really good descriptions of nature or other vivid life-like details for memoir/fiction
Do pictures tell? I have a color Polaroid of Vance at seven and Veronica at twenty-nine traversing a rickety dry-gray dock in Nova Scotia to board a fishing boat. The water is a deep iron smeared with plates of foam; the sky is a thin iron smeared with same; the mass of white gulls around Vance's outstretched bread-filled hand is a cloud of plunging white V's. Vance Vigorous, as he holds out his white little child's hand, is surrounded and obscured by a cloud of living, breathing shrieking, shitting, plunging incarnations of the letter V; and I have it captured forever on quality film, giving me the right and power to cry whenever and wherever I please. What might that say about pictures.
an unexpectedly beautiful and sad paragraph
Frogs were keeping time in air drenched with honeysuckle.
beautiful line. interspersed between dialogue (with her father)
[...] The room is swirling with our invectives when--in the doorway--there stands Dev in his three-year-old body. He's naked and gap-mouthed. All the raging that swirls around us arrests into violent stasis. The fury in the room dispels itself like smoke siphoned up with a hose.
And now the evening sun's slanting rays broke forth from behind the rims of the great cloud and illuminated the hills and mountains as far as the eye could see, while the river and the region beneath the cloud lay in an uncertain light.
[...] But on bright summer days, in particular, so evenly disposed a lustre lay over the whole of Barmouth Bay that the separate surfaces of sand and water, sea and land, earth and sky could no longer be distinguished. All forms and colours were dissolved in a pearl-grey haze; there were no contrasts, no shading any more, only flowing transitions with the light throbbing through them, a single blur from which only the most fleeting of visions emerged, and strangely--I remember this well--it was the very evanescence of those visions that gave me, at the time, something like a sense of eternity. [...]
[...] it was truly terrifying to see such emptiness open up a foot away from firm ground, to realize that there was no transition, only this dividing line, with ordinary life on one side and its unimaginable opposite on the other. The chasm into which no ray of light could penetrate [...]
And time in the P.M. locker room seems of limitless depth; they've all been just here before, just like this, and will be again tomorrow. The light saddening outside, a grief felt in the bones, a sharpness to the edge of the lengthening shadows.
I don't believe we can ever turn upon ourselves in the sense Ellen intends. You can't get behind the thing that casts the shadow. You cast the shadow. As soon as you turn, the shadow falls in another place. Is still your shadow. You have not gotten "behind" yourself. That is why self-consciousness is not the way to make ourselves better than we are.
Just me and my shadow, walkin' down the avenue.
It is a beautiful day here in North Carolina. The first day that is both cool and sunny all summer. After a terrible summer, first drought, then heat wave, then torrential rain, trees down, flooding. Now, finally, beautiful weather. A tree outside my window just brushed by red, with one fully red leaf. (This is what I want you to see.) A person sitting in stocking feet looking out her window-a floor to ceiling rectangle filled with green, with one red leaf. The season poised, sunny and chill, ready to rush down the incline into autumn. But perfect, and still. Not going yet.
This is the time of year to love New York if you are going to love it. Springtime in this city is a cheat code, an overripe and irresistible metaphor. The light is all at once kind, the afternoons that float into evening are longer, carrying in their slow blue hours the memory of every past springtime that brought this same collection of streets and stairs and corners back to life. Days arrive like color flooding into black and white movies. The avenues announce themselves in old-fashioned photographic splendor, lined up in the patterns of classical art, beauty easy to find.
It is not that it is more beautiful here than anywhere else at this time of year. It is beautiful, generally, in the world, in the spring. If I lived somewhere else, I would think that springtime there was the most beautiful thing each time it happened. It would renew my belief that this location, wherever it was, still had something hopeful and generative and particular to offer. Finding beauty in New York, or anywhere, is a survival mechanism. We focus on the shiny parts in order to convince ourselves that the difficulties are worth it. Beauty is always one kind of propaganda or another.
aaaaah i just love her writing
Outside, the lead-gray afternoon slipped almost imperceptibly into twilight. Very gradually the earth moved toward night and as I sat eating I noted every darkening shadow. Jean sipped his coffee and lighted a Pall Mall. My mother arranged the kerosene lamp so she could see to do the dishes.
"Frank, get me some water."
Through the door and into the twilight, the bucket against my thigh. There was a path beaten through the snow, a dark line curving through the drifts to the well. The low sky was empty, uniformly leaden. Stands of trees spread pools of darkness, as if night came up from their sunken roots. [...]