by Eric Miller
For my part, the plank staircase angling by rickety twitches cliff-side down to Wreck Beach reminds me of the steps that stagger toward the Whirlpool below Niagara Falls. Each increment here in British Columbia is too short—each increment there, on the frontier of Ontario, too long. Yet a kind of music accompanies treading down both, we play them like a keyboard, the music of inhibition and the music of extension.
I cannot for the longest time glimpse saltwater. Can you see it? I perceive cedars and arbutus, and observe the adjacent protean precipitousness of tumbling rills, ruffled like fern leaves, rippling like otters. These waters don’t have to flex their knees. Every time we think it’s over the creaking flight continues! I have the time to think of Ontario, and to think of how the British conceived of the Niagara River as a part of the Saint Lawrence, and to think of characters I have conceived, members of the British party going upstream to administer the new province of Upper Canada, the year being 1792. Now, like Dante in La Vita Nuova, let me provide a context for the cameo with which I hope to entertain you as, lurching ourselves a little woodenly, imitating thus the boards of hundreds of discrete steps that support our resolve, we bring ourselves, with luck, onto the sea-level reach of Wreck Beach. There is something prosodic and stirring about staircases is there not? They are symbols of so much! To descend a staircase is not necessarily an anticlimax is it?—in spite of etymology.
A funny time we live in! Privacy and publicity have become confounded, and scale is gone. Come, let us equal everything to atrocity, how fortunate for those who mutilate thousands and tens of thousands first deploying the lie then the missile, the bomb and the drone, and (after all that) they still often want the primitive mercy or accuracy entirely to slay! Little things are all murders, murders I tell you! But it is right we should recede from such awful instances, for here we breathe more or less at peace. Peace is when we are advised, in many a field, to deem okay-ness inimitable and find a place for it in our hearts though it does not, the impertinent impermeable thing, reciprocally open a spot for dear us. “Scale” is a word, like “climax,” having to do with steps. We are consulting not a gradus ad Parnassum but a descensus litori, we do not escalate, mount or peak but we plunge, we plumb, we drop by degrees to the sea. We experience the beauty of real gradations not degradations. The odoriferous evergreen cedar sprig and glossy dark evergreen arbutus leaf make a screen for us on which no further images play and their withholding of a prospect of the ocean does not frustrate us since what they supply is as valuable as what they withhold, we will not thrash at what is not felt to be obstruction or distraction.
Intimacy, if we admire it (we are told to all the time!), requires trust yet we misconceive trust these days if we think the matter decided or determined by solitary people (friends, couples, families). Can those scattered affinities and affiliations easily intensify their bond in truly trustworthy isolation, safely growing loyal and more loyal under conditions in which commitment, an ambiguous noun, may, the officious line goes, flourish—a quality all of us should exemplify, or else? Or else what? No need to worry. The expectation of privacy was no more than a hope. It is no exceedingly rare thing these days for inconsiderables, relieved of that status so favourable to confidingness, to have every portal that makes their privacy breached, nest flipped inside out not without deep structural damage but “misunderestimated” if you will, potentialities in shock blinking into the dazzle of casual defilement. Outsiders hastily diagnose the situation as a “breakdown.” Fine! We need a word and that one prettily presupposes personality. We do want to keep that. Wretches broken down after this fashion (I have known a few) may reach for the equivalent of a flat cap, something as unfashionable as Harris tweed, to keep the beam that will not be extinguished from burning scalp tissue. And still the talk, emanating from nowhere, from everywhere, is of the necessity of trust! The paradox once we muster the nerve to taste it, is delicious. Is it nourishing?
Luckily—also regrettably—the domain of insult and derision really is limited. We may discuss in our chuckling pejorative mood someone else’s perspiration, snot, earwax, spit, genital secretion, urine, shit, toenails, fingernails, hairs, skin, musculature, eyes, nostrils… Tiresome. Wherefore tiresome? The accuser, you or me, possesses this same animal panoply. The one who would humiliate only abases himself, or herself. Now there is still room for invective, I hope! I was even thinking to give you a little inspiration in that way. Even if I disappoint you, that very disillusionment, a form of precious intimacy I guess, may be productive. And I will offer you a particle of anticipatory consolation. Your attackers, dear reader (I am certain you are not so bereft as not to have gotten a few), want you very badly. They want you, and attention! Your attention! Attention is something of which there is always a deficit so they say. Other people’s worst instincts, left lying around rather thoughtlessly, become, as we beachcomb, our reasons.
