Coming home with the sun heavy in the plum trees in the yard, I am driven to look for the passage on living among plum trees in my Cretan novel, Reading the Stones, and find these paragraphs to quote:
She’d drifted off again, and when she woke for real the moon was gone, the sky blue as a square of blue silk—some of the silks they travelled at great risk to China for, the silks of the bazaars, the fragrant small shops where they would give you sedimented coffee and sweetmeats as you bargained down the price. Haggled. I’d like to haggle just once, she thought; haggle for my life. It was worth so much more than they wanted to give her for it, so much more than she had ever understood. And, having haggled, she wanted to live a long time noting the miraculous phases of that moon that had looked over her, the comings and goings of it, the dark nights of its absence when everything was perfectly, innocently dark. She liked this life in which moons came and went so easily, like neighbors’ cats, over a garden wall. She liked waking in a studio in an old plum orchard, among mute but eloquent partially-finished stone heads, Leah’s shamans and warriors, harbingers of change.
I need to get up, she thought. To plan my life. But she pulled the sheet up and listened instead to the singing of a bird. She smelled the turpentine and waxes and stone dust. Somehow her senses were coming to life again, after years and years and years of absence. When Leah brought a mug of coffee in through the ill-fitting door that groused at being jarred, she tasted it, tears streaming down her face, tasting it hot and strong, earthy and smoke-tinged as if it were indeed sedimented and in a shop of colored silks in an oriental bazaar.
Then I copy out a recipe for zucchini and rice terrine (tian) with gruyère and thyme, for tomorrow night, and start a letter to go in the handmade card with the photo of a tin basin on a weather-worn Mallorcan table with the Mediterranean, blurred, behind it.
I’m in a strange, yearning kind of mood, happy to have a life that includes these things, yet sensing already the coming of the fall, the changes that will bring, the passage of time, the favorite places in Europe and Santa Fe and elsewhere that I miss and likely won’t visit this year—or maybe won’t visit again.
I miss people, and dream of them, and collect pictures of beautiful rooms across the world, rooms I would live in, in another life. We watch strange French films, from decades ago, and I feel unsettled.
image: She Who Is
(this picture looks eerily like my mother as a young woman in Wisconsin and Yellowstone)