Friday, December 27, 2013

Waiting out the night

I've been a long time away from my blog and other forms of social media. There are reasons. Some because of busyness and good things that kept me occupied. Others, well, others because maybe priorities don't include posting pics of our fabulous Christmas dinner, or the beautiful four hour blizzard on Christmas eve after lessons and carols that made you glad you weren't slouching to Bethlehem on a donkey, or I might be discouraged, (depressed?). For days (until two days ago) I hadn't even written in my journal.

But I'm here today dipping a toe back in the icy water.

I've always loved the writing of John McPhee. He writes about the oddest things and then makes you wonder how you could justify never having thought about the shad. He wrote an entire book about them. Last year Anita gave me a copy of The Founding Fish. EVERYthing you'd ever want to know about shad. 

The following quote may energize me enough to get started writing again myself.

   They (shad) move upstream at first light - an optimal time, when muscles are rested. And resolutely they move in the afternoon, Kynard guesses that the falling light reminds them that another day is ending and they've got to get on with their mission. "That drive to get upstream is strong. It must be particularly forceful when they sense that they are losing light." 

 This reminds me of what I do all day (nothing). I sharpen imaginary pencils and look out real windows. The light of a computer screen seems far too bright to me. I kill hours, hoping for distraction, and complain bitterly when distraction occurs. Three, four, five P.M. Nothing whatever accomplished. The day coiling like a spring. Nothing is worse than a lost day. Panic rises, takes over, and I write until I go home at seven, thinking like a shad.

   When daylight drops in the evening, the fish turn and retreat from rapids, because they can't maintain orientation. "They go backdown, but not far. They find the very first deep slow-water area. That's where they stay. They just kind of settle down to the bottom. Get down to a lower velocity. Get in the current, where they can just maintain position. Let the lateral line take care of keeping them up, and not moving downstream." As if they were treading water, they wait out the night. (p. 32)