Aug. 8, 2010
Suddenly it is August again, so hot,
I sit on the ground
in the garden of Carmel,
picking ripe cherry tomatoes
and eating them.
They are so ripe that the skin is split,
so warm and sweet
from the attentions of the sun,
the juice bursts in my mouth,
an ecstatic taste,
and I feel that I am in the mouth of summer,
sloshing in the saliva of August.
Hummingbirds halo me there,
in the great green silence,
and my own bursting heart
splits me with life.
It was on this day in 1974 that Richard M. Nixon announced his resignation from the office of the presidency, the first American president in history to do so. His policies as president had been rather liberal. He began arms control agreements with the Soviet Union. He eased relations with China. He established the Environmental Protection Agency, expanded Social Security and state welfare programs, and tried to create a national health insurance system.
He won re-election in 1972 in a landslide, but in that same year, a group of men broke into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, and in that break-in were the seeds of his downfall.
It's the birthday of journalist Randy Shilts, (books by this author) born in Davenport, Iowa (1951). He was one of the first mainstream journalists to cover the gay community and the early spread of AIDS. Randy Shilts said, "I view my role in life as writing stories that wouldn't get written unless I [write] them."
It's the birthday of essayist, short-story writer, and novelist Elizabeth Tallent, (books by this author) born in Washington, D.C. (1954). Her first novel, Museum Pieces (1985), takes place largely in the basement of an archeologist's museum in New Mexico.
It's the birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, (books by this author) born in Washington, D.C., on this day in 1896. She's best known for her book The Yearling (1938), which was the best-selling novel in America in 1938 and which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
The Yearling is about an adolescent boy in rural Florida who adopts an orphaned baby deer named Flag, becomes really close to the deer, and then has to shoot the deer because it's eating all the family's crops.
It 1946, The Yearling was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Gregory Peck.
The novel begins:
"A column of smoke rose thin and straight from the cabin chimney. The smoke was blue where it left the red of the clay. It trailed into the blue of the April sky and was no longer blue but gray. The boy Jody watched it, speculating. The fire on the kitchen hearth was dying down. His mother was hanging up pots and pans after the noon dinner. The day was Friday. She would sweep the floor with a broom of ti-ti and after that, if he were lucky, she would scrub it with the corn shucks scrub. If she scrubbed the floor she would not miss him until he had reached the Glen."
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings hated cities and she loved to cook. She once said, "I get as much satisfaction from preparing a perfect dinner for a few good friends as from turning out a perfect paragraph in my writing." She published her own cookbook, called Cross Creek Cookery (1942), a few years after she won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®