Mystic Writer

Peeking out to see if there is a real world out there...

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'd like to teach the world to sing

I knew we were in trouble when John Kay started booming out of the speakers. My brother looked up from his UNO cards, his gaze going from bleary to aware to scarily animated. We finished off the hand as the phonograph needle drifted into the black hole between songs, then "Magic Carpet Ride" started playing. My cousin Ad and I exchanged glances, rolling our eyes as my brother leaped to his feet "Gotta drive! Let's go to a bar!".

We didn't even try to argue, simply tilting back our beers to finish them off. I decided I'd ride with Ad and Annie, as Annie hadn't been drinking and I hoped they would have the sense to let her drive.

We were barely in the car with Annie behind the wheel when my brothers van rocketed out of his driveway in reverse. He pulled a Rockford out onto the road, and Annie floored it as my brother took off on the straight highway through the cornfields. "Where is he going?" she asked, and Ad looked back at me from the passengers seat. "I have no idea..." I replied "... better not lose him", and I giggled, more than a little pie eyed. Ad joined in for no apparent reason, and Annie briefly looked at the car ceiling, then settled into a determined pursuit of my brothers rapidly fleeing tail lights.

We passed a tiny county road just in time to see the police car's lights start flashing, and Annie was already pulling over by the time the officer made it out to the highway.

The cruisers headlights shone through the back window, brilliantly lighting Ad and Annie's heads. Annie was digging in her purse, and Ad was trying to not look back at me, little giggles slipping past his compressed lips. I was trying hard to look sober as the officer glanced into my window, but I couldn't help flashing my best grin when I realized the officer was female. The grin went away when she put her hand on her pistol.

Annie rolled down the window and the cop leaned in, catching a whiff and pulling back a little, saying "Somebody's been drinking in this car...". I quickly replied "That's me officer!" while Ad proudly stated "I'm completely hammered, ma'am", and then he glared back at me. Ad can be a bit competitive.

The policewoman looked at Ad for a bit, and he put on a grin, probably intended to be charming. She looked grim, then looked back at me and faced another smile, I having decided that a little weaponry kind of spiced up my fantasy.

I saw a little disbelieving head shake, and then the officer looked at Annie's drivers license - "How about you ... Anne. Have you been drinking?". "No ma'am." Annie replied "I'm pregnant". The officer again looked at Ad and myself, this time even more grim, and said "Anne, I need to give you a little test as I can't really tell if you've been drinking because of ...", and she waved her hand vaguely. I gave a tiny wave back, just in case. Her hand moved towards her baton this time. I lost my grin, a little disappointed as I'd been hoping for the handcuffs.

"Anne, I'd like you to say the alphabet for me". Annie nodded, bit her lip, and started "A, B, C...", by "C" Annie had started to tentatively sing a little, "D, E...". I quietly started to sing along. Ad glared at me again, then joined in, a little louder than me. I upped my volume to match, and after a moment Annie seemed to get in the spirit of things. Ad started to harmonize, so I did too, and when we got to the final letter we finished in three part harmony with a triumphal singing of "Z!".

The officer had a slightly dazed expression as she looked at Ad, then slowly back at me, then finally to Annie "There is nothing I can do that is worse than what you already have to put up with. Please, drive a little slower...". She walked back to her cruiser, pointedly ignoring my waving, and as she drove past us still parked on the side of the road, we heard her yell "I feel so sorry for yooooouu...".

Friday, February 13, 2009

Silent light

Mike writes often about communication on his blog The 25 Year Plan. I've been mulling over his recent posts on my walks, pondering his ponderings about what it takes to write and how to communicate effectively - not just meaning, but feeling as well.

My walk last night was physically rough. Several days ago we had a heavy rain that fell on top of all the snow, followed by a couple of above freezing days, then last night the temperature dropped and everywhere the water formed a hard surface of rock hard ice. Walking on sheet ice along steep hills required crampons and a heavy stomp with every step.

