Whether Weather, or Not

One thing might be certain as we embark onboard ship 2021, there should be weather. Notice the qualification, for there are times when the weather seems to disappear. These are the days we sit out, barefoot, open, a grassy hill overlooking the houses and farther in the city, where the cars are the size of ants and behave accordingly, one on the tail of another. Whether or not we enjoy the weather seems to be a matter of taste. An old friend called on Thanksgiving to say hello. The weather here Thanksgiving week was cold but calm and mostly dry, highs in the low 40’s, lows in the high 20’s. In the afternoon, we put a couple of cafe umbrellas over the deck. The plan was to set out dips and chips and cut fresh vegetables, drink a beer or two, and grill some goose (aka chicken), and eat on the deck, three in our party, masked and distanced, at separate tables. Jacketed and hatted with blankets to drape over one’s legs. A small outdoor heater provided a psychologically friendly red hot burner, but its heat dissipated quickly and wasn’t of much practical use. Still, there it was, in the center of things, and we took turns moving up to it to warm our hands and seats over the fire, as it were. Meantime, down on the southern coast, winds over 100 miles per hour blasted away at Cape Blanco. I briefly described out situation, our predicament, over the phone to above said old friend, and asked for a description of his plans for Thanksgiving. He said it was too cold in their location to eat outside. What’s the temperature, I asked. 65, he replied. Degrees, or age? I wondered. Now, here, we are in the throes of a wet January winter, the temperature mild, highs in the 40’s, the rain coming as it does off the Pacific, moving inland over the valleys, pushing colder air to the east of us. But the point of this little post isn’t to sound like a weather report. Still, the weather is with us, and we ignore it at our peril. Better to go out into it, walk unsteadily the tipsy decks of ship 2021, the better to say, if we survive the storms, we lived them, and did not cower, though we did mask up, even if we might sound like our favorite Shakespearean Dad:

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, an germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!”

A New Lear; or, Daughter Dissed

We waited last week in an anon umbra for the expectant promise over at Literary Rejections on Display, an entertaining and informative site we visit periodically to check up on the latest trends in rejection slips and attitudes of those on the receiving end. Apparently, Writer Rejected, the hospitable host of LROD, had landed a paper airplane safely somewhere, an acceptance.

What Wasn’t Passed On” (New York Times, Dec. 8, 2011) is a familial, personal essay about a daughter who is disinherited by her father. We were reminded, of course, of the mad dad mother of them all, King Lear, and we posted our congratulations to the now somewhat less mysterious WR in a non-puckish comment, for the tone had grown serious, and we also realized a larger context of the personal theme, for the whole country has by now disinherited an entire generation of its young, and it appears to be headed toward disinheriting a generation of its old as well.

Yet we were also reminded of Faulkner’s Isaac McCaslin, who, in Faulkner’s “The Bear” (see Go Down, Moses), rejects his inheritance, insisting that no one can truly own the land, for the land inevitably has a complex history of giving and taking, of laying claims and laying hands.

“Nothing will come of nothing,” Lear tells his daughter, and Blake’s road of excess may indeed lead to a palace of wisdom, but what’s a palace emptied of its children and its old people? Where’s a fool when you need one? For maybe something does come from nothing, for “God bless the child that’s got his own.”