Monday, May 12, 2008


From our red library room, I'm looking out on pink apple, copper beech, black firs, and emerald maples, all the more vivid against this gray morning sky. I am startled into remembering that I do indeed live in the mountains, and that this is indeed mountain weather. Jazz Minnie is purring in my ear. Several birds just flew by too fast to see what they were.
       I'm back from New York, after several days of working on the family house. One night A. went into Manhattan to meet a friend and I took J. to a new Japanese restaurant nearby.  All through the sushi and maki I waxed poetic and ecstatic about Astoria, as delicious and complex as the green tea ice cream that ended our meal. After dinner, I led J. on a pilgrimage to Astoria Park, a twenty minute stroll down Ditmars, the main shopping street, which becomes more residential as you get closer to the park, and is dotted with cafes of various ethnic origins. We passed an Arab coffee joint with an American-sounding name in which Chinese people were smoking hookahs at French cafe tables. (What do they smoke in them? Tobacco, I guess.)
     When we reached the park it was just getting dark. The wind picked up, but not too much. We walked up the hill to the park's great sloping meadow and a view of the East River, that wet opal reflecting the lights of Manhattan and the sky. The Triboro Bridge arched above us and cast its roar down on the paths and grasses—a roar that seems to me like the background noise of the Big Bang. It's elemental, the strange mix of wind and running engines.  The bridges, the park, the lights, the sound set my own atoms vibrating in sympathy. The river's intractable, opposing currents roiled under their namesake Hellgate Bridge. Gold, blue-black swirls butted up against each other, as they always do,  helpless and determined. The Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound collide right there! We ambled toward the river under the canopy of old sycamores and the Hellgate's cathedral arches. I greeted ghosts and old memories, and beheld the explosion of Now: the iron rail at the river, the black rocks strewn below, the rat that roamed among them.
     This morning back in Pittsfield I contemplate the trees swaying against the stormy sky as I replay that  night in the city. All of it swirls in me like the Hellgate currents. 
     That night in New York I  felt such possibility, such optimism. The house, Astoria itself, an incredible asset any way you cut it, not a millstone around my neck. I felt empowered—toward whatever. I felt as though I could Take a Chance. Sink in, let go.
     What to do? I'm steeping like a teabag in the cup of this experience.