On the spirit of detraction
Do you detest some people? I am not given to hatred. There is on occasion a person I loathe but the grounds, I am honest as I say this, are always the same: that individual has decided to mislike me, first. Even that I am disposed to overlook, perhaps out of indolence. Laziness is not virtue but the provinces of these characteristics do overlap. Yet, if an antagonist simply will not stop, then I find that, yes, I have it in my heart to feel poorly disposed toward the eminence in question. Eminence? Rank, dignity or distinction is relative direly yet it is someone, this is what I mean to say, with more worldly sway than I can summon. They want to be noticed, so much is clear. Over time, the other not relenting, he (yes, usually he) becomes a muse. The sexes, meanwhile, are bound by rules, as usual. Men are supposed to destroy one another using anyone and anything to hand, whereas women’s plight today is to be victims all of them who, above all and do not forget, really are not and never were victims. Men are and have to be the problem. I agree! Who would not? Bear in mind I indulge here only in the allegory of an allegory, the thought of a thought-experiment. Likenesses are as unlike as is the always the case.
And how banal this discourse is. That is why you frown. We know without any nudging or cuing some are far from embarrassed to deploy the great public sphere to dismay the lone, the unknown, who hapless guess. We know too all of that is forgivable, no not forgivable, ignorable. Most of the time we can choose our field of vision and all of us exclude a good deal more than we permit to enter the enchanted range of our consideration. Yet isn’t it still astonishing when a person you have never met takes against you? What wishes they betray! That is the truly gruesome part isn’t it? Now, reader, lower those eyebrows. You also have met with these prodigies. Let me tell you they are stopped, outside of war and lawyers, by art—your art, or some helpful other’s, this in the greatest safety to yourself: for they have no recourse. Afterward, true, they keep at it, not conceding for a minute they merely act out, while they age with a startling absence of grace, the spasmodism or (if you desire some term more ennobling) the fate made incumbent on them by art. People forget that their bodies entirely change over time, they are not and neither are we even the same people. That is what tradition calls experience. Now there’s an argument to hold the humanities close—yes, just like that, that’s very nice. It’s a flaw famous of our time, disproportioned as it is, to use institutions to harry nobodies. Imagine, much too old and certainly too affluent for such a pastime, a Hobbesian fool with a magnifying glass roasting an ant so the brittle fellow smokes in the sun. Some vocations seeming casual are the prime of life or death, and some ants provoke anger by their endurance for they seem to grow, their dimensions ever swelling, to know their torturer all too well. Any investigator discloses a great deal about himself doesn’t he? I guess this is the thing called transparency isn’t it? Transparency, you see, obliterates question and answer together.
This discussion is too abstract, here are arguments or facts dictated to me in British Columbia, in the privacy of my chambers, by some generous power. It is, I say, 1792, along the River Saint Lawrence, which is like enough the Niagara or indeed the great Fraser River by Wreck Beach. Yes, I commit that crime: an inset narrative.
Hook versus ring
—What? Is Liam Throswell dead then? asks Thomas emerging from his white small tent.
—Choked on perch explains Aeneas.
—He caught something? asks Thomas incredulous.
—Caught a perch says Aeneas.
—Caught his death remarks Captain Stevenson.
—Always fishing and fishing says Aeneas.
—Yes says Thomas always fishing and fishing. Angle on (he breathes) and squeeze a viscid passage, into a possessive grave. I have put on by the help of your good discourse, new thoughts both of the art of angling and of all that profess it. Frère tiède, of the angle! Many creatures breed of lifeless bodies, without Venus’s deed. Else whence, our late prodigy of rod and of pen?
Thinks Thomas, Even patience can be impatience, honour Throswell, let him teach us a lesson!—it was his penchant. There stood my friend with patient skill, attending of his trembling quill! But by a fatality he leaned beyond this moment, leaned beyond—though in his actual chronic posture, he could look backward only where, retorted toward that disappearance (our bateau’s un-recoupable inopportunity of wake), he sought a future of fish, and more fish. For he had pledged—pledged whom?—for we know that he would vow nothing, that did not magnify his persuasion of his authorization—he had pledged to pack the pomp and costly leaky Crystal of a Musaeum, to frame therein the boundless Universe, insofar as he could specimen it in the finny tribe. But the part Fish cannot be coerced to represent the Kosmos whole. The synecdoche as fact is too rare, a little Leviathan drawn by the nose by none such as whalish Throswell.
