Here is where I attempt to string words...
WORD STRING: Writing is the sequential stringing of words to create a picture in the minds of the readers by catching their initial interest, and continuing to pull them deeper into your world. It does not matter what the subject is, it is still a world you have created and want to populate. Using the right words to describe your world is paramount to being able to acquire dedicated readers. Even as a child I have always enjoyed words, albeit, some words more colorful than others, and I am constantly trying to learn the finer points of grammar, punctuation, and structure, and realize I have a long way to go.
PORCH SITTING: I do not consider porch sitting to be a sign of laziness, or of procrastination. But sitting on my porch, kicked back in an old hand me down rocking chair, my feet resting on the railing I feel contentment, a peace of spirit and a deeper connection to my surroundings. Looking across the valley to distant hills from my perch, and listening to the wind song as it floats between these two mountain ranges leaves very little to be desired. During the darkness of night, I sit and listen contently as the owls talk to each other, or listen to the high pitched howls of the coyotes bounce around the night sky . Sometimes, the lightning will flash and illuminate the hills with deep matted textures. Thunder rolls down the valley and echoes into the dark cloud enshrouded sky, only to be repeated, over and over again until stillness saturates the wet forest.
I also do not consider that porch sitting is only available for those who actually own porches. I have sat and witnessed these mystical sites from many other advantage points. Soft desolate beaches while watching the foamy white surf as it crashes on jagged granite. Or sitting on a mountain ridge, listening to a heavy rain as it beats a steady rhythm on a tent while I try to stay dry. And even sitting in a city apartment, gazing out of a dirty window and watching as the wind sweeps the wet rain horizontally down the concrete sidewalks only to splash against old brick buildings.
I do not consider porch sitting to reign so high on my list of essentials that it has become the end all of life itself. It is only a temporary retreat from the mundane. A brief experience in the unadulterated complexities of nature, and of God. A time to reflect, and to dream. But only for the moment. I am not afraid that if given unlimited time to sit and watch and listen to this gift, that it may become routine. Something with such strength can never become mundane.
I do not consider porch sitting as just a solo undertaking. It is a place to share. A place to converse with family and friends. I have many memories as a porch sitter. Many good, and some challenging, some that brought closeness and trust, and some that provided closure.
A crystal noesis to our existence: I guess there comes a time in each of our lives where our perception becomes more focused, and we realize that some of our dreams have yet to be fulfilled and savored and maybe a few of them never will be reached. We place into their proper spaces the follies of our earlier times, and the knowledge we have earned through the divergences and interfaces of living. The result of our perception, that being the cognitive process of learning, accepting, and reasoning becomes much more a part of our psyche. A crystal noesis to our existence.
For myself, those mistakes made during my younger years, I have ascribed to the learning process and the steps toward adulthood. The art is not to "not make mistakes", but to learn by those mistakes and attain a small bit of knowledge where we realize that we can survive in a world that is imperfect and still attain our goals and dreams. We must also learn and accept that the world has two dimensions. One is perceptible to our eyes, the other is perceived by our spirit.
Do not stop living. Find and explore all the aspects of life
that life has to offer. Experiment, explore, dream, and run
like there is no tomorrow.
Take chances: Do not be afraid of change. Relish the variety that you can have in life simply by doing. Do not sit on the porch and watch the big dogs run by. Join them and feel the wind in your face.
Live passionately: Enjoy and savor the miracles of life. Create and utilize the sights, sounds and smells that is part of the majesty and wonder of nature. Encompass and cling to the free gifts of life, such as family, friends, and the connection you have to all. And live like you have no tomorrow.
FYI: “Go far, take chances, live passionately”© has been my motto for many years and has brightened my path numerous times.
Simple yet daunting, almost like fine whine.
Dreams are a wondrous thing. They lift you to the heavens, and bring you back down gently. They infuse in one the perseverance, motivation, and determination to reach success, no matter how or what one defines personal success. No, I'm not referring to the unconscious snippets of images one conjures up while sleeping, but of the conscience dreams we own of reaching a long sought after achievement, or the passion of beginning a new chapter on the road of life.
To stop dreaming is to stop experiencing life. To live in a stagnant world without change. To become complacent with our lives and to relinquish ourselves to the mundane.
