Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I love to eat : hate to digest.

Nah, wait a second, let me amend that: I love to eat and I would also love to digest. I woo intestinal affections with gastronomical gifts, offering what most would surely delight in...would most would say yes, please! to. But they don't acquiesce. My insides. They don't even explain their disgruntlement; like women who play games, saying everything's ok....and then mutter, accuse, cold-shoulder, and expect you to know what you've done wrong. For the record: I am not one of those women.

But as a culture, don't we all exist within this paradox? -- loving to eat (please, do not equate eat with dine), while digestionally disarrayed (little wonder, considering the bread we break). Now consider: this estrangement relates not only to our intestines but also our intellects. We take. We eat. But, we don't digest enough of it to give anything back. We don't digest enough to even make good shit -- good rebuttals, arguments, conversation. It's worse than that....worse than shit. It's stuck.

Crass? Yes. But true: a good shit is satisfying. It's the completion of meals and eating and digestion and absorption; and finally, after rumination's rounds, expulsion of waste. Intellectually too, we need to digest. Sometimes, hard things. Some things will hurt a little going down. Some will hurt a lot. Some may give our thoughts gas. And some will anger to the point of needing ventilation.

When I was a kid, sifting through scat was like a microcosmic archeological dig (Ok, yeah, disregard the when I was a kid thing...I still do this). What was eaten? (Mouse skeleton in fox scat...good meal!) In what season? (Fresh berry seeds in the mix?) More importantly though -- what was digested? You can tell how healthy a human or animal is by looking at what they leave behind. What goes in, must come out. You know what to expect. You know what it is. You know where it came from. There is no question.....no confusion.......it's shit.

Yet -- regarding the mindless consumption of bowels and brains alike, it doesn't matter which hole it goes into, or comes out of -- it's constipating.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farm Ponds, Horse Shit & Other Memories of the Midwest

"Kind of reminds ya of home, doesn't it..." he said, casting me a smile over his shoulder as he turned back to his line. It tightened with the tell of a bite. His smile grew bigger. Smell that...and he held out the taddle-tale line's catch. I took a drag of the farm pond water infused bass. Turns out, that humid color of green algae is my hallucinogen for home. Lids closed, I devolved 15 years. Briefly taking my eyes off rod and line, I hoped my fishing partner wasn't looking my way right then and didn't notice my inattentional daydreaming. He probably did though...he seems to like looking at me. A lot. In that blink, bottom layered memories stratified, much like this pond would soon do -- turning over...


There was an old brick well house on the farm where I grew up. It had an electric pump that stayed warm in the winter, and every now and again when you'd creak in through the wood door held shut by bailing wire, there would be a large bull snake wrapped around the motor. In the winter months, I tried my hardest to make sure "watering horses" landed on my sister's chore list. But the summer months? Now that was a different story. Armed with steel-wire brushes, the mission was to reclaim the stock-tank-swimming-pool; pushing the line, determinedly beating back the blooming algae. Icy water pulsed rhythmically out of the white PVC tube drain as my sister and I laid back victoriously, basking in the territory won as our farmer-tanned arms hung cockily over the galvanized edge. Ahh...

...and then there was the smell of the creek. Indian Creek. We slid down its banks -- over, and over, and over again, my sister and I -- stripping ourselves and also its brome covered banks. My mother dreaded our muddy maraud home. These things, these memories, are an inheritance. Juxtaposed to material heirlooms, they are the wonder within the wardrobe. The receivers of such magic, such worlds, are the ones who leave....the explorers, the adventurers, the ones who don't want to settle down, the ones who aren't content with being read a description -- they want to write it. They are the storytellers, the ones who are curious --what is out the front door -- even though they know that crossing the step of stability is a dangerous business. They are the ones who name a foreign peninsula New Amsterdam, a settlement in Nebraska Gothenburg, and their wanderings across that threshold is why we have myriad Yorks, Cambridges, and Hamburgs. They found familiarity in the foreign. And though thresholds, rivers, ranges, and countries are crossed, home is never lost. It is always carried with...

...found in a line of trees, a donut pond, and the feeling I get driving home on cow pasture lined highways. These things I seek. They infected me early, and I am a lifelong carrier. Consciously or sub.....I will leave that to you, reader, to decide. But wherever I go, I recreate bits of home. I find it. It is why I have a clock above my kitchen sink, why I sing old Baptist hymns when no one is around, why I don't hang curtains on my windows, why I kick piles of horse shit to "freshen" the air, and why I love being above treeline...

