Over By the Mule’s Trough Vol. I (1997-2006)
A selection of a collection of observations
By Kevin S. Fox
Could some physics or mathematics explain why a certain number (78) of pigeons circulate around the Cathedral on a given Sunday in July in Logrono?
Could I figure out how many pigeons will be in the Plaza tomorrow by calculating the numbers on license plates of red and green Volkswagons? Creating a formula by multiplying the numbers found on the receipts of the morning cafe con leche and bread? Perhaps the tax multiplied by the date?
Or could I trace back events leading to the arrival of these pigeons that particular Sunday noon? Maybe the baker who sends his 9-year old grandson out with the bag of stale day-old bread knows?
I should not forget the weather and the slow gait of Sunday legs. And always remember each year the birds migrate to the South and come back each Spring.
Do the pigeons migrate? Could they?
Searching for Jack: Notes
Contents of Jack Kerouac’s Rucksack from a Museum in Lowell, MA….Late Spring 2001
Cooking kit (4 pots, 1 tea cup) alluminum
Looked for Kerouac’s old jaunt San Remo’s at Bleecker and MacDougal. Not there. Didn’t see it from above 86 floors high either. Stopped back at Strand’s more for the feel of being around so many choices.
Walked through East Village. Looking for a quiet pint. Not here. Not on a Friday evening. Had a couple of quick pints at the Swift. Probably head back there for the Sesiun Sunday night. Won’t stay out all Sunday night.
What would be the literary compliment to the City?
Back to the room up on 106th and outside in the sidewalk a group sings ‘dale, dale’ in Spanish. One is blindfolded swinging at a piñata in the form of a pig. Well made piñata.
If one tree has voice to ring through me and scurry me from any bliss–conjured or confused, close or leeward–then what happens with a stand of such trees? And my thoughts?
Maybe it wasn’t bliss.
Public Gardens: Date?
Today I walked to the Public Gardens and sat on a green bench and hoped the pigeons would see me and look at me and I hoped there could be some communication – just like the honey bees and their dances. There were three pigeons.
At nearly six in the evening as I walked approaching the northeast corner of Queen and Morris streets I saw two pigeons together and a third walking alongside, following the others down the sidewalk. Then a man with bulging eyes saw me watching the pigeons and took a look for himself then looked back at me laughing from his stomach. It wasn’t until I crossed Queen that I looked back to see if there was anyone in some window or on some stoop who was watching him watch me watching the pigeons.
Would knowing this make what happened any more truthful?
Cities and Towns
I used to lead a quiet life.
I used to be quiet. I suppose I am still. But I miss it. I miss the wonders of yellow finches. Of old men sitting on park benches. I don’t seem to notice either much anymore.
I feel like cities and towns betray me. The same way a lover does or could do. Constantly blooming and convincing this is where I should be. This is what I should obligate myself to and care for its sensitivities.
The cities and towns have betrayed me. And I don’t know if I should stay there wondering and wondering if it will change or if it will embrace me once again–or if I could ever embrace it the way I did or the way I have always wanted to. The cities and towns are strangers to me now. And I never wanted them to be that way–at least not now. I need them to share with me their shadows and their obscurities. Why so estranged? Or is it me who is afraid of their revelations?
The strange thing about it is that I have been staring at it all along, looking at its beauty, its horror, its disguise. But I don’t bother to investigate the carnival and the dark comedy, unprepared for its biology, its geography, its stains and harbors.
Content with its proportions and unsure and confused by spines and shells, sadness swallows and tears drain from the center, from the point where doubt elbows reason and faith right at their fold.
Then, I dry off.
Looking into all to find one.
Pointing out where he resides.
But he is away, fishing.
I remembered today that I had dreamed this moment some time ago. I dreamed it but now I forget what transpired. I forget if I dreamed it at night asleep or if it was one of the many dreams I have peering out the window when songbirds fly by.
I trust enough that if any extremes of emotion were to hue the occurrences in the dream I would remember more of what happened. It seems I remember the extremes. Therefore, if I do not remember the dream, it must mean it did not conjure up any extreme emotions. And I should not think more about it.
Stopped by my shadow–but it wasn’t mine.
Looked back and no one else was there.
Opossum walks by.
