Wednesday, 9:30 A.M. – Oct. 11, 1995
Dear Aunt Alice Mae …
I’m having a cup of honey-tea and like to think that you are, too. It’s a pleasant way to visit, read, and write. A sip from my cup and I listen before beginning my typing – The house pays no mind to me; it listens to its own tones, a melody of familiar sounds expressed from a rumbling furnace, a thumping dryer and, the subtle creaking of it's infra structure. I turn on the radio and walk away dismissing the house from my thoughts after all, there are those times when the dwelling becomes bothersome so I pay it no more attention than it does to me. It covers my head; I sweep its floors ... it waits the warming from the sun; I exact pleasure from my computer. This morning is such a time - time for you and me.
You're always in my prayers however, for the last few weeks, my prayers have focused more on Richard and Bill (your good sons-in-law) for recovery from their medical problems. What the blazes, dear hearts, we'll not give our occasional physical setbacks any more catering than we have to, as Lord knows, the setbacks are sneaky, stealthy thieves as is the passing of time, both constantly altering our passage and condition in life, not always for our comfort. Sometimes that’s only appreciated when the miseries that we humans inherited from those infamous apple-eaters in the Garden of Eden before they got pitilessly evicted from there, are over with! I wonder, if it had been more serious than eating an apple, would anyone one of us be here today? I think hadn’t they eaten the apple we would not.
We, here on the farm, are fine. Each day God keeps us from anymore darkest terribleness is a blessing - all other hardships are manageable. The loss of my Raymond last year continues to feel unbearable as is the loss of his two older brothers as you know occurred in 1992 and 1980. I dare only argue with the good Lord up to when I begin to feel a spit of flame licking at me all the way from Dante’s inferno.
Isn't autumn beautiful! I just paused a few minutes for refill of tea and a look-see at my surroundings, from the kitchen slider door, while the pot went to a boil. The vibrant colors that wind-dance and shimmer from a sunlit wood line creates a warm feeling within me. In increasing numbers, deer have been crossing our fields taking their leisure searching for the sweetest growths although they never take this house for granted in their selective "grocery shopping" – erect ears and large oval eyes ever fine-tuned to their environment. They instinctively know that there are people in this house, people with hunting rifles that could claim one of them when the weather turns colder. This is the time of year instincts sharpen instinctively. Time, for them is relevant, as it is for us, and it’s just a matter of time before rifles are re-cleaned for hunting and L.L. Bean boots are taken out of storage.
Yesterday, I tapped on the front door window just loudly enough to echo across our facing fields. The nearest deer immediately looked up and stared motionlessly in my direction. None of them bolted and ran off to safety. Obviously, it wasn't a noise that was directly life threatening like a snapping twig from under a booted foot, or crunching strides on dry leaves or, the sound of pounding heartbeats that only pursued creatures can hear.
I was merely a distraction - a harmless bother they dismissed as they have for as long as we’ve lived here. They traverse on set paths and come from this area, Auburn, Durham, Gray, Cumberland, Falmouth … They are healthy and their thickening, sienna-brown fur glint in the myriad bands of autumn light.
The coy-dogs that congregate on our upper pastures (referred to as the ‘Homestead fields’) are getting bolder. A week ago, pups from spring’s packs were yelping and yipping directly from behind Bob's trailer communicating to the others who would respond within chilling cries from the river-cabin pastures. Now, that’s very close to the main house though I suppose that shouldn't surprise us as they've been traversing the land closer and closer to our dwellings each Autumn and springtime. When conferring with the game wardens on this matter (bear in mind how profoundly city’fied we are) their recommendation was that we "put them down" whenever we can target one within the perimeters of our land boundaries. Well, we’re not up to doing that as no threats have been demonstrated so they remain free to live and excite one’s senses with the pulses of wildlife, such as it is, stifled by encroachment. I've not had the heart, nor tolerance, for that not even for destroying friendly raccoons here though one would be wise to assume the strong possibility that they may be infected with rabies, a caution the media urges us to regard in their local news reports. I hope I won't be sorry someday for being led by the emotions of my heart instead of the logic of my mind. However, my dear aunt,accept it as an absolute certainty that I've no conscience when it comes to my nemesis, the wicked, evil fox that relishes taking our chickens and taunting us! There would not be a split second's hesitation in my discharging him to Hades where he'd be stalked for an eternity by meaner beasts than he ... that is if I can ever get my gun loaded and a bead on him before he's out of harm's way grinning from ear to ear till the reverberation of my curses echo back to embarrass me.
Well, that time has come, hasn’t it? Seems I can't ignore the sounds of the house any longer ... drying to be folded, rugs to be vacuumed and kitchen floor to be rinsed ...
Same date, 4:30 pm. I’ve just returned home from soccer practice. He limps, the result of playing serious defense but he doesn’t complain – I had him lay down on the couch with the TV on, and serve him a lunch. His brother, C.J., hasn’t come home from school yet, no doubt dunking baskets and batting the breeze with his friends at the ball-courts. Woody's still at work. The house settles and the dog naps. As my fingers prepare to resume typing, I quickly glance towards a neat pile of papers to be worked on and placed in a folder, one of several taking up where my second cousin, Garret, from Holyoke, Ma., left off in his overview of the Fortin family genealogical history that I’m picking up from and tracing to Normandy, France. I've been most fortunate in tracing, and documenting, to pre-1600’s.
By the way, grandmother, Amanda, has been, since I can recall, steadfast in her claim that there were Iroquois Indian genes in our makeup. I've not discovered any presence of that in our genetic lines. If any Iroquois genetic material resides in us, I’ve yet to uncover any trace of it however, Woody insists that this may be true as he’s witnessed me ‘go on the warpath’ on occasion! Chances are that if there is the presence of an Indian presence, I would think it to be Algonquin or Abenaki.
It’s getting late, dear Aunt Alice. Another chapter tomorrow …