I've been reading The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, which was a gift from Mr. Wolfe in Oregon. The story begins in the roaring twenties and contrasts the chronicles of people obsessed by materialism and lust with those of a man who shuns such things in his search for fulfillment. It's been an interesting read as I gear up for some "loafing" of my own.
I recently got a chance to watch Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth and thought that it was very well done. I highly recommend it. The seriousness of Global Warming has been occluded by our greed and sloth for too long. We're reaching the end of another roaring era, and there will likely be a reckoning soon...
In this country, it seems as though coal and oil have entwined our lives like a noxious vine. I’ve certainly been on a puzzling plateau of consumption for some time. Nearing an edge, what’s next? I’ll take anything but complacency! Do you ever get those fits when, more than anything, you just want off this sinking ship? How good a swimmer are you, am I? Or maybe you’re a welder and can patch the hull...
The mountains are wild in the twilight tonight. The clouds rest their weary scud coats in the coves and expansive valleys below. Tonight, the spectrum of light comes clearly from far away. It travels though spaces unseen and alien atmospheres. The scud casts silhouettes before the ethereal rainbow horizon. It’s a landscape of infinite depth.
And oh, the sound: the descendent rivers and crackling creeks are roaring through their gorges tonight. They’re sending a thunderous war cry into the sky. The song is as old as the sky itself. The cold echoes reach my perch and I hear it as the soundtrack to the film of a storm breaking.
Also, I’m listening to brother Kurtz’s Bull City these days; I’m thoroughly enjoying (overplaying) Miles Davis’s fusion albums as well. Big Fun! We got out to see Yonder Mountain in Ashevegas Sunday night, great show. Uwharrie and I are enjoying the ice age:
My head’s been in the clouds, so I decide to go down to town. My ears pop. I can’t remember when my ears last popped. The pressure is different down here where the air is thicker, and what else? What else is different? With mind open, I continue down the road. And then the tractor beams grab me: bright headlights pushing from behind, pulling in front, and sucking me into the vortex of the busy city.
Joining Byron and Carl on a run through the darkened golf course at Furman University, we chat while comfortably floating for miles. We come upon the university track. Conversation touches on Alan Webb’s upcoming attempt to run a sub four-minute mile here in April. That will be a sight to behold, but I’ll probably have to miss it!
I should have known what was going to come next: nothing fancy, just a casual four laps around for a few recreational runners. Carl got us started with a six-minute pace. Inevitably, we revved the engines and came in at 5:40. As an out of shape aerobic athlete, it felt surprisingly good. I’m flashbacking to those traumatic high school ladder work-outs and thinking that I may have to start taking some speed again…
But as I tell most folks, I’ve got my hiking legs kicking these days. And hiking is what we’ve been doing at work. There’re lots of projects up here on the mountain: we’re finally finishing the Raven Cliff overlook and building a new bridge around the Jones Gap landslide. The pressure’s on to wrap up this unfinished business before departure. And I’m a tad nostalgic still, savoring the sore arms from crosscutting trail blow downs with fellow elbow-grease tycoons.
We’re cooking up soup and other goodies and checking green plastic for the latest on the new album…
I ran into a bamboo thicket to see how it would feel. How slow in this new jungle my progress became! It felt like a heartbroken quagmire winter, it felt like yesterday! But today, the sun shone and the Earth received her heat. It felt like spring! And my soul thawed!
The sun entered freely into me. The light erased shadows, everything came to view. I gawked at a funk abyss that was swallowing me on the inside. But that was only a part of the whole experience.
The rest is simply this: I felt the life of spring hinting at infinite cheer, and it made me smile peacefully and patiently for what lay on the horizon.
The night’s bound to be long; the mountain winds are howling. The wild earth’s breathing on this speck of a man. He defiantly sits inside his silly nylon shelter, which is not long for this world. And he is naked and content under his various shells of fabrics, feathers and smoke. Meanwhile, outside in the maelstrom, a little chickadee sleeps soundly in a spruce tree. Life is funny like that.
This week felt like true winter. The snow on Thursday was a tasty b-day treat. So too were the well-wishes of friends and family. Thank you!
Uwharrie likes the snow and she especially likes to munch icicles...
The pipes froze in the house but were thawed in due time...
The Black Mountains are a favorite shake-down, reality-check winter camping destination, and this weekend did not disappoint.
On Maple Camp Bald, we sustained tarp-shredding winds all night. Miraculously, the oatmeal porter did not freeze. The beer and delicious pretzels kept morale high as we felt ourselves disintegrate. The tarp remained a toasty 20 degrees on the inside even after collapse.
A full-blown snow storm greeted us as we climbed above 6000 feet.
It was quite cold, but beautiful within the shelter of the snow-laden spruce.