26 December 2015

Of Jerky and Bear Skin Coats: The Knowing

I've almost finished reading two Louis LAmour books in as many weeks (Dont hack on me, I've read two Hemingway, two Jane Austen, Two Charles Portis - among others - and am trying to hack through George Eliot's Silas Marner off and on). Then, last night, I watched the move The Revenant

All of my side imagination thoughts are filled with flying arrows, my fingers are cold, and I have the overwhelming urge to lay in an outrageous cache of jerky.  I also may or may not be shopping for a bear skin coat.  Where does a person go to find year end bear fur coats on sale?  

I dont know why the stories and movies of the west so thoroughly capture my imagination.  When I was only six weeks old, my parents rode with a man who packed them into the mountains on horseback for a camping trip.  I rode along.  This is not every six week old child's experience but I'm sure it was quite enjoyable for me.  I was swaddled tightly and rode in a sling tightly secured to Mom and rocked to sleep by the quiet, even sway of the horse's movements.  

During the trip, my parents both relate that they would lay me on my back and I would stare up at the treetops swaying in the gentle summer breeze, and the light filtering through the branches.  Well, it's not like I could play gin-rummy, y'all, but still I think some of that early imprinting must have stayed with me.  Laying there, with the breeze making it's quiet whoosh like the vacuum of air, seeing the rhythmic too and fro of the branches.  Well, I must have been the most relaxed child on earth!

I dont miss the mountains like I thought I would when I moved away.  I dont ache for their towing heights around me.  Yes, they are undoubtedly beautiful and I relish my time spent there, but here is something intoxicating about the openness of the sky stretching from end to end of reality above you that only wide open spaces can provide.  But when I find myself back in their , there is an immediate recognition.  A sense of rightness.  It's like I'm amongst friends again.  I look around and watch the light change.  I know you, I say to them.  And I think they know me.

Some days I feel like a wanderer.  In a painful exodus, I ripped my roots from the earth where they were planted and I moved a lifetime away.  I had never planned to stay away but life happens as it will.  Way leads upon way, as the poem goes.  If I were a tree, then it's like i fell into the river and it has carried me to the sea, and the sea to another shore, and then someone made me into a boat and I just keep on moving.  

Those stories and movies ground me, though.  I recognize a piece of myself in them.  Not the grubbing,  or the fighting amongst men or the never taking a bath parts.  It's not the activities of the characters but the recognition of something more ancient.  It's like the face of an ancestor.  Mother Nature is my homegirl.  The city will shine lights and try to distract you with its tinsel brightness but there is only one place of stillness and of knowing.  That's the piece of me that gets stirred by those stories.

The end.  Lets get some Jerky.