Monday, September 25, 2006

October on the Patuxent

"On this fine sunny October day, a Patuxent oysterman shows me how to lock the claws of crabs my daughter caught before her return to the city.

'I hear you’re writing a book,' he says.

This information comes as a surprise. I gulp and say something that sounds like yes.

Here in the country with my dog for a few weeks rest, I’m probably not deemed quite respectable just reading books. So, last week, when one of the oystermen allowed as how he didn’t see how I could be by myself day after day just reading, I said something about writing, too. They can’t feel friendly toward me if they are plugging away with their oysters and I, an able-bodied woman, leave my perfectly good husband and children at home and lounge around all day doing nothing. No use trying to explain. So, I will dedicate my book to the Patuxent oystermen because they considered it possible.

The tattered page is dated Oct. 8, 1962 and also contains a poem to my father:

Osprey fly high;
herons fly low.
Please tell me how
my love can grow.

Maples are red.
The river is blue.
Before the leaves fall
I would love you.

Zinnia, cock’s comb,
petunia, aster.
I must somehow
learn to love faster.

Seagull, blue eel,
bobwhite, quail.
Where is the love
that does not pale?

Butterfly, cricket,
red apple tree.
How can my love
ever love me?

Green crab, sunfish,
butternut tree.
When will I learn
the way it must be?

Soybean, mushroom,
oyster and shell.
What must I know?
How can I tell?

Trumpet vine, cedar,
Full moon above,
show me the way
to give my love."

Only vaguely do I remember Bea’s retreat to Sotterley near Hollywood, Maryland. As far as I know, she never finished the book she describes on this frequently folded piece of paper.

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