Saturday, May 08, 2010

a year ago today was the derecho, and folks are still talking about it, though some including one of my close friends mispronounce it as "dereko" or some other such thing. derecho is spanish for "right" but also is used to mean "straight" as in "straight-wind hurricane", but nobody ever explained to me how "right" and "straight" could be the same word, and it's still unclear to me if maybe my friend is right, and it's not really a spanish word at all but some turkish or greek word that wandered in with the strange weather. nevertheless it is beautiful this year; as nervous as people have been, every time the wind comes up and the lightning comes through, it's maintained its gorgeous sense of day-after-day, blue sky, fresh-air gorgeousness.

the wife and kids are about to go off to a party in a nearby town, thus leaving me with a house, a garden, and a way-full garage all in bad need of attention. as usual for saturday i'm a little exhausted from the week; the garage is overwhelming and there's almost no chance i could even put a dent in it. instead my mind wanders both to haiku and to the world of music; i played a folk coffee-house last night and i kind of relive it, good and bad, now that it's morning. in haiku i'm making steady progress on a major tome that now includes so much of my travel experiences that it practically reads like a novel; yet within each state you have to go through four seasons and the new year before you even get out of the state. some states have a measly offering; these are states like delaware and south carolina, in that i might have gone through them at night, and had very little real experience with them, and thus don't know what to write about without doing some research. so now i even do research, and slowly learn a little about the culture of states that i knew very little about before. haiku also forces you to be more attentive to the wild plants and animals, the seasonal things, and i'm slower to learn these things, but it's coming; i've got a bit of an education to get in terms of the names of these wild plants and trees and birds, that i've seen almost everywhere i've gone. yet it's the places, like north carolina, that i went as a kid, or that i practically flew through when i was hitchhiking, that i need the most education in.

so i find myself, when i'm onstage, or when i'm listening to a folk performer, or when i'm standing around watching my students taking a test, and i'm thinking how to put this kind of experience into short seventeen-syllable verse, that has both a wild place-name and a season-marker, and conveys some of the one-moment-at-a-time sense i'd get when i was traveling. it's a kind of obsession. i'm at home, have a couple of minutes, tons of things to do, yet what i want to do is drag out the map, get out on the outer banks and see pictures of wild storms and tourist webpages touting ocracoke island and the legends of blackbeard. it's kind of like traveling, in my mind, and allows me escape from what otherwise would seem overwhelming piles of laundry, dishes, garage-junk, overgrowing weeds, etc.

the performance itself was good; i'm a better fiddler, and the visiting folk musician who i played with was a local guy who everyone knew and liked from over ten or twelve years ago when he still lived here. in fact his son is still here; about to graduate with my son; a musician also; and, it gave me a look into what things might have been like had i chosen to truly go the musician route, be independent, make my own way, don't live in the protective bubble of state services, just live on making cd's and promoting myself. it was instructional; profound; the upshot of it was, i was driven deep into north carolina, in my mind, to escape thinking about all of what i saw.

saw the first of three graduations on friday, this one of a preschooler who is off to kindergarten in the fall, and who, with seven of his closest friends, who he has played with virtually full-time for years, stood up there, with cap and gown, practiced walking down steps with a cap dangling on their heads, and accepted flowers and a "diploma" gracefully and with batman shirt clearly showing from beneath the gown. at first i thought, they've carried this ceremony thing a bit too far, graduating preschoolers, as well as eighth-graders, fifth-graders, and everyone else; it's not like these kids actually earned a degree. as i watched i was thinking more of the older two, one graduating high school and one graduating college, who are really moving into the abyss of adulthood and really beyond the stage where i can protect them, control them, guide them, etc.; yet, i'm lucky, really, that all of them have made it to where they are, without the tragedy that seems to lurk around the corner of so many near-adult people. and then, one of the workers got up and started crying, telling about how she changed the diapers of these very same children. Mine made a huge face on the spot and went "yuck!" as they all have clearly moved into the stage where it's perfectly normal to talk about, and make fun of, all bodily activities and such things, which make them giggle and squeal, and prove that now most of them are thoroughly five.

with two more graduations to go, and a visit to a granddaughter on the horizon, i thought it might be time to review and revise, revisit dreams that have never quite died. i hang onto my dreams, even ones such as going to africa or scandinavia, that are looking less likely as the years sail by; it may be that these will never come to fruition, yet it also seems that something will die inside me if i ever do give them up entirely, so it's better to hang onto them, cherish them, perhaps pass them along to the younger ones who can be angry at my inability, or ineptitude, pick up the ball, and simply bring them to life. one, of course, is to be a musician, and i've done this ok; sure, i just stood there, didn't say much, didn't truly bask in the stage light, but i did play, in tune, got my song in there, and did a good job of supporting my partners on stage. second, is being a novelist, which is of course entirely dormant, since i gave up a small project again, sometime in january, perhaps the third of fourth time i've tried....pitiful. there are some minor ones, besides the mundane, such as cleaning out the garage, getting bicycles in working order, and getting a lush and productive garden. how about planting mulberry trees? how about the pursuit of the midwestern wild pear, or the simmon tree? how about organizing genealogical information; this one is important, because i have an important post in the road, there was a lot going on with my ancestors, and much of it is crumpling up in old files in my office, waiting for someone to make sense of it. how about rebuilding what i had on the web, so that these blogs can lead somewhere, so that i have a place to show off what i do and who i am? all this stuff is coming, i promise. i've found this a good place to crystallize these dreams, roll them around on my finger tips, put them in words, because, even though some dreams are never to be fulfilled, a dream never even put into words in the first place, is in far worse shape than the one that's simply waiting for someone to pick it up. it's getting far easier to travel the world; far easier to communicate across the miles, and i have less and less excuse to get anything done, if i really want to get it done. time to get off the computer, and get started; it's a beautiful day. a year ago, the town was a wreck; trees fallen, no power, a devastated campus on graduation day; today, it's crystal clear, a garden, waiting for tending, care, and human decision as to which trees should live and prosper.

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