far too much writing, far too many photos

The day after Thanksgiving, wan sunlight slanting in windows, light snow falling despite the sunshine. (Thin cloud cover explains both the thinness of the light and the snowflakes drifting down.)

A realtor had arranged to bring some people this morning around ten, that had me up real damn early to do the daily clean-out-stove-and-get-it-cranking-all-over-again routine so the space would be warm and cozy when people came through before pulling myself together and heading into town. (Was up real damn early the day before Thanksgiving as well, a ton of errands and other work waiting to be done, forcing stove routine and gym visit to happen at obnoxiously early hours. Found myself in athletic gear doing exercisey hooha at 6:30 a.m., my bod complaining, me uncaffeinated, wearing a stunned expression of genuine suffering.)

Have reflected quite a bit about the holiday — my favorite holiday of all the ones that spring themselves upon us during the year’s parade of months. No religious overtones, no gift-giving — just appreciation, spending time with friends/loved ones/family. I don’t always find myself at a dinner, and it doesn’t matter — I love the feel of the day, how quiet it gets. A day of calm before the goofy commercial storm of the weeks that follow.

Some of my most vivid memories are related to Thanksgivings past, the clearest and most potent with family. Images of the childhood me seated at the jury-rigged table in the small dining room of our small house. The table (actually two small tables shoved together) covered with plates, bowls, platters. My mother — not even close to being what I would call a fine cook during the rest of the year — outdid herself on occasions like this. Got up early, labored in the kitchen for many hours, produced a spread that I took for granted in those years, it being what I always saw on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And the fact is, it was a stupendous meal, so wonderful that the fleeting thought of it gets my salivary glands cranking. The closest thing to a banquet that our small tract-house ever saw. The only time of the year that I remember seeing faces from outside the nuclear family at the table — the two older brothers’ sweeties; my father’s ancient, crotchety mother; my godparents (whom I barely knew and who barely knew me — why they were my godparents I can’t explain); guys the oldest brother knew from the Coast Guard, far enough away from home to make the trip to join their families undoable, materializing in our dining room instead and disappearing immediately after (understandably — there was nowhere for anyone to stay in the cramped house).

[continued in following entry]


Sunrise, late November, northern Vermont:

España, te echo de menos

Yesterday morning, northern Vermont:

España, te echo de menos


– Stumbled across a broadcast of the final episode of Twin Peaks. Still one of the creepiest hours of television ever made (IMHO, that is — and since it was not intended to be the final episode when it was made, a depressing last look at a great main character, dumped into dire shit and left there). A few nights later, stumbled across the very first episode of same show. Reminded me all over again why it caused such commotion in its very first run. Killer television.

– Stumbled across a documentary I’d long heard about, Born In Brothels. Found myself immediately sucked in. Found tears sliding down my silly face.

– A friend, just back from a month in Ohio working to prevent the kind of massive election fraud that torpedoed the 2004 presidential election, just took off to work with the recount in Minnesota. I warned her that if she chose to go ahead with this, she’d be leaving herself open to being called Dr. Frankenrecount by insensitive friends. She ignored my gentle counsel, I look forward to using her new nickname as often as possible.

– Winter has settled into this part of the world, flurries and snow showers already normal, temperatures skidding way south of the freezing mark. Has me thinking wistfully of days spent in t-shirts, with no need for thermals or heavy coats — just two short months ago. (Sniffle.)

