Mysteries. The birds are coming back to the feeders. It took awhile. The squirrels have found them, too. And the Monarchs have found the flower garden. One Monarch, anyway--little Chrissy. I sat out yesterday and watched them all. I've been feeling off for a few days and so have rested and not exercised one iota. I've sat more in the last two days than I have in weeks prior. Sometimes, I guess, you just have to sit and watch the birds and squirrels and butterflies.
Watching birds is not as easy as it sounds. They don't do a lot. It takes them a long time to decide to do anything. They look to see if the bird feeders are a trap. The male cardinal comes first. Then he flies back and tells the female. It is true. I don't know the language of birds very well, but I am fairly certain about this. It happened with the bird bath that is low to the ground. The male came and drank then flew back to the bush. In a few whispered chirps, the female came, too. The male always sits high as a watchman ready to send the signal to bolt. It is slow and time consuming watching birds, but there is something to it.
I am also watching the plants grow. They grew overnight. As I have given up on even news headlines now for the most part, I took my coffee outside this morning rather than sitting down to the computer. Rain is coming. You could smell it in the air. The air reminded me of wet sea breezes early in the morning before the day truly begins. Sitting outside in the dusky gray light with the first cup of coffee eyeballing the overnight growth of the pentas and the impatiens and the catnip and the tall purple/blue flowering plants whose names I don't recall just now as the birds strike up their sunrise chatter and begin stretching their legs and wings. . . such things.
My big project yesterday was making a seafood stew. With the changing of the clocks, it doesn't get dark here until 7:30 now, so I asked my mother if she felt like driving to my house for dinner. She hasn't been here for awhile. And so. . . I will spill just the facts. In the enamel covered cast iron dutch oven, I poured a good amount of olive oil. While it was heating, I quickly chopped a white onion. Diced. It went into the heated oil while I chopped garlic. It, too, went into the pan. I continued chopping carrot and celery and potatoes. They went into the pan as well. I added 32 ounces of vegetable broth and a bottle of clam juice. Kosher salt, course ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes. A half handful--maybe less--of chopped parsley. Some white wine. Some tomato sauce and a big can of chopped tomatoes. I brought it all to a boil and then turned the burner to low, put on the lid, and left it alone for hours. When my mother arrived at five, I turned up the heat and dropped in half a pound of peeled shrimp, half a pound of scallops, and then a bit later, a pound of cod. I poured my mother some sweet Vouvray wine and we sat at the table on the deck. I dished up big, deep bowls of the most delicious seafood stew I've ever made. Big chunks of crusty bread. The birds and butterfly and cat. The air was perfect.
When my mother was gone (with a big container of stew for later) I cleaned up the kitchen and poured a whiskey. I went to the leather reading chair, turned on the lamp, and picked "The Years" from the side table. It was later than I was used to, of course, and when I wearied of reading and looked at the clock, I thought to watch a little television. America, I guessed would be watching the Oscars. I was pretty sure there would be no Black men fighting on stage this year, and even if there were, I could watch it later in the highlight reel. I had no real interest in watching the Oscars. It would be much slower and less interesting than watching birds, so. . . I decided to watch one of the Oscar nominated films. I watched the trailer for "Everything Everywhere," and was certain that I would not enjoy that. Americans are addicted to fantasy--werewolves and vampires and aliens and superheroes, or anything set in space or in the future. The only thing that can compete with that is horror. Americans love horror. I say Americans, but it could be everyone. I just have more experience here. Having watched the three minute trailer, I was certain it would win everything the Oscars had to offer.
I decided to watch "To Leslie."
Holy smokes! There it was, "Leaving Las Vegas" meets Sam Shepard, all with a happy ending. That may disappoint some, but there are only two endings--happy and sad. There are indeterminate endings, they say, but all endings are indeterminate, aren't they? I mean, there is always something that happens after the story ends. So there are two. I didn't mind. It was sweet.
Andrea Riseborough was as good in this film as Kate Blanchet was in "Tar." She was awesome. If she had won "Best Actress," I would have been gleeful. I think the entire cast should have been awarded, truly. I mean, if you like realistic acting and not the thing that Keanu Reeves does--you know. Every time I see him on a screen, I think, "Look--he's acting!" Only one character in the entire film "To Leslie" made me think, "acting." The goddamned thing seriously engulfed me.
I think the film made something ridiculous like $39,000 in theaters. That's my America, the land that I love. What's "trending" now?
I have almost finished "The Years." I am probably going to start over and read it again when I finish. I may do it on a Kindle so that I can save passages easily. Why? Oh. . . to text them to friends, of course, so that I can look intelligent. But also so I can study what she does and how she does it. The thing you can't mimic through study, though, is how perceptive she is. It is a perceptive work more than anything else. I have two favorite authors this decade. Both are French, so I can only read them in translation. And they are opposite sides of the coin. Ernaux mentions Houellebecq. It is clear she does not appreciate his aesthetics. I'm certain Houellebecq would feel quite the same about her's. And yet. . . they are both writers of perceptions--one with an emotional investment, one without. They are, each, I think, marvelous. I don't believe, however, that Houellebecq will ever be awarded a Nobel Prize.
The forecast is for rain today. That is good for my fresh garden. It is O.K. for me, too. I am still feeling quiet and hushed. I will prepare myself for the work around here that must be done. I will order the mulch and buy the deck paint. That is what I think to do, anyway.
But such things are always a question.