June 04, 2003

Junes I Have Known

Well dear hearts, I was pure wrung out by the time I drug in at 10:00 last night. But not sleepy... oh no! I was surging with adrenalin and buzzing with all the events of the day to tell Ann when I got home. The lights were on in the house when I drove up; but she was fast asleep. Even the dog had checked out, didn't even lift his head to say "would you kindly be quiet, we didn't wait up for ya". Yes, I see that.

I'd been at it since early in the morning in preparation for this long day. I knew what it was that I must do before Tuesday's class: go through an entire year of this weblog and extract scribblings such as might not draw too many snickers, samples that might show a shred of promise and might allow an interested reader (yes! I might have one or two) at a glance (well, what I ended up with was about 50 pages, so it would have to be a longish glance) to be able to offer opinions as to just how to characterize the 'genre' or voice or audience of my collected writings. This portfolio, if I may glorify this bric-a-brac as such, I hole-punched and put in a very used three-ring binder, on the cover of which there was a clear acetate panel inviting a 'front cover'. Now: If I could just find an image to go there that depicts a rural setting. Duh. So, I set off with this tome, knowing that Dr. Higgs has specifically asked for our 'writing samples' for his perusal on Thursday after class.

Yesterday, we began by going around the circle, reading pieces of our work. Herein lies a long and separate post for later, perhaps. Suffice it to say that we did, at last, learn a good bit about each other this way. And thankfully, there was not a lot of wincing going on, as the material was generally worthy of positive criticism. Anywho: at the first break, I captured the prof before he could even stand up and stretch.

"You're not going to be with us long enough for me to be shy, so I'm gonna ask you something, and you can say no, but I felt I need to take advantage of you as resource, so... since I've been writing for a year and have already accumulated my 'writing samples' (for some of my classmates this is not the case) and have them with me today, could I get you to take a look at them sooner than Thursday. I'd really appreciate your ideas about"... et cetera.

Sure, he'd be most happy to. And so my little bundle is being scrutinized by a prefessor emeritus Pulitzer Prize nominee this morning. Gulp.

After class, and before Dr. Higgs reading last night, we had dutch treat dinner at an Italian restaurant, where the four beer drinkers sat together in the middle of the table (including Dr. Higgs who manned the pitcher and never let a glass get past half empty), there were often four highly interesting conversations going on at once in different quadrants of the table. I am accustomed to neither conversation or beverage with any, not to mention, so many interesting souls. It was a good day, and I could say much, much more of the good that may come of it. Later.

Out of my little book, and as the last reader of the day, I had to chose one short piece to read. I chose a sample that I felt illustrated several things we had talked about associated with writing themes or writers: 1) apparent defeat can be resolved with a victory; 2) some of the best writing comes from writers in periods of suffering; and 3) "If the author doesn't laugh (or cry) the reader's not going to."

The piece I read was written exactly one year ago, when I was bitter and confused and bereaved from a disappointing 'bad breakup' in my profession, totally without a map of what I might do with myself, and struggling to appreciate the blessing of solitude and beauty in the midst of this life tragedy. It is the first piece in this journal that, written, made me think there may be some redemption and solace and meaning for me in writing. And so this is what I read. (Because the version read yesterday is a later and better edit of the weblog version, I'll append it to the "read more" page...)

June, in the Summer of our Discontent

The animals have been tended, my wife and son have left for work, and I am alone watching the first rays of a humid, empty day through the windows of our worn but familiar farmhouse. I am in my slippers, merely waiting, and pointless, early into my second month "between jobs". Waiting… on epiphanies, promised calls, revelation, solace, inspiration.

There are few places I would rather be today than in our placid and remote valley in Floyd County, this land that envelops us, this country that is more like home than anywhere we have ever lived. I drink the last of the morning coffee in the midst of a sanctuary of harmony and light that my eyes and internal rhythms are just now adjusting to, and it feels to me as if a healing is taking place. Solitude, health, natural beauty, time empty waiting to be filled and a smattering of expectation... blessings brought home to me in the dark, last night.

It is late, and I am last to bed, past the usual time. I step out onto the front porch into the cool and sweet air of Early June, and sit on the top step quietly as if not to disturb the wildlife, whose nocturnal day I am entering.

The pasture grasses just beyond the maples are in full flower and their pollen smells like midnight bread baking, while Goose Creek sends up wafts of spearmint, wet mud and turbulence.

My eyes soon learn to see in darkness and I am aware of soundless flashes of summer lightning, and stars overhead. My night vision comes and goes with each flash and pause and flash. Rising from the dark field on the fragrance of grasses are tens of thousands of 'lightening bugs'. Put them in a jar and shake and watch them illumined with the cold, translucence of memory. They pulse and rise above the field in counterpoint to the tempo of the clouds, signaling ancient syllables that we could understand, if we were more often still, less guilty, and lived more in our own fields.

Gravity pulls me down and I lie on my back, on cool stone, horizontal, facing out not up, into a mock-infinity of space, wondering what is my place in this world of men and of words. Do I deserve to be so blessed among Earth's anthill of humanity? What must I do in the warmth this gentle epiphany that is revealed to me tonight, and how should I then live? Maybe I will try to find the words in the morning, after the house is quiet again and the fireflies have gone to bed and the world smells of heat and ozone and toast.

Posted by fred1st at June 4, 2003 06:40 AM | TrackBack

Just last morning I walked beneath the canopy of the twinkling starry sky but for the first time in years I stopped my steps and upwards looked and those same questions came tumbling down over me...and walked with me the whole day through from dawn till sun sat down for the day and I went in from the backyard-unanswered still...bend low ye gods of reason and tell me true just what is the cause of this blessing...thanks for writing today...I would dearly love to have those fifty pages, could you anthologize it on the web in some way or make it available to those who would pay for its cost...i would...steve gunter history teacher bentonville ar 72712 one day till summer...bummer...

Posted by: steve at June 5, 2003 04:16 AM

I think this part is beautiful:

"My night vision comes and goes with each flash and pause and flash. Rising from the dark field on the fragrance of grasses are tens of thousands of 'lightening bugs'. ...They pulse and rise above the field in counterpoint to the tempo of the clouds, signaling ancient syllables that we could understand, if we were more often still, less guilty, and lived more in our own fields."

Thanks for sharing it.

Posted by: Wendy at June 5, 2003 02:40 PM

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