The sun seems to rise behind my eyes. When I open them, the windows just beyond are already oyster grey, cut with the dark outlines of trees. I lie there in my daybed under the high gabled roof and watch light remake itself, sorting through shades of blue until it arrives at its lightest version. You’d think it would be the opposite.
The whole cabin smells like the sourdoughs I replenished last night. I can make sourdough pancakes blindfolded and I do make them, laughing at the nutcases in the city who believe you have to have the original deal from San Francisco. I eat mine at the old oak table I bought from a woman who said, “That old thing, it sat out all winter,” and felt bad to take $25 for it.
I must leave camp and get water—the animals have been on bottled water along with me for days. And go to the landfill and get the overripe melon out of here before I have another bear come in. Speed limit when I get there: 8 MPH.
And then to the river, the Coffeepot stretch of the North Fork, and my friend Pat. We’ll walk its banks and pick the first huckleberries of the season. People used to say to me when I came back up here in the summers, “Is there anyone to talk to?” You know the implication. “My closest neighbor taught at Columbia where she was involved in research,” I tell them. How much more there is to say about this gentle woman who spots a Great Grey Heron across the river. She is an extension of its peace. We talk about what we’re reading. She’s interested in the progressive John Shelby Spong’s Eternal Life. She knew my mother, and I tell her about waiting for her to call. “Something goes on,” she says. The big change, but something is not extinguished.
About fifty trout are leaping and jumping, feeding on the Pale Morning Duns. It’s a frolic. I’m glad I don’t have my Fenwick with me. Our fingers take on the dark purple of the berries as we chat on the mountainside. “I wonder how many bears have seen us,” I say and tell her about a story I started years ago in which a woman goes out into the forest to get her waterline up and working. A bear watches for her every year but she never sees him.
We make a plan to meet again and go to our separate cabins where we’ll eat huckleberries and cream in the evening, step out onto our decks. There will be a million stars in an endless sky.
“Melancholy, I think, is a sort of default vagueness, a get-out clause, a smoldering lack of focus. And this netsuke is a small, tough explosion of exactitude. It deserves this kind of exactitude in return.”
From Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With Amber Eyes.” (If you haven’t found a little object to hold in your hand and keep in your pocket, try finding a netsuke, the Japanese carved ivory and wood carved objects that are the subject of this intriguing and thoughtful book—with a title I wish were mine.