I’ve been to visit winter.
K and I met up with our daughter M, who had been up in Maine visiting our other daughter N, in Pittsburgh, where we also saw K’s mother, and his brother’s family, before we drove M back to school. In Ohio, we stopped in to visit the Non-necromancer and her lovely daughter E., a young woman of many obvious talents. We brought our niece K along. She’s a hoot. Did you think so, Jeanne? I thought if anyone would appreciate her you would. She kind of reminds me of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. She talks a blue streak. She’s smart and lively and wants to tell you all about all kinds of things. She’s not a typical 13 year old, I think. Not self-conscious. A voracious reader. She cracks me up. The Non-N’s fed us a lovely tea, told us about Conniston, and put up with our lateness — which, to be fair, was caused by having to show the bright K around, and by having to buy her a pair of socks, since she had come out into the snow in sandals with no socks at all. I did not want to return her to her parents with frostbite.
We had to show her the Hogwarts-like dining hall, the art building, the crows on the admissions building, and we had to stop in to see the new art gallery, too, which had a great exhibit, which we then had to look at.
You can’t tell from this picture, but each of the stained glass windows represents a different literary work — among those above, I think, are “Beowulf” and “the Fairy Queen” and maybe Ben Jonson’s “Volpone.”
I think it’s a good sign that when I visit either M or N I always think, “I wish I had gone to college here.” Not that I didn’t like my own college. Speaking of which, I’ve been reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot. Maybe because I went to Brown, graduating myself just one year ahead of the characters (and Eugenides), but I think it’s his best book. More on that later — I want to think about it.
Anyhow. We were lucky, because the night we arrived in Pittsburgh it snowed, and I got to tromp around in the woods behind their house in the snow. I love winter. I love the cold air and the need for layers and the sparse landscape of bare trees against the snow, and cropped fields with yellow straw poking up through the snow and the red cheecks you get from being outside. I love it I love it I love it. It makes me feel alive.
And K’s mother, although declining, is still herself in many ways. She’s losing words — she told K as much. N told M it’s like talking to someone who does not know English well. You need to be patient, because they don’t have the words they need. And still, she can often express herself. She said she wanted something for lunch — it was smooth and brown and dreamy. Peanut butter! She wanted everyone to sit down for breakfast, which she expressed by telling my sister-in-law that she wanted pancakes, and then telling me later that she had hoped for more people. It’s often not direct, but you can sometimes tell what she wants.
And M had a good time in Maine — hanging out in the dining hall, playing in the snow, and apparently accompanying the plow driver on his nighttime plowing rounds (something that she said she was glad to have done, but does not feel the need to repeat). I can tell you, but not them, how much it pleases me that N and M are enjoying spending time together. M plans to go back after her school gets out and before N graduates.
And now, it’s very nice to be back.