November 02, 2008
I was reading the copy of Dracula that the Great Pumpkin so graciously left in my Halloween stocking, when I heard the report of a gunshot. This is a standard sound to hear when you live as deep in the woods as I do, especially given the time of year (deer hunting season). The disturbing factor surrounding this one was the proximity.
When the report sounded I was stretched out on our bed... laying on my left side, propped on my elbow, with the book lying on the bed, after having been properly assaulted, breaking the back & bending the hell out of it so that it would lay quietly open to the page I desired without any of that pesky mystical page turning or movement. I looked at the clock at the same moment the thought of, "That was a bit too close" entered my mind. Six thirty nine a.m., what the hell?
I pondered this for a bit and decided that I should at least listen intently outside to see if I could discern any further sounds that would indicate a violation that I hold in extreme contempt.. trespassing. I got out of bed and worked my way through the darkened maze of laundry and sleeping dogs, stopping long enough to grab my camera as the thoughts of photographic evidence of a hunter caught in the act lightly danced through my mind.
The morning air was cold, yet not frigid. The crisp feel of it left me with a desire to abandon my quest for ne'er do wells and head to the closest coffee house. I stood on the porch and listened as I pondered these ideas. There was a breezy stillness to the woods that settles in only on a fall morning, I was drawn to it and decided to head down the path behind our home to the garden.
I stopped at intervals to listen and smoke, I heard nothing out of the ordinary and there was no feel of anything foul afoot. I had to be either very quiet or ridiculously noisy as I have no orange colors to wear in the woods during hunting season and unfortunately some hunters, especially the sort that do not mind property lines, don't think twice of shooting at movement or sounds. I opted for the silent approach. There are a hand full of people that have free run of my place here, I hold no fear of them as they have been taught safety from childhood and know not to fire until a clear shot can be taken, ensuring a quick kill. They possess this skill, knowledge, and experience that leaves me comfortable here at these times, thanks to the teachings of my brother, a conscientious, expert hunter and woodsman. Yet you never know who it is that has wandered onto your place.
I made my way down the trail to the clear space that has been named the garden, although no actual garden has ever existed there, my father once had plans and schemes of a grand garden and had the place cleared, but the solitary location made it too tempting a feast for all the woodland creatures.. resulting in all of his attempts being left in complete ruination.
Distractions were abundant on the walk, the first of which made me smile... as I passed a group of deer bedding down just off the trail to my right.. they jumped up and danced off down the hollow and up the other side, touching the ground only a few times.. such grace is amazing to behold. I stood transfixed and stared at them until the light brown colors of their coats blended perfectly into their surroundings and they melted away. It would take a hunter of true skill or incredible luck to get one of those creatures to the table... I passed by the tree where the aged hobbit lives that keeps watch over the garden for us when we aren't around. He appeared to be asleep as I didn't see any fire light coming through his door, or smell any bacon and mushrooms cooking for his breakfast. I grinned as I thought about the evening before, spent on the tailgate of the truck with James, discussing all manner of topics, from tick riding bees engaging in the eternal conflict with the earthworms for dominion of their under ground kingdoms, to bringing a blanket down here for the old hobbit, so he wouldn't get too cold in the night.. I actually lamented that we never brought him one.. it's amazing what the imagination of a child can convince you of.
I stood still after I entered the sacred place and breathed deep, taking in the sounds and tastes of the garden itself. The wet, earthy smell... the creeping fog that shows up just before dawn, the scent of leaves that have just fallen, the peace and patience of those leaves still hanging in the trees awaiting the next stage of their journey here, the sound of the creek that borders the flat expanse of earth... very intoxicating. There were no hunters here, it seemed that man had never seen this place before I arrived this morning. No... there is nothing amiss here, this place is complete perfection.. I almost felt guilty for disturbing it with my blundering presence.
As I stood and slowly drank it all in with my eyes closed, my thoughts ran over all that I know and experience from day to day and I became humbled and thankful for the life I have. Never has a person had so much to keep him so satisfied. When I opened my eyes I beheld a sight that made me stop breathing... sunrise. Damn... just plain damn. Nothing man has ever created could touch the power, passion and elegance of what I beheld. Perhaps Charles Avison could have composed a piece for this moment, but he would've had to deliver it directly to me and we would've had to make a deal that no other person could ever hear it. I watched the colors turn and twist into a canvas that no one could create, regardless of talent and training. My only lament was that I was alone.
I turned and silently made my way back home, giving the old hobbit a nod as I passed him by, now sitting on his step smoking his pipe, he cocked an eye up at me and shook his head, clearly wondering about the wry grin I was sporting, he has always had trouble understanding the romantic nature of humans... Once inside, I made my way back through the clothes and snoring dogs, stopping to pull the blanket over James, and touch his head. I slipped back into bed as Julie moved around and looked up at me.
"Where have you been?"
"Dancing with God."
"Did you stay in step?"
"Not even close."
"You're weird old man."
"Yeah, but it sure is cool."