I know it’s a function of age, and the need to work alone for long stretches of time, but I do find instances where I threaten to become nothing but sadness. Where I can’t think of a good thought. Reading and music turn me around less reliably than they used to. Sometimes even favorites seem horrible.
A walk in the sun works more often. But even better is if I can find some small domestic task — going through a storage box (not one with painful memories, please) even vacuuming a room. Or this afternoon, oiling a wooden salad bowl in the shape of a fish that I got more than 30 years ago during my only trip to Mexico. It isn’t so much the memories of the times and the journey — which are deeply ambivalent — but that the charms of the fish bowl endure. And that it looks so much fresher and finer when cleaned and oiled.
Next up to be refreshed is my other wooden carving from Mexico, though I bought it about 10 years earlier in a long-vanished curio shop in Missoula. It’s a little more crudely carved than the fish and not so much charming as endlessly peculiar: it depicts either a man pulling on a wolf mask or an actual werewolf tugging at the corners of its mouth. Certainly looks to be made of the same type of wood as the fish. But I don’t know what wood that is.