[ I recently found a copy of a letter to a friend with whom I used to correspond, a friend who wouldn’t mind this link to the present time…]
Last night we had our first significant snowfall of the season. Seven or eight inches of the cleansing, heavenly powder have domed each twig and tree trunk. My god, how long has it been since we’ve had snow or rain?
I stepped into my skis today and poled up the north ridge toward McKenna’s sheep farm. I turned westward on the plowed gravel road. Skiing was delightful in the bright morning air. I stopped and listened to my heartbeat for a spell, then heard a shotgun blast from far away. The wooded slopes shimmered with a sheen of snow and ice.
The peace and solitude were like candy to a kid. I tried being “here and now” like a Zen practitioner, knowing that moments like this in troubled times are hard to find. Occasionally I thought about the nuclear waste dump proposal for our area, of how such evil sharpens an appreciation for a simple act like fishing or cross-country skiing.
Yeah, New York State in its political wisdom has selected the 10 poorest and most rural counties as possibilities for the siting of its nuclear waste dump. A county neighboring my home is one of those 10 places, and within the county are five townships that qualify for nuke waste, according to the state. Two of the county sites are roughly 25 miles of where I skied today.
The siting commissioners came to Belfast a few weeks back, to the high school complex that managed to absorb 5,000 angry protestors (roughly one out of every 10 residents in Allegany County!). I even made the late-night TV news in Buffalo that evening, thanks to the Earth First! sign I was carrying.
No one seems to want the nuke dump (“We don’t make it; we won’t take it!”), and many don’t want to see it anywhere, myself included, feeling that it’s time to get serious about our energy use and to open the door to less consumption and to more sustainable means. But Governor Mario Cuomo will not listen. One commissioner at the Belfast meeting actually fell asleep amidst the uproar!
I skied through an old apple orchard, gliding slowly, listening to a pair of hairy woodpeckers tapping at the aged trees, then flying in a wave toward the sumacs where I paused. A raven gave a rasping croak and flew overhead. A bit of wild Appalachia filled the space between that bird and me.
C., we humans have really done it– separated the egg yolk from the white, as you have said, and created one helluva meringue in this life. The poet Ben Jonson may have said, “An Egg is but a Chicken in Potentia”– I would add that our scrambled eggs are prelude to a monster.
It’s a good thing to be fueled by vision (if not with less glorious substances), by poetry, even if you haven’t composed a line. Incidently, my hemlock poem is finished but it needs some aging before I send it out. My birch poem, too, is brewing slowly. But I am enclosing a copy of the long Survivor, written last fall and accepted by a new journal giving voice to Appalachia and its wider spaces.
I skied through a stretch of land posted with “Experimental Wildlife Area” signs. The out-of-state owners have been busy planting groves of pine and spruce. Surrounding brush has been cleared; bluebird houses have been set up in the open areas. Fruit trees have been planted and protected. Skiing through abandoned farmland has been comforting. The “improvements” are largely for the many deer to be hunted on this summit, a selfish concern perhaps, but the work and planning have benefits for other species to be found here through the year.
Thanks again for the Agee article. I found it intriguing though a little too self-conscious and artful, as if looking for the “movie rights” alone, like Castanada. How I loved to read the Don Juan writer till I learned that the work was more for art than anthropology. The truth probably suffered. Currently, there’s a sense of the creative Sixties in the air, short-lived perhaps. We need another burst of fresh air, wouldn’t you say? More light. More snow. A new revolution.
Yours, on cross-country skis….