Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The end has no end

The view out my window in July

I read a great book on the boat, called Coming Up for Air, by Margaret Becker, about a woman who takes a month off from her life just to be by herself in a cabin by the water. It recalled to me Thoreau, and his time by Walden Pond, and how necessary it is for all of us to take time to withdraw and be by ourselves for a while. In it, she makes a commitment to herself to watch every sunrise and sunset for a month. I wish I could discipline myself to do that here, to spend that time of focused meditation with the world around me.

Maine connects me to the earth. The seasons breathe here. They have pith and substance. I can feel each distinct season as a personality--the jolly sunny face of Bacchus in summer, the hard drawn face of Old Man Winter. Each month has its own flora and fauna: the black flies and dandelions of early May, the deer flies and strawberries of July, the long orange light and potatoes in September. It’s a different life up here, the life of 100 years ago, a life that allows me to withdraw from the maniacal speed of the rest of the world.

Even the relief from the burden of television in Aroostook County is a blessing. We get four channels on a good day: two Canadian, CBS, and PBS. It’s great. I find my time releasing from the electronic world and being deposited in my lap again. Here I pick up books, old classics from college, and read them through in two days. Right now I’m reading the Encantadas, Melville’s travel writing from sailing through the Galapagos Islands. Where else, aside from here, and the boat, could I find time to do that?

I took Shadow the wolf-dog on another walk long last night. I’ve been avoiding the walks, partly because I’ve been avoiding him--I’m trying to do a better job at training him, and it’s hard work. I found a fantastic book at the library called The Loved Dog, by a tiny woman, a former member of the Israeli special forces, who now trains dogs for a living. She explains that the way to a dog’s heart is through its stomach. I’ve always known that, I suppose, but it seemed like far too big of a splurge to give a dog things like chicken and cheese puffs in order to get him to sit. But then I began to think: isn’t chicken cheaper than dog food these days? And don’t even the trainers at the Westminster Dog Show use treats to get their dogs to trot obediently behind them? Maybe she’s onto something. So I’ve begun taking a little baggie of treats with us, and I’ve successfully trained Shadow to go swim in the beaver pond and come back to me and his leash when he’s done. I have an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

When I went last night it was like the release of a tautly-pulled arrow. Shadow and I all but ran the three miles. When I walk with him, we are pure beast together--united in the run. I am one with my body. He is one with me. Together we hear the gunshots through the forest, the rustle of a bear or a deer in the bushes, an unknown bird song. Maybe, sometimes, I can even hear the sound of the word home, whispered through the pines.


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Moxie said...

would love to hear from you...Miss Daisy & ATK...AT2004...follow our dog's adventure blog at....moxiesgreatadventures.blogspot.com

Melissa said...

Sorry I've been so out of touch, DaisyJ! I keep meaning to email you, but things have been crazy (see above). I'm back in Tennessee, now, and have been meaning to email you since I got here. I will soon, I promise!

Moxie said...

please e-mail us at jjjtmk@yahoo.com....is your old e-mail address still the same? Can't wait to catch up with you, we've never really stopped adventuring since the AT in 2004. We spend every day off in the wilderness.Would love to be alone in the woods in a cabin too....OH someday!!!! Will wait to hear from you. ATK & Miss Daisy...(a.k.a. Moxie's parent's)Have you checked out her blog lately?