Sunday, December 05, 2004

Have I told you I'm going to be a grandmother at the end of May?

Well, I am!

Meantime, we go outside at the beginning of December without a jacket. I'm swimming nearly every day in my wet suit. It's lovely when the sun is shining, no matter if it's winter or summer. We walk up and down the leaf-strewn driveway, 10 times to make a mile. Amos races back and forth from one end of the pool or drive to the other to keep us company. Now the leaves are almost gone, we can see through to the other side.

We've put up wreaths along the railings as our first gesture towards Christmas, our first Christmas here. The grown-up, married, pregnant children are coming to see the house for the first time and meet Amos.

Happy, happy Holidays to all. I miss you, wherever you are.

Friday, November 26, 2004

We had a wonderful visit "home" to New York, saw lots and lots of friends packed into our five days just after the election. It was good to be back in a blue state, and to commiserate with a very blue city.

I feel as if I have dual citizenship now, in both countries.

But this note is just to wish you and yours Happy Thanksgiving (even if it's a day late) and Happy Holidays of whatever stripe you celebrate!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

It's deer hunting season down here. We live next to 240 acres of land that are covered with loblolly pine and hardwood. Yesterday Amos brought home, one at a time, three deer legs with hoof, and, last, proudly, a seriously decomposing head.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Heliotroops (that is, my fellow co-editors of Heliotrope, a journal of poetry) came to Edgefield last weekend for a retreat. We put together Issue #5 of the magazine, due out before year-end; we gave a sold-out reading at the Genealogical Library on the town square, sponsored by the weekly newspaper, the Edgefield Advertiser (thank you, Edgefield Advertiser); we met with the Augusta Poetry Group; we swam, we talked and talked, we relaxed, we drove around. It was a wonderful weekend for me and, I think, for everyone concerned. Great to hear those New York accents in my house again after all these months; even greater to have those New York conversations!

Two days before the arrival of the Heliotroops, a bobcat, originally thought to be a cougar, killed a pet pit bull who was tied up in the yard of a home about seven miles from here, near North Augusta. The bobcat has not been caught.

On the same day, a deer somehow wandered downtown and, spooked by Main Street traffic, leapt through the window of Tidwell's Jewelry Store!

Never a dull moment around here, I'm telling you.

And yesterday, as I looked up from the pool, the sky was so blue, I swear to you, it was purple. As if a lilac bush had bled its color into the firmament. (Purple prose being appropriate to the moment -- and to the recently departed and much missed Heliotroop!)

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Saturday night at The Big Mo. Double feature of the new Manhurian Candidate and Fahrenheit 9/11. Full moon. Hot dogs, popcorn and Coke at the concession stand. A plea to support the concessions by the voice over owner/ticket taker because that's the only way he and his family can keep the Big Mo going. A movie screen full of dead drive-ins. We turned the truck around, set up our directors' chairs in the flatbed, ran the battery all the way down listening to 94.3 FM, where the movie sound was being broadcast. The owner/ticket taker/rescue mechanic jump started the truck for us in the dark, while the movie played. We got home, us old fogies, at 2 AM.

Did you make out? asked our friend Betty.

Shoot, we said, snapping our fingers. We knew we left something out.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The resident great blue took off from the creek where it had been resting or eating, I watched it rise through the trees, wheel around to the north, and fly over the house on its way to somewhere else to spend the day. The wonderful thing is it will be back, it likes it here.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Plus I saw the heron gliding high in the sky over the road as I walked to pick up the paper this morning. Silence added to the romance of watching him out of sight. I can't get over how alive everything is down here. Including me.
A spider web hung between the trees in the woods. I could see it in a shaft of light that fell between the branches. It looked as if it were floating there, weightless, unattached, and gone like a dream as a cloud passed overhead and the direction of the light shifted.

Meantime, the latest snake is either a coral snake (beautiful, vivid bands of color, and poisonous) or a scarlet kingsnake (beautiful, vivid bands, and harmless). By the time we came back with the hoe, it was gone. We are choosing to believe it's harmless.

The snakeman says this one is deadlier than the last one.

If you get bitten, they say to bring the snake with you to the hospital.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Wildlife update. It was a cottonmouth! Three days later, the yard man killed it with a hoe. Its severed head opened its mouth, as white as cotton inside, to prove it. Faster and deadlier than a rattler. The book says water snakes are often needlessly killed because they so closely resemble the cottonmouth. Both hide in fallen leaves and among rocks, where they are practically invisible. We are consulting experts on how to control them. Some say sulphur keeps them away. The smell of hell.

This landscape is almost sexual, so deep is the emotional pull it exerts. Driving along the late evening roads, peeking through roadside trees to curving meadows, the sun a bright disc thrown against the sky, sometimes a lonely tree in full leaf silhouetted against the growing dark, I feel my womb contract as if I were trying to birth the world or take it as a lover.

Then I went swimming. As if in the Pacific Ocean. If the earth were glass, this is what the sun would look like, shining below the horizon. Yet even with the pool light illuminating the water, I imagined other creatures in there with me, quick black dangerous. Lie still, I thought. They are attracted to motion.

They are attracted to blood.

