“Hello Sirs, I’m very sorry for my post,” said the ghost in the machine-generated blog comment as a prelude to its list of commercial links. Or maybe, indeed, these were the words of a truly repentant soul typing spam for pennies somewhere in the global South, where a penny might actually still suffice to buy someone’s thoughts.
At any rate, that was the last thing I read this morning before abandoning my blog for the fog, which was rapidly burning off. The field was dotted with the first spider webs of spring.
“What exactly do you call that thing?” I asked my dad just now. “A junction box, I guess,” he said. It’s where the telephone cable divides in eight, like the legs of a spider. I went back down to the other house, and he signalled me a moment later: “Phone call!”
You have to understand — I rarely ever get any phone calls. But speak of the devil, and it rings. A lady from the newspaper was calling to verify that I was the author of a letter sent in under my name two weeks before. “Could you tell me the subject of your letter please?”
I could barely remember. “Uh, wind plants?” I ventured. “That’s right!” she said, sounding as pleased as a game show host.
On my way back down the hill, I noticed a knot of garter snakes in the old well. Clearly not a mating ball, I thought, but it didn’t seem as if they’d need to bunch up for warmth today, either — it was 65 degrees and sunny by this time. Maybe they were just feeling sociable.
At my approach, they all started going off in different directions, and a few dropped into the water and began swimming in circles. It’s always such a surprise to see a snake swim. You wouldn’t think them capable of any bouyancy at all.
“If I lived here, I’d set up an easel and just paint,” said a visitor on Saturday. But I don’t just live here — I grew up here, and that can make it hard to see things as an artist should, always at a bit of a remove. Ever since that remark, though, I’ve been looking at things with canvas in mind. Would this be worth the time, the trouble? Would it look good on a gallery wall?
It’s funny how a few casual words can lodge in the memory and bring about a subtle shift in outlook. We tend to think of communication as a kind of transaction, I think, with messages analogous to currency, inert, possessing only whatever arbitrary values we assign them. A convenient view, designed to keep the myth of the sovereign individual high and dry.