Breezy here, which is great, because it’s hot. I’m on the porch watching the whitecaps roll around on the bay. We have only a tiny slice of water view, but it’s framed by branches and quite lovely. The rocking chair beside me is going as though The Invisible Man were also enjoying the afternoon. What’s a zephyr where I am is apparently a strong wind higher up; the trees are tossing their heads. An osprey with a fish in its talons just headed across the sky above the yard, struggling and pitching until it found a current it could ride. For some reason unknown to me, the ospreys don’t seem to fish where they nest. The ospreys from the beach to the north will fish in the water to the south, and the birds with a nest to the east — I have an almost-irresistible urge here to break into
The Vessel with the Pestle
but I’ll give you Danny Kaye instead.
When I got here I filled the birdfeeder, and though I had no customers in the hottest part of the day I had a house finch and some sparrows later on. Four crows were roosting in the neighbor’s apple tree. They’re a family; for the last two weeks the young ones followed their mother around making weak little “feed me” caws. That’s over now. One by one, they flew from the apple to the maple on the other side of the yard, feathery black shapes across the blue sky each with a small green fruit in its beak.
Stopped in my local deli last night on the way back from the Rancho. Young couple at the counter buying coffee. Counter guy I’ve never seen before, young, big grin, trendy glasses, says to man, “Mind if I give your girlfriend a compliment?” Man says go ahead. Counter guy turns to woman and says, “Nice ass!” Woman turns bright red, giggles. Man is stuck for a second, then says, “She loves to hear that.” Woman slaps him on the arm. They leave, her still giggling. I say to counter guy, “That may not have been what either of them was expecting.” Counter guy laughs and says, “Bet the sex will be better tonight.” “Oh,” I say, “that was altruistic?” “Yeah,” says he. “That’s what I do, travel around the world making sure everyone has great sex.”
I love New York.
The Rancho’s*** little North Fork town has a 200-year tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth. A dozen local folks take turns and everyone sits on the Historical Society lawn and listens. Since we’re the emphatically-not-the-Hamptons fork we don’t have a lot of celebrities and we’re delighted with that. But every now and then someone of note does appear. Sometimes they have places here, and sometimes they’re visiting friends. That was the case this year, and so the reading of the Declaration was led off by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
***Rancho Obesesso, the semi-nomadic summer home I’ve shared with friends for 24 years
During Ramadan. And they dare to call this a holy war.
The only counter to this brutal horror is beauty, though at times it seems weak protection. Nevertheless. This is the land the Mongol armies rode; it’s seen its share of terror. And now look.
On my corner the NYPD has put up a temporary cell tower for the Gay Pride Parade. It’s been up all week but I only saw the No Parking signs today. The photo’s not great; the top sign’s white and the bottom one’s blue. There’s no question it’s a deliberately-made rainbow.
I love New York.
Explored Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood (so called because it’s enclosed on all sides by railroad tracks) on Saturday. Ate excellent Portuguese lunch, coffee, pastry; and first-class small-batch ice cream. Roses everywhere, new park down by the river, a multitude of churches. Rain, but not until we were done and headed back to the train. Excellent expedition!
Ironbound history mural detail:
Front yard shrine:
Too much laundry in the laundry basket, not enough cat room. Bella took care of that.
Purple-hulled tugboat —
White wheelhouse, white frothy wake —
Rides on pale river.
Bagpipes, drums on pier,
Robins, chickadees, in trees,
Drowning out traffic.
Sailboats inching north.
Hard-nosed ferry plowing south.
The Cedar Valley Retreat Center has rolling grounds, many outdoor spaces for sitting and thinking, hills to climb, woods to stroll through, plus of course a couple of buildings for residence, meetings and classes. The place has another mission, too, carried out in a few buildings and fields at the front of the property. Besides hosting retreats like the the Wisconsin Writers’ Association Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp, they also do horse rescue. The first year I was here a couple of retired goats were also in residence, and their climbing structure remains though they seem to be gone. But at least two horses are living out their twilight years here. One of them plodded out of the barn yesterday to post picturesquely for both a long shot and a close-up.
Cedar Valley Retreat Center, where I’m teaching right now, is a non-denominational (but Christian-leaning) religious retreat a group like this one can rent. One of the buildings on the grounds is a chapel. This is its interior in the morning light.