Saturday, March 31, 2007

Two thousand words.

As I start nodding off over the computer, a train pulls its loud, low whistle, and I remember another reason I like this other town, in this other state.

New Age Gifts is next door to a kitchen supply store that is having a Scale Sale.

About thirty minutes from home, I saw a massive cow with her head buried, all the way, in a massive pile of hay. And birds galore. Further from home: flowers that won't bloom in Gambier until next week or, more likely, much later.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The beauty of the restaurant.

I will gladly call a restaurant beautiful.

I will call a restaurant beautiful if I can wake up to a sunny warm morning and grin in my myopia at the thought of having enough money in my checking account today to afford dinner at that restaurant on its fourth open day. I will call it beautiful if, as the temperature goes up and the sun stays high and bright, I keep looking forward to 5:30 and sitting in a bar booth and trying red wines. I will call it beautiful if it gives me a reason to drag the wicker chair outside into the sun, push up my t-shirt sleeves, roll my jeans to my knees, and try to freckle. I will call it beautiful even if I have to cut short a sunny phone call with my extraordinary brother, just so I can dig out a dress and a lipstick and a pair of hose and a pair of heels.

I will call it beautiful if it gets me to wear heels. I will call it beautiful if it gives me a reason to wear a dress.

I will call it beautiful when it has my excellent friend and me walking past the students and their bikes, getting ready for Critical Mass in front of the bookstore. I will call it beautiful when two of those students show up in jeans and t-shirts to have cans of PBR at the high table behind us, after we've gotten to the restaurant, as we're drinking $4 glasses of wine.

I will call it beautiful when a former student's mother nearly falls over and saves herself with the back of my dinner chair, and then comes back to tell me that she does remember who I am, after her mohawked rugby player son's arrival reminds me of who she is.

I will call any restaurant beautiful that serves me a mojito torte for dessert. I will call it beautiful if the steak I'm served bleeds when I slice into it. I will call it beautiful even if I wish there had been a shiraz on the menu, and dinner rolls on the table, and even if they put my steak on someone else's bill.

I will call it beautiful because it was a place that was open and not even this nice the last time I lived in Gambier, and because tonight it was full and because its very presence made everyone inside an openly grinning full fool. Because we can walk to a good restaurant now. Because it is not yet a restaurant where anyone has had a hiring committee dinner. Because there were students, and parents, and colleagues, and neighbors, and children, and friends. Because it gave me a place to have a large meal with people I love. Because it is where I live.

I will call it beautiful because it makes me glad to be in my village.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why I am glad I had the camera fixed.

I have just three things to say tonight:

(That last one is what I really wanted to tell you.)

My postscript about the heron and the four miniature geese I saw flying over the prairie at sundown will have to wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Compensatory glories.

I discovered four tiny daffodils. They were blooming in the front yard's ground cover. I cut them, put them in a tiny turquoise vase. I contemplated thievery: my neighbor has hundreds of these tiny daffodils. "Do you call them jonquils?" someone asked when I arrived at the officehouse. "I call them pretty," I told her, because it's been that kind of day. And we laughed, and a breeze picked up outside, and clouds lowered.

In the late afternoon, a lavender crocus might look lunar, might glow against stones and bark. I crouched to the ground--this was before it started to get colder--and shot strange close-ups of these self-envelopers.

In the later afternoon, I found a bird's nest hiding in a forsythia bush. I looked and looked until I saw the way the petals stripe at their joining.

By then the light was low and I wanted to go back to my book. But no, not the book I'm meant to be writing, not just yet. And why should it be so hard to write a book?

Ha. Well.

When one puts it that way, the answer seems clear enough. And so it is that tomorrow, I think, I will try not to write a book but instead to write some pages. I know better than the avoidance tricks I've been pulling with myself of late.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I do not make or provide clip art.

One of the funny things about keeping the Cabinet is that I find myself discerning microtrends in the search words that bring people here. Recently, the hot search seems to be for various forms of clip art. Today alone, I've had people look for "pizza pie clip art," "clip art man woman," "africa tree village clip art," "tractor clip art," and "warrior clip art." Yesterday, "injured bear clip art," "burger clip art," and "cigar clip art." And still more the day before that.

Obviously I know that by using the phrase "clip art" again and again, I'm increasingly the likelihood that someone will turn up here trying in vain to find pieces of it. But at least for the next twenty-four hours, they'll know right away what their prospects are.

