Thursday, January 28, 2016

January 28: Upside-down in the Sky, Snow, Sandra Beasely, The Story of My family

It snowed.  It snowed all yesterday and never emptied the sky, although the clouds looked so low and heavy they might drop all at once with a thud.  The light is diffuse and hueless, like the light on paper inside a pewter bowl.  The snow looks light and the sky dark, but in fact the sky is lighter than the snow.  Obviously the thing illuminated cannot be lighter than its illuminator.  The classical demonstration of this point involves simply laying a mirror flat on the snow so that it reflects in its surface the sky, and comparing by sight his value to that of the snow.  This is all very well, even conclusive, but the illusion persists.  The dark is overhead and the light at my feet; I'm walking upside-down in the sky.

Snow has a way of disorienting a person, as Dillard points out.  The sky dark as a skunk belly, the ground light as a winter weasel.  The universe inverted by the weather.  Of course, it's a visual trick--a matter of the reflection of daylight on the surface of freshly falling snow.  That doesn't make it any less of a (pardon my language) mind fuck.

That particular condition ruled the day in my little corner of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Light and dark playing that winter shell game.  I woke up to a whole lot of snow.  I shoveled my driveway in the early morning dark, and, indeed, all the illumination seemed to be coming from the drifts of freshly fallen powder.  If I hadn't been so annoyed about having to shovel at five o'clock in the morning, I may have appreciated the beauty and strangeness of the phenomenon.

And the snow continued all . . . day .  . . long.  It didn't let up.  By the time I got home after work, all of my shoveling work from the morning had been undone.  I had to spend yet another hour moving snow.  And again, the sky was a chalkboard slate, and the ground was a dry erase board.  It really did feel, as Dillard says, like I was walking upside-down in the sky.  Or that the sky had fallen, and I was pushing around pieces of it.

My book club met tonight.  It didn't go quite as planned.  Because of the snow, the author of the book we read this month had to cancel.  He cited wind and blowing snow and an abiding phobia of driving in such conditions. 

So, the members of my book club cane.  We ate, gossiped, ate some more, and talked about the book.  Of course, the author's absence made the discussion a little more digressive than usual, topics ranging from work problems to home problems.  We talked about headcheese and grape sherbet.  About obsession and loss.  And that was in just the first five minutes. 

The author is rescheduling for next month, and I am ready to go to bed.  I know that posts this week have been a little sparse.  I apologize for that.  Too much to do,  not enough time to do it in.  This weekend, more fun:  I have a huge project to complete--my annual evaluation and promotion request.  It's a pretty big deal.  I can't drop this ball.

Saint Marty has a poem this evening about light and family.

The Story of My Family

by:  Sandra Beasley

You're a tooth I tongue and tongue,
tasting blood as you loosen,

testing the sweet root of the hole.
The shudder and catch, the god spit,

and though I dip the bone in gold,
no lover wants to wear a necklace

of you.  Carry you in my pocket
and you smolder.  Sow the field with you

and you sprout in hours, white tops
thrusting through the meal soil--

one book says a bean pushes its husk
away, hauling the used body to the surface,

one book says the army is born whole,
fingers scratching toward any light.

Break out the shovels . . .

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