when i woke up on saturday morning and stepped over the dogs onto the patio, i felt like i was coming home. at sha mayn's going away lunch, swanboon talked about how he steps off the plane in singapore and feels, "ah, home!" much as he does when he, say, steps into the 95% RH of a big greenhouse -- it was just like that. the sun had just come up over the tops of the willows and sycamores lining the river so the air was moist and cool. it reminded me of early mornings back home before the sun got high enough up in the sky to heat up the terracotta tiles in the patio off the hall. hummingbirds swarmed over the feeders and 4 goldfinches hopped about the seed dispenser. with a large enough library, i could do this kind of thing.
down in the basement kitchen, john was making french toast and being heckled by his ma. the toast was good though, and then i made some scrambled eggs. one of the associated relatives is a small kid who's painfully aware of his own quality. he introduced himself friday night as, "kirk; i'm very good at chess and building things." kirk had some eggs too.
out on the temporarily-evacuated covered driveway, the tables were full of slow people gradually waking up with the help of a large tray of cherries, peaches, and cantaloupe. one of the associated relatives is a harmonica player of some local renown. chuck has a giant jew fro with whitewalls and played some hank williams sr. the dogs splayed themselves out on the cool concrete floor.
eventually, there was the river. we drove about 7 or so miles through piedmont to a resort by the dam on clearwater lake. more people were there with large coolers of beer and PGA. (you probably don't want to know what PGA is.) andrew and i got in a canoe, pushed off and into the flow of a spring in the river; it was just off the bank and flowing at a tremendous rate, pushing surges and gouts of cold, clear water into the murky green. the river there was glassy and the round stones on the river bottom were clearly visible. after the springrush, we immediately began to hit things and move in circles. eventually, several sandbars down, we decided to switch responsibilities: andrew would steer and strategise and i would provide raw power and bellyache. three hours of desultory conversation and poison oak later, we swept over a bunch of rocks and hung a sharp left into the landing just off the lawn outside john's parents' house.
the heat of the day dissipated around 6.30pm, as dinner preparations in the kitchen reached fever pitch. food had arrived in large trays -- smoked chicken, ribs from the meatpacking plant, a broccoli and bacon salad, butter cakes, and beans -- and the arrival of the last relative precipitated it onto the large tables in the carport. eventually, the bugs drove everyone into the cool insides of the house. chess was played, i was mocked mercilessly for reading a copy of great trees of the world, and stories circled around the room in waves.
i thought of this last night as i was reading honey from a weed when i came across something patience gray cited from antoine artaud's the peyote dance: "every step forward, every convenience acquired through the mastery of a purely physical civilization, also implies a loss, a regression."