At lunch today, I sat in a quiet corner of the library reading and listening to my iPod. Looking out the library window, I see a squirrel digging through the grass in time to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 26. It is a rainy, foggy day, but rather warm. Storms are coming, and this makes me happy, because thunderstorms are heralds of Spring. And there is nothing like standing in a thunderstorm, with warm winds and driving rain. The experience is primeval.
Yesterday the basement cats (not to be confused with the LOLcats “basement cats”) went outside for the first time in a few months. They stretched out gratefully on my patio, eyes closed, blissfully soaking in the sun. I picked up one of them, and her fur was warm. As sunset approached, I went down to the basement to put in one final load of laundry. A chill was in the air, and both cats had dutifully returned to their beds downstairs. They have become spoiled by warmth, dry shelter, and regular feedings. I can recall when at least one of them used to stay outside in all kinds of weather, and dug through garbage cans for food.
For the first time I attempt to engage in post-war rebuilding, and I begin the task of dragging away the huge tree branches on my property to the woods beyond my fence. I’ve noticed that the crocuses are nearly blooming, and the stalks of daffodils protrude from the ground like green daggers. I pick up a fallen fence post in my garden, and pull away some leftover dead leaves from the brown plants. The brown lemon thyme still smells like lemon; the strawberries have red buds underneath their still-green leaves. The garden plants are still icy in some places, and the ground is muddy, so raking the leftover leaves from last Fall is out of the question at the moment.
In the house I have been baking bread. It is a swirled bread, with onion and herbs. I slice the hot bread and prepare to toast it, and pour myself a glass of red table wine. I think of the Queen of Pentacles and the Tower, and wonder if my quiet, domestic life will be disrupted again. Spring brings new things, both expected and unexpected. The aroma of yeast and herbs and heat fills the kitchen.
With all of my chores done, I am left uncertain about what to read, what to watch, whether or not to call a friend or eschew conversation. Everything is blank, and in blankness there is great possibility for both achievement and failure. The Void is the face of God—empty and unsettling. We like to know the outcomes of things, whether or not seeds planted will bear fruit, and we have no way to really know.
Every now and then I get impatient with not knowing. Every thought is like an acid bath on my nerves, and I shout at the universe, “why do you do this to me?!”, as if I am exceptional, as if I will have a laugh with some unseen entity and it will tell me everything, and I will have to anticipate nothing. Which I realize would leave me with no new tales to tell. (With thanks to Love and Rockets.)
I am still reading Hèléne Cixous, about her notebooks. Notebooks are windows onto the past, validating reminders that certain things happened, that I had certain thoughts, that I documented certain things. When I read through old notebooks I experience old identities (not who I was as opposed to who I am—that never changes), and, just like the old mixtapes, I remember where I was and what I thought and why it was important at the time. Sometimes remembering is amazing, sometimes amusing, sometimes disturbing.
Somewhere between the past and the future I am settling on my couch with some toasted onion bread with Monterey Jack cheese, a glass of wine on the coffee table, a cat curled up next to me, an old documentary on the TV, played from a VHS tape. Outside it thunders. There is no other time.