Friday, quotidian

Because you were up in the night, reading obsessively about the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, imagining your own family in Drumheller, the laying out of one body after another, your grandmother somehow going on afterwards, because you were reading and trying to place them on maps (where is Ploeg Street? Is the area where you stayed last April, in view of the Dinosaur Hotel, roughly where they lived above the river?), because you were groggy when you woke but delighted to find a review by your son online, the son who has always loved history, and that made you remember the summers you spent camping, in search of places like Batnuni Crossing where traces of the grease trails could still be seen, and where you wandered Barkerville, each moment somehow shimmering, so that you made notes and wrote “Days of Gold and Fireweed” as soon as you got home (published in Red Laredo Boots),

at barkerville2
the historian and his brother (the mathematician) on old cart, at Barkerville, 1992

anyway, because you were groggy and lying quietly in bed, reading the Ormsby Review online and waiting for your coffee, you tried to ignore the cat’s rumbling stomach against your leg, no, you shouldn’t have ignored it because suddenly he rose and (there is no nice way to say this) threw up his entire breakfast and what suspiciously looked like a mouse corpse partly digested onto the homemade log-cabin quilt on the foot of the bed and then on the duvet (luckily not a down one this time of year), its lovely cover, and down onto the carpet. So instead of drinking your coffee, which was in fact on its way up, carried by your thoughtful husband, you leapt from the bed, the two of you found old towels and a bucket of warm water, you stripped the bed of every cover, and while you rinsed various linens, your husband scrubbed the carpet. The cat washed his paws nearby without a second look. The morning which you had hoped to spend writing was instead spent doing load after load of bedding, rinsing everything twice because, well, cat’s breakfast (and mouse corpse), and hanging it outside on the line where it will no doubt come in dusty with the Douglas fir pollen that is everywhere right now (between laundry loads you vacuumed the kitchen where a golden haze of pollen was on the floor and other surfaces because yesterday you had doors and windows open to the sunlight), and only now you are sitting at your desk, having taken a little time to read Alex Ross’s beautiful piece about Brahms and grief, so lovely that you immediately put on one of your favourite singers, Kathleen Ferrier, singing the Brahms Alto Rhapsody (preceeded on the cd by the ravishing “Two Songs for Contralto with Viola Obbligato, Op. 91”), and maybe it is time to get on with the day.