actually going anywhere because the cold deep water keeps them in the shallows.

The sky is pink, the sun is rising. I’ve been up for hours.

I caught a sinker my father had cast. Certain it was something alive.

The boy caught a redfish! This is the magic of my father. Despite his subtle misanthropy, the man knows just how to catch a redfish.
The boy was proud and I was happy to see his thin chest puffed out, his mouth twitching into his rare grin. Why is pride a sin?
Here is the answer:
“Have other kids from Asheville ever caught a redfish that big?”
I answered honestly, “No, bud. Probably not too many of them.”
But I see how easily pride becomes boastful. Shadows the humility that tempers our human inclination to outsmart and improve upon “nature” as we see fit.
To elevate our individual experiences over the experiences of our peers.
To catch that fish was a sin, in more ways than one. But, I’m still glad the boy caught it. Let children be prideful. They have their whole lives to learn how small and awful we really are.

(emailed to myself sometime last week)
I couldn’t do it today. Couldn’t bring myself to see if the hamster is still alive
It has to be nearing three years old
The awful mall pet shop where she was purchased has been closed for a year
Her companion died a few months ago
The result of a violent abcessed tumescence on her side
Actually her death was the result of a clumsy euthanization. Don’t ever try to put a dying hamster in the freezer. It is not quick it is not painless. I took her out after just three minutes – alarmed by the life evidenced by the panicked-looking holes chewed in the plastic bag. A hammer a dishtowel an unceremonious burial while the children played, oblivious, in the dining room.

show details 11:05 AM (13 hours ago)

Before I left for Folly, I put the whole hamster cage in the yard. In the corner of the chicken castle that will house nesting boxes. I piled the cage with damp lettuce, grapes, and carrots. Handfuls of seed.
The hamster I believed to be 1/2 dead emerged from her plastic cave and began happily eating. She seemed to like the strange fresh air.

(Yesterday, in the morning. A lawn chair, mosquitoes, the sun glaring through low clouds.)

Things I saw on vacation:

A pickup truck full of chrysanthemums. An old man smoking a cigar was driving. He did not seem nearly as delighted by his cargo as I was.

A bison and a panting Black Bear. I hadn’t taken the children to Charlestowne Landing since the boy was two, the girl mere months. I still had to carry the girl. She is five, in the 95th percentile for height and weight. She drew circles in the sweat on my back.
We stumbled down the dirt path, waiting to see the statue of Cassique, that the map told us would be on our right. I don’t know who Cassique is.
A pile of dull grey feathers. A bird’s misfortune.
The ribs of a ship, like wishbones. Sails framed by marsh.
A sentinel of cannons.

A dog squatting in the wavelets at the edge of the ocean.

A pelican diving. Breaking the surface with a splash that seemed to make a sound, though I was too far to hear it.

A handful of baby pompano. Caught with my father’s cast net. Held by my daughter before they slipped, gills gasping dryly, back into the ocean.

I go back to Asheville today.

I’m home. It’s late. Goodnight.

The chicks are here. In the house. They sleep in their small coop in the spare room. Huddled in the red glow of the bulb. They lie limp and sleeping, not looking very alive.
They will wake up tomorrow and the cats will crowd around the door, listening to them peep.
They have remarkably well developed posturing for creatures so small and fluffy. They strut and scratch and preen. Instinct is a beautiful thing.

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