Snakes give off the smell of sulphur when they die. Or when they are angry. That's why sulphur can keep them away.

Walls of separation divide us. Matter divides us. It is our fundamental condition, the condition of creation. It is the human mission to lower the barriers, destroy the walls, get as close to one another as we humanly can. To feel that we are all swimming, that we are all water, that we are all attracted to one another. Not in anger but in love. But we are furious at our separation, we are lonely in our isolation, and we take it out on one another, not recognizing our need, not recognizing our situation, which is spiritual, which is one, which is why we must be kind and just to one another.

But peaches are the smell of heaven, believe me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Amos the dog had found a box turtle to play with. It was hard to know if the poor thing was alive or dead, but it was completely closed up in its reclusive shell, all doors slammed shut head and tail. We took it down to the stream to let it go, hoping it would revive. Nature is everywhere.

As I stepped off the bank onto one of the rock shelves that project into the water, causing ripples and eddies and little waterfalls all along the way, a shape jumped! I jumped! It slithered into the water and disappeared. I had to go look it up. The first snake I came across in the book that looked like what it was was a Cottonmouth! Reading a bit farther, though, I recognized a common, unpoisonous and quite unconfrontational water snake.

We haven't seen a snake in weeks, partly because it's summer and partly, we think, because of Amos. But with the heat, he hasn't been so active, and this perfectly common neighbor was out sunning itself on the lazybones rocks, taking a little break from its hard day, when we disturbed it.

We have a resident Great Blue Heron we see flying low over the stream some early mornings and evenings.

We have a resident green anole that likes our white wicker furniture and looks (as he knows) quite fetching lolling upon it.

Frogs are not endangered in this neighborhood. We catch them in the pool skimmer on many a morning. They make a racket at dusk.

We have hummingbirds in the yellow bell.

Carpenter bees drill holes in the eaves. Wasps and hornets nest where they please. Likewise dirt daubers.

We've had to trap a family of seven beavers that were obstructing the flow of the stream by building cams upstream.

We've seen a number of deer by the side of the road. You have to watch for them, you have to watch for their eyes at night. One bounded right in front of the car when we first were driving around here. We've come close to hitting them more than once.

This is not New York.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Just published! In annual print version of xconnect, Volume 6 (2004), the mid-section of my book-length poem, Degrees of Latitude, called "The Equator." Other great stuff in this issue too. Get a copy if you can ( And thank you for your interest.

In addition, Angelo Verga appears in the current issue of Rattle(, Summer 2004, that features a tribute to Vietnamese poets.

Monday, July 05, 2004

A motorist ran over a six-foot long rattlesnake on the road ten feet from our driveway. It was headed our way. She ran over it fifteen times to make sure it was dead. Nobody around here had ever seen a rattlesnake so big. We had our pictures taken with it.

So why did we move here, anyway?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

So, why did we move here, anyway? I hope to tell you many reasons, many stories. Here is one of them.

Last year, maybe May. My husband Louis had spent the winter here, doing research on his family. I was visiting from Florida, or perhaps by May, from New York. We had gone to an early dinner with a couple of friends, call them Janet and Beau, to a place called Wade's Southern Suppers. Buffet, so it must have been Wednesday: fried chicken, fried vegetables, potatoes, red velvet cake, coffee. De-lethal!

Janet and Beau are not a couple. Beau doesn't drive, so we three others took him home. He lives in the country, in a rambling old clapboard house with a name, two chimneys, a family graveyard, and a magnificent magnolia tree under which he gives parties in the summertime.

It was a mild, sensuous evening. The sun was setting as we drove and had gone down completely by the time we arrived at Middleplace. The moon had risen and it was full. There was a silver glow across the broad yard, the gate, the white sides of the house, the roof, the chimney, and the peacock sitting atop the chimney, silhouetted against the sky.

Beau keeps peacocks.

If there had been music -- and there should have been music -- it would have been something soft and swelling, violins and saxophones, under the peacock's screech.

We had the moon in our eyes. When we woke the next morning , we still had the feeling we had gone someplace else, to some land beyond reality, to Brigadoon.

Edgefield is a real place. But once in a while, in one corner or another, it becomes mystical .

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Other than the Black Widow, the only spider you have to worry about around here, he said, is the Brown Recluse.

The thing about it is you won't even know when you've been bit. Then a few days later, you get a little festering sore, then that scabs over and the scab falls off. Then a few days later you get a little bigger festering sore, then that scabs over and the scab falls off. Then a few days later you get an even bigger festering sore. Eventually, it can cover your whole body.

There's nothing they can do but cut. And if they don't get it all, the poison'll spread and they have to go back and take a bigger chunk.

My cousin's the only person I ever knew to get bit, though.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The reading on our new, 700 foot deep! well reads 2 gallons/minute. That's less water than the old well!

Welcome to the country!

Sunday, May 02, 2004

This is my first entry. Welcome to my blog! It's Sunday in South Carolina. I'm listening to Frank's Place on XM Radio. It's a rainy day, but not raining at the moment. I'm grateful for the weekend, since things are still -- there's the sun! -- pretty chaotic around here, trying to get the house and grounds pulled together after moving down here from New York on the first of February. Yesterday was our three-month anniversary. We're happy.