in any way possible

new dawn

This morning I was up early, just before 5, to work on the corrections of Euclid’s Orchard. Before I got out of bed, I heard the dawn chorus begin, the sound coming in the window as it does every year. I wrote about this in my essay “Love Song”, included in The Summer Book, which had one of its launches yesterday at the Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver, an event I’d loved to have participated in but we’re leaving tomorrow morning for 10 days in Ottawa so I couldn’t get away so soon before our departure.

On an early summer morning, I wake to the sound of Swainson’s thrushes. Beyond my bedroom window, beyond the house, they sing where the woods begin. And there are robins, vireos, the long whistle of a varied thrush. My curtains are rough white linen and they filter light, the light at dawn, coming from the east, pink and golden as the sun finds its way over Mount Hallowell. My husband sleeps closest to the window and he pulls the curtains aside to let in more song. There is honeysuckle blooming, and dog roses, trumpet vines. Hummingbirds bury themselves in the flowers. The pink throats of the tree frogs inflate, a loud vibrato close enough to touch.

This morning I listened and then came downstairs to work at the dining table (my desk is too cluttered…), reading and correcting, and stopping now and then to think about how an essay began or to wonder if others would remember a particular event the way I do. I confess to a little trepidation about this book. It’s very personal. But when I wrote at least three of the essays, I was in a strange place; I was living between worlds, between the living and the dead. I know that sounds dramatic but it felt very much that way in the fall as I waited for the results of tests and scans, all undertaken because of the suspicious nature of some nodules in my lungs. For a time, it was thought that they might be metastases, which meant that every effort had to be made to determine either the location of primary cancer or to rule it out. I am grateful that the results were so good and that I am actually very healthy (I always took my robust health for granted) and in a profound way I am grateful also for the time I spent in the company of ghosts. I learned things. I finished things. My daughter Angelica translated a line from Ovid’s Tristia for me to use as an epigraph for one section in the essay “West of the 4th Meridian: A Libretto for Migrating Voices”:  I wish to be with you in any way possible. When I was writing the essay, I didn’t know what might be possible. I only knew I didn’t want to waste time. And this morning, getting up from the table to make coffee, I looked out to see the New Dawns cascading over a beam on the patio.  A warbler paused for a moment on the little hanging birdbath by the kitchen window. In any way possible

2 thoughts on “in any way possible”

    1. Thanks, Beth! And I have one more scan but I think it’s a formality (if one can call a scan a formality…). Enjoy your roses. I can smell them from here. And keep working on your memoir. I can’t wait to read it (the earlier one being so delicious).

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