Acts of Faith

20180726_071541

I had my first encounter with one of the hill dwellers who, I’d been cautioned euphemistically, “isn’t real social.” As it turned out, we just ignored each other. I was taking a break at the side of the road, he was watering Some Kind of Plant Life 100 yards away, and neither of us acknowledged the other. Moments later I was on my way.

When you wander far into the boonies alone, it is an act of faith in people. Where phone service is hours away and the sheriff another hour or two after that, anyone you happen upon with a vehicle or a friend has an almost insuperable advantage over you, and if they wished you harm, they could do it with a free hand and complete privacy, and they would probably get away with it forever.

And yet the people I meet in the middle of nowhere prove cordial and downright benevolent. Most recently it was a couple of thick, rough men with neck beards in a Suburban who stopped to exchange a few words and offer water or a lift, and as they rolled away their parting words were “Stay safe.” I marvel at how nice people are even when they have no reason to be.

I’m not offering an ecstatic panegyric about the innate goodness of humankind¬†personkind, just noticing that we are such social animals that even in settings where we can harm people with impunity, we mostly still do the opposite.

It doesn’t hurt that both parties can virtually take it for granted that the other is armed: an armed society really is a polite society. But by itself that would only explain a wary indifference, not the warmth, concern, and fellow-feeling that’s actually out there.

Freezebaby – In Memoriam JLH

larrabee-pensive-jodi.jpgThe air here stinks with raunchy, hot freshness

in our high, dry forest of fir and pine.

For cumulus clouds we have mottled tufts

of shadow and our water would burn fast

into vapor if only we’d brought some.

The polychrome riot of lands where you dwelt

visits these hills in a lesser palette,

a high earthen rainbow of browns.

Here the freeze babies may jog forever,

Padding alongside their heavy-heeled men.

They give no thought to chill. No meals to finish here. The joggers sip thin wind.

Here once a year we make peace, the old lovers,

here, only now, mostly safe from each other.

English Verse Vindicated

safe_image.phpHmm, I guess not all modern English verse is like Sugar-Free Metamucil.

 

“Spring,” (Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950)

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.