…and start normalizing whatever’s happening in out-of-context illustrations from Richard Scarry books (found on the “Richard Scarry Love” Instagram).
We went up the canyon (as far as we could; the upper half still isn’t open) and did our Afternoon River Hang (TM) for the first time this summer. In my 41st year, I’ve realized that I really like the water? I’ve never been a strong swimmer but I realized that hanging out by a lake or a hot springs or getting into a river is all I’ve wanted to do for the last year.
I am, of course, going to quote The Wind in the Willows:
Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.
The canyon is mostly bare of leaves but not yet snow-covered; we went up for a walk yesterday and I thought of this passage I found in The Wind in the Willows (at the start of the chapter when Mole ventures into the Wild Wood):
Copses, dells, quarries, and all hidden places, which had been mysterious mines for exploration in leafy summer, now exposed themselves and their secrets pathetically, and seemed to ask him to overlook their shabby poverty for a while, till they could riot in rich masquerade as before, and trick and entice him with the old deceptions. It was pitiful in a way, and yet cheering—even exhilarating. He was glad that he liked the country undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery. He had got down to the bare bones of it, and they were fine and strong and simple.
I can’t mention Mole without having to go back and read parts of The Wind in the Willows again–this time, the parts where it’s getting to be winter and they’re settling in to rest:
No animal, according to the rules of animal etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter. All are sleepy—some actually asleep. All are weather-bound, more or less; and all are resting from arduous days and nights, during which every muscle in them has been severely tested, and every energy kept at full stretch.
I would like to adopt this way of life, please.
We went for another hike by another mountain stream over the weekend. (I couldn’t get in this one, since it’s a watershed; very hard for Moley.)
I don’t know where this fascination with running water has come from but I’m about ready to see if I can go make a life on a river, just like Mole:
This day was only the first of many similar ones for the emancipated Mole, each of them longer and full of interest as the ripening summer moved onward. He learnt to swim and to row, and entered into the joy of running water; and with his ear to the reed-stems he caught, at intervals, something of what the wind went whispering so constantly among them.
(The entirety of The Wind in the Willows is online, btw.)
Instead of a hike, we went wading yesterday. I’m not a great swimmer and have no desire to become one, but rivers (or creeks, in this case) have my heart. Let me stick my feet in one and see the hidden banks and suddenly I’m thinking of becoming a river guide and breaking out The Wind in the Willows quotes:
Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated.
Today you should read a short piece in the New Yorker: The Secret Rebellion of Amelia Bedelia, the Bartleby of Domestic Work
Come for the memories of a beloved childhood series, stay for the discussion of invisible labor and Bartleby the Scrivener–and enjoy possibly the best correction of all time:
A previous version of this post misidentified the type of clothing worn by the chicken in the drawing.
We made it to another Vernal Equinox, the sun has been shining, bulbs are coming up, and when you come in from a walk you smell like outside.
There is, of course, a quote for that:
“You smell like flowers and – and fresh things,” he cried out, quite joyously. “What is it you smell of? It’s cool and warm and sweet all at the same time.”
(from The Secret Garden, when Mary comes in to see Colin after working in the garden for the morning.)
1. I didn’t get a new max on bench on Tuesday, but last night was max effort on deadlifts (my favorite) and I broke my last record by 15 pounds–for 150 pounds! More than my body weight! Soon, I will deadlift a car.
2. I didn’t realize this but Heather Havrilesky, quoted yesterday, writes the Ask Polly advice column for The Cut. (Again, Austin Kleon clued me in, this time via his newsletter.) This week’s column was like one of my therapy sessions, i.e. very true to how my anxious brain gets worked up about something and how I get called out (gently) for thinking instead of feeling. (That is praise; you should read it.)
3. We got a lot of snow Wednesday; it’s already starting to melt and today is going to be over 50 degrees. It’s time to break out this quote from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe:
And now the snow was really melting in earnest and patches of green grass were beginning to appear in every direction…Every moment the patches of green grew bigger and the patches of snow grew smaller. Every moment more and more of the trees shook off their robes of snow. […]
“This is no thaw,” said the Dwarf [to the White Witch], suddenly stopping. “This is spring. What are we to do? Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you!”
I’ve been thinking about a role change at work (from copy to content strategy) since the beginning of the year and have started to take steps to make it happen. Yesterday I presented my first content audit and it went great. Then I was exhausted later and thought of this book:
I quoted it back in 2013 right after a breakup, but I think The Little Duck is here to tell us that life changes are hard, and take work, and make you tired–and that naps are ok.