Sunday, July 8, 2012

No Particular Place to Go

Ah--summertime, and the blogging thins out. 

The other evening I was driving through the beautiful warm night  in an effort to relax my dog, Max, who is intensely freaked by thunderstorms and firecrackers. I knew the Searsport Fourth of July fireworks (re-scheduled to the sixth, thanks to the fog) would begin any minute, so I drove us to Northport and back, slowly with "no particular place to go." 

The night air flew around the car and Max's ears flapped outside the window. I enjoyed the car's hum, so self-contained and private. What can be better than a warm night ride? Here is an excerpt on the topic:

"In the early days before my brother was born, when it was just me and no car air conditioning, my parents drove all night through the Southwest to escape the heat of the day. It was the beginning of the aerospace industry, and my father followed the jobs around the country with his GI Bill engineering degree—Long Beach, Norfolk, Maryland, and later, Cape Canaveral.
It would have been some kind of Chevrolet coupe we were in, second-hand.  That’s what he always drove, and I still associate the rounded lines and grinning grills of the early 1950s models with the possibilities of family.
 In the mornings, we pulled into a motel where I amused myself with books and dolls while they slept. My mother woke late morning and took me to the pool so my father, the driver, could get a few more hours’ sleep. After lunch in the car, he would tell jokes and sing loudly in what he called his “whiskey tenor.” “When the moon hits the eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore,” he sang, never finishing a whole song.
We drove through the afternoon and evening, the desert landscape rolling by. After a long sunset, the funnel of the headlights revealed just what was necessary to know of the road ahead. My parents talked through the night quietly or not at all, my four-year-old self witness to this dashboard light intimacy.
Eventually I climbed into the rounded window shelf above the back seat and hypnotized myself with the passing lights fading away into darkness as the radio played softly and my father sang along from time to time. Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Flatt and Scruggs, music that was always best with a bit of nighttime static behind it conveying great distances, distances traveled and those left to go.
I was too young to have understood the situations they were singing about in those songs, but the music told me everything  I needed to know. The “high lonesome sound” drifted around the car while the hot air poured through my father’s window, his elbow languishing on the door. The singer’s plaintive story-telling, the dobro’s call, the pedal steel guitar pulling long and low, the fiddle alternating between joy and sorrow—this was life, I came to imagine, or at least my father’s idea of life. My mother preferred show tunes with a happily ever after.
I couldn’t have explained it until much later, but it was through that car radio I first learned about loneliness and longing and loss, real or imagined. I heard how they wrapped around each other in harmony and traveled together with us through the hot night on invisible waves of air."
(Excerpt from "On On Our Own Road" in Hullabaloo on the Space Coast: A Memoir of Place, copyright Linda Buckmaster, 2012). 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Monhegan, Shamans, and Chants

                A couple of weeks ago, I was out on Monhegan Island. For the past thirty-odd years, I have been getting out there most summers, either for a day hike or as much as a week. This time, it was two nights in the Rose Room at Tribler Cottage ( my son Eben (age 30).
                We spent our time doing what you do on Monhegan—hiking the trails and cliffs, catching up on the new art, checking out this past winter’s blowdowns of trees in the dense woods. We ran into my friend, Monroe Maine artist Kenny Cole, who was in the middle of his five-week Monhegan Artist Residency ( Over beers while waiting for our crabcake burgers on Fish Beach, we talked about the challenges and joys of artist residencies.
After Kenny left, Eben and I were joined at the communal  picnic table by a shaman from Miami who works for the Miami Beach school district. Since I was born in Miami, we had a lot to talk about. The guy had a great attitude, was super friendly, and the burgers were perfect with just the right amount of tarter sauce.
                We also ran into artist Dyan Berk ( ) , who used to live on the island year-round. Her house out there, by the way, is for sale.
                Eben and I hiked to Burnt Head by way of Lobster Cove. Here is a poem I “got” on Burnt Head a few years ago and is in my collection, Heart Song & Other Legacies.
                          "I contain multitudes."
                         Walt Whitman
I am an architecture
of skins, the bones
of other creatures twisting
through me.

I am the snakes and the lizards and
the one-eyed crocodiles.

I am the lesser known species
of birds and the brush
that sustains them.

I am the saltwater fish
and the freshwater fish
and those that swim
in the brackish places in between.

I am the small mammals that gnaw
and nibble in the night.
I am the Bengal tiger resting, heavy
eyes drooping to sleep.

I am all hopping things -
red-backed spiders and rabbits
and toads that live under drains.

I am the blue whale and the harbor
seal, the starfish curling
over sea urchin prey.

I am the flight of the albatross over
open waters. I am
the gulls and the crows mourning
for this world.

I am those multitudes
that fly and crawl and run and limp.

I am all
these things.
(“Chant” from Heart Song & Other Legacies, Illuminated Sea Press, copyright Linda Buckmaster, 2007)