“On the Highway”

Overwhelming force of violence or evil makes powerful reading for some. For some, but not for me. Powerful reading for me is in tension of struggles between opposing forces in the narrative. When one of these forces is love your story becomes cosmic within nature, no matter how exalted or mundane.

The last sentence lacks clarity because it’s unclear what “no matter how exalted or mundane” is referring to. I leave that configuration because it sounds better than any way I might think to clarify. But, no matter what’s referenced in that sentence, the phrase fits: “Opposing forces?” “Story?” “Within nature?” Each, within the story, might be exalted or mundane.

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Christmas works

Our series of three, on working xmas, begins HERE.

…There is a cold breeze outside the car, though nothing moves but a plastic rag knotted on a tree limb — the tree one of those slender naked beauties above the car. Just so light, the rag floats on an otherwise nonexistent breath available to any eye passing or peeping out the nursing home window. I’m parked below the Church between it and the nursing home, waiting for Mass to begin. I don’t recall ever being in a Catholic Church before.

All over New England, in old once-successful mill towns, one finds these astonishing structures in brick or stone. One day this granite mass before me will be christened a basilica. Now it is a reminder that those coming across the border, the French-Canadian immigrants, gave unstintingly out of a bounty of labor not well-paid. For these workers, especially, often were not well treated… and in Yankee communities they were often despised.

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Christmas working

Our 3-part working Christmas series begins HERE.

I arrive in Auburn down route 4, glide past the empty parking lots and deserted stores of Center Street and down into the inner business district, pull to a stop at the traffic light and wait for it to change. A young happy-looking man in a red windbreaker walks in front of the car… now looking like reaching for the doorhandle, so I stretch out a forefinger and press the lock, averting my gaze from his smiling face, ashamed. I suspect he’s developmentally disabled and feel ungenerous for refusing to share even a smile with what could be an angel in disguise. Neither of my sons, I think, would have refused him. My hard suspicious nature has robbed me of a telling moment. It is Christmas Day.

He passes away down the main street toward Lewiston and, more waiting, then the light changes and I turn that way myself. I cross a bridge over Maine’s Androscoggin River and enter the old textile milltown, stopping to make another collect call on the pretext of determining whether I unplugged the coffee pot before leaving earlier. During the exchange JD and I wish one another Merry Christmas again and I’m listening for a tone, a timber in his voice to determine if he’s unhappy about being alone. His tone is light, uncomplicated, content. I hang up and sigh.

The morning’s coffee has triggered the bodily system and I find myself in need of relief: but where can one find a public toilet in a deserted city on Christmas Day?

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working xmas

Winter thematic Maine Metaphor may be published next year.  Hopefully. This entry, here with some notes, is part of that experience–our experience in Maine. first those notes:

Working Christmas. 4:45 a.m. make coffee, plug in the white-lit wreath, turn on the radio to the Mt. Washington station playing Christmas carols.

Marginalia: read Brault’s French-Canadian heritage in New England for info on Sts. P. & P. and the people, remember theme of despised and rejected. Here in Maine the French were so treated in the established Yankee culture.

Relate when I’m inside; interspersed with service. Something on the language – the need to retain it. The Québécois newcomers retained their agrarian small-town mores and language in the mill towns of Maine. “Lose your language, lose your faith,” went the saying.

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o canada!

The Frontenac Hotel was our destination, the old city of Québec with its old world mystique top-heavy fronts and tarnished copper roofs and turrets; statuary, carriages, dignitaries and redcoats and rebels and tourists; its outdoor cafes and squares.

The boardwalk above the precipitous shore and beneath the high city, the yet higher battlements with cannon sending forth its smoking charges and celebration, cannonading with thrilling power.  As a decade before, landing on Loyalists Day in St. John, New Brunswick, quite by accident, so it was with this day; with our rising into the city in our pickup truck on Canada Day. Continue reading

happy b’day, friend.

Happy B’day Friend!

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
   This tree was pulled from the woods when we first moved here. About three feet tall, very skinny. The soil was too dry that year. I had to cut the top. When it’s budding we think of JRRT’s poetic beech candle flames.
   I’m not sure I agree with the part of CSL’s quote before the semicolon.  But that second part!  Yes, ever.

 

 

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