On the subway ride from Viveros back to downtown I watched a woman in the seat across from me doing her makeup. I could only imagine someone watching me and another watching him watch me. And down the line. I would have believed at that time the whole car was linked by this. That all of us in some way were watching this woman put her makeup on as if none of us existed, as if she was required to be someone where she came from and someone where she was headed, not worried about where she was then.
I noticed one man wearing a wrinkled white suit and work boots that he had painted white. He had one red long-stemmed rose in his folded hands and he looked at no one. Behind the wet beard and long hair his eyes peered patiently at each stop as we approached his. He stood up as we approached Etiopia and walked off in his slow gait.
I got off at Hidalgo and walked to the Blue line. I passed a woman with her hair curlers still in.
Even in the badlands there grows a flower
One that will care for more than my tired feet.
I shall stop there where the flower grows
And wait for the yellow finch.
There I will wait with Glendalough patience.
Yellow finch, yellow finch!
I will take care of this flower
As it has taken care of my tired feet.
The People’s Republic of Cork
I ask for a scone, a café au lait, and a slice of carrot cake–all to the surprise of the counter girl. She asks ‘you want both the scone and carrot cake,’ unable to believe my request. I smile. Then, I sit.
She brings them to the table on two separate large white dinner plates. Then, and only then, could I understand why she stood in disbelief. It was the incongruence of the large dinner plates at a table for one. They did not fit.
Perhaps she did not believe it too sweet to eat such a brunch. Perhaps the aesthetic of the table setting was to be challenged and the table experience would be reduced to just EATING and not encompassing the nature of the wood grain on the table, the soft colors on the walls, the music echoing from the high ceiling. Two plates would defeat all that.
Day X Helena National Forest
Bon jour. Hundreds of stars still out and I’m packing up the tent and my belongings. I get back to the trailer and prepare my provisions for the day. All along I hear the faint distant echo of one of the louder ewe’s bleatings. The whispering pines. The panting of Dali and Buddy.
My anxiety is less than yesterdays. A bit more complacent and seasoned. The sheep absconded from camp once again last night sometime between midnight and 1 AM. The sheep took off and not able to stop them I figured I’d wait until this morning to find them again en route towards Mount Edith. I figured I would see them at the park on the south side of the mountain perhaps a mile from camp.
This morning the sheep made it a bit further and were crossing the ridge which looks over to Sagebrush Hill. Due west from the meadow where I camped.
I found them and saw I had quite a few and thought, based on the successful cleanup the day before, that I had my band intact. I checked my markers and realized it wasn’t nearly true. I had Blue Hair, Front Dot, Socks, Black Sheep, and only III Belle. The quiet that came when Buddy turned the whole lot at the ridge was telling of what I was missing. The other Belles.
2 Tea Cup Yorkies
1 Male / 1 Female
Last Seen 4:25 pm here
White female » 26 yrs. 5’2”
Saint Peter’s Gate Vol. I No. 2
Walking through labyrinthine holy
streets or just streets with holy names
and the lights at the port are on.
The sky is filled with snowflakes falling and I
wander until I stop at the silence and listen to the snow
fall to the sidewalk and I listen closely. Looking around
my arms in reverence
to the snow falling. I hear it.
This makes me happy
as it is usual in the city to just see it
and not hear it too and today
I saw it and heard it. People came and I could
hear their voices so I left
and went to the Saturday vigil mass
in French. Even though I have no French
it didn’t seem to matter.
I used to go to Mass in Polish
and I have no Polish.
Corner of 12th and 6th Ave. (My first pilgrimage.) Cold and gray late October. Sitting at the window facing the uptown traffic, sipping a cafe con leche. Bus passes by – heading up to Washington Heights. A man with a halo walks to the NE corner and stops, looks around, then asks for directions from a lady wearing sunglasses, on her way downtown. It’s 4:10 in the afternoon and a skateboarder heads east on 12th. A witch walks by holding her boyfriend’s hand. But, no pigeons. No birds at all.
A guitarist walks by with his hands warm inside his jean pockets. A man with a cane. An attractive woman hides behind her eyeglasses and pushes her 3-speed along the sidewalk. A woman wearing a blue bowler hat hails a yellow cab. Another woman with pointed lime green shoes waits for the traffic to stop. A lad wearing a baseball Giants hat laughs with his lady caller. A newborn drinks milk on the corner.