Today, so much warmth--so much that I opened the window in the bathroom and didn't even need to close it before I took my morning shower. It's far warmer outside the house than in it, for a little while. I awoke to find daffodils blooming in the backyard and promptly cut most of them and took them to the officehouse.

Today, so many little tasks--taxes, chief among them. I marvel once again this year at the instructions on the back of the 1099-MISC, the ones that tell you what to do if you are "in the trade business of catching fish." I marvel once again at the intricacies of some of the schedules and forms one has to fill out in order to be sure that one doesn't have to file more forms and schedules. And in and amongst these marvels, I marvel at yet another lesson in the practice of unbelievably awkward conversation, talk so shallowed and scraped dry that it leaves me literally incredulous. I have no language for losing an interlocutor, nothing to say in the face of having nothing to say. It's a realization doubly strange on a day so gorgeous that it had us all starting to bare arms and/or legs, or at the very least to say, look, this warmth: the summer decided to arrive already.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Home is a sweet thing.

And so I return, to find that in the five days since I left all the trees have budded, the hills gone over to a reddish hue. (This particular tree happens to be in New York City. But you get my drift.) In the morning, I will check on the trees outside my bedroom and make sure that they're in on the greatness, too.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring, here.

In the New Leaf Café, down the hill from the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, was a man with such vivid eyebrows that they alone might compel me to start writing fiction.

And yes, yes, it is true: one can make exotic grilled cheese sandwiches in a George Foreman Grill. (And no, fortunately, this very funny thing is not for real.) And yes, one can eat two grilled cheese sandwiches in one day and still want another. And yes, this small boy is the loveliest of all small boys, particularly when he gets it into his head that he's ready to snuggle and particularly when he splits the labor of completing alphabet and number puzzles. And particularly when he's laughing over silly song lyrics at breakfast. And particularly just always.

And yes, because I know you were wondering: the A train takes 7.5 minutes to go from 125th Street to 59th Street.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Some walls, some windows.

So many things go on here when I am here--a first trip over the Brooklyn Bridge, in a taxi near midnight with all the lights of both boroughs blazing; a small child insisting that I lie down for a nap and let him keep nestling until he gets comfortable enough to recite everything on the ceiling with me; a concert for small people; bagels from the venerable H&H; excellent playground time--that I find myself too tired to write much. Somehow, when I visit the city, I see the things that people who don't live here come here expressly to see, but I always end up seeing them by going about my friends' daily lives, in all their routine and startlingly unroutine details. So: late last night, passing the World Financial Center, I realized that we were taking the West Side Highway right past Ground Zero, a site I had not visited since 2000. Similarly, the new Frank Gehry building going up on the west side, the one that got written up in the Times last weekend: "Hey, there's that Gehry," said my beloved Brooklynite from the back of our cab. Similarly, the Brooklyn Bridge: coming around the Battery and starting up the east side, I suddenly realized our route back to Brooklyn. These are moments of small off-kiltering wonder, as is every moment I feel a Q or B train rumbling along seven or eight stories below where I sit.

Tonight, I'll let these city scraps, some happy accidents from my past twenty-four hours, speak for themselves.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sixteen (plus twelve) candles.

It is not at all surprising to me that I've seen my first blooming daffodils of the year in a fifth-floor Brooklyn apartment. New York City has always been a city of flowers for me: flowers on our dresses the first time I came to the city and rode the carousel in the Park, before I even knew about the other Park, flowers in front of every street corner shop at every season of the year.

I'm appropriating these flowers because twenty-eight years ago today my parents dropped me at a neighbor's house and went off to Buffalo's Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and had my brother. (That's Millard Fillmore, not my brother, at the right.) I'm the one who got lucky that day. No one has ever had such a terrifically thoughtful and hilarious brother as I. And I know darned well that most people aren't gifted with siblings they actually want to be near, much less be near for long periods of time. In honor of him and his singular but multi-cameraed way of visioning the world, I'm hoping to blow out an entire memory card this afternoon as I traipse from place to place. And maybe even to make a pilgrimage to the B&H Superstore--or at least the International Center of Photography.

Happy birthday, guy.


Henri Cartier-Bresson's work is genius. If you live within reach of the ICP, go see his Sketchbook.
As I photograph with my little Leica, I have the feeling that there is something so right about it: with the one eye that is closed one looks within. With the other eye that is open one looks without: one sees the shapes, the living quality of what moves one to photograph. Without passion, without working with the emotion of the heart and the enjoyment of the eye, nothing vital can be put down.
-- Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1946

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flight plan.