Life lived properly consists of an ever changing chain of achievements, each a stepping stone from the previous to the impending. Decisions are made, lessons are hopefully learned, and we hope we have a better awareness of life.
The Old Wolf
The old man sat quietly on the steps of his small dilapidated log cabin overlooking the vastness of a high mountain meadow. His realization that his days were numbered rested quietly on his mind as he contemplated the many years he had lived a good life. He counted his good friends, good family and the many good memories he owned and genuinely knew he had prospered where many others had not. High in these remote mountains he had lived since his wife passed. He relished the seclusion away from busy and overwhelming noise of civilization. The peace and quietness had helped sooth the loss in his life and rendered a spirituality that created a connection with the natural world. Here he was home at last.
As he sat quietly thinking of those times he had relished his good fortunes, he heard the subtle approach of padded feet come slowly around the cabin and stop close to where he was sitting. The old man slowly raised his head and knew that his only companion sat quietly in front of him. Their eyes met, relaying a trust and understanding of what friendship truly was. The old wolf, eyes showing a trusted reliance existed between them, sat intently watching the old man.
"My friend," the old man said slowly, "Our time is coming to an end. We both have lived a long life, and we both can leave knowing we did our best."
The old wolf rose to his feet and came closer to the old man. His eyes showed an understanding of what the old man had said and moved to nuzzle the man's hands. A knowing smile appeared on the old man's weathered face and he knew that this unequaled bond was one of genuine friendship, born from solitude.
distant rumble of thunder that echoed down the valley, reverberating
off the granite ledges and rolled into nothingness brought him back
to life. The rainstorm was far from him, and here, the sun still
shone on his face. He stood up stoically and bent to picked up his
tools, placing them in the bed of his antiquated Jeep. Another day
completed, the old man returned to his log cabin, prepared and ate a
small dinner, then retired to his sleeping bag, content in the fact
he had accomplished much of the work he had planned for today. He
climbed into the bag, and sleep came very quickly for him.
Morning had come to the high country. Mist spread across the low lands and the sun peeked through this fog, turning the chilled air a subtle orange. The air crisp, clean, and invigorating. Stirring the coals of last night's fire, the dropped a few pieces of dried firewood onto the bed and prepared his breakfast. Good, strong hot coffee with fried potatoes and a slab of fresh deer meat. The aroma of the coffee had shaken his memory of when, as a child, he had gone with his dad as he cut pulp wood for a little extra income to help feed the family. The coffee his dad made over the fire was strong and pungent.
He remembered vividly the first encounter with this magnificent animal. It had happened many years ago, when he first came to this high mountain meadow and began reconstruction of this old log cabin. With lots of work to do before winter hit and up here in the mountains, it came early, the old man spent most of his daylight hours repairing the cabin and putting up his winter supplies.
He had just sat down to rest from felling a large tree when he heard the sound of snapping dried brush. Startled, he turned to face a large wolf, close enough to see the reflection in it's eyes. Fear kept the old man sitting, watching. They stared at each other for several minutes before the wolf turned and slowly disappeared into the thick forest from where he came. Unnerved, but with a sense of wonderment, the old man sat pondering what the hell that was all about. Something much more different had just happened than anything he had ever encountered before in his long life and he sat in awe.
Realizing he was wasting daylight, he returned to the task of limbing out the felled tree that would in time become part of his new home. The work was hard, but the work helped with the heaviness in his heart. He truly missed his wife. Their marriage was long and filled with all the positive things that a good marriage is supposed have. He missed the light hearted conversations, the warmth of her body against his on cold winter nights, and all the little things that made her his wife. She was the kindest, most compassionate woman he had ever met, and her absence was an ever present abstraction in life. One that brought a warm smile to his face and painful tears to his heart.
he rested upon the stump of the tree he had felled, feeling the warm
summer breeze upon his face, his thoughts transported him back to as
time many years ago. A time when his world seemed right. Good times,
with many laughs and much closeness.
In time, he learned to accept the fact that she was gone and he treasured the quality of life they shared those last years and all those precious memories he held.
