Ruminations from the Back Yard

I can see a sliver of Youngs Bay as I write this on the AlphaSmart. It’s 80 degrees. A slight breeze blows. The gulls should be making their afternoon updraft appearance soon.

The house is freshly painted. The gutters emptied. The yard buttoned up. The deck stained. The garden bears its final bounty. I stand poised for rain. I want tuna season to arrive so I can buy fresh fish off an OTA boat.

A sand dollar occupies my mind, a mysterious sand dollar that appeared on my back deck. This sand dollar might hold the answer to many mysteries that keep mystifying me. It is strange to consider that a sand dollar, and a small one at that, could contain such power. But that is the life I am living.

Honest, unscripted, face-to-face encounters keep moving me forward. They are the means of surmounting. I’ve got show my face and let people read it. It’s changed.

I have nearly finished reading Stendahl’s The Red and The Black, a 500-page French novel published in 1835. I read it 33 years ago in college and barely  remember a word of it. It does contain one famous passage about how a novelist is like a mirror traveling through a given society and the novel written in this style is the true reflection of that society. This is a highly interesting metaphor for the novelist. In the book I am writing about my life, I must consider this mirror metaphor and perhaps embrace it as a method of recounting all the terrible and wonderful and utterly bizarre things that have happened to me during the past 16 months. Mirrors don’t opine. They mirror can only reflect. The looker into mirror can decide what they see. They are not told what to see. The writer doesn’t even provide hints or clues.

A friend gave me a copy of an extraordinary book about the ocean: West Coast Shells by Josiah Keep. It’s a 1935 edition (slightly revised) of book originally published in 1887. It contains over 200 exquisite black and white illustrations of shells. The book begins with this simple immortal sentence: “The ocean is a home.” More on this incredible book later. I urge everyone who loves the ocean to seek it out and read the stunningly casual yet beautiful and informed nature of the prose. No one can write like this anymore and that is a grave loss to arts and letters.

I must learn to fish for surf perch. It is time.

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