...I crave Midwest horizons. Ironically, now I live in a canyon. But we adventurous ones, we always find home. And, in the most curious of places -- there are always reminders. Even, in a canyon compassed view. And even, in the smell of a farm pond...

The Dichotomous Drift.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Or to paraphrase, you can lead a woman to water, but you can't make her drift. So I am told. But I did. I did drift.

And I am.......

.......drifting.

I like the term, the language of it all...drift...the perfect drift. I love this world of flies and fish, and eddies and rivers, where drifting is something to be aspired to. And is also one of the hardest things to do. When, in so many other areas of life drifting is aimless, without standard or goal. A man once told me "keep on keepin' on." He also told me "If you create a goal and acheive it, you set the bar too low." He drifts beautifully, that man, with purpose in line. I watch. I learn. I know that I will never achieve this goal, to perfectly drift. My standard is high, after having watched...
...and the waters, they will always change.

Nevertheless, I aim to do this too...
.......to drift.

Yet, I am not of a drifting nature. It is difficult for me. I don't flow with the current. Usually, I am struggling against it. But in this new world...where drifting is purposeful and where following the current is hard?

Yes....... 
.......I will drift that way.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Infantilization.

I felt stuck in my driver's side seat. I sat, holding hands with my coffee cup, soberingly awakened to the stakes of history, and my share in it. Horrible stories of humanity voiced themselves through wavering British chords. We are merely players and do not get to pick our stage -- but, this play...it is unscripted...we chose our lines, and we can pencil in which little white-taped "X" we will walk to; and standing upon it, what words we'll say. A man's voice hemmed me into the blue fabric seat. I couldn't see him. I couldn't move. And it wasn't because of the old 2-point buckles my car has. You know, the kind that strangle you? Especially when you're short (like me). While this strangulation happens more frequently than I'd like to admit, this time, the belt wasn't at fault -- nor was my height. My ears anchored my body -- stay...listen...
The radio fuzzed on frequency fumes, lost in labyrinth fields. But the man's voice went on...

"Western civilization is a civilization determined to outlaw tragedy. If removed, the interpretation of tragedy and the presentation of tragedy promise shaman, who's sitting by the bonfire, you're telling the tribe nothing of real life. And it doesn't prepare us as adults. It's infantilizes us and it dodges an enormous responsibility.And all great mythology that we love and respect has included loss and tragedy, as well as great moments of salvation. It's braided in."
And my outlaw thoughts moved in...
...making room for sadness...for tragedy. As a culture, we like to lock them out though. Slam the door in their face before they can get a downer of a word in edgewise. Stick your head in the proverbial sand and everything is ok. If you don't see it, it isn't happening. We don't let ourselves sink into our thought troughs full of dirt. Sometimes, allowing the dirt to bury us...even, alive. No -- no, we must always be clean. Presentable. With it. Together. Dr. Jekyll's highs are never allowed to be Hyde's lows. Attach a disorder and medicate. That, is how we deal...
...we "moderns."
The diagnosis used to be one's "constitution," for everyone who makes up this world is made up differently. And the medication? Creativity -- music, painting, writing....the arts...they doctored, healed, restored, and grew acceptance of ourselves...
Stop.
Is it silent?
Now, think...
...about the great works of literature, the paintings, and the symphonies, which would have been lost to modern medicine. Medicated away...medicated away along with genius. Tragedy. It is the foundation of all good art, all good stories, and all true beauty. It is the shaman's divination between generations. It is the storyteller's meat and potatoes...they get to add the spice.

Last night, I listened to a story...read aloud. Darkness rose cloudy on a worried world...the wind raged obscenities, blowing in a wildfire's smoke from miles away. The storyteller brought a plate of food to the table. We shared, hunching over the frittata like two coyotes over a carcass. He took off his boots. And his hat. Leaning back, voice warmly whetted with wine, he began to speak -- of love and loss, of a river's question wondering in its wandering why, and a girl with a four-letter-E-name. Just like mine. His hands waved emphasis into the air and he conjured different voices, it was like he had a magic tracheal chameleon. I felt like a kid again and wanted to ask, "Just one more chapter...please"?!

But, I am in my own chapter -- my own story -- the sentences, words, and punctuation within it. I have been placed on this stage. I have played many parts. I am writing my script. And these stories, if they are worth writing, reading, and telling, somewhere along the line they bear the scars of loss...pain...and tragedy...the language of real life

Infancy, after all, should be outgrown…



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Out the door & into the night...