– Two nights in a row, had vivid, interesting dreams.
Dream No. 1: not sure what in hell was going on to start with. Me maybe belonging to some sort of big social collective or a strange, semi-genteel fight club or something. Have vague recollections of one or two matches with other… group particpants. Me apparently coming out on top. (Pause for self-satisfied smirk.) Bringing me to the part I do remember: me in a long rectangular indoor space, kind of a blend of a diner/company cafeteria/club kinda thing, broken down into smaller areas with booths and waist-high dividing walls. Me standing in one of those sub-spaces, a booth on one side with a couple of guys sitting in it, vending machines on the other side. An older, taller male with a clipboard appears putting me on immediate notice for my next match. My opponent: a guy a foot taller than me, big, bald, muscular. Me not concerned about any of that, adopting the stance of someone ready to get into it. Which is when I woke up.
Dream No. 2: once more, not sure what in hell was going on to start with. What I remember: being with a sweet, attractive, slightly plump woman who wore a top that featured a low, low neckline, exhibiting… a lovely, impressive expanse. Lovely and impressive enough that I told her she had some of the most beautiful cleavage I’d ever seen. (A sincere compliment, filthy minds — not a comment with smutty intent.) Provoking a blush that spread across her cheeks, down her throat and across her chest. Which is when I woke up.

Both nights, turned on the light, got up, made the hike to the loo. When I slipped back between the sheets, the dreams had faded. I drifted back off to sleep, slipped into other, less vivid, less memorable adventures.

España, te echo de menos

Woke up this morning in the early hours, before darkness began giving way to the day’s first gray light. Turned on the radio to the local college/community station, found two or three 20-somethings marveling at how mild it was outside. Near 60, they said, an unheard of nighttime temperature for this part of the world at this time of the year.

I drifted off at some point, when I dragged myself out from under the covers around eight, the temperature outside had taken a slide down into the ’40’s and felt like it intended to continue falling. The sky hovered low and gray, a strip of lighter sky visible off toward the horizon, miles away. Looking like early winter, feeling more and more like it with each degree of falling mercury.

Shortly before nine, me moving slowly around the kitchen, I saw a red Ford Explorer come slowly down the road, saw it pull off across from my driveway, watched what looked like a father and son get out, wearing bright red stocking caps. They pulled rifles out from the rear of the vehicle, headed off into the woods, following a path that stretches uphill from the road.

If someone parks at the end of a driveway on a country road and intends to be there a while, the courteous thing to do is go up to the house, let the people living there know what’s up, what you’re going to be doing. Didn’t happen. On impulse, I picked up the phone, called the owners of the land across the road, told them the situation, asked what the protocol was. They let people hunt on their land — they own the top of the hill, somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 acres — but ask that they come speak to them first, park not far from their house, walk into the woods from there.

I mulled all this over as I slowly pulled together caffeine and morning nosh, decided to write a note, leave it on the Ford’s windshield. A simple note, not harsh, not unpleasant, but suggesting that the courtesy of taking a moment to say hello would be appreciated in a case like this.

Went back inside, stood at the living room window, watched wild turkeys appear from up the hill, disappearing one by one into the brush below the house. Then returned to the kitchen, got the day underway.

An hour or so later, I noticed the vehicle moving slowly along the road, heading back the way it had come. I walked outside, strolled down the driveway, saw the Explorer turn around up the road and head slowly back toward me. Slowly, coming to a gradual halt in the middle of the road by the end of my drive. A boy sitting in the passenger seat stared out at me, the driver’s door opened and closed, someone got out.

“You the person who messed with my truck?” I heard, saw a late-30’s male come around the rear of the vehicle, his manner vaguely threatening. And this is where growing up in a family with violent tendencies has served me pretty decently — I don’t cringe or fade before an aggressive attitude. I’m not looking for physical confrontation, but I’m also not inclined to give way if I’ve done nothing to provoke ugliness.

“Yeah,” I said, “I left the note on your windshield.” Not unfriendly, but also not backing off. He asked if I owned the land he’d been on, I replied it belonged to so and so, he said he’d spoken to them, I said I had as well. He said something else about not liking his vehicle being messed with, I didn’t respond, he said he’d hunted around here for years but had never parked at this spot before, that led to some talk about protocol when parking an unfamiliar vehicle at the end of a country driveway. He reacted by saying it looked like no one lived here — I looked around, saw a house and land clearly lived in and taken care of, decided to let his comment go, didn’t point out that he hadn’t bothered to investigate by coming to the door. He asked how long I’d lived here, responded to my answer — me stating a span of ownership apparently longer than he’d expected — with a surprised, “Holy crap!” Maybe having assumed I’d be a newcomer, that if I’d had the place for a while he would have known me.

