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...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Additions

I added some links of varying importance to the Gable Grey.  They are mainly for my own use, but others may find them of at least passing interest.

Wassail, friends.  May your Autumn be a good one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ramble On

Farewell we call to hearth and hall!
Though wind may blow and rain may fall,
We must away ere break of day
Far over wood and mountain tall.
To Rivendell, where Elves yet dwell
In glades beneath the misty fell,
Through moor and waste we ride in haste,
And whither then we cannot tell.
With foes ahead, behind us dread,
Beneath the sky shall be our bed,
Until at last our toil be passed,
Our journey done, our errand sped.
We must away!  We must away!
We ride before the break of day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dark Roads

Been a difficult year.  I've been neglecting The Gable Grey of late.  Can't be helped.  I don't know when I'll be back to posting on a more regular basis.  There has been and is still much to do.  My strength has been and is being tested like never before.  At some point I may find that strength wanting.  At that point I would take the Ship, and leave this place in more capable hands, or simply to the trees.  My heart is sick and weary of the burdens upon it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sacred Foxes

I've had some fox trouble.  Lost 8 chickens in one early morning raid on the coop.  A red fox found a weak link in the fence, managed to jump and climb over, and entered the coop, which I had got into the habit of leaving open at night.  Lost 5 Polish and 2 of my 3 original Dominicker hens, plus Lionel, the Barred Rock roo, only recently come to adulthood.  I last saw the red fox headed towards the woods along our creek, mouth full of Polish hen.

I mended the fence as best I could, strengthening it, making sure it was "taut" all along its length, so that it would not bow under the fox's weight and allow him to fall inside the paddock.  I believed that was enough.

It was not.  I had begun closing the coop door at night again after the initial slaughter, and had continued to do so after I strengthened the fence.  One night, however, I was late coming home from work, and when I made it out to the coop at around 10, I found that yet another Polish had gone missing.  I found the body near the back of the poultry yard; the fox had heard me coming, and had not had time to make off over the fence with his winnings.  I was not certain it was a fox that had done it, thinking perhaps a hawk or owl had done it earlier, and was unable to carry the chicken out.  I left the body where it lay, figuring that if the culprit were a fox, it would come back later in the night for the chicken.  Sure enough, next morning the body was gone.  The fox had managed to get over a 5' high fence.  Impressive!

All this has been a valuable learning experience for me, underestimating as I did the cleverness of foxes (the stereotype is well-earned).  I learned something about my wife as well, who is an unashamed animal lover.  At this point she is very angry at the fox(es), and has stated bluntly that a gun might be warranted here.  (Doubly shocking to me, as she has no love for guns.) 

It has been a great story to tell to all and sundry in my circle, to be sure.  Suggestions for fox control (and there have been many, mostly by city folk who probably can't remember the last time they actually saw a wild fox) range from live trapping (from my mother, who has a spare trap that still smells of skunk) to concocting a poison made from butter and fly killer (from a local poultry breeder who accidentally lost a puppy to said brew).  Nobody -- nobody, mind -- has suggested the alternative:  learning to live with the foxes.

I stated, almost without thinking, in an online discussion with a wonderful woman who lives in Alabama that I consider foxes sacred.  We had been discussing the depredations of predators, among other things, on Guy McPherson's site.  She said, in so many words, that she wasn't sure what that even meant -- that word:  sacred.  This brought me up short, enough that I dwelled on it for days after, and have since pretty much gone off the Deep End. 

It's true, you know.  I do consider foxes sacred, always have.  I was never sure why.  True, my understanding of it came into sharper focus a few years ago, in my studies of early fantasy fiction.  I believe it was Lord Dunsany who spoke of foxes as one of only two creatures that regularly cross the nebulous boundary between our world and Faerie (the other being the unicorn).  This is why the fox has such an elusive, and almost magical, quality about it; an afterglow of the Perilous Realm we sense as the fox wends its way along forest edges at dusk and dawn.

Yet these are not phantoms, of course, but living, breathing manifestations of the natural world, of which we are inseparably part.  I discovered their den in the lot next door, deep in a grove of bamboo, beneath the X formed by two trees downed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  There is more than one entrance, I found.

Spiritual concerns aside, there are some practical considerations for not removing the foxes, which I found myself presenting in response to all the suggestions I garnered:  they keep local rodent populations under control, including rats, mice, rabbits, and squirrels (the latter a serious concern, as we live among mature pine trees); and if they were removed, some other predator would soon fill the vacuum, such as skunks, possums, and raccoons, as well as stray cats.  Possums and raccoons, especially, would be more difficult to keep out of the poultry yard, due to their ability to climb.

And yet, and yet... there was still this whole business of the sacred nature of foxes, which in all honesty was more of the issue for me than any other.

