Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy reunion, Darwin's dog, hearth


Text conversation with E, Bram's mum, this morning:

E: ... All OK?'
Me: OK, bit tense at times. Tom still has his fingers.

I dislike texting, since, having only a twelve year old dumbphone, it has to be done the old-fashioned way, and, as I don't do it very often, I'm very slow at it. However, pride dictates that I don't ignore rules of orthography and grammar as a concession to my slowness, and insist on tapping out 'are you' instead of 'r u', for example, or searching the asterisk menu for the apostrophe, once I've worked out how to turn off the predictive text. And why did no one consider that 's' is one of the most commonly used letters in English, yet it's one of the few that requires as many as four clicks? I know these concerns must be almost entirely obsolete in most people's world, but I'm quaint like that, and while my old matt blue Nokia keeps going, I'm sticking with it, even if the battery does only last for one short phone call.

Anyway, she hastened back from the station, and Bram was very pleased to see her, dancing round and round her in the hall, farting merrily and adopting the demeanour I always think of as that of Darwin's dog:




A search reveals it was not in fact Darwin's own dog, but taken from the illustrations to his 1872 work, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,   depicting a 'dog in a humble and affectionate frame of mind' and 'the same caressing his master'.

They were very happy to be reunited, as were we to see them so. She has lately e-mailed to inform me that he seems extremely tired and appears to be sleeping the sleep of the just. It's exhausting work guarding a poor hapless human female who will insist on consorting with the enemy. 

Later, we lit the first fire of the year, which must be one of the latest yet. Debris of the past seasons: old wine corks, nutshells, spent matches, twists of paper, prunings of laurel and sumac and buddleia, screwed up paper bags and cardboard egg boxes, all having had their moments, reasons for being, their stories, most already forgotten, up in smoke. I kneel at the hearth and poke and push at the fire as it burns, finding the right angles, the right shape and size of wood, how much to open the grill and the fire doors, all an excuse to linger with the clean dry heat on my face. The Vestal Virgins were opportunists, I reckon,claiming it was an altar, a mystery, tending the sacred hearth, they just wanted to be allowed to do this, but it's as good to worship as anything, and better than much. 

Winter's here.



5 comments:

Leslee said...

How lovely to have a fire. I had a fireplace at my condo years back, but no more. Anyway, it was so unseasonably warm in Boston today I needed just a light sweater to walk around. Last year we had a snowstorm at this time and our hosts for Thanksgiving dinner, D's cousin, lost power and couldn't reach us to let us know. So we showed up just a bit after their power was back on and the turkey just put in the oven. We were there for hours drinking and watching football (American) on TV before the feast was finally served to the bleary guests. Anyway, no need for a fire yet where I live, but colder weather coming. Stay warm! Enjoy the house to yourselves again.

Catalyst said...

Oh, I wish I had a fireplace. The BRD has a gas one and we had one like that someplace in our past lives but now . . no fireplace at all. I can't convince Judy to get a fire pit for the patio so I guess I'll just to find one of those fireplace videos on the Interwebs and let it burn!

Roderick Robinson said...

I agree: capitals, quotes which open and close appropriately, all the necessary punctuation. One feels one is transcending the medium.

To the point where one may indulge in a little sentimentality with a technology which hardly encourages such human weakness. I have retained this on my phone from several years back

Fresh oj in prague can be more pricey than gold, we've found. Looking forward to hearing about yesterday's adventures, and truly it was a wonderful pleasure to get to meet you. Travel safe and talk soon! Julia.

OK. Prague doesn't have a capital letter but texting J in the city where she lived was as close to carrying on a conversation in absentia as one can get. Sometimes it felt as if her replies were arriving before I'd finished what I had to say.

Of course, better still, that the phone should be used as prelude to reality. The phone I refer to is the same by which I received a morning call that left me "frazzled".

And there's a Proustian moment for you: Beginning: old wine corks, nutshells... Your lives together re-created from decorous debris. And there too is a short-story title. Go on, write it. Utter it on January 1 from the fastnesses of winter.

Zhoen said...

I text via email, which is cumbersome in a different way, but I can use an actual laptop keyboard.

polish chick said...

i have a smart phone but wonder why the colon and the apostrophe aren't readily available. especially with all the possessives one uses as a matter of regular discourse. then again, i suppose spelling being what it is these days, apostrophes, like proper spelling, are soon going to be the casualties of technology. wow - i sound old and bitter!

a fire i would love. the house we're looking at renting in texas seem to quite regularly have wood fireplaces, though if i'd get many nights of use is doubtful.