Of what was he part? Terrible speculation! One surmises from all this he had a thing to prove: all he proved, was that he thought so. He was the proof of himself, he proved that every day of his life—proved it on my life. He needed my life, to prove his life. He married me against my will, in my sleep. A fish never wakes: the stream is a dream. With his death my life already feels different realizes Thomas. Yet could such ambition as his—to be the complete angler, to perfect in full the piscator!—now content its meat to curate and bait the bait-worms of its own decay—not even skinned, soaked, posed by an artist in cadaverous preservation? Let me stuff you then. Not under-stuff—or over-stuff—you, my dear monitor. You deserve to be better than disproportionné. Let my well-measured lament be your taxidermist. First scale this Throswell, then wash this Throswell clean, then take out his guts. We would not want the visitors to think you larger or smaller than you are, even in encomium. For you were a man of words if we may call them that, as well as of fish. How Liam, Liam—how void a thing sometimes I find, will captivate a proud mind.
No grave considers more serious Thomas, is filled. Every last one is ever empty: a cenotaph. That well-groomed man thought he knew who leads: he submitted such talent as he possessed to whom he judged, led. Leading? Led? What is that? By his own inflexible obedience, he hoped to accrue sway. Some visions of power are so very, very importantly in possession, of this most rigid degree of impotence. There is a perpetual change of leadership. He never thought I led, could lead, or would lead. So much is apt, at least. I do not follow in his sense either. Neither a leader nor a follower.—Throswell sought with a blatant show of circumspection to elicit the fish in everyone whom he met, imparting his clammy and his piscine cold, freezing bonhommie like the torpedo-eel that numbs because, being a portion of electric ice, it can do no other thing. Thomas realizes, He was after his fashion killing me. How much of me has Throswell mortified? He only could kill what was like him, perhaps that is my enlivening. More tidily even than his vanity would demand, and much less invasively, will he fill his tomb: thus far declares the insulating clay, and no farther.
And suppose thinks Thomas, suppose he had caught every fish he wanted, to finish the collection—what then? What then. Sad man, spared awareness of his infelicity by the deadening deficit in his nervous endowment, he was spared, too, the posing of that question, and he lies (lying truthfully, at last) in his approximately permanent pinewood creel. Let us pretend for an experiment he got every fish he wanted. That is as good as his actually having got them. He could peer far—farther than I, for a certainty: but could not see at all the prospective exhaustion of his enthusiasm, or any sequel to it but death. In the guise of angling he waited for his grave, his groom, to swim up to him; he married me (a wretched semblance of his desire) only in my sleep. My regret is to have retarded the consummation of his true Hymen, with him of impeccable fidelities—his death. Throswell’s lexicon synonymized “threat” with “joke.” Such a jester alas. Now you have all, all—all of nothing. Enjoy. Or be enjoyed.
At the stern of his bateau the late Lieutenant fixed a pulley, and with his tenuous line had trolled sans cesse. He caught not much because it was Thomas’s habit to substitute for Liam Throswell’s hook a blacksmith’s nail bent by the blacksmith himself, in Ireland, into a ring. Forge it into unity was the blacksmith’s explanation, a muscular jeweller. As he espoused it, he was smiling with lips as dangerously red as the molten stuff in which he wrought. A smithy’s livid light makes Iroquois masks of us all, in our federacy. What “unity” was, was moot. That hammer rather intimidated Thomas. Let your rod be light, and very gentle. In fact the great-bodied man did gently slam those modulations of ruby the wheezing squeeze of bellows infused, into ordinarily unblushing iron. The hammer and the tongs and the anvil, let them find their divers applications. He can hear the scarlet hammer-blows still. Thomas had several such rings from his Hephaestus, and his caprice has scattered them in sundry ways of amusement, appeasement, interference and ingratiation.
—He caught something? repeats Thomas.
—Caught his death tolls Captain Stevenson as the soft and dirge-like Saint Lawrence passes the candid tents.
It must have occurred in an interval when Thomas had let the angler dangle his hook: and he winces, finally. Had I left the ring in place, the man might not have died. Can a person by neglect of secret teasing that permits itself little respite, by an irresponsible remission in burlesque—can his motley trans-substantiate into a murderer’s hopeful camouflage? Throswell once cluttered Grub Street: not without titles, for the inevitable approval of Prince Posterity. Liam conjectured a thing beyond the scope of science. Was he that thing?
