Thursday, May 08, 2008

in from the cold

all right, i'm not sure where to pick up the narrative, or how far to go. let's just start with i'm actually indoors, sitting in a chair. at a table. and i'll be sleeping in a bed tonight! i will have a shower, and wash my whole body at once! i have just had a nondescript sandwich for dinner, but dessert (a lovely bar of chocolate)is provided by the motel. i am not in the habit of making endorsements in this space, but i'm at the knotty pine in bennington, where some friends of mine stayed a while back and we all hung out for a while in one of the rooms and i remembered it was pretty nice for the cost and the location. besides, i could find it. they let me check in this morning at about 0830, which meant i could use the room as my base and catch up with some housekeeping chores.

having a whole room to myself seems very deluxe.

i woke up this morning and realized that my car smelled very much like i had been living in it for a week, which coincidentally is what i had done. handy tip: unless your laundry bag is airtight, after enough days on the road it contributes a lot to the general ambience.

you want to have some fun? someone ought to run a pool on where i'll be next time i log on.

so. i spent a couple of days cranking back and forth over route 9 in VT and route 2 in MA, mostly because everything there is within pretty easy reach of my campsite. i am in love with the campsites at somerset lading strip, even though they're stark and bare, as if someone just happened to punk down a dozen and two outhouses on an old airstrip. i found it by accident once when i was desperate for a place to pull over and sleep.

and every night this week a woodcock has been "peenting" very close to my car, but he doesn't do the rest of his display, which i really want to see. he's so close i can see him moving on the ground. and last night, finally, for about an hour he went through the whole display, over and over. it is quite spectacular, especially if he's nearby. "good luck, buddy." i tell him. "i hope this really impresses the girls."

it sure impresses me.

so. i'm out on the road and i have little or no direction except that i am making geocaches the loose framework for my days. i am stopping for prayer at fixed intervals, and the balance of those two structures is very pleasing.

and i keep ending up at the perfect places at the perfect times. i'm getting to a lot of cache locations i don't like the look of and i just don't care. granted, i love a highway pull-off as much as the next person and i'm a guardrail enthusiast, but some of these little things i'm just not hunting.

what i WAS hunting tuesday around noon was a good sandwich and i just happened to be in charlemont, MA at christopher's and it's a little hole-in-the-wall and i'm not sure it's all that promising but i'm starving and it has a public restroom and an outside picnic table.

i order the #12 wrap and the guy brings it out to me at the table: freshly breaded eggplant with a little tomato sauce and mozzarella with grilled onions and peppers and the onions are perfectly carmelized and it comes in a sundried tomato wrap and it is so good i could just cry.

and the guy comes out to ask me if it's ok.

is it ok?

it is, i tell him, the best sandwich i have had in months, maybe ever.

and i make use of the open network to settle on going up the hill to do the davis mine loop caches; seven micros in the woods, each giving an all-important digit toward a final.

it's a nice walk, and the caches are nicely placed, but somewhere along the way i made a wrong turn, which i am blaming on stupidly angled trail signs. i'm pretty far away from the right trail when i realize my mistake, but it turns out i'm only .18 from the cache, so i decide to bushwhack.

at first it's open meadow and then open woods and then it becomes apparent that i am on the wrong side of a beaver pond. but below the dam (as there often is) there is a bog that will in places support my weight, so i pick my way carefully across that and come out right at the honkin' cache, but it takes me a while to regain my bearings and find the wretched little thing.

and then at subsequent stages the trail appears and disappears with a frquency and capriciousness that suggests to me the trails are a lot more used in winter than in summer.

and just as it becomes time for afternoon prayer, i come to a place where a blowdown has been sawed up. one of the pieces is so flat and smooth it is almost like someone had taken a plane to it.

so i sat there.

the theme seemed to be doubt, which kind of echoes all the lost trails and wrong turns of the day.

and i wondered about my journey into faith: is this the moment i was afraid of? the moment in which i realize my foolishness and that there really is no God after all? the moment in which i realize that i only believed because i wanted to believe? needed something to lean on?

and after a long while, i heard the voice: enough of this. you have heard my voice. what else do you need?

and Jesus? i asked.

i'm here.

and although my body hurt, my heart was light as i made the return trip to my car, almost a mile. a song started to form in me. back at my car i celebrated by washign my hair, an activity best done while it is still light out and before the day cools down too much. that was so good, i washed my feet and changed socks, too.

on my way "home" i found a grocery store with ripe avocadoes. the night was fine and clear and i took the opportunity to shave.

and i realize i'm kind of going on at length here, but there's still wednesday to tell you about.

when it was time for mid-morning prayer, i just happened to be on the green by the west brattleboro congregational church, so i grabbed my guitar and went in. and then i wandered down into greenfield and did a lot of those guardrail caches i'd declined the day before, making up a little story about a lifetime wish to drive across massachusetts, stopping every .3 miles.

but then it was nearly time for afternoon prayer and i was in shelburne falls. i had been there once, but it was luminaria night in november, so it was like being there the first time.

i just happen to have been at the potholes at the appointed hour, so that's where i stopped.

and then i continued on foot to the other caches in town and just across the river. every step of it was perfect, the kind of perfect where you're really, really glad to be alive. the kind of perfect that binds up the broken places and makes you whole.

and before i crossed over on the bridge of flowers, i came to this incredible set of windchimes.

and then it was dinnerime and i realized that i wasn't so far from he place that made the perfect sandwich, so i bet they'd make a decent pizza and i went there. from there i went "home" to my little woodcock friend. as of this morning the snow hadn't melted all the way at the campsite; i wish i could predict when that will finally happen.

and today again i was in the right place at the right time and i'd like to tell you about it, but it's late and i'm very much looking forward to having a shower.

it is a life of surprise and delight, a life of luxury.

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