Another hard day faced him, but his commitment to this new life drove him on with intense determination. A light patchy mist enveloped this ridge this morning, appearing to him like wavering ancient ghosts upon the landscape. Sitting, taking sips of his coffee while waiting for his breakfast to finish frying, he noticed a subtle movement on the edge of the haze covered tree line. He watched as a large wolf emerged from the ghostly mist and walked slowly and
deliberately towards him. Something inside told him he had nothing to fear, but he reached for his hunting knife anyway, slipping it close just in case his instincts proved to be incorrect. The old wolf continued to approach, stopping several times to survey the old man before coming to within several feet, then sitting, and looking at the frying meat over the fire. There is definitely something unnatural happening here and the old man sat in wonderment. With slow movements, the old man took a piece of uncooked venison from the cooler and tossed it to the wolf. With movements that reminded the old man of a favorite dog from many years before, the wolf bent down, sniffed the piece of still bloody meat that landed close to his immense paws and picked it up, slowly chewing. He seemed to savor not only the morsel, but the ease of it's gain.
He old man chuckled as he realized he was not entirely alone on this mountain side. His fantasy provided a pseudo companionship that was missing from his life. A bond seemed to have developed, and the old man sat in peace.
"You know, we are both the same. We live our lives alone, relying on nature to keep us alive and never giving up our freedom." the old man said. "Maybe some day, you will understand what I am telling you." The wolf stared back and blinked.
finished, the two departed and the old man went back to work.
Progress was continuing slowly and the walls began to take shape.
Soon he would be living comfortably in his little one room log cabin.
The plans for this new home came from his dreams. Small, weather
tight, and a front covered porch facing the setting suns.
"Home." he thought. "And here I will die."
The next several weeks seemed to fly by. The roof had been repaired and the finishing touches, what few there were, had been completed. Yes, it was small, but the one property of the old man's dream was a proper front porch, facing southwest and looking out over the distant mountains, softened by distance. The view took his breath away every time he gazed from this spot. He had dreamed of such a vista for many years, and the only thing that decreased the splendor was that it was not shared with the one he thought it would be. Such is life and the unstable roads of living. It is what it is.
moved his limited possessions into his new home. Some things more
important than others, but all holding a special memory or
functionality. He placed the several dozen books he had read and
reread many times upon the shelves, and then to the rough log walls,
he placed framed photos of those who were dear to him.
One final project to complete and he would be finished for this year. As this task was to move the old wood cook stove into his new home, it would prove difficult due to the heaviness of this particular relic and the placement went slow. He had found this dilapidated stove in an abandoned cabin several miles down in the valley, had purchased or constructed the missing parts, and finished, this appliance would serve it's purpose most readily. It was an old Atlantic cook stove, white enamel with shades of aged brown and green in color and it not only had a small oven, but a rear tank to heat water.
"Life is good." he chuckled to himself as he finally positioned the stove into place. Adding the stove pipe was a simple matter and was completed well before dinner.
"Now, to finally cook a decent meal." he thought.
He had long planned what his first meal inside the log cabin would be and relished the idea of playing chef.
"Biscuits and gravy, home fries, eggs over easy, bacon and hot coffee, with a small glass of wine for dessert." he thought to himself. "My first real dinner, sitting on my porch, and unwinding in the last rays of sunlight."
Dinner finally ready, and the old man filled his enamel plate, piling it high and covering everything with the thick sausage gravy. His thought suddenly of his new friend, he added a large piece of raw venison to the tray, just in case he had company. Picking up his tray, he walked slowly outside to his refurbished oak rocking chair. Sitting upon the cushion he had
bought locally for this old chair, he adjusted himself into the most comfortable position imaginable, savored the aroma of his first real meal and settle in to eating leisurely, gazing off
into the far distance. A tear came to his eye as he quietly thought of this moment being shared with the one who had passed before him. "I love you." he said quietly to the dusky sunlight and the orange colored clouds flowing overhead. There was no reply. When he had composed himself, he realized he was not alone. He had not heard his new friend approach and his friend seemed to understand that it was not a time to interrupt the old man's sentiments.
"I thought you might come and visit me again." the old man spoke as he tossed the meat to the the visitor.
Again, the wolf lowered his shaggy, grayed head, sniffed the morsel, and picked it up. The old man perceived in this animal, a calmness of it's spirit while still observing the large canines as the wolf ripped through the meat.
