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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Riding Around New England, Part 1

            It's an old dirt road, that goes to nowhere. Really. It ends,with a muddy bump at an iron gate. You can go no further. It was muddy, in spots, and rough. It was narrow. The branches brushed against the sides of the car. Shy violets grew along side of it. "The worst road I have ever traveled on," wrote a revolutionary soldier in his diary. "All mud and ruts.." He was slogging through in September of 1777  with General John Stark, from New Hampshire, through Vermont, to fight the British in the Battle of Bennington. Perhaps some things haven't changed much!
          The sun shines. The sky is blue, with white fluffy clouds. The wind is chill. New England has turned green after the snow melted, we had some warm days, and then a few days of rain. The leaves are all unfurled, every different shade of new green that you can imagine. The dandelions bow and nod in the breeze. I konw they are just a pesky weed, but when you see a meadow flooded with those yellow faces, its  beautiful!
              The fruit trees are all a blossom. Even here out on a dirt road to nowhere, you see them shimmering in the sun shine, left over from days gone by.Days when this road went to farms and homes and pastures and barns and orchards. I see the stone walls, the granite foundations, the stray daffodils, the huge lilac bushes. A granite post says this was the town center. Here stood a church, a school, a post ofice. Here people walked and rode their horses and buggies. Here they worshipped, learned to read and write. Here they waited for a letter. An old, old cemetery sits in the sunshine. The walls around it are still straight and true. The gate is gone, but the path through it is still discernable. Here people mourned. I ponder the brevity of life. Once a thriving living town. Now a forest. Only a trace of humanity left behind.

                   A hawk soars and dips. Turkey vultures ride the wind with out moving their wings at all. The farmers have begun plowing. The crows hop in the newly turned earth. The river rushes white over the rocks, foaming and swirling.

      There is a tiny house, all made of stones. It's like a fairy tale house. The three bears could have lived here. It has sturdy wooden doors and windows that look out from deep with in the thick walls. I am enchanted. It half  hides behind the trees. You could drive by, and not see it.

            There's a fountain.Cold clear water slashes from it. How many years has it bubbled here? It's a memory fountain. Chiseled into the granite, it says " Barna A. Clark. A true friend and a good man. 1896." What a good report, of a man. Could we ask for more than that?
           A break in the trees reveals the mountain.Just standing there like it always has, patient and strong and beautiful. I know why people live here. And why people like me go riding around looking for these things.

            Did I say it was a road to nowhere? Look where it brought me! I rode into yesterday. I lived on it today. I could see tomorow. Give me a road to nowhere, any time.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Alabaster, the Elephant

         "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you."  Maya Angelou

            This is the story of Alabaster, the elephant. I can't bear to keep him inside of me. Out he comes! Can you see how beautiful he is? How the morning sun shines through him, making him transluscent and warm? He 's old. He's heavy, for not being very big. He looks a little clunsy. His legs are too short.His little belly almost hangs on the ground. He has holes on the top of his back.
            He was once a salt shaker, with a partner for pepper. Somewhere he has lost his friend, though. I spotted him in a junk shop. He stood forlornly on a high shelf, surrounded by myriad other glass, plastic, clay, ceramic, you name it, creatures of all sorts and kinds. I fell for him instantly. I reached up and took him carefully in my hand. He felt cool, but when he sat in my hand for a minute, he warmed up. He had a tag taped on him that said "alabaster elephant shaker."
            I had never actually seen, nor touched alabaster before. I felt curious about him. I turned him over and around in my hands. I put him carefully back on his shelf, among all those other inferior animals. I really thought I would walk away. But I turned back and stood looking at him. Sun streamed through the windows above us. I saw how he changed from solid off white to opaline. I suddenly wanted him. I had no use for him, I just knew that he needed me to get him off that crowded shelf.
           I took him back down, I took him to the cash registar, and I shelled out my hard earned cash for him. I refused a bag. "No thanks. I'll carry him." He rode home in the car with me, standing solid and sweet on my console. Half way home, I suddenly remembered where he belonged. I had gotten him for a reason, I just hadn't known it at the time!
          I savoured him for a while. He made me smile every time I looked at him. Then I wrapped him carefully and sent him off home, with the US Postal Service. I'm pretty sure he'll get there safe and sound. I'm thinking that he will be welcomed joyfully. I know he will then join a a happy herd of his own kind, and he'll be treasured, and loved. He made me happy when I found him, and happy when I sent him on his way. See you later, Alabaster!
         Well, I've heard of alabaster all my life. "Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears." We all sang that many times. I always tried to picure it-a skyline of sky scrapers and church steeples all hard and gleaming white. I see now how it is . There would be a warm softness to those spires, a creamy melding of whites and off whites and  tans, and pearly nacre pastels. beautiful, lovely cities!
          That alabaster jar that Mary Magdalene broke to annoint Jesus with it's costly perfume. Probably it was quite small. Costly perfume today comes in small bottles.  The crowd around them watch in horror at such waste, and such surmising of how this woman would have gotten such a dear thing. But Jesus sees her heart, and the hearts of the others, his friends. He wants us to help the needy and the poor, but mostly He wants us to pour out our costly selves over Him and be humble, remorseful, and thankful that He will die and need this for His burial and ressurection.
         Alabaster feels hard, but it is easy to carve and can beshaped many ways. Cut thin enough, it was even used for window panes, letting in the light to those with in. It is ancient. Used from far back in time. A valuable commodity, even today.  There is even alabaster in the USA, in Oklahoma. Mostly it is used for lamp shades and vases and trinkets today. Before it lined entire buildings, walls, ceilings, floors. I can only imagine how that would look!
          Maybe worthless knowledge....but thanks, Alabaster Elephant, for helping me learn something new today, and putting a story inside me, that had to get out!