February 2. Candlemas and mild, gray weather. If the woodchuck stirs up his banked life-fire and ventures forth, he will not see his shadow, and must straightway arrange with winter for a rebate in our favour. To-day, however, it seems like the very dawn of winter, and as if the cloud brooms were abroad gathering snow from remote and chilly corners of the sky.
Six years ago I began the planting of my garden, and at the same time my girlish habit of journal keeping veered into the making of a “Garden Boke,” to be a reversible signal, crying danger in face of forgotten mistakes, then turning to give back glints of summer sunshine when read in the attic of winter days and blue Mondays. Now once again I am in the attic, writing. Not in a garden diary, but in my “Social Experience Boke” this time, for it is “human warious,” and its first volume, already filled out, is lying in the old desk. Martin Cortright said, one stormy day last autumn when he was sitting in the corner I have loaned him of my precious attic retreat, that, owing to the incursion of the Bluff Colony of New Yorkers, which we had been discussing, I should call this second volume “People of the Whirlpool,” because—ah, but I must wait and hunt among my papers for his very words as I wrote them down.
My desk needs cleaning out and rearranging, for the dust flies up as I rummage among the papers and letters that are a blending of past, present, and future. All my pet pens are rusty, and must be replaced from the box of stubs, for a stub pen assists one to straightforward, truthful expression, while a fine point suggests evasion, polite equivocation, or thin ideas. Even Lavinia Dorman’s letters, whose cream-white envelopes, with a curlicue monogram on the flap, quite cover the litter below, have been, if possible, more satisfactory since she has adopted a fountain stub that Evan gave her at Christmas.
There are many other things in the desk now beside the hickory-nut beads and old papers. Little whiffs of subtle fragrance call me backward through time faster than thought, and make me pinch myself to be sure that I am awake, like the little old woman with the cutabout petticoats, who was sure that if she was herself, her little dog would know her,—but then he didn’t!
I am awake and surely myself, yet my old dog is not near to recognize me. This ring of rough, reddish hair, tied with a cigar ribbon and lying atop the beads, was Bluff’s best tail curl. Dear, happy, brave-hearted Bluff with the human eyes; after an honourable life of fifteen years he stole off to the happy hunting grounds of perpetual open season, quail and rabbit, two years ago at beginning of winter, as quietly as he used to slip out the back door and away to the fields on the first fall morning that brings the hunting fever. For a long while not only I, but neither father nor Evan could speak of