Wassail, traveler, and welcome to The Gable Grey -- a place of retreat, of renewal, and of resistance: a tree-shaded refuge in Dark Times. Now pass the threshold, and rest from journeys! For a cold wind is blowing; and here, if you wish, you may hear tidings of the world without...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Other creatures of the same kind...

I attended a Business Meeting this week in Flowood, a kind of suburb, I guess, of Jackson, MS.  It was at a Best Western, in a Conference Room, with canned soft drinks and everything, and I sat in my seat like an Ent in winter.  It was predictably dull, unproductive, tiresome, monotonous, and useless, as well as costly to me in time and money.  Being a reluctant veteran of this kind of business, I knew what to expect, though, so I had readied my mind and spirit in advance; so that while I was able to appear attentive, even interested (I can beam like brass into the most leaden visage), my thoughts wandered elsewhere most of the time.  In such wise I came through it soul unscathed.  Mostly.

Then I drove home.  My first challenge:  getting through Flowood, and then Jackson.  At five o'clock, Prime Meridian.

I spent much time sitting at red lights, or near red lights, or within eyeshot of red lights, for a long time; one nondescript car in a revving, smoking, ticking, popping ribbon of a few thousand other cars.  It was much like the meeting:  soul-wearying, even for the prepared.  But (as a bonus!) I was provided ample opportunity to survey several miles of the City of Flowood. 

Of course, I was not impressed.  I felt pity for the struggling crepe myrtle and loropetalum, valiantly pushing against their concrete barracks in the medians, Asians marooned by American city planners to provide a semblance of natural color in a gray and black Thunderdome.  (I used the American spelling "gray" here, as "grey" is too elegant for the effect I am aiming for; the latter is appropriate to a smooth river-stone, or a cloudy sky... not man-made stuff.)  They were pretty enough now, in early April, but they will positively cook come July and August, and suffocate in the exhaust fumes. 

What do the city planners think they are doing, stranding those plants there?  Do they think to lull the Happy Motorists into a false sense of gentility, that they are actually practically enjoying country life along with their trips to Babies-R-Us and Mellow Mushroom and Mug Shots (in that order), when they are really about as far removed from country life as Joan Rivers? 

It has become abhorrent to me, the Urban Landscape.  I never much cared for it, but now it is intolerable.  Those not spiritually strong enough to deal with it must needs ingest copious amounts of drugs -- from nicotine to caffeine to alcohol, on up -- just to keep from offing themselves in despair.  I myself, still drink too fucking much coffee.  I wish I could kick the habit, but I don't know (Deep Down) that I really, really want to.

Further, it has gotten to the point that I long to see the end of the Urban Landscape.  I'm serious.  I want to see trees, and grass, grazing animals, wild animals, free-flowing streams... everywhere.  Sure, I can see those things, if I make a special trip.  No, I want to see a fucking flock of wild turkeys among the crepe myrtles of Flowood, MS.  I want to see the death of the Urban Landscape.  I am ready.  I honestly yearn for the day when people can no longer hop in the automobile and drive to Wal-Mart.  I want to walk out my back door and not hear the roar of the Interstate.  Maybe, once in a while, the sound of a train in the distance would not be so bad. 

I want to walk out into my back yard at night, and see all the stars, like I was able to for a couple of weeks after Hurricane Katrina.  The heat was awful, but I got used to it, and grew to love the stillness of the nighttime, and the stars winking at me through the pine trees.

I feel so alone with those feelings.  I know of few others who feel similarly, almost none within my family -- and none at all who seriously believe it themselves.  They are too caught up in enjoying the amenities of the past Age.  One can hardly blame them.  Maybe I'm the abberation, wanting to do away with cheap electricity, cheap gas, cheap everything.  Who in their right mind would want to chop firewood, when there is a chainsaw available?  Me, that's who, which makes me not in my right mind, I guess.  I can only argue, weakly, that such work is more honest -- the work of hands, of back, of legs, of shoulders.  (I find myself forgoing my circular saw this Spring, and using my simple hand saw instead.  Takes longer, but I like the work better.)

We live in a time of dwindling fossil fuels and dwindling monetary wealth, a time of change, a Paradigm Shift so overwhelmingly obvious for those with eyes to see that it leaves us bewildered at pretty much everyone else, all the time.  I am coming to welcome the Paradigm Shift with open arms, relishing it almost as one coming home after a sojourn in a dark, dry wasteland.  Am I the only one?  How many out there are like me?  When will they join me in leaving the old ways behind, letting others jostle for the table scraps of the Twentieth Century, and return to the real Old Ways?

Meanwhile, I will stand beneath the oaks and poplars and pines, listening to the fading of the engines on the Interstate, and note the silences between the fading of one and the approach of another.  These days, those silences are longer.

     Even as he spoke, there came forward out of the trees three strange shapes.  As tall as trolls they were, twelve feet or more in height; their strong bodies, stout as young trees, seemed to be clad with raiment or with hide of close-fitting grey and brown.  Their limbs were long, and their hands had many fingers; their hair was stiff, and their beards grey-green as moss.  They gazed out with solemn eyes, but they were not looking at the riders:  their eyes were bent northwards.  Suddenly they lifted their long hands to their mouths, and sent forth ringing calls, clear as notes of a horn, but more musical and various.  The calls were answered; and turning again, the riders saw other creatures of the same kind approaching, striding through the grass.  They came swiftly from the North, walking like wading herons in their gait, but not in their speed; for their legs in their long paces beat quicker than the heron's wings.  The riders cried aloud in wonder, and some set their hands upon their sword-hilts.
     'You need no weapons,' said Gandalf.  'These are but herdsmen.  They are not enemies, indeed they are not concerned with us at all.'
     So it seemed to be; for as he spoke the tall creatures, without a glance at the riders, strode into the wood and vanished.  -- The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers:  "The Road to Isengard"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Whiles carried o'er the iron road,
We hurry by some fair abode;
The garden bright amidst the hay,
The yellow wain upon the way,
The dining men, the wind that sweeps
Light locks from off the sun-sweet heaps --
The gable grey, the hoary roof,
Here now -- and now so far aloof.
How sorely then we long to stay
And midst its sweetness wear the day,
And 'neath its changing shadows sit,
And feel ourselves a part of it.
Such rest, such stay, I strove to win
With these same leaves that lie herein.

-- William Morris, from
"The Roots of the Mountains"