nest of a mud dauber



Nest of a Mud Dauber on the Back of a Picture Frame


In the photo, my uncle pours water on my head from a metal pail. I’m standing ankle-deep near shore, and I’m laughing. We’re at a tiny beach on Wallum Lake in Douglas, Massachusetts.  Someone has written July, 1951, George and Johnny on the picture. I’m three and George is handsome and sober and can’t see ahead to the murky years, to the strokes, the disappointments and estrangements, to the death of the wife he has yet to meet. On this same lake in winter, in another year or two, Uncle George and I will auger our ice-fishing holes, set our tilts, and skate into the wind right across the lake into Rhode Island. We’ll heat the foil-wrapped sandwiches that Memere has made for us in our fire by the shore. We’ll drink cocoa from our Thermos bottles. On the back of the frame, I see where some black-tinseled, trowel-jawed dauber has built her adobe nest, and I know that spiders are entubed there, entombed, alive and immobile, fresh meat soon for the fat little grubs.