An autumn bluster raced through the valley, sending my wind chimes spinning and flailing to a soundtrack of cacophony with a roaring backbeat. My daughter, visiting for a few days on her fall break, but fettered to obligations down below, helped me heft boxes full of books into her vehicle. Donations for the library. It was a conflicted feeling; I'm all about acquiring books, reading books, sharing books, giving books as presents to fellow bookworms, but this donating books that haven't made it out of their boxed time capsules since moving to our Sahel is a different proposition. A subject I struggled to approach.
I oscillate from packrat, holding onto fliers from special nights at juke joints and art gallery openings, ten years or more gone now, because of mastery of its composition or a particular memory, convinced I may one day have a use for it, to bing, purge, and burn nihilistic minimalist, remembering excavations from after my grandmother and mother walked on, bemoaning with other relations all the shit they accumulated, swearing to never inflict that on someone else. Sabina suffers from a similar bit of packrat, or perhaps she enjoys it, I've never been one to pry. Then there's the fact we live in a cozy little former miner's cabin-molted-into-a-Victorian that's not even six-hundred square feet. We share this domicile with three dogs, three cats, six ferrets, and my daughter on occasion. Not to mention the occasional spider stowaway I will not allow Sabina to kill.
One can see where packratisum-is that even a word? It is now, fuck you-can present a problem...
"We better do this before I lose my nerve," I told my daughter. Something I said to Sabina a few months before when I purged another number of boxed books to a thrift store.
So we hopped down valley two miles to the library. The woman behind the desk, a smiley thing with a nose stud, wolf-blue eyes, and dyed black hair helped us in and thanked us for the donations. Apparently, I was not the only one unburdening myself of tomes that day. I returned one documentary I'd checked out and renewed the two David Attenborough ones I was still working on. Mission accomplished.
"Want to do lunch?" I asked my daughter as mountain breezes tickled out thick manes outside. "It's before pittance, so we'll have to go dutch, but I know where we can get tacos for pretty cheap."
"It's a date," she said and I grinned like a cheshire cat.
So we ate tacos, chips, and salsa. Drank dark Mexican beer and soda. We spoke of the divinity of the Beatles and Bob Marley. Eviscerating hipsters for sport and dissecting tourists for curiosity-these are a few of our favorite things. My daughter asked if I'd mind her company in the next few days for supper, which was probably asked more out of courtesy than anything. She wanted to bring her boyfriend of nine months up again, and he's not too terrible. I was gentle upon our first meeting, and I'm sure after some therapy, reconstructive surgery, and a new central nervous system he'll be able to walk again. He did survive, after all, and that should mean something.
As an aside; I told Jezebel of my first encounter with my daughter's boy, and I was accused-quite baselessly, I might add-of being melodramatic. Me! I informed her of the impossibility of this; I might be in touch with my feminine side, having gone as far as to shave it, but I do not have a drop of estrogen in my physiology, ergo, negating the possibility of me being melodramatic. She said some who shot john about me being a storyteller, and how storytellers, by their very nature, are given to drama, sometimes worse than midwestern housewives, goth royalty, and/or drag queens. At this point, I mentioned what I'd recently done to her mother involving midgets-you've got to have midgets-and marionette puppets, and she just giggled, as if I vindicated her slanderous assertion.
But that story is not this one...
So, I bid my daughter farewell under the last bone-rattle aspen leaves of breezy autumn day. I shouldered my backpack and headed to the general store for a bottle of clam juice. Etouffee was on the evening's menu, and I required clam juice. The proprietor and I spoke in the easy tongues of High Country off season on a weekday, with wistful half-prayers for a good winter. A certain simplicity made manifest in the human affliction, which left me with a warm feeling, as though the sun were in my belly, even if I am far too skinny to contain the daystar therein.
I still needed to get home. There was tea to drink, David Attenborough documentaries to watch, and etouffee to make. I had a busy relaxed day ahead of me and wanted to get moving. So, I cut up the canyon, occasionally wandering the narrow-gauge tracks. This time of year, the train only runs on the weekends, so I didn't have to worry about getting run over. Even then, I'm pretty familiar with the schedule. My route brought me to a boulder field, meaning I was going to have to do some scrambling.
Climbing on rocks? Along with walking in woods? Oh no! Madness, I say, sheer madness! Please, don't throw me in that brier patch!
You believe me, right?
I cut through wind and season stripped groves of aspens, including the Lair of the Boogieman. Past great boulders and along a very, very, very low river. The walkabout was meditative. I would stop for periods to allow the breezes flowing through the trees to was over me. It was perfect, or as close to perfect as it can get without becoming boring.
Thoreau was once quoted with the mantra of simplicity. There are those who said he ate his mother's cookies and fucked Emerson's wife when he was supposed to be living the life of an ascetic. Still, I like dig the quote. Besides, which of us is perfect? Perfection is boring. It's the quirks and flaws that make things truly interesting.
Gunpowder tea is good for afternoons; light and simple. As I put on my whore-red kettle I contemplated the concept of simplicity; the purging of years boxed books and walking up a mountain canyon with belly full of taco and beer. Watching documentaries in the lazy afternoon light and creole dinners. The rhythm of the seasons and the friendly conversations in that context. I couldn't help but think I was having a wonderful day, simple though it was.