Watching a spider wander through the grass beneath the small wooden table here in the yard, and thinking to myself wouldn’t it be grand if I could produce a thread inside of me and string up a cozy hammock anywhere I’d like. To carry my own house inside me wherever I roamed. It would keep me dry in a deluge of rain, cool during the heat of summers, and warm through the winter.
Woke up this morning and went through what has become my typical routine since being in Taos: make a cup of coffee and read something (currently, a book of selected works by Faulkner—it’s marvelous). Afterward, I went for a spectacular run/hike from the house to Miner’s Creek Rd, then Rainbow Lake, then Mason Town, and finished with a taxing hike up Royal and a screaming-fast run down and back to the house. This was all wonderful, but that which made it all the more special was the fifteen minutes spent reclining amongst the rocks overlooking I-70 some thousand-plus feet below.
Hiking up the mountain, heart pounding like a timpani drum, lower calf feeling so stiff that one might imagine it could be broken like a bone, I was harassed much of the way by flies that could not be rid of due to my glacially slow pace I was incapable of increasing. Yet, at the top, having espied a portion of the mountain that formed something like a lounge chair, and seating myself in it, sprawling rather languorously, limbs akimbo, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun-heated rocks as a cool breeze skimmed across my skin, they ceased to bother me, or I ceased to be bothered by them. Instead I looked on in amazement as various different winged beasties made attempts at clambering over an arm or a leg but, tripping over the stumbling blocks of hair, struggled to make much progress.
Lying there, like in a hammock, looking down far below, past the pines and contours of rocks, at the cars and trucks crawling along the interstate, and then to one creature or another on an arm or a leg, and then back to the traffic, I could only think how small and negligible humans are rushing about on their daily, various errands and tasks.
Butterflies frolicking in the wind or sunning themselves on an exposed rocky slab, folding and unfolding wings, sometimes in flight blown off course by a rogue zephyr… chipmunks scrambling and foraging; the colors of lichen (pumpkin orange, and the zillion unspeakable shades of green); tiny purple flowers like magic buttons and baubles; a plant similar to hens and chicks, tiny like a baby’s fist, with yellow blossoms; the shells of old trees bare and weather-beaten lying on their sides like shipwrecks off an unnamed island.
In short, an ocean of peace on which I floated like a reverie, my eyes coursing over everything, projecting a world of fascinating beauty and sublime indifference. Peace! Peace! Peace! And the appreciation of a world that for a short while was untouched by anything save the glance of my eyes alone.
The naked light bulb in the lamp on the table beside my bed fascinates me. A bare light bulb, whether hung by a cord from a ceiling, or screwed into a lamp, is a symbol of poverty. Not just a financial poverty, but, as well, a poverty of the spirit, an indifference to the state of one’s self. The reason there is no lampshade covering this particular light bulb is because I removed it, basically, because it was completely useless. Really just a thick, purple, glass bowl with an opening in the top, it didn’t simply soften and disperse the light radiating from the bulb, but contained it altogether. That, it needn’t be said, is not useful.
I look at this light bulb, and I look around the room that I am in with its dirty white walls, kind of brown and tan in places, the surface rough and unfinished, areas of incision where squares of drywall were removed and inexpertly replaced; exposed electric sockets naked in wall recesses; the ceiling which slopes down to a waist-height wall in which a door is set, sea-green, about three feet in height, and held shut by a single piece of duct tape; another wall: red, following the contour of the ceiling, also with a door, dirty and with a large brown smear of spackle that looks like a wad of human shit where someone lazily repaired a hole; the mismatched dressers and tables; the clay-colored tile floor; the dirty window and its frame that’s coming apart at the joints, paint chipping off. I look around at all this with fascination. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t make me feel poor, or contribute to feelings of inadequacy (none of which I have, anyway). Perhaps that’s because I know I’m only here temporarily. Or perhaps its because I have a sense of self-worth, or self-knowledge, or understanding of the world and my place in it that is great enough that a lack of certain material things doesn’t affect me so much. I know better.
And so I look at this light bulb, this naked balloon of argon filled glass, and I appreciate it for the light that it emits, that I might write down these thoughts, and I wonder at its polished, white, pearlescent surface, and its simple, beautiful shape, and I don’t know that I am poor because I feel as though I am rich, and so this light bulb holds no sway over me, but sheds light so that I may rejoice because I am alive to experience it.