I dwelled on it, and dwelled on it, and am still dwelling on it.  In fact I will go so far as to say that I have become obsessed with it, and have probably (as I said) gone off the Deep End.  I am still not comfortable talking about my private revelations publicly, so I will not go into it any further here, not yet.  But I feel as if I have turned a corner in my life, so to speak, and have found myself consciously on a path that I have heretofore been treading almost unconsciously my whole life.  For that, I must thank the fox, the clever traveller between worlds.

(Mean time, the fence around the poultry paddock is now over seven feet high... but I still latch the coop door at night.)

Wassail, friends.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Songs of the Prophets

Recently I completed a second full reading of Strauss and Howe's remarkable study of the cyclicality of history, The Fourth Turning, which stands the recent linear view of history on its head.  Just like there are four seasons in a natural year, and four seasons of a man's life, there are four seasons of a saeculum (about 80 years, or the length of a person's life):  Crisis, High, Awakening, and Unraveling.  Further, there are four generational archetypes that move through that saeculum:  Hero, Prophet, Nomad, and Artist.  Each Archetype finds itself with a particular role to play during each season of the saeculum.  Strauss and Howe make a convincing argument, tracing the saecular seasons and their generations back through Anglo-American history to the War of the Roses; but the Saecular Games were known as far back as Roman, and even Etruscan times, and it was said that every person, should they live a long life, would take part in the Games (or at least be a spectator) at least once.

Today we live in a time of Crisis (the Fourth Turning), the Winter season of the saeculum.  During saecular winters, it is the part of the Prophet archetype to provide leadership; the Nomad, to provide the hands-on know-how to get the job done; the Hero, to provide the muscle; and the child Artists, to bear witness, to be helpers, and to simply survive and carry the promise of a future for humanity through the Crisis bottleneck.

The Prophet generation provides the fire and passion necessary to rouse the Heroes to decisive action, and the vision to achievable goals necessary for the survival of the nation.  They are tempered by their saecular seasons to look inward, towards the inner (spiritual) world instead of the outward.  Strauss and Howe personify the Prophet generation in the figure of the Gray Champion.  Examples of the Gray Champion include Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, and Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams.  These men were not soldiers.  Too old to fight, they provided the spiritual leadership for their Crisis season, while the Nomads provided the managers (generals, such as Washington, Grant, Patton) and the Heroes provided the muscle (the G.I., or "Greatest," Generation is an example). 

Today, what generation corresponds to that of FDR?  What generation is our Gray Champion?

The Baby Boomers.

I make small effort to conceal my scorn for this pampered, indulged, self-important, narcissistic, greedy, and hypocritical group.  Unfortunately, they are what we have to guide us through these early days of Crisis.  These former hippies and yuppies, who sang the songs of protest against "The Man" during the last Awakening (or Second Turning), who preached "make love not war," who tore down the civic edifices built by the G.I.'s and rebuilt them to serve their own interests, who nurtured the rise of destructive neoliberal and neoconservative politics, now threaten to bring the entire roof down on everyone as they lead us down the path to war, poverty, and complete and utter environmental degradation.

Now, don't get me wrong:  there are some Boomer Prophet voices who preach much-needed common sense, and who actually are the exception to the usual Boomer "do as I say, and not as I do" example; and I listen to their words.  But even they are not immune to the personality deficiences of their fellow Boomers -- including their constant, narcissistic need for validation.  This tendency damages their credibility, further eroding what little influence they already have.  Their songs are thus usually drowned out by the greater noise made by the Gingrich's, Obama's, Romney's, and Clinton's of their generation.  This is important, for it is their words that should be inspiring the current Hero generation -- the Millenials, or Generation Y, if you like -- to a rebirth of civic spirit, leading in turn to a fresh approach by the Heroes to the enormous predicaments we now face. 

But this is not happening.  As it stands, Generation Y has no stake in the current paradigm.  They have been locked out of the American Dream, the crumbs of which having already been gobbled up by the desperate Gen Xers, my own (Nomad) generation.  Gen Y has no sense of civic duty.  Why should they have one, anyway?  The example of the Boomer Prophets is one of greed and hypocrisy.  To follow Boomer ways is to follow the ways of sociopaths.

The next decade will see change and turmoil the likes of which no one now can really fathom.  Unfortunately, we have not the leadership anywhere in our society to steer us, and none on the horizon.  I fear the Boomers will suffer mightily, as will the Millenials, in the Crisis; and many will not survive the bottleneck to see the world on the other side. 

I have given up on the Boomer Prophets, whose songs from my youth now ring hollow in my ears.  I fear the wrath of the Millenials, who as their bleak future slowly reveals itself will find it hard to forgive the Gray Champion his failings.  Whatever valid criticisms one may have of them -- and there are many -- FDR and Lincoln led the country through some of its darkest days.  We need leaders of their calibre.  It is our lot in the current Fourth Turning to do without, or to look to the examples of the past for leadership.

Wassail, friends.  And I mean it:  be hale.  Dark days are upon us.

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"