Monday, May 28, 2007

small slice

i know it's been a long time since the last time i wrote. an awful lot of stuff was going on over here and a lot of it cut too close to center, if you can imagine that. i didn't want to talk about the depression, which was bad. i didn't want to talk about the very bad thing that happened, nor the prophetic dream, nor the worse thing that happened, nor the couple of weeks in the hospital.

i don't think i'll ever talk about the very, very bad thing. i'm still having a hard time getting over it.

but with all this stuff i didn't want to talk about, you can perhaps imagine how it was that i had a hard time getting started writing about the things i was willing to talk about.

so i think i just want to tell you about a small sliver, about an hour and a half from this afternoon.

i don't know what the weather was like today at your house, but here the sky was clear and bright blue and it was chilly out until the sun warmed up the places where the sun was shining. so a walk down the road was warm and cool and warm and cool and so on.

i have gone on at length elsewhere in this blog about the fact that i live in west bolton, a place i have loved with all my heart ever since i was sixteen. downtown west bolton isn't much more than a four-way stop. nashville road (halfway down the road are four houses and an intersection with a dead end. this is nashville. it says so on the map.) anyway, nashville road is the main approach from more populated areas. it's mostly straight and mostly flat and it approaches our downtown from the west. to the south (i'm heading counter-clockwise, or widdershins if you prefer) - to the south is stage road, the only alternative that isn't a dead end.

i live up stage road.

the eastern arm of the intersection is short and steep and it would go right up the mountain, but it stops pretty early on, but there used to be mills up there. to the north is cemetery road, which used to go all the way through to underhill (although they have a different name for it on their side) only now its cut off just past the cemetery by the giant NO TRESPASSING signs. actually, it's kind of weird coming up cemetery road because for most of the way there are tall fences and barbed wire and no trespassing signs on both sides, all the way up to the cemetery.

i set out from my house in the early afternoon, tossing not-my-cat (more about her some other day) out onto the porch. while i was in the hospital i developed the habit of going for walks as often as i could. my shoulder hurts a lot and i don't want to ride. but it was very pleasant, all the way to what we call downtown.

we're not being funny, calling that one intersection downtown; in the last years of the nineteenth century it was a boom town. there were mills and stores and smithies and farms and granaries and houses. lots of them. but in the early years of the twentieth century the government bought some of the land west of cemetery road and north of nashville road. at the beginning of world war I the army bought more of the land and used it for a training encampment.

then it kind of waned for a while, but eventually the government decided to make it more of a permanent training facility. they use it for a firing range for both small arms and large artillery. it has world-class nordic skiing trails. it is one of the nation's foremost training grounds for cold weather rescue and law-enforcement officers from all over the US come in winter.

all through the twenties and thirties the government acquired most of the farms and buildings. there was much talk later on that the government had forced out the residents, but the truth is that it was all hardscrabble farming and it was the depression and the government was paying a little more than market value.

the buildings were bulldozed and the debris cleared. everything along one side of the road was now firing range. except for this one long corridor up to the cemetery, which is still active.

when you get to downtown, the millbrook (once again, not just a fancy name. if you walk along it, you will see the ruins of some of the mills.) anyway, the millbrook is just a little bit down cemetery road. a narrow bridge goes over it. i went down the little path to the water, and i thought i'd look for a holed stone to give to Barbara. it's supposed to be lucky to find a holed stone, and lucky to receive one as a gift.

i found four.

and there's this collection of big rocks under the bridge. well, not really huge, but big enough to sit or lie down on, and i like these rocks very much on their own merit, but i also like them because they remind me of a day when i came here with Flyingfisher and Tharagleb. my favorite picture of Flyingfisher is one in which she's standing in the sunlight against the bridge abutment.

i want to get over to those rocks, but i have to go up and over the road. there's a little red eft sitting very still on the top of one of the rocks, but he has this bug on him and i think it will do him a favor to take it off.

but the eft falls into the water, in a place that has to be the rough equivalent of me falling off of niagara falls. he's teeny, and in comparison this little part of the rapids looks HUGE. i'm so saddened, but there's nothing i can do, i think, having considered plunging into the water to try to save him. and i'm just sitting on the rock when the miracle happens: i see him swim up to a crack in the rock and once he surfaces it takes him a while to climb out and he doesn't seem worse for wear.

the miracle, of course, is not that he swims to safety; that's what they do. they swim. the miracle is that i was there to see it.

i lie back on the rock for a while, staring up. my favorite color is that particular green of leaves against a blue sky. then i sit up for a while, looking upstream at the swimming hole and the falls above it. i listen, maybe for God's voice, maybe for something else. i've been struggling with bitterness in my soul and the chatter of it is overwhelming a lot of days.

quietly, i come up from the streambed and keep walking up the road. in a few minutes i am at the ruins of the baptist church. i stay there for a few moments, facing the center of the church, where some of the larger trees are larger around than i could reach.

i get up to the cemetery. there's a blue car parked up there, but i don't see anybody. i open the gate and go in. it's an active cemetery, although there are many graves from the early nineteenth century. the veterans all have fresh flags on their graves, except for richard bacon. usually he gets a fresh flag, but for some reason not this year. maybe someone forgot? he is unusual for a vermont hill cemetery because although he was a civil war veteran, he served with the confederate army. they give him a confederate flag.

i walk around and pay my respects and i notice with some alarm that they seem to be running out of space there at the back of the cemetery. i want to be buried here, i think. i'd better get jumping.

but then i go an lie down in the shade of a tree, near some of the union veterans and i hear gunshot, whic would not be unusual, since this is a firing range, except i thing this is illegal firing -probably just target shooting- because it's coming from the wrong direction.

huh, i think. good thing i'm on the ground.

so i keep my head down and i'm enjoying the relative peace and i hear the boys come out of the woods and they're talking about stuff, getting ready to go and i know they can't see me and they don't know i'm there, which scares me a little when they squeeze off a couple more shots and then the really startling thing happens: from the OPPOSITE side someone shouts "HALT AND CEASE FIRE!"

and the boys peel out down the road and i'm standing there wondering what will happen if the guard comes my way.

they don't. i assume that they hear the departure of the car and turn back.

i figure it's as good a time as any to brush the moss off of me and head for home.


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