Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The year of the blue tree, part 3

A continuing soap opera of Christmas hubris...

I hike back and report the unfortunate news. No problem! We can make it, Mike decides. He has not seen the road, but he is a man, and he knows these things, and so I nod, throwing out small female warnings about the small lake in the road and the deep ruts with the ice and pools and muck and so forth. The tree is halfway sawn. As it's getting gloomy, we hike over hill, dale, stream-with-hummocks. Etc. We drive the van down the muddy road, and we get stuck. Most stuck; also, completely stuck. Thinking of my three children in the dark, I start to implore the Ruler of the Universe and his angels, then decide it is silly to bother Him with the likes of a mudhole inthe backwater of Otsego county. There are women with three children in far worse fixes than mine who need some attention. Despite my having lodged only about a quarter-prayer, rescue arrives fairly promptly, a lot quicker than AAA would have. Mike hikes over to the charming nineteenth-century cottage, which is dark,and on to the century-later replacement, which is not. The angelic Mr. Tilley arrives on his rather small tractor. We slide backward and forward for a time.The owner of the tree farm happens by, and goes to fetch his very large (and powerfully red and Blakean) tractor. A family of four stops by, just for the interest of the thing: a rural frolic. We are now a party of ten, minus Mike, who has gone off in the pitchy dark to finish sawing down the blue spruce with his lovely antique bucksaw. There is no moonlight and no starlight because the sky is socked in with shoals of tightly packed cloud.

To be continued...

4 comments:

  1. As in the story of a dire adventure told in past tense by a survivor, at least we can picture you presumably safely at home in your writing room, tree sap on your cold hands, family busy putting on popcorn chains and construction paper angels all over the blue spruce...but I keep checking in for the next episode nonetheless.
    Living on 20 acres of woodland (when not curled up at the bookstore) we tend to go for large branches, or tops of windfallen trees ourselves. (Fir, because that's what grows around us, mixed with oak and madrone. You'd appreciate the madrone--on the East coast usually spelled the Spanish way, "madrona". An unusual tree.)
    Not finding any of your books on my shelves, I have sought some out elsewhere, and look forward to reading them. I did like your Giantess tale a lot.

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  2. It's true; the only trace of this adventure that remains is many silvery, mazy tracks on the ceiling...

    I live right in the heart of town--as in downtown--because writing is so dratted solitary that I refused to live in the boonies when we moved here. But sometimes I regret not having my own fierce little parcel of woods (wouldn't mind a tamarack or two) and coyotes and deer and men in orange hats.

    I like California forests, though I haven't seen one in a while. I have a long story set in the northern California woods lying about somewhere or other. "Madrone" is a lovely word.

    I'm glad you dug up something of mine. Hope you find a bit you like as well as the giantess. (She was a great help to me, ages ago.) As a writer, I suffer--as publishers see it--from never doing the same thing twice. Poems, stories, novels set in the past and present, etc. Of course, from my point of view it's all pretty seamless.

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  3. I would think not doing the same thing twice was a virtue, but I am not a publisher, so what do I know?
    No orange hatted guys in my woods, thank heaven (no hunters allowed on my hill). But deer, raccoons (I never remember whether it has all those double letters), skunks, bears, and now and then a mountain lion. (My partner, when the mountain lions are around, is forever telling me "Don't even look at the mountain lion!"). We had a mother lion raise two of her babies not far from where our cabin sits, years ago. I think dear P. thought the lion intended to eat our children.
    Interesting, the choice of downtown living. I've always lived a kind of split life here--the bookstore is very central to my small community, and I am very on call here. But at the cabin we have no electricity, and no way to be contacted. I seem to need both extremes.

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  4. I suppose that I do the extremes, too, except that one extreme of mine is imaginary.

    We had bobcats in the front yard at my house in Cullowhee (NC), but I never managed to see them. They tromped around and around the culvert--something tasty must have liked to hide there.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.