It's a little before 6 as I shuffle across the kitchen to tend to the kettle, which is boiling on the stove. After a brief ministration I return to the table with a filled coffee cup. It sits wisping steam; in the back yard the swimming pool does the same thing in the chill of the morning.
I find a usable pen and page to the back of a notebook to do some journal writing. This is a pleasing ritual for a number of reasons. It puts a form to things that seem to have none, it lets you pretend you have a hand on matters because you can list them, but most of all, it makes things seem to count, to add up.
First of all, the weather must be noted. It's 58.5 degrees outside, according to the digital thermometer. If I looked back through the shelf of journals, I'm sure I'd find many precedents to this third week of August chill, and my response to it is the same, too, I'm certain: A list of end-of-summer things to do and thoughts about fall.
Yesterday's page describes the drizzle dripping from the eaves, a ticking rhythm that played against the clicking of the wall clock. I tried to compare this syncopation to the way people chatter without listening to each other, a line that doesn't really work, but you don't expect to catch a fish on every cast, even when the fishing's good.
Yesterday at this hour I was getting ready to drive to Fredonia with a truck crammed with old furniture for my daughter's first apartment. I wanted to find a thread of significance in this transfer of baggage, for most of the stuff was from our own first apartment, but I left it to speak for itself.
At the end of the table where I am writing is a stack of catalogs my youngest brought home from the Empire Farm Days exposition. In a blaze of colors here are snowmobiles, motorcycles and four-wheelers. He has been poring over them and asking us questions like, "Mom, do you like this four-wheeler in firecracker red or polar white?" -- as if our answers might trigger an urge to reach for the checkbook.
But catalogs are the very stuff of dreams, after all. Here are flannel-shirted guys stacking firewood on the racks of an ATV, men lounging in front of a hunting camp, teen-agers on motocross bikes wearing helmets and suits that make them look like astronauts or aliens. The pictures and writing are all about power and the poetry of the throttle that sings to you most sweetly at 14.
Below the window outside is a planter of flowers. Crowded among the petunias and violets are miniature sunflowers, refugees from the bird feeder nearby. It is a curious thing how plants adapt themselves. Given space, the sunflowers could be 10 feet tall.
The next page in yesterday's entry reports some good news. Our prospecting for a spot for a new shallow well seems to be a success. We hit a watery seam of gravel and stone four feet down at the bottom of the hill across the road. In a matter of hours, the hole had filled up within two feet of the surface.
I read through this stuff and try to remember other things to note from yesterday. Doing chores by the barn, I watched a cloud come from off the lake, shift with a gust of wind, then a shush of rain. I went in and sat on a bale of hay and watched it through the wide doors. Sometimes you must supervise such raining if you expect to get your fair share.
Then there's the aggravation of sitting in traffic a mile away from the toll booth on the Thruway. Does it really make sense to idle all these engines and drivers to collect $1.20? How much of my fare is consumed in the business of collecting my fare?
In Fredonia a young man named Jerry offered to help us load a couch and some easy chairs, then volunteered to come across town to help in unloading them. He is a recent college graduate, bright and full of energy. He is looking for a job teaching in an elementary school, and in the meantime he is a bartender. This bugs me as much as the toll booths, for it would be a better world if he were pushing books rather than beers.
I add a paragraph about walking through the pasture as it got dark last night, checking the cows and letting 200 rattling miles in a 20-year-old truck fade away. I calculate the capacity of a four-by-four round well casing (about 350 gallons), and note how many round bales of alfalfa came off the rear portion of the heron field (29).
Then the coffee has gotten cold, the dawn completed, and some pages filled. Now I'm ready to see what happens today that I can scribble about tomorrow.