"Damn," the old man thought, "I would really hate to be on the receiving end of those things."
Dinner finally done, the old man placed the dish he had finished on the floor of the porch and
watched as his friend approached the plate, sniffed the remaining remnants of the old man's meal, looked up into the old man's eyes and then lowered his head and slowly licked the plate clean. With the plate scoured from animal's rough tongue, the wolf looked back into the old man's eyes. It was a look that represented a deep forming trust, an understanding between two old beings, and a commitment that they had finally found a bond that would last until the end. The old man slowly held out his hand, remembering the strikingly large teeth,
yet having no fear. As the old man sat waiting for the turn in this game, the animals leaned forward to smell his hand, and then placed a couple of gentle licks across the man's fingers.
Suddenly, the wolf, staring at the tree line intently, stood and the old man asked softly, “What do you see?”
The wolf turned to look at him, then bounded from the porch with a speed that amazed the man. Running on legs that reacted with the rocky ground like steel tensions, the animal disappeared into the now darkened forest. The old man bent to pick up his tray and returned inside his home. Placing the dish into the wash basin, he reached for his shotgun and went back outside, waiting, watching and listening to the night sounds. In the distance he heard the soulful howl of his friend. To most, this sound would have entered the backbone, spiraling up to pure fear before morphing to dreaded terror, but to the old man, the sound created only the fear of losing a friend. He waited patiently for many minutes, and hearing no other sound, decided to sleep. With a restless mind, the man fell asleep, wondering what his friend encountered.
The next morning after breakfast, he picked up his shotgun, strapped on his knife and ventured in the direction where he had heard the sounds of the night before. Walking cautiously so not to destroy any evidence of the trail, he came upon a spot that was covered with fresh blood. There had been a fight here. Not a long one, as the ground was little disturbed, but definitely a bloody encounter of some type. With a worrisome spirit, the old man returned home. With heavy heart, he waited, sitting on his porch, wondering and searching the forest line.
“Damn,” he thought, “This may teach me not to get involved with any more attachments.”
Loss was not a favorite experience for him, and he had tried very hard, not only to make his life less complicated, but with much less emotional attachment to anyone or anything. This wall had protected him for much time, and was always the deciding factor when put into situations where people or animals were involved. It was not so much the animals, as he had great respect for nature. Though cruel and harsh, nature offered a dimension that he greatly
respected and awed. Nature did not encompass the weaknesses of human life that drove him here to the mountains. Nature was for the strong and for those who needed to live the freedom away from human encroachment. He shook his head, removing the negativity that clouded his spirit. He had become better about not being drawn into the memories of civilization, if that is what one wanted to call it. The wide open spaces here diminished those thoughts. Still, he felt he shouldn't have let himself become that attached to an animal. Standing from his chair, he shook his head, and entered the cabin.
“Let's see what I can catch today.” he said out loud and reached for his fly rod.
The spring fed creek was only a couple of miles down the valley and it had some nice trout living in it. It was an easy hike and he enjoyed visiting here. The sound of the running water was almost like music to his ears.
“That would taste good tonight. Fresh trout and some home fires.” he mused.
Packing a quick lunch, his revolver and his fly rod with the only fly he owned, he made his way down the familiar slope to “his” fishing hole. As long as he had been up here, he had never encountered another human being, unless he went into town for supplies, and that was
not that often. When growing up in New England. his dad taught him that fly fishing is a sport that can be both relaxing and challenging at the same time. He had said that when learning to fly fish you need to develop a good cast and to do this one needs to practice as often as possible. By practicing, it will lead to an ability to cast that can make the difference between being a successful fly fisher or an irritated one.
"Guess I was irritated for quite some." the old man chuckled to himself.
His dad also taught him that if you're fly fishing in the afternoon you need to use dry flies. The reason being is that the sun warms both the water and the air, bringing out tons of little black flies. This is a great time to do some dry fly fishing since you have a fly that is similar to this insect. He remembered his dad telling that, "Son, a big fishing mistake is not using nature, and more specifically the weather and moon, to your advantage when fishing. Take time and find out the ways the weather and moon impact fishing and start using this knowledge to your advantage. Use the weather and moon to your advantage sooner, rather than later an you will avoid this popular trout fishing mistake. More than three-fourths of the record game fish are caught within three days before, three days after, or during a new moon or full moon and bright sunlight can bother fish and kill periods of activity or cause fish to take their activity into
shaded or deeper water. Fish prefer some cloud cover or haze. Wind can drive bait fish or insects to the downwind side of a lake and game fish usually follow."
