UNDULATING IN THE UNDERBRUSH IN THE DANGEROUS WOODS

Doesn’t that sound like some bizarre parallel of life? There you are in your L.L. Bean boots, sprayed head-to-foot with anti-bug glop. You don’t know what’s worse — the big heavy boots with your jeans tucked into the tops, or the slime all over your body.

That anti-bug spray is icky.

But you aren’t going into the woods without it, that for sure. The last time you decided to take a little walk in your own back yard — and much as this seems like a jungle from an old Universal Studios moved (circa early 1950s maybe?), it’s yours. You bought the land. And today, you are going to explore it.

You should have done this early in the spring, before all the clawing blackberry trees were up. Before those wolf spiders were eyeing you from their woodsy nests. Those things are so damned big and while in theory, the worst they can do is bite you — and they aren’t poisonous — you are pretty sure you’re going to have a heart attack if one gets anywhere near you.

Do you need gloves too? Maybe a hat?

It’s 80 degrees and the bug spray is forming rivulets with your own sweat. Grab the camera. Maybe you’ll see something beautiful. Probably not, but who knows? You’ve already met the bobcat and the fisher and the coyotes and the deer. Bunnies and raccoons. Snakes. Lizards. Millions of mice and rude chipmunks.

This was farmland. You know because between the trees, there are stone fences which once defined fields. The farms are 100 years gone. Today, it’s your own backyard. Which you’ve never explored because there’s no path, plenty of thorns, and trillions of mosquitoes.

Finally, you look around: “Who is coming with me?” That’s when you notice that your exploration group are lying on lawn chairs. Drinking coke, beer, and lemonade.

“Too hot,” says Michelle.

“I’m all sweaty in my shorts and tee,” points out your granddaughter. “No way am I wearing all that stuff. Give it up Granny.”

Are they laughing at you? No reason why not because you are laughing at you.

And so another year of non-exploration passes. Whatever lives exist out there shall remain undisturbed by human traffic. If snakes undulate in the undergrowth besides the giant rocks? Go in peace, scaly friends. It’s your world.

Pass the lemonade.

WEATHERED AND WORN

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – WEATHERED


I resisted putting up a picture of me first thing in the morning. It was tempting, but I finally decided to take a pass on that. Weathered and wood resonate for me.

Be there a photographer so dead that he or she had not sought out aging wood barns and homes for great pictures and when that fails, there’s always rust and rot.

An old dodge pickup

Why do we photograph old stuff with such enthusiasm? The simple answer is it’s more interesting. The textures and colors are unique. The texture alone would do it for me.

Sleek, smooth stuff is shiny and often colorful, but you get a lot of depth with the textures of old materials. Wood, brick, stone, iron … it all works beautiful in the right photograph.

Stone bridge over the river and canal
Old Uxbridge Fire Engine 2

And that’s weathered enough for the day except, of course, we can’t leave out our very own weathered 1924 Fordson tractor, growing ever more weathered in our own garden.

ART VERSUS LIFE? TRUTH? FICTION?

“For God’s Sake,” I shout at the giant naked bronze guy loping around my garden. “Put something on! You can’t go running around like that!”the thinker

It’s already too late. I can hear the sirens getting closer and I know those evil neighbors are getting me back for all the nights when my dogs barked and wouldn’t shut up. I glare at Bonnie. She grins.

“Quick, hurry,” I urge him. “Here, take this shirt. It should fit you.”

It doesn’t. The bronze guy is huge. The pants are hopelessly small for him, even though they are big enough for me and a couple of good friends. Finally, in near despair, I throw him a blanket. He harrumphs and plunks his butt down on the big rock by the garage.

“Just stay very still,” I tell him. “Pretend you’re a statue. Even better? Pretend you are thinking. I’ll deal with the cops.”

It turns out he is very good at thinking. He had many previous years of experience. He likes it so much, he is still there as I write. Sitting on the big rock.

Thinking.

THE PERSONAL TRAGEDY OF INTOLERANCE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Intolerance seems to be rearing its ugly head more now that Donald Trump is President. Intolerant people seem emboldened by Trump’s tolerance — even embrace — of intolerance. I grew up hearing a family story that illustrates an early twentieth-century version of prejudice and rigidity. The price the family paid for it was huge.

A young cousin named Adele was married off to an older man who had a decent job and could take care of her financially. He was considered ‘a good catch’ but Adele hated him. He was mean to her and often brutal. He raped her regularly.

Family members from my grandmother’s side of the family, early 1900’s

She had a child with him, but he continued to abuse her. Adele went to many family members and asked them if they would please take her in if she left her brute of a husband. The family was shocked. Divorce was not considered acceptable under any circumstances. It would bring shame and dishonor on the entire family. So the family sent Adele back home.

After the second child, Adele got more desperate. This time she cried and pleaded with everyone who would listen to her in the family. She begged to be taken in so she could get away from her hellish life.

Some of the men on my grandfather’s side of the family, around 1915

No one in the family would risk the scandal a divorce would cause. Everyone told her to just make the best of it like many other unhappily married couples did.

Adele had a third child. This baby was my cousin, Eunice, who was my mom’s age. One day, Adele took Eunice to the park in her baby carriage. She parked the carriage on a bridge over a river. She removed her wedding ring and placed it in the carriage next to the baby. Then she jumped into the river and drowned herself.

Large group of Mom’s family, from both sides, in 1945

If only the people around Adele could have looked at her individual situation with common sense and humanity. People stuck in horrible marriages, before divorce became socially unacceptable, just like people stuck in the closet, burdened with unwanted children, or having the wrong genitalia.

It is never fair or compassionate to apply rigid rules to people’s lives. There’s enough pain in the world we can’t avoid. We shouldn’t create additional categories of angst by refusing to accept people as they are.

Acknowledging everyone’s unique needs will make the world a better place for everyone.

Audacious hope or cynical sham? Wilson’s Fourteen Points at 100.

Woodrow Wilson was an ambivalent man who harbored great hopes for humankind along with deeply ingrained personal racism. This is a fine piece of historical writing. I enjoyed it and I hope so will you.