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E. B. White Day One

It’s a gloomy wet Saturday morning. I won’t go to the market in the rain; it’ll be swamped anyway by the Thanksgiving hordes, whereas we will be celebrating a week late. My kids and grandkids are in B. C. Yesterday my ex Edgar sent me fantastic shots and film of Eli and Sam visiting Edgar’s youngest brother Roger’s business – he sells huge farm and construction equipment throughout B. C., and Eli got to stand in the shovel of a backhoe and ride in a tractor. The most thrilling experience for a small boy – and perhaps big ones too.

So no Thanksgiving for me this weekend, which is great, as I have work to do, movies to see, a house to figure out now that I’m not going to be ripping it apart. Life is good.

Last night, before Bill Maher’s show – which was of course about Kavanaugh and Trump’s lies about his fortune and all that disgusting stuff – I spent a glorious hour transcribing the passages I liked most in One Man’s Meat, the E. B. White book of essays. His understated, wry tone is delightful, his rhythms, precise vocabulary, everything – this is how I want to write. So I’ve decided, as winter hovers in the distance and the world falls apart – a fresh new Fascist looming in Brazil – to share his work with you. This week I’ll post a passage a day to bring you joy. I hope you enjoy this man’s work as much as I do. Happy Thanksgiving.

Since I posted a passage yesterday, I’ll post the rest of it today, and continue with others tomorrow.

June 1941
… glad to
be visiting the old Herrick place, which is remote and quiet – an old
tumbledown barn in a run-out field encircled by woods and overlooking a small
secluded cove. Lilacs were in bloom by the old cellar hole, and a few old apple
trees stood guard over the secrets of other days. The world stood still here in
this peaceful and mysterious place, which seemed perfect for a tryst or a
double suicide … 

I thought how pleasant it would be to start life fresh on the
old Herrick place, with a one-room shack and no appurtenances – no equipment,
no stock, no pets, no family responsibilities, no program. But knowing myself
as well as I do, I well know that it wouldn’t be twenty minutes before I would
acquire or contrive something to establish the roots of complexity in firm soil
– a cold chisel perhaps, or an inamorata, or a folding towel rack. In no time
at all I would destroy the old Herrick place by setting out a pansy plant or
repairing a rotten sill. And then it would be just like any other spot –
beloved but not removed. A man sometimes gets homesick for the loneliness that
he has at one time or another experienced in his life and that is a part of all
life in some degree, and sometimes a secluded and half-mournful yet beautiful
place will suddenly revive the sensation of pain and melancholy and
unfulfillment that are associated with that loneliness, and will make him want
to seize it and recapture it; but I know with me it is a passing want and not
to be compared with my taste for domesticity, which is most of the time so
strong as to be overpowering.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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