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Sky Ladder and goodbye

After a gloomy morning, yesterday turned into the most beautiful day of all. I’m hanging onto every moment because I go home soon. What’s especially magical here is that we are on an 18-acre island with two cottages, Ruth’s and that of a reclusive elderly man on the other side. We do hear the people across the lake with their crowded lakefronts and big modern cottages, and the sound of boats going by, but otherwise, the loud rustling of trees and lapping of water, our own noise, the chittering of birds and chipmunks, the whir of hummingbird wings as they sip at the feeder hanging near the window. 

This cottage is nearly invisible from the water, hidden in the trees. Because it’s on a point of land, we can sit in chairs positioned to see the sun rise to the east and set to the west, with the swimming place facing south. Last night we went down to the dock to try to see the Perseid meteor shower. We missed it, but I lay on the dock and Ruth leaned back in a chair to take in the Milky Way and the stars. How much we need to see the stars, to remind us what minuscule specks we are. I see the night sky once or twice a year, when I get out of town.

Yesterday, a flock of small birds that Ruth identified as red-breasted nuthatches swarmed the oak and pine trees near the deck, gossiping to each other. The chipmunk by the lake is always busy. The heron lands and stalks gracefully, and the loons give out their quavering cry. Beavers have done a lot of damage to the trees here but are otherwise invisible. No raccoons this year, Ruth says, but apparently otters, sometimes. Inside, she’s battling mice and ants. “We don’t belong here,” said her son once, as he set a mouse trap. This is their home. But luckily for me, it’s Ruth’s too.

Last night we watched another amazing doc, Sky Ladder, about brilliant, crazy Chinese artist Cai Gui-qiang who makes spectacular art with fireworks. It’s about the obsessive nature of art making, and what happens when an idealistic artist achieves fame and financial success – how to hang onto the spirit that made his career. And it deals with Cai’s compromises in working for the Chinese government, creating the fireworks display for the Beijing Olympics and other events. Brilliant but crazy and compromised.

I finished Other People’s Letters, a fascinating read. “Had lunch with Balanchine,” she writes, and later, she visits Vita and Harold at Sissinghurst and many other famous people, many princes and counts. Now I’m reading a book I picked from Ruth’s shelves, Best Canadian Essays 2019. Yum. 

For our last night’s dessert, Ruth made blueberry peach pie.

And at dusk we watched the sun go down.

Thank you, universe. Thank you, Ruth.

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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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