I know it’s been awhile, three years since you died to be exact, but I’m back, writing, because I’ve things to tell.
First, I hope wherever you are there are some good birds. I mean really good ones. Like your caracara. Lots of caracaras, all for you.
I just got a female white-winged scoter, which was no. 368 on my bird life list. She was in the middle of about 60 lesser scaup on Ft. Myers Beach, floating and diving offshore. I love her because finding her was such an adventure.
I searched by myself last Sunday. The tide was low, and I got waylaid by a wonderful Indian wedding. Are there any that are not joyful? I hope not, because they are so much fun, I’d hate anyone to miss out. The groom arrived by boat–you could hear the drumming as they approached the island– and then he put on his fancy hat and mounted his bedecked white horse.
His family and attendants marched up the street to Bollywood music and drumming. The bride’s family met them at the resort, and then all 250 of the guests headed to the beach, stopping for drinks served in real coconuts. (I wanted one, but we, the onlookers, were told politely to step back.)
When the bride, magnificent in red and gold, arrived on the beach on her palanquin, carried by about six guys, she flashed her own cellphone, much to the crowd’s amusement, since they were doing the same. I smiled all day, especially when I realized how many hours I spent happily not doing what I set out to do. Thanks to you, I knew all about Indian weddings and could provide commentary for the clueless public on the beach. I did not stay for the stealing of the shoes, however. (I took these photographs with my cell phone. I know you hated yours, but the camera is terrific.)
Back to the duck…Monday, I returned and spotted the scoter in among the lesser scaup offshore. I really did have to scope every duck carefully to find her. Makes it all worth it.
The second time, John went with me and was first in-line for coffee at the Dairy Queen while I was occupied. I can’t remember, but I think you liked their coffee…but all coffee was as vital as blood to you, wasn’t it? Just think of all the types of pots we’ve all tried and loved–perk, drip, Mr. Coffee, Chemex, god forbid, INSTANT, electraperk, and my favorite–the orange enamel one you just dumped the grounds in and boiled. That was good coffee.
Do you get a chance to read wherever you are? I hope so. My favorite new book is The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott. I love stuff about Irish Catholic families for some reason. My friend Kathy heard the author speak, and said she mentioned the ideas of substitution and sacrifice as topics she wanted to explore in her latest novel. In it, the substitute is a man who fought in the Civil War for another man who paid $300. My own great great-grandfather did the same and I tried to find out who fought for him, but the records are gone.
The book has nuns in it, but they are interesting nuns. Did you know those big black and white head coverings were to keep them looking straight ahead not at the world around them? I found that interesting, especially after I purchased a new winter jacket for our trip to DC over New Year’s. It had a hood, and I couldn’t see anything to the left or the right. I wonder if nuns were ever struck while crossing city streets– faith, I guess.
I wish you had been in my pocket when we visited DC for New Years. The Vermeer Show was fantastic. I love Vermeer because of the camera obscura stuff, but this show was of him and other Dutch artists painting around the same time (mid 1600s). Whole galleries of women opening and sending letters and making lace and even scraping turnips. And then men, and drunks and rich folks just hanging out.
Love letters and satin, and little dogs, and whoever heard of brothel paintings? We had lunch with Henriette Rahusen , who is assistant to the curator, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. ,whom we met. What a treat. I am so proud of what she has done with her life. Many years a World Bank wife and mom, and now a historian with a PhD. Oh, and she says the artists painted everyone with light on the left because right-handed artists would position their easel near the window in a way that their dominant hand, or painting hand, would not cast a shadow over the area of the canvas or panel they were working on. GOOD TO KNOW.
Renoir’s The Luncheon of the Boating Party is back at the Phillips and its surrounding exhibit had a slightly similar theme. It featured all the people at the party, and what their relationship to Renoir was–fellow artists, benefactors, his wife, other friends, and one fellow they couldn’t find much out about, poor guy. The exhibit included several paintings by the party goers, which gave you an idea of what their lives were like, about 200+ years after Vermeer and his cohorts.
Of course, The Boating Party itself is fantastic. It draws you in and you wish like sin you could have been there too. Young, beautiful and happy. Drinking eating and laughing on a beautiful day on the water under that fantastic awning. Which he painted in later. There are such geniuses in the world.
We had a great time in DC with our friends, eating and drinking and talking and laughing. It has been three years since we last were together. It was sort of like the Boating Party but it was cold and there was no awning. But there was love. And loss. And an appetizer called a Grand Plateau.
Oh god or whatever, I hope you know how much I miss you. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve thought, “Oh, Laurie would just love this.” I just hope you get this, somehow, someway, and till the next time, love from your friend,
PS I also want to talk about grandmotherhood, but another time. And plants, and the oculus at the African American Museum on The Mall. And joining Zonta, and even Trump. And how he drives me to drink, which I have given up for the month of January. More later.