Do not underestimate the power of flightbound steel. An airplane is no bad place to take a nap; sleep makes a long tarmac wait slip past so that you're awake for the flight itself.

Do not fret about luggage delay, even when you remember that time last April when the airline obviously transferred the bags of no one on your flight.

Love the sunlight. Love the buildings. You can be a real dip in the city, but you like that about yourself, and you're pretty sure you keep it quiet fairly well. Taking pictures from a moving bus: underrated.

Get where you're going
. On your way there, see a man sitting centered in the sunny south-facing window of an apartment on 37th Street. He is on the second floor, squared to the window frame, in the sun, looking, just looking.

On your way there, see a boy wearing a t-shirt covered in turntables and boomboxes. See a girl wearing a plum-colored dress and a short black jacket. See the boy who tends to the girl, brushing and picking things from her jacket. See the sleeping man who wakes just enough to cough and cough and cough.

Get where you're going. Find yet another train there. Find the small boy who loves trains, and his parents. Let the small boy crash into the backs of your legs to give you a hug. Let him lean on you at a jaunty angle. Sing him a song about a bus. Tug his curls when he's not looking. Learn your ABCs all over again. Learn the sibilance of "slip," "sip," "sleep" in his favorite book. Learn yet again how to eat artichokes. Think of the trains you will feel in your sleep.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

No snow on these flowers.

And I am taking this as a good omen for the year, in all manner of things.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Birds in the off hours.

It was a beautiful day, the kind of sunny that teases and tricks this time of year. All day I kept feeling sure that I'd be able to ditch my coat sometime soon. All day I was wrong.

At about 6:45 p.m. I headed out to see what I could see. Surprisingly, what rose to my view again and again were unexpected birds:

a vulture taking off from a tree (turns out those circling birds weren't hawks after all, a thing one might think I'd know by now)

that same vulture, flying away

geese in a field (I think these are the same ones I saw last week, though I have no real basis for that thought)

and even a heron.

These three were only the tiniest fraction of the birds I encountered--the birds I, for the most part, frightened all the way through my walk in the environmental center's prairie. No matter how quietly I tried to tread, hoping to get a better look at which birds were sending up which songs, the birds inevitably heard me and popped out to another thornbush, another curled fall of whispering grass. And so standing still and looking up had to do, for tonight. Sooner than I'd have expected, it was enough that they were everywhere to be heard while I tried to get the best silhouettes I could.

And tonight let me be a lesson to you--though this one might be confusing and/or convoluted because I'm still trying to work it out for myself. On my way back up the hill, thinking about how beautiful this place where I live is, I turned around a couple of times to look back at the valley I was leaving. Each time I looked back, it was more lovely than the time before, until suddenly I looked back and up at the same time and found the moon slivering its way back from newness (accompanied by no less than Venus, which will serve as first star seen tonight if it's all right with everyone here).

Now, I'll admit to having looked back a lot lately. Longtime readers will remember that precisely this time last spring brought a series of lovely strangenesses into my life, and as I tick past a series of one-year anniversaries, I can't help but think about what a peculiar twelve months I've had. And once I've called them peculiar--sometimes very sweetly so, and sometimes downright terribly--I don't have much more to say about them; it hasn't been a year for feeling as though I've figured very many things out. In fact, it feels as though the opposite of figuring things out has been taking place at every turn: it's as though this year has been designated the year of unraveling.

On the other hand, unraveling isn't always a negative thing. All manner of things are knitting up with my being now in ways that they weren't even a year ago. Last March 21, I stopped in town to get my mail on the way home after a truly uncanny experience with a body of work that I now know much more fully, and because snow had fallen on that first day of spring, covering all our crocuses, I stooped in the blue evening to take pictures of those other bluenesses: dusky snow, dusted flowers. Back then, I still felt a bit self-conscious about all the pictures I was taking. And look at me now--or, perhaps, look at me looking back at my looking and how it has changed.

What I'm trying to say is that looking back isn't always a negative thing, either. Of course I believe this, being a scholar of memory. There's a crucial difference between reflection and regret. I'm seeking my balance point between them these days.

Of the many things that have not changed in the past year, at least one can manifest itself in a photograph: once again--though he has faded ever so slightly--the dragon welcomes you to spring.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And back once again.

