Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Itch Was There Long Ago

From Jaunary, 2008

Recline. Rest and go elsewhere.

Turn on some good, soulful music and disappear into the melody. Consider the Douglas firs, frozen branches laden with a fresh dose of snow – the air crisp and frigid on another Rocky Mountain winter night. The sky is pristine. The fur on your hood freezes. What God hath wrought, these heavens. Silent, shaky, glimmering, unfathomably distant, a freely-offered light show. Simply look up.

Sit back in a hammock tied to some coastal palms and let the Caribbean surf lull you back to sleep. Wake and cool again in the waves. Walk the beach, watch each blue roil tow in schools of little fish who disappear when the crest finally breaks into turbulent brine. There are shells, too many to pick up. Admire them and stride on. Pick some shade, shield your eyes from the noonday sun and grin out at the ocean. Head inland and explore.

Guide your sailboat into the inlet; the winter’s harsh, Canadian Atlantic brightened with late summer sun, catching the waves, mirroring warmth, peace. Beauty. Walk around, run your fingers through the sea oats in the dunes and set sail again. Maybe south this time. Point a direction and go.

Breathe in deeply – the desert smells amazing at night. Resist the urge to drive your bike too fast. Raise your helmet visor and let the cool air bring tears to your eyes – flushing away the day’s dust. It feels good. Unzip your jacket a little further, let the night air chill you slowly. When you stop, remove your boots and sink your toes into the warm sand. It’s quiet, it’s alive, it’s a desert teeming with at least one life – your own.

It’s fall and the oaks begrudgingly relinquish their foliage, deep colors, casting down a few more with each brief gust. Your campfire wafts smoke sidewise whenever it blows again. Stack the stones a little higher and move a little closer. It’s warm and soon you’ll bank it and retire.

Find that old fence line, the one with frequent gaps in the rusted barbed wire. Follow it until it ends. Observe each posts – a century old, scarred, rotting, often supporting nothing but lingering pride of a bygone era of agriculture. They’ve seen far more than you. Two world wars, a depression, dust destroying their crops, despondent inhabitants departing for richer soil, long summers and no rain. These fences weathered well, all things considered. Remember their plight, allow them quiet dignity in their old age.

Carefully pick your way among the rocks – the river swift to your chest – trout scuttling by everywhere, water bone chilling out of the mountains. Find a rock and dry in the sun. Catch your next meal in the current and cook it over fire; taste cast iron and butter.

Build your raft and float your river.

Find your caboose and move into it, let the line of cars pull wherever the engineer is so inclined. Enjoy the journey, the regular clatter of the wheels across the rail joints, a welcomed intrusion enhancing repose, broken only by the shrill whistle as small town America slowly passes you by. White houses and picket fences and crops, then nothing, then a city, then nothing but the green grass again.

Build your log cabin and put your bed in the loft. Hang your hat on the tree trunk in the den. Stoke the fire against the Colorado snow, bring in the dogs and lower the lamplight. Tonight will be dark, yes, but we will be warm.

Cut your hiking staff and let use wear it smooth; trek it for miles, fend off dogs, assist you across streams. Cast worry to the hedges along the lane and simply walk.

Light a fire with sticks, gently nurse the flame, feed tinder until you have a cook fire. Kill something and roast it.

Touch the bark and then climb the tree. Collect flowers, smell others, admire them all. Toss hay for a day for pocket change, sleep off the next days muscle aches in the shade. Greet people.

Delight in the presence of your companions, sing old songs, take pictures, share secrets, carve hearts in an old beech tree, engrave mutual memories on your heart.

Explore creation and find the creator. Pursue relationships and find the progenitor of them all. Love, adventure, explore, live. Help others and in so doing help yourself. Toss your burdens at the foot of the cross and pack instead compassion and a heart for others. Let tomorrow care for itself. Experience doubt and dismiss it. Dispel fear and give it to God. Live.

Copyright © 2008, Ben Shaw
All Rights Reserved


  1. Rah, rah.

    Some parts were more believable than others; we can discuss tomorrow evening. Please help yourself to the shrimp scampi. Don't drink the expired milk. MA will throw out.

  2. Time for you to go again, Grasshopper.