But no man who makes the pigeons dance between the crowds.
PROTOCOL FOR MEETING A WOMAN ON THURSDAYS
I met her for the first time when I was doing my laundry over at Doña Maria’s on State Street. I was sitting outside having a smoke while the wash cycle rinsed and spun. I watched the people walk by and wondered how often they did their laundry. I wondered if they wore clean or dirty clothes. It was a Thursday. I always did my laundry on Thursdays.
She walked up and asked the cook from the Chinese restaurant next door who sat near me smoking his cigarette if he knew someone or somebody. He shook his head no and dismissed her kindly. She came over to me and asked if I knew this somebody – a guy who painted gorillas. She asked me nicely. I sensed she had been looking for him for some time and she seemed frustrated so I tried to think. All I could think about were the midgets who supposedly toted machine guns and climbed the trees in the courtyard of the bar over on Elm Street. I told her that they had been doing it for years but she said that probably wasn’t him; that she found out that the guy who painted gorillas lived somewhere on State Street. I told her I lived on State Street but never heard of the guy who painted gorillas.
I asked her if she saw the neighbor’s cat that was missing as I pointed to the flyer stapled to the scabbed telephone pole in front of me.
‘Pickles’ on 7/1/01
Lost Male Neutered indoor cat on State Street
Dark Grey with white neck and white paws.
No collar. Declawed. Very Timid.
Reward $$. He was last seen wandering on Elm St.
Please call 475-8297 with any info.
I told her how I thought about searching for Pickles. She said she hadn’t seen him but she would let me know if she did. She had lost a cat once when she was little. She asked if I had looked in and around the overpass where all the strays seem to hang out when it rains. I hadn’t yet but knew it could be a good idea. We thanked each other and she left, walking down the street, asking other people about the guy who painted gorillas.
A week later I ran into her again, this time at the Green where I would go to watch the squirrels. I had spent the morning sipping coffee and the caffeine made my arms twitch. Just a little bit, but enough so I could notice. I never was afraid of the squirrels but that day in my coffee high and low I did not want them too close. I did not want to see if they would approach me and my shoes. They all seemed bigger than usual and one stepped up on his hind legs and stared me in the eye and asked me something I didn’t understand. I remembered the dream I had as a teenager where the giant squirrel asked me why I had killed him with the BB gun when I was 12 and he was 3. Why did I pull the trigger?
I wanted to be alone. I wanted to sit in the shade and watch the people go by. I wanted to spend the afternoon wondering about the acorns and the squirrels and if it really was the acorn that found the squirrel. Or was it the squirrel who found the acorn? I wanted to do all that but not have them come too close to me. I wanted to watch the shadows cast by the oaks move across the grasses of the Green. I sat there quietly and did not want to speak to anyone. But the girl who looked for the man who painted gorillas came on by.
She walked with a strange gait; one I hadn’t noticed in her before. She saw me study each step she took and realized I was looking, ready to talk to her again. Our previous meeting would only have required a pleasant smile and I was ready to give our encounter just that but I remembered her frustration with her search so I greeted her. I was curious about the man who painted gorillas. I had to ask. I had to find out if she had heard about him or not.
She said she looked all day that very same day we spoke out over on State Street. She even went as far as asking at the bar where the midgets swung from the trees. It turns out she asked the doorman if he knew the guy. He thought he did and sent her inside to the bar where she could ask the bartender and waiters if they knew him and they did but nobody had seen him for months. She got to see the midgets and they really do carry around machine guns and there were old oaks in the courtyard stretching out above the second-story roof and some of them climbed up that high.
I told her how I looked for Pickles and found him under the overpass while it was raining huddled underneath an old refrigerator left out to rust. I thanked her for the tip and offered to give her part of the reward. She declined. I told her how some little girl was happy to have her cat back and the little girl’s Mom knew the guy who painted gorillas. He used to live on State Street, in fact, just a few doors down from where I live. He was an older gent with quiet habits and gray hair, charming and insightful. He had passed away just weeks ago. He was out for a walk and an afternoon thunderstorm caught him by surprise and he was soaked through to the skin and got sick and his old body couldn’t fight it off. She, too, had heard that he had passed but the story was different. She was told by the waiter at the cafe on the corner of State and Bishop that he had taken his life, that he decided for himself his eternity. He was remembered by some for his gorilla mural painted years back on the brick side wall of the Jungle Ship Bar, where the midgets carried machine guns. The sun had faded his colors and graffiti blemished and exaggerated the anatomy of the gorilla. Others will remember him for that.
