“Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”
― W.H. Auden,
Among the great transformational events that have come upon us these days and overcome our tottering and it would seem, the near demise of our aged Republic, we of good will, of good conscience, of dutiful honor and kind vision show an affirming flame. We do so in the micro world among friends, family, loved ones and communities. And so, Thanksgiving this season carried with it both the exultation of hope against all odds and and the shadows of despair seeping into dreams and the nightmares of days that can’t be denied. We wonder and are made emphatically aware of what our brothers and sisters of another generation must have experienced as the shadow of a terrible evil forever to change the course of history swallowed up the light and unleashed it’s terrible darkness on Europe and then the whole world.
Andie is completely unaware of these events and as we humbly move about in our world of the cottage and small village, life seems to go on as usual. I do not yet wonder annoyed as did the housewives in the suburbs of Auschwitz on those days when ashen, gray, oily flakes soiled the bleached white Aryan laundry so consummately hung and ordered in the best regimental way on lines to be blessed by the sun and not spoiled by the truth.
Andie and I live in the day to day unfolding present. This is our understanding of future in which the days play out, the simple things often bring joy and gratitude is a constant if silent prayer. Andie is my guru in these matters of time and being present. What better way to celebrate now than Thanksgiving. In my long life and with the acute knowledge of its cadences and comfortable patterns of a sooner end, Andie and I have never felt so alive. We affirm love with every breath. Ultimately, this is the most sublime resistance to evil.
On Thanksgiving morning Andie and I woke early. I made coffee, wrapped up and then we went out into the very cold, wet November day. There was not a sound except for a single crow kaa kaa’ing in the distance, The streets were still, the houses silent, the driveways empty…..what a peaceful experience. When we returned, the house had warmed up, the coffee percolated, and toast-time ready to roll. Andie, as usual followed me excitedly down the hall as we began our morning ritual. I take a bite, she takes a bite until the toast is done and she gets to lick the plate. Andie, however, gets the dry parts of the toast, not the jam parts, but since she can smell the incredibly delicious French cherry confection, it’s almost the same thing.
We spent Thanksgiving afternoon watching the National Dog Show, because the Sporting Event had a half dozen Spaniels and an English Cocker. They were magnificent dogs and I took great pride in telling Andie that these beautiful cousins also liked treats as she could see for her self as they trotted the circle. Timmy, an English Springer Spaniel won!
Timmy reminded me of Spike my grandmother’s dog, who was also black and white. I later learned that Spike was a gift from my father who loved Cockers. My first dog was an American Cocker named Tuesy. Tuesy’s real name was Tuesday. I think that was because my first birthday was on a Tuesday. I had a lisp then and could do ballet’s second-position and barre quite naturally. At 70, however, my creative tendencies are, shall we say, either moot or more integrated into the mainstream flow of survival.
In the late afternoon I caught a ride to attend a traditional Thanksgiving up the mountain with a family that adopted me and Trace as associate uncles nearly twenty years ago when we were neighbors in rural wine country. So, it was with great delight that I accepted an invitation to join the family for Thanksgiving and once again enjoy the comradery of dear old friends who live in what I have always called the rainbow house, certainly one of the most exceptionally beautiful sites in our part of the state.
The house sits on the side of a small mountain surrounded by vineyards and overlooking, far down below the vast stretch of Lake Sonoma. Sometimes at dusk you can hear coyotes howling their nocturnal songs from one end of the valley to the other. Our hostess has an exquisite eye for beauty and her home is a delightful complex of found objects, shabby chic marvels, photographs, paintings, drawings, flowers, green plants, potted trees, lighted candles and the swirl of people, cats, dogs and grandchildren to enliven the comfort of everyday living with the passion of a blessed sanctuary.
Before going up the mountain an old friend and fellow guest for our mutual holiday stopped by with her dog named Harrington. Harry as he is usually called was a throw away dog that found his way into the life of she, for whose karma was perfect for the match. Watching them together and the perfection of their intimacy reminds me of self and Andie as we go through life always aware of each other.
The first thing Harry did was take a tiny pee on the end table as he entered the house and met Andie ( No biggie here for dog folks). They hit if off like old kennel mates and ran around the house chasing each other and playing with toys. Absolutely wonderful! We are thinking about scheduling play dates every few weeks or so.
Andie stayed home and watched the Thanksgiving Day parade. She took an interest in Felix the Cat and remembered puppy days of her sleeping buddy:
In the nearly twenty years of these holiday celebrations we have all grown close to each other, know all the secrets or most of them, experienced the sorrows, triumphs, disasters and complex inter-relationships we all have. In the atmosphere of celebration we leave all that behind like a patina, somewhat melancholy, the way pedimento reveals the layers of age and fading colors on ancient walls. But, for all that we celebrate, laugh, eat, sing, talk loud, play, drink wine and with immense gratitude toast to life and the things which give us joy.