Through it all I simply stood my ground in friendly fashion, giving him every opportunity to loosen up, drop the defensiveness. Which he slowly began to do, finally saying his name, me saying mine, offering my hand. He responded, looking as if the idea of not responding had flitted through his head before he extended his arm, and we shook.

When he finally got back in the truck, he hadn’t loosened up to the point of actual friendliness, but he’d come some way. I debated inviting him to stop in for coffee any time he passed through, concluded he didn’t look like an individual who’d have any interest in espresso, wished him a great day instead. I waved to the boy in the passenger’s seat, the kid stared back, expression not exactly warm. The vehicle slowly moved off down the hill.

We’re interesting critters, we humans.

A Sunday morning in the country. During hunting season.

España, te echo de menos

Northern Vermont, right now:

España, te echo de menos

A week and a half ago, the season’s first snow arrived. A shock to the system, but not unexpected, winter often arriving early in this green, lovely corner of the world.

This week, the weather gods decided to play nice, dealing out several days of mild, user-friendly conditions. Nights above freezing, afternoons up in the ’60’s. Fine weather for working outside, which I did, though not as much as I might have, because along with the stretch of kinder weather came an unexpected spell of laziness, leading me to act vaguely like I was doing productive things while accomplishing next to nothing.

I blame it on company that arrived the Friday evening of last weekend, leading to far too much conversation around the dining table for the next 36 hours, chat accompanied by excessive food production and consumption. (Which, I swear, had no effect on my svelte, adorable bod.) Kind of set a tone. (It’s good to have someone to blame things on.)

But laziness, now that I think about it, is not the appropriate word. Because if I can muster up focus and interest, I can get as productive and industrious as… a human who is… all righteously productive. And industrious. So no, it’s not the lazy thing. It’s more along the lines of… not being exactly what might be called ecstatic every minute of every day. But I’m not digging into that. Because apart from the moments when I’m not exactly what might be termed blissful, I am often strangely serene.

Part of the reason for that serenity: ignoring to a very successful degree everything related to the recent political hooha. Yes, the result — of the presidential race, anyway — produced a wave of joy from just about every single living being on this planet of ours (except maybe Sarah Palin. and the more bigoted and emotionally pinched of those in the political spectrum’s rightward reaches). But prior to that magical wave of happiness? Many months of ugly behavior and obnoxious television ads. All of which I’m happy to say I mostly missed.

So. Promoting serenity. Yee-ha!

Meanwhile, that mild, sweet weather has given way to cold, gray, damp. The clocks changed two weekends ago, suddenly darkness is falling early in this northern locale. The spectrum of colors in the local countryside continues narrowing down, on gray days lights have to be turned on around 3:30, 4 o’clock.

But there is something I do like about the turning inward of this time of year, the quieting down — life takes on a more meditative quality, existence becomes simpler (holiday wackiness aside*). And sometimes on these gray, cold days, gaps open up in the clouds, sunlight slips through. A quiet kind of light with a special luminosity, stretching into the living space, bringing surfaces it touches to glowing life. For a short while anyway — fading with time, giving way to shadows, darkness, the long night.

Just one more moment in the seasons’ constant flow. Here briefly before melting away, becoming something else.

*Halloween evening — me passing quickly through a local supermarket, picking up a few items. I pass one employee busy replacing a spooky holiday display with boxes of big candy canes. The body, so to speak, was not only still warm, it was still alive, several hours away from expiring. And they were already dragging it out the door, propping up another body in its place, the new one all red, white and stripey. The commercial sector: fickle, mercenary, and making no bones about it.

España, te echo de menos

From a visit to Hope Cemetary, outside of Barre, Vermont, on this first day of November, el Día de los Muertos:

España, te echo de menos

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