Won’t be long now before autumn leaves begin to make their appearance, kind of a special time of the year.
This is a comment I made a while ago in another blog linked below, the elder spoken of has passed on and sometimes my thoughts turn to her as they are now.
Time doesn’t always seem to allow a person to age gracefully, the weight of it stooping shoulders, slowing the gait, sometimes obscuring vision, a body racked with pain, and yet a perceivable dignity can come with age depending on the individual, wisdom based on experience and perception that sees beyond the surface, beyond the bling, and quite bluntly beyond the bs.
Such was the case of this woman, ravaged in body by age by not in a spirit that remained forever young, and that was the way I saw her – stooped, great haired, but young at heart.
She cried when I took her home after the shopping trip mentioned below, cried clutching the flowers I had given her and held my hand for the longest time calling me her son – and at times would tease me about taking her on “the banana split date”.
You don’t forget moments like that and when the memory comes they bring a certain melancholy with them and thoughts of what more could I have done that I didn’t?
A melancholy enhanced by an awareness that her’s wasn’t a singular story, that others in similar situations exist, always have and undoubtedly always will.
The weight of age and the indifference of many who flee from the idea, the reality that age and the infirmities that often accompany it will come for them as well, and perhaps now before age arrives is the time to pay it forward:
“I remember a time when I took an elder to the store, aged and
stooped from the years, had to be assisted in and out of the
truck and held my arm as we shopped.
There was an article she wanted on a shelf but couldn’t reach,
and looking a little saddened by that reality said then was a time
when she could have and asked if I would get it for her.
On an impulse I put my arm around her waist and gently lifted her
so she could and she lit up like a ray a of sunshine, then hugged me
and hiding her face in what I assume was embarrassment at her words
said it felt good to be held by a man, that it had been years and she
had almost forgotten.
Broke my heart.
As is the way of some stores they had a display of flowers, small bouquets
to purchase, so I picked one out and gave it to her – she said no
one had ever given her flowers before and I responded someone should have but the world is full of fools and then took her for a banana split.
Her words haunted me for a while and still do to a degree in recalling
them – we don’t live in a perfect world and never will, but sometimes
the inequities and needs of others are all too glaring.”
Goats and children, now there’s a pair to draw to – you’re never quite sure what they’re thinking or what they’re up to.
And both will eat just about anything they come across.
With children you’re aware of their origin but with goats I’m not so sure and tend to suspect they aren’t indigenous to this planet.
You’ve seen that weird wall eyed look goats walk around with, do you really believe that’s just a natural artifact, or is there something more going on ?
Here’s something else that’s a little difficult to wrap your mind around in the form of a question – how many hooved animals can you name with the ability to climb a tree? See what I mean?
Giraffes can’t, cows can’t, pigs can’t, nor can deer or elk.
Give goats a prehensile tail, opposable thumbs and there would be no stopping them – planet of the apes?….huh uh, planet of the goats.
Are you willing to brush off the fact that they’ve frightened children for generations – so much so at least one foundation has been created to address such issues?
No, there’s something strange in the neighborhood, and for all we know goats were among those “fraudulent voters” Trump is fixated on – sounds like something they’d do.
Granted they’re a natural lawn mower and weed whacker, a source of milk and cheese, even meat, but still stories, urban legends, and personal experiences abound…… a few grandfather and I could personally relate.
I didn’t take the first photo, only the second one.
In an exchange of comments I mentioned a cave and it set to me thinking of my spelunking days – I was a spelunker long before I had heard the word or knew what it meant.
Caves held a fascination for me as a child and it didn’t make any difference if it were an ice cave or one of stone.
Got into a couple of tight spots but never entertained claustrophobia and always was able to wiggle my out.
At times I would find what I interpreted to be signs of human habitation, other times animal habitation and always trusted the hounds to sense any danger that might approach.
On one occasion I found a small curved piece of bone with unmistakable symbols carved into it I took to be part of bracelet.
When I proudly showed my mother and grandmother grandmother said she didn’t recognize any of the symbols and it could be something more than a bracelet or ornamentation and suggested I should return it.
Grandmother accompanied me when I did and marveled that I had even found the cave as it’s opening was small and obscured from view.
I explained I had just been scrambling around, stumbled upon it and decided to investigate – I returned my find where I had found it and grandmother sang a song and burned some sage explaining to any spirit that might be present that I was a child and meant no disrespect.
I’ve used the word admonish before but that wasn’t grandmother way – she would talk about something offering an opinion and ask what mine was, when a decision was reached the feeling was it was joint one or even my own – and so it was I never mentioned this cave or it’s location to anyone.
Years later and on my own I had been backpacking around visiting various ruins and sites in the Four Corners area – one day while hiking through some hills I came across an area where a person or persons had sat making arrowheads – there were flakes and even a couple of intact arrowheads along with the stone implements to make them.
A little farther on I found pot shards everywhere and small mounds rising from the ground.
It was late afternoon so I decided to make camp on what turned out to a something of a mystical night with a full moon.
As night settled in I lay on my back and fell asleep watching the moon make it’s way across the sky – a peaceful silent night save for the songs of coyotes.
I awoke in the morning to the sound of birds announcing the arrival of the sun, as I sat up I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and turning to look saw a young doe who bedded down a short distance from me who showed no fear as we looked at each other.
I don’t believe I ‘ve ever seen eyes with a greater depth or sensed a greater innocence.
I had thought to make coffee and have a biscuit when I awoke but somehow felt it would be out of place – so I emptied a bag of shelled walnuts I had in a pile for her, collected my gear and returned the way I had came.
I don’t know if all women are capable of this look, this doe eyes, but those who are when they look at you in this way it lends itself to a sense of well being, a feeling that all is well in the world and envelops you like a blanket, that perhaps innocence lost can be regained.
