Wednesday June 30, 2010
I sit here after crossing the Connecticut River from New Hampshire to Vermont, Hanover to Norwich and yet I find no escape. Even while gazing across the wind-chopped water, sitting quietly alone there is no sweet release. It is only away in Nature, hiking through woods and on mountain top do I feel completely free. Free from the prying eyes and tireless voices abuzz with concerns that are so trivial to me.
I sleep little each night, restlessly, since leaving the 100 Mile Wilderness and the comfort of the Appalachian Trail. My neck stiff with tension of being noticed, seen, even called out at as I pass by strangers. My head spinning with the whirring sound of machinery and Man. There is no recognition that I do not want recognition. It pursues me relentlessly, tiring me, seeking me out in mere mundane tasks.
I feel another perfect fork before me only this time it travels North or South. To head North to Monson means struggle, disappointment in unanswered questions and anonymity. To continue South will result in that very thing I wish to escape. That fame, that glory, that living of life I want others to pursue. It falls in my unhappy lap as a cat that persistently pursues that hapless person who does not seek its attention.
Is there no middle ground? Must it be a perpetual wave of extreme ups and downs? I shy away from the recognition, the fame, the glory because all too quickly such things can turn on you and thus subside. The positive and negative energies waxing and waning with the cyclical moon. Round and round and round to what reason? What end? I fear there is none and know that to be the truth. I feel too one with the Earth in this sense. For without rhyme or reason, a chaotic symphony of events occurs finding sometimes a sweetly harmonized or violent clashing of existence.
I curse in vain this knowledge, this thing we call free will, this fate-less existence. I admire, the trees, the water, the sky, the earthy soil. It does not rail and ask why or wonder. They simply are.
Friday July 2, 2010
Yesterday, my friend Maidie and I went to the Co-op in Hanover, New Hampshire to grocery shop. After we were done, we drove the car to behind the gas station next door to eat the lunches that we had purchased. There’s a short grassed road running along-side a field, we pull into it and park at the head. We get out, planning to lunch on the corner of the grassy field. I see in the distance, at the end of the grass road, a trail sign. Maidie has walked over and sat down on the field and I head towards her.
There is a small sign planted on the edge and it warns of pesticides. The field has been treated in the last 48 hours it describes. We quickly remove ourselves and head over to the picnic table across the parking lot, on the backside of the gas station. A pleasant couple says, ‘hello’ as they get up from the table to throw their lunch trash away. We sit down.
Lunch is sushi and a banana. This is my last time eating fish or seafood. I have decided to go back to being a vegetarian so I savor each bite. Maidie and I chat about this and that. I’m feeling melancholy as she will be moving away soon. This will be one of our last meals together.
We finish eating and she offers to throw all the lunch trash away. My curiosity has finally gotten the best of me and I run down the dirt road to read the sign. Indeed, it is a trail sign. I see the familiar Appalachian Trail marking and the white blazes on the trees. I can hardly contain my excitement and I quickly break out pen and paper. I jot down a brief note saying, “Lakeshore friends, please go to the Dartmouth Outing Club on campus and read the Register. Girl with Dog.”
Tuesday July 6, 2010
Last night, I had a lovely evening, dinner wine excellent conversation, with a good friend. I got back to the domes to an unexpected delight. A hot air balloon frolicking in the sky. I stood on the rail, eyes fixated, hand waving ‘hello’. The two people aboard waved back. They made their way from the backside of the domes, along the river and then quite precisely landed in the small parking area at the end of Old Bridge Road.
Some cars had pulled in and parked, lights flashing, doors left ajar. Maxwell and I ran down to join the other people captivated by the sight of the balloon. Strangers and friends, of the two men alike, worked together in releasing the hot air and gathering the balloon. A marvelous sight.
Many who had stopped to see the flight, left, their faces flush with happiness, their eyes a-glow. A man called out my name in a gentle greeting. A gentlemann from Tanzania, a friend of the balloonist was coiling up the annchor line.
I was invited to join in the celebratory champagne and toast, a toast to another successful flight and landing.
We stood in a small intimate circle, sharing ourselves and some stories. Two of the group were fellow hikers. One of whom had hiked the 100 Mile in her youth, another a travel writer for the Valley News. They invited me to join their hiking expedition this September. I shared my plans to continue hiking on to Springer Mountain in Georgia, hopefully reaching it in mid-November. We exchanged our names and information and went our separate ways. A fortuitous and happy meeting of old and new friends.
Sunday August 8, 2010
The residents manicure the landscape encouraging an unnatural subdivision, pointedly placing tree, shrub and fence; a false and wistful re-creation expressing the desire for Nature and solitude. Conditioned to this visual and social ‘norm’, people have no conceptual imagination and understanding that their environment could be quite diametrically different if they chose. It is strange to me, to agree so easily to another’s visions and perceptions without contemplating it first. To examine the details, to perform a careful comparison and study before reaching a then informed conclusion. A realization that every decisive action reflects a personal choice made, for every situation and circumstance. And allowing others to make those decisions for you will never facilitate a contentment of the soul and true happiness.
There are rare moments of natural silence in this environment. I hear the engine of a lawn mower hum steadily. A small airplane flying low overhead. The whistle warning of a passing Amtrak train. Cars driving by, a man sneezing, a teenage girl screaming angrily at her father and slamming doors. The constant whir of a window air conditioner. If a noise must be at a constant, let it be the water flowing over rocks and the wind in the trees. My heart is melancholy for the pure sounds of the wilderness.
This cozy 8′x20′ area contains everything I require to live. A sleeping space, a counter and sink, a table and benches for friends and company. I am off-the-grid. I live without electricity and running water; an independent and alternative existence, a staunch refusal and repudiation of relying upon modern technology. There is a small television occupying a large portion of the counter which I will be pleased to see go. For now it serves as a mirror and shelf for a few items. For some, this picture box is an imagined necessity. In fact it provides no real value to living or enrichment of the mind. I take my light from the sun or by candle, water from a nearby source, pleasure in my own company and entertainment in my own thoughts.
Some friends are enchanted with the idea of how I live. Some find it bizarre and their discomfort manifests itself in their conversation and body language. When some visit, they are afraid, at times, to enter or stay long. Their inhibition Pavlovian.
I leave the door open and unlocked. I have nothing to hide. There is no possession I value so much as to miss its presence if it were to disappear. Some ask if that picture box and a small refrigerator are hooked up to electricity. Does the sink provide running water? They grow silent when I answer, “No.” and then ask me, “Why?” Why ask why? The answer is so obviously and simply that I do not care to have it so.
In this Age of the Ownership, my lifestyle and words are strangely foreign. The concept of money is a grave travesty. I find nothing so uninteresting as the conversation which begins with the question, “What do you do for work?” And the presence of those who wave about a bill roll of dead trees with symmetrical markings utterly disagreeable. The very word and concept ‘value’ simply distasteful in its inherent hierarchical definition and use in judgement. People today are not so very different from those that existed centuries ago. The majority of the population exist as indentured servants. The distraction of the Colliseum a button push away in every living room. How cleverly slavery has been re-conceptualized, presented, with the escapist elements of distraction well woven in the fabric of what some call ‘ciivilized society’.
To busy oneself day-to-day with the hunt. To understand the foolishness and imminent disappointment of expectations. To appreciate all living things, plant animal and human being, knowing each are equally deserving of respect and a right to existence. To actively exemplify these thoughts addressing the truly important aspects of living through one’s actions. These are the foundations of happiness. These are the cornerstones of enlightened realizations. Ah, what joy to Skamp and live free!