February offered up a distressingly summer-like Sunday, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally check out a bug-free Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
It was both beautiful and forbidding, and part of the beauty was its refusal to yield any comfort to us. We were on its turf and happy to be just visitors with a car waiting nearby. For reasons I don’t bother to think about, I had T.S. Eliot’s famous “Wasteland” in mind, specifically the tarot section:
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.
Indeed, one must.