Two Dot: 2 voices

Every leaf is pointing east. The trees bend and the building moans, all yielding to the unseen prevailing wind. It is another day of weather. I have turned on the heaters in each room and crawled back into bed with the cat at my side. From here, I look toward a day on my own in the studio. “What are you working on?” people ask. It is a simple but difficult questions. I will leaf through some papers, watch for the sun, read something, maybe write a few lines, shuffle some objects on my work table, and look out the window. It looks like idleness.... especially compared to irrigating, plowing, feeding, or balancing books. But it is only idle to the chastising voice in my head... when I let her speak.

The windows have been closed against strong winds and cold temperatures. I barely heard the call. It came out of the twilight, the wind having calmed after two days of agitating everything in its path. I cracked the window to hear better. Was it an owl? I hear mourning doves every day with their owl like calls, but this was different. I followed the call from window to window. When it grew too faint to discern, I went to the internet to confirm what I thought. There is something slightly offensive to me about spelling out bird calls. Hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo, hoo, does not remotely describe the wildness that comes from an owl’s bulging throat and syrinx. Or worse....translating calls to human language., “Who cooks for you?” or even Shakespeare’s lyrical,  “To-whit; To-who.” The great horned owl out my window was clearly untamed and uncultivated to human speech. It was the owl’s own innate animal voice that drew me to listen, stirring affinity and estrangement at once.

Two Dot: both sides

Driving back from Bozeman with the passenger seat empty, I watched the clouds. It will be eleven days before I retrace this road to pick up John on his return from Seattle. Alone, I pulled off the road at the entrance to the Lennep Memorial Cemetery where the stratocumulus clouds rolled away from my camera and over the hills. They were dark at the bottom with white swells at the top, laid out in a pattern. I’d been listening to Jason Isbell’s “Something more than free” in the car and the clouds matched the melancholy-yet-hopeful mood of the album. His ballads don’t shy away from difficulties, but they are equally not afraid to hint at promise.

With the camera put away, I turned toward the cemetery, unlocking the gate and letting myself in without thinking.  It was neatly mowed, had tall trees. and graves dating from the 1800’s to now.  There are many Volseths and Bergs on the headstones, names that I know well. Norman Volseth was buried here just a few years ago. I have listened to Norman tell stories of the area. Now it will be up to the next generation to carry those stories forward. Past and present, lost but not forgotten, melancholy and promise.

Two Dot: mistress

Montana is my mistress, the one I keep without giving up my first love. She is the one I see whenever I can. I have only recently thought this idea... wondering if I should hide the fact that I have two loves rather than flaunting them. The thought came to me when I was buying plants for my Montana place. As the nursery owner was tallying my bill, I brought out photos of my lush Seattle garden. “This is the garden I left to be here.” I tell her... quickly followed by statements of love for my Montana garden as well. It was as if I were trying to justify the sincerity of my love to the parents of my mistress.

Two Dot: into blue

Leaning back against a pillow and this sturdy maple head board, laying very still with the cat softly snoring on one side, John on the other. My eyes are closed but staring at the newly risen sun. There is no word for the color... the color of warmth. I see it as soon as my eyes are closed but it takes longer to really take it in. Today I will track that color across the open Two Dot sky until the sun drops behind the western horizon over 15 hours from when it rose.

Watching the sun come up has altered my vision. There are bright spots in my eyes, in the room, on this page. I want to close my eyes and let the reddish light seep through my eyelids. Perhaps go back to sleep in a penetrating glow. The six window squares are matched by six corresponding light squares on the opposing walls...surrounded.

Tranströmer wants to swim in the sky, “The air’s so blue.” Blue because it is the shortest wave length and is scattered before the other colors. There is only blue when the sun is near. Dear old sun.

Two Dot: there = here

There has become here again... twelve hours on the road, the cat in the back seat. Now she is curled on the bed at my feet, her face tucked into her paws. Is this how she makes the transition? I will spend the day working with John to restore the house from winter, vacuuming up dead flies and mouse droppings. Outside, the grass is nearly to our knees. It will take us a week. But just now there is the quiet to listen to.   

Two Dot: night light

Deep in the night when the Perseids were at their peak, John whispered “The stars are falling.” I could not rouse myself, but I turned toward the window, perhaps hoping that the magic might penetrate my sleep if only I faced it. I did get up later and leaned on the window ledge for a minute. Two meteors streaked through the sky and I fell back into bed. In the morning we agreed that if we woke that night we would go outside. At 3am I checked the windows in every direction. The day’s cloud cover was gone as predicted and stars pierced the dense black. I watched to the north until I saw the dash of a meteor and woke John. We stumbled through the dark house out onto our front porch and lay back in lawn chairs cocooned in quilts and looked for meteors in a field of stars. They came again and again, some leaving tails, some not. It is both a reassurance and a bewilderment to look into the night sky. The multitudes of stars and the vastness of space are hard to comprehend. At the same time, family and friends spread across this country look out to the same dependable constellations, the occasional phenomena, and the milky-way holding us all.