Junior High, or Middle School.”The Monkey’s Paw.” In that terrifying story-and many others–I learned that humans who wish to undo universal laws are setting themselves up for mockery. The parents who wish their soldier son alive end up with his destroyed but animated remains on their doorstep; the king with the golden touch ends by turning his child from a girl into a statue, and the fisherman’s wife, not satisfied with being the pope, desires to be God, and ends up sitting moodily in her filthy hovel once more. But these vivid warnings never stopped me from wishing for more peace, more solitude, fewer obligations, less business and busyness. What could be better, I thought, than never having to leave the house and grounds?
It turns out that when we never have people over, things get awfully slovenly. It turns out that though we rarely have any social obligation at all, we see our partners or families or ourselves in the mirror much, much more than we want to. In the summer of a pandemic, significance leaks out of time. Moving from one locale to another used to punctuate time. The day of the week identified itself briskly by its proferred faces and voices and roles and tasks. Now, though, in Magic-Mountainous fashion, time flows on unbroken, and possibly unused–a source of unease, if you don’t have much of it to waste.
But time is still told by the budding, blooming and seeding of plants, and the demographics of other comrades (coyotes, voles, mosquitoes, moles, gophers, houseflies, blowflies, bumblebees, honeybees, miner bees, little white butterflies, large yellow butterflies, hummingbirds). They all abide by their critter’s-year clocks, indifferent to us, as we’ve sometimes been indifferent to them. For instance, it’s the season of spiders’ eggs in filamented sacs, insouciant at the intersection of wall and ceiling. So it’s not yet the season of cobwebs and dew. That’s for autumn. That’s still to come.