I invited her to sit down on the bench where I sat and the squirrels ate the bread she had thought to ration out to the pigeons. There was silence. I thought about the man who painted gorillas and wondered about the truth of his death and decided it was, perhaps, his time, regardless of the circumstance. She stared at the gentlemen who all sported green coats and smoked cigars and played bocce while they decided who would become the next president of their club. But she thought of the old man and explained how she was looking for him because since she was 7 years old she had been fascinated with gorillas and wanted to learn from him his craft. She wanted someone who would teach her how to paint gorillas.
Weeks passed and I had dedicated more of my free time to tracking down the lost pets. I found a very friendly, sweet, well-mannered female Dalmatian and returned it to the young couple and they were excited and the woman wore bright colors and hugged me and wanted to give me money but I only took half of what she offered and drank lemonade with them on the front porch of the old house. I found him swimming in Mill River below the dam where the tide still comes in.
I found another cat hunting field mice up by the trails along the Quinnipiac. She was a house cat who had escaped the warmth of the home of one professor living up on Main Street. I was on a morning walk, following the flow tide up north. It took hours for me to catch her and she scratched and scratched and it hurt and I realized this tracking down lost pets was a tough business and I wondered if I was really cut out for it all. He was glad to have his companion back but he was embarrassed and did not want to talk much and so he gave me some money and sent me on my way, wishing me the best of luck.
Thursday laundry and I am watching the people walk by and some guy with wild hair, without a shirt, wearing sandals and carrying a staff adorned on top with the head of a bobcat or lynx. He approaches staring into my eyes and he sits down in the chair next to mine. He asks what I think about the weather and the cherry blossoms and then asks for a cigarette. He notices the scratches on my arms and face and wants to talk about Truths and her consequences and the downfall of the Beatnik.
I went inside, switched my laundry into the dryer and walked back outside to the cooler air. The man was gone. But the girl who looked for the guy who painted gorillas came up and we spoke without the discomfort of protocol. She was out of breath and nervous and I noticed and asked her why and she almost burst into tears. She said she ran into some guy wearing sandals and pants and that he carried a staff with the head of a gorilla fixed on its top and he laughed at her for wanting to paint gorillas. He didn’t stop laughing and she ran away. She ran as fast as she could to State Street where there were more people, where I was doing my laundry. And then we spoke like we knew each other, and asked each other’s name.
Above the Great Falls
The Canada geese fly by, maybe thirty or forty or as Borges would have it – a number more than 10 but less than 50. They, too, glanced at the falls and circled around, their pattern jumbled and chaotic. They, too, watched the mist from the cascading waters, until it was decided to fall back into the ‘V’ that has worked for them for generations.
Above the falls the sun is nearly at its summit for the day, climbing west. The river is flat and inches toward the falls. Shade makes a nice rest upon a fallen trunk and the breeze dances with the trees and leaves. Autumn smells and tastes. A MacIntosh apple from a complete stranger who wanted to give me something and he gave me just what I needed.
I sit above the falls and the bees forage the Appalachian Daisy blooming along the bank of the river. The river so high now. But the flowers stayed. And the lone honeybee pays no attention to the solitary bumblebee foraging on the nearby flower. And another bumble bee. It is midday and I wonder if these flowers will give nectar all day. And then a fish jumps.
The water is gentle but not cold. The sun is warm and I sit in the shade. The shade is cooler and the breeze off the water is cool, too. The breeze shifts and comes down from the hills. The smell of Autumnal hints in body and character. Less green than below the falls. The yellows and oranges. I sit upon the fallen trunk of a tree that used to have leaves that changed their colors each year when the shade got cooler and so did the sun.
He no longer appreciated that we kicked his deflated soccer ball high in the air repeatedly. So I gave him the ball back and left crawling under the gaps in the stone walls. I almost got stuck in one and wished I had left the same way that I had arrived there.
I wished I had my bicycle.
Monday 5:54 AM
Look there up in the sky
To where the giant egg
flies around in all its blue
Shooting bolts of lightning
at the dams made by man.
