Apple Mysticism • 31 October 2010

Wednesday, 27 October

It was stupid beautiful this morning. Everything felt light after two days of headache, and last night’s dreams of myself as a Hawai’ian volcano. As a volcano, my high-altitude residents refused to evacuate in time for the rain of fire. When the eruption came, it was peaceful enough that these headstrong squatters had time to call their private jets. Off they flew. They were sad to go.

Savoy and sisters.


The temperature dropped twenty-five degrees from yesterday's 70 and won't get warm again til 2011. At the market, I’d just learned a new apple, the Mutsu (there’s a lady who teaches me one a week) when I was seduced. A lotus of kale in blues and dark greens, flowering around a soft bulb. Aromatic and bumpy, it brought a rush bizarre images related to communicating with a new species, and then ritually seasoning and roasting and eating it. To my politically correct horror, the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack cued up in the background (and continued to loop in my head for another hour). In this cabbage trance, I offered the grower any price he asked. “Two dollars? 

Blissed way beyond the functional horizon of my sociological mind, I took the next hour off. Dragged the Editor on a drive down the Huron River to Dexter, a village organized around a cider mill, a train stop, and cuteness. We drank warm cider on the riverbank. I even ate half a fresh cinnamon-apple donut. Advanced series is itself a mill: I’ve never asked it to press donuts in to fuel, but it’s burned through worse. [And it did great on Thursday morning—which turned out to be the first day to hint winter in the air, and the first day I not only started but finished practice in the pitch dark.]

Anyway, Huron River Drive. Ten miles of orange leaves, tasteful modernist homes placed in perfect relation to the land, glittering river bends bobbing in geese, and gusts of wind made visible by thousands of tiny yellow leaves. While we were drinking cider, a possum or raccoon died violently in the road. On our return, it was still freshly mangled, pulsing before the ooze set in. Two vultures—one of them enormous—looked at our car the way Richard Freeman looks down his nose in banker’s pose. Puh. When we slowed respectfully to a creep, they hoisted up through the bare trees like Falcours, out over the river. Looked back down their beaks at the Civic, such a clueless foreign species.

We were listening to the Witmark demos, Bob Dylan at an age younger than our undergrads, first recording the songs that still follow him. The recording is about 45 years old, officially released last week. Between tracks he complains—even then—that he sings these songs too often.

When we passed the vultures, it was the opening lines of Hard Rain: I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways…

The Editor muttered something about the Old Testament prophets and then we rounded back on the river. It spread way out in front of us, sparkly and a little blinding. I’m not joking that the chorus started as a wind-gust finally ended things for another big group of yellow leaves. It’s a hard, it’s a hard…

Ok, ok, ok. It’s supposed to get harder. And this is not unbeautiful. Where black is the color where none is the number… and I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it… but I’ll know my songs well before I start singin’…

I think that’s when my hatred and fear of Michigan winters—the depressive darkness I’ve been hating in anticipation for two years—just ended. Old frostbitten toes, ashtanga in the dark, having a life, eh. Existence won't fade yet.

Anyway, Dylan did have to get away from these songs. How could he not? They are just his version of poems you write as a kid. He disappeared in various ways. But now he’s back on in the medium-sized corners of America (tonight, Lansing), and just added a show for tomorrow in Ann Arbor. I’ll be there. We’ll see about the renewal and the decay.

I just read that the ancient Irish had a 3-day November-eve ritual. Samhain. A liminal time, welcoming but fighting the winter. The phase between November eve (the 31st) and November 2nd, it turns out, was full of spirit, mystery, fire, family reunion. Plus all kinds of divination based on… apples. Yes, apple divination.

On November 3rd, you start again in the dark.  Funny, when I was small I didn’t know the date of my birthday apart from “three days after Halloween.” Dia de los Muertos worked for some years in Latin America. But this feels way more fertile and creepy: apples, cemetery walks, roadkill, vultures, orange in everything (including in hair so long I’m tripping on it in tittibasana for the first time since Montana Avenue); and trees that will be skeletons within a week.

Tá mo bhríste trí thine.