Country Diary, mid-winter 2012

Posted by on Dec 23, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

You get up on a Sunday morning and discover the water is off. You ran the sinks three nights in a row to avoid freezing pipes, but you overdid it, and now the water tank is dry and you cannot pump until your landlady reinstalls the pump mechanism. But she is out of town, and when she gets back she says that nothing can be done for a few days, for more freezes are expected and the pipes must stay drained. She delivers you two jugs of the good water that runs on the land: you pour it into water glasses, take a bottle upstairs to brush your teeth. You pour water from the ten-gallon jugs you keep on the back porch into a washbasin and then into a large pot to heat water, for you have a sinkful of dirty dishes. As you pour the water, you feel its gurgle and give, how it rushes out from the jug to fill your pots in a big gush, then hesitates, as if abashed at its own power, only to rush forth again, creating its own internal wave. You fill another washbasin for ¬†washing hands and to refill the toilet; you go to a pipe that’s worked into the side of the hill and turn the lever till it’s perpendicular; water rushes out. The faucet is set close to the hillside, so you have to jam the washbasin into its side in order to fill it, pushing aside leaves from a nearby bush. Somehow you feel happy, you don’t know why, and then you do: you are a witness// closer to the source of water, flowing out of this hill.

The fire has gone out this morning; you fell asleep at nine o’clock, unable to tend it for many hours, to feed it the heavy log that might go all night, purring with heat; you felt called to your sleep by some master of midwinter, invited into a steady and communal dream. You get up and have breakfast on a paper plate that you then crumple and add to the fire, then wander outside. The expected snow hasn’t appeared; the sky is unexpectedly, almost perfectly clear. The deck is crescented with frost, bright points of it on the dark wood; in a swath in the center, where the weak sun falls, water has melted. You sit there for a minute, absently petting the stray cat who showed up, waterlogged and yowling, after last week’s heavy rains.

You heat more water and pour it into a large wooden salad bowl, then take it upstairs and have a sponge bath. You have just bathed yourself in about three quarts of water. In your robe, you walk out back to get more wood and notice what looks like a large black cauldron studded with pearls. It is actually a hollowed out tire, on the outer edge of the scrap wood and rusted machine parts and other detritus that haunts the back of every country house. Driblets of frost are shining in the sun, still too cold to melt it; they are not pearls. But you don’t care, you have seen what you need to, every tendency lit up by the sun ready to melt it, every rotting piece of wood about to be placed in the fire, every bit of you spun around to some purpose you have to obey because it pushes you onward. You have work problems and ¬†family problems and back problems, and it is all lit up, not a bit of it budging, spun around to an eye that quietly assents and says, Hmm, I can use it.

One Comment

  1. Hello, I log on to your blogs like every week. Your story-telling style is witty, keep up the good work!