Before working on the barn, I cleaned up some items from a dead old man’s trailer. The items in question were, I think, sitting in a basement for years– the trailer itself being long gone, probably no longer in existence. It was just garbage. Some cheap utensils covered in rust or, I don’t know, something. Dead light bulbs, blunt ice skates, a torn up hat, rusted pieces of an unknown machine, a ziplock bag containing Q-Tips, an empty plastic bottle…
All being saved too. Utterly bizarre. And right now I’m satisfied with that answer. Looking deeper into the roots and first causes, well, sometimes it’s best to just let it go.
Think about something else: Like chokeberry pie. Had it for the first time.
Not the best photograph but it tasted alright. There were peaches too. But, yeah, nothing that amazing. I’d prefer apple or rhubarb or cherry or…
So, while at the barn, I saw a butterfly meander through the sky and gently land on a floorboard. I approached quietly and took a picture. It remained perfectly still for me. How considerate, I thought.
Later it was still there. I realized then how it had landed only to die right in front of me. It’s merely a butterfly, yeah, but the moment stands out for me.
Hot today but not terrible. Some scythe work. Mostly I was in the shade but then, when I wasn’t, it was not my favorite. But this guy had a pleasant time of it:
I felt glad to be the one who dug into the Earth, which was then filled by the rain, creating a little swimming pool for my friends.
My life is currently rather solitary. I don’t see other people too often, usually there is no one within ear or eye-shot and beyond, and so it becomes very lovely to see little creatures all about. The cows, groundhogs, raccoons, possums, and rabbits are especially cute. Bugs don’t even bother me anymore. Typically I let them go about their business instead of trying to exterminate them. A few are alright though and I take the time to hang out. This one below was surprisingly calm and friendly. Slow moving, too, which is important to me when it comes to insects.
Nonetheless, I do find myself looking forward to leaving the farm. I know this is a very unique opportunity and one I will always remember but, man, it can be rough too. I feel myself torn on the matter but I know what will happen in the future: I’ll miss it.
Yesterday was my birthday, which was surprisingly decent. Typically I dread the day. Always feel sad and not good enough. Good enough for what, you ask? No idea but the feeling remains. But yesterday was alright. The farm’s been good for me.
Today, barn work and then I made screens. Well, not like I made them from scratch but still. The screen-material needed to be fitted to the frame and cut. Weird tools were used to press the mesh into the crevices, followed by something called spline. It was a whole thing.
Ok, not the most riveting material here. But, and this was the highlight of my day, while picking chokeberries I discovered a tiny birds nest tucked away and safe.
And these are called chokeberries:
I suspect the name keeps them out of the mainstream. Like it or not, names matter. It seems unfair, doesn’t it? But it comes down to words and our dependence on them. A feeling, for instance, that has not been dressed with the right words will quickly fade from our memories. Tomorrow, I’ll have chokepie for the very first time.
Jack Arnold, the laconic father on The Wonder Years, was fond of saying: How was work? Work was work.
Though I will say, it began pouring while I was in the barn. I was surprised to realize, this is new. Don’t typically head out there if it’s going to rain but this was unexpected. I was working on the inside so it didn’t matter much to me. Work-wise, I mean.
Otherwise, it was lovely. The rain pounding the roof and land. The wind whipping through the corn. The barn held up, too, keeping me mostly dry. Then the temperature dropped and I shivered once or twice. I held on and savored the feeling of being chilly. Feels like it’s been ages. You know, I’ve had enough of summer for one year. Bring on the fall already. The sun can go away and come again another day.
An issue, I think, along the lines of work was work is a certain passivity. One I share, which is why I know about it. Sometimes, perhaps most often during our low points, we must only focus on getting through the day. Whatever occurs during that day is merely in passing. Goals can become fuzzy or even lost.
Which is what was on my mind: I’m not a very goal-oriented person. I more just go with the flow, as they say. Then, to set not a goal but a good goal, one must, to a certain degree, know oneself.
Easier said than done. And I think that’s been a problem for me over the past few years. Don Marquis said it best: My heart has followed, all my days, something I cannot name.
A needed time of rest today. I’m distrustful of those who cannot bear to do nothing. Based, I think, from my aversion to the belief that one must always be busy. There is a wince in my left eye when I come across the notion, live each day to its fullest!
Fact is, time’s not my master and today probably isn’t my last day on earth. So you know what? I’m gonna read a book for the sheer pleasure of it and then maybe I’ll play a videogame.
Or maybe I’m just really good at not giving a damn.
But I’m not sure how to put that on my resume.