...I walk, dark and damp. But the world is dry. Frozen again after an early spring day's sun, light spritzed onto the world like water from the spray bottle my dad always kept by the kitchen table to reprimand barn cats from tearing pleads of "we want in too, please" into the screen door. It was a shock, that water...as is the spring sun. I feel like a mole, eyes squinting, skin pale, covered with a layer of dirt...

...streaking into mud with duct drops of precipitation.

Headlamp remains off. The batteries are almost dead anyways. I like the darkness, and am comforted by it enveloping me into something I can feel but cannot see. The night holds all unknowns -- all answers. I question it, sobbing interrogations into the still air. Why do I love food, when my gut doesn't. Why am I burned with punishment for only trying to feed myself? What crime have I committed? Is it not a crime against mine to not...feed myself? Oh yes, I have done time for that one. Perhaps I still am. Perhaps my sentence is for life. Why is the physical pain in my gut always, always there?

Silence...

No one is there. No one is listening.

No one answers.

Yet, I have a few more questions for the darkness -- for the silence -- why do I still yell out to the God I hate to believe in. Why do I see a Name in the darkness?

Why...

But...Banjo. He hears. He answers -- stop sniffling and keep on walking.

And that is what the darkness tells me to do too -- keep on walking.

Walking, through mysteries...through contradictions...through this life's duplicity, as she double deals her hand and looks over her shoulder with a coquette's wink. She wants me to follow her. But I don't. At least, not blindly. I doubt and question; give and then take back my soul; cry and swear and damn everything in sight to hell. Which thankfully, isn't much given the surrounding blackness. And really, as if I had the power to truly damn anything or anyone's eternal state anyway.

This isn't about food. But, it is. This isn't about God. But, it is. This is human, these contradictions (or at least that is what I tell myself, and what my conscience takes consolation in.) -- these tensions that tease humanity, and have for millennia. They bully, on this ground they see as play. And I feel like a monkey swinging from bars. Will my next grip hold?

I take a step. I follow. I follow this dark gravel road...the tall ditch-grass shadows, shades darker, harness my attention forward.

Halt.

More precipitation -- but, the mud slowly clears into a confused calm.

Keep on walking...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Fishing Un-Partner.

They say that you learn something new every day. Today, I did. Today, I learned that one should never take one's Banjo fishing. The canine kind of Banjo, that is.

Out of sight is not out of mind. Seemingly, I was the only thing he could think about; even, when I was in sight. I made him comfortable, gave him salmon snacks (and who doesn't like salmon snacks!), told him I loved him, and, while holding his head in my hands, guided his gaze, assuring that I would be --- right -- over -- there --------> see....?

No. No, in fact, he did not see. He did not understand why he was tied to a tree. Or, why I was holding a long pointy object in my hand and why on earth was I so close to the water? He seemed worried, his ears cocked sideways, "that looks dangerous." He barked me back into view.

He is needy, that dog.

Of Yogurt, Breasts & Bluegill.

I parked and sat in my driver's side seat, eating yogurt, Australian yogurt. I wondered: just what made this Australian, exacly? It was made in Boulder, Colorado, this Noosa Yogurt, but it did have an Aussie name. And, a unique taste - piquant....almost like cream cheese (My particular carton was cream cheesy with strawberries and rhubarb). I pondered these deep, life changing questions (deciding that, it didn't matter where this yogurt was made, or what made it Australian. It was deliciously divine) as I looked out the windshield onto a series of ponds. I was here to practice. " No," my memory reprimanded, "you are here to fish."

That is right. I was there to fish.

This, my first solo adventure...rod in hand. I didn't have the guide I had become quite fond of. But, I did. His figure outlined my thoughts and I replayed his words, over and over and over again. Which pond. How to read the water. How to unstick my snags. How to tie a fly on. How to cast. Which, was what I was there for -- to 'fish' for my cast...

...finding, with each throw of the line, his figure, silhouetted against the morning sun. The power in his arms, the grace in the way he feeds the line, the way this man's body looks complete when he casts. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

It was early on an early spring Saturday. The relative emptiness was a relief, as I was very aware of my need to 'fish' and I was also suddenly very aware of my breasts. Yes, you read that right --my breasts. I felt as though they had grown exponentially within the few minutes since entering the parking lot.

Someone obviously forgot to push the "will like girl things" button in my brain. This is nothing new. Showing cattle, judging livestock, studying guitar...I am used to being the only female in show rings, pig pens, and concert stages. It has never bothered me, being the lone girl. I'm always alone in a gaggle of girls anyway.