The weather and all signs were pointing in one direction: I suppose I should have known, when I was still very close to my parents' house, how the end of this day would turn out to feel--an excellent job talk and an excellent hanging about with good friends notwithstanding. But I'm tired, and I'm willing to peg most of my current feeling on that fact.

And then I think, well: even if it's not just that I'm tired, even if (say) it's something about being back here right at this minute that's making me feel less than buoyant, it's not necessarily a terrible thing. I'm only touching down briefly. But oh, how much of your life have you lived that way, letting present ills go simply because you know you're going to change your scenery in fairly short order? Somehow it doesn't seem like any way to live. And the fact that my left hand just hit an "o" instead of an "i," slipping in "any way to love" when I intended to say "any way to live"--well, that doesn't make anything any easier, frankly.

Seriously, how would you feel if last night (sometime after you took advantage of her deafness and clandestinely caught this photo) this dog managed, somehow, to grab your right hand between her front paws and fall asleep with her head pillowed on your arm, as though she really cared you were there, as though you really mattered to the quality of her sleep and of her well-being in general?

It's hard to leave the ones who love you.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More blossoms and blueness.

About the day I've had with my parents, drinking too much coffee and eating Italian food for lunch and tracing out the lineaments of deep, startling disappointment and acquiring new semi-necessaries at a variety of stores and watching a Top 100 Songs of the 1980s countdown for hours and hours with a deaf dog at my feet--about this day and what it has meant, there are few words.

We visited a snake at a pet store. We three gathered around the glass tank wherein the snake coiled loosely, and when it shifted, I jumped a little. It raised up its head and reared its neck up into the air, and we stroked the glass and flickered our tongues in greeting. Later my mother and I watched a moustached parakeet long enough that my father left the store without us and stood in the sun outside until we realized he'd gone. "We were trying to get the bird to come down," we said.

Now the dog is sleeping, her legs kicked out over my legs. Now I too will sleep.

This place's quiet is utterly different from that other one's. And this will be a week of at least four different quiets: I'm on the move no small amount in the next seven days.
Which is a good thing, I think, because otherwise I might find myself spending a lot of time back in Ohio yearning for my maples to start doing what this tree has been up to.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

No turnaround.

And then there were the days when she simply decided to leave town altogether.

Yesterday, I realized that I would be driving for two hours today in any case--and that by adding only two more, I could be in Indiana with my parents and the deaf dog by mid-afternoon. And so it is that I am in

with a deaf dog asleep at my feet. (No. I'm not in the van. Don't be so literal.)

This morning, heading down my favorite road out of Knox County--some way before my favorite sign, reading "NO TURNAROUND," at the mouth of a driveway, always making me wonder what sorts of trouble the house's owners have had with people joyriding into their driveway--I saw my first calves of the season--four black wobblinesses being nosed about by a red adult. Trees are starting to bud in mid-Ohio (though we woke to snow this morning), but here they're in full force. Along the way--both before and after my morning coffee with my flaming-sworded friend, and a stop to have my appearance neatened a bit--I saw barns and the heartstopping symmetry of fencerow oaks. And so, so very many goats, with long floppy ears. In one field, goats roamed everywhere, eating everything. In another field, five chickens pecked their ways away from the nearest barn.

At the Art Institute of Chicago, there's a Georgia O'Keeffe painting called "Sky Above Clouds IV" (1965). It's the largest painting she ever did and hangs in a huge, open stairway in the museum. Throughout today's drive, the sky reminded me of that painting. I couldn't photograph it, couldn't try to get the brilliance of white barn on blue; I'm getting pickier about my framing, and perhaps (given my run of bad luck with the car lately) smarter about my car safety. I wanted to be able to set up shots of the things I was passing; they all, so many, pass so fast that I can barely register them at all.

The trees in front of my parents' house are breaking into bud. "Be sure to get up close and get pictures of the pear tree's blossoms," my mother said as I grabbed the camera and left the house in the early evening light. I oblige when I can: though the pear isn't quite in blossom, the maple beside it is. We won't have buds and blossoms like these for at least a couple of weeks yet.

Yes, it is true that I am hooked on narrow focus. Perhaps tomorrow I'll force myself to stop down to a smaller aperture and let more things come into focus in my frames. But I do love the feel of focus against blur.

Friday, March 16, 2007

And then, see...