Mazunte no. 2
Fallen pines of time and distances
laying across their soft needles,
drawing Mondrian’s evolution.
Waking in another forest
of coyotes and bears, solitary and not.
Sheep protecting the fall
towards the river’s edge
through fears and madness,
following (them and) the footsteps
of ancient stones and those yet to come.
The old tree still standing
dances with his only
waiting centuries for the wind
and rain and birds to sculpt
their floating embrace.
Another tree beckons
and humbles dancing feet,
slowing me down to see and hear
and watch and smell and touch
the river waters trickling down.
Then to forget it all.
Fallen pines of geometry
laying across each other
knowing one more falls to the ground.
Fallen pines I walk across your fields
in my afternoon drowsiness
to the field of stars past the
Oh, fallen pines of time and distance.
Traverse your lengths,
awake in the field of stars with
my scalloped shells.
I will arise now.
The night enters,
a howl of uncertain emotion.
The day leaves behind
a flower or two.
A wild pig found its way in the straw roof of my shelter last night and fell near my head and scurried away. Cristobal and Ana awake, wondering what it was.
I paused and pictured, at first, a capybara, and then, a wild piglet.
So I said, “a wild pig”, and went back to sleep.
Toucan flies through the citrus grove and lands on the 3rd highest tree. Not a citrus but a hardwood. Perched for a couple minutes, then took flight once again. Labored flight, beak heavy. Its posture distinct from the egrets. Colors, however. Colors.
Two egrets fly up the morning valley. I tried to peek and see where it is they fly to every day. Walking around the house, taking the path towards the gardens to see North to where they go. Where is that they go?
They disappeared into the deep contours up valley – flying further than I could see, tucking behind the roll of the hill. Perhaps I should walk up that way – to where the flight of the egret bends. I wonder if I will find them? Or will I only see them at dusk and dawn when they fly up and back down the valley?
Three egrets sail back down the valley.
Three more short after.
The crickets are louder. The sun, setting, dims. Clouds gently roll across the sky. Darkness climbs the hills. Today I did not see where the egret goes and how he comes back. The last place I saw him is now dark. I will return tomorrow if God permits. The moon is just about half, standing in the heights. Maybe the tide is rushing in down river. The half-moon sky. I smile as I walk through the nighttime garden to where I sleep near the cascade’s echo. Not sure if I hear the first drops of water or the last. If it is the agreement that I hear, that it fell, and not the falling.
The half-moon finds the angel waiting atop the Cortes tree.
September 12, 1997
Daydreaming. Still photographic images of yourself. Can you cut them off. And hold them for observation?
Can you put them in order?
I was on my way to New Orleans
on the train and we were running
late because we hit a truck somewhere
west of Atlanta and had to stop
to see if everyone was OK.
We were running late and so I thought
about the things I wanted to do
in the Crescent City and most of all
I wanted to sit by the Mississippi
and watch and wonder how the Pennsylvanias
and Montanas and Canada made
it this far on their pilgrimage to the
sea. I would wish them a bon chemin
and hope for them the best as they
approached some inevitability.
On Travelling Around
One gets the chance to constantly see the drapings across different contours and get to see a variety of old trees and see how they bow and bend and kneel and sometimes stare back (talk back).
A Dream Near Lake Champlain
I ran back into myself
because it was dark
and I wanted to know
where we were on
the train. What was
the last stop? And the
next? I opened my eyes.
The Vermont ridges
The white snow on the floor
of the forested hilltop.
A narrow river cutting out its path.
Winter hugs the wind
running off the St. Lawrence
to the three ladies dancing in
unison into the wind.
Then the wind exposed its vulgarity,
but they did not turn their
heads away like they would have
had they been adolescents.
I got my haircut and the barber thought it weighed three pounds. And I asked what weighed three and he pointed to the clippings on the floor. I wondered to myself if communists had short hair and if I had made a mistake and all by having the barber, exiled from his native Cuba, be the one doing the cutting.
If I had traveled to Cuba for the haircut would I have had my hair cut as short as I did or would I have let it grow longer? I don’t know if I could live in the heat of La Habana.