He had never had the luck of most other fishermen. He could stand next to someone, use the same bait, same techniques, and same knowledge and never catch anything while the people next to him caught their limit. Many years ago he decided that the ultimate goal in this sport was relaxation, not catching fish. In this mind frame, he succeeded very well.
But as time progress, he began to hook a few nice fish and now he was confident that tonight's dinner would be fresh trout. He finally reached his destination, placed his lunch and gear upon the bank and prepared to do combat with the citizens of this creek. The sun behind the cloud cover, he cast his dry fly well into the strike zone of the creek. No sooner than he had landed his fly, he was startled by the sound of crashing brush and splashing water. Though startled, his first thought was that it was his new friend coming to investigate his activities, so turning slowly, he came face to face with another of this areas wildlife. It was a small bear, maybe a couple of years old and looking for some easy food. The old man knew he was not in great danger as his 357 hung close to his hands, but he had an inversion to killing. Though he still hunted, it was only for food, and the kill was not enjoyable anymore. It seemed that the older he became, the less he liked to take life.
He waited, watching intently on what the bear had in mind for this chance meeting. As he waited in midstream, another sound erupted behind him. The breaking of wood and the splashing of water as something came fast behind him. Before he had a chance to turn, his friend was standing in front of him facing the bear. The two animals stood, waiting, watching. After what seemed like an hour or more, the bear decided that there was nothing of interest for him at this spot, and waddled off downstream.
“So, you returned. I owe you one.” the old man said and then slowly made his way to the creek bank, his fishing over for the day. He packed his gear and headed home at an easy pace. Though the wolf always walked behind, they both returned to the cabin at the same time. The man went into the cabin, retrieved another piece of venison, a larger one this time, and returned to the porch.
“Here you go, my friend.” and tossed the meat to the porch floor. “You did good today.”
His closet neighbor, and occasional visitor was a man called Daniel Two Dogs. Dan was born and grew up on one of the local reservations. The connection in this relationship was of survival. Both Two Dogs and the old man had walked the razor's edge of abuse, and had survived the ravages of drugs and alcohol. As a young man, he had fought his battles, winning some and losing some, and many years ago, began to follow many of the ways of the traditional Lakota. His is a rich cultural heritage of bravery, spirituality, and a connection with the land had helped him come to realize the importance of a strong spirit. Though his visits were rare, they were extremely gratifying and educational. Many stories were shared over cups of hot, black coffee, and Two Dog's interpretation of the connection between the old man and the old wolf gave meaning to this relationship. Dan said the wolf is the animal guide of true teachers. That wolves are connected to the moon and that they are predatory and define themselves in relation to other people of their pack. Even a “lone wolf” is defined by her or his distance from the pack. He said the wolf is loyal to family and people they consider their own. During these visits he explained many things to the old man, and exchanged the finer points of their personal philosophy of life and living. They discussed the aspects of trust, and honesty, of connection and acceptance. They broached the topic of what defines bravery. Will one approach life, content at what ever happens or does one hide the fear beneath a stoic face. Is it fear of life or is it fear of discourtesy? Will one answer only to himself or will he look for approval from others? They also discussed the meaning of words. Things like the word ”medicine.” This word did not refer simply to healing as it does to western thought, but means anything that promotes harmony with all creation. Of the Medicine Wheel, also called the Sacred Hoop that is a ceremonial circle that is divided into sections, with each section is assigned a particular sacred animal. Dan also told stories of the White Buffalo Woman, of how the buffalo came to be, and how one should live there life. The one story that the old man remembered was one called: “The Wolves.”
The story tells of a young boy and his Grandfather. The Grandfather's voice said to his grandson, who had come to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice...
"Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It's like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die."
"I have struggled with these feelings many times. It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But...the other wolf... ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so
great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing."
"Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."