Regardless, tomorrow I’ll no doubt be digging. Recently, I found this:
It’s a door latch. Or rather, it was a latch. Now it’s something else. A piece of metal, true, but it was that before as well. Now, I suppose, it’s an artifact that will sit in a brown paper lunch bag inside this old house. In twenty, forty, maybe sixty years time or more someone will find it and probably toss it in with the rest of the trash.
Though I suspect landfills make for excellent time capsules. So it all works out.
Typically, though, my finds are more like this:
Still, the question remains: What are these things now?
There are many descriptions we can tack on– even with regards to the past, present, and future. And still the thing eludes us. After a while, I even get the feeling that all these descriptions, while certainly clarifying, can also serve to further hide the thing’s true nature, whatever that may be. Assuming even that true nature is a thing.
Maybe nothing is. Or maybe all these little things group together to form something higher and more complex– yet illusory nonetheless. Which is fine by me. It seems that strain and contradiction, be it personal or societal, leads to creativity and action.
Such is the danger of the whole and the one– they lead to peace, yes, but also stagnation.
A thankfully cool day for work. With the rain last night I spent most of my time digging on the inside of the barn rather than the outside where it would’ve been too muddy. Now I’m happy to be here because I know it’s only temporary but, man, I get why almost all of our ancestors left the farm as soon as they were able. I say our ancestors since, until modern times, pretty much everyone lived and worked on a farm.
It just occurred to me, probably can’t get a pizza delivered out here.
The lure of the city must’ve been strong. Especially with new opportunities. Like the factory. Hard to imagine thinking that a factory was cutting edge– it was probably like working for Google or Apple back then.
That choice, from the perspective of today, seems grim. Long, back-breaking hours on the farm or long, back-breaking hours in the city. But for them, the ones in the past, it must’ve been exciting.
Things change, I guess. Much like this river I recently saw, which was, I’m sure, once very different looking.
Except for the few things that don’t change. Or rather, can’t. Certain literary figures, for instance. I say can’t because, well, a change would destroy something vital inside us. It would sever a tie leading us back to ourselves, back to what it is to be human.
As Herbert Mason wrote, regarding his verse narrative translation of our oldest (surviving) story, the Gilgamesh:
Probably there was a Gilgamesh and he was endowed by tradition with a superhuman mind and spirit. Perhaps if we were to doubt the reality of Gilgamesh because of the folkloric hyperbole about him and his emotions as drawn in the epic, we would have to doubt whatever it is in ourselves that identifies with him– or, for that matter, with the Biblical Job or the Shakespearean King Lear. Looked at in this light, the Gilgamesh has survived in our world because a constellation of our emotions is reflected in it. We could almost say that anything so profoundly human as the image of Gilgamesh was bound to reappear, yet we are still surprised to learn that one of the very oldest stories of man is so inherently contemporary.
The story of Gilgamesh is, by the way, a story of loss and grief. Things that never change. Personally, I have read and reread the story many times, but it was during the experience of pain and grief and loss that this story spoke the loudest. Across the centuries, across thousands of years, his voice still reaches us.
Gilgamesh sat hushed as his friend’s eyes stilled.
In his silence he reached out
To touch the friend whom he had lost.
Though it is not only the sad things that are forever. There is, after all, Westley and Buttercup:
To doubt them, would be to doubt life itself. It would be a suicide of sorts.
Stopped work yesterday to watch a possum eat and eat. Till he was full. He picked up a vegetable with his paws and ate it like it was corn on the cob. It’s very human-like, the way they and other such animals use their paws. He didn’t just find the food and eat it, too, but would pick it up and carry it to a better location a few feet away. They have a funny gait, don’t they? A kind of lumbering. I think you see it in bears too. It’s not graceful but it’s cute, which is probably better anyhow.
He came out at dusk, as is their way. I’ve been going out at night myself. Mainly for the stars. It’s a very pleasant time for me to walk around. The sounds are different, coyotes often howl and the occasional moo from a distant cow strikes an eerie note. Sometimes a mist descends on the field. Thick too. I like to imagine frightful things emerging from it. The scariest thing I’ve thought of, coming out of there in the darkness?: A man in a fine and spotless suit, hair perfect and slicked back, and a big, big smile.
I’d like to venture out to the barn at midnight or so. Typically about fifteen minutes for the walk. During the day, I already feel completely alone out there and so I imagine the feeling must increase in the night. Especially this time of year, with the corn growing so high, it can feel like I’m in the center of a maze– alone and unseen.
The barn might be a little spooky at night but I’d enjoy the even greater sense of solitude. It’s a feeling I’ve been trying to more fully grasp out here. I’ve never lived in a rural environment before and the thought of truly being alone is still novel. I get the feeling, from time to time, that I am being watched. Not in a malevolent way, mind, but more like on The Truman Show. It’s weird and I don’t like it.