The time may come when vision fades and things become a little difficult to make out , hopefully should that day arrive the gift of doe eyes will not be obscured.
Seeing a child stand on the banks of a river with a fishing pole in hand and an eager look on their face is not only a feel good moment but an evocative one as well that conjures memories of other times and other rivers.
When I was about six grandmother and I decided it was a perfect day for fishing and headed to the river, me carrying poles and grandmother with cornbread and jerky wrapped in the remnants of a sheet, and as a special treat coffee laced with honey in an old fruit jar – water wasn’t an issue if we became thirsty because we would drink from the river.
It wasn’t that far of a walk and grandmother shortened the distance with stories of rivers and water spirits – upon arrival we spent a few moments surveying and deciding what spots held the most promise.
Things began slowly but the thing about rivers is success often becomes secondary to the tranquility and sense of well being they impart – the movement and associated sounds.
As I sit in a semi reclining position using one of the hounds as a sort of back rest I felt a nibble on my line, then another, and finally a strong hit that I jerked my pole in unison with to set the hook.
Excitedly I jumped to my feet and began what in a child’s mind was an epic battle, this was more than a mere fish, had of I’ve known about Moby Dick then I probably would have believed he was on the other end of line.
Grandmother was laughing and offering words of encouragement, after what seemed like an eternity I prevailed and was stunned to see I had hooked two fish on the same hook, something in retrospect I think of as a near impossibility.
Grandmother told me she had never heard of such a thing and surely this must be a gift from the spirit who dwelled in the river suggesting it would be appropriate to express my gratitude and possibly offer something in return.
As a six year old my worldly possessions were scant, aggravated by the poverty that was our constant companion, nonetheless I began to root around in my pockets, a search that produced a couple of small stones that had caught my attention, a piece of an arrowhead I had found and old brass Calvary button I had stumbled across a week or two earlier.
Weighing their significance and comparative value I decided due to it being the only one I had ever seen the Calvary button would be appropriate and asked grandmother for her opinion.
She replied that it was a thing between me and the river, my decision and should come with the best of intent.
I was going to throw it in the river but for some reason thought better and made a small totem of stones placing it on the top.
We continued fishing for a time with me surreptitiously glancing at my offering to see if it was still there or had found favor – having caught enough for the days supper and the next day as well we gathered up and began the journey home.
As I child I suppose I expected a spirit to rise from the river and accept my gift before my very eyes and asked grandmother related questions, she assured me all was well and not to worry about it.
The first thing on my mind the next morning was the river and my offering, I suspect grandmother being well versed in the ways of children expected such would be the case and when I mentioned maybe we should go fishing again she just smiled and said she was thinking the same thing, so off we went.
On the way there grandmother couldn’t help but tease me a little saying maybe we should try a different spot knowing full well what my intentions were.
Upon arrival I dropped everything and ran to see if the button was still there or gone, to my complete joy it was no longer where I had placed it.
I looked around a little to see if it had fallen off but saw no evidence of that- now as adult or had I been older I might have thought a coon or otter had came upon it, found it attractive, and carried it off – but I wasn’t, and didn’t.
We remained for an hour or so before deciding we had enough fish to meet our needs and returned home where I excitedly related events to my mother.
A few days passed and while the river and the button remained fresh in my memory other pursuits were occupying my thoughts.
On about the fourth or fifth day I awoke early and went outside to greet the day and the hounds to discover a thumbnail size gold nugget and that very button in a corner of the porch I favored to sit on.
My eyes must have popped out of my head like a cartoon character and I didn’t know what to make of it so I ran back in the house to rouse grandmother to come and take a look, which she did.
As was grandmother’s way she studied these things for a few moments making no comment, then she said it was a medicine sign and began singing a medicine song.
Even at that age I understood gold had a value and after gathering up both I turned to my mother who had joined us having heard grandmother’s song and offered the nugget to her saying maybe she could trade it for something we needed.
Grandmother intervened though my mother had made no effort to accept and said it was medicine meant for me and should not be touched by others then set about making a small pouch to hold it and wear around my neck.
To this day I have that pouch whose contents have grown and and no one else has touched them.
I’ve talked to grandmother about it a few times as the years have passed and said some would suggest a “rational mind” would offer multiple possibilities, among them that she or another had placed them on the porch or through some seemingly implausible series of events they were carried there randomly by the hounds, a non existent wind had somehow delivered them to the spot where they lay, or possibly I had sleep walked and done the deed myself.
Her response was how would I react to this “rational” thinking and I said I would reject it – she then said where does your brother the otter live and I said in the river to which she nodded her head and replied since it was the otter who lifted you back to me when you were sick do you think it strange that the river would send an otter to carry these things to you?
That’s grandmother’s way, she’s not into a lot of rumination and what ifs, she breaks things down to their simplest form and goes from there.
What do I think? I believe as grandmother does that an otter acted as an emissary, if that sounds implausible to others I’m alright with that as I consider any other explanation implausible in view of all things related and remain convinced that the farther people are removed from the land and the natural world their connection to both incrementally diminishes.
As a child we didn’t merely live on the land we were a part of it, we lived and breathed in unison with the movements of the land and those inhabitants that surrounded us whether they were of our kind or the four leggeds, winged ones, and that whose who crawl.
There were signs to be read all around us that spoke of impending rain or snow, whether a bad wind would blow or the health of herds we depended on for sustenance.
We were acutely aware of when birds would arrive and when they would depart, where and when they built their nest, where honey could be found and the best way to attract bees, or when fish would spawn.
In relating these events I don’t mean to imply they are singular in nature as many among the nations and elsewhere have experienced the “implausible”.