Even as a young boy, the old man knew his destiny, but did not understand it's meaning until he had listened to these stories and realized his connection with the world around him. This understanding created within him not only a more acute awareness of this world, but a peace within his heart. He remembered a book he had read many years ago, and the excerpt from this book he had used to help him find his way. It read:
“It is said that the earth owns two good days, one visible and one invisible.
One the body senses, and one the spirit visualizes.
One the reasoning identifies and integrates, and one the spirit desires and absorbs.
And on the day one can recognize their power to overlap these two, they will own the earth.”
Tonight, the old man had planned was a night for remembrance. To sort through the silvery cobwebs of time and places, and to lay bare the memories of earlier decades. This one particular evening, while sitting on his front porch, staring with vacant eyes across the moonlit valley, he remembered the time when he first realized and understood the polarity of human nature and it's consequences on the human spirit. He remembered the time he had returned home from completing his military basic training and had taken the old Blue Line bus into the city to visit with his recruiter, proud to be wearing his uniform and proud to be serving his country. As he walked towards his destination, he was confronted by several young females, intent upon casting their anger towards anyone who they deemed to be an enemy of the then popular anti-war movement. He remembered the feelings that twisted his guts when one young woman stepped forward, called him a "baby killer" and then spit on him. He also remembered that as he continued on without saying a word, the hot, burning tears filling his eyes and the confusing emotions that rolled through his inner most being. The acrid taste of bitterness had left him many years ago, and he validated the damage as just part of the turmoil of the times, but also realized that his evaluation of human beings had been tainted. He sighed a long, deep breathe, unconsciously shook his head slightly, and tasted the black, hot coffee he had created for the evening's viewing of the night valley. The moon shone large and bright, bouncing it's silver rays upon the trees and granite ledges, intermingling and dancing across the towering mountains. The soft melody of the wind, mustering the clouds to waltz slowing through the heavens, held his spirit in calming stillness.
His friend had been gone for several days and the old man was content with the solitary twilight, continuing to revert into times past and visit with those who had transitioned on before him. He thought of the tiny country church where he had earned his first bible and the family and friends who had attended. All gone now, including the church itself. As he traveled this path, his thoughts danced through the many years of growing up in rural Maine. Of the many chores he was required to do, not only for his dad but for his grandfather and uncle, and of the of the skating parties on the old and now dried up farm ponds. He envisioned the many faces, and voices of his friends whom he shared the first of life's lessons and the laughter or tears he had in common with them. All now in the past, many long buried deep in the recesses of life's continuum while a few being fully alive and healthy, though far removed from his mountainside retreat. Many he missed, some he did not.
"Well," he thought, "Enough of that crap." and retired to the confines of his home.
"Tomorrow is another day, and the good Lord willing, another opportunity to absorb the majesty of creation."
Morning came, bright, chilled and offering the spirit a renewed vitality of adventure. The old man had decided before sleep overtook him, that today he would explore an area called "Piney Ledge." This part of the mountain range was located several miles north of his cabin, and presented a possibility of observing the big horn sheep that lived in that vicinity. The old man never lost his fascination and reverence of the wildlife. Each species demonstrated it's right to live and manifested itself tenfold. The old man packed a number of necessary items and navigated himself over fallen trees, large craggy boulders and through stunted tree line forest, eventually finding a rocky crag of granite and settled in to watch what materializes. His wait was short lived. A sudden rainstorm appeared on the distant skyline, casting darkened shadows among the ledges. It was time to leave and the old man's mentation assured him the walk up here provided not only a chance to experience different vistas, but also provided physical exertion that might keep him healthy for another forty years. He chuckled at this one.
He would return soon enough, and made his way down the rugged, rock strewn slope to his home below the tree line.
The changing of the season was upon him now. Better begin to get things ready so when it is time to hunker down and ride out the cold months, be would be well prepared. It was not his favorite season, but he had learn not only to deal with the long cold nights, but to welcome the tranquility of this season. He had grown to manhood with the four seasons, and had spent a year in the frozen Arctic tundra of Greenland. He had never experience true cold until his visit to this frigid land. Cold he had never known was over shadowed by the vibrancy of the Northern Lights. Multi-colors of iridescent ribbons, danced across the night skies, evoking within him sentiments of magic and a thirst for spiritual knowledge.
