A breath of summer

Monday February 6, 2006

“Time to dispel the gloom, Dolly,” I said. “Can’t do anything about the weather but at least we can cheer up the house.”

She favoured me with a purr and a head-to-fingers scriggle but, to be honest, I don’t think she’s been feeling the gloom directly. She takes full advantage of my need for frequent cuddles and silly conversations of course, but that’s one of the things that cats are all about.

So, I whisked around the house, dusting and cleaning, and tidying, and turning lamps on. Normally, apart from my daylight bulbs over the table, I don’t burn electricity for lamps during the day. Today, I felt justified in keeping a bit of brightness about me. I compensated to a degree by turning the thermostat down—it’s far less cold now than it has been over the past week or so.

Then I searched through my CDs for happy summer music, a mix of classical and popular. Mozart’s clarinet quintet always does summer for me, and when the house is filled with Greek popular bazouki music I can imagine myself sitting outside a taverna, sipping ouzo and munching through a small dish of fresh olives.

Things started looking up.

To fill my time once I’d done my chores, I picked up Delights & Shadows, by Ted Kooser. Grasshoppers spoke summer to me:


This year they are exactly the size
of the pencil stub my grandfather kept
to mark off the days since rain,
and precisely the color of dust, of the roads
leading back across the dying fields
into the ’30s. Walking the cracked lane
past the empty barn, the empty silo,
you hear them tinkering with irony,
slapping the grass like drops of rain.
Ted Hooser
from Delights & Shadows


I’d not normally reproduce an entire poem by a living poet but this is one which, like a perfectly cut jewel, cannot be broken without destroying the part or the whole. Just relish that tinkering with irony, and cracked lane, and you’ll see what I mean.

Oh, but I do love to read poetry. I’m wary and slightly worried when I encounter people who aspire to write the stuff and yet, on examination, seem to read little if any of it. For my part, I work on a rule of thumb that I need to read an awful lot of poems for each one that I write.

And so the day passed, lamp-glimmered, slow, warm and peaceful. The Great Gloom persists still, outside, but in the house there’s been a breath of summer today.



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