i will admit, in print, that i am not a fan of j.d. salinger’s work. that little red book of post-pubescent anxiety & revolt (the mao book of quotations for teenagers since 1951.) it seems sacrilegious, doesn’t it? & yes, of course i read it when i was a teenager, it may have been entertaining then (i liked their names, i remember that; esme, franny, zooey, holden, for god’s sake, they all sounded so connecticut & i guess that was aspirational, you know, to have a name that indicated you were of a class, one that was not yours.) but i can not tell you a thing about any of the books, not the essence or the ‘take-away’ feeling; i couldn’t even lay out a cliff notes version were i forced too (teenagers suffer, there are tears, there is revolt, there is hugging & maybe smoking on the sly, was there sex? i don’t know & it seems never cared enough to remember.)
there is much to be said for the solitary day spent gardening (in spite of the ache-y muscles the following day.) there are so many moments, vignettes, words of encouragement (& words of wonder & awe) that are like the little death (la petite mort for you francophiles); it may account for the melancholy that sloshes around your ankles, a broken pipe carrying flora dreams away, that sadness that that moment may not be repeated (or ever feel as sublime.)
i really like the traveler’s insurance tv commercial with the dog & the bone, you may watch it by clicking here. they’ve come out with a second one that i feel is also very good (& if i were in the market for insurance, i would definitely consider them, kudos to the advertising company that developed these commercials.) they’re terrific visceral advertising (& beautiful to boot.)
favorite color: i’ve always said green, but of course that was when i wasn’t saying red or blue or yellow (not to mention all of the million or so variations on those themes.) i loathe gender-specific responses & the pigeon-holing parents do to make sure their daughters love pink/purple & their boys do not. & don’t even get me started on all of the companies that insist that those are the colors little girls, but not little boys, should love, love, love (i reserve my deepest disrespect, disregard, disgust for their ignorance & promotion of what is right & what is wrong for little children, for criminy’s sake.)
when i first learned that i could make lavendar by mixing red, blue & white paint together (i believe i was 8 or 9 at the time) & it was in the basement playroom of my grandmother patrick’s house in springfield, illinois, i was, without hyperbole, ecstatic. the world turned lavender for me that day (no schadenfreude here, but my god, what a sign, & in retrospect if you’d been reading those kind of signs then, that one would have been a cold splash of water in your sleepy face.)
don’t you miss john denver? i know, i know what you’re thinking, “robert, you’ve gone too far now, i can’t support you on this, i just can’t, he’s too sweet a singer, too saccharine, just too too too.” but in his defense, & particularly if you ever grew up in the country, the wide open plains, or those majestic rocky mountains, or the hills & dales of any other landscape sparsely populated, grandly innocent, virgin & unspoiled (& even if you lived in a large metropolis & dreamed of those places,) then you know what i mean when i say his voice captured all of that, a clear brook, the sweet sound of the dinner bell, the fresh air. the innocence & the heartbreak, the love of life flowed so easily from his blond, blue-eyed-ness (those round wire-framed glasses say it all.)
last night when i was walking the dogs i tried to remember what i’d been reading in the new issue of the atlantic & couldn’t. oh, i did dig around in the dark cobwebby interiors & dusty corners where neurons & atoms & micro, micro synapses of information are doing whatever it is they do, but nothing. i even tried to not think about it, hoping by turning my mind to other things (anything) what i wanted to remember would float to the top of my consciousness & “ping,” just like that, what i wanted to retrieve would be at the forefront of the carousel (the lending library carousel, you know) & i would pluck it out & say, “ah, yes, that weighty matter.” but alas, it was not to be & until i laid my head on my three stacked pillows to read again before drifting off to sleep, & turned to the dog-eared page where i had left off, did i then know why i couldn’t remember: i had been reading about justin bieber.
<insert deep sigh here> it’s why sweets are so bad for you; all taste, no nutrition.
there is nothing, particularly in the southern california garden, that for me represents the advent of spring more than the sudden explosion of new rose leaves, fleshy, leathery and bloody, that cordovan red, as perfect as a piece of hand-dipped dark chocolate.
to be continued…