Day 62: Difficult Day

On Saturday last, a forenoon like whirling demons, dark, with slanting rain, full of rage… 

Walt Whitman, ‘The Weather – Does it Sympathize with These Times?’ from Specimen Days in America

S5000977This morning, the news from Paris. I sat and stared at the words on my screen, trying to make sense of them. I heard my daughter getting up and called to her. We scrolled silently through the BBC reports. When you check the French sites, I asked, will you tell me what they are saying?

And then I said something I shouldn’t have (I was thinking aloud, not talking). ‘If I were young’, I said, ‘I’m not sure I’d want to bring children into the world’.  It was not the thing to say to someone with their life ahead of them. ‘I don’t agree’, my daughter countered:  ‘That would be an ending, but not the right ending.’  Outside, dark clouds were gathering. ‘I’m sorry’, I told her.

At noon I listened to the radio as I drove to collect Dylan: news, phone-ins, expert opinions. People suggested solutions and talked about the future, but no one mentioned children. The rain was coming down now: driving rain against my driver window. On the northbound carriageway, banks of sudden spray. Our trip might need to be shorter than planned, I thought to myself. In slantwise rain I remembered Whitman’s Specimen Days: the weather was in sympathy with Paris today:

After every great battle, a great storm.

From that point on the day itself seemed sympathy with the times. I decided to battle it out with Dylan about the amount he could bring home. He didn’t like it: ran angrily to my car, waving his hands ‘bye bye, bye bye’.  He wouldn’t look at me through the rear view mirror: sat sulky as rain.  A ride on a steam train would cheer him, I thought. But when we arrived it was closed. ‘Let’s have a cup of tea’ I said. In the cafe I asked Dylan if I could see his filofax but he wouldn’t let me. I knew about a couple of incidents in the week; was Dylan just brooding, I wondered, or trying to block me?  Drawn against the cafe window, curtains of grey rain. Shall we go home Dylan, I said: call it a day?

since this war, and the wide and deep national agitation, strange analogies, different combinations, a different sunlight, or absence of it…


All quotes are from Walt Whitman (1819-1892) ‘The Weather – Does It Sympathize with These Times?’ in Specimen Days in America

I took the photographs of and from the Eiffel Tower while in Paris with my daughter in February 2010.

6 thoughts on “Day 62: Difficult Day

  1. Great poem, Liz. Your daughter sounds wise but one profound question I heard yesterday was from Jon Snow interviewing a Parisien. He asked him what he had told his children about the events on Friday night. ‘It was difficult’, he said.


  2. Pingback: Day 63: Saying No | Living with(out) Autism

  3. The Weather – Does it Sympathize with These Times? I’m sad that Whitman’s lovely prose is feeling out-of-step to me from the vantage of 2015. I think about human activity affecting the global climate and wonder – what is the weather? Can it still sympathize after humankind has gotten it drunk?

    Reading your post, my mind went to 9.11.01. It was a clear and calm late summer morning with a beautiful blue sky. The news of horror seemed to be in defiance of the utter calm and beauty from my relative proximity. In the warm days before, Hurricane Erin was spinning in the Atlantic, but a cold front and high pressure from the Great Lakes region turned Erin to the north-northeast, keeping it from having any impact on our east coast that day. However, man brought devastation and death and a dense plume of smoke and debris that lasted for days. That which burned and rained down on rescuers was toxic. It has killed hundreds more people since those days and caused perpetual sickness on sunny days, grey days… no matter, no mercy.

    I understand the feelings that prompted your comment, but also agree with dear daughter. I feel strongly that humankind can and must work toward healing itself and healing the planet. Cooperation – harmony – balance would come from the natural world. Even without being able to wipe out all hatred and evil or bring the earth back to a pristine condition, I believe we can do so much better. Who is going to move the work forward if we don’t bring new people into the world? and do our imperfect best to instill hope and spirit, confidence and kindness. give tools to learn and believe those that come will teach a new and better way. ???
    the right ending
    ~hope springs eternal~



    • Hi Nettie – I was very moved by your comment. I remember you telling me, afterwards, about that blue sky; how Russ had rung you from work to tell you to turn the TV on. Yes, there was no sympathy in the sky that morning. And I know that you – especially you – would find the answer in our children. I battle with anxiety about the future sometimes. I’m so glad I have positive, optimistic people in my life like my girl and you. thank you, Lxx


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