I’m still here.
I’m not quite ready to come back to the blog yet. I have a lot of things planned, but they have all been impeded, first by covid, then by an unprecedented heat wave, and now by a layer of smoke that burns the eyes and hides the sun. Welcome to California.
The title of this interim post is Anniversaries, and I have two of them.
Forty-five years ago I sat down to write my first novel. The actual date varies a little because it was the day after Labor Day, and that is the way I celebrate it. In 1975, it came on September second. This year it came on September eighth, but on that day it was too hot to start the computer in my un-airconditioned writing shed.
Life giveth and life taketh away. In the last four days the temperature has dropped from 110+ to something almost comfortable, but only because the sun had not been able to penetrate the smoke cloud that covers the entire state. I can’t breathe, but I’ve stopped sweating and I can turn the computer on again.
In a world where people are dying of covid, out of work, fearing eviction, and in many cases hungry, a little sweat, some stinging in the eyes, and a bit of cabin fever is the definition of comfort and luxury.
I don’t forget that.
Hard times aren’t new. Ninety some years ago in my birth state of Oklahoma my father couldn’t see the sky either, but then it was from the dust storms that were wrecking everyone’s lives. We go on.
Nineteen years ago, things got tough in a hurry here in America, and everything changed. That’s the other anniversary. I spoke of it in an early post of this blog, back in 2015. I’m repeating it here.
I was in the shower getting ready for a day at school when my wife called to me. A plane had hit the World Trade Center. By the time I dried and dressed, the second plane had hit.
Twenty minutes later, driving to work, I listened on the radio as the towers fell.
All day long I taught science, keeping to the lesson plan. I didn’t want to teach, and no one wanted to listen, but it was necessary to keep a semblance of normalcy. Every break we teachers watched the television, but we didn’t take any news back to the classroom. These were young children. They needed to be in their own homes, with their parents, before they began to deal with the details of America’s disaster.
At the end of the day, I drove home. I had upon me the need to write, but not of the tragedy. Others wrote that day of what had happened to our country, and wrote well. I needed to write of love and joy and beauty – and of my wife who is all those things to me.
Poems come slowly to me; usually they take years to complete. This one rolled freely about in my head as I drove, and when I arrived at home, I only had to write it down.
There Am I
Where there is water, there am I.
In sweet, soft rain and in hard rain,
driving and howling,
or filling the air with luminescent mist.
Water is life, and there am I.
Where there is sun, there am I.
In the soft heat of morning or in the harsh afternoon,
or heavy with moisture, forcing its way through clouds,
or dry as a lizard’s back.
Where the Sun is, is life, and there am I.
Where Earth is, there am I.
Whether dark loam, freshly plowed
or webbed with fissures, hard as stone,
or sandy, or soft as moss.
Where Earth is, is life, and there am I.
Where life is, there am I.
rain forest or desert,
broad plains of grass or brooding jungle,
Where life is, there am I.
Where She is, there is life,
and sun and rain and earth, and all good things.
Where She is, is life,
And there am I.
Things got tough in 2011, things are tough in 2020, things have often been tough throughout history, and things will be tough again in the future. But life abides, beauty abides, joy abides, and love abides.
Stay well, friends. Be good to each other.