And now, I willingly enter into yet another male dominated world: fly fishing. And I know what I must do. I must fish. I will not be a tag-along. I will not be humored. I will not be "good for a girl." I must be good...by man standards. In showing cattle, in livestock judging, and in studying classical guitar --- to be taken seriously, I had to be as good or better than the men. And I was.

And, I will be...

...after much more fishing.

"You catching anything?" asked a short man sporting a dark mustache. He held a bait rod in his left hand, dangling a lure like an overly made-up woman's overly large earring. "Yep! 5 so far. Small bluegill." "Huh," he said quietly, "I ain't caught nothin'," -- and he walked on. I was asked this, "You catching anything?," many more times, and each time came the reply -- "huh."

"You should try a Woolly Bugger," said a boy's voice behind me, high as a Vienna choir boy's. I wanted to say, "Yeah? Well how do you know that that isn't what I have on?" But, I didn't. "Yeah, sure will...thanks!" is what came out of my mouth instead. Now, I'll admit, I had no idea what fly I had on (turns out, I did have a Woolly Bugger tied on! Take that, little choir boy). I had been switching flies out left and right, willy-nilly, just for the fun of it; and, because I liked seeing how each one moved differently in the clear watered shallows as I pulled line in.

The boy's dad asked what I was doing out here, so early in the season; and, wanted to know if I had seen any bass. Well, I was catching things, wasn't I? And no, I hadn't seen any bass. That seemed to be enough for them. Leave the crazy woman alone.

And, as the boy and his dad were walking away, my ears caught..."Dad, that was a girl fishing."

Huh...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pot Roasts & Dog Hair Flies


Sitting in a pot-roasting house, can make people do crazy things. If I am to be home for the day, or even just the afternoon, I avoid turning that little gray knob to "warm" on the crock -- as if it contains a plague of locusts liable to swarm from that small steam hole on the top, olfactorally overwhelmed until I am nothing but a pile of sniveled senses begging with psychotic hunger upon my kitchen's wood floor. My kitchen's dirty wood floor. Which, makes it all the worse, those bits of "dirt" a.k.a. food, all around, on the ground -- the carrot tops, celery feathers, and potato peels which escaped hours in purgatorial heat. But, they can't duck my glance.

I see you...

There, now you understand this hunger psychosis. I just admitted to talking to bits of vegetable waste composting on my kitchen floor. Honestly though, I have a very strange relationship -- errr, sickness -- regarding crock-pots. Diagnosis: a chronically stimulated nose.




I'm also, chronically, an off the hips kind of girl; and, small hips though they may be, they manage to swing a lot of spontaneity. That day's plan was to avoid the self-inflicted torment cooking on the counter. But, snowshoeing feet got cold. Fingers neared frostbite. My dog Banjo started tearing at ice balls between his toes as though he were a coyote over a carcass. And, crock-pot-roasting or no, ready or not, we all came home...

...to a house full, of mouths now watering.

You know this feeling...yes, you do. Of, being driven a tad crazy having food so close and yet so far away. It must be very nearly the desperation stock feel when their hay is kept just out of reach. As if the farmer measured neck-reach-index, found the wanting 1/2 inch, and put the blue tarp covered alfalfa round-bale just --- right ----> there. I've always thought this to be a mean practice, however pragmatic it might be.

One of the tribe of Mouths Now Watering, was trying to be pragmatic. To work. To get things done, while dinner desire roasted away au jus. But the lone man's work was so interesting, so new, so foreign -- so far away from cornfields -- that the three women Blocked him in. What was he pulling out of that green bag? "Crafting supplies?" the matriarch teased. It was her prerogative, of course, to tease this new man.

And then, Banjo played his note in the wrong measure, entering the kitchen when he did. The sound of a scape, goated the tease on. "Ever tied a fly with dog hair?" That there, is a crazy idea stimulated by a crazy-good-smelling roast.

Run, my boy...run! But Banjo played on to the composed tune of tying, as my mother and I finger picked his coat over. Repeatedly.

The man grew serious, deep in design; yet he managed to sneak smiles -- threading, tying, dubbing...creatively tying with a coat. As a true artist, a master of his chosen instrument: the vise.




Inside the light grew brighter, as nature's dimmer switch softly set the evening's mood -- like hands did the table. The torment of noses and dog finally whipped to a finish, a very delicious finish. Yet, crazy things aren't ever really completely finished now are they? Nope.....there's always another roast...