Then there were those days when nothing much happened but the things that hadn't been happening in previous days. And at the ends of those days, she found herself wishing she could name her tasks differently, give them lightsome epithets to catch at the ways they were satisfying to undertake, gratifying to complete. But at the ends of those days, she also found herself tired of contemplating those things that were over and that required no memorialization. Good work, well done. There were things she needed to do, and things others needed her to do, and so she did them. Some days are like that. Some of the best days are like that.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Shadowy starry glow, shadowy starry glow.

Sometimes I end up loving pictures that may have no business being loved. This one's one of those. It's the maple in the background, backing up the starry weed: it's that dark diagonal that sinks me.

I sat with the computer last night until I wanted to be away from it until morning. Then I went home and sat in bed with it. Then I slept, and then I sat up and wrote. And now everything is back under control. I had thought I'd wait to start Heyday when everything was officially out on its winging way to England, and everything might not be on its way until tomorrow. But it's such a good-looking book--the actual book, I mean: its dustjacket, which of course won't be on the book while I read it anyway but who is anyone to ask me how I make these decisions--that I might just pick it up the moment I get home. Which means that I should probably perform my remaining obeisances and industriousnesses right quick, before leaving. Once I'm home, I'll be sunk, and loving it.

Speaking of love: I am feasting on this man's pictures. A friend wrote not so long ago that one of my bird pictures made her want to bite herself and run around the room. Wright Morris's pictures make me want to get in my car and drive away and not come back until I've found innumerable abandoned buildings to photograph head-on in bright light. His photo-text The Home Place is quite good, as well, though I kept wanting it to be Sebald's The Emigrants, and that's just not fair.

In England, the ruins are different, as are the birds. These are, of course, not the only things that make me hopeful about what I'm about to send across the Atlantic.

(Ooh, a several-hours-later postscript: turns out I'll get to start Heyday as a reward after all; the application is signed and sealed, and I'm going home to curl around a book. And to eat some toast and blackcurrant jam.)

(Another postscript, this one a picture with Miscellanie's name on it. The light's coming back, my friend. Do not slip.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sunning myself.

You all wouldn't know it unless I tell you, but you're about to do me a great service. My horoscope for today tells me to rally my troops with my planning and enthusiasm, because they'll follow me anywhere. I'm not actually going to ask you to go anywhere with me, but I'm going to pretend that you're following along while I write this next piece of prose that I must write in order to earn next year's keep--or, rather, to earn the right to hitch myself to someplace prestigious by paying out the keep I've already earned.

This one should be the easy one: it's about what I've already done, what I am already doing. But I am choking and whimpering a little bit in the face of having to do this thing. These are old, old fears, freshly freighted with new tasks I worry I won't get right. I am a big believer in Anne Lamott's concept of the shitty first draft. I introduce that concept to my friends and students whenever I get a chance. But when it comes right down to it, too big a part of me hears the voice in advance saying, "Wow, that's shitty," and I cannot be cavalier about it because that's not how I am.

My horoscope for yesterday told me to clear my head of unnecessary materials--including self-doubt--and so I'm about to pretend that I'm explaining my research to you all, rather than to an audience ready to refuse me with a snarl. And while I talk to you, my skin will thicken up again, which is what my skin does when I talk to curious, interested people. Like the custodian who talks to me at midnight and wants to read my book. Or the student who says, "I didn't know that's what you've been working on all this time." Or the woman who asks me to hurry up and get it done so that she can read more than just one little piece. The people who say we all love your work. My beloved Brooklynite who writes to say, "Lady, you should write for pay." My poet friend (
soon-to-be-Alabaman!) who asks to see more work, who tells me where I might send photographs. My excellent friend who looks completely perplexed when I worry aloud that my writing about my own work is dry and dull.

And when my skin is thick again, all will come right once more. It's working already. And this new novel Heyday is lighting up the end of the tunnel.

It took me almost two years to realize that I can see the river from this office window. But there it is, going along and going along.

As will I. Right now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Two by two.

This is a true thing:

This afternoon, I got into my car and drove and drove, making the rounds, seeing my places. I went far from here, came back. I drove with the windows down, in silence, my hair whipping. I talked to myself, inside my head and maybe even aloud, for hours.

I saw an Amish buggy ahead on Zion Road and slowed down so that I would not impinge upon it. I took an early turn from Zion, to pass over hills and around curves. As I turned, I saw two goats--one young, one old--standing side by side, watching the horse that was drawing the buggy.

This is a true thing:

Today someone dear to me is in pain, and when I ask for a way to be helpful I am given silence, and all I can give back to the quiet from this distance is hope.

