Two forces of nature meet inside the pasture gate, one is a flock of sheep trying to get to us as we give the donkeys some brushing and apples. If they charge, the donkeys may buck and kick, animals and people can get hurt. The other is a small'ish border collie from Northern Ireland who has many jobs on the farm, one of them being to make sure the sheep don't stampede us as we are caring for the donkeys. Red enters the pasture and is given the command "walk up," he positions himself right between the donkeys and the sheep and he challenges the sheep with his body and eyes to stay where they are. Almost always, they do.
I've learned to pay close attention when Red stiffens and looks out into the woods, I've seen a lot of animals that way that I would never have noticed, today we went out for a brief walk – our first in some days – and Red immediately froze and stared out, it was a minute or so before I spotted a Lab out in the woods staring back, he belongs to one of our neighbor's. I was glad I had a camera.
Donkeys are the Houdini's of the animal world, I couldn't count the number of times my donkeys have opened gates, unraveled chains, undone latches and wandered around looking for grass and mischief. They don't really want to run away, they just want you to know they can run away if they wish. Over time I've learned to pretty much ignore these breakouts (I used to run myself ragged chasing them around) and then they get ticked off and come back inside the gate because they think I don't want them to.
This morning, the latch popped open while I was getting water from the barn and I came out and saw Lulu in the gate, sizing things up for a breakout. "Don't do it," I said, and she gave me a withering look but stood still. She will remember that open gate though, and one of these days, when I am getting water, she will pop it open and take a walk around the yard.
Since I got the flu, I've spent most of the day sleeping, and last night I went to bed at 7 p.m. Maria slept all through the night (she is still sleeping, which is good) but I can't sleep like that, I woke up at 3 a.m., I knew I wasn't going back to sleep. I got my Iphone and logged onto Beats, the new Apple music streaming service I like a lot, and I decided to spend some time with Itzhak Perlman and the composer Vivaldi, and his very famous and beautiful "The Four Seasons."
I went to "Concerto No. 4 in F Minor, "The Winter," it seemed the right choice in this long, cold and beautiful season. The room was dark, Red slept on one side of the bed, Frieda on the other, I wiped Maria's brow with a damp tissue, the only light in the room was the Iphone flickering off of the windows and the ceiling.
The music was beautiful. I felt as if I were riding on it. Medicated for my wracking and painful cough, I moved into a kind of twilight zone, a horizon zone I call it, in between sleep and wakefulness. The music was the perfect evocation of winter, cold at times, plunging at times, then soaring and full of hope and faith and promise – Spring always follows winter as light follows darkness, and lying in bed, I smelled the dirt in the Dahlia garden, the long and bright days, the photographer's light, and I saw the bright colors of the flowers. Suddenly, Maria I were sitting in our Adirondack chairs, drinking tea, and then I was there alone, listening to music, sitting with Red.
In my dream, Lenore was there also but Simon was gone, consciousness is always fascinating to me, the unconscious has it's own messages, it's own sense of reality. Fevers can be beautiful and transcendent sometimes. The music soared and fell, and I rose and plunged with it, a mystical kind of a roller coaster, I was transported into another place and time.
When I awoke, we had moved through the four seasons, I was listening to Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, "Summer." It was light fresh, breezy, I had dozed through Spring, fevered and weak. I turned off the Iphone. I took my temperature with my new digital thermometer, and then Maria's. Our fevers had broken, they were normal, I could almost smell Spring and touch it.
Her voice was back to normal, she was full of energy, plans, directives and ideas. I was happy to see her again, across this hazy plain. No more medicines today, I am glad I did not to go the emergency room, glad I did not go back to the doctor.
I've been to doctors plenty in these recent months, I have no trouble with it, but it is sometimes good to let the body do it's work, it often will, given the chance. We have lost the idea that we can ever know our own bodies, or judge our own well-being. We depend on others to tell us how we are. I know how I am, sometimes all too well. Each day I've gotten a bit better, and today, the sun came out in my head, and in Maria's. The flu is not that big of a deal, but not that small a one either.
I was glad to sleep with Vivaldi, he is a healer too, and healing comes in many ways and forms.
I promised myself I would be well enough to attend the first rehearsal of my play, "Last Day at Maple View Farm," and I made it. I e-mailed David Snider, director of Hubbard Hall and told him I am fever-free, if it stays that way all day, I'll be there. And it will. i can feel it.
and when I am sick,
and my body aches and runs amok,
and my mind struggles to be clear,
I think sometimes of the awful beauty of death,
I close my eyes and feel my spinning head,
I lie down on golden sands,
by a roaring ocean, I hear the mournful gulls crying to me,
I can smell the wildflowers on the dune,
the cardinals and bayberry and rose plums,
my lover's hand is in mine,
I watch the ships on the horizon moving purposefully,
I am lost in the world of imagination,
who could possibly find me,
or text me, or tell me what to do, or what is due.
I can hardly move, drifting in a sweet
and fevered daze, and it occurs to me,
My world suddenly is so simple,
so pure, I am stripped down to my pure soul,
I have always thought about it, wondered what it was like,
in my childhood I was sent to find the answers to a thousand questions,
I drowned in them, in my bed I am free to leave all that behind,
I take off my shoes and socks,
my shirt and belt and sweater, I go on, happily,
into the wind, into the dunes through the grass,
my hands and feet are warm and dry,
my heart at peace with itself,
my ears chained to the drum and flute of life and death,
the small gull with the large beak calls out to me
again and again and again, it seems he has the answers I have been seeking,
all this time,
I can just listen to him.