Thomas takes the ring from his pocket its iron rusted by the faithful waters, who will keep these two (water and iron) from their love? It kindles the mild colour of rust. Whereas poor Liam I did not warm to him reflects Thomas. He would not have wanted warmth. Yet he wanted me in much the way he wanted his rod, and his Musaeum. What is the nature of that relationship of him, with me? He dove toward death, by descending the scale of being till our monkey heat was abstracted from his theory of existence. A yellow perch stopped his craw, the bone of a yellow perch. The man had, almost, style. But the fish sought thee not, ’twas thou that madly sought him, sought him! You ought to have relaxed thinks Thomas. You bothered me. Lieutenant Throswell bothered Thomas.
Throswell’s rules of writing
Miss Sone grants the dead Throswell titanic: but this titanism consisting in the unexampled protraction of smallness. The way he lived he always lived too long: he was too long for life: life, too short to reach his whole length, could not rid itself of this extension and anomaly. How can you tell if the pre-emptively dead are dead? He should have carried the globe. Instead he dropped it. The weight of it! He knew how heavy it was. Did he? The gravity in the land of death is different from life’s. Throswell possessed a froideur only superficially like that logic custom calls “cold”. Logic would die of such gelidity. That is why he collected cold fish. Even their death-throes (he liked to scrutinize their expressions closely at such times) were already in the midst of death, they died from death into death. They never emerged into life, he too could not get to life (elegant though his attire was): but he could perceive this failure. Death cannot really see life, but it keeps looking. He kept staring for a reaction, but innocent in a frigidity inhospitable to life he could not understand what reaction to expect. That did not stop him from his interpretations. The dying of fish into the midst of their unrelieved death in any case, reminded him of what he missed—life. And that made him serenely implacable.
Miss Sone once, didn’t she? started to read, it was some years ago, the dead man’s tract “On Obedience and the Formation of Taste” in Gifford’s. Oblivion has (true) subordinated the experience to other things. Can you be stylish having no own style? To each his paradox and solved by a perch in this instance. The sun has died likewise: though the globe goes on no Atlas, it is emptiness bearing it. She reads aloud,
Do not write too fast. Do not write too slowly. Refrain from all Satire. No Anacreontic topics, such as Wine, Desire, Roses. No young Women. No young Men. No Women. No Men. No Women or Men, in the plausible sense of those Words. No Nudity. No Clothing. Avoid those Pitfalls, the Composition of Pastoral, Georgic or Epic. Break the Wheel of Virgil. No histories, whether of a Tory or Whig Persuasion. No Allusions. Ethical treatises are excellent. Be careful to exclude Examples. They confuse you, and your Reader. God does not want you to tell. Tell what? I will not tell. Avoid figurative language. Parables are the proper Province of our Saviour, and He has not explained. Do not seek to provoke Laughter. Do not labour to expedite that sticky superfluity, Tears. Do not laugh. Do not cry. Therefore, desist from Comedy. Therefore, desist also from Tragedy. Novels corrupt the Young. From this follows: Do not write Novels. Do not idealize. Do not contrive mixed Characters—or Characters. Do not exaggerate. Or diminish. No Sense, Sentiment or Sensibility. I am your Preceptor, not your Censor. The Laws of Literature are identical with the Laws of the State. I am—I mean to say We are—the State. We call that “the Letter of the Law”. Adhere to it. Grammar is actionable. If you do not write, I will not need to correct you. Consider the Relief consequent, from desisting. Think of me as the Dog who howls, to shatter the destructive Thought; or the Child who yells, to lay waste the injurious Idea. Alienate the human from your practice. Since you are human, this behest means: Do not practise. With submission I imperatively suggest: Defer Ambition: Defer to me. We have, we have to have our Eye on You. It is Tiring. We fear (adds supplemental deductive ventriloquial Miss Sone), you could take away this our Eye: Since where is it but on You and on You. We would force You to give It back could We desist from imposing it upon You.
Miss Sone pauses: paraphrases the curse: Drive Persuasion from where she perches on your shoulder, and adapts her murmurs to your heart, through your ear. Do not entertain her, in your garden. We belong there. Where she is not there is no garden. We belong there too. Do not feed her. Miss Sone offers herself to herself as food and as altar, Visit. I look forward to eating Elizabeth’s perch, with her. Te Deam oro laudoque. When I look back, I am persuaded I have written the future.
