Life as a Hermit – Day 7

I miss Chet. Even a staring, expressionless punching bag is better than being utterly alone. Well, maybe not. At least I have my dog.

I spent the morning cutting and sanding one of the larch stumps that came out of the cabin footprint when I built it. It sat outside over the winter but has dried up nicely this spring, so it was ready to become something completely new. I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet. At the right moment it will look like something other than a stump, and then I will just follow its lead and take it where it wants to go. If only humans were so prescient.

I will go into town this afternoon. It is time for some human contact, some time on my laptop with free wi fi, and pick up some supplies. Maybe a drink at Charlie’s, then back home for an evening fire outdoors. It is still cool enough for a fire in the evening. I can play fetch with my dog, Kaiju, and tire him out that way.

I am starting to lose that antsy feeling that I should be somewhere or doing something other than what I am doing. I can’t remember when I last felt this way, at least besides holidays. Sometimes I find myself just sitting, letting my mind wander, and minutes later I have been sitting in one spot, contentedly fiddling with a stick, or a flower, or adding wood to the stove. This is one of the things that I am here for: for time to pass at its own pace, instead of wrestling it to slow down or speed up or whatever my whim of the moment demands.

 

Life as a Hermit – Day 4

It’s raining today. I have a lot of things I can do inside. It’s weird. I actually feel more like going out and playing in the rain than I would if I were still in the city.  It is so pretty, and I love the sound of the rain on the roof. Maybe I’ll hike down to the river and just sit and watch the circles form and expand on the water.

The dog didn’t want to come. He’s more of a cat than a dog. He won’t even get his paws wet, unless it’s in snow.

It’s beautiful out here. I love the silence. It isn’t real silence. At first you think it’s quiet. But then you notice the soft clatter of the raindrops on the undergrowth. And then  it’s the sound of the grass scratching against your jeans. And the squish of the grass under your shoes as you walk. Then there is a bird chirping. But only one, because it’s raining, and they go somewhere when rains.

The burble and hum of the river reaches my ears when it is still out of sight through the trees.  I slow down as I begin to take measured steps down the wet path, so that I don’t slip.  Now the swish of tree branches add to the “silence.” I laugh because it’s not silent at all. It is the kind of silence I love. Full, and enveloping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, Missoula

Ch-Paqu'un Peak, Mark Mesenko

Ch-paa-qn Peak Sunset
Missoula, Montana
©Mark Mesenko

Romancing Hard Drinking with Hugo and Hemingway

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
–    Ernest Hemingway

“You could love here, not the lovely goat
in plexiglass nor the elk shot
in the middle of a joke, but honest drunks,
crossed swords above the bar, three men hung
on the bad painting, others riding off
on the phony green horizon. The owner,
fresh from orphan wars, loves too
but bad as you. He keeps improving things
but can’t cut the bodies down.”

–    Richard Hugo, The Milltown Union Bar

When I read “The Milltown Union Bar” for the first time, I actually looked around furtively, wondering who had been watching me that day last year when I walked into an empty, but welcoming bar in Missoula.  There were the same cheesy dioramas etched in glass above the long, dark-stained wooden bar, a smattering of honest drunks, and a stranger’s warm invitation to sacrifice your own cares at the same altar that has served so many others before you.

Fifty years ago, Richard Hugo walked into a different bar after moving to Missoula.  Fifty years later, I, too, find myself in a strange city, the same city, fearfully staring down a brand new life.

And I bled along with Hugo as I read the poem once, and again, and again.

Now it is politically correct to shake our heads and deplore the brilliant writers of the past for their drinking habits, without which, surely they would have shown even greater genius? Surely now, in the twenty-first century, we are more evolved.

What was wrong with Hemingway, or Hugo, drinking his way to the other side of the pane,  so that he could continue to live, to write, to hurt.  To bleed.  Now we are expected to do yoga, eat kale, and bond with nature on long hikes to keep our creative demons at bay.  I like most of those things. But I also like walking into a bar where I don’t know a soul, and leaving with a new story, or a new friend, or an inexplicable connection to place and time.  Or simply enjoying the exquisite burn in my throat and sweet, charcoal aftertaste of my favorite elixir – the sweet brown nectar of both Lionel Hutz and my inner voice.

So the next time I walk into my Milltown Union Bar, I will look around. And perhaps Hugo will be on my right, and Hemingway further down the bar to my left. And we will live, and hurt, and drink, and bleed.  Because sometimes, a person knows suddenly, and inexorably, that “you could love here.”

originally published at:

http://mtpr.org/post/romancing-hard-drinking-hugo-and-hemingway