The weeks passed and the season changed as he had predicted and the bond between himself and his new companion grew stronger with passing time. Winter would soon be here, and he was on time with his preparations. Winter in these mountains could be brutal and if ill prepared could take your life. The snow is deep and the wind chill high on these mountains are brutal. He chuckled when the thought crossed his mind that even the animals that reside here have the common sense to move to lower ground during this season. But he was content knowing he had done all he could, and that whatever fate crossed through his door, he would be completely at ease with this visitor.
Getting into town during the winter was not an easy task, so bringing in supplies was a necessity. His dozen cords of firewood lay covered under tarps, his planning of a spring fed cistern would relieve him of of carrying water in minus 20 degree weather, and the small solar panel would give him just enough power to play his music on cold winter evenings. The root cellar was full of local produced vegetable he had bought from the farmers, his cupboards were filled with dried goods, canned goods, and coffee. He was well set for whatever old man winter would toss at him.
It was during these long cold spells that his mind wandered. He sat and gazed at old photos of his wife, his children and family and friends, reminiscing over his successes and his losses, missing many, and wondering where time had gone. Putting the photos away, he sat back in his chair, which he had brought in from the porch and placed next to the wood stove, put his feet up, and lit his one vice in the world. His cigar. Savoring the taste of the tobacco, and sipping a small glass of rum, he felt very content.
A scratching sound on the front door startled him from his dream world. Smiling, he slowly stood and reaching the door, opened it. The cold blast of Arctic air hit him and the snow covered form of his long time friend walked into the room. Shaking the snow from his fur, he walked to the warmth of the wood stove and laid down, steam rising from his coat as he dried. The old man just smiled, shook his head, and returned to his chair, cigar and drink.
“Life is good.” he thought. “Life is really good.”
Spring finally arrived in the mountains, and the warming air melted the snow pack and filled the creek beds with cold, rushing water. New spring growth peaked from exposed bits of land, and the sound of the mountains radiated throughout the valley. Shadows and light dotted the mountains, giving them depth and vitality. Though he had not made close friends in the town where he bought his supplies, people did know him and had accepted the old man. His honesty and good natured spirit gained him respect from the locals and they genuinely enjoyed his company when he visited town. As time continued it's never ending circuit of the natural process, they became somewhat concerned when he did not appear when he usually did after the long winters. With this concern growing, several of the locals who actually knew where the old man had built his home, decided to visit him. Driving to the valley, they finally reached the old man's cabin. There was no movement from inside, and after knocking several times, and yelling, “Hello, anyone home?” they entered.
They looked at each other, removed their hats from their heads, and remained silent for several moments. Laying upon the bed was the old man's remains and also laying on the the same bed was the remains of a large wolf. They had heard the stories from the old man about his new found friend, but considered it only a wishful tale of this aged one. A story told out of loneliness and sorrow. Out of need and wanting. Out of dream for companionship. The realization that truth had existed in his stories where twofold. A sadness that they did not believe the old man and a greater respect that one solitary man and one wild, solitary animal had broken the barrier of fear and mistrust, and had ended their journey in each others company.
They buried both the man and his friend in a single grave, and in time, and with a collection from the town's folk, place a marker on it. It read.... "Old Man & Old Wolf."
Years have passed but the memory of the old man and his friend persist to this day. Not as exaggerated legend or of watered down lies told and retold over a beer in the local saloon, but of simple narrative holding a simple message. One that shows there is a genuine connection to all forms of life and the laws of nature are allowed to distort on occasion.
The old cabin still remains but is falling away, returning to the earth from where it came, and there is still a distinguishable path that leads to this small corner of the vast high mountain range. People still come here after hearing the tale of this man and this wolf. They come to laugh at such nonsense or they come to sit upon the very same stumps that the old man had sat upon, contemplating their lives and wondering where their journey will lead them. And if you ever find the time, the curiosity or the courage to visit here to ponder your existence, stop and listen, for you may hear a distant rumble of a hearty laugh or you may even hear, if you listen quietly, the mournful howl of “The Old Wolf.”
And if you are one of the lucky ones who are given the gift of hearing these spirits, take these home with you and use it. You are given but one life to live.
Make the most of it, and as the old man once told me:
“Son, it is your choice, your decision and your imagination to create the music to make your world dance.”