Throswell stood so tall—now he stretches so long—that he must be laid out in the biggest pavilion of all. What he would like! Thomas keeps vigil over the extensive remainder of the Lieutenant. Thomas sits by lanterns, one at the head, and one at the foot, of Throswell. Whale-oil lamps. Yes: I did not warm to this now cold man thinks Thomas. They are not in this light the same man. This new man might sit up, and be interesting. He has fascinating features. Are some men born to complete themselves in the repose of death? The intensity Throswell lacked in life chief-edits, or chips away at him severe-mellowly, I witness and I laud the improvements! He always went uncoupled from his destiny as though that destiny cast a receding shadow, or threw a receding light into which he could not actually step: leave alone reach what made the shade, or supported the light. His demise consummates him, he beds it with his shadows now, he cannot chasten them any longer (he cannot chasten himself—or me—any longer). It is he himself come to himself, a very asphodel is he whom I bend to inspect, a flower of no seed that produces no seed. He wanted power now has it, having nothing. I would even prop him up in a clearing, for an idol, a totem.
Despite the whining biters, Thomas draws back the flap of the tent to let the moon dispose remotely a shroud on this clay’s exquisite betterments. Maybe there is no death, this is neither deadly nor deathly. The whale-fishers’ fuel flirts a fringe to an incandescent winding-sheet. Throswell was grown over decades, and frustrated over decades, and talionic over the same period, too—over decades—just so that he might surrender his circumstantial vexations and his immense, impacted faire de l’embarras, to this appreciation of Thomas’s slightly sleepy eyes. He licks over his dead foe, with dozy blinks. A beauty—which one?—has promoted the martinet. Death and Beauty thinks Thomas: when does Death begin, when does Beauty end? The present death is painless, though finely protracted. Decomposition and composition cordially compact an entente. Anger refined this angler in a furnace of superb pettiness, behold the effigy. Feeble essence, tumultuous driven through time’s rough billow, into night’s abyss! Into Thomas’s creel for Thomas is the fisherman, at last. Vanitas, with luminous bounties extra-added. Death instantaneous hurried off Achilles, age far-extended wore away Tithonus, who will live longer, thou or I, Liam or Thomas?
Ephemeral pillars of the night, candles fume away till the socket snuffs them and their standards: they furl, but the ebon stirs free and imbues with a sigh—a sign—the un-sparkling air, “How deep the silence, yet how loud the praise!” The centre pole still stands. Thomas slips the iron ring onto Throswell’s maiden finger, or thinks he does, his wick flickering like a candle-nub. Day resurrects, is this redemption? Thomas of another day, when? began to read Throswell’s “Subordination,” wanly fulminous. That was in Gifford’s was it not? Memory blandly turns her head aside. Insubordinate order the feathery kind choruses. Lazarus dies, and lives. I am Lazarus, he is not.
… My, these stairs go on forever! Well, I hope you found “The Death of Lieutenant Throswell,” a history painting in words, sufficiently edifying! The unrelenting does furnish us aid, he becomes an optical aid, not necessarily a magnifying glass, something more versatile and perhaps not yet invented!
Our feet, rejoicing in the pliancy they possess, confidently farewell the bottom-most step: our heels paff upon sand, it is Wreck Beach. At high tide, moreover—the highest! We find this particular staircase ends well above the main part of the strand. We scout just a strip of beach onto which biggish waves make civil bows dissimulating their curvaceous weight, and nobody impresses the shore with fresh vestiges little differing from the long softly delved. Only a tidy gull paces on yellow legs pivoting prow and hull, a boat of the air, flickering scavenger-wise well-groomed in fretful pyschomachia of daring and prudence, such immaculate mixed feelings occasionally sending up, like a report from the ground to the clouds the gull occasionally accompanies alongside, a plume, a semi-plume or a croon well-adapted to the hollow air. The sight of a loose feather tickles, and cumuli even at this distance slide like a pleasant touch across where our nakedness raises ethereal jagged hackles. Flesh is intuition now.
We are not frustrated. For we get to see one of the most beautiful sights life lets in at our eyes: shoulders awash in the inshore billows. At one with the wave and splitting the wave. The sadness of shoulders thus isolated, isolated striving in the water, doing a kind of slow, head-up breaststroke; sad shoulders in the half-light of a room, in the half-light of a forest: naked shoulders, shoulders made naked. This head and these shoulders might be half carven from a block of stone, the water is a kind of wandering stone and the conception of the bust is still wavering under the mind and hand of the maker. Those quarries where are found, after the lapse of millennia, the mere primordia of statuary! No iconoclasm destroys what never quite came into being, or our kind of being. Softness and hardness are but phases. Everything flows—true, Heraclitus; but contrapuntal sweetness, by successive pulses, congests.