Right now it seems to me that I am living like Sugar, who is lying off to my left in a patch of grass (I dare not call it a lawn because it seems much wilder than that, and far more lovely for all the dandelions about, and the grass most places being eight to ten inches high, but more lush and more beautiful than any lawn I have ever seen on anyone’s property who so bothers himself with keeping one), basking in the warm sunlight, as still as a statue, eyes mere slits. And I, on this bench-swing, doing the exact same thing, only reflecting on the sameness of our lives.
Frisco, CO. Eight a.m.
Lounging on the bench-swing in the lawn. Surrounded by dandelions. The dog, Sugar, being dog-like, sniffing around, investigating the morning scents, then choosing a cozy spot in a warm patch of sunlight on a lush patch of grass to lie down; the prominence of the fast-running river only a stone’s throw from here very nearly the only audible sound, white noise maintaining a backdrop for the bursts of birdsong flushing through the aspens and pines, and the sun filtering through just beginning to stab my eyes with its pointed glare. The slight sound of slightest traffic thin and fringy, and thankfully, easy to ignore.
I just finished drinking an exquisite cup of an Ethiopian Kochere—citric, floral with a bright, lively, happy acidity that dazzles the tongue much like the early morning sun might one’s eyes, or the song of the birds one’s ears. There is no better start to a day than this little ritual of mine.
I’m noticing now how in the shaded parts of the lawn the dandelions are closed up tight, like they might be cold, and so each of them has snugged up his and her sepals tight around their blossoms like I might zip the collar of a warm jacket up tight. I would also be remiss not to mention how much like aristocrats from the sixteenth century they look like, albeit headless ones, with their broad collars peaking out the tops of their shirt and jacket. A particular painting by El Greco which hangs in the Prado in Madrid titled The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest comes to mind.
In places where broad swaths of sunlight paint the ground these dandelions’ heads are thrown back, petals fully extended like mouths wide open stretched to their limits, swallowing whole all that pours forth from the sky. How strange that I’ve never noticed this phenomena before! How intelligent the world is! Is there anything that looks happier, more full of joy, than a flower opened up completely? It is like a human soul who has become so accepting to everyone and everything, all experience, good or ill, that it matters not what might become of it, that it might be destroyed means nothing, but that it continue in its course, which is always the correct course, and finds satisfaction in that.
A White-crowned Sparrow is flitting about the yard, sounding out its presence from perch to perch like a submarine’s radar keeping time with whatever metronome guides it.
Saw a cafe in the town of San Luis, CO (the oldest town in the state, according to a sign) so mistakenly decided it was a good time to stop on my way north to Frisco. The espresso machine is a beautiful, lever actuated, single-group, copper and brass piece, with an eagle perched on top. The espresso itself, however, is very bad—much too long for a single basket, thin, watery and bitter. Who knows how old the coffee is.
Driving is proving to be strange, and slightly unsettling. Obviously it feels like less of an adventure, but I’m a bit worried that the engine is going to blow up or something. I shouldn’t, of course, but the car is nearly twenty years old, even though it does seem to be really well cared for and the man I bought it from was enormously cool and, I felt, trustworthy. Anyway, I’m really eager to get to Frisco, which I think, along with my concern for the $1500 car, is part of the foundation for my general feelings of unease. That a mutual friend of ours is going to be in town this evening is also encouraging me to slow down and stop for little (not that one notices much to slow down for when zooming passed everything at such speed).
San Luis seems a rather dismal town. Nothing happening. Couple cars parked. Barber shop and a market across the street. Gas station on the opposite corner. The owner/employee here at the cafe seems utterly bored, and was absolutely disinterested in helping me. The abundance of grey sky overhead is not encouraging of any sort of joyfulness either.
The oldest town in Colorado. It evokes the sentiments of an old, a very old man or woman, decrepit, miserable, misanthropic, who’s lived too long and is really quite ready and willing to pass on. “Let me die already!” it seems to be saying. That’s how it feels sitting in this potentially cozy cafe. Potentially cozy. Maybe with a barista who cared, who wanted to be here, and with smiling people to serve instead of just the vacant air and the dull throb of a heart tired and worn out wanting to give up for the pointlessness of it all. The couch looks comfortable, the tables and chairs are okay, there’s art on the walls and shelves full of books. There’s just no LIFE. No music. Dead quiet. It doesn’t matter how many books you have on a shelf, or how comfortable the couch looks, or how good (or bad) the art hanging on your walls is, if there’s no heartbeat there’s no life. It’s like trying to dress up a cadaver. No matter how fine the clothes the cadaver’s still a cadaver. There’s no reanimating that. And that’s exactly what this experience is like: it’s like having a cup of coffee in a morgue, only less sterile. Deadman’s Reach Coffee. Fitting.