Sunday, April 15, 2007

the smell of campfire in my hair

After the workshop yesterday, K and I drove down to Winona with our two furry companions. It has been a while since we have been; driving into town, we shared memories of living here: my visits to the dorms where I had to creep downstairs to shower (it was a Catholic school, after all), the nights we went to the bars downtown to play pool and drink hard cider from the tap, learning the pleasure and pain of Jefferson's buffalo wings, living with Dan and his pampered goldfish, walking in looping circles around the lake and sometimes rollerblading, though I was terrible at it (perhaps another attempt this summer in church parking lots, feeling like I am six again).

I had to stop on the way down to take pictures of Lake Pepin, the site of the birth of waterskiing, just off the Mississippi River. It is that time of spring where green is only a hint, so the branches look desolate, but the air smelled of things to come. Faintly, a barbeque.

And when I returned to the car, these two had climbed into place. K's hand in the background; he worked on his laptop nearly the entire drive down, a major project keeping his weekends relaxing in only snatches. He made a silly mistake yesterday (confusing the x and y axis) that caused him much amused frustration. Fortunately, his sense of humor has carried through the weekend, which has buoyed my own good spirit. I wonder if this happy attutide towards life could be bottled and I could keep it forever? No matter the sad moments, a positive attitude. I know it's not in my nature; I am more of a pessimist (protection of grief to swallow me up), but I think while maintaining that pessimistic attitude, I can find beauty in the opportunities opened up. Closed doors, opened windows, that sort of thing. (I always liked windows better anyway.)

The dogs had a grand time with their pal Bear, whipping around the backyard, pulling stuffing out of dog toys, clamboring on top of one another. No huge incident, and since we were outdoors the entire evening, Zephyr had no opportunity for an accident (though he did vomit on the way down--yeech).

We arrived chaotically, but soon the dogs settled, and K pulled out a growler I picked up from Granite City while in the cities. Lane brought out vodka his parents had from a trip to Russia as well as rum they added spices to--it became a small tasting night, and I even tried the vodka (though, because I haven't been drinking for almost two months, everything's taste seemed heightened).

I had also forgotten some of the small pleasures of the drive as well as the city of Winona: the beauty of Lake Pepin, the rhythm of the trains pulling through, the twinkling of the locks on the Mississippi. I purchased a small notebook (and four letterpress poems to have framed) at the shop connected to the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts (beautiful, everything belonged in tissue paper, to be treasured and passed along in a hope chest from generation to generation, so much caught my breath in my throat as words became works of art, hence the four poems I will frame here at a local art shop), and I wrote down snippets of things that struck me, words, images, sentences. Little fragments to return to, to remember. I keep a box of notes and cards and little mementos from students; the intention was to have this over the years and look back on how sometimes I was a good teacher. This is the same idea, only just the ways I observe the world, quick fragments that made me want to return to them in some way. Here are a few (the first is something a classmate said I want to use in a poem):

- tactic of the fruit tree: to make itself enticing so it proliferates
- Lock & Dam No. 5 glittering like Christmas
- brindle
- the train at night, the rhythm swaying on the tracks
- "I can't imagine a girl who would be willing to tie her life to his forever"
- the smell of campfire the next day on my clothes, in my hair
- Lake Pepin, the bluffs, Sugar Loaf

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