Repositioning the Fan

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“Our family’s fan is positioned too close to the source of shit,” Sam said to me Sunday evening, as we were leaving the hospital.  We’d been visiting a dear friend, hospitalized because of troubling symptoms, yet to be clearly diagnosed.  We had a Thanksgiving weekend rich in family and friends, all gathered essentially to love each other.  “Your family has a remarkable capacity for being together without any conflicts,” David said to me at one point over the weekend.

True, but in the midst of the weekend gathering we’d gotten a phone call about our friend that let us know, once again, the fan was in the direct path of the shit.  But our Thanksgiving weekend was also full of fun with epic eating, hours of sitting in the warm sunshine on the south side of the porch, and a walk everyone was able to take on Friday morning, including my mother who was in the hospital herself, barely able to get out of bed, just a few weeks ago.

The domed pile of brush I’d been adding to all summer and fall got torched on Friday night, burning quickly in a hot whoosh of flame, then settling down into a warm, firewood-fed campfire.  A gang of Sam’s friends had come for the weekend, and along with family, and more friends, a ring of us sat around the fire talking and laughing and telling stories.  Feeding the fire, we were feeding our selves, soaking up the fundamentally satisfying act of watching wood burn while sitting with people we love.

So I’m repositioning the fan, or at least putting it on oscillating mode, so it can swing between all this weekend’s memories — the food, the fire, the family and friends laughing and walking and sitting in the warmth of the sun and the burning wood, and yes, the suckiness of more illness in our lives.  Back and forth.  Here we go.


Mountains and Cows and Moving

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Saturday we climbed Mt. Liberty.  It was a cold day, even with the bright sun, and stopping along the trail as I hiked to the top of the Franconia Ridge, I chilled easily and had to start moving again.  But at the summit there was full sun and no wind, the least wind I’ve ever experienced on that ridge.  While we ate lunch I savored the view, and let the sun heat the black jacket across my back.

Yesterday morning we pulled up the shades in the bedroom and the cows in the pasture across the street were staring right into windows.  Could they see us?  Frisky all day, they kept sniffing and jumping on each other’s rear ends, watching me as I did a final mow of the yard, then trotting again in a circle around the close corner of the field, as close to me as they could get.

Top to bottom, field to forest, long sloping ridge lines to cow eyes tracking my day.  I keep moving through whatever is next.

Walking Evening Into Dusk

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My days have felt focused and scattered, frenetic and flattened, too short and too long.  Trying to hang on to my balance in the swirl of events I’ve been living through lately, I’ve found walking the evening into dusk and then darkness has helped a lot.  I grind through the day getting what must be done done, or whacking away at some item on the long list of things I thought would have been done long ago, but aren’t.  Suddenly the day is almost over and a walk lit by the last of the light has been seeming just right.

A favorite track crosses the hay field at the top of Harmony Hill, then follows a trail into Northwood Meadows State Park, making a loop around the pond.  Yesterday the evening light turned rose as the clouds picked up color from the setting sun and the pine needles along the trail fired into a deep orange.  The pond reflected the changing light, from pink to gray to the last of the day’s blue.  Walking back to the car the trees were black and the path was white, drawing my attention to exactly where it should be, right there, right then, right now.


I’ve been quiet on this blog lately for too many reasons to get into here.  This poem from The Truth About Death speaks to the silence.


I am squatting in the fireplace, hands out
to catch the heat off the first flame, the only
heat in the house, the furnace fan out,
the belt and pulleys jiggled off their mounts.
Last night a friend and I were comparing pathetic
and now I win. I am trying silence today,
lie on the floor, again, in the sun on the carpet
in the room where you died, heavy wind,
the shadow of plants below the great windows,
warm, how grateful you were for this room, open
and high. I don’t want to make sense, I am fed up
with misfortune. I walked the frozen brook
into the wind of the marsh, following the tracks
of a dog. I sat in the sun but it was too cold.