Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I went for a walk today during lunchtime -- my usual laps around the old manse property, marooned in the midst of an office "park." On the way back I cross the divided four-lane to the pond and see what's going on over there. It wasn't that cold, 40s, a little gusty. The longer I stay out, the better it feels, and I don't really want to go back to the office. The leaves have flown and all of the color has faded, but winter has its own melancholy charms.
Today, I noticed the muted shades of December without snow. The clouds were thick and layered like blankets, the color of slate, iron, and new bruises, pushed down over watery blue patches of sky. The ground is marbled green and brown and covered with the little wooly heads left over from fall aster blossoms. Doves settle down in the willow branches and a little flock of dark juncos flit in the undergrowth by the pond -- winter birds themselves with little frock coats of dark black and soft gray. Geese sit on the pond and a ring of ducks circle in the middle, dabbling, and seemingly chasing each other's tailfeathers. The water is lapped in the wind, blue-black to the white rocks on shore. Windblown branches are everywhere and among them, the bare, scarlet stems of a brambly shrub. I think I looked it up once and have forgotten again what it is. They are beautiful in winter -- as bright as male cardinals.
I spent November in Donne territory, appropriately enough. I finished the Stubbs biography, which took me most of the month. It was very good and I think it definitely gives me a better context for the poetry. I'm reading David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. I'm only into the fourth section (story?), and it strikes me as a bit of showing off. "Now I shall write in the style of a nineteenth-century English adventurer and now in the style of a rather louche 1930's man-on-the-make," etc., etc. It would be more fun if it were Michael Chabon (who plugs it on the back cover); still, it's well done, and I may grow to love it.
I made peanut-butter fudge -- one of my white whales of cookery. Okay texture, but not peanut-buttery enough. I have another recipe to try still. I'm going to bake cookies, as usual. And I unearthed my mother-in-law's old cookie cutters -- some of which I'm sure my mom also has somewhere. Not an old one, but I found a camel-shaped cutter in the stash. I love camels! I'm going to do a little Christmas decorating by the end of the week. I'm auditioning tree alternatives.