Next excerpt from Beatrice Page’s “Landscape with Figures:”
“Just returned from my anticipated walk – the same tour of inspection I used to make as soon as we got here every summer. I could almost have found my way blindfolded by the smells: a whiff of wild roses, the pungency of sweet fern when I pinched off a leaf or two as I walked down through the stony field in front of the house, the astringent smell of salt air and kelp when I reached the water, and then after I’d clambered along the rocky shoreline to the beach it borders on, the low-tide smell of clean wet sand.
With the tide dead low, the whole sandy crescent between the two outreaches of granite ledges was as bare – and inviting – as an empty stage. Any dancer would have thought it a shame not to take advantage of all that space and freedom in which to leap and whirl. I restrained myself with difficulty as I took off my sneakers and set off barefoot, reminding myself that I am no longer a professional dancer, only an aging ex-dancer turned writer of one published novel and a handful of poems. I was afraid some early summer visitor might glance out the window and see me cavorting about.
Odd that social custom inhibits our moving freely and spontaneously. I’ve often longed to do a few plies or waist-bends or other limbering-up exercise while waiting for the subway, instead of standing on the platform in listless boredom. Why should I have cared what anyone thought? I guess like most people I have a need to conform, even though what I’ve sometimes chosen to conform to is non-conformism.
I came home via the narrow dirt road that leads from the beach past the back door. The air was laden with the heavy, languorous fragrance of honeysuckle, tangled white-and-yellow masses of it rising and falling in copious waves over stone walls and fences, creeping and spreading through gaps in the underbrush, encroaching on both sides of the narrow road. It followed me almost to the back steps. The entire backyard, which was never very big, has been almost taken over by the untamed vegetation of one kind or another. I rather like it that way.”