Letter to Psychiatrist
The other recollection, that is of South America, that struck a chord on my road trip was the plaza in Savannah, with its arcade of trees. The lady said they were oaks, but then I again I said I was going to Switzerland to go skiing. Sitting there in Savannah on that park bench I learned more than perhaps on most of the trip. The rest was a ‘decade in review’ of sorts. Beauty and grace happened there. Kind of like a plaza in downtown Asuncion, PY. La Plaza de los Heroes. It translates as you see it…but then again you wouldn’t need the translation. Perhaps more than from the bees and the myriad creatures I witnessed in that Plaza what I referred to in those days as madness. The natural remedy lady, her husband, son, daughter. The shoeshine guy with the 10-speed biker cap who’d give passersby a yellow or red card (soccer) based on their appearances. The native Guarani man who professed Christ to me on occassion. And, of course, the confessional I would hold with a friend.
By the way, I had a dream, perhaps, Wednesday night just as I was falling asleep…those seem to be the most vivid…that I was being attacked in slow motion, attacked at the throat wherein I escaped the threat by levitating to the ceiling of the room to the disquieted surprise of two female attackers saying, ‘OH MY GOD!’ [One of them was you].
Food for thought is best served with ripe bananas from Costa Rica.
Shall I walk down the streets where I have lived and look in the windows of the rooms where I have contemplated what I should do and where I should go that day?
Shall I look in the window to see if someone watches guard over the thoughts or if someone dances with their own? Walk up and down the streets in different seasons? Late Autumn before deep snow to see the lines and geometry of man’s response to receding of the glaciers or the highlights atop these stone walls from the first light snowfall. The late autumn colors in the patient oaks.
Early spring deep red sketchlines swaying in cool breezes, streams flowing, cleaning their banks. Greens break through the deep red budding. Light greens. Then darker, filling in the swaying sketches of late winter. Then you lose sight of where in the distance the stone walls intersected and unless you walk back into the woods you won’t see this again until late autumn when the squirrels shake their tails – outstretched and slow to predict a mild winter or a tail bunched inward toward its body shaking hastily and it will be cold and harsh.
Or shall I brood upon the existence of the stonewall and dissect one to see what it is made of, how it is made, when it was made, who made it and why? Shall I wonder why I enjoy some stone walls more than others?
Shall I walk down to the stream in spring time and spend the summer walking along its banks following it to the headwaters, then follow back down to where it flows and flows and empties? And follow that river to find its source and continue all this until I reach the cleansing ebbs of the tidal estuary and salt water and there bask in its glory?
Shall I learn the olde linguistics and travel to those places that men of olde walked to?
Shall I chart out these places which have captured my thoughts and now my pursuits?
Shall I venture back to the man who wished me ‘Good Adventure’ and ask him to explain to me what he meant. I could sit down and share tea with him. But would he remember me after all these years?
If I set out to walking, how shall I go about it? Will I meet someone along the way? Should I bring much water? Or just enough for one?
I go out and walk to try and catch glimpses of its reflection on the branches of tall oak trees and in the song of the birds and rushing of content streams. Maybe one day I will sit in a chair on a porch and look at these maps I make of streams and birds and trees and see what my heart was saying in a different time and place and seduce myself into thinking I have real true knowledge of who or what it is I am and the purpose of all of it.
I made the mistake once of asking someone if this was acceptable.
Seventy Fourth and Park waiting for Mickey to get ready and I’m supposed to take them town because they have things to do. Mickey’s mom called down and the doorman gave me a few bucks to wait it out so I had my PB and honey on stoneground wheat and finished my water.
The mailman delivers the mail to the adjacent apartment buildings and I inch the bike up two car lengths under the shade tree that is just blink of an eye to the guy driving uptown in his sedan or his wagon. All the stoplights turn yellow, then red, in unison up the slope to the eighties and nineties.
Oh, this shade is nice. The afternoon hides behind 5th Ave. Today it reached ninety degrees and we’ll only get to see hotter days for the next few weeks and then the shade will cool down once again and the sun. I will look for it on the other side of the street.
Another mom and her young son want to go up to 88th and I would go except I am waiting for Mickey and her mom. A gentleman is heading across town to some dinner and he is running late and there are no cabs. I’d take him but I have to wait for Mickey and mom.
