"Such a captive maiden, having plenty of time to think, soon realizes that her tower, its height and architecture, are like her ego only incidental: that what really keeps her where she is is magic, anonymous and malignant, visited on her from outside and for no reason at all. Having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this formless magic, to understand how it works, how to measure its field strength, count its lines of force, she may fall back on superstition, or take up a useful hobby like embroidery, or go mad, or marry a disk jockey. If the tower is everywhere and the knight of deliverance no proof against its magic, what else?"
— Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49)
Pictured above is a Melaleuca quinquenervia, Cajeput Tree, native of Australia. Pynchon seems to be describing Seasonal Affective Disorder – that winter depressing that descends as the days grow dark and short. At least I understand the workings of the seasons and the changing length of the days. Maybe not magic, but something very like it makes me and my ego weary with cabin fever. The end of the week used to mean something important. The Friday workday began with a supervisor staff meeting that could take a couple of hours. It was possible to disappear into my own head while appearing to be eating bagels, drinking coffee, and giving a shit. Since I retired, it simply means two more days until washday – a tedious exercise in sorting dirty clothes and folding clean ones. But it beats the hell out of working for a living. Or embroidery for that matter.
Saturday is farmers’ market day if I don’t sleep until 10:30 like the lazy slug I have become, I go early and get the best stuff. If we go late, all the good produce is gone. I’ve seen fresher beets reading their poetry at the City Lights bookstore. The shriveled summer squash and old cucumbers look embarrassed to be seen outside of a Wal*Mart reduced for quick sale produce bin. Too many people bring their adorable dogs to these things, enabling one to risk life and/or limb to cross from one row of tables to the next. At least people pushing those over-laden baby strollers outfitted with enough gear to supply an Arctic exhibition are more predictable in their movements than over-stimulated pets in a crowded outdoor market.
One thing I don’t have to go far for is fresh citrus. My baby kefir lime and blood orange won’t produce fruit for a few more years. But meanwhile, if I didn’t have access to the lemon and oranges and limes in The Garden, all I’d have to do is take a walk around any block, and pick fruit overhanging neighboring fences.
So, it’s back inside to finish the quilt. As with most things I’ve sown in my life, by the time I’m finished, I am thoroughly tired of it. I feel like there must be more creative energy dimly flickering in the brainstem of a mushroom than I have at the moment, slowed down my usual winter sluggishness and more-than-usual holiday overeating. Fortunately, I have enough useless hobbies and half-finished projects to keep me busy until the blood in my veins wakes up and tells me it’s time to plant tomatoes.
At least the days are getting a tiny bit longer. Even if the metaphorical tower is indeed wherever I go, the returning sun is better than a knight in shining armor to rescue me from the winter blahs. Not to mention, marrying a disk jockey.