Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.”

20 September 2010

Letters from the Outside, #18

Three of Swords, Nine of Coins, and The Hanged Man. This is the rest of my September. We shut the windows. Today, it rains, and even the rain does not deter the billion biting things that have recently plagued us. But I brave the onslaught and pick tomatoes, the round lovelies and the pointed romas, the beloved peacevines and the pleated genovese. Considering a lot of folks around here lost their fruits to blight, im grateful for the big bowlfuls I bring in to cook down and put up. Its a cool turn that calls our attention to the days ahead. I start pulling up the bean rows, wrestling with tomato stakes and cages. Corn harvested for the red squirrels and the jays, a platform set over the maples open wound, the idea being to climb ladders in all weather to dole out cobs. The woodstove is cleaned out and the living room reoriented to winter.

I think nuclear weapons and jesus are the reason weve been made to kiss Israels bare bent bottom for all the world to see like a bunch of Templars. Im sure this is not an original thought, but lo, my rock is heavy and wide. I walk; with the windows shut my immune system goes on flip-out and I need the open air. This morning the sparrows return to the thicket on the roadside from their summer homes and there are frogs still sunning on the edge of culvert ponds but on another day its overcast with that glare and I can smell the corn silo. #22 in the Outside Magazine 2010 Life List is Swim Naked. Where was I though? #7 “Telling a Funny or Interesting True Story.” Always coming back to the notion of Connection. Joy in Connection, and all the different ways of connecting to your environment and your fellow sentients. But #7 is an ancient and sacred form of connection. Storytelling. We relay our human experience to commune and edify, deter and delight. The first petroglyph were stories. The magic of words spoken in hushed cadences around the fire during the long and perilous night. It has been said that instead of picking nits from our neighbors we chat. Story is important. Lets think outside the box a little and call #7 the Joy of Story. Revised, #6 would be the Joy of the Frontier, #5 would be the Joy of Effort, and 1-4 remain the same. #8 is “Seeing a Friend Stumble Over Himself” which I translate into the Joy of Humanity, and that Humanity possessing the Joys of Imperfection, Vulnerability and Compassion nested like Matrushka Dolls inside it.

We take the grand tour, arriving unannounced to folk on opposite hills, the Oak God and his feeding enterprises, King and his coffee and cigarettes. On the way home whatever ails me kicks in and we watch harvey keitel in scorceses first film and call it a day. Another sunday when the sun never rises, I cheer the house with some kind of random ratatouille and my jeep goes to rehab. The kind of day where little things get done, and im just waiting around for the boys to come home. Happy afternoon sunlight but it doesnt clear sixty, clean sheets and apple pie, Summer has come to term and suddenly everything becomes a belly, a cauldron of offering and transmutation. From the velvet uterine lining of a chestnut wreathed in the hot high bite of thorns I midwife glossy kernels, some fallen from split husks still hanging on the tree. A northwind comes up through the broken deer bones and im glad for my dogs and my sweater, but the clouds thin out and the sun shines through and its like that for most of the day, the changeable autumn weather, out in the late afternoon pulling up tomato stakes and shoring up another of my precarious woodpiles with some of the larger wheels of maple still loitering where they fell in the front yard that in even my lax, liberal opinion could use mowing, if only to keep the neighborhood stink-eye at bay. But secretly I love the whoosh of grass around my ankles, the green plush that invites rabbits, and the dog bliss of dewy rolling. The new squirrels are learning the penthouse boughs lose their bendy august quality about now; theres a great deal of branchbreaking and nutflinging in the wood along the roadside. A chipmunks mad venture along the ground makes the sound of some bigger beast now, and the dogs stop and wait for whatever it is to break through the spinney with slashing hooves and blood in the eye. But its just critter industry, everything sensing the waning resources, the  lessening light and doing its best to prepare. 

We took the blue dog to the vet; hair is growing back on her toes and her eyelids are returning. The oppressive heat leaves us for a few seasons, making room for new extremes. We miss you.
"And if the question were asked: What is more real, the mundane or the sublime? most would hesitate before they gave an answer. On the one side, details: say, the aftermath of a breakfast, dirty chipped plates in the sink, their rims encrusted with egg yolk. Against this, the unnameable: small aching heart with boasts, what can you know? Outside the cage of everything we ever heard or saw, beyond, outside, above, there lies the real, hiding as long as we shall live, there stretch and trail the millions of names of God burning across the eons. When all through this our end will come before we even know the names of us.

For many the egg yolk prevails." -L.M.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

"The perfection of the Absolute where all Becoming stops and pure Being, immutable, timeless, unchanging, hangs forever like a ripe peach upon the bough." -E.A.

"...and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-rod and filled almost a whole mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psycho-skeletal outline." -D.F.W.

"At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." -H.S.T.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." -D.T.
"Cometh a voice: My children, hear; From the crowded street and the close-packed mart I call you back with my message clear, back to my lap and my loving heart. Long have ye left me, journeying on by range and river and grassy plain, to the teeming towns where the rest have gone - come back, come back to my arms again. So shall ye lose the foolish needs that gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve to heal the fretted nerve. Treading the turf that ye once loved well, instead of the stones of the city's street, ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell, but the wind that croons in the ripening wheat. I that am old have seen long since ruin of palaces made with hands for the soldier-king and the priest and prince whose cities crumble in desert sands. But still the furrow in many a clime yields softly under the ploughman's feet; still there is seeding and harvest time, and the wind still croons in the ripening wheat. The works of man are but little worth; for a time they stand, for a space endure; but turn once more to your mother - Earth, my gifts are gracious, my works are sure. Instead of the strife and pain I give you peace, with its blessing sweet. Come back, come back to my arms again, for the wind still croons in the ripening wheat."
-John Sandes, The Earth-Mother (excerpt, 1918)