The food was divine, the company and conversation comfortable, the laughs plenty, the dog happy with his fat-trimming coat donation compensation, and The Fly? Incredible.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My gas range lit...

...late, this evening. My mother would say "fashionably late," and in some way, this makes me feel better as I plop two poached eggs onto the polenta and rainbow chard bed I've made, specially for them.

The clock above the kitchen sink reads 8:03. Yes, I'm just that fashionable!

But, Banjo needed a walk. I had promised him as I left the house that morning, shutting the door on his expectant face, and I couldn't go back on my word. Not now -- he'd been looking forward to it all day. "It's just a dog" you say? Yes.....but I think animals understand far more than we give them credit. I had promised. He knew it. He knew what he had been promised. And honestly, what is lower than breaking a promise to a creature who can't even yell back at you? He couldn't tell me that I am a lazy-assed liar, or voice his disappointment. He would have to just put up with my petting around the promised issue.

Recently, I have made an interesting observation. About Banjo. If he doesn't get a walk, I get a cold shoulder all evening; and, he doesn't come to bed -- he sleeps on the couch. This sounds eerily like some dysfunctional marriage, doesn't it? I know...I know...but, no Freudian analysis.......please!

Now I'll admit --- tonight, I wanted him to come to bed. So I walked him....scratched his back...threw him a bone...

...and as a result, threw together my dinner late.


I opened the cupboard door to grab a bowl, and ran into a spider. A smile shadowed over my face. An uncommon reaction to finding a spider in one's cupboard, I know. But, I've been smiling all week at the spider holding post in my shower -- and thrown grins to the fly reviving himself on my windowsill. I know what these things mean -- bugs mean spring!

I snuck my hand around the stacks of plates and glasses that the spider was webbed into. I was too thankful for this harbinger to kill the bearer of news. And, I thought --- if Shakespeare's don't shoot the messenger is true of bad news, how much more must it be true of good.

The spider is still in my cupboard, and Banjo is sleeping in my bed.

Goodnight, winter.....


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There is something about early spring...

...that makes me crave calves. And no, I am not talking about veal. My craving is to touch their coat, to feel their coarse tongue suck my phantom-udder-thumb, to see their nose crinkle as they nurse ("sup" my mom always called it), and to hear them holler and run circles of excitement when they see me, milk bucket in hand -- plastic teat a-comin'!

Daily now, I drive by pastures filled with cows and calves. I smile. I remember...

I remember mothering calves.

Every farmer in a four county radius knew that the Block Girls were easy targets, were gullible, and could not say 'no' to beautiful big brown eyes (the calf's eyes, never the farmer's). We were city softies; and every year in the early spring, our farmhouse phone would ring..."Yep. Got this calf whose mother died. Froze to death...and the calf isn't taking to the bottle. She's going to die would be my bet -- just like her mom. But, do you want to have a go?"

Did we want to have a go?

The farmer always knew the answer before he asked the question -- Block Girls always wanted to have a go at it.

We rescued many of Mills County Iowa's orphan calves, rushing them home in our ambulance (white Ford Taurus station wagon), and we only lost one calf in all those years. I had named her Mabel, and she fit perfectly with me inside my great-grandfather's flannel lined sleeping bag he had used for the same purpose (sleeping in cold barns during calving season on his Minnesota Farm).

Mabel slept through the night in my arms on a bed of straw and as close to the hanging heat lamp as I could get us. I was sweating. But I knew she was cold. She nuzzled me and a few times I was able to get some drops of goat milk down her throat, donated from the does of our Saanen herd. I could hear their soft night-noises in the adjacent lean-to, nuzzling and nursing and bleating lullabies their kids...there is no sound more soothing...

All night I kept one hand on her, an assurance of breath...

...broken by daylight.

The ground was too frozen to bury her. But, I remember my dad work-ready in his business suit, pounding the hard winter ground with a pick-ax. The ground would warm, and by evening he would be able to finish the grave, he said. But, he didn't want us to have to look at the white calf's small stiff body. I tried to strongly stand by Papa's side as he dug, and by Mable's body as she lay dead. I tried to pretend it was ok if I looked out my bedroom window that day and saw her. "The ground is too frozen, Papa." But, he knew his girls...he saw the tears rivering my face over this animal I knew for less than 24 hours. He kept on digging -- felling dirt to the frost line, there was just enough depth to hold her from house eyes.

Papa laid the shovel against a nearby birch, and I laid a blanket over Mabel...she still looked cold.


