photo by K. Iuppa
Since I spent the earlier part of the summer writing lyric nonfiction essays, I have been very fussy finding the right rhythm for my recent poems. I keep snipping at these poems, trying to settle in. This summer has been both difficult and rewarding. I used to say that I was writing about human nature through nature. But the truth is, nature can't be controlled. It's unpredictable and quite frankly scary, and human beings and their patterns of behavior are actually easier to figure out if you stop to think about it. Of course, the way you figure out human behavior is to take yourself out of the equation. That will give you a necessary distance, and like horse's vision, the ability to see things from both sides. But, sometimes, it's best to have time that is unfettered by the demands of so many others. I think this is the reason so many writers seek a retreat or residency away from their normal busy life. I have never had the opportunity to go away for long periods of time. I think my MFA years were the closest getaway experiences.
Most of this summer has been spent in recovery. I think the bouts of illness in early June made both Peter and I realize what is most important. So we hunkered down and kept to ourselves, working steadily on the gardens and getting healthy (head, heart, spirit). Family came to visit, which allowed us to catch up with our siblings.
We've been taking car rides west, stopping along the way at Mennonite farm stands and businesses (bakery, meat market, and so on). The other day, we went into the meat market because it's only open on weekends (Friday-Saturday). As we were looking through the meat cases to see what they offered for sale, we were eaves-dropping on a conversation between the Mennonite butcher/purveyor and two satisfied customers.
What was strange about this conversation was the Mennonite butcher was relaying a story about deceit.
Another customer had brought back some lobster tails and had claimed that they were spoiled. The butcher, after a brief discussion about the handling of the said lobster tails, gave the customer a replacement order of tails. He said he was heartsick over this loss. Then, after a day or so, the unsatisfied customer returned with money to pay for the replacement order. This gesture surprised the butcher and he felt it was important enough to share the story of "good faith."
Of course, I understood and appreciated this parable, but I confess I was stuck on lobster tails. It seemed to be an incongruous food, especially for people who live a "plain" life. It still seems "all wrong" to me, which is hilarious, because I'm letting my idea of "plain and good" dictate what they can and cannot eat. Who is to say that Mennonites don't eat lobster? Peter and I talked about this at dinner last night. Assumptions come up every day.
More important, than this little story, is the Mennonite produce. We bought some corn on Friday and it was exceptional and I'm sure GMO free. So all of you who are from our area, you need to seek out these farm stands. These are in Waterport NY.
I'm a bit sad that summer is galloping to its end. Here we are at the beginning of August. In several weeks, my sister will be here, and the college semester will be gearing up. Life's engine will continue to chug along, and once again I will be caught in the demands of several worlds.
So from now until then, I promise to be here now, and put all of my concentration into my daily work.