Van Dusen Gardens
When I moved to British Columbia and first moved amid its urban and suburban spaces, what struck me forcibly was the presence of hedges. These green walls seclude yards and perimeter parks. At once they entice and they put to sleep. Entice because they may contain nests, and offer long walls for the resort of birds. They dose us soporific because they embody a prickly exclusiveness in summer desiccated and scratchy—in winter soaking, so laden with chill swipes of re-emboldened rain. The eye dislikes after a while the topiary will that carves them into slabs, the closest vegetation can come to marmoreal and mausoleal.
We park outside such a huge hedge and walk to the entrance of Vancouver’s famous Van Dusen Gardens. The welcome centre is quite an open affair, a café blares crudely to one side. We pay our way and at once confront quiet, a terrace and a pond. How much a pond does at once, just by sitting there! Why does it so impress us? It reflects the sky and exhibits the operation of reflection in front of us. We may dip into this resource as avidly as we might drink water. Van Dusen Gardens fifty years ago was a golf course.
Except the miniature variety, golf is a game I have never played. I used to trek with my brother across golf courses when very small. We treated Toronto as a wilderness, even the most congested or most suburban of its reaches. We had the attitude of the precocial not precocious, just alertly cracked fresh from the shell of the previous night. We knew as kids do that every day was the first of its particular kind to dawn, and that nothing was established, and that, despite the allure of history, all only was established now by those alive. Thus a golf course, apart from the danger of the white dense flying balls, provided an occasion to observe goldfinches, which bounce in flight if you have ever seen them. My ears hung on their hanging song. We preserved our state of mind, passing through a populous city as though through terra nullius, no one’s world. Nothing but what was pristine, in another way than the chemical grass of a golf course or the shorn edges of a hedge.
My brother and I passed, too, a particular sort of hotel, rectilinear, heavily air conditioned in summer months, with blackish reflective windows and people in clean bright clothes looking at loose ends where their convention centre or holiday address adjoined some remnant of streams and woods in Toronto. The unease of leisure is amusing to observe. People tread warily seeking a purpose, eating or exercising or flirting as though all too cognizant of the metabolic processes that contribute to the recurrent idea of a meal, a jog or an act of copulation. Overly attentive, these leisure seekers—seeking is a good word for the case.
Meanwhile, ourselves usually thirsty, my brother and I tramped along. Perhaps our deity was an early revelation of mutability. Sure, there was a city there that day; on another, former day there was no city; and upon another day, no city would stand here. Whoever we were, kids whom strange to say nobody hassled, our provenance and our interests were as readily effaced as the roadkill, flat bloody fur, shouldering the expressway. We sometimes walked alongside the expressway, with the manner of farers alongside a clean-running river. Our lungs accepted the scorch of exhaust as they might have the exhalation of cedars. We considered ourselves not flâneurs—a concept that irritated me when, much later, I learned of it—but naturalists. What we saw we could not have set up for ourselves, that was the point; and we had no dandyish distance, either. We wanted to make a description, and already imagined the day, not distant, when our description would no longer remain extant. Yet we contributed to an archive we knew barbarians of the future—barbarians, that is to say, in respect of us—would destroy thoughtlessly or even with a touch of malice. This destruction I have witnessed many times since, such exhilaration of disposal and suppression, often inflected by kinds of intelligence and stupidity that have not fallen to my portion. But thus pained all you have to do, is add these intriguing creatures to the description. Their vanity inhibits their destructiveness, then. They come protective of their reputation to the feeder, like souls to the trough. Where did our confidence come from? It was so pleasant to be so small, was part of it. We mutually reinforced our intent, and somehow every day when we set out released us with tendresse, like the two wings of a recovered bird, from between two sheltering hands that hung a pendulating sun, even in the most disastrous of weathers, somewhere in the whirling sky. We opened a front or a back door, stepped out onto the continent, went our never-fore-guessed circuit, and returned to that front or that back door, having seen our goldfinches and evaded all flying balls and relished the boredom of conventioneers and honeymooners glimpsed as, more parched than any grass, we trudged past.
The picture of Yellow Perch is from natureconservancy.ca.