July 23, 2010
Chappaquidick Island, MA
My dearest Will,
I woke up early this morning it was before 8:00, so I guess that means I’m finally out of jet lag and back on a regular sleeping mode. It’s really overcast this morning, still as all get out. Not particularly muggy, a slight coolness to the air. Just a few cicadas and birds chirping outside. I watched CNN for a bit, the first time I’d checked in with the world since I’ve been here, it felt loud and unimportant. So I turned it off and just feasted my ears on the birds, airplanes, and crickets. Which reminded me that I have been wanting to tell you about the birds here. They are magnificent. We have all kinds.
Each summer I grab the well worn copy from Simon and Schuster’s ‘Guide to Birds of the World. An easy-to-use gude to identifying many of the worlds birds. Includes classification, characteristics/habits, (symbol of a sun, for some reason, then comma), habitat migratory behavior (a symbol of two blue birds flying, no comma) distribution. With over 500 illustrations in full color’. It’s a bright baby blue paperback, a narrow book, and has great photographs (taken pre-digital era) of birds on each page, and across from it- all the information aformentioned. The birds so far that I’ve seen are: Osprey, a Black and White Warbler, a Northern Mockingbird, an Eastern Bluebird, various Tree sparrows, and others which I haven’t identified yet. The thing they don’t describe are the bird calls, so that’s frustrating because some birds I can’t see, (illustrations unimportant) because they hide in the woods. I can only hear their calls, and would like to match the call to the bird.
Yesterday, before Kim came over, I took a shower, and lay down for a nap. I put my towel on the pillows and laid my wet hair out on it, so the air could dry it. The bed is right up against two large windows which were open, the wind gently tapping the roman shades with blue trim against the window frames. Clunk clunk clunk.
The shades reminded me of my summers here as a child sleeping in my grandparent’s house, in our bedroom which had two twin beds covered with light blue ‘popcorn’ bedspeads. They were, I think, chenile, and very colonial looking with fringe on the edges. Not particularly soft, like how I imagine the chenile bedspeads of Rebecca Wells book, but a more puritanical pattern of short nubs sticking up roughly. For napping we’d roll the speads down to the bottom of the bed, with our bare feet, and lay on top of the sheets which I know Marnie, my grandmother, had ironed. The other night Robbie told me she also irons all her top sheets and pillow cases, and Ann nodded with satisfaction, that she too irons her sheets as well.
The smell of the room was of wonderfully aged wood, unpainted wood walls and beams. Like the photograph I showed you of the cabin, but nicer. Old Chappy. The smell of that wood, the salt air, and the sound of the birds coupled with the sight of the lightweight tuquoise curtains blowing gently in the wind- is something I will never forget. I bet you Marnie made those curtians by hand. She was thrifty that way. I remember the hem was hand stitched and about four inches in length. Always the Yankee.For breakfast they’d serve us powdered milk on Special K. It tasted disgusting. It was warm from the tap water, and it tasted slightly of rust from the pipes.
Anyway,back to one of my favorite topics, naps. So when we’d take our nap, we’d lay there, not napping at all, but with our hands clasped behind our heads staring at the curtians blowing in the wind and after about a half an hour we’d begin to hear piano music. It would always be the same piece of music, Greensleeves. Marnie would put it on the big record player in the livingroom. Oh, that’d make us cry our eyes out. We’d hear it, watch the curtains dance to it in such, we thought, a mornful way. Closed in in our bedroom, not wanting to nap, we’d be taken over by the mood of that song. It was such a sad song. I never knew why she played it in the afternoon’s, but like clockwork, on it’d go, and we’d have to soldier through it. Marnie never seemed sad to me. Maybe while we napped she’d be taken up in a longing for the days of her youth, the memory of lost romance, or maybe she thought it’d relax us and make us sleep. It didn’t.
Back to present. So when I laid there the other day in the back bedroom, I listened to the birds. There really are some interesting bird calls here. One, my mother likes to say, was singing in a high pitched cultured lady’s voice ”Drink your tea-e-e” to which the another bird responded with a audacious rapidity “Drink your tea-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e–e” .
Another bird I find comical in tone says “Shew-ri-ri-ri-ri-ri-ri-ri-whi-whi-whi-whi-whi!” To which sadly there was no response. The bird kept at it calling out again and again inbetween the “drink your tea-e-e-e-e” bird calls, and it just got so amusing and musical. Then off in the distance (the supporting roles by a more generic kind of birds) there was twittering and peeps. I much prefer to sleep with the sound of birds instead of Greensleeves.
Well my love I’ve run on far too long and my back is starting to ache. The Brazilian maids are here and I must flee the sound of vacuum cleaners. Time for a walk to the mailbox to see if your package has arrived.
P.S. I tried going back into my book and it’s I believe, unfixable. May have to start something all together different.