In this entry, my father is feeling, well, a little sad. Maybe a little removed from the goings on in the world. Maybe it's just mid-winter blues. The piece ends with Wendell (and Muriel?) on the hunt for furniture. This, it seems, is an unfinished entry. We'll never know why there is a sadness to the stranger's house.
Today is a day of cold, the nation seems locked in a gigantic mass of cold polar air. Snow strands motorists in Tennessee. Chicago reports thermometers reading 15 below zero.
Far to the south in Peru, 3000 souls are buried under a gigantic slide of ice and earth. The Bridge of San Luis Rey
is brought up to date by 400 years and multiplied several hundred fold. And of these lives little will ever be recorded except to note their passing.
Here on the Cape it is cold too, but in the teens and twenties and warmer in the sun in a protected spot. I walked on the beach of the bay. It was a silent world. The wind blew enough to make me turn away and hood my parka and yet there was no sound of waves for a billion tiny particles of ice formed a covering on the water some hundreds of yards out from shore to muffle waves and sound of waves. Only from far out over the white tide line did there came the faint hiss and rush of the small white caps that drove against the grated edge of the flow.
Occasionally the lisp of sparrow came from the tangle of beach plum and scrub on the high bank beyond the strands then all was silence except for the soft pad of my shoes in the sand and the crunch they made when I stepped upon a frozen patch of ground.
You found the turnoff into the sand drive by an anchor out at the main road. Following up the drive you came to the house set in a clearing in the pines. It was a frame house, wood-shingled, weathered now after a century so close to the sea and when you stepped out of your car to stand warm in the sun you were surprised to discover that the house had a view clear to the ocean down over the scrub and the moors and the dunes.
The yard had the quality of being now unattended and yet it bore the marks of sharing a life with the house –a spreading back (yard) with its rope ladder for kids to climb, a bird bath set on a high pole where a chickadee came to drink, a toy truck broken and tossed aside, rose bushes in need of cutting back, and around the yard a low stone wall to enclose the lawn.
We knock at the door and ask, “Are you the fellow advertising furniture for sale?”
“Yes, getting rid of what I can,” the man replies, as he sweeps ashes from the floor near the fireplace, the sound of the broom strokes loud in the half empty room. The great open fireplace held smoldering logs, the walls of the room were plaster, the beams in the ceiling natural. There was about the room a simple charm—yet now a sadness…