It is Thursday. Another lovely summer day. It may be hot nearby but somehow it is always cool here Up late. Up early. And now a day where I’m just about on top of it, rather than climbing back up a mountain. I tried to get one call over and done with in time for a bike ride just now, before the time I’d need to take my daughter over to her babysitting job. Just one more email. Just clarify that one matter, in another .pdf doc and paste it in and then answer these two simple instant messages and . . . it’s too late. May as well write.
I’ve got Langston Hughes “Not Without Laughter” off to my side. More than halfway through his first novel and perhaps I’ll allow myself the time to finish it today. It feels loose and disjointed after the conversational precision of Zora Neale Hurston or the mouse-trap snap of fate ensnaring Helga Crane in “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen. Not unlike some of his later poetry (e.g. “Goodbye Christ”) he seems to posture in a way that pierces the verisimilitude of the novel, wherein we imagine him, the author wanting to have some character yell a frustrated phrase, to make an obligatory point, rather than that it naturally sprang from the characters mouth. I need to spend more time with Hughes poetry, I suspect, to consider him anew.
Road up and over to Accord again this morning. The dramatic as commonplace, as cresting over the Gunks by the Mohawk Guesthouse. I was trying to spy some of that remarkable Catskills view to the west from the descent over the back. We never properly see it here. It is always hidden behind the shelf of the Gunks. I found myself timing quick glances, through the foliage. But the road twists and then again reminding you to concentrate. Charmed to find another small hamlet, that sported a community for the last few hundred years. And I wonder for how long that next-hamlet progression continues across from here through to the west of New York State.
Driving nearly anywhere in New England one expects to see sparsely populated, centuries old, pre- suburban communities. And if I’m honest anywhere much north of Albany or west of, say, Ithaca, is a dull, monotonous landscape which my noggin has populated with some clichéd, stock abandoned downtown strip. Revisiting American history though, western New York State was a remarkable thoroughfare of activity: noble, (Seneca Falls Convention) extreme (The Burned-over District and the Second Awakening) and eccentric (Joseph Smith.) And through it all ran the rough hewn vein of the Erie Canal, to which New York City owes its eternal fame. I got a call as I was writing, and I suppose I ought to call the person back. But the very next thing I’m going to do when I'm done is review just where the Erie Canal runs to and from. We should drive along and trace it.
Just about ready to head out or a bike ride, my wife stopped by and asked if I wanted to take a walk. I usually balk. But that sounded swell and we went south and over towards the farm on the corner of Plains Road and Cedar Lane, and then walked north along Cedar Lane, which I’d never done before. Fourteen new plants, a bee and a praying mantis to the species-hoard. I haven’t had such a bounty identified in one day in a while: Black-eyed Susan, Fishpole Bamboo, Common Motherwort, Northern Whitecedar, European Lily Of The Valley, Hedge Bindweed, Common Sunflower, Garden Cosmos, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Elegant Zinnia, Horseweed, Scarlet Beebalm, Yellow Daylily, Dense Blazing Star, American Fly-honeysuckle, Chinese Mantis, and the Asian Honey Bee.