September 23, 2017 (Saturday)

by Yule Heibel on September 22, 2018

Today we slept until a woodpecker’s persistent and rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat woke us. It seemed to come from a window, a window frame. (I’ll have to check later today to see if there’s any damage on the woodwork.)

Yesterday was the beginning of fall, and the weather was appropriately autumnal: very cool, rainy, full of clouds and wind.

But just at this moment, as I look out the window, a team of cirrus horses is galloping across the sky, paralleling the horizon, a vivid flow and skeletal outline in white, illuminated by the sun trying to pierce the otherwise still thick and far more uniform blanket of smooth gray. But now Apollo’s “horses” – those cirrus clouds – have forged a path: the mud of gray which mortared closed the sky is breaking open, the sun is pouring in, and also blinding me a bit too intensely as I sit at my desk.

I had to lower the blind, for comfort’s sake. We “blind” ourselves for comfort’s sake too often, I bet.

Yesterday I met with Z. We both dressed up for the occasion, as we tend to do for one another. I wore the cropped wool pants in dark charcoal gray, oversized lightweight sweater in lighter gray (without camisole or bra or underwear of any kind), white zip-up Vans, no socks, and a chic raincoat with just the right kind of drape.

She told me about meeting a very famous woman years ago when she was still a child; the famous woman had come to visit her family for some reason. Impressed by the older woman’s stylishness and importance, Z. told her that she liked her “scent,” a word choice that made her feel mature and grownup. It was a French perfume, and later on the famous visiter had her chauffeur deliver a whole bottle of the stuff. Of course Z. never forgot the precious encounter or its generous gift.

The stuff by which childhood memories are vivified.

She wanted me to take a look at a book review written by Hanna Rosin for the NYT Book Review, a glowing review of a book whose author seemed intent on tearing down American history, starting with the beginning and going right up to the “stolen” election: the dastardly Puritans and everything they spawned, and from there a kind of tarring of the whole country. While I hadn’t read the book, its description sounded undifferentiated to me, and I said that I don’t like books like that. We then discussed politics and social mores. I defended the idea of borders, of national sovereignty, the nation-state, and even economic nationalism. I caught Z. out in one of her own contradictions: she defends Ireland against English oppression, but I pointed out that it was the nation-state which gave Ireland freedom to stand, to get up off its knees.

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