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Cemeteries August 26, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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At the end of last month, we visited with friends who were vacationing in Stonington, Connecticut, a town next to the one where my mother grew up. It’s also close to Mystic, where my cousin and uncle are buried—the cousin who died suddenly at the ripe old age of thirty-two.

For me, one of the highlights of this minivacation was going with Tim and my friends to Eric and Charlie’s grave sites, opening a bottle of good wine, and toasting them heartily. (Eric was becoming a bit of a connoisseur, so it was only fitting.) It is a beautiful cemetery. It felt good to be there, good to have friends who were game, good to engage in this ritual. I left the cork nestled among the grasses of the lovely planter that Lorayne, Eric’s landscape architect sister, had placed there.

mysticwine

This past Saturday, Tim and I had plans to hear an alto recorder/viol de gamba/harpsichord trio in a town a couple of hours away. (From Parts West, almost anyplace else you want to go in Vermont ends up being a couple of hours away.) We arrived a bit early (having never been to this particular town and having left ourselves plenty of time in case afternoon flood warnings turned true), so we decided to take a tour of the cemetery. Up the long hill we hiked, near the top of which we found a delightful headstone marking a couple’s resting spot: a black granite bench, free for the sitting. If it hadn’t recently rained, we might have made ourselves comfortable, lingered. It was so . . . inviting. And the view was spectacular.

Heading back down the hill, I turned a corner and saw this:

coffin

I had not known he was buried in Vermont, but there he was, next to his son.

The day after I toasted my cousin and uncle in Mystic, Ira died. He’s a dear friend of the family, one of my parents’ tight-group-of-eight-friends. He’s the first to go. His memorial service is Saturday.

On Friday, my sister and I will drive 8 hours to the old hometown. On Saturday we will attend what I imagine will be a standing-room-only service at the college where Ira taught. That night we will drive 4 hours back and stay with a friend in New Jersey, then drive the last 4 hours home on Sunday.

There will be no cemetery this time.

But I’m beginning to wonder which concept is harder to wrap my brain around: that of the infinite? or that of the finite?

What is this thing called “gone”?

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Quiet Week of Quiet Blog August 20, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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There must be something to say about these hot, hot days of summer and the occasional dips in the river. There must be something to say about all the recent parties and receptions tossed playfully in amongst my deadlines. There must be something to say about my fabulous weekend with old friends and winning my first-ever bet on a horse, something to say about the Chris Smither concert, the carnival at Wells, the stargazing, the fly-fishing festival. There must be something to say about one friend’s death and another’s diagnosis and about that beautiful-but-no-longer-living cedar waxwing I found on my front porch just two days ago. There must be something to say. Mustn’t there?

For Sioux, who, at Sunday dinner out, assigned each attendee the writing of a poem about the event, and to whom I then said yeah, right, maybe a haiku: August 13, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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the waitress didn’t
know her gins but Tim sniffed out
the Hendricks quickly

Quotable August 11, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Someone who lives on Indian Court: “I saw a news headline, ‘Indian Court Decriminalizes Gay Sex.’ They weren’t talking about my street, were they?”

Someone who entertains several lovers, in a conversation about STDs: “Hopefully, they’re all as monogamous as me.”

Someone at the news that a particular woman had met her soul mate: “I met my soul mate. He was an asshole.”

The Power of Water August 5, 2009

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Minutes after I posted my confession, the phone rang. It was Sioux.

“The tree is gone,” she said.

Immediately, I thought of the big old sycamore in front of her house and panicked a little. “Tree?”

“The one in the river.”

Sioux is a Route 153 Summer Person. Her property boasts (posted) access to the swimming hole. This past winter, the river deposited a dead tree in such a fashion that it bisected the best part of the hole. Even I, ever respectful of Nature and of River Structure for the health and happiness of fish, was not overly pleased about where this tree had ended up. It was huge, and the bulk of it was beneath the surface. The question Do chain saws work underwater? was regularly posed. How could this thing be gotten rid of?

It had rained enough to raise the river to the point of sweeping the tree further downstream. Somewhere.

“The island is almost covered,” she said. “You should come see it before you go.”

But of course, I could not. I was trying to meet a deadline and pack before leaving for a long weekend to a non–Route 153–type place, during which I was planning to not work.

The trip away from here (more than an hour into the drive) necessitated a detour from the planned route because of a closed road, no doubt a result of the storm. So on Monday, we came home a different way. We approached Parts West and Route 153 from River Road. Sioux lives at the T and the bend of the river. Even before we got to the stop sign, we could see that she and Duke and Aidan were swimclad and heading down to the water. We were enthusiastically welcomed home and invited to join them.

Ah, Route 153. Still a couple of miles from my house and already there is a welcoming committee.

We went home, unloaded the car, and I even unpacked. Then I put the pressure on Tim to hit the river—with any luck, before our friends left. I wanted to see it.

It had been almost five days since the Big Rain, and six days since I’d been immersed in those flowing waters, but still, it was a very different river from the one I’d last seen.

The water was high and swift, and it was a tougher crossing to the now-much-smaller exposed spit of land we call the island. The island had stopped the tree. The day Sioux had called, she wasn’t sure where the tree had landed, which means that the river had been really, really high. A T-shirt hung off a branch to dry. Sioux warned us, though, that she’d hung a hat there, which fell into the water and was swept away before she had any idea of it.

My “swimming” in the river generally consists of this: I wade slowly but surely into the cold water. Eventually—and usually with much prodding from Aidan, who sometimes has already dunked herself and sometimes has not—I swim headfirst into it. The shock is alarming and wonderful. The air is usually hot enough that the dip is truly refreshing. Then I wade out, dry off, and hang out on the island, chatting with Sioux and whomever else, admiring the birds and the view. Occasionally there is more swimming than this, but usually it’s just a cooling-off-and-hanging-out thing.

The river was strong and cold. I felt I’d been baptized back into life on Route 153.

As I said last week, I’m sure Rain did a lot of damage that night. But he and the River Gods (is he one of the River Gods, I wonder?) saw fit to give us back our swimming hole. And for that, we mortals are grateful.