The Fox at Dawn

February 2-3 2019
February 3, 2019, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Art of the Day, Eating Disorder aka Edie | Tags: , ,

It’s been a day, a few days, a week of days in a weekend as we navigate being home together after a long absence. The weekend was a special challenge because there were no therapy sessions, each meal and snack was at home, oh god the endless parade of meals. Clutching the McCallum bible of portions, measuring each almond, every drop of milk, it’s an odd new world. She has been brave, petulant, grumpy, manipulative, sweet, vulnerable, irritable, above all she has kept trying. I try to remember that as I’m getting the skunk eye. The weekend was full of have to’s: chores, eye exam, shopping, family event and work. Not the weekend she had planned when she thought of being home again from St. Louis, not the weekend she wanted to spend with her boyfriend. And yes there was conflict and drama and feeling rotten and negotiating and trying again. Trying again. And now it’s Sunday night and I’m listening to the latest Ryuichi Sakamoto album, async, on repeat as I make pictures, write and let my lake clear, allowing all the have to’s, all the strife and misfirings to settle down to the bottom. I’m sure they’ll get stirred up again tomorrow.

I was given an extraordinary gift this weekend, from my cousin Marty. Yesterday my nephew Flynn was commissioned into the Air Force, a private ceremony at University of Louisville where he recently graduated from the Nursing School. He is going to be a flight nurse, begins his posting this month. The family gathered along with many friends, we are so very proud of him. There at the ceremony, Marty pulls something out of her purse- “Here, I’ve found this little present for you”. It’s a glass plate photograph of Roald Amundsen in Antartica! The printed description that came with the plate describe him as “the discoverer of the South Pole” (which strikes me as a rather weird thing to say, as everyone knew exactly where the South Pole was, just no one could get there) and claims that the photo was taken a few days after he reached the Pole, so he was on his way back. The name on the plate is The Keystone Viewing Company, found in an antique store among a great many other glass negatives of different subjects. Marty has a keen talent for uncovering treasure, recognizing the value of things that other people would dismiss. I’m not really sure how she knew what a nut I am for South Polar exploration, maybe from other things I have posted, but the truth is that for decades now I have been fascinated by it and, to confess truthfully, mad in love with the Scott Expedition. I hold this small picture in my hand like it is a miracle message from the beyond.

Here’s a love poem I wrote to dear Captain Scott about five years ago:

Because it is a long winter
Captain Scott crawled into bed with me last night
He was so very sorry and so so cold.
It took me a long time to convince him to shed 
That ridiculous Burberry,
I had to take that crusty wool jumper
Into the other room.
He only agreed to take off his flannels 
If I turned out the light
But even in the dark
I could feel the whiteness of his skin
Trace the sastrugi of his ribs.
My hand disappearing into his crevasse
He slipped the harness from his shoulders
Let fall his pencil
And cried and cried
Glaciers calving into the sea.
At last, Mt. Terror 
Lay soft and warm,
And we slept.

I feel that it is time for me to re-read Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s remarkable account of the expedition: The Worst Journey in the World. It’s time to walk alongside my old friends. A hundred and seven years ago on January 17th they found the Norwegian flag planted where they had hoped to plant the Union Jack. They planted their flag a few yards away, took a grim photograph and made their desperate dash home, perishing along the way. Their journey has always been so vivid to me, it hurts my heart. My darling Cherry, his extraordinary book, the responsibility of writing it falling on his young shoulders, all the strength of his youth spent there in Antartica- the crazy ass journey he made with Dr. Wilson and Birdie Bowers in the dead of winter to collect penguin eggs, the depot laying journey, the journey South in support of the Polar party, the heartbreaking journey to find the bodies of their friends the next spring. Oh Cherry. I do indeed want your company this winter.

What a thoughtful gift Marty, I can’t thank you enough. It is a powerful talisman for me, I cannot explain it, but I am so grateful it came to me when it did.

1 Comment so far
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I find it hard to match the depth of your thoughts on these wonderful blogs. i read your writings avidly but can’t begin to do more than quietly appreciate them, let alone respond. Loren, what voice!! What voice. Everything is in a deeper context for you these days and you have gone deep. The South pole expedition an analogy for your own cold, solitary journey? too obvious?… I imagine your self-sufficient travel knowing what vast icy fields stretch for uninhabitable miles on every side of you…maybe it is the depth of your changes right now and the shock of your experiences seem to have knocked you into a ethereal world ..a world you are comforting other spirits, and are comforted yourself by a vista of white tundra and cold blue horizons.
Alls I can say is thank goodness for this wonderful world and that we will see you exploring every aspect.

One of my favorites. St John of the Cross, ” I went without discerning and without any light except that which within my heart was burning.”

Comment by Jen Grove

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