"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

11 September 2012

First and Last and Always

A few days back, I mowed. I'd been putting it off, actually. Despite rains and warm weather, the grasses around the house seemed to have slowed down in their growth rate. At one point, I wondered if I was done for the season. Then looking out back, I begin to realize if I didn't do mow at least one last time, that first time, next spring, would be an exercise I'd rather not contemplate.

"Of course, if you weren't some whack-job with a pushmower," my neighbor might, and has, chided.

Hey, it builds upper body strength. I get to listen to music of my mountains instead of the roar of a mechanical engine. No liquefied fossils are used in the process. I just have to keep up on the yard work with a little more diligence then someone with a motorized mower.

I saw my father for the first time since early summer the other day. He played some new songs for us. It's one of the last times he and his lead guitar player are able to get together, the young man is moving on to Nashville.

We drank whiskey in belated birthday toasts and listened to the blues. My father, like me, considers stopping aging on his upcoming sixty-fifth birthday. Time was, despite it being years since I abstained from smoking cigarettes, I'd have a social one with my father. As I watched him have a few, I realized once again, I no longer even have a I've-been-drinking-and-someone's-smoking-a-fag-and-I-want-a-nostaligic-one-too interest. Any former smoker who says they've not done it at least once is most likely lying. The last time I socially smoked with my father-with anyone, come to think about it-has been nearly a year ago now. The fact I find the scent of smoke acrid instead of just there or that I have no interest in the practice perhaps means something more profound than I realize.

My father would speak of the weather, and how unnaturally hot it has been this summer. There's a strange bit of twisted symmetry with the last few hot days that meteorological prophecy speaks of the first true frost of the season in our Sahel in the coming days. Sabina and I prepare to cover our community garden plot. Some of our tomatoes and my peppers are not ready yet.

In the ebb and flow of mountain tourism, the last of the bus tour groups pass through. By month's end, they'll be over and done with. The first leaf lookie-loos have begun to appear, wishing and hoping for some brilliance amongst the aspens. My dimestore guess is things will really start to pop and peak once the cool comes through and warms up again.

I rode my bicycle down-valley to check on an out-of-town friend's cats as the last of the morning sun was swallowed by the first clouds of the coming storm. There was a slight scent of rain in the air, and there were ting pinches and pains within the framework of my twisted skeleton as the barometer shifted. I might be in some of the best shape of my life, but I still have a twisted spine and skeleton that sometimes feels as if it's head together by little more than bubblegum and bailing wire. A flaw and a limitation, certainly, but I have never allowed myself to held in the thrall of my limitations.

Despite the cloud cover, it was warm. The rising humidity made the air feel a bit heavy. Shorts and t-shirt weather. These are some of the last days I might be able to wear shorts, meteorologically speaking. Yesterday may have been the last day I was able to wear sandals and go barefoot outside for awhile, but I won't know for awhile. The sense of finality and new beginnings in the coming days, these moments of transition, are profound in ways, which language fails to describe.

Riding home, I heard a sound unmistakable as the changing of the leaves marking the last days of summer; chainsaws chopping wood for those first days of autumn and winter. Although I hoped to dodge any rain before I got home, the first cool drops began to fall within a mile of home. Mei fei tsu, I have a hardshell for such occasions.

Higher up the mountainsides, I could see gold and a little flame intermingling with the emerald of the aspens, which seemed to give a little bit of credence to my prediction. If the temperatures foretold by meteorological prophecy come to pass, what with the showers, I couldn't help but think we'd see our first dusting of the season up around a eleven or twelve-thousand feet. The snowbums will get all kinds of aroused, but that's just the way of it.

The rain passed by the time a got off the bike path. I rode home, threw Live's Secret Samadhi album in the stereo, the whole time wondering how it could be so secret if it was on an album that sold millions of copies, and set about making myself lunch. East African lentils being my go-to filling meal on my free days. The things I needed to do for dinner whirled around within the confines of my skull as I got lunch ready.

With a young afternoon, a full and happy belly, and a dry outside, I meditate upon a walkabout. The Lair of the Boogieman, perhaps. A milkrun, from which I can hear the sounds of the narrow-gauge as it wends its way through the canyon. This is a time of firsts and lasts, but always part of the cycle, and I always take time to meditate upon it. With that in mind, I look down at Whistler.

"What do you think?" I ask. "Want to go walking?"

He looks back up at me, his ears slightly raised, and chomps. Chomping is his way of expressing excitement, happiness, and approval. I smile, and start over toward my pack.


  1. Pushmower in my world as well. I like the weird spinning squeaking "quiet" of mowing without an engine.

    And no lie: I haven't once had a cigarette since I quit, nearly two years ago. That's not to say I haven't come close, or wanted to more times than I can count. It helps that I live too far from a store.

    Great "changing seasons" post...

    1. Thank you. I am impressed that you've not had one. It's been four years for me, and those first couple of years I would sometimes start to rationalize, but with all the hiking I do, I couldn't justify fucking with my oxygen intake any more than just living at altitude.

    2. I really and truly liked smoking, so all it would take is one little lapse, and I'd be a goner. After all the effort and willpower and agony? No way am I giving in...

  2. I had two push mowers one summer. They were both stolen from my back yard in the same season. Now I have one of the loud ones, and not much grass to mow. Some body stole my gas can. No Lie.

    1. Despite living in a small mountain town, I keep our mower in our barn/shed/folly out back. Someone stealing your gas can?!? I realize petrol ain't cheap these days, but that's just mean.

  3. I hate cutting the grass I'd rather clean the toilet. I'm looking at it now though as I type this thinking that I had better do it tomorrow. As for smoking I gave up 14 years ago successfully for 2 years until I got some bad news and my flatmate offered me a cigarette. I was back to 20 a day by the end of the week. So when I finally gave up for good (hopefully) in 2000 I didn't go near them again. I still miss them though.

    1. I used to miss it terribly. Now, I can remember what it was like to do a pack, pack and a half a day, but cannot remember why I was so into it. It's strange to see a photgraph or read something I wrote from that period, because smoking was such a aprt of me.