This is a true thing:

Today the sun was so warm and the air so light that I skipped out on my workday and spent the last two hours of daylight walking and walking, bearing both cameras and photographing everything. I took 225 photographs. I practiced changing my good lens from one body to the other. I crouched next to a prairie and loved its tendrils. I thought of my brother, whose new boss asked him during his interview, "Are you a Nikon guy or a Canon guy?" I turn out to be a Canon girl. It's a cosmically bad joke--and one that I can make doubly bad: this literary critic shoots with Canon.

This is a true thing:

When these two geese flew over as the sun was going down, I tried to take their picture but had a crucial setting wrong on the camera. And I was worried for them; they seemed lost and frantic, hovering alone, the rest of their vee nowhere to be seen. They left me alone with a sky of hanging hawks. I counted: twenty hawks, circling together. A few minutes later, I could hear the geese coming around again, and this time I was ready. I have wanted a good picture of Canada geese for probably five years. It's no easy thing to get; somehow they get grossly sentimentalized when they're made into art, and I have never had the equipment or the know-how to get my own image. What I wanted was an image that would make me feel the way I feel when I hear them coming back as the winter slips away.

What I wanted were the geese I got.

Monday, March 12, 2007


There's only one thing more fun than getting your own good job, and that's seeing your friends get good jobs. Both of my poet colleagues for this year have now secured plum positions for next year (and, deo volante, for many years thereafter). And I am so pleased. And their future students and colleagues are so lucky.

This time of year is cruel and terrible in academia. It's cruel and terrible because so many demonstrably excellent and deserving people emerge at the end of a six-month process of putting their lives on hold and have virtually nothing to show for it. I hate that. I think that any of us with our souls still intact must hate that. I breathe a sigh of relief for every person I know who comes out okay at the end of a market cycle. I breathe a prayer of hope and strength for those who may now be getting ready to wait until September to try again.

And for now I'm back to work on my own bid for next year's new berth. My Freudian typo: next year's new birth. Yes--that too, almost without question.

(Oh yeah, and that picture? Yesterday, 7:45 p.m. Thanks, daylight saving time!)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Nesting anew.

Today I'm shooting film, so I'm giving you a picture from a week ago.

Today I remembered all over again how much of friendship--real, true friendship, not the stuff that just pretends--is about knowing exactly how to push, which sometimes means exactly how to tell someone else she needs to push. Today I remembered all over again how much I sometimes need exactly the right person to say, "Now tell me ..." at exactly the right time, and then to say it again when the first telling's done. And so it is that I go out of this day--with, gloriously, a whole hour of light left to go--having drafted one piece of writing that I need right now and having sketched the next one, which also happens to be the outline of my first book. I've been meaning to write up that outline for about a year. And today a combination of exigency and just the right amount of prodding made it happen--in an e-mail, of all places--before I was even out of my pajamas.

As a reward for one of these accomplishments and a goad to start the other, I loaded up a roll of TMax 100 and wandered to the officehouse taking pictures. Something about shooting film makes me feel strangely unworthy, low on vision itself. It's as though all the rules are completely different, as though the pictures must be more interesting if I'm even going to put the camera to my eye and take a look at what I might see there. Just as I was starting to get over that feeling this afternoon, some stranger with his own camera turned up in his S.U.V. and seemed to be taking pictures of my taking pictures. Now, at best that's just absurd. At worst, it's too weird. And in either case, it made me self-conscious again, and for that I could have kicked the guy's ugly white car.

A crow flashes a shadow, flying between me and the sun; he's carrying something big in his beak. The crows have cawed and rattled all day. Yesterday four of them traced the perimeter of my lawn, turning up one small pile of leaves after another with swift tosses of their heads. They are big like dogs, these crows, and (while on the ground) clumsier.

By tomorrow, the dirty remains of our snow will be even smaller.

We're all heliotropic now.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Last light for old leaves.

I don't always pay a lot of attention to dead leaves that hang around until spring, but yesterday they were doing such tricks with the sunlight that I couldn't help but notice. (They did their tricks tonight, as well, but I saw them chiefly from the upstairs windows in my house, where the seeing is less good than down on the ground.)

Here, too, is the nuthatch who mewled while I walked around yesterday. Or at least one of them. I couldn't get today's tufted titmice, either: they are too quick, too frantic. They only land provisionally.

And tonight while I work, owls whoo whoo in the woods nearby.