At first I distracted myself with thoughts about communicating, then somewhere I simply went away. I came to know that the low clouds in the dark night weren't featureless, they had a texture of pearl light curling round grey black softness, that the trees were moving gently and the wind was whispering the slightest of sounds, that a bird in a softly sighing pine was adjusting his wings in his sleep. I walked in complete inner silence, regarding without remarking.

When finally I came back to the world of thought, I realized that being open to the messages that are everywhere is another aspect of communication. That being able to resonate with all that is going on around you, to become a part of the surroundings, is important to true understanding.

For me, this state of openness and communion is what I seem to be always seeking, whether talking with my son, or by myself in the wild, or even while making love - maybe especially while making love.

I find myself wondering - do the rest of you have similar needs for deep understanding and connection? I would truly appreciate any thoughts you might have to share on the topic, as well as any sorts of details you might share about how you satisfy those needs. Thanks!

Friday, February 06, 2009

A drift

Last night I walked in the late night under a shining half moon. My shadow was blue black against the blue white of the snow, and I paused often to watch the stars and the silhouettes of trees against the sky. I started a wish for delightful things to grace my days, and just as I uttered the first words, a shooting star swooshed across the sky for me to wish upon.

The weather has finally started to warm a little - it was within a few degrees of freezing, which is far warmer than it's been in a long time. There was the first hint of water in the wind, a welcome scent after months of arctic dryness.

Last weekend it was much, much colder. I decided to explore a park in a rural town in western Minnesota. I don't often hike near civilization, but this park sported a waterfall, and it was somewhere I'd never been before, and I was concerned about being too far out in the wild with the temperature so dire, so it appealed. I parked my car and started up a steep hill, and it was only after I was a long way above and away from my car that I realized I'd set off without snowshoes strapped to my pack.

I considered going back to my car, but then rationalized that the effort I'd expend getting my snowshoes would probably exceed the effort saved by having them, and so I resumed my trek. The trail crested the hill, then dropped a long ways down to a wonderful frozen waterfall. I was so jazzed by the beauty I decided I'd follow the trail up the far side and see if it looped back to my car. The trail again climbed for a while, then exited the woods to follow the edge of a cornfield. The trail started to descend, but the snow stayed level, having been pushed by the wind into a long, long drift. Pretty soon the drift was bellybutton level, with a heavy crust of ice just below waist level, making it impossible to push through.

I started breaking the crust with my fists, but soon I was exhausted and my hands were hurting, so I decided I'd try to get up on top of it. That took a lot of effort, and it didn't work. I struck on the notion of trying to spread my weight out and roll my way along, and so I very carefully slid myself onto the snow. I rolled one full time and gained a couple of feet of distance. It wasn't easy as I had to compress the loose snow on top of the crust, so I was always rolling up hill, but I managed another full turn, and just as I was twisting to get on my side for a third, the crust completely collapsed.

I sunk deep down into the snow. My trekking poles got tangled around and under me, the straps still twisted tightly around my wrists. For a few moments I giggled at the notion of me floundering around under the snow, but then I realized I couldn't get a purchase on anything to free myself. My feet were quite a bit higher than my head, so I tried arching and twisting and that only succeeded in burying my head deeper. I strained hard, hoping that something might pull free, and when I could feel my pole pressing against my ankle, I shifted a little and freed a hand.

I torqued and twisted my body, and was finally able to get the pole oriented so the tip was on the ground, and I used that point of solidity to lever the other pole free. With two poles, I was able to get myself up on my feet.

At that point I gave up on fighting the drift and turned around. Later, still hiking through the snow, I realized that throughout my ordeal I had always been within a short distance of all manner of homes. Something about the notion of freezing to death buried in a snowbank in the middle of a town struck me as hilarious, and I kept bursting into laughter all the way back to my car.

I think it's possible this winter is driving me mad :).