International Writers Magazine:
A Winter Break
of winter are alive in Montauk. You can hear them under your
boots; easy to confuse with small tree branches or bones rising
from the deceased. Indian parts may have surfaced after the
rains of November last year. The floods could have exposed moss
lines on gravestones as the dirt eroded down small hills. At
the Montauk Manor, Bill and I discovered a new meaning to plants
and the life that can live inside a tiny seed. They are like
sacred voices of wailing children. Hundreds of years ago small lives
had nowhere to go but the wind. When you stop to catch it
you cant help but feel tiny spirits with potential that went
away almost as unknowns.
Bill knew Montauk very
well. In his Jeep he drove us up roads that led to the Manor.
Horses, that weekend, roamed and ate on an Irish farm. A December
winter took on the winds: Montauk, the great chief stood up to the challenge.
The next morning, we drove to Sag Harbor to feed Black Capped Chickadees
from our hands at a nature preserve. He took pictures of me holding
the seeds in the flat of my palm. Outstretched, and ticklish, my
gloves were put to good use. After throwing the seeds into the air
from the first bird landing, I became accustomed to the beautiful creatures
whirring in our direction. Beaks pecked into our hands and seeds
fell to the ground from the missed opportunity. We also dropped the seeds
into the muddy path knowing the birds would find them. It was okay
to be hungry we knew the feeling.
moon was a sliver and the earth moved casting the sun in its end
of the day role of setting. Montauk Bay, at the point, had a tide
like the ocean. It was December, after all, and the lighthouse,
like a queen mother, watched while children rolled around under
her. The Manor, we joked, looked like the motel in the movie,
The Shining. When it snowed the next morning
I guessed that the lights would go out next. We drove and
he handled the steering wheel without gloves. Even in the cold of
the late afternoon he was aware of having the feeling that others
before us had.
The bones under my
feet were sacred voices of children that wail in the wind. I heard
them under my shoes. I felt them below the tires of the car. The
film of day was filtered by the sun from this time of year. The
colors of the trees, green tops and the green and orangey half-dead leaves
had a shadowy memory of what was a few weeks earlier. Entangled
branches knew their way to the sun and so did we. We found our room
and closed the quarters around us. Passed out for hours on the top of
the bed we lost our selves our time our spirits in the duplex room.
A fire place warmed our joy and the piano in the lobby sent us into a
dance. We had the floor to ourselves. An impromptu waltz beyond
the birds and the ship wrecks from our European ancestors. Hours
later I would lean against the Montauk Point sky in front of the Lighthouse.
I wanted to camouflage myself. Not to be seen but to see: To be
with the moss and part of the breathtaking winds. But how could that be?
The land and the trees on the island weave together like an exclusive
club. The only way in is through the sand or the trees. The ocean eats
and washes the seeds and bloats the husks of corn to white fat kernels.
There was little separation from the elements to the self: Maybe
through our soles. Perhaps in the shoe leather we can separate from
the enmeshment with nature. But when I got into the car to go home I was
picking the twigs and the seeds out from under my boots. In December
the seeds travel whatever way they can for the spring bloom. I opened
the door and dropped the seeds back to the ground for the next travelers
and boarders to find.
© Karen Maxwell November 2007
With the Trees
We pushed off from the side of the lake with Jonathans strong arms
and his paddle extended onto the shore line. We paddled into the center
on our way, to cross over, to the other side. I sat straight with the
paddle in my hands grasp.
Nothing belonged to him. Only the dry mouth from the shots
at The Sky Bar on York last night, but that was changed with his toothbrush
and a coffee with milk within the hour of swinging his legs around and
stepping onto the pre-fabricated oak floor.
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