Sunday, July 12, 2009

What to do when it is rain rain raining at Pleasant Pond for days on end?

• Wrack your brain for synonyms for rain & its attributes: deluge, precipitation, perilous precipitation, burst clouds & cloudbursts, torrential downpour, monsoon, cataract, pluvial unloading… swampy, malarial, foetid, muggy, miasmic, wet.
• Study the sky and look for cracks in the clouds that will reveal a leakage of blue; interpret every shift in light as “the sun coming out”.
• Get out the puzzles. Luckily for us – or not? - CSB’s grandmother, L.M., was very fond of puzzles and amassed a collection of wooden jigsaw puzzles featuring bucolic rural scenes. L.M. was born in Bingham, Maine, back when Bingham was a good place to be born. Now that the lumber mill has closed, “hoodlums” hang out on every corner and the Odd Fellows Hall is for sale, along with most every other building. She favored a brand of Wood Interlocking Jigsaw Puzzles made in England and sold at Glencraft, in South Windham, Maine.
• Read the local papers. CSB has turned me into a devoteé of the Morning Sentinel. He has taught me to appreciate obits written by family members: in central Maine every deceased was married to “the love of his/her life” and they are without fail “avid” hunters/fishermen/ outdoorsmen. Women are always “devoted” to their children and/or their husbands; absent those basic appendages it is their nieces, nephews and/or cats to whom the female in question was devoted. Given the state of the local economy, the obituaries are often the most cheerful section of the paper.
• Read about Madame de Staël (1766-1817) and Benjamin Constant (1767-1830). Whenever I see the name Benjamin Constant my ears/eyes perk up, and not on account of my encyclopedic knowledge of French literature. Many years ago I went to the Colombian Amazon. Colombia has a sliver of land that extends down to the Amazon, because of course they want a piece of the Amazonian shore, as any self-respecting country would, and at the tip of the sliver is a town called Leticia. That is where we went. Leticia was a muddy, swampy, humid (Sound familiar? Leticia was MUCH hotter.) dump populated by escaped convicts, three-headed tapirs and defrocked priests. If you walked across the border into Brazil you were in the town of Benjamin Constant*, also a fetid agglomeration of shabby decaying houses. We walked to Benjamin Constant and visited a lopsided church on stilts. Inside the church (Saô Lorenço I think) a tape recorder was plugged into a long extension cord running down the nave, and all day long it played a recording of a Mass, including the music, the sermon in Portuguese, and the mumbled responses. Someone had rigged the recorder to play continuously, though I don’t know how. I didn’t know then that Benjamin Constant had been a lover of Madame de Staël, and I certainly didn’t know that his novel Adolphe (1816) is considered to be, by some, the forerunner of the modern psychological novel. On the other side of Leticia was Peru.
• Play full contact Scrabble. This means we thumb or arm wrestle to determine the correctness of a challenged word. Does TRAVELLER have one or two L’s? I would like it to be 2, because then I also get CURL from CUR. I lost the wrestle.
• Make collages from newspaper and NYRB cuttings.
• Listen to messages on the home answering machine. Long lost friends visiting from afar; a neighbor heading for the beach; a recording of the county executive expressing his deep concern about identity theft and encouraging us to bring our papers to the county’s mobile shredder (little does he know how excited I get by the very thought of a mobile shredder); my dentist reminding me I am six months overdue for a cleaning; and CSB’s x-wife gratuitously casting aspersions on my looks and moral character.
• You know it has rained for too many days when Listening to the Answering Machine is considered an Activity.

* It seems that for all these years I have been mistaken, in error and very wrong about the eponymous Benjamin Constant. The town, according to Wikipedia, was named for a Brazilian military man (1836-1891), who, having been born 6 years after the death of THE Benjamin Constant, I have to assume was named for the French writer and lover.

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