Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea —
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish —
Never afeard are we”;
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam —
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea —
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
~ Eugene Field
“Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” is one of the poems my mother read to me from the Bumper Book every night at bedtime when I was very young. I didn’t want to sleep then any more than I do now, so she read a lot of poems. I heard this one so many times that I was reciting it from memory when I was two years old. I’ve always had a tape recorder in my head.
Since the first of the year, I’ve written for an hour a day, one of the suggestions I made for myself for the first week of ROW80. But I continue a slave to my habit of night-owling.
I’m not the only one.
“I write this from a swivel chair at 4.17 a.m.,” says Matt Shoard. “Twitter has gone quiet. There is darkness for miles. I can hear a watch tick. It’s the longest night of the year, and if I time things carefully, I could avoid daylight for 48 hours. What’s more, research suggests it won’t just be me. There’s a mislaid family of readers and writers at night, and at this hour there’s nothing else to do but search for them.” He goes on to list writers who worked at night: Robert Frost, Charles Dickens, JD Salinger, Stephanie Meyer, Danielle Steel, Barak Obama, Kafka, Proust.
But there our similarities end. The people Shoard names are personages. They’ve demonstrated their ability to lose sleep and yet do fine work. I’ve demonstrated my ability to go lose sleep and then run aground. I’m not a personage. I’m still the ornery child whose mother made me take naps and go to bed early at night because she said without enough sleep, I was grouchy.
I’m way past grouchy now. Restraining myself, but teetering on the verge of crotchety, cross, and choleric.
Furthermore, the flu has hit town with a vengeance. One more late night and my ravelled sleave of care won’t be worth knitting up. Neither will my flu shot.
So good night. I’m off to sail on that river of crystal light and rock in the misty sea.
I’m sharing a hotel room with my cousin MV following this afternoon’s bridal shower for our great-niece and this evening’s dinner with great-niece’s grandfather.
(Don’t waste time on the relationships. Only the cousinship applies here.)
MV crawled into bed early, turned on the TV, and channel surfed, but could find nothing interesting.
“I need someone to read me a story,” she said.
I volunteered to read the latest version of my Molly manuscript. She said something like, “Oh goody.”
Booting up the laptop, I located “The Definitive Summer 2012 Version” (so named to distinguish it from the other 3,243 Molly files) and crawled onto the queen-sized bed opposite hers. And I began to read.
I had reached the last paragraph of page 11 when I heard snoring.
Could this be, I thought, an omen?
And if an omen, is it good or bad?
I never stood on ceremonies, but–when your own blood kin, whom you’ve known for over half a century (wow!), whose infants you fed and diapered and lugged around as if they were your favorite baby dolls, for whom you served as target for the all the slings and arrows of outrageous cousinhood she let fly–like the time she was visiting you and she got all wasp-stung picking Kentucky Wonder beans off Mr. Armentrout’s fence and went to bed with an ice pack on her hand and in the middle of the night she laid it on your mid-section just to see what you would do and you were only sixteen and she was thirty and old enough to know better–well, when your own blood kin can’t stay awake to see what happens at the end of chapter one, then you might do well to find something to take the place of novelizing. Like playing Bookworm for eight hours straight without guilt rather than with it.
So. I sat for a while in contemplation, and then I emailed several friends for opinions on the omen question, and then I checked what’s happening on Facebook. And about the time I got to the fifth cat picture of the evening, I had remembered several circumstances that might be called extenuating:
1. MV liked the very first draft I wrote and keeps telling me I’ve ruined it and I need to toss all my (years of) revisions and bring back the original. It’s nowhere near publishable, but she liked it.
2. She laughed at all the right places, or most of them, while she was awake.
3. She’d had a long day and was tired.
4. She might have been motivated by revenge because I told her she was old. Which I’ve done several times on this trip. Like when she wanted to lift my suitcase onto the luggage rack for me. I mean, my doctor has referred to me as an “older person,”* but she’s been eligible for the senior citizen breakfast at IHOP for years. And just minutes ago, at midnight, she racked up another birthday.
In short, it’s possible her untimely entry into the land of Nod is a non-ominous omen, having zilch to do with literary criticism, and therefore no reason to get my knickers in a twist.
I’ll interpret it that way anyhow.
About paragraph #9, above, MV woke up and walked to the refrigerator for a bottle of water. On the way back to bed, she noticed me sitting on the sofa where I am still parked, composing.
“You’re not going to want to get up in the morning,” she said.
“I never do,” I replied.
She didn’t ask what I was doing, so I didn’t tell her I’m writing about her. I didn’t tell her about the photo I’d already chosen to illustrate this piece either. She’ll find out soon enough.
She’ll also learn what happens to kinfolk who fall asleep during a dramatic reading of Kathy’s Perfectly Polished Prose.
I think WordPress got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.
First it refused my perfectly good password and tried to get me to log in to the Hotshots! account.
Then, instead of saving this post as a draft, it posted the picture above with the title Private so only I had access. A check of my privacy settings showed no change–To write was still (supposedly) visible to the public. Unclicking and reclicking the same box then published William for all the world to see.
I presume he’s still there. I’m typing as fast as I can.
William has developed an intense interest in the piano. He jumps on it when he wants me to turn off the laptop and go to bed.
I’ve been operating all these years on the assumption that cats do as they please when they please. I thought a sleepy cat could just curled up any old place and lose consciousness.
When he decides it’s bedtime, usually around 1:00 a.m., he wants everyone to close up shop. To get my attention, he jumps on the piano.
At first I tried to discourage this. He tended to stray from the piano to the sideboard. There are things on the sideboard I’d like to see stay there. Intact.
One night he jumped from the piano to the top of the china cabinet. There are a few breakable objects up there, too.
I admit William is graceful. That surprises me. As a kitten he was so tubby he couldn’t leap and climb as (other) kittens do. When he tried to pull himself onto a higher shelf of the kitty pagoda, his little body would just dangle there, bottom-heavy, until he let go and fell or was discovered and rescued. Instead of jumping onto the bed, he walked up the stairs we’d put there for Chloe.
The difference was that Chloe was sixteen when she stopped jumping. William was six months.
The adult William is enormous, but his paws are delicate and tapered, beautiful, but small compared to the rest of him.
And yet, he’s agile and light of foot. Earrings, cough drops, rubber bands, ballpoint pens–these things and more have found their way from high places to low, and in perfect silence.
If I hadn’t made an uncharacteristic decision to sweep under the refrigerator, the flash drive would still be lost.
There’s a reason they call them cat burglars.
Last night, or rather early this morning, a weary William had already traversed the mantel, the case of David’s collectibles, the dining table (I wash it often), and who knows what else before resorting to the piano. I was tired of popping up every five minutes to drag him off wherever he was, so I decided if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em and just kept typing. Glancing over my shoulder to make sure he didn’t have designs on the china cabinet, I saw the display that begins this post.
It was like the time my three-year-old cousin Chip sidled into the kitchen, hands behind his back, face and overalls covered in grease, and told the flock of gawking women he’d been “fixing the lawnmower.”
Just so darned cute all you can do is get the camera.