Life, death, fate & memory
A few years ago, I spent a month in Knoxville, Tennessee, where one of my daughters was a graduate student at the University of Tennessee. (You did not know that, did you?) I watched her dogs while she and her then-boyfriend went to Yellowstone National Park. (I am particularly skilled at watching dogs; we almost are like cousins .... or something like that.)
I spent a few days canoeing on the Tennessee River and photographing (yes, me, with a Nikon in one hand and a Canon in the other) odds and ends -- mostly in museums and cemeteries.
In a "city cemetery," a number of tombstones caught my eye, but one in particular actually gripped me. It was for a young man. I cannot recall the precise details without checking my notes from the time, and I have moved so often in recent years that I am fortunate to know where I am, much less where my notebooks are located. Beyond that, I do not care where they are.
So, relying on memory for approximate dates, the young man died in 1898 at age twenty from "a fever." A block away from this city cemetery was a military cemetery. I went there next and, eventually, found myself standing beside a tombstone for another young man who had the same last name as the man in the city cemetery. He also had died in 1898, in Cuba, as a member of the American Expeditionary Force during the Spanish-American War. He was twenty-two years of age.
On both tombstones, the names of the parents were carved. The two were brothers, children of the same man and wife. I thought how cruel life must be to some, while it is so kind to others. It had been more than one hundred years since those deaths. I wondered then, while I stood in the cemetery, and I still do at times, if anyone other than me had thought about those two brothers and their parents during the century past.
By the way, both parents were also in the city cemetery, I discovered the next day, dead within another year after their sons. Heartbreak, I think. What else could it have been?
The re-birth of an idiom
Some of you might have read it, some of you might have figured it out, but next to novels, my favorite "objects" in the world are motion pictures. I saw a film the other night, "Maybe It's Love," in which there was an expression I had never heard before.
One character said to another: "Thanks, you're a regular."
I never had heard the expression before: "You're a regular."
It makes sense.
I have decided that my mission in life (well, one of them) will be to reinstate this expression into the idiom of Americana, although I do not think I would like anyone to call me a "regular." It would destroy my image of myself.
Anyway, it is amazing how easy it is to get an expression or a thought or a concept moving. By the way, this film was made in 1935. Watch it sometime. It was terrific.
Less thought & more walk
The four seasons really do influence my mood, greatly. Sometimes, I think that is the way it is supposed to be for everyone. As for me, I tend to work more hours and play less in the summer because the warm, sunny days make me happy. And, I often have said (and written) that I hibernate during January and February, and that if I could eliminate two months from the calendar, it would be those two. Of course, I meant it in the sense of the weather.
I have spent some time thinking (sometimes, I do this too much) about the seasons, and recently decided to try to live them as I did when I was a child. I enjoyed them all in an outdoor sense, actually loved them all in that sense, and pretty much ignored their climatic inconveniences. What child cares how much he sweats in summer's humidity or if he becomes chilled in winter's frigid winds?
Much of my distaste for winter has come from having had to drive in atrocious conditions on the road to a story when I worked as a reporter, or to and from work in town and home in the "outlands" during blizzard and icy conditions. It is amazing I am still alive, in a sense, considering some of my highway "adventures" during snowstorms.
But, it is absolutely fantastic to walk on an ice-covered lake at night in the dead of winter, or to wander through the twinkling snow in woodlands under a full moon. I love moments such as those, so this is where I will concentrate my "adventures" for now.
Less thought and more walk is the moral here .... I guess.