Saturday, December 15, 2007

Our Nirvanas


Home in Candler Park

Mid-December, and I am sitting in my loft office, looking out at the bare wysteria vines draping the scavenged bamboo "beams" over our back deck. (That's it in spring bloom up there.)

Miracle of miracles, it's raining! Hallelujah! Our state is in a terrible drought, and rain is pure pleasure to see. Even moreso is looking out at a pair of thrashers (the state bird), flashing vivid black and white wings as they fluff and bathe in this unaccustomed shower. A cardinal hen preceded them, possibly the one who's been fighting with herself in the old cracked mirror, painted "Welcome" by the girls, hanging on the back fence. And what a holiday tableau, two vividly crimson males, similarly washing against the green backdrop of the 15' tall anise bush in the side yard! Smart birds they are, joined by the thrashers, rustling the leaves to get yet more water on their feathers.

I recall my parents' delight in birds as they aged, particularly one's little call that sounded like someone's shy whistle: tweeeet, tweet-tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet-tweet. I don't know what bird it is, but I hear it also now, and am similarly charmed by its small, sweet refrain. I've come to appreciate the rough cawing of crows, since learning that they were the first brought low by the avian virus in the U.S. I missed hearing them, and welcome it now. The evening chirp of the robin, the strident call of the bluejay, the sunset flight of flocks of birds, the aerial acrobatics of chimney swifts and those lovely bats eating those mosquitoes -- all these link my present life to my past. I like it. I wish we as a species were more tied into the natural cycle of life and less into our own navel-gazing. Just seems like that would greatly clarify what is real, important, in life.

I also recall my mother growing ever more quiet with age, and notice the same happening with me. The restless young love action and noise; the elders, peace. Good God, I'm an elder now.

I remember particularly wishing to know, as Mom was dieing, what was going through her mind. I never asked, a missed opportunity; but I guess we all find that out eventually for ourselves.

In a way, I can't wait to see what's beyond. I imagine it will be a merging of me, one little radio wave, into an incomprehensible stream of energy, which is reflected in microcosm on this earth and this life. Wow! On the other hand, I recall visiting a dying friend who was on a ventilator, and being shocked at my first consciousness of breath. Of course we breathe, the heart beats, the whole autonomic system does its thing with us totally unaware. I can also imagine that feeling this slow down to stopping will make me feel pretty panicky. It's hard to let go of the only thing you know, even if you're pretty sure there's something better beyond.

Rumination. Maybe all of this comes with age. Knew there had to be something good about it, to balance the aches and pains!

And --- uh, would this ramble qualify as navel-gazing?? ;<)

Home at the Lake

Yep, that's the view from the dock above. Definition of our nirvanas is incomplete without mentioning our teeny-tiny 700 S.F. cabin on Lake Burton. It sits on a steep, largely unusable lot bordered by a (small, TG) power line, but it has a big mama deck, vaulted ceilings and a ceiling-to-floor stone fireplace you could roast a pig in. And most important, it as ~21' of waterfront and a swim dock, more valuable by far than the cabin and its lot.

It's got a great story, too. We bought the cabin from a widow, Mrs. T, whose husband was friends with a neighbor with a considerable lake frontage. One day, Mr. H declared to Mr. T, "I sure do wish I had a swing down by the water there," upon which Mr. T offered not only to build it, but to maintain it and care for the waterfront area in perpetuity ... in exchange for a small piece for a dock. The deal was struck and the land conveyed in fee-simple ownership, for $1, and he did keep it up until he died. You wouldn't believe what that ~20' rectangle is worth today.

But turns out, that wasn't the end of it; that deal led to the Hex.

Mr. W, Mr. T's neighbor, had proposed jointly building a boat house at the end of the cove on what was (at the time) common waterfront access for the planned but never-built subdivision. "Next thing I know," he said to me in fresh outrage a couple of years before his own death, "W's building a dock on his own that he got from H!" Mr. W never gave up hope for access, without which his cabin was worth far less... and he had an ace in the hole. T's driveway was on W's lot, but the cabin occupants were always allowed to use it. When we bought it from Mrs. T, Mr. W offered to sell the driveway to us ... but when his (wicked) children heard about it, they prevailed on him to hold out for a trade of partial dock title for the drive. We wouldn't budge; neither did he. Someone else bought his old place ... someone I had told the story to, blabbermouth that I am, bewailing that I could no longer find Mr. W to re-negotiate a sale. Hence, the Hex. Guess who's holding out for a dock share now?

Ah, live and learn. We're just not meant to have perfection in this life!

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