A summer program on the south side is designed to address generational poverty. This is my daughter’s fifth year teaching there and now she has the younger siblings of her first students. At first the kindergarteners won’t want to like her. At first they will find new ways to hate. And then something will begin to happen and they’ll start playing Teacher Beth at home, such is the embrace they give into.
This week they prepare for next week’s art museum visit. How to use inside voices, how to not touch. The museum will show the children how many more colors our world has found, how many strokes of paint, thick, thin and blended. But this week, my daughter tells me while we are weeding radishes in our family garden, her kids are practicing the museum walk.
Werner Herzog’s Cave of the Forgotten Dreams, a documentary of his exclusive access to the Chauvet Cave in southern France is a moving experience Edna O’Brien shares in her memoir, Country Girl. This cave, having gone undetected for 30,000 years astounds, and among many features are two sets of ancient footprints. O’Brien is captivated: Were they footprints from two people alive at the same time? Or could they be two sets of footprints, with centuries between each set?
I suspect my father will love the book, as he loves anything Irish and mankind’s calling to “go back, the way animals do, the way elephants trudge thousands of miles to return to where the elephant whisperer has lived.”
“We go back for the whisper.”
Fishing Guy has agreed to teach us how to rig our own fishing rods (and we are to stop calling them fishing poles), and how to tie our own leaders. I find a pencil with an eraser on top to sink my hook into while I tie fishing line over and under, twice, and twist it eight times before returning it to some loop I am not to lose track of.
Hook, leader line, sinker. Swivel. Everything leads to and comes from the swivel.
We brew lemon-citrus tea at the kitchen table; listen to Lonnie Bell’s Sunday radio program: music from the 1940’s. And we tie, mess up, start over, and tie. Fishing Guy watches, careful to not help too much, but ready to lend a hand when we struggle. When Beth cries out, we think: hook-in-thumb. But no, just when she thought she had mastered the leader-tying skill, she must start over.
What went wrong? Fishing Guy wants to know. Is it too late to salvage the leader? But no, it is nothing like that.
She explains: So much didn’t happen right, it’s nothing to start over.
I deliver O’Brien’s memoir and ask to borrow a book from my father’s bookshelves, Georgia O’Keeffe: Art & Letters, when I visit on Father’s Day. O’Keeffe heard sounds in her shapes and colors, a primal mystery I am drawn to.
In the foreword her art is described as “addressed to the future from the faraway.”
Mom butters Dad’s Perkin’s pancakes and asks which syrup he prefers. Dad doesn’t care which, he’s busy telling us about a man named Holter who had once felled and bucked timber in the mountains, floating the rough logs seventy miles down the Missouri River to a holding pond that was once along the shore where my parents walk every morning, no later than six a. m. They are astounded (Dad more than Mom) to learn they’ve been walking on the very ground where a sawmill is now gone.