Because of the manhunt I couldn't get to Boston to see P. on Friday, so I fled New York to the farm to dog-sit for my parents. I've kept it private for the most part, but you might as well know: Mac's back legs started to go soon after we moved back from India, slowly at first, but now he's completely paralyzed from the shoulders back. Mac (also known on this blog as Biscuit) has been my copilot for twelve years. He is my Life Dog. Steadfast and lionhearted, he's defended me from coyotes, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and the vicissitudes of the heart, but late-onset degenerative myelopathy is getting the better of him in his otherwise spry old age back on the farm. (His body is crippled but he's liberated when he dozes; as I write this, his front paws are twitching as he chases something in a dream.)
I spent six hours answering Block Shop emails Sunday afternoon with Mac at my feet, then at five o'clock I poured myself a bourbon, set my jaw, and headed out to the barn. I rifled through the storage and boxes of baling twine in the now-empty hayloft until I found our ancient Radio Flyer, which contained a mouse-nibbled garbage bag labeled "CHILDREN'S SHOES / 4 GOODWILL" in my mother's neat, faded handwriting. There's probably a word in German for the feeling of finding a forgotten bag of one's childhood shoes, but I don't know what it is.
I loaded Mac into the wagon and took him for a walk down to the edge of the woods where rogue daffodils come up every spring. Mac sniffed the breeze perched like a regal Maharajah atop his palanquin while Dolly chased voles and I filled my bucket.
My ninth grade English teacher made us memorize and recite Wordsworth, but I can only ever remember the first two couplets of Daffodils. But sometimes two couplets is plenty, and I recited them for Mackerel as I pulled him up the hill through the boggy spring fields and back to the house.
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
–William Wordsworth, 1807