Monday, September 15, 2003

Linda Gregerson - Ann Arbor, MI

Ann Arbor on a Sunday morning is the perfect college town. The Wolverines have stomped Notre Dame the previous afternoon, and the endless outdoor bistros and cafes on Main Street are full of parents and children drinking in the sunshine and the espresso. 

I see a guy set up on the lawn of an Exxon station selling reproductions of Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Monet. He also has one of the "Dogs Playing Poker" series for those with more refined taste.

I get a donut and a bottle of water at a BP service station and a guy coming out asks me if I can believe the weather. "Yes," I say, "I look up, and there it all is." I think this might open us to a few witty rejoinders, but the guy gives me a look like I just knocked his beanie off, and he gets into his Jeep - freshly Armor-Alled if my nose is right.

Linda Gregerson lives in an idyllic setting north and west of Ann Arbor. It's impossible to imagine that there are towns or cities anywhere near this place, set amidst barns, pumpkin fields, and endless trees. The only thing I can think of this morning more beautiful than this spot is Linda's poems themselves.

Linda's home opens into a wooded area, a brook awaits a hundred feet away, and deer and woodchucks often come to peruse her self-described "suburban" garden. We sit on white chairs on a screened in porch and let the warm September breeze blow through our conversation.

Ironically, when younger, Linda's asthma made this kind of communion with the natural world a miserable, taxing event. But thanks to medication, she's getting a belated start on being one with all of the great pollen bearing objects out there spewing their varied stuff.

We talk about some cities she loves, London and New York, but also of her childhood home in the upper Midwest. She talks about some poems of hers written about events that happened before her time, stories told to her by her family, and poems written in and around the hospitals she found herself in when younger.

She shows me around the yard a bit, pointing out some dear plants given to her by some friends. I'm looking for a woodchuck, however. The plants can wait. Ever since she said woodchuck I've been singing that childhood song in my head.

Groundhog? Is a woodchuck like a groundhog? I have a groundhog near where I live now. I think it looks like a great beaver, without the waffled tail, without the big teeth. Without the mountie. What's a woodchuck look like? Where do they summer?