Now, every spring, I get this insatiable hunger to hold a calf -- and when I look out into the fields, I hope that there are still gullible girls willing to try to save the orphans, willing to wake up, warm a bottle of goat milk, and go out to cold barns 4 times a night for feedings, and willing to cuddle those calves up into a warm flannel sleeping bag.

I hope that there are still little girls willing to have a go at it...


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Geneology of a Gut.



I have a compass.

It sits on its red felt pad, always open to a different direction. Years ago, I watched as my mom cleaned out the drawers of the large steel desk in our farmhouse basement. That desk covered us from many, many midwest tornadoes -- my mother, sister and I squeezing to fit in the empty chair space. There were always also 2 dogs and at least 3 cats also trying to squeeze in. It was tight, but we never had to try to save a place for my dad. He was always out on our westward facing deck with a videocamera rolling. "That is not a good example for the girls," mom would yell up at him from our hiding place through blared static weather warnings out of a battery-powered radio, regarding his stormchaser behavior.

That desk...I remember watching her cleaning out its drawers, and seeing a brass button glint, gilt by a single light-bulb hanging by a thread. And I asked, "What's that?" -- believing...no, knowing...that it must have a story. It just looked like it should have a story. "It was my papa's," she replied as she put the red bag in my hand...a compass...

...and I've felt its -- his -- direction ever since.

My Uncle Mark, the cool-single-California-artist-uncle, always wanted my grandma to make hutspot. Whenever he came home for a visit, pumpkin pie and hutspot were always on the menu. He would take the potatoes and carrots that my grandma had diligently kept segregated -- with Noah's Ark, kind-to-kind integrity -- and he would make a devilish tower of the two, smashing them into a mash of marbled roots. "Hutspot," he'd say, "my papa used to make it."

My Grandpa Niemeyer used to make it...

And while I've never met him, my grandfather died long before I was born, I've always missed him; yet at the same time, have felt a comforting commiserative connection -- my guts are his. So are my uncle's. So are my mom's.

Intestines intertwine and shorten years. Stories suture spaces and fissured history. Some of the stories even start to explain the puzzle of my internal mysteries.

Recently, I went back through some old emails, searching for these stories written to me by my Uncle John and my Great Uncle Bronno, whose lines hold the most information I know about my Grandpa Niemeyer. Archived away I found them, and re-read the stories I had remembered...

...and also a few newly discovered, read through the glasses of a prescripted diagnosis.

Even though I never met him, I have always felt very strongly connected. Perhaps the genealogical gut?

As a teenager, he was part of the Dutch Underground, and at age 18, taking food to Jews who were hiding in a local zoo, he was captured and spent the next few years of his life in German concentration camps; both Bergen Belsen and Buchenwald.

My uncle wrote how he remembered how my grandfather would always lick his plate clean after a meal, tongued thankfulness tasting the bitter memories of not having enough. My uncle wrote how he imitated his papa's after-meal tradition, until someone reprimanded him for "bad manners."

Unaware of this rather improper family trait, I have been licking my plate clean for well over a year now. This grace said only in private. I too was thankful for food again, even if bitterly digested. My eyes began to sting as they filled, reading on...

...into the last story of my grandfather, as he and a friend escaped from the concentration camp and fled west, walking through the night over fields and hills and farmland, sleeping through the day in barns -- and finally reaching Emmen, the Netherlands, just as the war ended. My Uncle Bronno wrote that he did not recognize his brother -- he was all "skin and bones, till he gave me a hug. I knew then that he was my Big Brother Jans."

My frantic fingers stop. I feel queasy after throwing up history. I look over my shoulder, once again seeing a familiar gold glint, gilt by a single light-bulb hanging by a familial thread...and am reminded of that first time I saw and followed its direction in that farmhouse basement so many years ago. A red harbinger of journeying. Sometimes, feeling directionless, but always calibrated at the core...deep down, I know which way to go.

Now --- I wonder if that compass guided my grandfather from Germany to Holland...I wonder if it guided him home. But what is more, now I know that it does have a story...

...and, it has stories yet to tell; directions, yet to give.


~ Hutspot ~

Boiled potatoes & carrots, mashed. Sautéed cabbage, turkey bacon, and caraway seeds in
butter. Topped with a generous dollop of sauerkraut....for digestion.

Mares to Ride through the Night

Here is a link to my guest post for Andi Cumbo on her blog, AndiLit.


"Mares to Ride through the Night."