Monday, July 16, 2012

On the Lake III

On the lake.  With Nature, with and without people, in a boat.  This third variation of the theme is from the writer Edith Pearlman's story Self Reliance:

   She changed into her bathing suit and took a quick swim, waving to the Sisters Scrabble and the geezer.  Back in her house she put on jeans and a T-shirt, tossed the wet suit onto the crotch of a chokecherry tree.  What should a person take for a predinner paddle?  Binoculars, sun hat against insidious sidelong rays, towel, and the thermos she'd already filled with its careful cocktail.  Pharmacology had been a continuing interest.  "I'll swallow three pills a day and not a gobbet more," Aunt Shelley had declared.  "You choose them, rascal."
   Cornelia pushed off vigorously, then used a sweep stroke to turn the canoe and look at the slate roof and stone walls of her house.  Just a little granite place, she realized; not fantastical after all.  She had merely exchanged one austerity for another.  She thought of the tomatoes, and turned again and stroked, right side, left, right. . . Then, as if she were her own passenger, she opened a backrest and settled herself against it and slid the paddle under the seat.  She drank her concoction slowly, forestalling nausea.
   Sipping, not thinking, she drifted on a cobalt disk under an aquamarine dome.  Birches bent to honor her, tall pines guarded the birches.  She looked down the length of her body.  She had not worn rubber boat shoes, only sandals, and her ten toenails winked flamingo.

The story is in a marvelous collection, published in 2011,  Binocular Vision.

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