For anyone new to the blog, every Monday, I post an excerpt from a manuscript that my grandmother, who I called Muddy, left me when she died. She was a published author and poet, but was unable to get this manuscript published because it wasn’t “commercial enough.” I’ve been posting a bit of it each week so that it can finally be out there for the world to read. So, here is the next installment of Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape with Figures:
“Walked up to the top of the hill overlooking the harbor early this morning. The cumbersome dredger, squat and ugly as a sculpin, that has been deepening the harbor was being ignominiously towed away by a little boat not even half its size, like a dead moth being dragged off by an ant.
The little sailboats swung gently at their moorings and the sun sent dazzling streaks of light gliding up and down their varnished masts. Made me think of those toys we used to have: little monkeys that shinnied up sticks and slid down again.
So many of these August days begin this way in almost utter calm with the ocean smooth and shiny as pale blue satin. I’ve learned, though, that these serene mornings usually develop a predictable pattern. After awhile you notice the water is no longer sleek but has become slightly wimpled and there is a mild stirring and rustling in the trees. The breeze will gradually develop more confidence in its own strength until by mid-afternoon it will be teasing the pines, playfully stroking their needles the wrong way so that you almost expect to see sparks fly out. It will rough up the sea with whitecaps, and when the boats come past the Point, their sails will be laid slantwise.
If you walk along the harbor road facing into the sun and with the wind behind you, the long green ribbons of beach grass become disembodied: all you can see are millions of slivers of light rippling off into the distance.
The wind usually dies down about the same time the sun goes down, and the night becomes tranquil with hardly more than the hint of a breeze. Last evening I walked up the road a little way before going to bed. The crickets were fiddling away to a fare-thee-well on either side of the road. They sounded as if they were all playing together, perfectly synchronized in a trochaic meter like Pe-ter-Pe-ter-Pump-kin-eat-er.
There was one exception, however, who just couldn’t get with it. He never quite got the beat. After several attempts he gave up and fell silent. He was not a member of either group; he was along, somewhere very close to where I was standing. Had he been ostracized for ruining the ensemble, I wonder? Or had he chosen to remain aloof, perhaps in his pride looking upon himself as a soloist, and then to his humiliation found out he wasn’t that good? And had he then come to the resentful decision that if he couldn’t fiddle better and louder than anyone, he wouldn’t fiddle at all?”