The mirthful canopies of spring

My friend was at the front door at half past 9. Joan yelled down, “Who is it?” I was already sitting near the door and admiring the spring morning when the doorbell sounded.

“Who is it?” she tries again.

“A friend, Joan, it’s a friend,” I yell up.

“Huh? Who is it?”

“Don’t worry, it’s for me. It’s my friend.”

I let my friend in, I run upstairs, and Joan goes back to bed.


My friend has brought oil of Arnica, a homemade pear and basil pastry, my copy of Seneca’s letters. I hand her my Marcus and my Hadot. We sit in the back garden, the patio cool to our bums, watching three feisty sparrows get into a row. They butt heads and she eats her orange. The pinks and violets, the oranges and yellows are ludic, mirthful, all redolent of a midsummer night’s dream.

Another friend brought me grapefruit marmalade made by hippies in New Jersey. The product tag is written in dippy cursive by a company called Eat This. Under the ingredients, a line reads “gotta love it!”

Another friend sent me dates, three, telling me that she was “assembling the Seder plate, thinking of symbolic foods, you, Catlin.”


I walked along the mountain path, in mind to see Wise Elder. I said to him, “Come now, Wise Elder, do not hold back but tell me what a good life is and how I might live it.”

Wise Elder simply pointed to my hand–for I was still carrying the pastry, the marmalade, the dates–and said nothing.