I am reading Annie Dillard again this morning, here on the couch in the breeze. I am missing my community's Independence Day celebration for the third year running. I am in need of some solitude, some focus. I can see myself reflected in the enormity of yesterday's purchase, though, and I meditate the movies I could watch, in lieu of doing the steadier things that need to be done. The dryer buzzes, letting me know that the clothes I've left in there for days are, once again, ready to be taken out and folded. This time, perhaps I'll take care of them.
I tend to get tired of domestic tasks even before I undertake them. This realization has been one of the shocks of my adult life, particularly given my lineage: my grandmother once broke an oven window, working to get it cleaner; she took the paint off of woodwork, scrubbing it down. In my mother's house, we cleaned regularly, as a team. There were never dirty dishes; there was never actual dirt. Somehow these tasks do not climb onto my list of priorities; somehow the next book or writing or poem comes in first, a choice never even making it to the level of consciousness. Give me twenty minutes and I'll read a few paragraphs; give me twenty dollars and I'll buy a book or two. (Though, apparently, if you give me eight hours and many twenties, I'll buy a television. I think I'll stop mocking myself about the television any second now; I've been rocking the same 13" set for nine years, and I think this one's time had come, to the extent that one can say such a thing and live.)
And so today, I am putting off my dishes and dried clothes, even my dressing, to read Annie Dillard's thinking about the morality of studying the world through a microscope, about the intricacy of the created world. "The creator," she notes, "churns out the intricate texture of least works that is the world with a spendthrift genius and an extravagance of care. This is the point" (127).
Last night, in my dreams, it snowed in July. We walked through the streets of Gambier marvelling at the world turned upside down. We might have been barefoot. I'm not even sure who we were. In my dream, I was moving house, going to a new apartment whose living room had blue walls, though also some white walls, and these walls had gashes and holes in them. I filled them in with spackle; I meditated paint colors that would cover up my patch jobs; the spackle dried to the color of the walls; I kept contemplating color, planning to do the whole room the blue it obviously wanted to be. At 6:57 a.m., a booming awoke me: I thought Gambier was exploding: the sound racketed and ricocheted for a good minute, my mind racketing and ricocheting narratives of destruction and of slow-settling death even after I realized it was just a loud, lingering thunderclap, part of a swift-sailing storm. I contemplated getting up to make my coffee, even though I'd sat up late last night. Then, I woke up at 10 a.m.
Today will be a day for particularities. I can feel it. "The creation in the first place, being itself, is the only necessity, for which I would die, and I shall," Dillard writes. "The point about that being, as I know it here and see it, is that, as I think about it, it accumulates in my mind as an extravagance of minutiae. The sheer fringe and network of detail assumes primary importance. That there are so many details seems to be the most important and visible fact about the creation" (129).
Late last night, on a backroad just outside Gambier, a fawn in the road, unable to make sense of its direction, unable to figure out how to cross from one green space to the other across that wet river of asphalt. I tapped my car's horn--wondering what the encounter would have been, had I been on foot--hoping to startle it enough to get it to go the rest of the way to one ditch or another. Instead, it lost its footing on the slick black road and nearly fell, and I lamented my misjudgment. Eventually it tottered and trembled, in all its frighted wide-eyed, large-eared infancy, back into the extra-verdant underbrush (we are so damp and fecund here this week; the rain falls, the weeds shoot, the corn has reached shoulders), to watch as I eased by. It was the third fawn I've seen in two days. (When Sufjan Stevens does his Ohio album, I hope he'll sing our deer.) I don't yet have this year's fawns on film, but here are the two I caught last year on July 1; I think you'll see why I've been awaiting their arrival (though I don't know whether I told you that I have been).
"I am not making chatter," she says of a "poor wretch" who flies from her at a party. "I mean to change his life. I seem to possess an organ that others lack, a sort of trivia machine" (Dillard 132-3).