Friday, May 14, 2010

a week away

we were in Vermont for a week, living in a good friend's house in Rochester, which will never be accused of being urban or even suburban. Rochester is barely rural. Being in Vermont's rural areas reminds both of us of growing up in southern West Virginia. There are no strip mines, that I know of, in Vermont, but the mountains are very similar and 'rural' is 'rural'--hence the remarkable success of Garrison Keeler and "Prairie Home Companion". Rural is simply Rural--the ethnicity might differ from place to place (there were no Scandinavians in Southern West Virginia but lots of Hungarians, Italians and Polish folks, plus the then dominant Scots Irish and African Americans.

If two guys hadn't been working on a house down the road where I walked our dog and if I hadn't, one time, drove into Rochester to get a few provisions, we wouldn't have seen another human being for a week! And there weren't many 'creatures' either. There are more birds and creatures in my back yard than on that mountain, so far as I could tell. Maybe it was too cold. It did snow in May one day and the temperature was in the 20's a few nights--but the house was cosy and wonderful--comfortable and artistic and sweet. So we read books: I read 9 books, Bern probably read more since I walked the dog exclusively. So we ate and ate well--good food and good wine. And we slept a lot. I took a nap most days and slept 9 hours each night. And it was so quiet. The house was as sound proof as anywhere I've ever been. Our dog, who barks at every little noise at home, had nothing to bark at. He was strangely silent and content to walk a few times a day, eat and sleep. To my knowledge, he read no books.

It was a quiet and dear time. My retirement has been a worry for both Bern and me--not knowing if I could be around so much and not be annoying to her. Well, there we were for a week with no other company or outlet and we didn't come to blows, in fact, we enjoyed being in each other's nearly silent company. That's good to know.

I wrote some too. Here's a poem I wrote in Vermont.


We are on a mountain top in Tennessee
(Actually, Vermont, but the birth
of Davie Crockett--king of the wild frontier--
is never far from my mind....)

You can see the roof of one other house
from the deck of my friend's home.
But mostly, all you see are trees
and, in the distance, a dozen other mountains.
That's all. And yet there are few birds.

The name of this colony is "something Hawk",
(I forget exactly....)
And not a hawk in sight.
No bird songs, though I heard the distant caw
of a crow once.

Our house down south in Connecticut
(at least south of Vermont,
not nearly Tennessee or West Virginia,
where we both grew up, Bern and I)
is surrounded by birds.
There is even a pair of robins
nesting on our front porch in Cheshire.

They practically--all those birds--
sing from the dusty pre-dawn
until full darkness every day.
And our parakeets call out,
from captivity,
to the free birds outside.

So where are the birds on this Vermont mountain?
Maybe it is still too cold--in the 20's last night,
snow one day we were here...and this is May!

Or maybe they flew to Connecticut,
having heard we were gone,
to join the raucous chorus there. (jgb--5/10/10)

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.