View from Mattie’s Pillow

Thinking of time today–how fluid and how relative it seems. We’re still deep in cold here. Everything takes more time. This morning, heading out to feed horses in the dark, I put on so many layers that the dog lay back down to rest and wait while I performed what must, to him, seem like a dallying obsessive task: putting on all the layers of down vest, wool sweater, hoodie, Carhartt’s jacket and lined workpants, my two layers of socks and Arctic Sport Muck Boots, lined gloves and liners, fleece hat and smoke ring. The dog sighs. He needs to go out, and I am fooling with all these pieces of cloth that he’s forbidden to chew.

And driving. First the car needs to be plugged in for an hour or more, then warmed up at idle in spite of air quality alerts, then the windshield scraped, then slowly driven off over bumpy tires that have developed flat spots from sitting in the cold.

But time has always seemed fluid to me, clocks arbitrary. On these days when I have the privilege of staying at home and writing, I tell time, if at all, by NPR–thus marking the day in hour or half hour moments–or by the quality of light in the day–so marking the day in ever lengthening blocks of hours. Right now, the sky is lightening with improbable pale pink at the horizon line, then a watery yellow, a bit of green–the yellow green of new spring leaves–then a pale blue that deepens as I look to the north, towards Barrow and Nuiqsut, where there has been no sun for a few months now, only pre-dawn and dusk light.

Time is a broad sweep here in the North–measured in the position of the sun. Winter, the sun is in the south–a short shallow arc over the horizon then back down. Summer, the sun circles from northeast to northwest, a wide long arc through the southern sky and north again. Time in summer is a long stretch of frenzied action–work, gardening, riding, evening baseball games, walks, canoeing, road trips–we cram as much in as we can, knowing that winter will come along to grind time down to its slowest essence again.

Here we are. Slow time. Things may or may not get done. We are tending our literal and inner fires, banking them up for the days ahead.

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One Response to “View from Mattie’s Pillow”

  1. mikey Says:

    Interesting site. I look forward to seeing how it develops. What better topics than horses and poetry, except possibly baseball and poetry?
    Ciao for now.

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