I picked up Mickey’s mom almost an hour ago around the corner from the Plaza and she asks me how far I go and my eyes must have said not to any stadium or across any bridge because she hopped on and I was already pedaling when she interrupted her phone conversation to say 74th and Park and I remembered the hill on Madison that cost me – physically – to climb when I had another mom and her two daughters from South Georgia who wanted to go up the East side during their visit to the city. I was new to the bike then and all the gears and I barely made it up the hill in the lowest gear. And I swear a man walked past us as we climbed.
But it was only Mickey’s mom and the climb isn’t as bad up Park than it is up Madison or so it seems when you only have one passenger.
When they come down from their apartment I hope we are heading back downtown because the breeze feels cooler downhill and I am looking now up to the 80’s and 90’s and realize the hill crests as far as I can see and maybe it is one of those false peaks the hikers and climbers are always talking about where the hill never ends. But I have seen it contour back down. It has to. This is an island.
So, Mickey who I see is an 11 or 12 year old girl wearing shorts and a T-shirt comes down with her mom who has changed from her 50th Floor attire and is ready to meet someone for early dinner down close to the river on the east side.
The sun broke through
as we departed
through the front doors.
Leaves tattoo the paths
in ways I recall the
Walked back to the streets
where Spring budded its first
Reds; and then Greens.
Sometimes I miss the Reds.
And the way the sun honors them.
Hop on the elevator from the fifth floor, going down to ground. Gentlemen gets on at the second floor and sings the first verse from the song I sang various times and in various melodies in the richness of my mid-morning dreams.
“Ay yay yaya yahy,
Canta y no llores
Porque cantando se alegra cielito
Lindo los corazones.”
Walk up to Barrington Street and inside the labyrinthine used bookstore (it has a map of its collections) I saw the manual on baking bread. Last night I dreamed that I wanted to learn how to bake pumpernickel.
I didn’t buy the book.
Herder’s Journal – Day XIX
Woke up to silence this morning. Packed up camp and had to track down the sheep. Caught up to the lead making its way clear to the other side of Sagebrush and to the Mt. Edith trail. A good distance from where we camped. Turned them and will take them down for water today.
Lines…. Perhaps it is a gulley or ditch or stream or tree line. Some geographical or topographical feature or a mandate from the Foreman. I notice it then refer back to it. When working with the sheep, when trying to keep them relatively close I’ll use such lines. I have been ever since I started last month. It could be a steep grade or downslope that some sheep start to go down and when I start to lose them visually I get concerned. Maybe it is the difference between a wooded versus an open area. If the sheep enter the woods I would prefer to take all of them in or keep all of them out somehow and I decide which is best based on a number of factors: where we are going, where we have come from, where the water is, where the camp is, the morale of Buddy, the weather.
Once designated in my mind, a limit or line then acts as this boundary and I expend much energy to just keep it there. It would be so much easier to let it redefine itself. Or just drop the lines all together.
A robin finds a worm
The butterflies flutter
Field mice push forward through the tall grass
The sheep in the shade nap.
The routine, this daily ritual reminds me of the long pilgrim walks. Early rise. Relaxing at midday sun. Maybe a nap or just quiet time. Walk again in the evening some. A long term goal. But focused on the moments.
Coyotes, Deer, Rabbits, Moose, Eagle, Ants, Bees, Flies, Moths, Butterflies, Crickets, Sheep, Robins, Songbirds, Spiders and their webs, Chipmunks, Squirrels, Grouse.
The shadows grow taller. Late afternoon is here – evening on its way.
Took the sheep down to the Boiler Camp to water today. All day journey, really. This is, in many ways, why I came here. To study and analyze a metaphor, the metaphor of taking sheep from the higher point in the mountains down into the valley for water, to quench their thirst, and then taking them back up the steep to find rest under the blanket of stars and my own.
We slowly grazed the whole way down, resting along the way. Today, we took a 45 minute nap under some Douglas Firs before we made our way down to the water. I kept trying to keep our trajectory well guided, looking out across the valley for landmarks to follow. There was a bald spot, a rocky cliff facing us from the other side of the meandering North Fork. I used that as a guide. We cut back and forth, zigzagging our way. We reached a field where the grasses were taller than anywhere we had been in the last weeks. The sheep lost all control and expressed something I never saw in them. Utter and complete satisfaction.
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Copyright © 2015 Kevin S. Fox